Posted by: jakeschwarze | July 16, 2007

A bit of a jump, but I’ll go back later and fill in the pieces

Saturday, July 14, 2007

After a good 2 hours of sleep, the team reluctantly woke up about 4:45am to head to the airport. I said my goodbyes and then crawled back into bed to sleep off an exhausting two weeks. Up at 11:00am, I spent some time in the Word of God and played the piano, and felt amazingly alone in a big room that normally was filled with our boisterous team. Now it was just me and my thoughts. “What had just happened?” I asked myself. I’m going to be the sole American left here and that is a little scary to think about having no one to relate to that understands my culture.
Emily (translator) arrived with Ben (Pastor Zhuk’s oldest son) and we are off to Sterlitamak to spend time with Pastor Sergei Loshak. Emily and I had a good conversation about life and people, dreams and what to do with our lives. It was nice to express these thoughts and frustrations. Also, the car was overheating. Car problems are normal here. It may delay travel for many. You never know what is going to happen when you are in Russia and this afternoon was no exception.
I knew I would be going to a wedding, but I didn’t think they would ask me to speak or sing there too. When we arrived, the ceremony had already happened and the reception was beginning. I changed into “nicer” clothes and then was told that I would speak and sing. “Here we go!” I thought. It’s never a dull moment. After a humorous time of guests presenting presents and playing fun games with the bride and groom, they left and the party continued for another few hours. We played Volleyball, sang songs, I heard testimonies from 3 men living at the rehab center (Ruslan, Andre, and Sasha). These men had some great stories, very similar to ones I’ve heard before in America. God is so good to save. The director there insisted that I stay for a week and we agreed on a couple of days. I’m not sure what he has planned for me there, but I guess God will make me ready. Maybe I’ll be doing more listening and receiving than talking or giving. After everything was done (10:30pm) we headed home to Sergei’s house for sleep. I stayed up with the family until 1:30 or so because they are so wild and crazy, even with church the next morning!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Up late and late to church we enjoyed a great time of fellowship. Things rarely start at the times they’ve been scheduled for. Oh well, that’s life here. I sang almost the entire service and spoke twice. Once was me sharing my testimony, the other was preaching on Ps. 90 (Don’t waste your life). I was blessed to be able to share the grace of God with them and encourage them to outreach and service to one another. I was told this was lacking in churches here. I think finding a church filled with servants is rare. I guess I didn’t realize that. When you surround yourself with those who love to serve as you do, you think that everyone knows the joy of serving others.
After the service, we came back to Sergei’s house and ate and slept and ate and slept some more. I really was tired from all the travel and stress. Later that evening (6pm), Emily’s folks came to pick her up to take her back to the 2nd camp. I said good-bye to her and realized that I was without a translator for a little while. Oh well. I feel like I can communicate enough to get by. Many times today people said, “You are not American, you are Russian!” I guess I’m integrating well here.
The family then decided to go fishing at the river, so we met up with some people from church and fished, swam, played volleyball and a game called “banya.” We left around sundown (10:00pm) and headed home. We ate dinner around midnight and relaxed. Sergei and I talked about his church and the issues he is dealing with. I could see that God has given him much wisdom in how he handles and cares for the flock here. Some of the issue were: Do we allow unsaved people to sing in the choir? Are we looking down on those who do not have salvation and discouraging them from attending the church service? I think he will handle these things well. We then prayed as a family in the living room before bed. These people have a love for prayer that is refreshing to hear and be a part of.



  1. Awesome updates. Glad to hear that things are going well. We’re thinking about you and praying for you. I’ll miss you at Taco Bell tomorrow 🙂

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