Larisa’s Love Letter

by Steve Hale

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your thought for me flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity” (Philippians 4:10, NKJV).

In 1996, we had a wonderful campaign in the city of Krasnoarmeysk, Ukraine. Among the some 25 souls baptized into Christ was a young woman named Larisa. Larisa studied with Cindy (my Cindy) and Virginia Freeman.

Her husband, described succinctly by our young preacher, Vitaly Scherbina, as a “fanatic,” said: “Great, now you are a (he named a denomination).

Larisa, so young in the faith, answered: “No, now I am a Christian!”

During last year’s campaign, we saw Larisa again, as faithful as ever. She tugged her two smallest children along behind her. She came to me and explained why her abdomen was distended. She would have to have surgery, but had no support from her husband. He said it was due to her lack of faith.

The infant little church at Krasnoarmeysk, knowing her problem, passed the hat. In poverty, these brethren gave an incredible number of koupons to Larisa. But, it wasn’t nearly enough. I asked what she needed, and it was about $60 (nearly 3 mos. salary for most Ukrainians). I gave her what she needed, and left some more with the church in case other care was needed as well.

Larisa faxed a wonderful “love letter” to us in Russian, which Tatiana, a Russian sister, translated for us during our Missions Reunion. Larisa survived the surgery, but will need additional surgery, probably in Dnepropetrovsk. She also needs medicines, which we will try to gather immediately, and send to her. Here is an excerpt or two from her letter. It makes you think of Proverbs 25:25, and just how blessed we are in America!

“Dear Cindy and Steve,

Hello. Peace be with you and with your home. May God keep you healthy. … We had tea together on December 28 after worship. Romine bought a cake and some cookies and we celebrated New Years and Christmas. There were some 12 people including kids there. …

After the surgery, my scar would not heal for a long time. Thanks to treatment I got, I got well in four months. But now some hard, bony stuff is developing on the place of the scar. My doctor says that I need another surgery. A doctor from Dnepropetrovsk says it can disappear, but I need some medicine manufactured in the United States…(Larisa lists what she needs, and asks for our help).

Cindy! Your doctors are good, and you have a variety of medicines. Your country is better developed than ours. I love and respect you with all my heart, and know that you are very kind people. You will understand me. I am ashamed that I have to ask for your help, but I have to ask. …

Cindy, I will try to reimburse all your expenses. Please forgive me for this trouble. My handwriting is not very clear, because I am nervous…

Hugging you, with respect,

Larisa. “

This love letter is to you, brethren. Monies you sent with us are what helped Larisa. She is a grateful, humble, wonderful sister in Christ! Though faraway, she is close to our hearts. Please pray for her!