In the Land of Russia with Jason – March 2006 Part 2
He rescued us from the authority of darkness, and transferred us to His Beloved Son’s kingdom. In His Beloved Son, we have redemption the forgiveness of our sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
Praise be to God, Who has rescued us from darkness’ power! We now are citizens in the kingdom of God’s Beloved Son having a King Who can do no wrong, in a kingdom that will have no end. He has redeemed us, and forgiven us of all our sins. Halleluyah! How ‘I already knew that’ these truths may seem to us who have been in the faith for a while… and what a danger that kind of thinking is that we can read such amazing words just as we might read the daily paper. Child of God, you are no longer controlled by satan’s power; you are a member of Jesus’ kingdom. You have been redeemed, and all of your sins have been forgiven. What Great News for us! And what Great News to share with those who still sit in darkness.
February 26, 2006, Sunday Went to teach Atsa and Azam (2 teenage boys who survived the school massacre) guitar… neither showed up at 12. Chatted with Vova (a newer believer, and I think he’s 24) before service about verses in The Bible. Vova’s a cool kid very quiet, but he reads The Bible himself and seems to be a thoughtful and genuine person. We had our fellowship, and Pastor Roman (from Azerbaijian, though ethnically Jewish) spoke, as did Batraz, Sasha, and Jambul. Eliu and little Zalina’s mom did a few songs together; God also blessed us to worship with songs which – to Yah’s glory – He enabled me to write. Taught English to David, Lena, Madina, and little Zalina. That evening, I met Rada, Svyeta Margiyeva’s friend. (Svyeta and her husband, Valico, lost their only child in the terrorist attack.) Svyeta wanted me to meet Rada and help her with her English, and so I’ll be teaching her and her sister on Sun. nights.
February 27, 2006, Monday Went and taught Alina (Tsorayeva) today a young girl (perhaps 13) who survived the school massacre. Her English teacher in school asked if I’d write about what I liked about Bsln, etc., and I wrote the following and gave it to Alina:
Hi! My name is Jason, and I’m from the USA big greetings to all of you from my city, Pittsburgh (PA)! Alina told me that your teacher asked if I could write about what I like in Bsln, and what’s interesting to me. I really love the Ossetian people (and the other people here, too), and I know that God has blessed you with the gift of hospitality. Of course we like guests in America, but your people show much more hospitality than we do. I love Bsln, and how friendly many people are here. Your culture is interesting to me: the foods, the music, and the dancing. Some of my friends here tried to teach me Ossetian dancing, and we all laughed very hard, because I’m not so good at it! Lastly, I want to tell you that you are not forgotten. Many people in America really, really love you, and we didn’t forget what happened here. Many of you had friends that died in the terrorist attack and maybe also family members. We extend our sympathies to you, and we love you and are praying for you. The Lord saw everything that happened here, and He will judge with justice. I can’t say why the attack happened… all I can say is that we mourn with you, and have cried many tears with you. We care about you, we have not forgotten you, and we remind you that God loves you. You are very precious in Jesus’ eyes!
Your friend, Jason
The Lord also blessed me to give Alina FLAME’s CD, ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire’. (FLAME is a Christian rapper who boldy preaches Jesus.) After I taught her, I told her that her and her brother were miracles, and that I want her to remember that everyday (they both survived the school massacre). Afterwards, I dropped by Madina’s (Tsabolova) and spent some time with them. Little Alana showed me some of her books, and she’s so funny! Zalina (Madina’s mom) showed me Marat’s English notebook (her ten-year-old son who died in the terrorist attack), as well as some of his paintings, and other notebooks. One painting was of Mortal Combat, a video game Madina said he loved so much. I asked her if she also played it, and she said they used to play the game together and that Marat would win. There were also some diplomas of his, and birthday cards the school gave. There was some paper awarded to him for playing chess, too. And they also showed me a paper he had written at the end of his 4 th grade year, when they had their pictures taken for the upcoming school year. The paper had his photo pasted in the upper-left-hand corner, and he wrote about what he wanted to be when he grew up. Madina helped translate for me… Marat wanted to be a doctor who performed surgeries. He wrote that in that kind of job, you can’t make mistakes, so it was necessary to study hard and read a lot. God blessed me with a good time to talk with Madina, and was able to share how The Bible gives hope and reason to live, and how though I still have problems, I’m the opposite person from who I was before I believed in Jesus. I told her how there are many people in my city who really love them, and pray for them. She said that most people have forgotten what happened here, but I said, ‘We didn’t forget, and God didn’t forget.’ I later visited Mairbek (my 9 year old neighbor, that survived the terrorist attack he’s the one who found a small coin in his pocket, and asked the terrorist to let his mother live if he gave the terrorist the coin. The terrorist didn’t want the coin. Mairbek saw his mother killed in front of him.) Mairbek talked a lot about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Home Alone 2. When I was leaving I told him that God loves him, and he said, ‘And You. May God be with you,’ and I said the same and added – may God give him better health, and he said the same idea back to me. He also reminded me not to open the door at night.
