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Entries in Europe Trip 2012 (11)

Monday
Jun042012

Russia Trip 2012: An Evening in St. Petersburg

New Russia: St. Petersburg high rises.
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Old Russia: Communist era high rises.
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Returning to St. Petersburg, we were treated to a break in our schedule. Mike and Carrie Pickett There are no official taxis in St Petersburg. Carrie negotiates a ride with a young man. (Click to enlarge)invited us to enjoy dessert at their renovated communist-era apartment on the fifth floor. As we climbed the stairwell—a typical high rise with no elevator—an ancient babushka climbed ahead of us. (“Babushka” is the Russian term for grandmother. It also refers to the headscarf eastern European grandmothers typically wear.) Though Mike and Carrie’s apartment sits side-by-side with the babushka’s on the fifth floor, this sweet-faced grandma would not accept help from Carrie. Would not allow her to carry her bag, or steady her arm as she swayed and gasped for air, Babushka refuses Carrie’s help as Andrew looks on.
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clinging to a hand rail after what was for her a torturous climb.

Later, Carrie explained that the grandma lives alone and is afraid of their sympathy, deeply mistrusting their motives. This is because she knows that her apartment has become more valuable than gold in the new and upwardly mobile St. Petersburg. And it is well known that eager young people gain the confidence of babushkas in order to abduct and kill them to obtain their apartments. So, Mike and Carrie’s desire to show Christ’s love continues to be rejected out of fear and isolation—another harsh contradiction between the old and new Russia.

Dessert time with Mike, Carrie and Elliana. (Click to enlarge)Dessert time was a pleasant departure from the world outside. Elliana joined us, and being two years old, naturally stole the show for the rest of the evening. With the exception of the irresistible cakes and fruit trays Carrie had prepared.

After dessert, the long “white nights” of St. Petersburg were beginning. Positioned north on the Baltic Sea, the sunset seems to go on forever. We took advantage of it and walked-off our dessert until 10 pm, bathing in the photographer’s golden hour. We found that the Russian way of life produces a much greater appreciation for its city parks and squares. The winters are long and confining, and the Elliana helps Mommy serve cake. (Click to enlarge)apartments quite small, therefore in the spring and summer people eagerly depart their dwellings to spend hours in the city’s common areas.

We joined the locals and walked through a plaza of water fountains dominated by a great statue of Vladimir Lenin. We were reminded of the truly old Czarist Russia of the 1700s, when Peter the Great built this fabulous city. And two-centuries later, when the dark cloud of communism imposed its atheistic signature, renaming the city Leningrad—a name that endured until 1991, when the Soviet Union broke-up. Today, the new Russia has reclaimed the original name. Yet, Lenin’s statue stands ironically frozen in mid-stride, stuck in an era that has Andrew walks with Elliana toward the local plaza.
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disappeared due to the massive failure of his ideas.

It is good to be an American in St. Petersburg tonight. We think ahead a few weeks to our July 4th celebration when names like George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton will stand in stark contrast to that of Valdimir Lenin. These American founders will be honored, not for the failure of their ideas, but for the God fearing wisdom they demonstrated in preserving freedom for so many generations to come. America’s blessing continues to bless the world.

 

Filed June 3, 2012 by Media Operations Manager, Stephen Bransford.

Plaza of water fountains: Stephen, Andrew, Mike, Elliana, Will.
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A relic from the days when St. Petersburg was call Leningrad. (Click to enlarge) No amount of water can wash away the record of this man. (Click to enlarge)

Carrie and Elliana watch the dancing water. (Click to enlarge) Andrew coaches Elliana’s first driving lesson. (Click to enlarge) Lenin, posing for a time that is no more. (Click to enlarge)

Tuesday
May292012

Russia Trip 2012: Gospel Truth Seminar, Izhevsk

The victories of war are celebrated in Izhevsk.
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The city of Izhevsk is a munitions city. It was planned and created deep in the Russian heartland during the buildup to Hitler’s invasion. Here armaments were assembled for the defense of the nation. The factories remained beyond the reach of German long range bombers. It is said the vast Russian land defeated the Nazi Armies as much as the determination of the Russian people.

