In the Land

In the Land of Russia with Jason

Worthy is The Lamb Who was slain to receive power, riches, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing! (Revelation 5:12, NASB )

It's so wonderful to be back here in Bsln, Russia, serving The Lord! Thanks be to Him for this privilege of serving Him here, and thanks to all of you who so faithfully share in this service. I hope the following journal excerpts will bring great joy to your hearts as you see your share in the reward of what's being done here!

Thanks be to God for how He enables us to share in His work, and I'm very grateful to each one of you who continually pray for and support the work here " “ thanks also for all your emails! Perhaps you will never make it to Bsln, though if The Lord calls you, please come! But know that you are a great blessing to so many people here, some of whom you will read about below. I can't convey to you how much your love has in turn touched them, but Jesus knows, and will reward accordingly. Glory be to our great God!

Monday, 8/28/06 " “ Flew to Boston from Pittsburgh... looked like the plane was gonna' land in the water as we got closer to the Logan Intl. Airport! Was kind of a hustle to make sure I got to the right place to catch the plane to Munich, but God was with me and gave me favor to do so.

Tuesday, 8/29/06 " “ On the flight to Moscow, I sat across the aisle from a young Armenian Christian, Ernest, who's about 27. We were an encouragement to one another, and The Lord blessed me to give him one of the new 'truth proclamation' CDs. Had a nice time visiting with Pastor Kevin Macken (thanks again!) and his family, and also with our Christian sister, Raya " “ glory to Yah!

Wednesday, 8/30/06 " “ Flew to Vladikavkaz/Bsln " “ Pastor Jambul met me at the airport, and had a nice time fellowshipping with him. Jambul and I went to the building and talked and ate... I'll be staying here, as the grandma i was supposed to stay with is still in the midst of remodeling.

Thursday, 8/31/06 " “ Went and visited Madina Tsabolova and family (she lost her ten year old brother, Marat, in the school massacre). The Lord blessed me to bring them some candy from the US, two 'I love Pittsburgh' bears, some pencils, postcards, two little maze games, and the CD " “ for all of which they were very thankful. Showed them photos of me and my family, and also colored with little Alana some. The whole family listened to parts of the CD, and heard the 'faith, hope, love' part in "have mercy, and comfort."  They also listened to at least the first verse and chorus of "truth."  Praise Yah! (It says, in both Ossetian and Russian, "The Lord didn't forget you; Jesus didn't forget you. He love you " “ Jesus loves you." ) Madina told me, 'The graveyard was really crowded this morning' " “ tomorrow marks the 2-year anniversary of the beginning of the hostage tragedy.

Went and visited the Mother's of Bsln " “ glory to God, it was a great time of visiting and they were extremely happy to see me; several hugs went around, and i praise God for the immense favor He's given me with them. Was able to give a ' Pittsburgh' creamer-mug, some postcards, candy, and my disc to them. Taisa (who lost a daughter in the attack) told me that her kids won't be starting school 'till maybe the 10 th, and she'd go with them. (School's due to start the 1 st throughout Russia, but I heard that here in Ossetia school will be starting on the 5 th as a sign of mourning.)

There was Zalina Dzaparova who lost her closest and dearest brother in the attack. There was Zalina Guburova who was working in Israel at the time of the massacre, and lost her only child as well as her mother in the school; we exchanged greetings in Hebrew, and she said how all were asking about me.

There was Madina's mom again, Zalina. There was Zina Tsarakhova, who lost her only son in the attack; she told me her young daughter (Vika) who survived the massacre is now studying in Moscow.

There was Rita who lost her only daughter/child in the school. There was Teya's mom, who lost her little girl in the tragedy. I ate with them (after seriously trying to refuse several times on account of knowing i'd have to eat again soon!) and some of the journalists who were there.

Afterwards, i went and visited with Mira, Byell, Babushka, Valya, Zalina, and Kristina (three families who have helped me so much in the past). Gave Babushka and family a CD, some candy, and other things.

