Q’s and A’s

I have a couple free hours today, everything else important can be put on hold for the moment, and I’m feeling good enough to make coherent sentences… it time to FINALLY update!

It’s amazing how life moves and it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment. You forget the “why’s” of what you do at times. Really, I think you also forget about the “how’s” and “where’s” and “when’s” too; you just ‘Do’. And it’s necessary. When you believe in excelling in your education after you’ve thought about it thoroughly, the “why” starts to fade away into the back of your mind. It never disappears, but it’s just…not as important anymore, until there is a reason for it to be important again.

This I think is something that everyone does. The questions they have about their own present and future actions are either answered or sufficient, so the questions take a back seat to the accomplishment of goals or completion of tasks.

And it’s true that this can turn out badly too. Perhaps the answers you gave yourself and that you took for granted were NOT good enough answers…or not good at all. It’s easy to lie to yourself. Perhaps, you really joined some Committee or Board so that you be seen as important. Did you stay after school so many times to study like you thought, or were you always secretly hoping to get a chance to talk to that guy who doesn’t know you exist (yet)? Maybe you didn’t leave your job so much because of the “employer, employees, and bad atmosphere,” although they might not help, as much as you really can never find satisfaction in your work.

The “why’s” matter. They just don’t need to matter to you all the time. I think they matter the most at the beginning. Your “why’s” for your actions become the rocks or the sand that you build on. Maybe you’ve got hard sand and you don’t have nice rocks nearby? It’s still sand. And by tears or by rain, the hardest sand can wash away in a day. ——————-

Although my biggest questions are already spending most of their time in the “back seat,” it’s the small, short term questions that have needed good answers recently. Let me elaborate. My commitments to God, “family”, family, friends, work, and personal care are very cemented and require little care or thought anymore. I know why I made these commitments, to the level I have committed to them, but I do not need to constantly think about it. On the other hand, finding which specific tasks take precedent in the coarse of a day or a week in the face of constantly changing circumstances is still a challenge. You have expectations for yourself. Others have expectations for you. You must consider long term consequences and short term benefits. Not everything fits together perfectly and one must make choices and decisions starting with the question “why?”

Somewhere along the way, I find a balance and move on with life. Matthew 11 is one of the verses in the back of my head as I’m going through all of this from verse 28 to 30, the words of Jesus. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. [Jeremiah 6:16] For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” For me, at the end of the day, I have a basic care for myself and a care for other people, but my expectations for myself and others expectations for me give way to God, who has His own expectations for me and his own concern for me. And then I can receive some rest, knowing that I must do what I can and allowing Him to take care of the rest. Mis-communication, conflict of interest, stress, and failure are never problems anymore once you know what you must do next. Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

May each of you learn to walk humbly with God and may you experience His grace today as so many other people do around the world!

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On a more serious note,  this is one of the best days of the year as I’m sure most of you already know. Yes, avast me hearties! We are all celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day, garrrrrrrrr. —SEPTEMBARRR 19TH!— I feel so …blessed?? to be able to actually celebrate it this yearrr intarrrnationally. I know! Shiver me timbers, right? We not be loaded to the Gunwales today as we be havin church in the evenin. But me hearty and I be celebrat’n arrr own way. Ye can feel free to send yer doubloons to the ITLPD education fund thar in Russia, garrrr, as they not be knowin of the holiday.

It will take me too long to type e’erything in Pirate speak so I be ease’n up on it until the end of me post. But be sure to know that me facebook is in Pirish language when I look at it. You can go on yer facebook to account settings in the drop down menu of the top right corner and choose it under language (English (Pirate)).

O’er this past month I have been getting into a sort of weekly routine. The school yearr has started and so everything is a little more on a schedule, even though it makes it more difficult for me to meet with students at times. At the end of August, the church went to the campgrounds to fellowship together for a couple days and receive some teaching from a German-Russian minister who formarrrly ministered at the church. The German interns and myself ran the sports and games activities for the camp and I tried my best to understand everything goin on as everything was in Russian. For the evenings, we bought 300kg of watermelons (arrbusa). When we were buying them, we found out that the man’s scale was 2kg inaccurate per watermelon so he could cheat his customers (Proverbs 11:1), so we got some from another man too. I also got cheated out of some basic change on a bus one day. These things happen here a lot. I hate being cheated.

