Stateside!

Stateside!

 Sam enjoying the river cruise tour of Moscow we enjoyed on our last day in country

Sam enjoying the river cruise tour of Moscow we enjoyed on our last day in country

 Thomas enjoying a view of the Kremlin and St Basil's Cathedral from our cruise

Thomas enjoying a view of the Kremlin and St Basil's Cathedral from our cruise

 Late night fun in Red Square (for those that weren't sleeping!)

Late night fun in Red Square (for those that weren't sleeping!)

 Our wonderful hosts, Jenni and Anya, who we will miss very much!

Our wonderful hosts, Jenni and Anya, who we will miss very much!

We concluded our trip with two days touring Moscow.  This was a much needed time to reflect as a team on the entire trip, the people we had met, the relationships we had built and the conversations the Lord had allowed us to have.  It was also a time for us to see more of Russia and - in stark contrast to the atmosphere at camp - to further experience the culture.  We went inside the Kremlin, walked around Red Square and saw St. Basil's Cathedral (the iconic multi-colored one), visited the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ our Savior, took a river cruise, and wandered around a Russian market.

At 1:50 a.m. this morning (6:50 p.m. Wednesday EDT) we left our hotel and headed to the airport.  It was very difficult to say goodbye to our hosts and translators who have been such a blessing to us.  But after emotional goodbyes we had a smooth flight to London (except for Pete... just ask him!)  At Heathrow airport we were able to enjoy an English breakfast together as a team before parting ways to take various flights to Ohio, North Dakota, Maryland and Idaho.   

The CBC team then flew to Charlotte, NC and we are presently in the air on the way to Dayton.  We are thankful for God's grace in sustaining us on this trip and for bringing us home safely.  We have been so encouraged to know that many back home were following our progress via this blog and praying for us every day.  We look forward to seeing you in person and sharing more about this incredible trip, the impact it has had on us, and all that God is doing in Russia!

Arrived back in Moscow

 Boarding the train in Tambov on Monday evening

Boarding the train in Tambov on Monday evening

 Saying our final goodbyes to lots of friends who came to send us off at the station.  We took a inumerable photos and selfies!

Saying our final goodbyes to lots of friends who came to send us off at the station.  We took a inumerable photos and selfies!

 Arriving at the central station in Moscow early on Tuesday morning

Arriving at the central station in Moscow early on Tuesday morning

After a very relaxing day as a team in Tambov on Monday we took an overnight train to Moscow and arrived about an hour ago.  We then managed to use the Metro (subway) to get across the city to our hotel.  Unexpectedly, the hotel had almost all our rooms available and ready for check in at 7:00 a.m.!  So we are getting some rest and freshening up before spending the rest of the day touring the city.  We are so thankful to all the families that hosted us in Tambov, and to the Lord for safe travels.  

Please continue to pray for the rest of our trip.  Please pray for energy to get us through the next couple of days and for smooth return travel to the US on Thursday.  Please also thank God for the many answers to prayer over the past ten days and that the seed that was planted during camp and our time in Tambov will yield much fruit.

For His glory!

Day of Grace

Day of Grace

 The choir singing during the main service in Tambov

The choir singing during the main service in Tambov

It will be hard to describe today in words.  All of us were blessed to have the privilege of worshipping with our Russian brothers and sisters in Tambov.  We were overcome with many emotions as we spent the day with the members of Spring of Life Church, the baptist church we support through SGA.  

We started the day with a 9:00 a.m. service in the building of a local pentecostal church.  We met here so that we could use their baptistry and praise God for the testimony of four individuals who obediently entered into the waters of baptism as a declaration of God's saving grace in their lives.  

 Pastor Anatoly and the four individuals entering into the waters of baptism

Pastor Anatoly and the four individuals entering into the waters of baptism

Following the baptisms, we traveled across town to the main church building.  This is the building that they have been constructing for the past three years and it is nearing completion. Much to our delight, today was the first day they have used air conditioning since it was installed. And it was needed!  The building was packed out.  Every seat was filled.  Then they brought in additional seats - and those were filled.  And still many more stood!  Regular attendees, out of town visitors, students from camp, and many unbelievers (including two we invited on a bus at 11pm last night!) came to hear the Word preached!  And God answered prayer in sustaining Pastor Bill and allowing him to clearly present the good news of the gospel from Ephesians 2:4-5.  

