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Thank you for praying for Matt and me as we traveled back to Vanavara on the winter road. We made it back safely, Praise the Lord! Matt and I drove straight through, trading off driving, so that the other could rest. Considering the conditions of the winter road, we made pretty good time.

The road was clearly melting. We drove through a lot of mud and slush, but underneath the mud and slush, the ground was still frozen solid. (In the warmer weather, much of the road is marshland, and only a few specially designed vehicles can make it through.)

We are glad to be back. Thank you for your prayers.
I wanted to thank every one for their prayers for our coworkers, the Northcutts. The Northcutts are getting settled in to a temporary apartment while they decide what to do next. They have received some  supplies from the city. (As I understand it, one driver didn't charge them anything for the delivery.) Between that, and what they were able to get out of the old apartment, they have been able to set up a temporary living situation.

I am flying out tomorrow  to the city to help Matt Northcutt drive his truck back up the winter road. You may remember from an earlier blog post, that both Matt and I are having trouble with our vehicles. He had to send his truck down to the city on a flat bed for repairs. At the time of this writing, they are putting his truck back together, and it should be ready to go by tomorrow.

Please pray for this trip. The road conditions are not the best, as the road is melting away. Our truck driver friends are saying that this weekend will be their last pu…

Winter Road Update

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This year's supply run was quite rough.  On our first trip, I ran into some mechanical difficulties en route. About 255km (160 miles) outside of Krasnoyarsk, the wiring harness caught fire. I immediately hit the kill switch, (a UAZ van has a factory installed kill switch that cuts all battery power to the vehicle) and got it off the road. Matt Northcutt and I cobbled the wires up enough to get it to a nearby city. A few days later, I limped it the rest of the way to Krasnoyarsk. (A special thanks to Kevin Jones and James Pranger for their help in getting it back to Krasnoyarsk.) I had a new wiring harness put in, and returned to Vanavara loaded with supplies. 
Upon my return to Vanavara,the van developed some different problems that I am working on now. In addition, Matt Northcutt's truck developed an engine knock. It is looking like he may have to send his truck down to the city on a flatbed for repairs.
Because of the problems with both of our vehicles, we were not able to …

Life in the North (Part Two)

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The winter road is open! Matt Northcutt and I are getting ready to leave out on a supply trip to the city tomorrow morning. It is about a two day trip there, and another two days back. We plan to drive the winter road portion on day one and drive the rest of the way to the city on day two.

From what our truck driver friends have said, it sounds like this year's road is in really good shape. We just learned that the short route is open, which is big news since it normally does not open until after the New Year Holiday. The reason for it opening early is that we had very little rain fall this summer, which in turn means that it does not take as long for swampy areas of the road to freeze over.

I have spent the last few days going over the mechanics of my van, as well as going through our emergency gear, making sure that everything is in order and properly working. Also, for safety, we will be taking two vehicles. This way, if something were to happen to one of the two vehicles, we …

Life in the North (Part One)

Summer is an important time of the year in the North. We have a short season to get everything done outside before winter hits and everything is frozen. We have been quite busy this past summer. Things are starting to calm down after the frenzy of summer projects.

One important part of the summer activities is our garden. I have written about the cultural importance of a garden in the past, but in Vanavara it is even more important, as food from the stores are brought up the winter road or flown in by airplane. As a result, it is more expensive. A garden is an important part of our food supply for the winter, it is not just a hobby for us.

We had a few unexpected surprises. There was an old greenhouse on our garden spot. I knew that it would need to be replaced someday, but I thought that I could get a few seasons out of it. As it turned out, it collapsed in early spring. Fortunately it collapsed before the time to plant, and I was able to replace it.

Another unexpected surprise was …

New Law

There is a new law in Russia that affects religious freedom. It is a very serious change and warrants much prayer. I know of at least one missionary who has already been brought up on charges. (The trial is currently pending.) There are still a lot of questions about the new law, and how it will be interpreted. We are working with a lawyer to make sure that we do everything according to the law. The following is a general overview of what we know about the law thus far. (A special thanks to Kevin for writing the following points.) Russian nationals can freely witness to whomever they want to about their personal faith, whether via social media or personal contact. (one on one basis)We as missionaries can freely witness to whomever we want to about our personal faith, whether via social media or personal contact. (one on one basis)Evangelistic outreach (passing out literature or holding meetings in public areas on behalf of a religious organization) is permitted IF you have a letter fr…

Remodel

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Remodel We have been very busy the last few months with the remodel of the apartment. The remodel is very important, as it communicates permanency. We want people to understand that we have come to stay for long term, we are not just passing through, and that we want to be a contributing part of the village.
You may remember from earlier letters, that when buying or renting an apartment, things like kitchen cabinets, sinks, light fixtures, and so on are not included. That said, by default, every time one moves, he is walking into a remodel on some level. This time our remodel was quite a bit more extensive. The floors and walls needed to be made level and plumb. This is not an uncommon problem in regions like this. It arises from the unique difficulties in foundation work due to the depth of the frost line. The result is that things need to be leveled and plumbed on occasions. Our particular apartment was well overdue.
We have most of the hard work done, and now we are just putting up wa…