Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The latest

I just realized that the posts I had written at home don't have the latest info in them. When Will got home from Vladimir on Monday, he went to the local migration office. They said that they can't have the children added to the court decision, because they don't have anything against them. (Should we have them go out and commit crimes so that they can leave the country?) Yesterday he went back to Vladimir. After waiting for hours, he got a few minutes with the boss there. He gave permission to do visas for the children, but it was closing time already. Will has to take care of some details here, and then tomorrow he'll go back to Vladimir (again!) to apply for visas for the children.

When Mama is too busy. . .

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Anything but that, Lord"

(Click for the bigger size to read it. You probably guessed;
leaving Russia was my “anything but that, Lord.”)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Going to America

We call Raia The Bag Lady, because she’s always dragging around at least one bag—more often a whole train of them. Today she asked me, “Mama, can I take my bags to America?” She also wanted to know if there are books in America. Both she and Jaan often check to be sure that we can and will take Asya with us. They’re very concerned about that. (Wasn’t baby Elisabeth Elliot left behind when her family moved to the States? Well, not all the way left behind, but I think they walked out without her? We’re not going to do that!) Jaan asks every morning if this is the day that we’re going to go on an airplane. He knows that Uncle Vanya is going to take us to the airport, so when Vanya dropped by today before Jaan was out of the bathtub, Jaan panicked.

We thought we would be able to by tickets today, but we still can’t. First we were waiting for Jaan’s new passport. It came back a while ago, but with a mistake, so we had to start that process over again. We had to have his passport to get exit visas, and we didn’t want to buy tickets without knowing what the dates on our exit visas would be. Now we have his new passport, and today Will went to Vladimir to apply for exit visas. It turns out that I don’t need one. I’m supposed to leave on the court decision, not a visa. But then what about the children? Will doesn’t need an exit visa, and they don’t usually do them for small children separate from parents. So, the people in Vladimir sent Will to go back and get something added into the court decision that will mention the children by name. That’s not supposed to take long. . . .

I also wanted to say THANK YOU for all the sweet comments, encouraging emails, and prayers going up for us! I’m sorry I can’t answer you all individually. We also appreciate the suggestions for our future ministry options. If you think of something like that, please do send it to us. We might just say a quick thank you now (or maybe not even have a chance to acknowledge it—sorry!) and file it for later, but it’s helpful to have those ideas on hand. And more than anything, we thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Strange ashes

Again, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and what is comforting me these days. If I were a writer, I’d write something like this:
Sometimes I am asked to speak to young people who are toying with the idea of being missionaries. They want to know how I discovered the will of God. The first thing was to settle once and for all the supremacy of Christ in my life, I tell them. I put myself utterly and forever at His disposal, which means turning over. . . my notions of how I am to serve my Master. Oswald Chambers calls it “breaking the husk of my individual independence of God.” Until that break comes, all the rest is “pious fraud.” I tell these earnest kids that the will of God is always different from what they expect, always bigger, and, ultimately, infinitely more glorious than their wildest imaginings.

But there will be deaths to die. Paul found that out--daily, he said. That is the price of following the way of the cross--of course. . . .

This scares people. Yet what is there to fear when Christ holds first place in our lives? Where, other than in the will of the Father, shall we expect to find significance, security, and serenity?

God’s guidance for me has been so different from my early notions--I was to be a jungle missionary for life! [And, of course, we were to be in Russia for life!] The complete futility, humanly speaking, of all the language work I did (Colorado, Quichua, and Auca for various reasons, all came to nothing) was a deep lesson in the supremacy of Christ. Whom had I set out to serve? May He not do as He wills, then, with His servant’s work? Is anything offered to Christ ever wasted? I thought about the sacrifices of Old Testament times. When a man brought a lamb, the priest laid it on the altar, slit its throat, and burned it. The offering, then. was accepted. But what was left of it? Amy Carmichael taught me the implications of a living sacrifice. She wrote:
‘But these strange ashes, Lord, this nothingness,
This baffling sense of loss?’
Son, was the anguish of My stripping less
Upon the torturing cross?
Was I not brought into the dust of death,
A worm, and no man, I;
Yea, turned to ashes by the vehement breath
Of fire, on Calvary?
O son beloved, this is thy heart’s desire:
This, and no other thing
Follows the fall of the Consuming Fire
On the burnt offering.
Go on and taste the joy set high, afar,--
No joy like that to thee;
See how it lights the way like some great star.
Come now, and follow Me.

From Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter March/April ‘93

(Нет, я не пишу стихи. Эти слова просто были большое утешение для меня. Они не мои. We have friends who read our blog through an electric translator, which is hard to understand, at best. Last time I quoted a poem, it told them that I had written it. No, I am most definitely not a poet!)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Four months old!

Asya turned four months old yesterday! It seems like it's been a whole year since her three-month “birthday.” I think I’m enjoying her even more than I’ve ever enjoyed a baby before. Not that I love her more than our other children; that wouldn’t be possible. I’m just soaking up her babyhood more. Maybe it’s the contrast, after the hard pregnancy, and with what’s going on around us.

This morning I saw something very sweet. After trying and trying to get Asya to sleep, I finally just left her to scream for a few minutes. There was nothing more that I could do, and I needed a break. Then, all of a sudden she was silent. I ran to check on her and saw Raia holding her hand and shushing her. I tiptoed out, and in about two minutes Asya was sound asleep!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Prayer letter

“The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me,
and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
. . . Yet will I trust in Him.”
Job 3:25, 13:15

Dear friends,
We have sent out many cries for prayer lately, and we are so thankful for you who have been praying! The thing that we feared most has happened: we can no longer live in Russia. I don’t know if you can even understand how heartbreaking this is for us. Russia is so much more than just a place of ministry to us; it is our beloved home. Please continue to pray for us, as we grieve and try to move on.

Right now we are in the midst of packing, sorting, giving away. Soon we will buy tickets and leave for the States. (God provided all the money we need for those tickets! Thank you so much to everyone who gave toward that! I’m having trouble getting to thank you letters. Please forgive me, if I don’t thank you individually.) We’re planning to spend two weeks with family and friends in Florida, and then two weeks visiting in North Carolina. After that, we would like to move to some missionary homes elsewhere in NC to think, pray and plan. Then we hope to move on to a place of ministry somewhere else. . . maybe Ukraine? Or somewhere else in the former USSR?

We haven’t written for a while, and I’m sorry for that. The past few months have been very difficult. We skipped over the good news too, though! You probably know that our sweet baby Asya was born September 24, 2007. She is such a wonderful, happy, easy baby, and we’re all in love with her. Jaan is four years old now, and Raia is two. They are best friends and my little helpers in everything. We love watching all three of them play and interact with each other and the people around us.

Prayer requests:
1. Details of leaving Russia: packing, documents, emotions, decisions.
2. Passing on the torch with Gospelink ministry.
3. Travel and visiting in the States. Pray especially for our children to be flexible, to adjust well, to learn English quickly and not forget Russian. Pray that we really would be able to work out that time away after visiting. Pray for a car!
4. Wisdom and guidance for what comes next.
5. COMFORT: we really are grieving.

As always, you can keep up with us on the internet through our site:
We would love to hear from you, so please write to us at or
Will and Phyllis Hunsucker
c/o The Robertsons
808 Grandview Ave.
Altamonte Springs FL 32701
Let us know how we can pray for you. Thank you so much for your love, prayers and support! We look forward to seeing many of you soon.
Love and prayers,
Phyllis Hunsucker (for Will, Jaan, Raia and Asya, too)


I am so thankful for this list! For the example that inspired me, and for the God who got me moving to start it at just the right time! I can’t even explain the comfort it is. It’s more than “counting my blessings,” which sounds trite, more than Pollyanna’s Glad Game.

