You can also see the entire story on the LIfeNets Website at http://lifenets.org/bootscoot/index2010.h
You can also see the entire story on the LIfeNets Website at http://lifenets.org/bootscoot/index2010.h
by Karen Allwine ShareThis
This was our sixth time that we chose to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in Estonia.
While we missed a couple of Estonians that we love dearly, the old friends we saw and the new friends we made caused this to be a most memorable week.
There were more people attending this year than ever before. In most years, our numbers have been around fifty. This year, we had almost ninety attending. The majority, of course, was from the United States but people from many other countries were in attendance. I would like to spotlight some of those people. We spent an unforgettable evening on October 4, 2009 listening to some of the stories these people had to share and I would like to include you in their wonderful and inspiring stories. Each person mentioned below was asked to share his or her story. The Estonians are first.
Vello Saar now lives in Cincinnati with his wife Linda. Vello was born in Estonia on the island of Saaraama in 1939 and lived there until he was four years old. As the Germans left this area, they took many of the locals to “protect” them from the Russians. The Estonians were taken to Poland, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech and Slovak Republics), and Austria. As the war ended, in 1946, Vello and his family were sent to a displaced person’s camp. At this time, his family was given a choice of several locations where they could move. One of these countries was Argentina and that was where Vello’s father chose to move. Vello came to the United States in 1963 and came in to the Church because of his wife. He was baptized, in Saaraama two years ago at the Feast – wanting to be baptized on the island on which he was born.
Artur Alexandrov is nineteen years old and came into contact with the Church through the Internet. This was his first Feast. Artur finished high school last spring and has begun college. There was a possibility of a scholarship offering free tuition but only five people would be given this money. Artur really needed this money to be able to attend college. There were five people ahead of Artur who were the recipients but, interestingly enough, all five “disappeared” and Artur was given the scholarship and his way was paid. The other remarkable fact about his story is that many exams, required for graduation from high school, were on the Sabbath. He had been told that he would have to take them on that day or not graduate. Interestingly, the dates were changed for some reason and he was able to take and pass all of his exams on another day.
Rainier and Margit Barth are from Dresden, Germany – formerly in Eastern Germany. His family heard about the Church through Radio Luxembourg who broadcasted the World Tomorrow Program for many years. Rainier’s father ordered the Correspondence Course and the Plain Truth magazine. The government officials confiscated much of their literature. Rainier met a family in the Church by the name of Pistorius and, in 1981, Rainier went to a Church meeting.
The Barth’s attended the Feast in BRNO, Czechoslovakia for ten years. The Feast in BRNO was a very interesting Feast site. Our family attended the Feast there in 1981 and 1984. Rainier related the following information which we also observed while there.
The Feast in BRNO was the only place where the East German brethren could attend the Feast. They had to live in another hotel – not the one where the westerners stayed. We could have NO contact with them in our hotel nor could we acknowledge that we knew them. We could go to the lobby of their hotel to visit but we could not visit them after services in our hotel. It seemed very awkward but any closer contact than that could have gotten them into serious trouble. The Feasts in BRNO were two of the most memorable we have had.
The Church split in 1995 hit the German brethren hard as it did all of us. Before 1995, there were about 50 people in the Church where the Barths live – now there are only five.
Dr. Barth helped organize our opening night service which composed of scripture readings by 3 youth – name from Latvia, name from Ireland, and Artur from Estonia – music by a Latvian trio and the Estonia Feast Ensemble, and – of course – a message by the Feast Coordinator, Victor Kubik.
Mandy Heathcote lives in New Zealand but was born in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). Mandy’s father moved from South Africa to Rhodesia to work in the mines. When the civil war broke out, he had to learn to shoot. Her dad sold their farm and went to Ambassador College, then went back to Zimbabwe. The first white farm was taken in 2000. At this point, the Heathcotes realized that they would be safer in the emigrated so they moved to New Zealand on a work permit. It took three years for them to earn New Zealand citizenship. Now, their whole family is there including a brother.
There are still brethren in Zimbabwe who need our prayers. There are about 30 members there but only a couple of whites – the rest are African.