The rest of the week now looks something like this as the structure:

Sunday is Russian lessons and Church in the evening. Monday is Russian homework and lessons and doing church bathroom remodeling. Tuesday mornings are KontaktMission Bible Study and meeting and in the evenings I teach a Bible Study in English for about 15 college students.

Wednesdays have Russian homework and lessons. Thursdays are for assorted communications and a relaxed setting bible study in the evening. Fridays are for helping students with homework and we have a highschool/university level youth group at the mission in the evening which the Germans and I led this week. Saturday holds special events and acts as a catch-all. And everything else is flexible.

This last weekend, I was able to visit a village about 350km outside of the city to attend a Pastoral Training Focused Class and Meeting for two days. We finished our first day at 1am and then went to our host house that reminded me of an ol’ Mennonite couple. They wanted to talk with us for a couple more hours and I enjoyed goofing around with their pigs. (yes, they had pigs! A couple hundred, I think) One of the pigs was definitely Russian because he was also talking without taking a breath and he was very loud! 🙂

After a short night in the cold, star covered village, we finished the Training Seminar (starting at 7am that day) and later went home. The trip was beautiful; filled with miles and miles of untouched land and rolling hills and fields. That evening, I finished preparing for me sermon at the mission the next day which I spent a lot of time on. It went well and I hope that God was able to use it to make a practical difference for some people. I was able to continue the conversation latarrr with some students.

I missed me last few Russian lessons because of time issues so please pray for me continued growth in the language. Also, we bought some bad mushrooms and I cooked with them twice this week. I noticed I wasn’t 100% this week, maybe runnin about 90%, but I’m pretty resilient. However, the second time did me in and I felt poorly off and on yesterday. Last night, I couldn’t sleep and just praying I could throw up, but alas I didn’t and got a bit ‘o’ sleep. Today, I feel better mostly but I know my stomach is week, so pray that I can get some rest and eat up all o’ them poisons! I was running outside the other day a bit longer than usual, and that didn’t help considering the mushrooms, so I know I’m fine, but I just need to recoup after a bad mixture of internal and external circumstances.  I hope you all are well and I hope to connect with some of you so I can put you in here as a “shoutout.”

Grace and Peace,       -Ryan

SHOUTOUT: This one goes to Whitney who has, fittingly, one of the funniest kids around…

…Let the boy sleep in the closet; he only has one life to live. And if he can’t even be free to sleep where he wants in his own room, what kind of man will he be? I’ll tell you, a boring one! Every grown man dreams of sleeping in the closet, but not every one gets to. Think about that for awhile. The Bieber addiction has to go though, it will stunt his psychological growth. I’m sure he would like Nirvana and Metallica just as much if he listened to it…

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Posted in Orenburg | 4 Comments

I’m Doing Ok!

I apologize for my absence. I have been itching to write for a couple weeks but I have been swamped and tired recently. I will be able to write on Monday or Tuesday. Pray for me as I travel out of the city again for a couple days and also as I finish preparing for a message on Sunday at the Mission. =) See you soon.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Change and Hope

These words: “change” and “hope“. They have been used in many different ways these days, but let’s forget about any connotations they may have for you for the moment. Let’s just think of them in them in their unbranded, basic meanings.

Before church this evening, the congregation and some guests traveled to the Sakmara river for two baptisms today. Both have been coming to the church for some time. The one young man was supported by the attendance of his grandfather. The other young woman had a friend and a relative come which was a blessing because her family does not support her decision to be a Christian. Her family is non-devoutly Muslim and has given her a lot of difficulty for her choice, but we hope her life will speak life to them in the future. Please pray for this new brother and this new sister, that they may find good support and good examples; that God may bless them and keep them strong for whatever the future holds! Pray for their growth in faith as well.