February 28, 2006, Tuesday Checked email… praise God for those that write, encourage, and pray! Got nice emails from several people. Spent time with Lyoodmilla, a young English teacher here in Bsln, to help her improve her English. She and her family are refugees from Chechnya. They’re ethnically Russian, not Chechnyan, and had to leave after the war; she explained that after the war, Chechnyans associated all Russians with soldiers, and they therefore killed many people. She also told me how prevalent it still is in Ossetia for a man to ‘kidnap’ a woman he’d like to marry. In the end, though, if she totally refuses, he must release her. What a strange culture this is at times! If it’s God’s will, I of course hope to be married one day, but I know that kidnapping the would-be-bride is not the way to go! Went and taught my new student, Aslan Dzarasov he and his younger brother, Soslan, both were in the school for the three days during the massacre. Aslan is 15 now, and in the 9 th grade… Soslan was born two years after him. I asked Aslan if he had any operations after the school massacre, and he said no he still has metal fragments in his body, close to his spine, and they still cause him pain at times. If I understood him correctly, he said the doctors didn’t want to operate because of how close the fragments are to his spine, and thus didn’t want to risk the surgery and damage his spine. I asked him if he has nightmares, and he said they occur sometimes. He told me that he lost many friends in the terrorist attack. I told him he and his brother were miracles, and that I want him to remember that everyday he wakes up. Aslan seems like a really nice kid, ‘the boy next door’ kind of teenager, and he told me that he has lots of friends in his school. He takes jiu-jitsu, and also likes using the computer/playing computer games. He really likes rap music, and enjoys 50 Cent and Eminem. He told me that his grandfather was a really good Ossetian dancer, and so Aslan knows how to traditionally dance; he also knows how to breakdance some. I asked him what he wants to be, and he said a diplomat or maybe president. He’s been to England, Bulgaria, and Germany. This is one of the young men that almost never made it out of that gym… glory to God, he did. Afterwards, I went to teach Khetag (who lost his younger brother, Timur, in the tragedy), but he wasn’t home. So, I spent some time and visited with Alla and Soslan (his mom and dad). While Alla and I were sitting at the table, she again tol d me, ‘I can’t live without my Timur.’ I asked how German, her brother-in-law, is doing in general (German’s wife, Fatima, was killed in the terrorist attack; Fatima was Alla’s sister; German is left with a young boy, Sasha, and a little girl, Lira). Alla told me that German cries constantly. Later, when Soslan and I were watching some TV, I heard Alla praying or calling out to The Lord, and to her dead son, Timur. She told me earlier this evening how she thinks Timur will be raised soon. I later went and visited Mira, a widow who sometimes joins our fellowship meetings. She has an 11-year-old daughter, Regina, and Mira’s health is much better (she was in Moscow for surgery so she can walk better). Praise God!
March 1, 2006, Wednesday Went to teach Madina (Tsabolova), who was sick with a runny nose, and burning eyes. For her writing assignment, I had asked her to ‘write about something you wonder about.’ She wrote, ‘I often wonder about Marat (her younger brother, killed in the school massacre); what will I do if he comes back home?’ I asked Madina if she could explain what she meant by ‘what will I do?’ She answered that she wonders how she’d react if he came back home cry with joy, or laugh. Later went and visited Babushka, Zalina, and Kristina… they served plov (a rice dish), and some sort of hot gelatin-like strawberry drink. God blessed Zalina and I to have a good time of talking; I suggested that she read 1 John, and was able to encourage her in faith.