Friday, 9/01/06 " “ The 2 nd anniversary of the beginning of the terrorist attack here in Bsln. Went to School No. 1 early this morning... I saw Elza Plieva and her daughter Zalina and little son Artur. (Elza's older daughter, Alana, was killed in the massacre; Elza and Zalina were also in the gym, but were able to survive somehow " “ Zalina especially was at death's door, and it's a miracle that she survived.) We greeted each other, and she invited me to come with them into the gym. As we approached the side of the gym showing Alana's photo, Elza started crying; she lit a small candle, and placed it under Alana's picture. We stayed in the gym for around 10 or 15 minutes, and at one point in particular, she was really weeping heavily. I put my hands on her shoulders and just stood next to her... what else can one do? After we left the gym, Elza told me to drop by and visit sometime, and i said i would.

I saw German and his daughter Leira, and we talked a little. (German's wife Fatima was in the tragedy with Leira and their son, Sasha; the children survived, but Fatima didn't.) i asked how Sasha was and German said he was okay and something like, 'He doesn't have to come here' or 'he mustn't come here.'

I saw Victor as well (he lost his son Elbrus in the massacre). Several of the Totievs came, though Sergei didn't enter the gym. (The Totievs are the two Baptist pastors' families who lost a total of six children in the terror attack.) i went over to him to extend my sympathies, and i told him that many believers are praying for them, for which he thanked me. After the rest of the family left the gym, i greeted Byella (Sergei's wife) and Raya (Taimuraz's wife) as well. The Tsabolov family came, and I went over to greet them... Zalina was already crying; Alan asked me something like, 'How are you America?' or 'How are you my American friend?' I later saw the babushka, and told her we were mourning with them.

I saw Madina (Dzaparova) and Nadyezhda (Badoyeva), both of whom survived the school massacre, and i ‚   talked with them a little; their uncle, Akhtemir, was killed by the terrorists. Inside the gym, there were many screams and wails of anguish... accompanied by a multitude of tears, and outside the gym as well. Rita (Rubayeva) was crying uncontrollably as she left the gym where her 14-year-old son Khasan was killed. I wanted to greet her and Zaur, but felt the time was not right to do so. Also saw Mrs. Gumetsova, and talked briefly with her.

Later went to visit at my old apartment building. On the way, i saw Kazik and Karina " “ chatted with them for a few minutes, and gave both of them copies of my CD. (One of Kazik's younger brothers was killed in the massacre.) Saw Alina sitting in the apartment's courtyard with her friend Byella " “ talked some with them (both survived the terrorist attack). Went with Alina and visited with her and her babushka. Gave them a CD and things. I was surprised... Alina seems like sort of a 'hardened' kid, but she had messaged me on my cell when she found out i was here, and she also called me when i was in Pittsburgh about a month ago. Thank You, LORD, for the favor that You've granted! While visiting with them, i heard several kids yelling 'Jason' outside. Alina decided to appease them and let them in...

Artur and Mairbek (who lost his mom in the school and survived himself) were very happy to see me " “ praise God! Visited Mairbek and his family and gave them the CD (though i told Kristina i'd have to bring another for her specifically) as well as some gifts and the Italy-featured World Cup magazine for Mairbek. The LORD blessed us to have a really nice visit; praise be to Yah, Who would enable us to visit a little boy who this time two years ago was sitting in a packed gym along with his mom, facing almost certain death.

Saturday, 9/02/06 " “ Had a nice breakfast with Jambul's mom. The Lord blessed us to have a good talk, and it's evident how much she (and especially her husband) still carry the pain of a son of theirs being killed 5 years ago. Lord, show them your mercies and please comfort their hearts moment by moment. After, i went to School No.1 to walk through the gym (today was the second day of the hostage crisis, when two years ago to the day more than a thousand people were held captive there). On the way, i saw Alibek (who survived the attack, but lost his father there) and greeted him. While we were talking, Alan (Tsabolov, Madina's dad, who lost his son in the tragedy), was driving by and pulled into the apartment's driveway. He got out of the car, and came over and greeted me. I went to School No. 1.