Afterward, we went for service at the church where we gave thanks and kept out of the cold (it has recently dropped from a sunny 100F to about 50-55F with wind and rain). The service was all in Russian since their was no translator visiting who knew English and my missionary hosts have gone back to the states for medical appointments. Now that they have left the country, I believe that I am now the only American left in this city, which is exciting… and a bit intimidating! It is okay though because their are two American shrines in the city that I can visit if I want some sort of perverted form of intestinal amnesty (aka McDonalds). I will probably eat more McDonalds here in 3 months than I will in 7 years back home, because everyone here wants to meet the American at McDonalds! I have eaten there 5 times already… the quality is slightly better here though, so I eat it.

After church we had “teatime” and Alex and I invited some people to come over to watch a movie. Eric, as pictured below in previous posts, agreed to come and we made sure to have a good time because it was his last night in Orenburg. He leaves tomorrow to live and study in Moscow at a very good school. We will miss him greatly. We splurged on some small oven pizzas and potato chips and German chocolate. He finished of our last bottle of Coke that we don’t drink and he even tried peanut butter, which he hates. We watched the classic musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” which got me thinking about these words; “change” and “hope.”

The film follow the the story of Tevya who is a Jew living in Russia during the time of the switch from Czarist rule to Soviet rule. Tevya is a simple man who has ongoing discussions with God about his position in life but always seems to show a faith through everything that happens. He finds out very quickly that the world around him is changing and he must continually decide what is most important in life in the face of change. He weighs tradition against Scripture and he weighs tradition against the feelings of his daughters and later he is faced with Scripture in opposition to a decision his daughter makes. Throughout the movie, life is compared to a fiddler on a roof who is attempting to play beautiful music from the heights so all can hear, while doing it in the face of a dangerous balancing act. Tevya wrestles with bending or even breaking his most beloved traditions in order to be good to ones he loves. He also must decide where his faith fits into it all, where his faith fits in “change.” Is it also tradition? Is faith meant to be bent and broken also when it becomes so dead and irrelevant that it cannot survive in the real world?

I think we all have decisions to make about change in our lives. The young man and woman who were baptized today have had to weigh what is important and then they have had to ask themselves what they think is most important. After talking with them, I think they made their decisions with thoughtfulness and maturity. It was their decision. The young man leaving for Moscow will also have decisions to make in the face of change. I have also been faced with much change just being here. And you are also faced with major changes. Maybe you are starting a new kind of school program this year, perhaps your work and finances have been changing, maybe your life is naturally changing in a way you did not see previously. Have you moved recently? Are you in a new relationship? It could be that the story of Tevya’s life as a balancing act truly describes your whole life as well, an endless balancing act.

So what’s most important? How do your most treasured thoughts, practices, and beliefs stand in the face of change? In the face of pain or discomfort? What is our “hope” founded on and why do we give so much to the things in which we invest? Tevya raises some good questions! But sometimes he does not give us the answers. His life, in his struggle through change, speaks much louder than his words. His outward decisions reflect his inner thoughts on trust and faith. He admits that he has no answers for some questions (like why his people always wear “hats”), but he is able to approach his inner conflict nonetheless and make his choice(s).

Whoever you are, wherever you are from, and whatever your life story sounds like, I pray that your life forms beautiful music for you and others to enjoy and I pray that when you feel like Tevya you can approach your own discussions with God/your own questions- with clarity, with thoughtfulness, and with maturity, so that you may stay balanced as you play your song and so that you know why you play in the first place.

—–

Tonight I will get a little rest and then I leave early for camp again. This time it is a three day church camp for everyone as opposed to the language camps for students. I will be out of town for this time and will reconnect later in the week.

SHOUTOUTS:

Today’s SHOUTOUTS are given to some people who have taken time away from other things to stay connected with me this week.

The first goes to my lovely sisters Jennifer and ManthaSam. Just because you’re housemates again, doesn’t mean you can gang up Randolph the White. A man can only take so much blondness. Mantha, if I hear you don’t study hard I will call you SixASixA.

