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Moscow update

February 12, 2003

Dear Family and Friends,

We are now coming into a new season here in our service to the Lord Jesus. Soon after the New Year, a decision was made by our authorities to reduce the number of children in the families. The decision of which childen would stay "in the families" was based on the home situation of the particular child, the "discipleship potential", as well as other factors. There were then three categories of children:those staying in the family, those that were old enough and not too distant to the College (Training Center) to commute each day, and those that could be under the guidance of apprenticeship age students(mostly 20-35 years of age),and still live here. Our family now consists of Anya (16),Nastya and Katya,sisters (14 and 15), Masha (13), and Kristina (6). We do however,have close contact with the other children "boarding here" with the older students, and have them share in our evening activities and fellowship. Nastya, Katya, and Masha have all lived at South Campus since the age of 8, and all have a heart's desire to someday return to the States. Anya spent 2 summers with an American family. This is Kristina's first year in the program, although several of her siblings have been to the States. This is the first year that America is not an option for the children,as per the direction of Galena Fyodornova (the Russian director of the College). With Mr. Gothard's vision for these children to be "ambassadors for their country",it certainly fits for them to stay in Russia, since coming to America has caused in them a dissatisfaction for their country, and a longing to be back in the states. At the same time,for those children without any real families here in Russia, it is understandable that they would want to be in America, as they developed loveing secure relationships with American families. Please pray that there would be a contentment in the children with where they are, and a trust in God for their future. The question the children have right now is"Will we go to America for the summer?" Please pray for our authorities as they seek God in this issue.

The last 2 weeks of January, brought much sickness. Out of 66 children, there were 49 ill with the same flu, and much of the staff, as well. Mr. Cheney had numerous trips to the hospital in one week, one for myself(Linda), and three for broken bones (ice rink incidents). It seems that we all are well now. Although the Doctor announced that a new flu is hitting Moscow, and in order for the children to build their immune systems, they must "suck on lemons" and eat lots of meat. This is the usual recommendation. I agree with the lemon part.

Every morning ,we meet in our liviing room for bible reading at 6:45am. Tol has been reading in Exodus, and the children have become very interested and sharing much. We then go the dining room for breakfast. We then all go the school building (today it was 4 degrees) for Character Class. By this time, the children who are commuting have arrived and attend, as well. We have been going through the Institute's (new this year) resource, the Commands of Christ. This week we are studying the command of "Ask,Seek and Knock, taken from Matthew 7:7. Our family prepared a skit for this: Isaiah and Rachel enjoyed dressing up as camels, Tol was Abraham, Lisa was Rebekah, Kathryn was the servant. Katya did an excellent narration. A surprise visitor ran in the classroom- a very dirty black and white cat, and jumped on to the children's laps-they asked if we could keep him in our apartment, but I think it was decided "no pets allowed". Then the children proceed to their classrooms, and we back to our apartment for our "school time". Lisa is working on a sewing project for the Sullivans. Mr. Sullivan is surprising his wife with a "curtain" for their bedroom closet. They have been here 4 years, and have yet to have their hanging clothes "covered." So So Lisa has been constructing a drapery-typed covering for this and Joel (an apprenticeship student) is working on a rod. This will be assembled this week-end, while Mr. Sullivan takes his wife on a surprise anniversary get-away. They have reservations at a "sanitorium" a couple of hours outside of the city. There are many "sanitoriums" in Russia, inexpensive cafeteriastyle-resorts.

Next week, Kathryn and Masha will be celebrating their 14th birthdays-Kathryn on the 21st, and Masha on the 26th. Masha has expressed (all year) a desire to learn to play a guitar. So Saha(our French/Swiss daughter-24) and I (lLinda) will trek out on Thursday,in search of a guitar. Masha has had a very difficult childhood, and has not developed skills or interests. Pray that the Lord will provide a guitar for Masha, this would give her such a joy:) Also, if you could keep Masha's situation in your prayers. Masha has no legal guardian. She has an intense desire for us to adopt her. Recently she approached Tol and I and asked if she could go on a 30 day fast, in order to pray that the Lord would speak to us about adopting her. Tol and I agreed that she could do a 5 day fast. She proceeded with that. Since then, the Anderson family has arrived to complete the adoption process for Vika (Russian orphan). This is the first and only adoption here. This has stirred a renewed hope for adoption, particularly for Masha, Katya, and Nastya. According to Russian law an orphan cannot be adopted once turning 16, so they all have expressed "the clock ticking." Please pray that the Lord's will be done in this issue.

Today is Ministry Day (isn't every day?), meaning the children finish school at 12, then we will go on home visits to babushkas(elderly home-bound). Literally, these women have not left their apartments for years. We will clean (much needed) pick up some groceries, and sing some hymns and share in chai(tea and tortes) with them.
Keep us in your prayers that we would truly share the love of Christ with them, that they would know Him as their Saviour, and for safety to and from, as the streets on the way are quite treacherous.

One last note, there is much joy in pressing the "send and receive" button on the computer, and hearing from our loved ones back in the states-we very much appreciate hearing from you.

Serving Christ in Moscow,
The Butler Family

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