In the gym, i saw and greeted Madina (Dzaparova) and Liza (Badoyeva), both of whom survived the school massacre. (I saw them earlier in the gym, and Madina was crying in front of some of the photos " “ I'm guessing of one/some of her friends.) i headed over to the Bsln Mother's Committee, and brought some cookies with me. Zalina (Guburova) and Sima (Zarina's babushka) were there, and another mother who I'd never met before. Her name is Inga Chedzhemova, and she has a very tragic story. She lost her son, Zelimkhan (born in '95), in the terrorist attack, and her husband died a year later. She has a daughter remaining, Alana (13), and would like me to teach her English. May The Lord use me to tell them of His Son. Some of the other moms came by, and they gave me two books as presents; one which Inga's deceased husband's brother has written, and a book of poems by a Norwegian lady.

Sunday, 9/03/06 " “ Went to School No. 1 again this morning... this was the last day of the hostage nightmare just two years ago. When i was on the school grounds, i walked through the gym again. Some of the Bsln Moms from the Committee were sitting on a bench inside, and when i was close to them, i prayed and asked God for His help and wisdom " “ that He would cause them to see Jesus in me, and show me how to greet them. I mean, here i was, about to see ladies i knew " “ women who've lost precious loved ones in that terrible massacre just two years ago... and here they were, sitting in the very place where so many loved ones had been slaughtered. I prayed and waited a bit before going over to them, 'cos i felt so inadequate. But The Lord truly heard and answered, and it was very special. They were very happy to see me, and two stood up and we hugged " “ Zalina (Guburova), who lost her only child there as well as her mother " “ and Zalina (Dzaparova), who lost her brother in the attack. They invited me to sit with them, so i did. I also greeted Nadia (Badoyeva) and her mom. While i was sitting, Elza and Zalina Plieva came into the gym, and walked straight over to little Alana's photo... Alana, a pretty young girl girl who lost her life so tragically in the tragedy. Elza wept and cried aloud, spending quite some time there in front of her deceased daughter's picture. A bit later, while she was still there, The Lord blessed me to go over to her and put my hand on her shoulder, and we greeted each other. There were two drawings done by Aza (Gumetsova) that had recently been hung on the gym's wall close to her picture; Aza was a young girl who was killed in the school massacre. One drawing was of a girl missing an arm and a leg, with no face, and seemed to be labeled, 'Shmell' " “ what i believe was the name of the flamethrower that the Russian soldiers used. Below it, there was a drawing of a girl-angel, also having no face " “ it was drawn in the summer of 2004, the last summer she would see here in this life.

