Christmas is Coming! (December Update)

The Visa-Go-Round continues (see previous updates to catch up on the story) … Realizing that it would be impossible for me to get my new visa before the old one expired, I decided to fly out of the country and then back the next day to start another visa process.  But, after buying non-refundable tickets, I was advised by many (including by one Ukrainian lawyer who is a believer) not to try this.  They said that I would probably not be re-admitted to the country because I did not complete my visa process.

So we decided to try to process my documents one more time.  We went through all the steps again, including having Katya’s mother and sister in person at the жек this time.  We wanted to get the documents submitted before my visa expired on Sunday, November 27th hoping that they would not consider me as violating my visa if they had the documents.  But, as always happens here, the strange and unexpected happened.  When the Baptist Union representative took my documents to OVIR, they could not receive them because it was the birthday of lady who receives these documents (no one else does this; she does not do anything except receive documents but it is obviously such a difficult job that they can’t train anyone else to do this).  But he was told that they would consider receiving my documents on Monday even though my visa expires on Sunday.  They did not … not on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, but finally on Thursday, December 1st.  It takes at least two weeks for them to process them and then we have to go back to the local OVIR and the local жек (and both are not open every day and they are open on alternating days) to get them to process my final documents.  That means December 14th or later.  We have tickets to fly home on December 13th.  We have been told it would be impossible to get the documents in time (they have my passport so I can’t go anywhere until they are finished).  Keep praying …

I just finished teaching the second of two classes this month, Church History (November 7-18) and World History (November 21-December 2).  It was a very busy month and now all I have are about 60 papers from the two classes that I will be receiving and grading over the Christmas holidays.  I will also be working on notes and Powerpoints for my Theology 4 class that I’ll be teaching next.  It covers the Holy Spirit and Eschatology.

Katya continue to try to get the Registrar’s Office more efficient.  She is requiring students to check things posted on-line and making them register ahead of time for classes.  It has been difficult getting students (and sometimes professors) to change longtime habits but it is working.  All of the last group was registered by the 2nd day of classes!  The Executive Council is also working on hiring someone to help her with all she is doing.  But most of all, the school needs to have the money for a software program that integrates all records so data doesn’t have to be re-added and updated to multiple programs for every change.  Be praying for the Executive Council as they make decisions.

ESL Clubs have been going great.  It is one of the highlights of my week.  We work with a number of students every Sunday morning before church.  Please pray for us as we prepare to teach and build relationships with these students.  We have one more class meeting before the holidays.  Our lesson will be on American holidays so we will talk some about Christmas and Christ too!  Be praying.

We continue to lead our small group Bible Study.  The number of people attending varies a lot depending on jobs and classes (which students are in town).  But we have really enjoyed having people in our home each week.  I (Jim) have been writing the Green Sheets (Bible Studies) weekly for the church also and teaching the small group.  Continue to pray for us as we prepare and as we minister to those who are part of our small group.

I’m hoping to work a lot more on Russian over Christmas and also in the beginning of the new year.  My Russian has definitely improved even though I have not had time for any lessons.  Because I hear Russian every day, I am hearing and understanding much better.  We try to read a short story in Russian every night which helps me with pronunciation and some new vocabulary.  One night I was too tired to read so Katya said she would just tell me the story of the Three Little Pigs in Russian and I would listen and translate.  She started telling the story and mixed up a few things and could not even remember what the second house was built from!  When I kept correcting her, she said, “Do you think you could do better?”  And I said, “Yes!”  And she smiled and said, “in Russian?” Ugh!  I said, “I’ll try.”  To our amazement, I was able to tell the whole story with lots of details and only a few corrections!  So I am learning, but I have a lot to learn.

Please continue to pray about our support levels.  This month we added another new person to our support team!  I will be sending out some more letters this month to ask for their support.  We are hoping to add 9 more.  Please pray that God will put a burden on the hearts of some to become part of our support team and help with the work we do here in Ukraine!

Thank you again for your support and your prayers.  Hopefully, we will be home for Christmas to see some of you!


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