The second goes to Bella: It is about time for you, since you do not know where exactly you will go next, for you to join the HSBC! You and Lemmy can get a joint account and put a picture of you both on the card which would definitely be worth it just to see the faces of the people you hand your card to when you make a purchase… & Hallo in Kalifornien from Alex.

Posted in Orenburg | 1 Comment

Life in Оринбург

Living in Orenburg has been quite an adventure. It’s funny though; I feel liked I’ve lived here before, like everything except the language is familiar. It’s strange – many things have been strange for me recently. This city is like so unique and yet… still familiar. I wouldn’t begin to say that it’s been easy (it hasn’t), but there is more than meets the eye, so to speak.

The Basics:

I am living in a row of apartment buildings on the street called “Чкалова (tchkalava) which here is lovingly called the Great Wall, because it looks like a big white wall along the major road. Myself and a retired American missionary couple live in a small flat on the 9th floor at the top of the complex. The flat is protected by two doors requiring four keys for five locks. Every key is drastically different from the rest. The flat is a comfortable and vibrant space which has quickly become a home for me. It is also a favorite meeting place for students!     Out of my time here, we’ve only had hot water in the apartment for one of the weeks. The rest of the time we either boil water and mix it with cold or we do without. In the summer, most of the repairs to roads and houses and apartments gets done before the cold weather hits. But it really is not that inconvenient. Sometimes its even like an adventure! For good news: recently, a German intern named Alex has arrived for a two month stay and he is living in a room with me. Thank God; we connect very well and are both excited to be creative in our ministries here. Luckily for me, he wants to practice his English and also speaks Russian.

This is my only decent picture of Alex at the moment. So suave!

The weather has been quite terrible here. For the first two and a half weeks here, we had 38-40C temperature (around 100F) everyday! Welcome to Russia! It’s been super hot on buses and sometimes in the apartment. Most people do not have air conditioning. Russia has shorter but very hot summers and longer very cold winters without much of an autumn. The heat finally broke a couple of days ago, but then we briefly had 60F which is a big difference! We even got a little rain with the weather change (it has only rained the one time my entire time here). This is good because of the wildfires that have been running rampant in European Russia. Many of you have probably heard about them. Moscow has been a mess because of the smoke and many older people have been dying from breathing complications. The cooler weather this week has been helping though and luckily, the Orenburg oblast has not been touched by the fires as of yet. It seems like we should be okay. We heard that supposedly Putin took money from the funds for fighting wildfires to fund something else that he wanted money for…a program or something. Maybe the extra funds went into someones pocket? We don’t know. But apparently they fight fires like this every year due to the dry hot weather in the summers. This year was just worse and the money to fight it was no longer there. Please pray for the people affected.

Travel is one of the more frustrating activities to do around here. This is a city of around 700,000 people and most people cannot afford to either buy and upkeep a car or to drive it very often, so the city buses are the way to go. It costs about 10 рубль for any distance on one bus ride which is about 35cents. The city map does not list the bus routes or bus stops. The bus stop names are not easily seen unless you are standing outside of the bus on the other side of the street and the buses stop running their routes some time between 9pm and 12pm. The problem for me is that 1) I don’t know Russian 2) I can’t read the signs even if I did 3) I do not recognize the stops because I am a foreigner and because I have not lived in this city for very long and 4) because the students like to walk around outside very late because school has not started yet. So, while I sit on the bus, I try to get a good view of the street from my seat so I don’t miss my stop (using landmarks mostly) and I pray that I can find a way to my destination without too much difficulty. It has been great to get to know all the students here but I will be glad to not have to worry about late night travel in a couple weeks when school starts. The taxis are much more expensive and to get one to meet you at your location in a reasonable time period can also be quite the adventure…

Volodya and Dmitri

FOOD!:        >>>The food is great here. The bread is bland and a little dry but the soups are incredible, most everything is organic (you can taste the difference- your body feels the difference too), the meals are hearty, they LOVE tea time after the meals like I do, they appreciate a good cheese, and the spices are just right. I think good food can make anything worthwhile, I mean almost ANYTHING! But here its just an added bonus, not a coping tool.