I can look back over many decades, remembering how worried I sometimes was, how bewildered at things God had permitted to happen, but now I see them all as a golden chain of mercies, gifts from a merciful Father who, like the father Jesus described, would never give his son a snake if he asked for a fish. . . . How thankful I am for God’s withholdings, for His unfailing faithfulness.
Elisabeth Elliot in her newsletter

869. God's withholdings (The biggest one ever is the withholding of life in Russia. I'm not sure I can be thankful for this one now, but it is one of God's gifts to me, and I accept it. And Amy Carmichael pointed out that the Bible says we are to be thankful in all things, not necessarily for all things.)
870. That my life is a golden chain of mercies and gifts, even though I can't see them yet
871. Johnson’s lavender baby shampoo and sweet-smelling children washed in it
872. "Joy is the keynote of the Christian life. It is not something that happens. It is a gift. . . . God gives to us a heavenly gift called joy, radically different in quality from any natural joy."
873. Finishing crying out "why? why? why?" without answers, and finding that the next chapter in the book I'm reading is called "Why Suffering?"
874. Still no answers, but such comfort
875. The pain, the agonizing, heart-rending pain: it is better to love and to hurt like this, than not to love and to be able to move on unhurt
876. Six years in Russia, one of God's biggest gifts to me!
877. This list that keeps my mind going, looking for and noticing the gifts in life
878. I am not alone.
879. Friends are crying with me.
880. Strawberries "fresh" from the garden--via the freezer--in January
881. "Our joy will be in collecting the happiness of living the everyday well, in gathering the memories of common (and yet painfully rare) loving. For therein is the God of the universe."
882. Asya all excited, cooing, kicking, squirming, flapping and trying to run away
883. A sparkling clean kitchen (without having done any work myself!)
884. Amy Carmichael called her children "our little lovables." How perfect!
885. A spring-like day (minus the mud) in January!
886. Jaan and Raia, holding hands to pray
887. Happy baby again, after a week of fussing!
888. Raia bringing me little "ladybugs" (that were really specks of dust) with as much care and joy as if they were real live creatures from the garden
889. A little flock of European goldfinches on the thistle right under our window

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's over

"The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. . . . yet will I trust in Him."
Job 4:25, 13:15

The hearing for our appeal was today. They upheld the last decision. Deportation.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Laughter and joyful noises

A recent conversation with Jaan:
“Then go.”
“I can’t. The light is off.”
“Well, I’m feeding Asya. Go get the stool and turn it on.”
“I don’t have time to do that. I have to go NOW.”
“Okay, then. . . use your hanger to turn it on.” (He was carrying a clothes hanger around.)
“Oh, good idea,” and he successfully implements it.
Five minutes later:
“MAMA!” (I think “Sigh. I need to go wipe him.”)

Every few minutes when Jaan and Raia are playing, one of them will say, “It’s time for church!” At that, they jump up, grab some books, and do this:

(I know you probably can’t see much, but at least you can hear their joyful noises.)

Here are Mama and Papa:

Mama has Baby Asya in her carrier.

Here’s the real Baby Asya:

There’s not much news here. On Monday Will called the regional (“state”) court to find out if they could give us any news, and they couldn’t. Tuesday we got a letter from the judge here, saying that he had sent all his papers about our case on to the state. We’re packing and sorting and waiting.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christmas with pictures!

I’m writing this just after Christmas, but it might take a few days before I have a chance to post it. On January 6, there was a children’s Christmas program instead of church. (And there was a funeral, the second in our church in less than a month. Please pray for the families left behind.) Our children loved the Christmas program, and there was a great turnout from the orphanage and friends and relatives of church members.

Jaan and Raia were thrilled to see the sign for this skit when they walked in. It says “Office of Heaven” but “of heaven” is the same as Raia’s name. And for those of you who know our friends here, the angels are Yulia, Ira, and Babushka Lena.

We got a family photo in parts. Everyone was too busy running around to get us all together, so I combined two photos here:

Then on Monday we had the church service that didn’t take place Sunday. Since we usually have two church services each week, holidays are even more special now. They are almost the only time that we can rent the big auditorium where we used to meet and see everyone all together. Then in the evening all the young families got together again for more fellowship time.

Tuesday, while the rest of us recovered from the exciting day before, Will went with a group from church to visit the kids in Sannikovo (the village where they used to do Bible classes) and take presents to them.

