Lee Irish - Russia - August 18, 2002 Afternoon

My part in this convention ended this morning - one more meeting and then the travels start about 3 AM in the morning. 

I notice these folks are like those at the Moscow convention who will come in and move the chairs around where they want them… I really chuckle when I see that happening. It was touching yesterday when a lady who is a Korean took part in testimonies letting us know she wants to be a part of this - she has been in touch for about five years. There were a couple of ladies who gave a testimony this morning - one who had been baptized how much it meant to her. The other lady who is also Korean and has professed, let it be known she had been pulling back for some time - and wanted to give her all afresh. Her husband who doesn't profess was in tears. The people who live in this area are Kazak [Moslem], Korean, and Russian. The Kazaks are the most nonreligious Muslims I have ever met - never see them praying or hear the call to prayer from the church - in fact I haven't seen where the church is. There is no dress code and the women really try to dress up. We saw some girls going somewhere on Friday evening.  Really, they were dressed like the Russian girls. 

We have meetings in the Kindergarten here and also in the next place. The communists built these everywhere, so someone took care of the children - the mothers could then work. They taught the children communism from a tender age of three on up. The teachers were highly respected in the old system and they were called, “those who raise our children.”  A number of the teachers in this school have professed - some have passed away, including the director of the school..her husband is the elder. Now they just teach the same thing our preschools teach the children. It is the only place the Kazak children learn manners. These people are only 75 years removed from being with the cattle and sheep - moving from place to place like Abraham did. They were forced into town living by the Communist government.  

There is another group of children in the towns who have parents who are drunk so much of the time, or have other social problems the children are placed in institutions. One little boy has been at the convention, his grandmother professed and died but his parents are not able to care for him. His aunt and family here profess. In a nearby town where he lives, the cleaning lady professes - she and her two adult children have him come to their little humble home on weekends and holidays. They brought him to convention and the friends and workers express so much love to this little boy of 10 years and he responds to it. A future worker?

6:30 PM:

Dale tested the meeting and a second Korean lady stood to her feet - she, too, has been coming for a few years. The one who gave her testimony yesterday also stood up - as well as the older lady who was baptized. This is something she didn't do when she made her choice known before.  In her sincerity, she wanted to make sure she doesn't miss anything. It was a wonderful spirit as all left for home - some other troubled men and women. I counted 11 outsiders in the last meeting, 8 friends and we 10 workers.

Tuesday, 20th of August:

We flew on a new 737-800 and the trip on Air-Astana was very nice. Then the driver the workers use met us and took Dale, Jaeyoung, Adri, and myself down the famous route that was once the Silk Road. There the mountains looming up before us - a spur of the Himalayans. Issick is about an hour out of Almaty going towards China, you drive about 250 more miles to reach the border. Along the road are huge burial mounds from a people who have been lost in time. We saw some dwellings of those who still live like Abraham - I think the dwellings are called Yurts or the Mongolians call them Guars.

Through Issick, a fast running stream from the snows of the mountains flows. I walked up town and watched the mountains loom up before me; they looked much like the Grand Teton. Before I leave, hopefully I can get a picture of the morning sun shaded slopes. I was hot before I got back at 10 AM. Borovoe in the north was very cool during convention - the week before in Putten ll it was raining and cool. Norway and Sweden had been comfortable - but Putten 1 was steamy hot.  

I would not be able to describe this old school, now owned by a family and not used as a school. I will put it this way, some year soon they will not be able to use it as it will have fallen in! A light earthquake here would take care of it and many of the other communistic era buildings. It is perfect for convention - rooms with cots the workers brought in all over the place. Dorms for the friends with foam mattresses on the floor.  I think the cleaning was the big job when the workers arrived on the 29th of July. They repair as much as they can without putting lots of money into a rented place. The family live in one corner upstairs. We have bucket showers like in India and you feel just as clean. You bring in a bucket of hot water and mix it with the cold in the tap. There is hot water in the kitchen. Hold dipper full of water over your head and pour! Any other directions you need? I am in a room with Graham Snow of the Swiss staff.  

August 21:

Yesterday about 8 PM, Bob and Irene Rowe, Rod and Nola MacFarlane, and I went with Virginia Jones to get milk from a lady up the street she bought from last year. They no longer have a cow so the daughter took us down the street but her mother came as she remembered Virginia. She asked about what we are doing, so Virginia told her we are Christian and we study the Bible. The reply was, “Are Turks invited?”  There are a number of Turks in the city.  She told us a little of the story of how they came here when in the late 1930s, scattered from Georgia by Stalin. We assumed they are all Muslims but who knows? All of us noticed how open-faced the mother and daughter were - as well as warm. We had a gathering of others listening, Turks, Germans, and Russian. Earlier I had seen some Turkish ladies selling fruit at a stand and had asked if they were Gypsies? They dress different than the Kazaks or Russians. 

The workers' meeting was this morning: There were ten sisters and eight brothers all in a circle. In numbers so different than the meeting at Boring next week - but the same Spirit. Graham Snow had some wonderful things to share but I am past the point of taking notes or remembering after I hear things. Adri is going to send me the notes later from that meeting - she takes short hand.  

August 25:

The Turkish lady came on Saturday night for the gospel meeting.  Rod and Nola MacFarlane had walked down to where she lives and encouraged her to come.  She came to meeting with them, coming late.  She mentioned that she had been reading the Bible for a year - had studied some with the JWs but was looking for those she could have fellowship with. In fact the past three years since the workers have been buying milk from her, she has been drawn to come to our conventions. She mentioned the Turkish ladies that have a vegetable stand across from the school are such she feared them knowing she would come to the meetings. The two sisters who will be in this field walked her home and got to see where she lives. This lady is about 40 years old, short, and almost as wide as she is tall.  

Monday, August 26th:

We arrived from Almaty about 11:00 AM this morning - seems nothing is planned for me now. We checked with KLM and they are trying to change my ticket to Tuesday.  We will know for sure about noon tomorrow. This would mean I could get in Wednesday during or after the first meeting of Boring II. So we might see some of you earlier than expected. Dale can contact the friends in the Netherlands when and if I get the early flight and will contact Boring for me.  

Your weary Brother,