We had our church service today, and had a nice time of fellowshipping after as we sat and ate. I then left and was planning on visiting the Cattsayev family, but as i was on my way, i passed the Alikova house. (The grandma '38, mom " “ Alina '74, and the three young girls " “ Amina '94, Madina '98, and Elizabeta '00 were all in the school. Everyone but Alina, the mom, made it out alive.) Alan, the dad, was sitting outside with some friends, and when he saw me he invited me in to visit. I did, and wound up sitting at their table for Alina's memorial-offering meal; by God's grace, i didn't eat or drink anything (these meals are offered to the dead before the living partake). I sat there for a bit, and then went inside. Amina saw me and we greeted each other, and i gave a copy of my CD as well as a Pittsburgh postcard, some pencils, some maze games, and some puzzles. Later, i went back out and sat at the table for quite awhile. After some time, The LORD blessed me to be able to say something along these lines: 'I'm from America, and i just want to say that we didn't forget what happened here. We love you, and we mourn with you. And i know for sure that The Lord didn't forget you. Jesus loves you, & the Ossetian people are very precious in God's eyes...' ‚   ‚   ‚   ‚   Among others, Alan, his mom (babushka) and dad, and his brother Vadim were there. They thanked me, and one of the people said (if memory serves me correctly) something like they hoped i/the world never again see anything like what happened there. The man sitting next to me, Zhurik Alikova, also added something about what happened to them being worse than anything the US or other countries have felt, because of how small Bsln is and the nature of the attack. We all sat at the table for quite a good while, and a verbal argument began (by this time, the men in particular had been drinking quite much). Alan, who lost his wife (and almost his mom as well as three young daughters) in the school massacre said very clearly, 'I hate Muslims. I hate them.' Some were trying to say it was people who committed the evil, not Islam. Alan very passionately defended his hatred, saying, 'Tell me of one terrorist attack in the world that was not committed by Muslims. If anyone can tell me of one, I'll apologize.' Things went back and forth between some of them, and after awhile, Alan angrily got up from the table and walked away. In time, we all got up, and some of us went to the outer yard to talk. Zhurik talked with me, and The LORD opened a great opportunity to share with him. He pulled out the crucifix that he wears under his shirt, and then pulled his handgun out from behind his suit coat " “ he said, basically, 'I don't know what I really am - ‚   a believer, or a bandit.' He shared some of how he drank for three months straight after the massacre, having lost close loved ones. I told him that Jesus can give him hope, and he said, 'I don't have hope.' i assured him that Jesus loved him and has the power to change his life if he comes to Him; Zhurik honestly said, 'I can't come to Him... I don't really believe.' I replied that the most important thing in God's eyes is honesty. Zhurik should be honest with God about his doubts, praying, 'I want to come to You, but I don't believe in You.' Zhurik seemed shocked, but that answer must have really hit home with him. I shared some of my testimony, how I hated other races (and even many of my own) before i believed in Jesus, but that God has changed my heart " “ and that Jesus has given me true love for the Ossetian people. I told him how I changed when i started to read The Bible for myself. Zhurik said, 'I've read The Bible, but I don't believe It.' I again reiterated that God wants our honesty, and Zhurik shared something amazing with me. Here sat a 44-year-old, broken man who's seen so much pain in his life, and he said, 'If you really have the truth " “ the truth " “ I'll be with you constantly. But it must be the truth.' He wanted my cell phone number, and also gave me his as well as his home number (in Vladikavkaz). He is some sort of boss in a taxi drivers' guild, and is a driver himself. He told me that if I'm really doing the good I'm talking about, he'd drive me places for free. May The Lord continue working in Zhurik's heart! Please pray for him " “ that opportunity was one of the rarest ones I've ever had with anybody. Zhurik appears to be a man so hurt by everything that he is just desperate for the truth. (Would to God that we all were.) May The Lord Almighty show him that His Son is Truth indeed.

Later, we all went back inside and talked. When several of the adults learned I was here teaching English for free, they were very interested in their kids coming " “ Amina and Madina also said they'd like to. ‚   it was all-in-all a time tremendously blessed by our Great and Faithful God. All praise and glory be to Him!

Monday, 9/04/06 - Went to visit the Totievs today, and The Lord blessed us to have a great visit - all praise, honor, and glory be to Him. (Taimuraz and Sergei Totiev are brothers, and are both Baptist pastors who live here in Bsln. Taimuraz and his wife, Raya, lost four of their five children in the school massacre " “ Sergei and his wife, Byella, lost 2 of their 6.) I visited with Raya, and it was great to see her again. Taimuraz had just left to take some guests to the airport, and Raya invited me to sit down and eat. We talked about lots of different things, and The Lord blessed me to give Christian praise and worshup CDs to her and Sergei's family, as well as copies of my CD, chocolates, an 'I love Pittsburgh' bear for Madina (her only child who survived the attack), and some other small things. I explained a little about the last song on my CD, and i really hope God blesses them with it (it's sung in their ethnic language and speaks of Jesus' love for them). Byella came and we talked for a little, and also with babushka (the brothers' mom). Babushka again recalled how their dog bit me (somewhere around this time last year; the scar of which i still slightly have)!

