Church (1 a.m., Russian Apartment Variety)
Most of the pictures in the prior post came from our 1997 Mission Trip, in which we went to Pskov, Russia, and Bauska, Latvia. I'll put some stuff up about folks I met in Latvia, but on our second trip to Russia, in 1999, some really cool things happened.
First, I had to be in London on business, the week after the Russia trip was scheduled. So, I decided I'd go to Russia anyway, and simply fly to London when I was finished there. And, since the team wasn't going to go to Latvia, I went several days early, to visit with my friends in Bauska. One of them was Aivar Berlinski, the Worship Leader at New Life Church there, and I knew he'd be going to the Pastor's Conference in Pskov, Russia, and I figured I'd ride with him (which I did).
The last evening of the Conference in Pskov, they had a wonderful worship service in the Pskov Community Center. That's a whole post in itself, but that was the place where this happened. So you can figure what it was like.
Before we went for the service, Andrei Stepanov told me he had something special planned for the evening (like just being there wasn't....). Then, at the end of the evening service, Aivar asked me what I was doing afterwards, and I told him the Stepanovs were doing something special. He said the equivalent of "phooey" and I asked what was wrong. He told me it was his birthday and thought we could go out or something. I figured he shouldn't be alone, so I dragged him over to where the Stepanovs were standing and asked (through Andrei, my family interpreter) if Aivar could come along.
They said that would be great, so he did.
What was special that evening was that they'd invited the Conference Worship Leader, Sasha Medvedev, over for dinner, along with his partner, Dima (never did know his last name). And, the other third of the equation is that my roomie with the Stepanovs was Jeff Hairell, from our church, who was an incredible singer, keyboard man, and worship leader in his own right.
SOOOO ... I wound up in a little Russian apartment after dinner, with Aivar (a terrific leader of worship), Sasha (a terrific leader of worship) and Jeff (a terrific leader of worship). And great keyboard guys, all.
The service got out at 9:45 pm, while still light, and dinner followed. Sometime around midnight, Sasha got his keyboard from his car, Dima found an old guitar hanging on the wall as decoration, strung it up, and the guys all started noodling around.
We had church.
Fortunately, I had my video camera and the presence of mind to tape most of it. Here's a bit of what was arguably the most impressive time of worship I've ever experienced. We ended up sometime after 1:00 a.m., all singing Andre Crouch's "My Tribute" in Russian, Latvian, and English. If I hadn't caught the moment on tape, I'd have doubted it ever happened, myself.
Check it out, below:
In the first scene, the guys at the keyboard are (L to R) Aivars Berlinski, Sasha Medvedev, and Jeff Hairell. Occasionally, you'll see Dima with the guitar, and Andrei Stepanov, on the right.
These guys are making Heaven more attractive, too.