We get back in the van and head off for the corps where today’s celebrations are taking place. I smile again as we stop on nearly every street to pick up officers, soldiers and children until we really can’t fit any more in. We enjoy some close fellowship!
We arrived at a packed hall and the band has already struck up a tune…at least I think it is a tune. Commissioner Alex speaks well again, ably translated through Yury, the Territorial Sergeant-Major.
What strikes me today is how tired the new captains look. Not only because its a busy weekend, but really because its been a hard two year slog. Training in the UK isn’t wonderful, but its nothing compared to the physical, emotional, mental struggle that training in Russia entails. This is the first session to be trained and commissioned in Russia since the Army started there in 1992…previously training has been in Finland. But as the call is given out after the message to give your all to Jesus, a large percentage of those present kneel and lay it all down again and again.
Of course, then they celebrate their dedication by waving every hint of yellow red and blue in the room and singing ‘I’ll go in the strength of the Lord’ with all they have and with all they haven’t.
The afternoon sees our A/Captain Muriel Sims being awarded an ‘Others’ award by the Eastern European Territory to mark her outstanding contribution to the Salvation Army in Romania. Colonel Pobjie (TC) said ‘before the Salvation Army was in Romania, the Salvation Army was in Romania’ and how true that is. She deserves this recognition. The fact that Roxanne Cucu is now a commissioned officer is down to Muriel, the fact that the corps in Romania are alive and well is not so much to do with the money of the USA Southern Territory, but the faith, encouragement and unfailing commitment to the salvation of Romania that Muriel displays. This truly is a resounding ‘well done’ from the very heart of the people and of God. I suspect they think that she will stop now, but I doubt she will.