I met Raya's sister, Fatima, who was really sick yesterday and today. If i understood correctly, Raya said she has one sister (Fatima), and two brothers; all are believers except the older brother, and her parents were believers and are both in Heaven. 'They're waiting (for you),' i affirmed, and Raya said the same: 'They're waiting.' Madina (Taimuraz and Raya's only remaining child, who also was in the terrorist attack) came in and i greeted her and spoke Ossetian to her " “ she just kind of froze, not expecting me to speak her language... it was funny, and we all laughed! She's still studying the piano, will be 15 i think, and is entering the 10 th grade; she's a very precious girl. Taimuraz came back home, and we had a nice time of visiting. Mentioned that i'd like to help him/his brother and/or their churches, and wrote my cell and email info. Also spoke with Sergei and Byella's oldest daughter, who's studying classical music in an institute in Vladikavkaz (she plays piano, i believe). After warm goodbyes, i saw one of the younger men i had briefly seen at the Totievs a little down the road at the Baptist church. I stopped and asked when the meetings were there, and we got to talking. His name is Stas (Stanislav) Sabyeyev, and it turns out this his sister (Ilona, '89) was killed in the tragedy. Stas and i talked for a good while, and then he drove me home. He looks to be about my age, and knows a decent amount of English for not really having studied before " “ and he told me how strongly he wants to study our language. Stas said he's been going to the church for about a year and a half, which would mean he started attending about 6 months after the school massacre. It was very nice to meet him, and i think we both came away feeling very blessed to have had that opportunity. O Lord, continue to comfort his and his family's hearts.

In the evening, i went to visit Khetag (Batagov) and his parents, Alla and Soslan; their family lost their younger boy, Timur, in the school massacre. Entering their apartment's courtyard, I saw Khetag (who i think is 15 or 16 years old) and some of his friends outside and greeted them. Khetag said his mom was home, and that he'd be home later. I went up and knocked on the apartment door, and how happy Alla was to see me - praise be to Yah! She hugged me several times, and said how glad she was that i'm here again; Soslan was also happy to see me. The Lord blessed me to bring the Italian Team World Cup Championship-feature magazine for Khetag (he loves soccer), two of my CDs (one for his friend Artur), and a few other small things. Alla, Sos, and i went into the kitchen and ate some. Alla talked about God sending His only Son, and how she's waiting so desperately for Him " “ please keep her in your prayers. After eating some, Sos offered a toast about Wasterdjee (the Ossetian's version of Russians' Saint George), and so i stopped eating. (Some Ossetians believe he's not just a dead saint, but also their god.) Alla is a doctor, and I talked about a woman here that i know who isn't able to walk after the massacre. Alla said something like, 'If only i would have had Timur in that state... at least i'd have him.' Later, we went into the living room, and she wanted me to share about The Bible and us living on Earth in the future. I had her read some from 1 Thess. 4, 2 Pet. 3, and she read through all/nearly all of Matthew 24, seeming to be especially interested in that chapter. Sos interjected at some point saying that he thought there would be opportunity to choose after death; i said 'No,' and gave an example. I said that if you're serving in the army, and you're face to face with your enemy in war, it's too late to change your decision regarding whose side you're fighting on... you've already chosen! Sos understood. Khetag came home later, and we talked. Apparently Jordan 's king invited a large group of Bsln's kids to visit Jordan , and they wanted to know if i thought it was dangerous. I told them i couldn't say either way... i was there, and we were safe. I added that some people there would give you the shirts off their backs, but then again, that's where Al-Zarqawi was born. ‚   We talked some about the old school's gym, and Alla said that before the attack, Timur (her younger son who was killed in the attack) had drawn something like someone missing limbs. She later asked Khetag not to go to school tomorrow (the first day of school), and he said, 'Ok.' She wanted him to stay home the first two days and ‚   not go 'till the third day (Thursday), to which he agreed. Alla also told me to visit her parents and Zhanna and her husband (Alla's brother, named Soslan as well). She also said i could stay with their (Alla's) family... she even offered to give me a key, saying i could come and go when i wanted. Praise be to You, YHWH, for all the favor You give! Please help me use it all to point to You and glorify Jesus, Your Son.

