My son and I spent all day of Day 2 here in St. Petersburg with our translator, Artyom, who is a GREAT all-around person: a gifted theologian who is very intelligent and also humorous! We have enjoyed each minute with him and are making a lifelong friend. He is a special person.

We spent 7 hours walking and riding the subway today. We saw 3 cathedrals and walked around to view famous castles, museums, and buildings. This is a a beautiful, unique, & clean city with lots of color, sights, and flavor. Speaking of flavor, we have eaten at several restaurants and had Russian dumplings, fish, chicken, and pork (might have been a mistake to eat pork but so far so good). The food has been excellent and is slightly different than American food. It has been fresh and we really like the fruits and veggies. Hard to describe in words how different the food tastes but it is a ‘good’ different.

By the way, I think I am “addicted” to the juice I bought from the grocery store. It is so good and I’m not usually a juice person but it is a mix of pineapple, grape, apple, and other fruit. I am enjoying its strong flavor greatly.

I forgot to mention that we had a tour guide, Lyuda, who is a member of the church where I will be preaching on Sunday. She gave us excellent facts and history of St. Peterburg and each place we stopped. We were so grateful to her as was Artyom, our translator, because he is from Ukraine. Therefore, Lyuda was able to give us Russian insight into St. Pete. Artyom has never been able to sightsee so it was special for him as well. We were exhausted by the end of this day though we wanted to keep going.

We walk everywhere and then take the subway. We will be riding the subway every day that we are here and it is about an hour travel to the church one way. We will travel to the church each day when I begin teaching (Mon-Thursday). No cars for us! We walk and it’s great exercise in the 30 degree weather. Strangely, it does not feel that cold outside though it did rain on us some today (not snow so I guess it was in the upper 30s today).

The toughest part is dealing with the time change. St. Pete is 9 hours ahead of B’ham time (central) so we have already experienced your day for you and let me tell you that you will have a great day today. We experienced it already and we know: it’s going to be a good, good day!

Lots of sights to see and now we get to the business side of what we came here for: ministry of the Word of God to proclaim the Gospel. On Sunday, that will begin as well as some sightseeing outside of the city of St. Peter because the church is located there. We are excited about being able to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ who speak a different language than we do but share the same love for Jesus Christ. That was the highlight of my trip to Romania: worshiping God as the family of faith. I expect it to be the same for this trip since it is always special to worship the Lord corporately.

Speaking of Romania, this trip is so very similar to that one in January. That trip prepared me for this one in so many ways. Like that trip, this has been humbling and educational as we live among people who are accustomed to hardship. Life is hard for the Russians here and money is not the answer to their problems: Christ is. So we share His love and speak His truth praying for freedom for His children here in this country.

-Mark (awed by God’s love for all people: Matthew 28:18-20)