A Toast at Dacha

Nine years ago on August 28 I proposed to Olga. We were at dacha (a Russian country house) celebrating her grandmother’s birthday.

A couple of days ago, we had another birthday lunch under the apple trees at dacha. Russians love to give toasts at special occasions. Orest Grooten, Olga’s grandfather, gives a toast to his wife:

And here is Orest walking back into the house.

A Postcard from Russia — Apples, Mushrooms and Berries

The end of the summer is upon us, and now is the time of harvest and of looking forward. The apples, mushrooms and berries (and carrots, peas, cucumbers and potatoes) are plentiful.

Last week we were at dacha again for Olga’s grandmother’s birthday; she is 77 years old this year.  On that day, August 28, eight years ago I proposed to Olga in the garden there. Each year since we’ve been at dacha to celebrate the birthday. It’s a blessing that we can have time with family. Olga’s grandfather, Orest, is doing fairly well, in his 90th year.

God continues to bring new opportunities. We look forward to telling you over the coming months about a few things that are on the horizon. MIR is doing well, Stoneworks is growing, our ministries in Belarus and Montenegro are increasing, new workers are being called to work along side us, and key relationships are growing deeper. We are thankful for the fruitfulness that God brings.

In His love,

Mike and Olga Cantrell

A Postcard from Russia — Family News

Please keep this in prayer — on the way to church yesterday Olga’s mother, Tanya, was hit by a car.  She has lost some teeth and has a concussion.  The neurologist said that she’s OK, but some of her upper jaw has been damaged so that it will be difficult to implant teeth in the future.

Olga’s grandfather was released from the hospital yesterday.  Orest is 90 years old and doing very well considering his age. We took him and his wife Ludmilla to dacha today.  He is very happy to be back home in the country.  He’s pictured above at dacha, and a picture of dacha is to the left.

Ludmilla has a mass in/on her intestines (we’re not sure what it is) and will be getting out-patient treatment until she goes into the hospital in a couple of weeks for more tests. She’s not feeling very well herself and is under some pressure as she cares for Orest. Being at dacha should help them relax a bit.

I will go to Estonia on Monday (and perhaps Olga will be able to travel with me) to learn more about ministry opportunities there and have some time with missionaries to see how we might serve them.  The Lord may be opening a door for us to minister in Estonia.  On Wednesday I’ll drive to Belarus to visit Spring of Revival, and help them as I am able.

Orest Maximilianovich Groten

We went to dacha a few days ago.  Olga’s grandfather Orest is not feeling well, and we brought him to the city to go into the hospital.  He’s 90 years old and though his health is failing, his mind is still sharp.

I took this video of a classic dacha moment.  Orest is building a fire while Olga and her grandmother Ludmilla are in the living room talking.  It’s cold and snowy outside and warm with family inside.

Orest jokingly says, ‘this is the best technology’, and later,  ‘I think, if you show this in America they will just fall over’.  I like his sense of humor.

Orest has a very un-Russian name.  His first name is from the Greek Orestes (meaning mountain-dweller);  Groten is a Dutch/German surname.

His grandfather Nestor Maximilianovich Groten was a wealthy Russian landowner who was a railroad engineer and manager in Canada at the time of the Russian Revolution and did not return to Russia because of the danger to wealthy people like himself.

Orest’s father, Maximilian, was an ardent Communist who remained in Russia.  When Orest was a child, he and his mother were in White territory during the Russian civil war (between the Reds and the Whites), and they were in danger because his father was a Red.

Orest fought in the Red Army in the Great Patriotic War (WWII) as a radio operator near the black sea.  He later joined the Communist Party and was a naval engineer.

Orest lived through the Soviet period.  Born in 1918, he saw the lifespan of Stalinism, lived through the times of Kruschev and Brezhnev; he witnessed the collapse of the USSR, the chaos of the 90s and the rise of Putin.  And he saw the day when an American (!) would marry his granddaughter.

Just after I married Olga, Orest said to me,  ‘fifteen years ago, if they [Communist leaders] knew I was talking to you, they would have shot me’.  He witnessed dramatic changes in the culture.

Orest had to hide his family heritage because his name was not ‘truly Russian’ (and therefore suspect) and the Communists would persecute those with wealthy ancestors.  This meant that Olga never heard family stories of her grandparents and great-grandparents.

Only recently have we begun to learn about those earlier generations.  This is one legacy of the soviet doctrine — many Russian families now have broken links to past generations and much personal history has been lost.  Orest’s life embodies much of the Russian experience over the past century.

A Few Dacha Videos

Can you tell that I’m learning how to post videos?  Here are four short videos from our visits to Olga’s grandparents’ house.

The Russian summer or country house is called the dacha (rhymes with gotcha).  In usage we say things like, ‘I am going to dacha’ or, ‘how was dacha?’.

These videos are pretty poor quality and quite short.  I promise I’ll do better in the future.  But they will give you a flavor of life at dacha.

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Today, as I was gathering photos for the site, I ran across this picture.

I proposed to Olga in the garden at dacha.  It was her grandmother’s birthday, August 28, and we were there to celebrate with her.

Earlier that morning Olga and I both felt God’s clear call for us to be married (that story will be told in a future post), so I knew that I’d ask her to marry me that day.

Before I proposed to Olga, I asked Olga’s mother to bless our marriage.  She had to sit down when she realized what I was about to do!  After she gave her blessing, I gave her a camera and asked her to take a picture when I proposed.  She was crying and it was hard for her to focus on us as she stood on the porch overlooking the garden.

It was a film camera and by the time we developed the film we’d forgotten that she took the picture.  It turned out pretty well:

By the way, this was the first time I told Olga that I love her.  We were both guarding our hearts and remembered counsel from an Elisabeth Elliot book: only say I Love You when the next sentance is Will You Marry Me.  It’s good advice.