Please pray for Khetag: Alla recently called me telling me he's in the hospital with some kind of infection, and asked that we pray for him. She had two sons, and lost the younger in that terrible massacre two years ago " “ i don't know what would happen to her if she were to lose her other son.

Tuesday, 9/05/06 " “ Saw David Varzieyev this morning and chatted with him for a bit. (David, lost one of his young twin brothers in the massacre). He told me Edik (the twin who survived the attack) has already gone back to Moscow to study, and that he (David) still has some time before starting back to university in Vladikavkaz. Jambul and i went to the city to get my registration done... all glory and honor and praise be to The LORD God, it's done! After, we enjoyed a nice time visiting with Marina and the kids and babushka; good talks, and good food.

Wednesday, 9/06/06 " “ I tried to visit Zalina (Nogayeva) but she wasn't home, though i saw two of her sisters outside. Zalina and those two sisters (along with their mom) survived the massacre, but lost a sister there. I also saw little Liza (Alikova) outside; those three young Alikova girls are so sweet! (They were in the gym as well, with their mom and their grandma " “ everybody lived except their mother). I tell you what, walk in and around Bsln, and you'll see living miracles everywhere you go... it's a miracle anybody survived that nightmare two years back. I went and visited Alina (Tsorayeva), a survivor who i taught here before. Gave her my CD, an 'I love Pittsburgh ' bear, and some other small things. i was surprised today at Alina's (Tsorayeva) being so open. She asked if I'd be helping her w/ English again, and also asked when i'd visit again, saying she'd be waiting. That brought a lot of joy to me, 'cos when i was here before she didn't seem to want to study much. Actually, the English teaching isn't of great importance to me anyway... it's more about it being a bridge to visit and get to know people. i was just happy to hear and really sense today that she was looking forward to my visiting again. Praise be to The Lord! i encouraged Alina again about writing a song (she wants to be a singer someday), and she showed me photos from their trip to the sea, as well as several cars she likes. I came back for our fellowship, and afterwards went and spent time with Karina's family. (Her family and extended family are the ones who more-or-less adopted me when i was here last.)

Thursday, 9/07/06 " “ Went to School No.1, and saw Sima there. (Sima's granddaughters, Zarina and Zalina, were both in the gym during the terrorist attack, but only Zarina survived.) Sima was cleaning up some inside the gym; so many flowers and other things were brought there during the 2 nd year anniversary, and therefore she was trying to clean up some. We talked a bit, and i asked if Zarina had started school already. Sima said she'll go tomorrow as her first day. She added that there were/are kids who haven't been in school for two years due to the attack, and that psychological help was needed for them... but she doesn't know of anyone doing so. Sima also said there's been some kind of decision about what to do with the school, though she doesn't know exactly what will be. She said that there'd be a shrine/memorial close to the gym, but that the gym will stay as it is. ‚   Sima also said something like the families here are 'living, I guess you could say that.' Leaving the school grounds, i saw Zaur (Rubayev, who lost his brother Khasan in the massacre) and we chatted a little " “ he told me to visit, and i said i would. In the afternoon, i went and visited with Madina (Tsabolova) and her family; had a good time talking with Madina. (Madina lost her brother, Marat, in the terrorist attack.) One of her friends wants a copy of the CD, so i gave one to Madina to give to her. Glory to You, Yah! We hung out for a good while, and after i went up and visited with Aslan, Soslan, and their dad. (Aslan and Soslan both survived the tragedy.) I gave them the CD and some other things, and they seemed to like the music, praise be to God. Sos ‚   showed me a disk that had lots of Bsln photos on it, and it was amazing to be viewing them as the song 'have mercy, and comfort' played in the background (a song on the CD that The Lord helped me to write about what happened here in Bsln). Sos and Asik told which windows they escaped from. (Soslan still hasn't started back to school yet this year; something related to his ears being damaged in the school massacre " “ he had what looked like white wax or something in both of his ears, and told me that he was in the hospital for 3 months after the attack. I gave them my teaching schedule, and Asik stressed... keep visiting us, too! Like i was surprised with Alina, so i was ‚   happy with Asik's desire " “ 'cos they didn't want to study much last time around, but it's a blessing that they really seem to want me to keep visiting. And so of course i said i would. Sos is also interested in learning how to play the guitar. Leaving their building, little Alana (Tsabolova) saw me outside and ran over to me and hugged me. I also saw Amina (Alikova), and greeted her in the Ossetian half-hug way that they do; such a precious girl. Walking around Bsln, you see living, walking miracles everywhere. Coming back to the church's building, i wanted to try and visit someone else. But it was already dark, and it's not good for foreigners to be alone on the street at night. Oh well " “ with Jesus' help, i can do what i can do. Would that there were more laborers here simply to visit those who lost loved ones and/or survivd the massacre!

Friday, 9/08/06 " “ Struggled with/prevailed in using the washing machine here... was not the funnest time, but praise God that He enabled me to figure things out! Went to the internet club, and gave Lyuda (the boss there) my disc as well as copies of my schedule. Visited the Mothers of Bsln, and gave copies of my schedule to them. Dropped off a copy of my schedule to Amina (Alikova), and after lots of time, found the Chedzhemova house. On the way there, i saw David (Varzieyev, who lost a younger brother in the massacre), and we talked some. I visited 12-year-old Lana Chedzhemova ('94), now in 6 th grade. She was in the gym for the 3 days with her mom (Inga '63) and her younger brother (Zelim, '95). Lana and Inga survived, but Zelim was killed. And to add tragedy upon tragedy, Lana's dad died a year after the terrorist attack. Lana and i went and sat at a table and The Lord blessed me to give her the CD, a Pittsburgh decoration, some postcards, and some toher things, as well as a copy of my schedule here. Lana's a sweet little girl. She said she doesn't really have any hobbies, or have anything that she likes. She does enjoy watching cartoons, and playing the 'Sponge Bob' computer game where her mom works. But she doesn't really like music, or playing sports, or other things like that... she does like to swim, though. Lana's been to several countries, including Greece , Italy , Czech, and so on. She doesn't like school (for obvious reasons), and when i asked who her favorite teacher was, Lana replied, 'She died in the school.' She told me how some of her current teachers are really strict, but after school each day, she spends time with friends " “ she has two good friends. She'd like to be a lawyer when she gets older, and she also told me how her mom and others are going to Switzerland tomorrow for a few days to take part in some sort of court session or something along those lines. We studied some English, and in time, i realized that she didn't really want to study " “ her mom wanted her to do that much more than she had that desire! I reassured her that i understood, and that was no problem. i invited her to come to the classes at the church building if she wanted to, and to call if she needed special help with English. She herself told me she'd come, and sounded sincere... i hope she does, and that Jesus builds a special friendship between us. I feel terrible for her " “ she's seen more terrible things and had more heartache than most adults ever have, and she's just a 12-year-old little girl. Afterwards, i went and visited the Rubayev family (who lost Khasan, their second son, in the terrorist attack at only 14 years of age). Only Rita (the mom) was home, and she was so happy i stopped by; she hugged me twice, and said how very happy she was to see me. Glory to Yah! She told me, 'I had the feeling that a brother was going to come by.' Her health is better " “ she's been in the hospital an awful lot, and spent the whole summer there. She's doing better now, and is taking medicine. I asked how Kazbek was (her husband), and she said he's found work. Rita fed me, and I brought a dessert for them as well as giving both Zaur and his friend, Sasha, copies of my CD and my schedule as well as Lecrae's "Real Talk"  CD. Rita gave me her cell phone number, and asked if i'd call and stop over some evening to show her how to use the internet. Said i would, and she also mentioned that the sound wasn't working... perhaps Yah will give me the wisdom to fix that problem. She also said her and the other moms in the Committee need/want to find a way to get me longer visas, instead of this 'come and go' kind of thing. YHWH, if this be your will, so work for Your glory. I then went and visited the Alikova family, who live in the same building " “ 39/17. (They are relatives of the other Alikova family mentioned above.) The mom, Darima, was killed in the school massacre. I met her son, Ruslan, and his grandma, Aza; Ruslan's dad also was there for a bit. Aza also fed me, and told me (amidst tears) how kind of a woman Darima was, and she showed me an award given to honor Darima for protecting children during the tragedy. Darima was Svyetka, Aza, and Emma's favorite teacher (these 3 young girls were best friends, and all died together in that nightmare); she taught Economics and History, among other subjects. God blessed me to give 2 of my CDs (for her children, Alana and Ruslan), copies of my schedule, and chocolates. I wrote a note for Alana, basically saying i'd seen the interview she did and how she spoke English well " “ that i was looking forward to meeting her, and would be happy to help her if i could. (Aza, her grandma, told me how Alana really wants to know English more. She's in university now studying Economics.) On my way back to the church's building, i saw Zaur (Tsorayev, a survivor) and his friend and we talked a little. He said he's likes the CD... glory to The Lord!

Saturday, 9/09/06 " “ My Shabbat day. Jambul and Sasha stopped by to bring Jambul's mom here; told them about praying for Khetag, and they left for Armavir (another city in Russia ). Went to visit Mairbek (who survived but lost his mom in the attack) and family. While on the way, Aslan (a survivor, mentioned above) and his dad pulled their car off the road to get out and greet me. We chatted a little, and Aslan said, 'You'll visit us right?,' to which i agreed. When i was almost there, Batraz called out to me from across the street (Batraz is Mairbek's dad); i went over and we talked with him some. I got to the apartment's yard, and chatted with several of the babushkas (grandmas) there. Played soccer with Mairbek, Artur, Rukha, Tamik, and another boy. Mairbek, as usual, asked me where i'd been and why i hadn't stopped over before. Afterwards, ate cabbage pirog and talked with Sima (Mabek's grandma), Kristina, and others. Later, we had our fellowship at the church's building. We read some from The Word, talked, and prayed. After the others left, Vova's brother, Jambul's mom, and i had tea together and Jambul's mom served borscht. Following that, God gave me a good opportunity to hang out with Vova's brother. (Vova's a new believer, about a year and a half in the Lord, and his brother has since come to Christ as well. Praise be to God! I feel bad though, 'cos i totally forget Vova's brother's name!) Anyway, The Lord allowed me to share some things with him, and i praise Him for that nice time that He gave us.

Sunday, 9/10/06 " “ Saw a (living) frog in our church building's toilet this morning. Wow! Always an adventure of some kind here in Ossetia ! (Thankfully, no one was using the toilet at the time the discovery was made!) We had our fellowship today, and then Jambul's mom fed us some good soup. After, i taught Alan and another young boy some guitar. Also gave Alan a copy of my CD; Yura's (another young boy) friend heard the disc and liked it, and wants a copy of it, too... praise be to You, O Yah! No one came for the first English lesson, so i just studied Russian and Ossetian during that time. Vitalik, Vova's brother, came for the second (beginners') class. Went and visited Zalina, babushka, and Kristina and had a nice time with them. (They and their extended family have become sort of like a second family to me.) Returned to the church's building, and went to sleep a little earlier, as i was already pretty tired.

Please pray for:

  • God to glorify The Name of Jesus His Son in all that's done here;
  • Jesus to comfort the families you've read about above;
  • God's blessing upon, and wisdom for, the churches here as well as myself;
  • A baby (in the US ) named Lincoln who has a damaged heart; his parents (Kristen and Josh) have already lost one baby who was born with a damaged heart;
  • More laborers to come to Bsln to visit the families who lost loved ones.
  • May The Lord lead you in His truth continually; and as a dear prayer-warrior/friend once put it, may He show you/us the things that keep you/us from being closer to Jesus. May our life's desire not be to work in some kind of prestigious profession, or earn some kind of lofty title, but simply be this: to know Jesus Christ, and walk with God daily. There is nothing more.

Reminding you that The Father loved you enough to send Jesus to die for you,

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Psalm 136