During the month of November, 2017, my husband Andy and I had the chance to spend almost an entire month living among the Moscow church. It's the first time we've been able to spend such a substantial chunk of time in Russia since we moved away, eighteen long years ago! Now that we are officially financially retired, our hope was to be able to apply for some type of long-term residence permit in Russia. Unfortunately, this door has not opened easily. We face increasingly Cold-War-like conditions as we apply for Russian visas. Tougher sanctions now require Canadian citizens, like Andy, who plan to stay longer than two weeks in Russia, to register and pay for every night of their stay in a hotel (see this Radio Free Europe article from October 2017 on the Magnitsky Act for more information).
We managed to get a substantial discount at a hotel at Paveletskaya, practically the center of the city and less than five minutes from the Metro. That convenient location made it easy to spend lots of time with lots of people. Not counting Andy's three-day retreat with the staff brothers pod-Moscoviye, we were able to invest a total of 305 volunteer work-hours into the Moscow church community (about 45 hours a week, conservatively). Lest anyone fret that we might not have been taking care of ourselves, or might not be sensitive to the very real concern of burnout among, particularly, the women on the church staff, rest assured that we slept well, worked out, took days off, enjoyed long prayer walks, soaked up culture at a jazz concert, and thoroughly enjoyed the holiday sights, even as Andy labored a bit over his MDiv midterm. The blessings of being empty-nesters!
We loved every minute of reacquainting with the church at a deeper level.
This short video story from our inspiring, sincere, and hard-working brother, Andrei Rusu, was filmed at the end of the Grief Recovery pilot program, which was offered in Moscow for the first time in November. May it inspire you as it has us, to minister to others as broadly and freely as our Lord Jesus did during his time on earth.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas!