The following are letters to the reader that accompanied each episode of the "Adventures in Russia". Other stories, notes on the Russian language, insider facts, and much more!
Episode #1, "Breakdown":
"What you have read is a story that is fictious, but based upon another story that is very true. During the summer of the year 2002, two youth pastors from my church and I journeyed to Spassk, Russia on a mission trip.
"One of the five weeks we were there was spent on the beaches of Far East Russia. During that week, God tested my faith and trust in Him. We did, indeed, encounter a typhoon, and the adventures that followed.
"Many of the adventures that occur within this story never truly happened while we were there, but they are built upon real events. A man in the town near the beach really wanted to take a picture with me, and we really did have one of our busses break down.
"I pray that our adventures will touch your life as they have mine.
Shaun Stevenson, Fall 2002."
Episode #2, "On Foreign Shores":
"I put Kyle through many of the same struggles that we face in our everyday lives. Like many of us sometimes feel, Kyle didn't want to be where God wanted him. If Kyle had had his way, he'd have been back at Spassk Fellowship Church, but God had other plans.
"Many times in our lives, we want to be somewhere else. We want to be away from the place God has put us. But He wants us right where we are for His greater purpose. Even if we feel discouraged or disappointed, we must stay with it until the very end.
"I'm excited as I continue to write these adventures, stories based on my own experiences in Russia. However, though this story is based on real events, not everything which occurs within the story is what happened to me at the beach in Russia. This IS a fictional piece.
"I pray that the continuing adventures of Kyle and his friends would encourage you in your own walk with Christ.
"Shaun Stevenson, October 2002."
Episode #3: "Standing Down" (Originally titled, "Waves of Discontent"):
"Yes, Yuri is quite the practical joker. Sitting at dinner one night, he told me a story.
"He had been on a Russian bus, and there was an older man standing next to him. The man turned to him and pinched Yuri's cheek.
"At this moment in the story, he reached over and pinched MY cheek, and said, 'You are a funny boy.' Before I realized he was joking, he had already pinched my cheek three times.
"Sigh. Everyone at the dinner table had a good laugh at least.
"Shaun Stevenson, December 2002."
Episode #4: "Snakes in the Grass":
"Romans 8:28 says this, 'And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.'
"No matter who tries to tell us otherwise, God always has a plan. Every single little thing that occurs in our lives is for a reason. Down to the smallest details. As the old Sunday School song goes, 'He's got the whole world in His hands...'
"This story is fictional, and while I did meet an English teacher from a school in Spassk, I didn't meet one in Timophevka. He is a completely fictional character.
"And yes, there was a snake. But it didn't appear in my duffel bag. My friends and I were walking around one day, and there it was! A grey snake, sleeping on a rock. It never bothered us though.
Shaun Stevenson, February 2003."
Episode #6: "Switchblade":
"The journal excerpts int this episode are actually from my own personal journal kept while in Russia. (I really wanted to sneak them in somehow!)
"This story has been waiting a long time to be told and worked in. With my next and final episode, I will relate to you one of the most frightening times during my stay in Russia, and perhaps in my life.
"While I was in Spassk, I was mugged by two teenagers. All I could do was pray and ask God to get me through safely. It was really very scary, but with God's help, anything is bearable.
"I will miss telling you of my time on the beaches of Russia, but every story must have an end.
"With much love in Jesus,
Shaun Stevenson, April 2003."
"('Ya nye panneemayoo' means 'I don't understand.')"
Episode #7: "Through the Night":
"I wish I could share more of my adventures in Russia with you, because by far, I've only told you half of everything that happened there! I wish I had time to tell you about the 'funeral' I attended, the open air markets, more of the people we met, about kid's camp; the list goes on and on.
"I recently, I had the opportunity to share about my experiences in Russia with thirty or so kids in a release-time program. Since then, I have been really getting hit harder and harder with my thought on missions and what God has in the future for me. In missions? Maybe. Somewhere else? Possibly. Wherever God leads.
"God is leading you somewhere too. Maybe you don't know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. God's leading you to Him. Maybe you haven't fully surrendered every part of your life to Jesus. God's leading you in that direction. Maybe you don't know what to do with your life. God's leading you that way. Proverbs 3:5, 6 says, 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.'
"Are you acknowledging Him in all your ways? He will lead us when we let Him. God knows exactly what is best for each person He has created, and if we tug away from his leading, we'll only be heading away from the best.
"Give EVERYTHING over to Him. He knows us the best. He knows exactly what we need. Trust Him with your life, and He will take you places you never dreamed of.
"May God bless you richly as you seek to follow Him.
"In Jesus' great, great, love,
Shaun Stevenson, May 2003."
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