MONTE VISTA — On Sept. 23, Ariella and Alana Watson, Larry and Ginger Foster from Monte Vista and JoAnn Clutter from Center, will travel to Moscow, Russia, for 13 days on a religious mission trip.
The purpose of the trip is to share the Gospel of Jesus with the people in Moscow. The five from the San Luis Valley will be joined by nine others from various parts of the U.S.
This is a church-to-church partnership mission. The group will be broken up into teams of two and will be paired with a church in Moscow for a week. The Moscow churches have been preparing for this event for several months and they have lined up many people that the missionaries will visit. The missionaries will spend their days and even some evenings visiting these friends and family members. The church will have a record of all the visits and will follow up with any decisions that are made.
This will be the fourth international mission trip for the Fosters and the first for Clutter and the Watsons.
"One of the questions we are always asked about these trips is about the language barrier. We are equipped with tools that help us bridge that barrier and we also will have an interpreter assigned to our team", commented Pastor Larry Foster. "And you get really good and gestures — kind of like charades."
Preparing for an international trip is never easy and this trip has been even more difficult. The VISA process to get into Russia has been meticulous and bureaucratic.
"On our mission trips to Costa Rica and Chile, the VISA application was a small piece of paper with about five questions that is filled out about 20 minutes before landing. The Russian VISA application is seven pages long," says Foster. Because the group is traveling on a religious visa, it required a government form be filled out by a religious organization inside Russia — one form for each missionary that was coming. When that form is approved, a number is given that must appear on the missionary's VISA application. A process that in other countries takes about five minutes has taken three weeks.
More complications have occurred with the required COVID test. Each participant must have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of arrival in Moscow. It is easy to find a free COVID test — however, all the free tests are not rapid, and the results are not available for 4-6 days. With testing supplies limited, only one location in the valley was found that would give a same-day result and it is not free. Airports are offering the service, but the cost is well over $150 a person.
Even the airline flight schedule has proved to be a challenge. Russia will not allow entry if a layover occurs in certain countries. This necessitates a direct flight from the U.S. to Moscow which there are few to select from.
But all of this has not dampened the enthusiasm of the "Colorado Five."
"We are excited about the possibilities of sharing the hope we have with those in Moscow," comments Pastor Foster. The group had originally planned to participate in a trip to Thailand, but that trip was postponed until next year.
The trip is coordinated by the non-denominational group International Commission in Dallas, Texas. Foster is the pastor of Grace and Mercy Bible Fellowship of Monte Vista.
For more information about the trip or to contact Pastor Foster, go to www.grace-mercy-bible.church. The group will return on Oct. 3.