Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cecil, gone and returned

Dear Friends,

I (Cecil) arrived back in Khabarovsk five days ago, safe and sound.  Tonya and and the girls seem to have survived without me, but it is good to see them again.  The ministry seems to also have continued just fine.  I still have a touch of jet-lag, but my days and nights are pretty much straightened out.

I am here on a visa.  That is not as good as the resident permit I had previously, but will work for now.  We'll take things one step at a time.

Tonya and the girls kept things going while I was gone.  One of the things they do is go to orphanages with crafts and spiritual lessons.  Every Saturday our team of volunteers go to an orphanage for special needs children.  These children are especially glad to see us.  They don't get out very often.   Last Saturday we told them about Jacob's ladder.  And that Jesus is our way to God.  Here they are holding their crafts that they made of Jacob's ladder.

We had a get-together with our ministry team.  It was a productive time of planning and fellowship.  Nothing can unite people more than sharing the call of God.  These are some great people we have the honor of working with.

Please pray for construction of the new ministry center.  Little progress was made while Cecil was gone.  We hope to pick things up again in April. 

A few encouraging words I read recently:

After his wife died, Dr. Albert Schweitzer continued to work in Africa till he died at the age of 90.  Overcoming innumerable difficulties, he once wrote: "One day, in my despair, I threw myself into a chair in the consulting room and groaned out: 'What a blockhead I was to come out here to doctor savages like these!' ...  Whereupon his native assistant quietly remarked: 'Yes, Doctor, here on earth you are a great blockhead, but not in heaven.'"

Please also pray for us to have wisdom in making plans.

The Eshelman Family
in Russia

Friday, March 03, 2017

New visa

Dear Friends,

I need to mention, my new visa has just been secured.

I am looking forward to getting back to my family in Russia.

A visa won't allow me to live there forever, but it does give me some time.

we have just posted our latest newsletter regarding Russia and the Eshelman family.

You can view it at

Thank you for your prayers and support!



Friday, January 06, 2017

Sudden departure

Dear Friends,

My resident permit in Russia (kind of like an American "green card") was cancelled and I was given an exit visa (good only for leaving the country). ☹

I have purchased tickets and will be leaving Khabarovsk on the 8th of January.  I'll go through Moscow and leave Russia on the 9th.

Tonya and the girls will be staying in Khabarovsk for the time being.

I'll be making application for a new visa when I am able.  Right now our plans are not very clear.  Please pray that I am able to return to Russia and pick up the work where I left off.

Please pray for us as we go through this new twist.  As you can imagine, we are in a bit of turmoil.


Friday, December 02, 2016

Christmas newsletter

Dear Friends,

we have just written letter of Christmas greetings and hope to get it in the mail very soon.  It does take a while for mail to make it from Russia to the States.

You can have a look at it, if you wish, at

~the Eshelman family.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Construction in the Cold

Dear Friends, 

Cecil was recently asked to baptize some people in a church whose pastor isn't ordained yet.  Cecil loves doing baptisms, so of course he said, "Yes."  It's a bit chilly outside, so their church rented a small pool and we held the baptisms there.

Before the baptism Cecil preached mini-sermon explaining what baptism is.  It's the first time he's ever used a pool table to hold sermon notes while preaching (what kind of a pulpit is that!).  Tonya helped with translation.

Construction of the rehab center continues.  The doors are in.  Good thing we've gotten the roof on.  We're putting on the siding.  Windows coming soon.

Snows have begun, so we sure hope to get some heat put in before things really get cold.  Once the wood stove gets installed, it will be warm inside!

Did you know that in Russia it is popular to eat ice cream in winter?  I (Cecil) thought that was weird, but at least the ice cream doesn't melt and drip on you.

Anyway, Vera and Diana enjoy both ice cream and electronics. 

Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Russia, but we held our own family Thanksgiving, and invited some friends over.  We even managed to find Turkey (parts) in the local grocery store!  So we managed to have Turkey for dinner.  And pumpkin pie!  We are thankful for all of God's provision this year.

Game night and movie night outreaches also continue every week.

Thank you for supporting the ministry.

Cecil, Tonya, Vera & Diana


Other weird and/or interesting links about Russia-

Don't try to contact me on linkedIn

A secret Nazi military base rediscovered in the Russian Artic

Afraid of Heights?

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Car Came Back

Dear Friends,

some good news!  Our Speed-the-Light car was found.  The police found it.  Thank you to the Khabarovsk police department!  It was undamaged, and started on the first try.  We're so glad to have our transportation back.  Praise the Lord.

Construction of the new center continues.  The roof is looking better.

We will need to put in doors and windows soon.  And siding on the walls.  And insulation.  And heat the house.  Then people can really live there.  Pray we get it all finished before the winter snows begin.

