A day of rest in Moscow

Saturday, August 26, 2017
Moscow, Russian Federation
This morning we rested and took our time with our Bibles. The weather outside was clear, we’re on the 17th floor so we have a long view. We knew from our apps that is was cooler outside. When we arrived it was in the 80s F during the day, now it’s barely in the 60s.
About 1:00 pm we took a cab to the Irions’ once again, arriving about 1:45 because of traffic. We said our hellos and asked how the night was for everyone. They hadn’t slept too well, the stress of the past weeks had taken their toll, and now the uncertainty of what was ahead was weighing too.
Around 2:00 we sat around the dining room table, sang a hymn and prayed. Then I gave a news update on various subjects, including Mr. Franks’ prayer request for church brethren in the Houston area who were dealing with flooding after Harvey. Of course they knew about that already. Diana Irion has a daughter and son-in-law who are evacuating Houston while she and Hervé and another daughter are evacuating Moscow. That’s a lot of evacuating for one family.
I spoke about something positive, and I hope motivating, for a little less than an hour, we sang another hymn and closed in prayer. After we had finished, Hervé told me what we had just done was on the border of legality in Russia.  A new law recently was passed making it illegal to hold a church service anywhere else than in an official place of worship for a church, recognized by the Russian government. Such churches must be long-established and recognized by the State, which would not apply to our relatively new church association, even if the “movement” has a 2000 year history…. He said that as far as he knew the law had thus far been rarely if ever applied, but it was placed on the books to be available whenever it was desired. I supposed it’s a back-up, catch-all sort of law to allow the State to control the conscience and worship of it's citizens.. It felt to me that this was a little point of spiritual light in a world that needs so much more of it, but can't have it yet.
It was also another reminder that this is not a free and open nation; it does not recognize many of the rights and freedoms we take for granted in the West. 
After our “underground” church service we had some snacks, and enjoyed more conversation. We talked about their travel plans, the next few weeks, school plans in Frankfurt which appears to be their new assignment. I know the Frankfurt area a little, so I mentioned some things I thought they might like to see and do in the region, and I mentioned how it would be wonderful gateway to travel to lots of places in Europe. Frankfurt is the busiest airport in Germany and the fourth busiest in Europe, after London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, and Amsterdam-Schiphol.  So there will be lots of low-cost flights available to them to go all over.
Mainz is close by which is where Guttenberg did much of his work creating movable type. I told them about the Guttenberg museum which has several copies of the first edition Guttenberg Bible on display. That is truly a fascinating visit.
We talked about many things, but we also knew that as soon as the sun set the rest would be over and they had many things to do in preparation for a 2:00 am departure from the house. So we didn’t stay too long, and left about 4:30. They needed to rest and have some calm before the flurry of activity began.
We hugged and said our goodbyes and then Marjolaine and I caught a cab back to our hotel. We had beef stroganoff for dinner, which we both are already regretting. Apparently pure butter is not available or used in Russia. What is sold is a mix of butter and oils and fat, a sort of margarine which is difficult on the digestion. I had eaten the dish once before without problems, but this time it his us both and gave us an unpleasant case of indigestion.  Hopefully this won’t carry over to tomorrow when we’ll fly back to Paris.
It’s been a fulfilling and encouraging day for us, and for everyone I hope. We hope tomorrow and our departure from Russia will go smoothly.

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Mary Hendren

How encouraging that you and the Irions shared the Sabbath and the elements of truth. It's sad they have to leave so suddenly, but the laws concerning religious practice there are ominous.