Margaret Doh and her husband Klogay have an equally interesting story. They are members of the Karen (Car-in) tribe from Burma (Myanmar). Theirs has been a tough life. There has been a civil war in Burma since World War II. Since 1956, the Karen have had to hide in the jungle. Mrs. Doh has had to run since she was 7-8 years old. She had one set of clothes and no food. They were moved to the Thai border then placed in a refugee camp for several years. In 1984, there were 5,000 people in their refugee camp. Mrs. Doh learned English in the camp. They were forbidden by the Thai government to go anywhere. The Dohs found out about the Church from Leon Sexton and the Doh family was baptized in 2006.
The Dohs and others of the Karen tribe appealed to the United Nations for help. Eventually, many of them were accepted by other nations as refugees. Mr. and Mrs. Doh were accepted by the Finnish government. They have 2 sons in Canada and one in Norway. There are five Karen in Norway and many (number) in North Carolina. The last group was featured in the Feast film.
When the Dohs learn Finnish (a difficult language for them to learn), they can obtain Finnish citizenship. Their hope is that one of their children in Canada can sponsor them and that they can move to Canada. Please pray for Mr. and Mrs. Doh.
The last, but certainly not least, group is the Latvians. The Latvians made up about one-fourth of our attendees at the Feast in Estonia this year. Two people will be featured here: one is Robert Schultz and the other is Antra Kikute.
To begin their story, I am including some of the notes from a message given by Robert, during the Feast, which chronicles his involvement with the Church. Robert is the pastor of the Smeltine Baptist Church which is over 100 years old. It is a typical Baptist Church.
Robert learned about the meaning of Christmas about 15-years ago and, as a group, his church decided not to keep Christmas. Midsummer is a big event in the Baltics and the Schultz family quit celebrating that about 10-years ago.
From his message, he asked, “How did I get to know about the Church? His wife, Elita, found an advertisement for a FREE booklet – The Middle East in Prophecy. This (something free) was VERY unusual so she ordered it, of course. The Good News Magazine also arrived.
Receiving the Good News was not enough. He ordered booklets as well. He read a lot of information on Internet. As he learned certain things, he taught his church too. He learned about the Sabbath and they kept it. When I taught the Church these truths – that was a shock, of course. The first booklet they used for Bible Study – about the Sabbath. There were arguments in his church. Finally, they all agreed to keep the Sabbath but about ½ left.The next subject they studied was – What happens after death?. The Shultz’s youngest son (Ruben Paul) got cancer, healed, and is healthy now – but when he was very ill, they wondered what would happen to him if he died. Next, was clean and unclean. He had a talk with his Latvian Baptist Church Bishop and asked him, “Do we believe in the 10 Commandments?” The answer was yes then Robert asked about the 4th – the Sabbath. “Oh,” his bishop said. “We would lose too many people.” So, there was a split in his church.
Robert, Elita, and their four children Jacob, Esther, Shulamite and Ruben Paul came to Estonia two years ago and kept the Holy Days with us. This year, there were 19 Latvians who came to Estonia to observe the entire Feast of Tabernacles. We met Robert and his family two years ago and we were so very happy to have many more come this year.
Antra thought Robert was crazy at first. She mentioned that their church had many arguments about what Robert was learning and teaching. She stated that though their church is Christian, they just didn’t SEE what was clearly taught in the Bible. Eventually, Antra came to understand and we were so happy to meet her.
The stories of these people that we were so fortunate to meet at this year’s Feast of Tabernacles were so fascinating that I felt they had to be shared in some way with the whole United Church of God. I hope that you will keep all these people in mind as well as the many scattered brethren throughout the world.
|The 2009 Feast of Tabernacles in Estonia |
Report and Photos by Victor Kubik
From October 2-10, 2009 a record 89 people from Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and the United States came together to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. We started on Saaremaa, the largest island in the Baltic Sea where we met at the Georg Ots Spa Hotel. This was particularly enjoyable for our 20 children who enjoyed all the various pools.
From Latvia we had 20 come from a church that now keeps the Sabbath and Holy Days. A few of them spoke English. Their pastor Robert Schultz spoke to us about they came to understand the some of the Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God through the Internet. The 2006 Israel Lebanon war motivated them to find the booklet Middle East in Prophecy. That led to the Good News and the United Church of God.