Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lent Day 28: Our Russian connections

Russian roots, anyone? Today I'm giving a special shout-out to everyone reading in Russia. (1/5 of this blog's readers are in Russia, according to Google stats.) With Russia so much in the news, it's timely to write what I've thought about for months.

Did you know that our family has strong family connections to Russia?

My mom's mother and father married young (16 years old) and settled in SE Russia (now Romania). The czarina of Russia wanted the swamps drained so her family wouldn't get malaria on vacation. So she offered land to young German couples who would dry out and farm the soggy soil nearby. My great-aunt's family remains in Russia and they were educated and worked farms under communism. By the time Soviet borders got more porous, they were firmly established.

Grandma and Grandpa built up a dairy and vineyard. Grandma learned to bake delicious bread - and became a good vintner. She baked and made wine until a few years before she died. (A staunch Christian, she took Paul's injunction to Timothy "take a little wine for your stomach" as seriously as she took every other part of scripture.)

Throughout the 1900s, ethnic Germans, like other Europeans, were on the move. German families lost everything, kicked out of Eastern Europe during world wars. Anger against Germans was especially fierce when the Nazis invaded. Displaced groups traveled back to Germany or immigrated to the Americas - south and north - to find land and a place to settle. My maternal grandma's family moved to South America, back to Germany, over to Canada, and back home again. (Grandma's dad loved adventure; her mom ... not so much, so they kept going back to Germany.) Grandma was a Canadian (born in Winnipeg during their travels), so after WWII, she brought her family to Canada through Halifax.

W's mom gave us these Russian nesting dolls
Dad's side of my family has strong ties to Russia, too. Grandma (nee Brandt) pulled out a map one day, pointing to places where her family had lived all over southern Russia. Her father was a itinerant Baptist evangelist in the late 1800s/ early 1900s who shared Good News with whoever would listen. She told me how the family would settle, preach, and then they'd get run out of town. They would pack up and find a new place to minister.

Meanwhile, Grandpa's family was active in the church in Poland and Russia; we have family pictures of Dahers who were church leaders. Many were musical; an uncle was trumpeter to the Czar, a forerunner of my brother's mad trumpeting skills. Grandpa was somewhat feisty all his life. (For example, he worked as a bouncer in Russian clubs as a young man.)  After Grandpa fell in love with Grandma, an externally mild but strong-willed beauty, they married and immigrated. They landed in Winnipeg, Canada, in the 1930s, sponsoring and sheltering many families who arrived after WWII. In contrast, Grandpa's siblings came through Ellis Island and settled in the States. An American immigration officer renamed our American family on their immigration papers: he apparently couldn't spell "Daher." (That wasn't unusual; renaming by misspelling was frequent at Ellis.)

W's grandfather, Theodor Maksymowicz, sits between
AG missions leaders (JP Hogan, seated on L) in 1965
W's family has Russian roots as well. He's proudly Polish, but Poland, like much of Europe, has been overrun by various tribes and shifted borders over and over. His dad had German roots. His mom's family was more connected to the Russian side. W's grandpa (Theodor Maksymowicz: article here) led Polish Pentecostalism in the 1950s and 60s. I remember him preaching at our Winnipeg church in 1965. His huge bald head, and smart, compelling preaching made him one of few visiting speakers I remember from childhood. Currently, W's cousin spends months each year in Russia, fluent in language and culture.

We've never been to Russia but here's my love and hello to those in Russia today. Hi also to readers in China, the UK, the Dominican Republic, France, India, and Malaysia... and everywhere else where you might be reading this.

Don't you love that God speaks Russian, Indonesian, Chinese, German, and English - and every other language?  He knows us. He "gets" our backgrounds. He understands what it means to be polite and rude where you live. What your gestures and glances mean to insiders around you.

Jesus lived and died for every ethnic group, every skin color, and people within every political boundary. Every day, that makes me very happy - and relieved. (What if he had loved every family on earth except ours?)

We're especially grateful because W and I are willing wanderers. W purchased tickets yesterday to move across the ocean and N/S hemisphere. We leave on July 1. We can't wait to meet new friends, learn the language, manners, and hospitality, and eat new foods.

I'd love to hear from readers in Russia or readers with Russian roots at rosemee at hotmail dot com.

Read more:
*If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock--the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go outDeuteronomy 28:1-6 NIV [Don't you love a God who makes such promises and is big enough to make them come true!?]

*Not one of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:45 NEV

*O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! Psalm 95:6 NEV

*The promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him. Acts 2:39 NEV

Moravian Prayer: Congregations of the living God, arise! Proclaim the promise that the Almighty has given us: the Lord is our God and we are God's people! Thank you, Lord, for your steadfast promise. May Christ's name be praised, today! Amen.

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