Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sister with Her Russian Bible. Tallinn, Estonia.

Words Worth Savoring

Sounds like you’re having a wonderful summer!
We really enjoy hearing about you teaching God’s Word!
The pictures are great – they bring back memories of my trips to Rostov!

Those are a few responses to the June edition of *From Russia with Love,* an email newsletter about my service and the congregation here in Rostov-on-Don. Usually I would have found those words delightful and heartwarming. But in June, they hit me like a splash of cold water.

I had started that newsletter telling about the early-morning telephone call I had received the previous week and learning about the death of my dad. Beats me how that sounds like part of a wonderful summer. Of course we can assume that those dear people didn’t make it past the title and certainly not into paragraph one. But for us writer-wanna-be’s who imagine that our golden words are worth savoring, well, that’s a bit deflating.

I was mulling over possible responses, considering letting those folks know that they didn’t fool me, no-siree, pretending to have read my sparkling missive, when another thought hit me like a tidal wave: How often have I given a cursory glance to words from God? How often have I dozed off reading my Bible (no offense, Jeremiah) or not opened it for personal reading to savor its richness and depth? How often has my New Year’s resolution of Bible reading fallen apart before April? Seventy times seven is a number that comes to mind as does 144,000.

Surely it grieves the heart of God when we barely glance at His words, painstakingly written and preserved for us over the centuries.

In all fairness, I hasten to mention the steady stream of communication between me and God. I regularly forward Him the current list of my needs, my wants. I’m often asking for wisdom and guidance, thanking Him for manifold blessings and mercies. But I’m coming to realize that our conversation tends to be lop-sided. I’m doing most of the talking, seems like. And the touching thing is, perfect gentleman that He is, the Good Lord is so patient that He blesses me just for dropping by to chat mostly about myself. I'm starting to do more listening.

Quite a few newsletter recipients did make it through paragraph one and sent me notes of comfort and encouragement, words that considerably eased the sadness. Several read through to the very final notation about Dad’s obituary being posted at, went to the site and signed the on-line guestbook there. How that extra measure made me smile. And surely we warm the heart of God and bring delight to Him when we respect and value His Word, savoring each morsel, even wading through the “and so-and-so begat so-and-so,” knowing that it’s there for a reason.

Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
(Psalms 119:105)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Harry's American Sandwich Bread

Photo: Harry’s American Sandwich Bread: “HOW TO MAKE A GENUINE SANDWICH"

A question for State-side readers: Would you say that the sandwich posted at left is typical of those assembled in your kitchen? I thought perhaps not. And I will confess that I’ve never managed to concoct such a Genuine American Sandwich, despite a rather extensive background in home economics.

Not to worry though. The Slavic soul is fascinated by almost anything that is American – or by anything that is purported to be American – including so-called, American-style bread. Or so hopes Harry. The advertisement includes a picture and a recipe for making such a sandwich, necessary because it differs from the typical Russian-style sandwich. Here, a “BYT-er-brod” is open-faced and on a slice of ba-TON, a long loaf of bread.

Just wondering: Do you suppose that American Sandwich Bread would fly off the shelves, say, in Kansas City? Or in Cleveland? Or would folks there prefer Italian bread? Well, next time you find yourself in Russia, ask for some American Sandwich Bread. Get a loaf before they're all snatched off the shelves.

"For the making of a genuine sandwich."