Rich's Trip

Rich is off to Hungary and Russia.  He leaves on Monday, May 4, and returns on Thursday, May 14.

May 5-8, he'll be staying at the Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe in Vajta, Hungary to visit with our missionaries Caleb & Kim Beller.

May 9-14, he'll be staying at the Moscow Dorm in Russia, visiting with our missionary Drew Morehouse, and then have the privilege of being one of the teachers at the Moscow Pastors' Conference, May 11-13.

 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Well Iím off on my big trip.  Stayed up a bit late on Sunday packing, but when Monday came, I was ready.  Deb took me to the airport and was gracious to hang around before my departure.  The first leg of my journey was from LA to Paris, 10 Ĺ hours.  I had a great seat toward the back of the plane, a window seat, but on a two person section (I only had to jump over one person to get out to the bathroom).  Very uneventful but pleasant flight with Air France.  Great service.  Sat next to a nice guy named Walid, on his way to visit his family in Tunisia Ė he owns a restaurant down in southern Orange County.  Even got a couple hours of sleep.  We landed in Paris on time and I found my way to the next terminal, to the plane that would take me to Hungary.  I decided to walk from one terminal to the next to get some exercise, but the time change thing really messes with your head.   The clock on the wall in the terminal tells me itís 11:00am, but my body thinks itís 3:00am.  I found my next terminal, and after waiting an hour found out the next flight was delayed Ė it hadnít arrived yet from its previous destination.  The plane finally came in, 1 Ĺ hours late Ė but at least I didnít have to worry about missing a connecting flight, it just meant that Caleb would be waiting a bit longer at the airport.  The flight was on Malev airlines, the airline of Hungary.  As we got closer to Budapest and began to descend through the clouds, you saw lots of flat land (Deb would think of Kansas) and lots and lots of green fields.  The airport at Budapest is much smaller than Paris.  We got off the airplane, boarded a bus, and headed off to the terminal.  Before getting your luggage, everyone had to walk past a medical scanner Ė they were checking peopleís temperatures.  I think the Swine flu concerns are strong in Hungary.  After picking up my luggage and getting through a very simple customs inspection I was met by the friendliest face I had seen in a LONG time (see the picture).  It was great to hug Caleb.  Caleb had a car driven by Neil, the Bible College worship leader.  We had another two hours of driving through Budapest, green fields, country villages, and finally to the Bible College in Vajta.  Kimmie was there with the kids.  Justice is walking.  All boy.  The girls are as cute as ever and really loved their bracelets that Jaylene gave them.  I had a bit of dinner and have settled into my room Ė Iím staying in one of the rooms at the Conference Center, itís like a hotel room.  Very spoiled I am.  And did I say tired?  Itís been a long, long day.  Tomorrow I get the treat of sitting in on one of Calebís classes Ė Iíll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Love you all.  Appreciate your prayers.  Especially be praying for the Russian pastors and their conference May 11-13.

