This has been quite a summer, one of the busiest and hardest we’ve ever had. It has certainly been the most diverse.
Olga’s grandfather, Orest Groten (above), passed away in July. He is much missed. Born in 1918, he was a child of the Russian Revolution. He joined Communist Party in 1942 and lived his professional life serving the military, first in WWII as a radioman and later as an engineer designing ships and submarines. For almost all of his days he was a committed atheist. At the age of 93 he asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins. He was a loving father and grandfather, a real anchor for the family. He could combine being strict with being very loving. He taught himself to play the piano and accordion; he enjoyed life, had a wonderful sense of humor, and heartily welcomed an American son-in-law into the family. We are sad that he is not with us now, but we are glad that we will see him in heaven.
In June we helped a mission team from Teen Mania as they ministered in Russia and Estonia. In July, Mike drove through Central Europe and helped a team run a youth camp in Montenegro. Two interns, Caroline and Krystal, joined us for several weeks, and it was a joy to have them share in our lives and receive good things from the Lord. Caroline’s mother, Linda, also visited, spending time at dacha and at the Hermitage (that’s quite a contrast). Mike traveled through 14 countries in a month’s time, visiting Budapest, Vienna, Auschwitz/Birkenau, and Tallinn. There were many meetings in Russia, Estonia and Montengro: building relationships, planning for future ministry, encouraging one another.
From Mike: One thing that made the summer hard was my visa situation. When grand-dad died, I was driving in Slovakia on the way to Montenegro. Of course, I quickly started planning how to return to Russia in order to be with my family. However, my old visa had just expired and my new visa started in early August (I thought I would be in Montenegro the whole time and wouldn’t need a visa). It was a bit of a shock to face that hard reality, that I couldn’t go home. It was the first time that political borders and legal issues kept me from being with my family. It was very hard on all of us for me to be at a distance during those days.
From Olga: It has been the hardest summer I’ve ever had, very busy, non-stop for two months, and that was hard; and losing grand-dad was a shock. I feel like there are some things I need to learn all over again: what comes first and what comes second. First is my relationship with and abiding in God, and out of that flows everything else. That is my lesson for the summer.
The Lord has been saying this to us in many ways and at different times. Apart from the Lord we can do nothing, but if we abide in Him then his life will flow through us (John chapter 15). God has been calling us to abide in Him. Please pray for us that we’ll abide in Him and trust that all else will take its rightful place.
Sunset over Pühajarvi, Finland