**Author's Note: This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for the better part of six months as I never quite finished this from my spring missions trip.**
When I look back on our time in Saransk, my heart is here. I got to spend a few moments with my sister family – Victor and Julia Gretchko. Boy, it has been far too long since I have seen them last.
When I was here last, there son was a tiny boy, and their beautiful little girl was not even a twinkle in their parents eyes. Their home is filled with so much love. The laughter of the children is infectious. They are such a cute family, and I will miss them when I leave.
During one of our visits, we visited Elmira in Tetsva. She is the biggest prayer warrior I have ever seen. She has journals filled with prayer requests and answers from God. She remembers names and requests.
She and her husband Pavel live in a smaller than studio sized apartment. They have two children that live in this flat with them. When we spent time with her, we had seven people in this small flat. The kitchen was right next to the front door. The bathroom was just as you entered, and their was no true dining room table except for a small, thin ironing board sized table.
Elmira is unable to walk, and her greatest desire is to be able to walk, but even if she is unable to walk she will continue to praise the Lord. She spends about five hours a day praying for her children, her friends, her church, and all those items in her prayer journal. There is no way to express the emotions you have when you enter this type of flat. I remember listening to her share, and I started lose it. Tears welling up in my eyes. Here is a woman who wants nothing more than to walk, and yet she cannot. I was reading in Acts that morning about Peter and John healing a man at the Temple Gate, and I wanted to be able to grab her hand, and say “You are healed, get up and walk“, but alas that was not going to happen. Please pray that her family can move into a larger flat, her oldest daughter would find Jesus, and that she may be healed enough to walk.
Jim had twenty-one appointments in three days. The rest of us did not have that many combined! We spent time in downtown with a new friend – Olga. Olga is seventeen years old. She was one of the top five high jumpers in Mordovia. She jumped nearly 6 feet, which is fantastic for a female athlete – I would have loved to have her when I was coaching high jump! She has a love for the Lord that is fantastic. She is alive! She is on fire! This morning Jim led Olga's father, Valentine, to the Lord. Her mother passed away in late January of this year, and they are still dealing with those emotions. Each of these interactions was a divine appointment set up by God for accomplishing His purpose and His will. We may not see the fruit of these labors, but God does, and He is using it for His glory and that is all that matters.
These are just a few snapshots of what took place during our three days here in Saransk. It is always hard to board the train and leave all these dear people standing on the platform. It was about 30 degrees as we boarded the train. We were all bundled in our winter clothes. Our pants dirty from the mud and melting snow. They had smiles on their faces. The hands waving as the train blows its final whistle and pulls away from the station. Who knows when I will be in Saransk again — at the rate I am going it is every three to four years. For now, pictures and cards will have to do the trick. Good-bye Saransk until I see you again!
[This post is part of the Spring Missions Trip 2011 series.]
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