During 2012, I hope to spotlight different people who have impacted my life in some way. Today I would like for you to meet Tanzilya. Tanzilya, or Tanya as some of us still call her, is an Uzbek immigrant to Ukraine.
Tanzilya was around 11 years old when we met. I was living in Lugansk at the time and our youth held a retreat in the village of Zholtoye. Early on Saturday I needed to take someone back to Lugansk and as we were driving through the village, there were lots of people at the bus stop. The Lord prompted me to stop and see if anyone needed a ride.
Now, I would not suggest picking up strangers, but the Lord did prompt me that morning. Out of the 10-15 people waiting, only two took my offer of a ride. A mother and young daughter.
On the ride to Lugansk, we shared the Gospel with this mother and daughter. They were only going to the next town, so they weren’t in the car long, but we learned that Larissa was an English school teacher in Zholtoye. We dropped them off and drove on.
Later that day, I had to take all the youth back to Lugansk and it was going to take two trips. On the return to pick up the second group, as I passed Alexandrovka, standing on the side of the road looking for a ride was Larissa and her daughter, Tanzilya. I decided to pick them up. (Years later, Tanzilya shared with me that her mom was a little scared of us after our first conversation and she was hesitant to get in the van with me!)
On the ride to Zholtoye, Larissa opened up and actually invited me to come to her school to share with the kids. A few weeks later, my friend and interpreter, Olga and I drove to Zholtoye. I was the first American in the school and the first American most of the students had met. I was treated royally by the teachers and students.
After that visit, Larissa and Tanzilya started making the almost 1 hour trip to Lugansk every Sunday to attend services at our church. It was amazing to see how God changed their lives.
Tanzilya and her mother made decisions to accept and follow Christ in early 1997. I had already moved back to America, but Tanzilya sent me letters, cards and hand painted watercolors and crayon drawings. I have all of them framed and hanging in my apartment in Donetsk.
Tanzilya has been very active in ministry. She has taught Sunday School, teenagers, helped with interpreting, and many other things.
Since I now live closer to her, I have enjoyed immensely getting to know her better and to see the heart she has for the Lord. She is a blessing to me.