January 07, 2018

By Lydia Istomina

When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12
                                                                                                    
In spite of present politics and expected bureaucratic delays (Russia stopped issuing visas to America, and America mirrored the move), Scott and I finally had my Russian family reunion, but not in Russia. I won’t say anything new if I say that God works in mysterious ways. My only living aunt Ludmila, who is turning 80 in January, invited us to meet in Paris, where she visited her granddaughter. We did not see each other for 22 years.

After multiple “hop-on-and-off” from one airline onto another, we made it. My aunt and my niece cooked for us three-course dinner, as it is customary in Russia. The hot Russian borsch (beet soup), served in a beautiful soup bowl, looked like a centerpiece. After finishing the salad, appetizers and the borsch, Scott and I did not expect that my aunt would bring out the main dish. She made Basma - Uzbek beef and cabbage dish. Did I mention the desert? The flavor of the cake reminded me of my childhood. I was at home.

The last time I saw my niece, she was ten years old and was a part of my first church children’s group. Ludmila, my niece, was named after her grandmother, but we call her lovingly Ludmilka. She married a Muslim man from Alžir fourteen years ago. Their girls speak four languages, including Russian. For the first time, I was able to see with my own eyes, how a Russian Christian girl lives her new life as a Muslim woman. I really liked what I saw. My grandfather’s teaching of purity, modesty, and moderation served my niece best in her happy marriage and devoted motherhood. Makhmud, my niece’s husband is also IT specialist, just like Scott. Two men found lots in common.

Three older girls, 13, 10 and 7, showed us their crafts: Amira brought her paintings, Asma laid out at least ten silk pillows that my aunt taught her how to make. The girls were as modest as their parents. It reminded me how we’ve been raised. We had never interrupted our parents and grandparents. 

After I commented how beautiful my niece’s family is, my aunt said something that I would never forget, “Our whole family is blessed. I remember how our neighbors back in Russia admired our family and credited our looks and achievements to your grandfather’s prayers.” Many times my aunt heard their comments, “Istomina’s family is granted God’s favor because of Ignat’s fervent daily prayers.” My grandfather’s prayers continue blessing us all through generations. I suddenly felt such peace in my heart for my children, their children, and even their grandchildren. My grandfather is gone, but his prayers are alive. This discovery gave me a new insight on how our whole family had survived so much but never failed.

What if we all start praying for our children and our families every day to bless them for generations? Our children might end living in a foreign land, marrying into different cultures, but they will always be protected and blessed by our prayers.