From Carelinks Reports

We continue to assist a large number of brothers and sisters and their families in various ways, thanks to your kind support. The snowfall in Eastern Europe has been extraordinary... for our bre & sis and contacts from the night shelters, life's pretty awful having to be on the streets all day when the streets are unwalkable... so we have been running hither and thither for various things. Just one of many examples- we saw a sister sitting in the snow at a bus stop, clutching her plastic supermarket bag where she has her few possessions. The bus had just left and she stayed sitting there. "Why are you sitting here?". "Well they've cleaned the snow off the pavement around the bus stop, I am just too tired to keep on walking these snowy streets as anyway I have nowhere much to go until the shelter re-opens".    

Confronted with cases like these, one can hardly drive on by. But it all takes a lot of time and resources. And it's not hard to go out onto the byways and compel people to come in to hear the Gospel and have a coffee... The new hall is a real blessing and all the sacrifices well worth it. Here’s Br Peter Stringer enjoying himself clearing snow off the roof, but the snow mountains were huge:


For the old folk in the night shelters who have nowhere to go, trundling the streets with their walking stick and bag or so of belongings is just awful- we took this photo out of the window at our new hall. As our blind brother Oleg remarked, having a white stick isn't much help in the Winter:

We received the following photos of the situation in Russia, with problems caused for brothers and sisters not just by the drifts but by the weight of snow on flat roofs:     

Cindy's been trying to get the kitchen up to EU standards, one of which is that workers must wear cooking uniforms, which we've just received. Our African brethren looked rather smart in them:

We need to be producing 150-200 meals / week to feed just our own brothers and sisters twice / week. Please do consider donating monthly for this as the costs are significant.

We're really grateful for the arrival of welfare packs from kind brothers and sisters. Here they are being shared out along with scarves and other material sent over from members of the Maidenhead UK ecclesia, and a set of woollen hats donated by Selco Builders Merchants [on the prodding of Br Mark Leadbetter, thanks Mark for that!]:

It was our honour and privilege to baptism YURI and his sister in the flesh VERA. Yuri's 69 and Vera's 73. Born the son and daughter of a senior Red Army officer, they lived their lives through the height of Soviet power. Falling upon hard times with the fall of the Communist Party and collapse of the Soviet Union, they both came, through quite different paths, to turn to God. They also reconnected with each other. Yuri lives in a man's night shelter and Vera lives in a woman's night shelter, but they spend their days together all the time, looking out for each other and trying to get through life together. They have taken to the Bible and the things of the Kingdom and the Lord Jesus like fish to water. They really love coming to the meetings. They always wear the same clothes, which they do their best to keep clean. Here are some pictures of them at previous meetings- you will note on the table to Yuri's right hand side is a Russian Introducing Bible Basics with answer sheets, part of their studies before baptism:

And so the great day of their baptism came, performed with the help of brother Vladimir:

Vera said: "We feel like small children all over again!". Yuri added: "Yes. So this is what being born again is all about. I never thought a person could feel so new!".  Sounds rather like the realization Nicodemus came to.

It was so hard seeing them off to go home. Each to their separate night shelter, to meet up at 08:30 a.m. at the bus station waiting room. They help each other along the slippery, icey streets as best they can, Yuri leaning heavily on his cane, clinging onto each other, playfully arguing with each other about whose eyesight is better.

Of such is the Kingdom of God, and it's a pleasure to do our part in helping them walk there.

Second Impressions of Latvia

Brother Charlie Klennert

Arriving to the Riga Bible Center by foot from the Heaster's apartment it was encouraging to see so many brothers and sisters and interested friends already in attendance. As I sat in the back it was evident that there are brothers and sisters here originally from Iran, Latvia, Russia and parts of Africa... The diversity is an amazing thing. After being here a couple years ago, to see the growth of the ecclesia was kind of surreal. I see the Carelinks newsletters, I read about our brothers and sisters, so in a sense I already knew them through thoughts and prayers. Almost as if I was looking through a glass darkly, knowing their stories and not being able to communicate with their language was indeed a difficult thing…

So many things left unsaid with just a simple smile. To see the Bible Companion in great use was an encouraging sight! Knowing that our brothers and sisters in Latvia are reading the same chapters of the Bible as we do is a testament to how that plan has helped many all over the globe. The readings were done and discussed at meeting in quite some length and everyone was encouraged to read the Bible on their own during the week, to fill up their lamps. The need is great for Bibles in Russian and Latvian. So please do help and send or provide Bibles!

After meeting there was a meal and coffee prepared by the brethren for all in attendance. Quite a sight to see with nearly 100 people in attendance.! This makes for loads of dishes, which were happily washed up by some of the brethren. After the meeting, there was a young married couple, YURI and DIANA, and an elderly lady, TATYANA, who have been preparing for baptism and today was their day to choose the path of Christ! So we thank God with the Angels that others are coming to the cross and to the Truth! Hard really with photos to try to express the wonderful buzz from this meeting:

Line of brothers and sisters awaiting food:

Br Charlie greeting sister Tatyana after her baptism


Yuri and Diana before their immersion by Duncan & Cindy, the kitchen has been well done by an Australian brother recently, and there's a large baptismal bath.

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