After the war, Mikhail Kalashnikov invented the now famous AK-47 assault rifle in this city. This weapon is said to have redefined armed conflict around the world. Now in his nineties, Kalashnikov lives as a celebrity in Izhevsk. He claims that the simple A Russian family poses with the statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov. (Click to enlarge)elegance of his design was influenced by reading the Bible, and by reading classic Russian literature.

As we drove to our Gospel Truth Seminar in Izhevsk, we were told that the sponsoring pastors had not been allowed to use the newer halls available in the city. The hall they rented was a rickety gymnasium adjacent to a city jail, complete with armed guard towers and razor wire. Little did it matter. A thousand people filled the hall—some were local, and some drove from regions of Georgia, Ukraine and as far away as Armenia—which was like driving from The factory in Izhevsk where the AK-47 was first manufactured. (Click to enlarge)Los Angeles to New York City to get to this meeting. Many of these had seen Andrew’s Gospel Truth program on CNL television.

But a quick poll of the people revealed that Russia is more of a book culture, than a television culture. Russia has always honored writers, and Andrew’s 11 published Russian language books have proven to be a most important source of spreading the good news in this land. For that reason it was a special pleasure to see Emile Menzhagil and his wife Lena in the crowd. From Ufa, Russia, Emile has been responsible for translating each of Andrew’s 11 books into Russian. He is a true hero of grace. Only eternity will reveal his reward for such a solitary task.

The praise and worship provided by the local church was excellent, perhaps the best we have heard anywhere. Really! After Andrew completed each teaching, many miracles were seen as the CBC students from Naberezhnye Chelny laid hands on the sick and saw them recover.

And so we prepared to return to St. Petersburg for our final Russian meetings.

Filed May 29, 2012, by Media Operations Manager, Stephen Bransford.

The gymnasium that hosted the Gospel Truth Seminar in Izhevsk. (Click to enlarge) Inside the gymnasium, a thousand gathered to hear the word. (Click to enlarge)

Velodya translates the local pastor for Andrew and David
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Velodya translates Andrew’s teaching for the crowd.
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Russians came from many time zones.
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Emile Menzhgil translates Andrew’s books.
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Elena Tsiz helps a pastor choose from Andrew’s books. (Click to enlarge) Russia is a book culture.
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Victor & Natasha brought students from Naberezhnye Chelny to pray for the sick. (Click to enlarge) Students from Naberezhnye Chelny mingled with the crowd. (Click to enlarge)

Tuesday
May292012

Russia Trip 2012: Lunch at the Russian "Sanctuary"

Andrew and Stephen return from inspecting Nagornum facilities, old and new Russia. (Click to enlarge)Each day in Izhevsk, after the morning session of the Gospel Truth Seminar, Andrew was taken with his team to Nagornum, a retreat center belonging to the Work of Faith Church. There a faithful staff would prepare a Russian feast of fruit, vegetables, caviar, beef, bread, various main dishes, salad and dessert. Pastor Vitaly, of Work of Faith Church, provides this sanctuary to visiting missionaries and visitors as well as to church groups and others. Nagornum has been a special retreat for Mike and Carrie Pickett when ministering in the area. During our Gospel Truth Seminar, a nanny provided round the clock care for Elianna, enabling Mike and Carrie to concentrate on the details of the conference. For our team, Nagornum provided an authentic taste of Russia. (These picture of food are courtesy of David Hardesty, who failed to photograph the main courses because he was too busy eating them, especially the mushroom and chicken croissant.)

Filed May 29, 2012, by AWM Media Operations Manager, Stephen Bransford.

Andrew and team gather for lunch.
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Fruit …
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Pastor Vitaly and his wife host the meal.
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Beef …
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Caviar (tastes like salmon eggs, yikes, it is salmon eggs)...etc. (Click to enlarge) Dessert!
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