We went out in two teams, the group made up two English people, one South African, one Nigerian and a Russian. The Nigerian has good Russian having been here over 5 years already but he'd never done a treasure hunt before so I thought to put the other English girl and SA with him who don't have much Russian. I could then go with the Russian lady, who has no English, and at least could communicate with her.
So we formed our two teams on very practical grounds this time - and not as usual by putting people with similar clues together.
So off Janna and I went with the other three heading off on their way as well. Quickly we realised we BOTH had written down the name Vladimiar so we went off looking for him first! Janna had Shoe Shop and I had Watches/Clocks (same word in Russian) and just up from our office (as in lots of this culture fashion base that is SPB!) there are loads of shoe shops, and many of these also join onto Clock/Watch shops as well!
We looked for any men in the shops, and the few we saw we approached, Janna asking if their name was Vladimiar before being told it wasn't and we left.....
I'd also written down Park and Beer and Alcoholism, which understandable here usually all go together. We were heading away from the park I knew, but after going in all the shoe shops up one side of the street just up from our office (yes, about 100 metres and about 6 shoe shops!) we met two homeless men standing in front of a shoe shop.
Janna asked them their names - not Vladimiar - but they were clearly drinkers and when a third man, Kostia, came and joined them, he was clearly drunk. Kostia actually stood in front of them and we talked (Janna mainly!!) with him.....after about 10 minutes the other two walked off leaving us with Kostia. He only had one eye and clearly knew the gospel, he was crying telling us all about it. He showed us his arms where he injects himself. He talked a lot (as does Janna!).
We gave him a few cards for Sunday, explaining that we met just around the corner from that very spot. He hugged me.
He was drunk - how much would he remember....
He didn't come Sunday but Janna saw him again on Monday on the way to a meeting at the office and he said he was sorry he missed it, so we might see him again. How amazing would it be if Jesus gave him his eye back!! Do it Lord!
Anyway, we managed to pull ourselves away from Kostia, crossed over and started heading back down the other side of the road towards our office, and beyond that the park. There were many more shoe shops so at that moment, in God's timing as always, we glance into the first one and couldn't see any men. As Janna turned to walk on, I spotted that someone was coming out and its a man. I signal to Janna and we follow this man into the next door shop - another shoe shop, of course!
We ask him - Is you name Vladimiar? - Yes, he replies, a little interested now.....
Isn't God good!
It's more for our confidence than anything. We chatted with him outside for about 10 minutes, he even said it was a miracle that we'd found him in the way we did....but that was it, he wanted nothing more and went on his way. So our chat with Kostia just before had been much more fruitful, but it was just encouraging to know that God gave us someones name and the fact he'd be in a shoe shop and we found him just at the right moment........had we not talked with Kostia for as long as we did, we'd have been far from there when we saw him......God's timing, you've got to love it!
We had 10 more minutes and I knew there was a very small 'park' area just after the office - it's a few benches and some bushes really, but it would have to do. We didn't have time to get to the park another 10 minutes down the road.
So we waited by the steps.....not long there, a young guy of 21 was walking past and Janna just stopped him and started talking. He listened and listened, and said the occasional thing. We talked with him for about 30 minutes! Janna had written down on her sheet as a prayer need "Trouble with Parents" and when we got to talking about praying for him, he went quiet - there was certainly something troubling him. "Was is a girl?" Janna asked - no. "Is it your parents?" - YES! He wouldn't tell us but yet again God had shown us the person to which he wanted to impact that day, in that moment.
I gave him an invite and suggested he look us up on the web, email me any questions but encouraged him to come along. So we'll see....
Janna walked away weeping for him.
Flic, Johan and Steven from the other team shared they'd had three conversations but didn't feel they had been that amazing - and yet, Katya, one lady they had spoken too, called the number on the invite and went to home group on Tuesday night. At the home group, where many had said they were coming that night, none of them turned up so it meant Katya had 3 of the leaders all to herself to ask lots of questions! So yet another praise God moment! (Later note - Katya became a Christian the following Saturday, coming to church on the Sunday for the first time).
We go out again in a week's time.....