How the pandemic has been going for us…
As “lockdown” March 2020 was starting, I (Liz) came down with a mysterious illness which partially continues to this day. I spent a year going to doctors in two different countries, and didn’t get a complete answer. One of the symptoms has been blurry vision, which makes it hard to read, write, and communicate.
Many times I have thought, “I wish someone would tell me what’s wrong and what to do.” Wouldn’t life be easier if we knew just what to do? Whether it’s Covid-19 or another illness that doctors aren’t sure how to treat, waiting for answers is always a good exercise in patience and faith.
On the one hand, being sick in 2020-2021 has been characterized by isolation. How do you invite someone into your home to help, during a pandemic? What if they bring the disease, or we give it to them? On the other hand, the quiet and lack of social calls has been good for healing. Not needing to rush anywhere can be a good thing.
Andrei was ordered to teach remotely just a few days before I got sick that month. That ended up being providential. He got up early, fixed breakfast, and gave the kids something to do before shutting himself in his home office, while I was in bed in another room.
I didn’t like not being able to be with my family, and prayed that God would let me recover enough to be with my kids. However, I could hear Him telling me that He had something more planned. I didn’t really like that answer because I wanted to go back to normal life. Now I am well enough to spend time with them, but the story isn’t over.
Meanwhile, our local church met via Zoom throughout lockdown, and Andrei continued to preach on a regular basis.
Trip to the U.S.
As a new school year began in 2020, we began praying for God to clear the way if we were meant to spend some time in the U.S. with my parents.
We had given up our plans due to the pandemic, but passports were expiring and it had been a long period of illness and isolation. One by one, we saw the obstacles removed: Andrei got switched to working remotely again, certain airlines were flying, etc.
The kids (8 1⁄2 and 4 1/2) and I had a great four months in the U.S. with my parents, where the change of pace was good for our overall well-being even as we waited for new documents and news of travel conditions. Then all the details worked out for Andrei to come pick us up and reenter Russia together.
Back in Russia
Whenever I go through a difficult bureaucratic process, I wish that I could start a ministry just to help others with paperwork! When we’re in that waiting area at Immigration Control, I can just feel the despair as people from different countries try to find a way to stay legally in Russia and avoid fines and deportation. The rules and schedule are shuffled around so much that it is hard to stay up-to-date with information, so I wouldn’t necessarily be able to help in a few months’ time. However, I always spread useful information as much as possible.
Nowadays, there are specific questions due to Covid. I know that many foreign missionaries have had to leave due to border restrictions, but I’ve also been talking to those trying to stay, or leaving to get new visas and coming back. I’ve had interesting conversations with missionaries traveling between the U.S. and Russia, as well as other foreigners in Russia trying to get documents in order. I believe these connections have a purpose in this particular season.
It’s camp ministry season! And about 25 years ago, I joined a team for the first time, with other members of the Hulley family and a team from College Church. On a whim, I dug out some old team t-shirts with scripture in English/Russian and have been wearing them around the neighborhood in St. Petersburg. As I take my kids to the playground each day, the sounds of Russian children playing and the memory of wearing those shirts takes me back to the active years of sharing the Gospel in post-Soviet summer camps. May the Lord continue to bring fruit from the years when Christians were allowed to distribute Bibles and preach the Gospel in secular camps! And may camps continue to be a fertile field for evangelism.
Family Health Update and general prayer requests
- Andrei’s parents (Nina and Vladimir) have been in the hospital with Covid-19. Praise the Lord that his father already got a negative Covid test and was discharged. He works as an engineer in a cancer treatment center, and faithfully went to work throughout the pandemic. We are waiting for Nina to have good news and be sent home soon.
- Although I’ve seen some improvement in other areas, I have had blurry vision since April 2020. I don’t know what the problem is and haven’t found a doctor that has been interested in exploring further.
- Andrei still has a few weeks left to the semester. Many, many students are sick but new students will be arriving from out of town for intensive courses, without being allowed to go remote.
- Please pray for the coronavirus situation in Russia, which is not yet slowing down.
- Please pray for summer ministry to be possible, even if it takes a different format than usual.
- Please pray for friendships and the right educational opportunities for our kids.