Wednesday we were able to turn in our court appeal. We should know in the next few days if it will be accepted and our case reheard.

Oh, and I forgot the big news! Asya laughed out loud for the first time on Sunday!

So many gifts!

Accept, positively and actively, what is given to you. Let thanksgiving be the habit of your life.
--Elisabeth Elliot in her newsletter

890. My bird feeder and the little friends who come to it
891. Good discussion and fellowship
892. We're still in Russia for Christmas!
893. The month of January and January weather
894. Family travel fun (I like to say that there's no need for extreme adventure trips when you can just take a few small children along and get the same thrill. )
895. Raia, looking out the train window, her reflection looking back at her, framed by the old wooden trim
896. Perspective: praying for Laura, puts our situation in perspective
897. "If God can make His birds to whistle in drenched and stormy darkness, if He can make His butterflies able to bear up under rain, what can He not do for the heart that trusts Him?"
Amy Carmichael, quoted in Amma: The Life and Words of Amy Carmichael, page 45
898. Visible improvement in a child's behavior
899. This unbelievable beauty:

Outside our windows on the first morning of 2008

900. Someone taking care of the abandoned babies in hospitals! (article in Русский Репортер № 30)
901. An automatic washing machine
902. Making a whole drift of paper snowflakes, whole family together
903. The strength that comes from prayer
904. Nadya's suggested answer to my document problems: she'll just adopt me!
905. Cold and clear days of my favorite winter weather
906. Jaan giving Asya art lessons: he tucks the pen into her little fist, and then moves the paper around under it.
907. Raia playing dolls with Asya: "Here, this is how you hold her."
908. Conversations with Asya
909. Visitors on Christmas evening to cheer us up and distract us
910. Too many gifts to even keep up with listing them!
911. "Бог с нами" на телефоне!?!?!?
912. Seeing the nice judge again and talking to her
913. Isaiah 50:7-10, written across the top of my court notes
914. Christmas treats, all ready to give to the neighbors
915. The story of Amy Carmichael's court case, read the day before ours
916. The morning sun, turning the ridges of snow on the next building into pink stripes
917. Snow that sparkles
918. Blue sky!
920. Raia pointing out that Baby Jesus is just like our Baby Asya
921. Patches of blue sky and big fluffy flakes coming down
922. Three in the tub for very happy bath times
923. Familiar faces, greeting us when we go out
924. Neighbors to talk with
925. A rare chance to walk fast
926. The lovely little people who usually slow me down when I'm walking
927. Forgot to mention this one: help with the gigantic suitcase on all those stairs when we changed trains in Vladimir. A friend "just happened" to be on the train with us!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Merry Christmas again!

I'm just taking a few minutes away from a Christmas gathering to post this, so I'll be quick. Merry Christmas to you all!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Hi from Moscow!

We came into Moscow yesterday to renew Jaan's passport and get a letter from the American embassy to help with our appeal. We are going to appeal as soon as everything opens back up after the holidays. That will be January 9. Please pray for Will and Sergei, our lawyer friend, as they get the appeal ready and turn it in!

Other than that, there's not too much to say. We're doing well, except for lots of germs going around. We've enjoyed a fun visit with Julie, since we spent the night with her here.

I don't have any pictures, and I'm not coming up with any good stories right now. . . .

Thank you for all your prayers! Sorry to be so out of touch. It's hard to keep up without an internet connection.

Oh, do pray for us as we're headed home tonight, too. So far the children have timed their sickness perfectly. Raia slept like a log on the table at the embassy, but she didn't throw up until we were done with that and all the traveling that came before it. Jaan took his turn before we even left home. Pray for everything to continue so smoothly and for a little extra patience for us, because not feeling so well is making everyone fussy.

And I did come up with a Jaan quote to share:
"How do you say mama in English?"
"It's just the same: mama."
"No, it's not. Mama in English is Phyllis!"

I can't believe I forgot to say this: God has provided all the money we need to buy tickets to the States, when that time comes! Thank you for praying with us and giving toward that need. Now you can praise Him with us!