Game nights at Hope Center continue to provide a fun and entertaining point of contact with our orphanage graduates, as well as various other churched and un-churched youth.  They are being well attended, and there is a good atmosphere.  It seems the favorite game is Uno, but we have quite a variety. 

Our weekly Christian Movie nights at Hope Center continue as well.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support.

Cecil, Tonya, Vera and Diana Eshelman


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Passing the Test

Dear Friends,

life is so filled with ups and downs, good news and bad news.  Well, let's start with some good news.  For Cecil to keep his resident permit and live in Russia, he needed to pass a test of Russian language, government, and history.  Good news!  He passed the test.  It was a long test with many questions, and in the Russian language, but he managed to do it.  So the Russian government should let him renew his resident permit (once he submits all the papers, and it is a pile of papers).  Tomorrow afternoon we plan to submit the request for renewal.

Bad news.  Our car went missing.  Cecil was running some errands downtown.  When he walked back to where he thought he parked it, it wasn't there.  After searching for a while, we asked the police to help.  They haven't found it yet, either.  It has been listed as stolen.  So for now we're taking buses and taxis.

Construction continues at the ministry center we are building.  Hoping to put the roof on in the next few days.  It's been quite a bit of physical work for Cecil (carrying boards, driving nails, climbing ladders, etc).  It's not a big building, but it is a house.  Thankfully we've had some help from local volunteers.  Please pray we don't have rain until the roof is closed in.

We've had some things happen to slow down the work.  A fire in the neighboring field we ran to help put out.  Materials were stolen at night.  Etc.  So, please pray that the work is able to finish quickly to completion.

We helped host a three-day conference at Hope Center on how to minister to unreached people groups in the Russian Far East (it was held this month).  We had a variety of groups represented, and a variety of speakers.  This should help to coordinate and motivate evangelism and church planting.

(above) One of the speakers at the conference.

Now that summer vacation is over, our orphanage outreach has resumed.  We go once a week to three different orphans with LifeSkills and Bible training.  Orphanage workers have recognized the importance of teaching independent living skills to the orphans, and doors are open to us.

Please pray that our car is found, that construction proceeds smoothly, and that doors to ministry remain open.

Cecil, Tonya, Vera and Diana Eshelman

An interesting history moment:
Francis Scott Key (who penned the "Star Spangled Banner") wrote a detailed account of the Battle of Fort McHenry to Thomas Jefferson's cousin, John Randolph, October 5, 1814.
John Randolph was a U.S. Congressman from Virginia who went on to become a U.S. Senator, 1825-1828.  President Andrew Jackson appointed John Randolph as U.S. Minister to Russia, 1830.
Francis Scott Key shared his faith with John Randolph:

"May I always hear that you are following the guidance of that blessed Spirit that will 'lead you into all truth,' leaning on that Almighty arm that has been extended to deliver you, trusting only in the only Savior, and 'going on' in your way to Him 'rejoicing.'"

Rep. John Randolph wrote to Francis Scott Key, September 7, 1818 (Hugh A. Garland, The Life of John Randolph of Roanoke, New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1853, Vol. II, p. 99):

"I am at last reconciled to my God and have assurance of His pardon through faith in Christ, against which the very gates of hell cannot prevail. Fear hath been driven out by perfect love."

Monday, August 29, 2016

summer camps

Dear Friends,

in July a new law was issued in Russia.  It has considerably restricted religious freedoms.  For example, for sharing your faith and inviting someone to a place of worship, you may be fined up to $1,000.  The law itself is rather complex and hard to read.  It hasn't changed what the churches here are doing.  And it hasn't stopped us from sharing our faith. 

In July, we did something that we've never done before in Russia.  We went to two villages that don't have any churches and did Vacation Bible Schools.  It was obviously the highlight of our summer, and we hope the kids feel the same. 

In the villages the kids liked the VBS so much that they asked us to come back.  So a church group is now coming to the community center in one village every Saturday and doing a Bible School lesson and playing games with the kids.  Interestingly, this village has 86 foster children, but few after-school activities.  So we feel very blessed to be used by God to reach these kids with the Gospel.

The other small village where we did a VBS outreach is populated by a minority group called Nanian.  They are generally not open to outsiders.  But God has given us great favor and we had a super good time with the children for three days (and the parents attended the final evening presentation). 

(the ministry team below)

Please pray for God to give us wisdom on how to continue His work here. 

The construction on the new ministry center slowly continues.  God is answering prayers.  We're going up from the foundation, and we're putting in a floor.  Hope to start on the walls soon.

Please pray for us and the Lord's work here.  Better yet, come and visit us sometime!

Thank you for your support.

The Eshelman Family