Dear partners in the Gospel,

Greetings from St. Petersburg! We haven’t done a family update in a long time. In some ways, life goes on as you would expect for a family with 2 small kids (5 1/2 and 1 1/2 years).

Andrei started teaching at a different university this year and I am at home with the kids. Along with church duties, he is involved in a few Christian radio broadcasts.

Of course our family also includes our families, and in 2017 we experienced a few health scares. Andrei’s father Vladimir had a heart attack in the fall, and my father David Hulley has been experiencing vertebrate fractures due to osteoporosis, on top of other chronic issues. We are thankful that they are still around in 2018. We are leaving next week for a short trip to see my mom and dad, and I’ll put it in the prayer requests further down.

Some Comments on our Ministry

In December, we were able with the help of Stoneworks funds to aid some young ladies in our church in buying shoes for a children’s center in Cherepovetz. These are kids whom members of various St. Petersburg churches try to serve regularly, by bringing special care packages, providing free haircuts, and setting up holidays. It was a pleasure to be able to meet that need that came up. Thank you for contributing!

I’ve also been giving some funds to help the family of a former orphanage worker. Her elderly mom is very sick and the free medical care can only go so far. For example, doctors will make a housecall but then require money for supplies or a trip to the hospital for certain procedures, which is a significant obstacle for someone who is basically bedridden. My friend Galina’s maternity benefits also reduced greatly now that her child is 18 months old, so a little bit of funding at least covers some of the medical bills. They have a Muslim background.

Last week, I got a call from a social worker at the psychoneurological residential hospital in Peterhoff. One patient there is Lena, the mother of one of my adopted sisters. We try to keep up with her and her roommates and inquire about their needs. For the past few years I’ve been trying to get them connected to the internet and I kept kind of running into roadblocks where I didn’t have enough connections or time or tech-sense. We did get them a tablet that the volunteers could use. At any rate, the social worker let me know that they are starting a skype program to help the residents keep in touch with friends and family. This is the very thing that I’d been praying would happen. I wish that I could have made it happen sooner, but it’s wonderful news that both the staff and funds are now in place to see it through.

Our local church is doing okay. There have been lots of ups and downs throughout a conflict which peaked last spring, but ministry continues.

Bible Correspondence Course

As you may recall, part of our “family ministry” includes my mother-in-law Nina’s Bible correspondence course. For 20 years she has been sending out Bible lessons to Russian-speaking children in several different countries. In a few cases she is already sending out letters to the second generation within the same family.

When she checks their work, she always includes a personal response and answers any questions they have. She has a gift of discerning heart matters and offering encouragement. One correspondent said “It’s like you can see into my soul!” And Nina prays for wisdom before answering each letter.

One challenge in the past few years involved the political unrest within Ukraine. Because of that situation, she had to stop sending letters to children in the areas of conflict. More recently, Nina was asked by her directors to request passport information from each parent who had a child enrolled in the course. And what would they do with this information? Due to new restrictions on religious activity in Russia, it is no longer legal to evangelize outside physical meetings that take place within a government-registered church. Supposedly this also includes using email for recruitment purposes, as in inviting someone to a church service. Our church did not have the right specifications, and Nina’s directors were not comfortable carrying this responsibility on her behalf with the current legal situation. Meanwhile, taking passport information is a common occurrence in Russia, but Nina did not want to risk her special long-distance relationships by making this request.

So with some sadness the school is officially closed, but Nina continues to answer letters and send special presents such as calendars imprinted with Bible verses. Whether or not that counts as unauthorized distribution of literature, Nina feels that her current form of “ministry by mail” is within the bounds of the new legislature, and will continue for as long as she can.

Prayer Requests

Church: for healing in relationships, clear answers to certain questions, the medical ministry team (holding a seminar on Jan 27), and our family’s future church involvement.

Family: for our parents’ health, Vladimir’s recovery from the heart attack, my father’s vertebrae to strengthen, and for our trip to visit my parents Jan 30-Feb 9. And of course for our children’s growth and development and wisdom in parenting.

Ministry: for my friend Galina’s elderly mother, the children’s center in Cheropovetz, Andrei’s radio ministry, Nina’s correspondence course, and for the Skype program at Peterhoff to begin.

In Christ,

Liz Sukhovskaya and Andrei Sukhovskii (David, 5, and Sophia, 1)