MY ACTIVITIES AND TASKS:

Like I wrote before, the camp was such a great opportunity and blessing because of all the wonderful students I was able to meet right away. Many of them have truly become my friends and some of them are my Christian brothers and sisters too! I will continue to spend time with them during my stay here. I want to hang out with them as friends do; I want to learn from them as they learn from me; and I want to learn to love them by investing in their lives just as other men and women have invested in me. I always want to share the love of Jesus to others so I will continue to spend time with these students, to live life with them in a sense and to learn with them.

Anastasia

A major emphasis for my time here has been and will continue to be language learning. I came here with a knowledge of only some random nouns and prepositions. However, I knew that I would have a great opportunity to learn the language and practice it, so I have started to do it. The Russian language is difficult but beautiful. I have been practicing on my own and recently began lessons with a hired tutor. My goals for these few months are modest but still challenging. I think that if God has moved me in this direction to where I find myself in Russia; well, then it makes sense that I would learn the language so I can be ready to do whatever He may call me to do while here or in the future. Only God knows. I will follow. I also think it is important that I attempt to learn some of the Russian language since I demand so much from the students studying English. In this sense it is a matter a respect. So I will study hard and hopefully as you and I ask from the Lord, He will bless my study and I can begin to communicate to the people here in Orenburg.

Time escapes quickly in these here parts but there is still time each day for all the unexpected activities that inevitably occur. I have found myself doing MANual labor for friends, attending unexpected social events for church and mission members, hosting a short-term mission team from Germany, preparing for another camp (it will be outside the city again, from sunday to thursday, for members of the mission/church), and finding time to update you all and pray for everyone and everything going on! I think it is better though to have too much to do than not enough, so the days feel fulfilling even if sometimes they are tiring or draining. It is amazing just to have so many conversations out of the ordinary to give a perspective on what God has done and is doing in the world, since the American Christian experience can become somewhat secluded due to our “self-sufficiency” and shear distance from many places (the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are formidable boundaries [a.k.a. adversaries], meant to be conquered!).  It is so great just to catch a glimpse of how versatile, creative, and powerful God is, through the simple stories of  ordinary people throughout the world. These little gifts are fuel for the missionary’s spirit as he or she follows into the unknown, trusting in and leaning on God, who has proven Himself to be faithful time and again to those who hear and follow Him. What an exciting journey!

SHOUTOUT:

I am giving two worthy SHOUTOUTS on this post. The first goes to Alex R:

>Alex, ask me a question. You already know the answer! T.I.R. –>  that is the only explanation necessary, and the sooner you assimilate to T.I.R., the sooner you will feel comfortable robbing people in the tunnel under the road at молодёжный.

The second goes to Es(p)ther:

>Espther,………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..(intake of air)…………WWC!  Don’t be upset that I didn’t write anything more. It’s not the end of ze world! The Eynd!

Posted in Orenburg | 1 Comment

We Should Catch Up

I know that my posts are still about a week or two behind but I continue to be distracted every time I plan to write. This is good and bad. It’s frustrating but it is good to have spontaneous plans and things to do as well. So let’s catch up. I will try to not be too general but also I will try to get us closer to real time.

First of all, let’s finish with camp.

"The Red ARMy"

I will post a picture of our stellar river slide (made of wood and plastic like pool liner) below. This was an important part of camp. Also important was late night games played in an empty field; S’more night (I hate s’mores), frisbee lessons, and talent night.

The 30ft slide

The only sports equipment I chose to bring was an ultimate frisbee and it turns out, Russians don’t know how to play or how to even throw a frisbee so this became an instant “hit” with everyone and we all had a lot of fun in the process. I enjoyed teaching everyone and it was a great connection tool for me. Talent night was incredible. All of the students are very talented and the show turned out to be something very

Late night field games with Volodya and Erik

memorable. It was probably the most enjoyable show I have seen in a long time and it was FREE! Everyone gave professional performances and I say this as something of an entertainment critic. Quite amazing. If I can get my videos to transfer I will post them too. Again, what a blessing it was for things to go so well to allow me to gain connections so quickly. I have had the chance to spend a lot of time with the English camp students that live in Orenburg and that’s really good for a lot of reasons. They say “slava Bogu” here… “praise God!”