As Pastor Bill stated during the opening of his sermon, all of the days' events were a testimony to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ:  from the baptisms, to the fellowship we shared together around the Lord's table, to the preaching of the Word.  

We encourage you to watch the recording of the service below.  While we believe you will be blessed to watch the entire service to see how believers in the Lord Jesus worship in another culture and language, if you wish to skip to the English portion and Pastor Bill's sermon fast forward to approximately 1h 22m.  (Yes, nearly 90 minutes before the sermon even starts!  Who said our services were long???!)

After church everyone stayed for a meal where we had many more opportunities to continue discussions with individuals we met at camp.  The gospel was shared time and time again.  Please pray for those who heard it and yet still do not know the Lord Jesus as their savior!

We spent the rest of the day walking around Tambov and enjoying a meal together. Despite being in Tambov we are having a hard time finding WiFi to upload photos.  Here are just a few from yesterday:

 Sunflowers on the drive to Tambov

Sunflowers on the drive to Tambov

 Thomas and David discussing Sala

Thomas and David discussing Sala

 Pete, Adam, Nathan, Anya and Kenny enjoying street food at the market

Pete, Adam, Nathan, Anya and Kenny enjoying street food at the market

 The effects of a week at English Camp! 

The effects of a week at English Camp! 

 Team dinner in Tambov

Team dinner in Tambov

Selfies, Sala and Sleep

It has been an exhausting day.   We were up till as late as 3am last night cleaning up after camp and packing away supplies and our personal bags.  Students started leaving for home as early as 8:30am this morning so we were all up to start several hours of bittersweet goodbyes.  Many of the students asked for photos and an innumerable number of selfies were taken.  We are thankful to the Lord for the relationships we have built, the opportunity to speak truth into these individuals lives, and their desire to stay in touch with us even though we are thousands of miles away.  

We left camp around 11:00 a.m. and headed to Tambov on small buses.   Along the way we saw beautiful fields filled with sunflowers... but after a very tiring week the bus ride became an opportunity for many to take a nap.  When we arrived in Tambov we went directly to a large market that sold everything from fresh food to souvenirs to Soviet era items.  We ate lunch at a bakery that cooks fresh bread and hot sandwiches inside a large brick oven.  We also got to sample many local foods including Sala:  cured bacon fat (yes, just the white part - no actual meat).  

After the market we travelled to the church to collect our bags.  We took it as an opportunity to see all the renovation work that has been done since last year... and to get some more sleep.  We were all so tired that we slept wherever we could get comfortable; whether flat on the floor or sitting in chairs.  An hour or so later we split into groups and went to various homes where we are spending the next two nights.

We met up for dinner at a restaurant in Tambov where we enjoyed a large meal of traditional Russian foods, cake and coffee. It was very unique decor and would be considered an extremely hip setting in America. 

We are now all back at our hosts' homes excited to get a full night's sleep before church tomorrow.  We are looking forward to Pastor Bill preaching via a translator and to being able to attend the baptism of four individuals.  Please pray for tomorrow's services and for the fellowship we will have with our Russian brothers and sisters!

We don't have WiFi right now so we are posting this via a cell phone hotspot.  We promise to find a way to upload some photos tomorrow!

Wow! WHAT A TRIP!

Wow! WHAT A TRIP!

 English Camp 2018:  students, teachers and camp staff

English Camp 2018:  students, teachers and camp staff

 Rylan and May teaching their class on the last day

Rylan and May teaching their class on the last day

 Relaxing in the woods after teaching for the week was complete.  The woods surrounding camp are filled with incredible silver birches.  

Relaxing in the woods after teaching for the week was complete.  The woods surrounding camp are filled with incredible silver birches.  

Today is our last day. Sad that it is ending so soon.  We have full days and nights and so many wonderful experiences.  From not knowing what is going to  happen next, to having wonderful conversations with people you have just met.  One of  the most amazing things is the overall love that is felt by both Americans and Russians in this camp. This is best expressed by a Syrian man saying.  “This place has a different feeling from any other place I have ever been.” I said it was the love and caring God as His love is shown through the Christians in this camp. It is much like I feel in our church at home.  Medical professions is our theme today, from God’s healing power to medical terms and idioms. 

