Encouragement - creating hope for the future - Ken Sutterfield from His book "The Power of an Encouraging Word."
I was one of the first Americans living in the region, but was hardly ever lonely. I dived right into my studies and my ministry. I went cross country skiing in 20 below weather. Let's face it, the first few months, I did everything in 20 below weather. I led a man to faith in Christ just by getting in a conversation about Russian Roulette. Like I say, I was hardly ever lonely for America or Americans. I should say, until Easter of 1993.
To the Russian Baptists, Easter is a much bigger deal than Christmas. A Russian Baptist Easter service is a sight to behold, with much singing, preaching and sending of greetings. The problem is that the calendar for Russia's Easter is different than America's Easter. Easter Sunday as I know it, was 1 week prior to Russian Easter. So on American Easter Sunday, it was just another Sunday at my new church and I was homesick, feeling isolated and frustrated with not being able to communicate heart to heart fully in Russian or English
I don't know if my good friend Vladimir Lebedev, one of the young men from the Baptist Church who later became the Pastor of the church we started, noticed my malaise or not. But after the evening service he advised me that there was another American in town and that he and I were going to visit him in his hotel. So we endeavored through Khabarovsk public trans to find that he was not at his hotel, so we went over to Vladimir's house to regroup. His mother made a nice dinner and while we were eating, Vladimir translated for his father as he told me this: "If anyone were to stop by and look at this house right now, they would feel like I have another son. You are part of our family."
Many people have done and said many kind things for me over the years, but Vladimir's father's words ministered to me in a way that no words have before or since. It was one of those moments in early language learning, when you understand the meaning before the translation is given. As in the quote I led off with, an encouraging word had given me hope for the future and I believe that was the last time I was that homesick in the entirety of my time in Khabarovsk.