Monday, September 29, 2008

Plans need Prayer

We were supposed to leave Provideniya for Alaska at the end of this week. A fellow mission organization was going to be flying through here and had offered to bring us back at no charge. This was good as it would have saved SOAR a significant amount of funds at a time when funds are tight. Alas, before they made it here, they had to cancel the trip due to a paperwork problem with one of their passengers! SOAR is now planning on keeping our original return schedule by picking us up in the SOAR plane, but this last minute change is likewise necessitating a last minute request to Moscow for flight permission. They usually require 5 days advance notice, and we don’t have that many days! Please pray that Moscow would grant us the flight permission even on this short notice. It would be nice to keep our original schedule, and if we have to delay another week that would create some extra difficulties and costs for SOAR.

Thank you for your prayers. Hopefully my next post will be from Alaska. If we are delayed I will let you know.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Newsletter

Please visit the newsletter link to the right: "September 2008". We just finished this and expect to have it mailed sometime in a week or two. In the meantime, feel free to read it here!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ministry Opportunity

The ladies here love doing crafts with Vicka. The crafts really bring to life the Bible studies we do, and everyone likes to keep their hands busy while they are learning. However, all crafts have to be prepared before we arrive in Russia, as finding supplies here is unlikely.

As Renee Estell did for Vicka (you can read about in the last post), we'd love to receive crafts from other women or churches interested in helping our ministry. All we would need is an idea for a craft and the supplies for no more than 15 or 20 people. This would not only save us money, but also precious time!

Please let us know if you or a ladies group you know of would be willing to put together a craft to send to Vicka for her ladies ministry here in Russia. The craft would be mailed to Alaska and we would save it for our next trip to Russia.

The Tea Party

Thank you all for praying about the Ladies Tea Party this past Sunday! Ten ladies came, three of which Vicka wasn't even expecting!

Vicka arrived at the church an hour early to decorate and it looked really nice!

Each of the ladies made an entree and a dessert to pass around, so the food was wonderful! The ladies started with dinner...

Then they did a lesson Matthew 22:1-14 about the wedding feast. Since Vicka had three unbelievers present, she also made a gospel presentation and invited them to receive Jesus! Pray that the seeds that were planted will grow!

Vicka followed the lesson up with a craft. The craft focused on the verse from II Co 2:15-16 which says that, "We are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life." Their craft was creating something fragrant (making saches). Vicka's friend in Alaska, Renee Estel, put together the crafts and sent them to Vicka to enjoy with the ladies. Then they did another craft with dry plants that were fragrant. The ladies put the plants in a clear mesh and decorated the mesh with ribbons and fake flowers.

After the craft, the ladies enjoyed tea with cakes and sang praise songs.

One sister from the church brought her mother-in-law who had been abused by her daughter. If you look closely you can see the bruise on her eye (the elderly looking Chukchi lady). Now the lady is living with her son's family (the son is not a believer, but the wife is!). While this mother-in-law came to the party looking very sad, she left very happy and then joined us for the Sunday morning service, too!

All the ladies enjoyed the evening very much and thanked Vicka a thousand times over for the lesson and crafts. We praise the Lord for this wonderful opportunity to spread the Gospel and ask that you join us in praying that the three unbelieving women would come to know Jesus!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

1000 Rubles...

Sunday we were given 1000 rubles by one of the sisters here (she supports us 1000 rubles a month)! So I went to the store and got 3 oranges, apples, pears and grapefruits – what a feast for us! PRAISE THE LORD!

Prayer Request

There is one thing I wish I could have here in my Russian apartment – an oven. To buy a stove/oven in Russia, it costs over $1,000! We do not do any baking here since we do not have an oven, just boiling and frying. It would be wonderful to be able to bake pizza, cookies, and just all kinds of things! This might not be important for right now, since we will be going back to Alaska soon, but it would be nice to have one here for when we come back to Russia next year.

Please be praying for us that the Lord will provide this much needed item!

Vicka's Ministry

Vicka has been very busy between taking care of the girls and working with the church. There is no full-time children’s ministry in the church here, so she has been teaching the children a Bible lesson during the sermons every Sunday!

Here is a picture of her Sunday School class:

Vicka's Children's Church programs usually include singing, praying, a Bible story, coloring, a snack, and then a craft. Sometimes they play games and memorize a verse, too! The ages range from 3 to 8 years old (including 1 year old Anastasia!).

Vicka is also reaching out to the ladies at the church by having a Mom's prayer night on Mondays and leading a Bible Study on the Book of Romans on Sundays. The study is an inductive method by the “Precept Upon Precept Ministry”. The study has proven to be very deep and insightful. Vicka's most recent goal is to hold another tea party (she did this in June of this year) with the ladies in the church. She plans to have another tea on the 20th of September. The tea will include refreshments (tea), a small devotion time, and then a craft. She is encouraging these ladies to invite their girlfriends who do not go to church to come. Already she has heard from one of the ladies who is coming that she will be bringing an unbelieving friend who is asking many questions about God!

Here are some pictures from the last tea party that Vicka did in June. During that tea party Vicka encouraged the ladies to really reach out to their unbelieving friends and we are so excited that they have been doing just that!

This is how Vicka decorated the apartment for the tea party last June:

Here the ladies are after their tea and devotion doing their craft (a Psalm 23 bracelet):
For this year's tea Vicka plans on doing a theme around the concept that we are the "Aroma of God."

Let's pray that more women will come to Vicka's tea! There are no retreats or conferences here for the women, so the only time they have to come together for spiritual encouragement and fellowship is when Vicka is around! These women really love coming together and they especially enjoyed the tea that Vicka did in June!