I have also learned a lot about myself. Thank you for your support and prayers.  I ask for your continued prayers as we continue our trip.  

- Bev

Day 4: Blessed to be here

Day 4: Blessed to be here

 Y teaching her class.  The bracelet you see her wear are ones that we all wear and allow us to explain the gospel quickly and simply:  White represents God.  He is holy. Black represents man.  In contrast to God we are sinful and have no relationship with Him because of our sin.  Red speaks of the blood that Christ shed on the cross as the only acceptable penalty for our sin.  Green represents new life freely available in Christ through faith in Him.  Yellow is the glorious hope of eternity in heaven in the presence of God and our Savior.

Y teaching her class.  The bracelet you see her wear are ones that we all wear and allow us to explain the gospel quickly and simply:  White represents God.  He is holy. Black represents man.  In contrast to God we are sinful and have no relationship with Him because of our sin.  Red speaks of the blood that Christ shed on the cross as the only acceptable penalty for our sin.  Green represents new life freely available in Christ through faith in Him.  Yellow is the glorious hope of eternity in heaven in the presence of God and our Savior.

 Thomas and one of the students from his advanced class teaching the beginners class.  Giving the most proficient students an opportunity to teach was part of today's theme around education.

Thomas and one of the students from his advanced class teaching the beginners class.  Giving the most proficient students an opportunity to teach was part of today's theme around education.

 Bill teaching basic questions and answers with the beginners.

Bill teaching basic questions and answers with the beginners.

 Bill, Sam and their translator teaching the beginners about American currency

Bill, Sam and their translator teaching the beginners about American currency

 The beauty of camp: students deep in conversation.  

The beauty of camp: students deep in conversation.  

 Jonathan being interviewed during the Late Night Show.   So far Kaitlin, Pete and Jonathan have been able to share how they became believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jonathan being interviewed during the Late Night Show.   So far Kaitlin, Pete and Jonathan have been able to share how they became believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Wednesday night's theme meal: our Russian prepared version of Chick-fil-A

Wednesday night's theme meal: our Russian prepared version of Chick-fil-A

It is ALL true what they have said!  The only requirement to go to English Camp and teach English is … you need to know English!  If you have been considering coming on this trip, COME!  You will be greatly blessed!   How amazing this trip has been; I have truly fallen in love with the Russian people!  In no other mission trip I’ve ever been on (this is my 9th one) have I ever experienced this opportunity of truly connecting with the people we have come to minister to enough to really see their hearts!  I have had the privilege of teaching 7 adults (5 around my age and 2 young adults) and I think all but one are not saved.   We have laughed a lot and hopefully learned some as well.  

There are many things I could talk about, but I will share about our Reading (Bible) time.  The over-all theme of the camp is “Careers”, and the first day’s focus was on jobs that require creativity.  We read Genesis 1 so they could see God as the powerful creator of all.  Tuesday the career theme was “Law”, so we read in Exodus where God is explaining the law and then in Luke where Jesus summarizes the Law to be 1) loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and 2) loving your neighbor as yourself.  That took us to the question, “If we can’t keep the law, why would God give it to us?”  Next we read Galatians 3:24 that explains that God gave us the law to lead us to Christ and 1 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  On Wednesday the theme was business, so we started with “The wages of sin is death...” (Romans 3:23) and went on to share all the gospel with verses and the bead bracelets.  

Please pray for the beloved people in my group; one young man from Syria, two from the Orthodox church, three from no church, and one young lady who is possibly a young believer!  And consider coming to Russia next year!  Praise the Lord for His grace to me personally and please pray the power of the gospel will penetrate hearts!

- Shari

p.s. Another really cool thing is my translator for the teaching time is the former pastor’s oldest daughter who is a beautiful and sweet young woman who has been truly AMAZING!!!  I have also gotten to really connect with a young lady who is 14 that Bill had in his class last year and grew quite attached to.

Half way through camp... and a lot of rain!

Half way through camp... and a lot of rain!

