After getting some much needed rest and avoiding eating some flounder for breakfast (thanks Bud & Henry for covering for me) we all went over to the office of Ufa Baptist Church which sits on the top floor of the home of Sergai Interasov. There we had some tea, cookies, bread and sausage and fellowshipped about our churches. Our interpreter for the day was Pasha (which is short for Paul…it takes longer to spell it…so I’m not sure why it is short…kind of how Velodia is short for Vladimir…anyway, you try and figure it out). Pasha is a brother from the City of Samara which is outside of Bashkortostan and where there is a seminary sponsored by the Master’s Seminary in California. It was a real blessing to have him with us for today and he is a God fearing brother in Christ who works in youth ministry. He traveled many hours just so he could translate for our meetings together with the brothers that are no longer part of the Baptist Union.
So, after our tea time Sergei Interasov took a couple of hours sharing with us the history of the church and how two years ago he and the three other leaders of the church took a closer look at what their church looked like and compared it to the Scriptures. They saw that they were heavily programmed and that changes needed to take place, so together they cleared out the programs and established a church that would have as its goal the building and equipping of people in the Gospel and for God’s glory. It was great to hear how they emphasized the need to train the men of the church, to develop flock that meet in homes and to have specific times of training in Theology. It was a great time to hear what God was doing in his church.
Oleg & Svetlana
After meeting with Surgei, one of the brothers of the church, Oleg, took us to his home in the country where his wife had prepared a delicious lunch for us all. My wife would be especially proud as I made sure I had a bit of everything, but especially the extremely healthy salad. It was great to talk with Oleg and his wife, Svetlana, and answer their questions about life, marriage, parenting and ministry. I
don’t have a picture, but Oleg raises rabbits. Not the small cute fluffy kind that you can hold in your lap, but the ones that that, if they had antlers would be Jackalopes. Really, they were huge. Sitting normally the tops of their head would come up above my knee and the ears probably as high as my hip. I was even wondering if his children could ride them they were so big.
Albert & Goulia
So, what does one do when they are stuffed with tea, a huge lunch spread and a healthy dessert? Well, I found out that the answer to that question is this: drink more tea! So, we sat in their living room until about six o’clock when we traveled to our next destination, the home of Albert and Goulia which was about ½ an hour away. And what do you think we did when we arrived? Yes, we ate a huge and delicious meal followed by some tea. We sat and fellowshipped with the brothers until about 9 o’clock and then Albert and Sergei scampered off and got the Banya ready. But first we all had to have a fresh cup of tea.
(Now, when I say tea I don’t mean that we are drinking Trader Joe’s brand, or Twinings. Every place we have gone we have a form of black tea, but they all taste different. Some have a fruity flavor, some have a ginger, but tonight it had a hint of mint. It has been a tea lover’s delight!)
Next, we ran over to the Banya which is basically a Russian form of Sauna, but in the Russian Banya there are usually three rooms. One to change in and that has the fire place, the washing room where you pour water over yourself when you are done, and the inner sanctum where hot coals are steamed with a eucalyptus smell and beatings with birch branches take place. We were very relieved that our Russian Brothers exercised Christian Liberty and decided to keep their underwear on so as not to cause us any difficulty. It was a nice welcoming gesture.
So we all sat for a little over an hour and sweated, beat each other, drank water and fellowshipped about the things of God.
When we were all done we went back to the house and all sat around the table and did what? Yup, you guessed it…we all drank Tea!
Now, what does that have to do with the parable of the Prodigal Son? Well, the answer is this. I feel like the fattened calf!
I’ll check in with you tomorrow…God bless!