Evening 8:30

Pleasant evening in a typical Ulan-Ude neighborhood.

Pleasant evening in a typical Ulan-Ude neighborhood, ours.

Evening 8:30

Simple. The view from our balcony is simple. Forest fire smoke scents the air. Shirtless Ukrainian refugees sit on wrought iron, sucking cigarettes in the evening cool even as mamas stroll baby carriages or strollers. City swallows wheel, “screeing” at the joy of flight. Municipal trams rumble into the local stop, and away on the other side of this five story Communist construction. Children clamor on obligatory playground equipment, kindergarten cares their only burden. Neighborhood matriarchs water their tiny flower refuges. Sun settles; swallows scree. The silhouette of dark chokecherries hasten summer’s demise; but not yet, not yet. The richness of evening rests in this “not yetness”, this “summer is upon you, summer is stealing away” feeling which soothes the soul even as it harries the mind. Our favorite street doggies are quiet, trams roll, babies roll, sun rolls into twilight . . . into the scree of swallows.

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Coming of Age Picnic

Lyoha and Dima, roasting the main course.

Our church, “Christ’s Love”, is celebrating her eighteenth year. She is a young lass, full of youth, vibrance! A bright and beautiful light in a city who needs one. Don’t be fooled by her youth though, she is wise beyond her years. She is familiar with death and despair, she has tasted the ravages of drug abuse, alcoholism and HIV. Many of our friends here have recovered from addiction. Believe me, they know how to celebrate life, having returned from Death’s door! She radiates life, reflecting the glory of her Maker.

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On June 11th, we gathered under the sun to sing, laugh, play games and enjoy each others’ presence. Rain or shine, we always have a great time! (Last year we were all soaked to the bone at our picnic.) We also have a light-hearted tradition of dressing up, a costume picnic of sorts, hence the bright yellow hair and green frog costumes. Welcome to LIFE in Irkutsk.