 Kaitlin teaching math in English to the advanced class

Kaitlin teaching math in English to the advanced class

 Y and Jenni getting ready for craft time

Y and Jenni getting ready for craft time

 Bev helping younger students with tie-dye

Bev helping younger students with tie-dye

 Y demonstrating how to tie-dye

Y demonstrating how to tie-dye

 Bev teaching her class outside under one of the new rain shelters

Bev teaching her class outside under one of the new rain shelters

 Thankful to have Kenny capturing all of camp on video!

Thankful to have Kenny capturing all of camp on video!

 The Late Night Show is always a fun close to the day.  What a joy it is to worship with our Russian brothers and sisters!  There are several hymns and songs where the melody is the same for both languages so we can alternate languages on each verse.

The Late Night Show is always a fun close to the day.  What a joy it is to worship with our Russian brothers and sisters!  There are several hymns and songs where the melody is the same for both languages so we can alternate languages on each verse.

 Last night's American burger themed dinner.  It was a huge hit!

Last night's American burger themed dinner.  It was a huge hit!

As the week has progressed the weather has become cooler and wetter.  Day three was a very rainy day at camp.  The camp staff have been fantastic in trying to help facilitate our teaching sessions.   When it first started raining we moved all of the classes inside.  This didn’t really work as the different classes were too close to each other and talking over one another so the camp staff built us temporary shelters outside!  The teaching sessions have been going very well.   Bill, Sam and I finally figured out how to structure the lessons for the beginners’ group to be both understandable and beneficial to the them and we are thankful to hear reports from other team members of how well the more advanced classes have been going.   Our English lessons have allowed us to build relationships with our students and it amazes me how open - both in class and throughout the day - the Russians are to talking about the gospel and their spiritual beliefs. 

The daily afternoon craft sessions have been very popular; especially since it has been too wet to go outside. Y, Bev and our other team members from Maryland and Idaho have prepared daily crafts from bracelet making to tie-dye.  Another hit have been the nightly American themed dinners.  So far we have had an Olive Garden themed spaghetti and meatball dinner, a Wendy’s burger night, and a Chick-fil-A inspired chicken meal.   

Apologies for the long gap in blog posts.  Between the cellular internet connection here at camp running out of prepaid credit, and me coming down with some form of food poisoning it was difficult to get this posted!  Please pray that the team stays strong and healthy for the remainder of the trip.

- Pete

Settling into Day Two

Settling into Day Two

 Shari leading her class through their daily reading lesson

Shari leading her class through their daily reading lesson

 Y and Bev teaching their students to read from their English bibles

Y and Bev teaching their students to read from their English bibles

 Rylan teaching and facilitating discussion with his group

Rylan teaching and facilitating discussion with his group

 Teaching sentence structure, nouns and verbs to the beginners' class.

Teaching sentence structure, nouns and verbs to the beginners' class.

 Jonathan enjoying Russian Chai (tea) while having conversations with students over lunch.

Jonathan enjoying Russian Chai (tea) while having conversations with students over lunch.

 The food has been delicious! Today we enjoyed soup and chicken with buckwheat for lunch.  We are also thankful for our team members from Maryland who are helping prepare American themed dinners each night.  Last night was Spaghetti & Meatballs.  Tonight we have bacon cheesburgers and fries!

The food has been delicious! Today we enjoyed soup and chicken with buckwheat for lunch.  We are also thankful for our team members from Maryland who are helping prepare American themed dinners each night.  Last night was Spaghetti & Meatballs.  Tonight we have bacon cheesburgers and fries!

Day two of camp started out rainy, so we all had to go to various corners of the main building and into the different tents.  This was easier on some groups than others.  Today’s theme for teaching was “Law” which has lead to numerous spiritual conversations and clear explanations of the gospel.  After the morning teaching, the craft room was filled to the brim and an intense soccer game went on at the same time.  Everyone is enjoying the outdoors, and the meals are out-of-this-world delicious! The first “Chai time with Pastor Bill” was a success and all the camp volunteers are enjoying long conversations with the campers, and with each other.  Please keep praying for the teachers to have wisdom as we seek opportunities to share the gospel and effectively teach English at our different group levels.