We waited for buses to come and pick us up on the last day as everyone said their goodbyes to each other after breakfast, and we bounced for an hour or two all the way into Orenburg on the “off-road” dirt roads. The students were tired and probably smelly, but they looked peaceful and it made me smile! The real work was about to start!

——————————————————————————————-

Also, I will begin to have a SHOUTOUT section either on my page or in my posts. Each “shoutout” will be like a special hello to one specific person. To receive a “shoutout” you must make contact with me. Afterwards, I might make a shoutout out of the conversation, so keep posted!

The first “Shoutout” will go to Christy! Congratulations!

SHOUTOUT: Christy, I think you work too much so enjoy your vacation. But don’t be gone for too long because Fang told me he is already lonely and he doesn’t have a ride to his support group this week…

A city bus

Tired on the bus ride! (Bounce, bounce, POTHOLE!)

It's okay, the crazy guy is German...

Posted in Camp | 1 Comment

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead I Guess

A team of Americans from two churches in Iowa and Wisconsin had arrived into Russia a few days before me to help put on an English camp for young Russian students who want to practice the English they have learned in school or university. The camp happens around the same time every year

Sakmara River

and lasts a week long. It is a great alternative for financially strained students since the local Mission here charges very little for it and because they keep the costs extremely, EXTREMELY low. Not only is the price right for these students but the “roughing it” mentality creates a perfect atmosphere for fun and personal growth. The camp has no cell reception, no internet, no vending machines, no hot water, and no air conditioning. The cold well water shower was rarely used and the outhouses had no mirrors. All the houses were log buildings and a beautiful river called the Сакмара (Sakmara) ran alongside the entire camp. 

I jumped into the program with little to no trouble at all. I joined an English small group and quickly built rapport with the students and staff. The funny thing about it all is I never had jet lag…at all! What a blessing, what a praise! The only thing I can figure is that I had destroyed any sleep cycles I had previously during the two weeks before my departure. I know I can go without sleep for some time but this was unreal. I was still sleeping about4-5 a night during the camp and although that was better than before, I should have been tired. It was the opposite. My energy exploded as it tends to do at times and I just kept going all week. I played sports, I swam, I made coherent sentences (which is important when teaching English), and I felt great. I immediately recognized that this was my opportunity to fellowship and network with students. I could use the time to invest in them and later I would be able to continue the friendship in the city. Some of the students attending the camp were Christian believers who went to the Mission and many students had little to no connection to the Mission at all but they either lived in Orenburg or went to a University there.

Team Competition

I am reminded of the passage of Philippians 4:11-13:

“for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  >>>I can do all things through Him (Jesus) who strengthens me.”  <<<

I love the times when I feel like I can truly identify with Paul, even if it’s not the same (…he was beaten and left to rot in jail). God calls us to live with much at times and to use our resources for His Kingdom; He also calls us to live with very little at times and to be satisfied, allowing Him to be our STRENGTH, allowing Him to replace any temporary coping device that man can devise. The good and eternal in place of the temporary and ultimately unsatisfying. As God strengthens me I will continue to “do all things.” Such a great reminder.

Pasha! Blowing an authentic model of a Biblical Ram's horn from Israel. It's Lunch Time!