March 2, 2006, Thursday Went to teach 13 year old Madina (Dzaparova), who survived the Bsln massacre; her uncle, Akhtyemir, was killed. ƒ © ƒ ¤ ƒ ¥ ƒ ¤ (YHWH) blessed me to give her Lecrae’s Real Talk CD. (Lecrae is a Christian rapper who boldy preaches Jesus.) She told me that she doesn’t like gym class; she also said that she didn’t like the circus. I asked her if she was afraid of the clowns, and she said, ‘No,’ but she doesn’t like to be in place where there are a lot of people. Though there could be another reason, I strongly suspect it’s because of her experience during the terrorist attack. She also told me that her cousin, Liza (who also survived the attack), has a birthday on the same day as mine, 3/18! She’ll be 11. Zaur (her older brother, who also survived the massacre) drove me to my next lesson, and when we came close to where the old school is, he told me that he fled from the school on this street. I asked him, ‘You remember everything, don’t you?’ He replied ‘Yes.’ I told him that he was a miracle, and to remember that everyday he wakes up… for many other people in the school didn’t survive. I went to my next student’s apartment Zaur Rubayev, who lost his younger brother/only sibling in the massacre. Zaur wasn’t home, but I sat and talked with his mom, Rita, and a friend of theirs, Zalina Muzayeva. Zalina lost her 15 (or 16) year old daughter in the attack. She (Zalina) told me that she studied German in school, and her teacher said she could be a translator, but she went to work right after finishing school she now greatly regrets that decision. I helped teach her and Rita, and Zalina said she’d really like a CD/cassette with (basic) English spoken on it so she could have the right pronunciation; told her I’d look when I was in the US. Zaur came home, and he and I listened to some music. He showed me his 11 th grade school photos… he, too, had studied at School No. 1 (the school the terrorists attacked). He also showed me some pictures he had on his cell phone, and one was of Mariana Ramonova a girl that died in the terrorist attack. I told him I had read about her mother, and Zaur said that Mariana had been his girlfriend. I asked him if everyday was difficult for him, and he said, ‘Yes.’ I asked if it was for his father, too; he again said, ‘Yes.’
In my personal life, I realize more and more how much I fear man, and also don’t sieze every opportunity He gives to share Jesus. May He help me to change! Remember that we who serve The Lord (regardless of where) are normal people with common struggles. In my walk of faith, this is what I’ve experienced: the difficulty for newer believers is to find out what The Word says… the difficulty for us who are ‘older’ in the faith is to believe what we already know The Word says.
March 3, 2006, Friday Walked through the old school’s gym, looking at the photos (the photos of those who died are hung on the gym’s walls). As I was leaving, I saw Babushka Olga’s grandson, Soslan (who’s in 5 th grade), and so we both went to see if Olga was home. (She is the babushka who always chides me for not visiting!) She wasn’t home yet, so Soslan showed me his Simpsons DVD (he loves the Simpsons!), and then his dad (Igor, Olga’s son) and I sat together and talked for a while. Olga came home, so we went across the hall to her apartment and I visited with her, her daughter, and a friend of theirs. They were so happy to hear me speak and understand some Ossetian! Praise God for how He’s been helping me. She asked me to write to them when I’ll be in the US… said I would. Later visited Mairbek (who’s mother, Anzhela, was killed in the school massacre) and his family. Mairbek and I played a letter game, then he asked me to do some calligraphy; among a few other simple things, I wrote, ‘Jesus is Good,’ in Ossetian. Did some laundry there. When I was leaving, Mairbek said, ‘God be with you.’ I told him that God really loved him, and said, ‘May God guard you.’ Mairbek said the same.
Thank you all for your continual prayers, support, and emails of encouragement. Perhaps you will never make it, physically, to Bsln though if you can, come! There’s so much that can be done. But know that the people you read about in these reports are ‘seeing’ you and your love, for which they and I thank you. God working in us is ‘making history,’ so to speak, and how blessed we are to be a part of His work! Please continue to pray for the The Lord’s Word to be glorified, and for the lost to hear of and turn to Jesus. Boozh-nig (‘Thanks,’ in Ossetian)!
To The LORD be all the glory,