Please be praying for us Sunday as we will have an opportunity to share the Lord with an unbelieving sister! Pray that she will hear the truth and open her heart for Jesus! We were told that this lady is going through a divorce, or recently divorced, so she is particularly vulnerable. Pray that she will come to know Jesus!

It is so exciting and such an honor to share Jesus!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Big News

So the "big news" I referred to in my last post from the email update I sent out is that Vicka and I are expecting our third child! We are so honored to be given yet another wonderful blessing, and just ask that you pray for Vicka as she carries this precious baby! Vicka has been battling with morning sickness and doesn't always get the best of nourishment since our food sources here in Russia are very limited.

We are waiting till we are back in Alaska to see a doctor, so we are not quite sure of the baby's due date yet, but we are assuming it will be sometime in the spring of next year!

Email Update

This is our email update, that I thought I'd post here too for those of you who might not be signed up for my emails...
Greetings Friends and Family!

We finally have some return plans, and while they could change they should have us back in Alaska the evening of October 2nd. We are talking about travel plans and have now firmed up our Michigan trip dates. We will be arriving in Michigan the evening of December 10th and staying through the 14th of January. Let us know soon if you think you might have a church, or group of interested friends to hear about our ministry!

Another update is that in the coming months we will be making a concerted effort to improve our communication with you. That should mean more newsletters, blog posts, etc. I hope to have a newsletter ready to mail out/post online by the time we return to Alaska! (A little hard to mail from here!)

Vicka continues her ladies outreaches and plans, on the 20th, to host a ladies "tea party". She also hopes to encourage the ladies to invite there un-churched friends. She appreciates your prayers for this outreach. I have continued my Sunday preaching and Wednesday night Bible study. If you take a look at our blog, you will see a couple of pictures of when we drove the church out to the Tundra for an open air service. We used that mini-bus I was working on a couple of months ago to get everyone out there. Of course, as is the way with Russian vehicles, I am again working on it this week! :-)

As I shared when we were preparing to come to Provideniya, one of our main goals was to encourage and counsel the church members with regards to the conflict that had been going on. Our talks with most seemed to go very well. I've been encouraging them to love, forgive, and forget the past offenses. Unfortunately, when I talked with the brother who left the church, I didn't feel much hope for his return. While he would recognize his faults, the faults and hurts from others were just too much for him to get over. Last week he was giving me a hand working on that "mini-bus", and when we were finished we sat down for tea. In our talking, we suddenly found ourselves talking about the church. Long story short, instead of focusing on the wrongs done to him and looking at forgiveness of those faults as "theory" rather than "practical", this time he responded differently. Instead of dismissing truths as too difficult for real life, he recognized them as what we need to strive towards. Simply put, he said "give it some more time and I think all will work out".

While this isn't quite the radical transformation I had hoped for when I first came, it was still a huge encouragement to me to see some baby steps made. Thank you for your continued prayer for him and the church!

That's about all for now. I have one more big announcement, but that merits its own email! :-)

Stay tuned! Thank you all for your prayers and support.

In Christ,

GJ & Vicka Mangione
SOAR International Ministries
-Provideniya, Russia- <>

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Our Ministry in Russia

A couple Sunday’s ago the weather was so nice we loaded everyone up in our “mini-bus” and drove out to the Tundra just outside of town to hold our Sunday service. Of course, service outside meant more than just worship and a sermon! We brought some hotdogs and marshmallows to roast and enjoyed each other's fellowship over a summer meal! Everyone had a good time and it was nice to enjoy such nice weather after several dreary months.

Maxim, the unbelieving husband of one of the sisters in our church also came out for a little bit and seemed to enjoy being with us. Maxim's presence was very encouraging for all of us and we hope to see more of him!

Below are pictures of our service out in the Tundra and pictures of our 5-Day club that we held in New Chaplino for the children that I had promised.

Here is our church group just before the sermon we held out in the Tundra.

Lately I have been privileged to give several sermons in Russian. We loaded everyone up in the minibus and held Sunday service outside in the Tundra since the weather was so nice. This is me preaching while enjoying the weather. I could definitely enjoy some more Sundays with weather like this!

These are the children we were blessed to work with in New Chaplino for the Children's Club!

This is Vicka leading the craft for the Children's Club in New Chaplino.

This is Vicka with Katya. Katya is the girl who re-dedicated her life to Christ during the Children's Club! Please keep Katya in your prayers!

These are two of the children working on their kite craft in the Children's Club.

In between our ministry work, Vicka still has time to start homeschooling Emma. She is learning very fast and loves doing school with her Mom!

Friday, September 12, 2008


In the churches here in Russia, we have very few men attend. Many of the wives and daughters are faithful in coming, but many of the men will not have anything to do with the church. One of the ways I can find time to minister to these men is when we work together to fix a broken down car. I've always had a knack for being able to fix engines, and I find my skills have come in handy here. One of the men I've been really reaching out to is "Gogi" (pronounced "Go-gee"), short for Igor Bazhenov. Gogi is the brother-in-law to our former Pastor Vova, who now lives in Canada. Gogi came to the Lord a few years ago, and since there were few other men in the church, Gogi was thrust into a leadership position in the church as a baby Christian.

Soon, Gogi found himself in the midst of conflict with some of the ladies in the church, and left the church out of hurt a few months back. For those of you who have kept up with my email updates, you know about Gogi!

Gogi loves the Lord and wants to serve Him, but he's been having a hard time putting his faults in perspective (as most of us do) and refuses refuses to recognize certain blind spots and can’t yet forgive those who offended him. Gogi and I spent a lot of time together the other day working on the transmission of this minibus. After we finished, we ended up discussing the problems he had with the church. (We had a long talk before, but it didn’t go very far). This time I felt he really understood where I was coming from and may be on the brink of a heart change!

Please continue to pray that the Lord will speak to Gogi, soften his heart, and bring him back to the church!