Rich

 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Well, today was a wonderful and long day.  Had a pretty good sleep last night, though I have to admit I canít figure out what time it is in my head.  When itís daytime here, itís nighttime at home.  And vice versa.  My body doesnít know which way is up and most of the day has been a bit of a fog.  But here are a few of the details that I can kind of remember (along with some help from pictures I took!).  I met up with Caleb (for those of you who arenít aware Ė heís our missionary in Hungary at Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe Ė google it on the web) at 8:30am this morning and we walked from his house to the ďCastleĒ (yup, thatís what they call it!) where the Bible College meets.  Itís a huge building with tall ceilings and a lot of history.  Caleb took me on a quick tour then we got to his classroom where he is teaching through the book of Hebrews.  I taped the class so when I get home Iíll put it up on YouTube for those of you who are curious.  Calebís a great teacher Ė his students are engaged and his teaching is very practical to daily living.  And in this gorgeous setting.  What a great place for students looking to find their calling from God.  After his class we headed upstairs to the coffee shop where we met up with Kim and the kids.  Caleb was nice enough to buy me two coffees (the fog cleared ever so briefly) and I had the blessing of getting to talk with some of the folks here.  Around noon we met up with Phil Metzger (the head of the Bible College and Sr. Pastor in Budapest) and some of the interns and Phil drove us to Budapest for the evening service.  Calvary Chapel Budapest is a happening place.  Located right in the middle of downtown Budapest in an old converted theater, the building probably seats 300 or so, and on Wednesday nights they have to run two services (5pm & 7pm) and both are packed.  Lots of young adults.  We had a bit of time before the service started, so we walked about a mile or so to a nearby mall where some of the guys needed to do some shopping.  Back at church, worship was awesome just like at any other Calvary, except I didnít recognize the music and couldnít understand the words (we are in Hungary after all).  Then Phil taught with a translator.  Even though Phil is pretty fluent in Hungarian, they do the bi-lingual service (Phil speaks in English with a Hungarian translator) and at times, trying to judge by who laughed at his jokes, it seemed like there were plenty of English speakers as well as Hungarian speakers.  We went to the 5pm service and hung around in the office upstairs until the 7pm service was over.  I had a few minutes to work on my PowerPoint stuff for the Russian conference next week.  After the service Phil drove us all back to Vajta (pronounced ďVay-taĒ) but first we stopped at McDonalds (yes Virginia, there is a McDonalds) before the two hour drive back to the Conference Center/Bible College.

Rich

Pictures (top row): Bridge over Danube, Budapest at night, Budapest mall, Calvary Chapel Budapest

Pictures (bottom row): Charis & Hope, Justice (Buddy), Kim w/ Charis, Phil and translator

        

        

 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hey gang!

The fog of jetlag is beginning to lift Ö ever so slightly.  Today Caleb gave me the gift of a day off.  I worked most of the day on my messages and PowerPoint slides for the upcoming Russian pastorsí conference.  I think Iím finally there!  Whew!  Other than meeting Caleb for lunch and a quick nap in the afternoon, I spent most of the day studying.  Now my PowerPoint slides are off to a Russian pastor, and heíll do the rest of the translation (I was able to use a Russian Bible and do some of the work).  I imagine none of that made any sense, but oh well.  After dinner (I ate in the school cafeteria for lunch and dinner Ė lunch was potato bar/salad bar, dinner was burritos Ė yum!) we had a brief break up in the school coffee shop (I had a cappuccino) and then we went to the midweek service thatís held here at the Bible College every Thursday.  They have a beautiful sanctuary on the upper level Ė there were about 150 people there.  Worship was beautiful, and I actually knew most of the songs.  They were sung in English and in Hungarian, very, very beautiful.  The message was given by Mark Walsh, one of the teachers at the college.  He and his family are heading off to New Zealand next week to start a Bible College there.  After the message it was pretty neat to hear various people share about the impact Mark has had on their lives.  After church we hung around the coffee shop and now Iím off to bed.  Tomorrow is a travel day.  We leave at 8am for the airport.  Iíll fly from Budapest to Kiev Ukraine where I catch another plane to Moscow.  I will arrive in Moscow at 9:30pm and then head to the Moscow Dorm, probably getting in around midnight.  Please be praying for my trip tomorrow Ė I have silly nightmares of my luggage (or me) getting lost in the Ukraine somewhere. 

Love you all!

Rich

Pictures (below):  Loving you all!, Missing you all!, and those Crazy Bellers! :)

     

 

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hey gang,

Its midnight in Russia and Iím bushed.  The morning started as I left the Bible College in Hungary at 8 in the morning. Iíve got a cool ďhelloĒ video of Caleb and Kim Iíll show you all on Sunday.  Neil the worship leader drove me to Budapest and man, I love that guy.  He even stayed with me at the airport for awhile while I figured out my ticket situation (it took some time).  Then I settled down to wait for my flight.  The flight to Kiev was about an hour and a half.  Kiev airport was a trip (see picture).  I had to wait a couple of hours before I could get a boarding pass issued.  But me and all my anxiety Ė it all worked out fine.  Then the flight to Moscow.  We landed in Moscow about 09:30pm and the sun was just beginning to set.  I went through the new terminal and whew!  In and out in twenty minutes Ė a record.  I had a great reception by Andre and Emily (ask Deb who they are).  As they drove me back to the dorm we had a chance to catch up and hear all about their plans.  And at the dorm Ö Drew!!!! (see pic).  I love that guy too!!!  Well Iím going to get to bed.  Weíre off to Tver in the morning.  Love to all.  Keep praying!

