|From:||John Zaitseff <J.Zaitseff@zap.org.au>|
|To:||Many interested readers around the world|
|Date:||Tuesday, 9th August 2005 at 11:43:52 MSD|
|Subject:||A second update from Russia|
Since today may be the last opportunity I have to write to you from Russia, I thought I’d let you know what has been happening here in Schokina, particularly at the children’s camp.
The last few days at the camp were quite busy and, I think, very rewarding. We had many opportunities to tell the children (and adults!) about God’s love through Jesus Christ. All of our team, including the interpreters, were kept on their toes by the fact that we had only days to go. We were even visited by some high-up officials who were, we gather, duly impressed. Some highlights for me since my last update include telling stories about Jesus to some of the children during their free time, helping teach some Australian games (even though I am not a sporty person!), and being made to feel very special by the children when it came time to depart.
And that time to depart came all too quickly. The whole team, apart from me, left on Friday 5th August in the mid-morning. There were, I know, tears all around. We had been together as a team for just under three weeks, and we had worked well. Many of the children kept on asking us to return next year; it was hard for me to respond with no concrete plans beyond the end of the year!
Although Friday the 5th was the last day of the camp for the children, I decided to stay on in Schokina instead of returning to Moscow. I spent the last few hours at the camp (one Australian among so many children!) talking, talking, talking. It was sad to leave Dima, Igor, Andrei, Dima, Nikita and the many others with whom I made friends over the two weeks or so of camp.
I was also able to talk to many of adults working at the camp; apart from the counsellors, to some of the guards, the kitchen staff, the cleaning staff and other workers. Many were impressed, as I have mentioned before, that I could speak fluently in Russian. I was able to, once again, share the testimony of what God had done in our family (and in many other families) in leading us to Australia. Many of these people were very interested in my Australian photographs; the photos of native animals attracted by far the most comments!
I particularly remember one long conversation I had with one of the kitchen staff, an older lady, after everyone else had left. She asked me whether all Australians were like our team, “always cheerful and smiling”. In addition, “there was a special atmosphere surrounding your team that could be felt immediately”. I was able to say that, although Australians are fairly cheerful in general, in our case it was the love of Jesus that was shining through. Her comments about the team from last year interested me immensely: before Tom’s team came, some of the children were very rowdy and undisciplined. A week into Tom’s team’s visit, she said, and these very children were “unrecognisable; they had changed so much for the better!”. “In fact,” she commented, “there was such an atmosphere surrounding that team that most of us staff found we could not work once the team had left: the place just felt empty, and we had to take annual leave”. Something similar occurred with our team’s visit, too. Again, I was able to point the way to Jesus, and that even in the most difficult of circumstances, the fact that, through Jesus Christ, we have a God who is our Father, One who completely cares for us, gives us real joy.
I have spent the last few days in Schokina looking around the city and resting. Schokina is a city of around 100,000 people—much larger than I initially thought! I have, unfortunately, fallen a little sick from the common cold and from a stomach virus, so I have not been eating that well. Please pray for complete healing for me!
I head off this evening for Ukraine, the land of my forefathers and a place I have never visited. I catch the train at 7:44pm from Tula and arrive in Mariupol on the Azov Sea tomorrow (Wednesday 10th) at 2:30pm. I look forward to sharing with you my adventures there! In the meantime, I would appreciate your prayers for:
Until next time, I remain,
Yours in Christ,