Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Painting out house and ministry

Dear Friends,
The church we attend in Khabarovsk put on a concert during the city's day of memory for those who have died of AIDS.  They put out literature for passersby to take.  The event was held in a city park.  It is a good occasion to think about eternity, as well as a healthy lifestyle.  Many people would pause and listen for a while, a fair number would take information, a few would ask questions.

Our orphan outreach with game nights continues every week.  Attendance varies from 8 to 20 depending on weather, exam schedules, and such.  We get opportunities to get to know people and have both casual and spiritual conversations.  Since churches meet in this room on Sundays, it is easy to invite people to attend services since folks have already become familiar with the location. 

Movie nights continue, although attendance is down (about half a dozen on average).  Please pray for wisdom in regards to that ministry.  We need to be very careful about any advertisement or such.

Work at the dacha project for orphan graduate adaptation continues.  We are in the painting stage.  Here is our daughter Vera helping to paint the ceiling on the first floor (with her hair pulled back to keep it from becoming the new color).

Here is one of the orphan grads painting the bottom of the outhouse.  After he was done, we set it upright.  It is now ready for use!

No, there won't be running water at this center, but that is not unusual for country houses in Russia.  It is important, however, to have a good stove.  We're hoping to get that installed soon.  Please pray for that very important step, as we've been having difficulty finding someone qualified and willing to do that.  Other than the stove, a well, and putting mattresses on the beds, the center is ready for habitation.  This project has taken a bit longer to realize than we expected that it would, but it is now possible to spend the night there.

Our son Timothy continues work and study in the States.  He is doing well.

Serving in Russia,

Cecil, Tonya, and the girls

P.S.  Info for those who might travel to Khabarovsk -

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Easter & Life

Dear Friends,
Around Christmastime, Tonya felt compelled to go and visit an elderly friend of hers (we call her Aunt Polya).  When visiting, Aunt Polya complained about poor health and asked us to bury her if she died, since she didn't have any other relatives.  Tonya answered, "Don't talk about death yet, you haven't made peace with the Lord yet."  To Tonya's surprise, Aunt Polya, who never wanted to listen about God before saying, "You know I don't believe in that stuff," this time said, "I think I am ready now, how do I make peace with God?"  Angels in heaven rejoiced as Aunt Polya prayed and repented of her sins, asking God for salvation through Jesus Christ.  In February, we were told by her neighbor that she had just died.  Later, standing by her graveside after the funeral, we thought about how short our lives on earth are, and thanked the Lord for guidance from the Holy Spirit, God's salvation, and mercy.

Another loss we had in February was the loss of access to some orphanages where we used to do ministry.  We are not sure about the details, but what we know is that the ministry of education in Khabarovsk gathered all the orphanage directors and told them that the children should have no contact with our ministry organization.  So one by one the orphanage directors contacted us and apologized that they can't let us come any more.  We were not given a reason, so perhaps it is political.  Many teachers and children continue to text us, asking us to come sometime.  We also miss them.
This Sunday, our ministry team is getting together to seek the Lord.  We know that when he closes one door, there is another one being opened.  So our team of volunteers will be praying for the Lord to show us His direction.
On a brighter note, the construction of the adaptation center is going very well.  You can see in the photo below Cecil and some helpers working on the balcony. 

Now, as the construction is nearly finished, we will try to finish developing a ministry team and the adaptation program.  We request prayer for wisdom as this is a new step for our ministry.  We will be partnering with another Christian organization who will likely lead much of the day-to-day ministry there.

Russians color eggs on Easter.  Below are some kids from church with colored eggs and a special Russian Easter cake in the center.  Easter isn't always the same day in Russia as in the West.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support.

Cecil, Tonya, Vera & Diana

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