“AGAINST ALL ODDS IN MOSCOW”
By Sis Lani Salonga
On November 26, 2016, Brother Romeo Marquez, our District Minister, visited our local congregation. He announced that our beloved Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo would be visiting Moscow, Russia for the first time. We’d been praying for this a long time, and after seven years God answered our prayer! Now it was time to prepare.
The pastoral visit was to take place during early 2017, but three days after Brother Romeo’s visit, it was moved to December 31, 2016. We started another devotional prayer for our preparation because one of our biggest problems in Moscow was communication. We don’t speak or understand Russian and we didn’t have as much time to prepare as we thought.
We had 34 days to arrange everything, like finding a venue, vehicles, podiums and the various equipment. Aside from all that we were also busy with choir practice and preparations for the program. Because the visit was on New Year’s Eve, we also had a hard time finding a venue big enough to accommodate many people, but the District helped us get everything we needed.
On December 10, 2016, when our District Minister came back to Moscow to officiate our worship service, he officially announced to all the brethren that Brother Eduardo V. Manalo was indeed visiting. From the choir loft where I sat, I could see the reaction of the brethren. Their smiles were priceless. The following day, the oficers were assigned to the different committees for the preparation. We worked closely together, and no matter how busy and tired we were from our work everyday, when the time for devotional prayer arrived, we all kneeled together and praised our Almighty God.
By December 26, 2016 and onwards, Ministers, Choir Mentors, Choir Members, Deacons, Deaconesses, Brethren, staff and crew from the Philippines, United Kingdom, Southern Europe and mostly from our District of Northern Europe, were arriving to Moscow.
Being an Oversees Filipino Worker (OFW) and thousands of miles away from my family, it makes me happy to see and meet brethren from other local congregations. I got four to five hours sleep almost every day, driving so many miles to pick up and drop off brethren, but I never felt sleepy. With the help of our Lord God the overall preparation was a success.
This was a great gift that we received from our Father. We were so blessed to have felt the Holy Spirit during the worship service officiated by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo. His pastoral visit renewed my faith and brought hope to all of us in attendance at Moscow, Russia.