Rich

 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My first morning in Russia.  My alarm went off at 7am, but it was hard to get up.  Boy was it hard.  7 am in Russia is 5 in Hungary.  And Iím still not exactly quite sure Iím done with California (8pm).  My roommate Greg (see pic, an old friend of Georgeís who lives in Brea) got into the shower while I tried to wake up.  Breakfast was serve yourself.  Toast, cheese, salami, coffee.  We were off to Tver by 9:30am.  I was thinking it was going to be an hour and a half but it was more like three.  There were nine us plus the driver.  George kept us well-entertained with his stories and jokes (Iím threatening to put some of it up on YouTube).  We arrived in Tver around noon.  Itís a major city on the Volga River, north of Moscow (okay gang, this is the time to learn to use Google Earth).  We had lunch at a pizza place, then walked the city for a couple of hours.  This is a holiday weekend, the anniversary of Russiaís victory over Germany in WWII. Lots of people were out on the streets.  The park along the river was like a carnival (see pic of girl dancing to accordion music at left).  Then we went to a coffee shop (see pic, right) to catch our breath (I had a cappuccino).  Our next destination was still a long walk away.  We met with a small group of five believers, the remnant of what used to be Calvary Chapel of Tver.  Our goal for the day was to encourage this small group (see pic, right), and to pray with them that God would raise up a new pastor for them.  One of the guys, Sasha, is willing to be an assistant, but he doesnít think he could be a pastor.  Weíll see.  God was at this meeting.  Pray for Tver.  After hugs with the saints in Tver, we got back into our van and headed back to the Dorm in Snegari (okay, now you know itís not really in Moscow).  We were stopped on the way by a police blockade (see pic, left) that was randomly pulling people over.  The van driver ended up being asked to pay 100 rubles because his first aid kit was not current.  Then back on the road.  We stopped on the way at a McDonalds for dinner (it was now about 7:30pm).  I had a Big Mac, fries, and diet coke.  We ate as we drove and got back to the dorm around 8:30pm.  And yes, the sun was still up.  Itís now about 9:30pm and the sun is just beginning to go down. Not sure whatís ahead for tomorrow.  George said something about having me speak at a church somewhere (first I heard of it), but Drew told me that I was going to have a day off.  Weíll see.  You never know when youíre in Russia.  The pastors will start arriving tomorrow and the conference begins on Monday (your Sunday night).  Please remember to pray for the pastors.  And the speakers.

Much love,

Rich

 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Today was a little bit of a breather. I had the coolest time in Moscow being given a personal escort to church - just Drew and me. Drew took me to his church (see pic) in downtown Moscow - not easy to get to from the dorm. The man knows his way around Moscow - he's the Master of the Metro (the Metro is the super fast subway, and very complicated to navigate). The pastor gave a message about not judging one another. It took seven hours to get there, have church, and get back. After getting back to the dorm we spent a little time resting, and the rest of the time getting ready for tomorrow's conference.  The conference starts at 9:00am (10pm Sunday night your time). I speak every day at 11:15am (that's midnight). Prayer would be much appreciated if anyone wants to stay up with me. The conference is three days. Well off to bed - its past midnight now and tomorrow is coming quick!