Here is a basic pattern of what each day was like at English camp:                                     7am: Sun-up/ Prayer and Reading                                                                                       8:30am: Leaders Devotionals and Prayer and Leaders Meeting                                              9:30am: Morning Exercises to stereotypical old American songs                                       10:00am: BREAKFAST! (the food is amazing, of course)                                                         10:30am: Singing in English and Morning Instructions                                                                11:00am: Small Group English Lesson and Discussion                                                                12:00pm: Organized Games/ Competition (Split into 4 Teams Designated by Color…we were the Bumble Bees and YES! we had a group chant!)                                                               1pm: LUNCH (The biggest meal of the day and therefore my favorite!!!)                                 2pm: Small Group English Lesson                                                                                                  3pm: Free Time to swim, nap, play sports (I taught them frisbee and they played it all week), read, talk, or prepare for the evening for staff.                                                                  6pm: DINNER (also delicious for me even though apparently all the meals were cheap versions for Russian standards)                                                                                                      7pm: Large Group Time with Singing and Announcements                                                        8pm: TRIBAL GROUPS meet to work on skits for end of the week (The theme for this year was “Survivor” like the “reality” TV show)                                                                           9pm: Free Game Time for sports, UNO, or “Баня” (Banya)  >>>Russian Banya is a cultural practice which consists of girls and guys going into separate sauna-like buildings to fellowship and sweat! There is a warm room for snacks and discussion. Then there is a very hot room used for communal bathing and discussion. And THEN there is the banya room which is a sauna on crack cocaine! We got the banya up to 110 celsius the other day which equals 230F. THAT’S TOASTY! When you get too hot, you jump into the river or hose yourself off with ice cold water. It’s quite the experience you can imagine…

11pm: Sun down                                                                                                                                   1am or 5am: Bed 

May each of you have a strengthened day. Do all things through Him! I will continue to attempt to trick out my page to make it more interactive. -Ryan

English Camp at Сакмара 2010

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WEHTCCBB Part 2- The Arrival

I boarded my plane in Moscow, headed for Orenberg at 18:30. Our plane was hot but we were to leave soon and the cabin always cools off once in the air. The woman sitting next to me obviously couldn’t tell if I was Russian or something else. I think she noticed my mesh sneakers and continued to look at me periodically as if she were changing her mind every time. I never said anything until the end of the flight so it’s possible I was her sole entertainment for the flight. I wondered what she finally decided before she heard my speak. She had plenty of time to guess; however, because our flight was delayed around 2 hours. Their was no reason for it and the steward was having an impassioned discussion with another customer who didn’t like the fact that their was no reason. Nonetheless, we waited, and the cabin got hotter with us in it. I had not had enough to drink and was seriously afraid of losing consciousness as I was sleep deprived but not sleepy and the heat was becoming so unbearable that I was losing my ability to hear and see. I just kept quietly pinching myself every so often to make it until we left the terminal.

AT LAST, we backed out and took off, once again behind schedule. We did make up some time on the way which was nice and I had finally made it to Orenberg, “fortress near the Or.” I walked from the plane to the main gate where family, friends, and drivers were waiting. Because of my continuous delays, I was never able to finally confirm a pick-up from the Mission which I wanted to do, but I was sure I would be alright and if at worst no one was there to see me, I remembered the address of the missionaries (luckily). After aimlessly searching the crowd a few times over a man got in my way and stared at me, so I stared back. After a couple moments… it was Peter, one of the German missionaries. He was very enjoyable company and extremely pleasant for having to wait an extra hour and a half for my plane to arrive. It was now 12:30am.

I found out that I was not to go to the house in the city at first. We were going directly to English camp which I was helping with which took probably over an hour to get to outside the city. The roads were rough but serene in the clear night sky and I was feeling good. When we arrived, most of the students attending the camp were still up playing games in a log commons/cafeteria room. I was immediately greeted by a friend from my college who happened to be helping with the camp as a mission trip with his home church (super small world, huh?). He introduced me to some students, but most of them introduced themselves. They had all, apparently, been anticipating my arrival and were ready to meet me….so I stayed up to talk with them.

I got a few hours of sleep and got up at 7am to get myself ready for the day and proceeded to go to the leaders meeting at 8:30. Peter and the American missionaries, Steve and Joanna Tinsley, had filled me in on a couple of things the night before, but most of the day, the week, and really even beyond that was still up in the air. I was ready to find out where I could fit in.

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