On January 13 Beverly and I will leave for Eastern Europe. The areas we serve are basically divided into three zones: Eastern Europe, the Baltic Republics and the Nordic countries. It is not possible to cover all three areas adequately on any one trip, but we CAN cover two well. This time we are going to Ukraine and Poland in Eastern Europe, Latvia and Estonia in the Baltics and will make only one stop only in Sweden for the Nordic part of our trip.
We will fly from New York to Budapest from where we will continue by train to Ukraine. Joining us in Budapest will be Dr. Jan Karlik who is a United Church of God member in Bakersfield, California. He is lecturing at a Budapest University. His work ends when we come and he will then continue with us for about two weeks. In Ukraine, we will stay with Sabbatarians in the towns of Vinogradov and Khust. We have had a brotherly relationship with these people since 1991 when we met with their remnant who emigrated to Florida. They put us in contact with an entire Sabbatarian culture in Ukraine and Moldova. In 1991 Ukraine became an independent nation as the USSR collapsed almost overnight; it was now possible to worship God openly whereas before they had to do it secretly. I have described some of our early contacts on the Internet and you can see more here and go to the entire Ukraine section here. Traveling with us to the Ukraine part of the trip will be Scott and Caroline Scharpen who have a great interest in the children of Vinogradov.
We have visited these people many times since then. Our Church has provided projects such as a major Ambassador University program to teach English as a Second Language in 1994 plus humanitarian aid. One of the ways in which the Sabbatarians have helped us in the past six years has been by printing larger quantities of United Church of God literature. This has provided a great cost savings. We pay only one-third of what it would cost to print the same material in the United States or Western Europe. We have printed booklets in Russian and Swedish and the Bible Study Course in Russian. The quality of booklets and Bible Study courses is very good. On this trip I am bringing over the necessary files to print 2000 copies each of the lessons 7-12 of the Russian Bible Study Course. We also hope to print the God's Holy Day booklet. One of the Sabbatarian leaders is a printer and manages the printing for us. We will also visit our Street Children Program that we have supported since 2001 and stay with them for a few days. This past summer several of our United Church of God members did another Teaching English as a Second Language Program. Their story is on the Web here.
On the first Sabbath of this trip we will speak to two churches in Transcarpathia. We will then return to Budapest by train and fly on to Warsaw, Poland where will spend a few days with Andrew and Karen Lee and family. Andrew is a partner with the Ernst and Young Accounting firm and works in several Eastern European countries, including Russia. I have known Andrew and his family since 1965 when I first met them at Church services in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
From there we fly to Riga, Latvia and go on to Smiltene to the Robert Schultz's. Robert Schultz is pastor of a Church that has started keeping the Sabbath and this past year kept the entire cycle of Holy Days. He and his wife Elita kept the Feast in Germany this past fall. Most of you were able to meet them in Leksand this past summer. We will be in Smiltene for the second Sabbath.
From Smiltene we will travel 120 km to Tartu, Estonia. There we will stay at Johnnie Lambert's apartment. This apartment has served as our mailing office in Eastern Europe. We will mail out Good News magazines to more than 600 people, as well as do mailings of the Bible Study Course in Estonian and Russian. We will insert translated articles in Estonian and Russian to respective subscribers. We plan to have an evening with our Estonian brethren.
I also plan to visit Valdur Vesingi at the Vangla, the Tartu prison. If you would like to read more about Valdur, you can click here. He wrote a common letter to all who have written him that you may want to read. He appreciates visits and correspondence. From Tartu we travel to Tallinn by bus. We will meet with Toomas Schvak and a new young man Artur Aleksandrov.
Then we fly from Tallinn to Stockholm and take the train for the last days of the trip which we will spend with Paul and Kira Spenser and their three children. On the Sabbath we hope to have people come from Oslo, Gothenberg and perhaps other places. That will be on January 31st. We return home on February 2.
Overview of January 2009 Journey
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States