Here's what Anna wrote yesterday:
I'm in Kovrov visiting my brother's family for a few hours today. The camp director, Ivan, dropped me and Abby off on his way to another town. We left Vladimir on Monday and went to the director's home town of Vyazniki. We have had a nice time of rest the last few days and have been going through town inviting the young people to evening youth meetings. We haven't had much success, because either they're not at all interested, they're Orthodox, or they think we're a cult. Last night four young men showed up, and were very interested. We gave them some music and books and they stayed for the Wednesday evening service and had dinner with us and talked for quite a while.
We can't seem to make it through a summer here without some kind of problem with the local and regional police. We registered our passports in Vladimir when we first arrived, but it turns out that they were not really registered. In Russia, when you register your passport/visa, they stamp it. On that stamp is a number that is connected to your name. They turn that number in to the local police, so that they can keep track of you, if necessary. When we registered, the lady at the hotel stamped our arrival/departure cards and then gave our identification numbers to someone else. Basically, she pocketed the money that we paid, and didn't register us. So, when we went to register in Vyazniki, our identification number showed that we were from Belarus. The local officials were really upset about that. They called in the regional officials and I, another American, a translator, and the camp director were at the passport office for five hours, being questioned by various officials. At the end of five hours, after many questions, many documents, many signatures, they accidently deleted the information from their computers. Let this be a lesson to all of us- when writing important documents- you should always periodically hit SAVE! =-) They decided to take a break and came out to the church after two hours to start over again. Thankfully, most of it had already been written on paper- they love documents, so it really didn't take long. Basically, we came out of that with two possibilities: 1)they don't believe us and deport us for five years, or 2) they believe us and don't deport us. =-) We'll know within a week what they've decided. I'll be sure to let everyone know. Mom, I know this sounds bad, but we're fairly certain that we're going to be fine. The officials were a lot nicer than in the past years.
I really like the way the camps are working this year. The local churches have gotten really involved and it;s neat to see the unity between everyone. Last week, one of the families in the church in Vladimir invited all of the kids out to go horse-riding. They live in the tourist town of Suzdal and have a carriage ride business. So we took all the kids out there for carriage rides and rides on the horses. It was a lot of fun and I rode a horse for the first time. I was trying to figure out how to get up, and the guy just kind of grabbed my foot and threw me up there. I landed completely in the wrong place and had to pull myself up- I'm sure it looked very graceful. After our rides, we walked through the old-town. It was so beautiful-like out of a fairy tale. I've got some amazing pictures. I'm loving my new camera.
For some reason, my brother volunteered us to do one of the tent camps next week. Me- camping? Now, I have seen the location, so I know that it is beautiful- but bugs, sun, heat, tents, washing in the river-real camping? I will survive! - though several dozens of shades redder and having been the feast of the local bug folks. More to come- Anna
(Note: Will didn't quite volunteer them for Sudogda. He himself was volunteered for it. He said that he would be happy to go any of the camps, but that he would like to be with his sisters. So, because he's being sent there, they are too.)
It was so good to see Anna and Abby yesterday! Please keep them in your prayers.
Also, please be praying for our computer. It's making noises and not wanting to work again today.