-Nathan and Adam 

Day One @ Camp

Day One @ Camp

 Pastor Bill, Sam and Pete teaching their class.

Pastor Bill, Sam and Pete teaching their class.

 Asking questions during "Chai Time with Bill" in the Camp Coffeehouse.

Asking questions during "Chai Time with Bill" in the Camp Coffeehouse.

 Thomas & Kaitlin teaching their class.

Thomas & Kaitlin teaching their class.

 Late night games!  A great way to build relationships and have conversations with our students

Late night games!  A great way to build relationships and have conversations with our students

 Making sure we have the right priorities in our teaching...

Making sure we have the right priorities in our teaching...

Day one of teaching at camp was a true experience. The students were divided up by skill level within speaking the english language.  The experience of the teachers varied due to the ability of the students to converse in english. We were able to teach through the creation story and engaged the students asking them what was their favorite thing that was created.  We ended the discussion asking the student what they see in nature that is evidence of a Creator.  The students have opened up to myself and the co-teacher and we are able to open and free conversations with them.  They are curious and open to speaking about spiritual topics.  God is teaching me that my skill level is not as important as a heart that is willing to serve.

- Jonathan

Camp starts tonight

Camp starts tonight

 One of several breaks on the seemingly endless bus ride.  But we stopped for ice cream at 12:45 am and had "Black Coal".   None of us still have any idea what it actually was!  We made it to our destination 30 hours after we left Dayton.

One of several breaks on the seemingly endless bus ride.  But we stopped for ice cream at 12:45 am and had "Black Coal".   None of us still have any idea what it actually was!  We made it to our destination 30 hours after we left Dayton.

 Team worship and prayer time after breakfast

Team worship and prayer time after breakfast

 Reviewing the schedule and curriculum

Reviewing the schedule and curriculum

 Kenny letting each class know what materials are available to help with teaching.

Kenny letting each class know what materials are available to help with teaching.

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Yesterday when we arrived at the Moscow airport we had assumed that we would be taking an overnight train down to camp but we were instead told that we would be taking a bus down. The bus was very fun with everyone playing games and talking. We were enjoying our self until we realized that it was nearly impossible to find a comfortable position to sleep and we wouldn’t arrive at camp until gone midnight. We ended up getting to camp at about 1:30am in the morning. 

Our entire team made it here without many complications and except for only being able to sleep for a few hours and being very tired, we are safe and getting ready for camp. This entire morning we spent unpacking our luggage and setting up our “class”. After breakfast we took some time and sat together as a group and sang and prayed for our trip and the people that will be affected by our ministry here. I want to thank all of you for your prayers, and I know that everyone else does too.

- Sam

We've Arrived!

We've Arrived!

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We’ve arrived! All the people and luggage are congregated in the Moscow airport, eating snacks, and waiting to leave on a bus that will take us the six-ish hour drive to English camp. All the flights seemed to go by very quickly because of the short layovers - no sitting around. Spirits are good, even though bodies are tired. There were so many details that had to come together to get us and all our stuff here and the Lord was sovereign over it all. My first glimpse of Russia out the window of the airplane started to spark more excitement for this trip for me. There are real people here, who God created and who need to hear how to be reconciled to Him. Please continue to pray - especially that we will all be able to sneak in some sleep before camp starts! More to come once we get there!

- Kaitlin

We are on our way!

We are on our way!

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Praise the Lord!  We are on our way to Russia for English Camp 2018.  After a delayed flight out of Dayton we were concerned that we were going to miss our international connection causing a domino effect on our onward travel plans to Moscow. But despite being almost an hour late to Chicago we were able to run (literally) to our connection and were the last to board.  And God is so gracious... our bags with not just our personal effects but all of our camp supplies made it onboard too!!  So we are presently crossing over Canada on our way to London!  

Unlike last year, Rylan had a smooth flight and was able to meet up with us in Chicago.  We will meet the rest of our team members from Idaho and Maryland when we get to Russia.

Please check back for frequent updates and photos.  In the meantime please continue to pray for the rest of our journey and that the Lord would go before us, equipping us and preparing us for all that lies ahead.  

For His glory,

CBC Russia Team