This is some exciting news — we have been given use of an old children’s camp! It was a Finnish estate before WWII, and after the war it was a children’s camp. It’s located in a beautiful lake, about an hour and a half north of St. Petersburg. We have use of about 15 acres with multiple buildings.
The camp has been closed for about 25 years so it is in need of serious repair. We’ve been re-wiring for electricity, picking up trash (30 large bags from one small area alone) and clearing out trees and brush. We’ll start replacing broken windows this week and are installing a summer water system. There’s a lot of rotten wood to replace, tools to buy, porches to re-build, stoves to install, walls to paint, and roofs to repair. I was working on the toilets (outhouses) yesterday, trying to make them a bit better. Pictured above is a recent MIR work day — of course we had a cookout. In the picture are believers from Russia, America, Northern Ireland and Finland.
Elama is the Finnish word for Life. We’ve named the camp Elama because we feel that the Lord wants us to bring this place back to life so that it will hold His life as His people are there, living together and ministering in His name. The basic rule for all who visit is, ‘leave it nicer than you found it’. It is available to churches and ministries free of charge; God is giving us free use of it, so we’ll pass along the blessing to others.
Things are moving quickly — just a few weeks ago we found out for sure that we’d have use of it; we’ve had several work days already, several families are hoping to live there this summer, in July we’ll host a children’s camp (using tents) for about 60 children, then we’ll host a youth camp for young people with about 100 people. In August we hope to host the Royal Rangers, a scouting ministry. This weekend we’ll have two Russian churches come out for work days — clearing brush, repairing buildings, making the place nicer.
We’ll have use of it for about 10 years (the owners are friends and are very happy to have us use it for ministry), so we’re working hard this summer to prepare it for more ministry next summer. We hope to host orphans there as soon as possible, depending on when the facilities are in good enough shape. Perhaps next summer we’ll have a camp for orphans in addition to all the other ministries we’ll establish there this summer. Already a team from Florida is considering coming next Spring to do some work there, and a Finn has also suggested bringing Finnish teams to help. If you’re interested in helping, please send me a note. It’s exciting