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At the sanatorium in Tomsk
The flights to Tomsk went smoothly. Dima and Natasha collected us from the airport at 8 a.m. and dropped us off at the sanatorium in bright sunshine, to catch up on sleep and await the arrival of the ecclesia in the afternoon. Eventually we were twelve altogether, including the three boys, who seem to shoot up like bamboos from one year to the next.
Our talks this year were a continuation from last October, when we had spent five sessions on Daniel, reaching chapter nine. It was time to finish off the book. We spent some time on the amazing prophecies in chapter eleven, where 20 kings and princesses are described in detail as they would come and go over the next 400 years. So precise are the descriptions of future events that critics used to say this chapter must have been written in the second century BC, after they had happened. The discovery of a scroll of Daniel amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls, dated by experts to a much earlier period by the style of writing, put paid to that ‘explanation’.
Kathryn and her team of lady teachers took her young pupil Matthew through the story of Moses, and he produced some good work for us to inspect by the end of the weekend. As we meet on approximately the same dates each year, we agreed this year to take the daily readings from the Bible Companion (sputnik in Russian) for the corresponding days in November, so that there was something different to comment on.
The weather was perfect: frost at night, but calm and sunny by day. It was what Russians call a ‘woman’s summer’, equivalent to our ‘Indian summer’. Their term supposedly suggests a sad woman looking back to the glory days of summer, when its beauty was at its height!
The railway station hotel said they had been refused a permit to put up foreigners (a new regulation), so we had to stay in the three-star Tomsk Hotel, which was handy for the airport taxi in the morning. At Sheremetyevo airport, Aeroflot had allowed only three-quarters of an hour between flights. This was very tight, and after passport control, customs and security, we had a fast walk of around a kilometre from Domestic to International, Gate 54 being almost the furthest out from the hub. It was good to climb onto the London plane and get back our breath.
Dear Sister Amelia made a little speech as we said farewell, thanking us with tears in her eyes for the annual opportunity to meet with brothers and sisters from another country, and to enjoy peaceful fellowship and Bible studies. She asked us to convey their heartfelt thanks for the contributions of money from the British brothers and sisters that have enabled us to keep up this October tradition for 18 years.
David M Pearce
|"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15)|