Love to all,

Rich

 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hey gang,

The first day of the Pastorsí conference is winding down.  I got up this morning around 7am and got ready for breakfast at 8am.  Breakfast was hot, thick, Russian oatmeal.  The kind that fills you up and sticks to your ribs.  I added a little cinnamon, a little sugar, a bit of banana, and I was good to go for the morning.  The official start of the conference was at 9am.  We started with some worship and then George gave a bit of an introduction to the theme of the conference ďWhat we believeĒ.  The first teacher each morning will be Vlad, a Russian pastor from Nizhny-Nogrov (Iím SURE Iíve got that spelling wrong), one of the largest Calvary Chapels in Russia.  Vlad is a great guy, heís here with his whole family.  Heís doing triple duty with teaching, interpreting, and even helping out with some of the worship.  Vlad taught on our foundation in Christ, a message out of the book of Philippians.  Next up was Ö me.  I taught on our ďSolid FaithĒ, the message I gave on Easter morning at the sunrise service, on the proof of the resurrection.  I even did my PowerPoint thing.  One of the pastors who has served as a translator, Dima from Kaluga, was gracious enough last week to take my full PowerPoint presentations and translate the text into Russian.  Iím not sure I recognize them!  Next was a brief lunch break Ė a pea soup with ham, with hearty Russian bread.  After lunch we were treated to a message by David Daniels, pastor of Calvary Chapel of Orange.  David did a great job teaching from the book of Jude, on ďKeeping Yourself in the Love of GodĒ.  Later that afternoon, George Bryson taught.  His studies are going to be a bit more theological in nature.  He is teaching on the doctrine of salvation (soteriology), and today he covered the issue of salvation in the past tense Ė that we have been saved from the penalty of our sins, having been justified when we came to faith in Christ.  Good, solid stuff.  The kind of stuff that every pastor needs to get under his belt.  For dinner we had a noodle thing with chicken and peas.  I donít know what it was called, but it was gooood.  After dinner we had an evening of worship with various fellows leading the group in worship Ė mostly in Russian, but there was somebody who did a little English language music (me).  Iíve also been blessed to have had some good long talks with our friends from Kirov. Pastor Denis and I had a great chance to catch up before dinner.  This evening I just finished with a great time of fellowship and sharing vision with Alexi, that loveable fellow who has been the worship leader in Kirov.  Youíll hear more about all that as time unfolds.  Anyway, itís getting real late again.  I guess I can sleep after the conference.  Give hugs to everyone.

Rich

Pictures (top row): Alexi leading worship, David teaching Vlad interpreting, Dima & Max leading worship

Pictures (bottom row): George teaching Vlad interpreting, Rich teaching Vlad interpreting, Vlad teaching Dima interpreting

   

   

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hey beloved saints!

Weíre at the end of the second day of the conference.  Iím getting to know more and more of the Russian pastors.  What an awesome, wonderful time.  A tremendous privilege to be here and be a part of this thing.  I guess I should give you the meal stuff first and get that out of the way.  Ummm Ö breakfast was that white, gooey, rice thing that weíve had before in Russia.  I think itís absolutely great Ö especially if you dress it up with cinnamon, sugar, and bananas (the Russians looked at me a little strange, then decided I was doing something good).  Our teaching schedule was the same as yesterday and will be the same tomorrow.  First up is Vlad, he taught again from Philippians, this time about our obligation to love one another.  Great message from a guy with a great heart.  I was up next and I did my message from a week ago last Sunday in Colossians 2 Ė talking about the work on the cross where Jesus has wiped out our sins.  Oh, and I took a picture from the pulpit just to prove to you that I was up there (see pic). Then was lunch.  Pasta salad.  After lunch David Daniels taught from 2Timothy 1, stirring up the gift of God in us Ė excellent stuff.  That guy is a good teacher.  Last up for the afternoon was George, teaching on the ďpresent tenseĒ of salvation, how Jesus saves us from the power of sin.  During the day the clouds began to creep in over us.  The temperature had been in the mid 70ís, but began to drop.  During the afternoon we had a thunderstorm Ė rain, thunder, lightening, the whole enchilada.  By dinner time the showers seemed to be over, but it was still cooler. We took a group picture, I got a side shot (see pic). Dinner was chili Ė delicious!  After dinner we had a time of worship and communion.  They asked me to play keyboard for several of the worship leaders Ė not an easy thing when they do songs that you donít know, donít have music for, in a language you donít know, with a keyboard you donít know.  I just smiled and faked it a lot.  I hope they didnít notice Ö Communion was a sweet time with the pastors.  I love what God has been doing here.  Then the treat of the week.  George had a special deal arranged with the folks at Costa Mesa.  At 10pm our time (11am your time) we had a special internet/video chat with Pastor Chuck (see pic)!  It was cool!  Chuck taught about the basics of what we believe (our theme for the week) and Vlad interpreted as Chuck spoke.  What a cool thing technology is.  I videotaped the whole thing.  Itís getting close to midnight about now, so Iím trying to wrap things up and get to bed.  Tomorrow is our last day of teaching.  I would sure appreciate it if you could shoot a few prayers up for us Ė the spiritual aspect of this thing is so important and we canít do it without your prayers. Oh, and itís beginning to rain again.  God rain on us!!

With much love,

Rich

 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Well the last day of the conference is wrapping up.  Itís 7:45pm, Wednesday night, here in Russia.  Most of the Russian pastors have left and a couple of us Americans are now hanging out until our flights leave.  George and my new best friend Greg Russell (see picture, left, heís had to be my roommate since Friday night) have to leave something like 2am to catch their 6am flight.  I get to sleep in.  I leave the dorm at 8am to catch a noon flight.  Lord willing, I arrive back at LAX (by way of New York) somewhere around 8pm Thursday.  If youíre calculating my travel time, donít forget to add the 11 hour time difference.  Today went great at the conference.  Breakfast at 8am with a bowl of porridge.  We started the morning studies with our buddy Vlad (see pic, right) teaching about how important it is that we as Christians (and pastors) make the decision to be faithful to serve Christ, no matter what.  Next up was me.  I taught from Ö well Iím not going to tell you because Iíll be giving the same message at the Menís retreat on Saturday and at church on Sunday morning, so youíll just have to be at one of those to hear it!  The one thing Iíll miss when I teach this weekend is my pal Dima (see pic, left), the pastor of the church in Kaluga.  Heís been my translator for the last three days (and also stuck in my room with Greg).  But Iíll soon be seeing Dima, as well as Vlad and our favorite Russian pastor Denis (see pic, right) from Kirov when they all come to America in June for the big pastorsí conference out in Murrieta.  So, back to my day Ö after I taught we had lunch, good old fashioned hotdogs with mashed potatoes and vegetables.  But the hotdogs didnít exactly tasted like the ones in America.  Maybe these ones had real meat in them.  Not sure.  After lunch Pastor David from Orange taught on ďHow to Rightly Divide The WordĒ, another homerun as a message.  For anyone reading this who lives in Orange, you ought to be going to his church.  Heís a great teacher.  Then George continued his theology series on the subject of salvation, this time talking about salvation in the future, that we will one day be glorified Ė you know, weíll get new bodies and cool stuff like that.  That pretty much wrapped up the conference.  Some of the fellows began to leave, some stayed around for dinner before leaving.  And for dinner Ö I actually remembered to take a picture!  I donít know what it was called, but it was good.  Kind of like a stew with chicken (see pic, left), served over rice.  And of course a nice slice of Russian bread and a cup of tea. Iíve only had a few minutes here and there to spend with Drew since last Sunday, but I did get a chance to catch him in the laundry room and take his picture (see pic, right).  Iíll show you a greeting video from Drew on Sunday.  Drew said heíll be going with me to the airport in the morning, so that will give us a little more time before Iím gone.  This has been an absolutely wonderful week.  Itís been a great privilege to be with these men, let alone being asked to teach them.  These are the guys on the front lines of Christianity Ė establishing a beachhead where there is plenty of darkness.  Pray for these guys.  Print out some of their pictures, post them on your refrigerator, and pray when you get a chance.  Well Iím looking forward to getting to bed for the first time before midnight since, well I canít remember.  If you think about it, pray for me tomorrow as I travel.  I probably wonít get a chance to get any emails out until after Iím home.  But hey, Iíll see most of you this weekend at home!

Lots of love,

Rich