EAST PRAIRIE -- Three local youth will trade the cold January days in Southeast Missouri for even colder days in Russia.
Kayla Myers, 13, Breanna Myers, 15, and Anthony Myers, 16, of East Prairie, will go on a two-week mission trip to Russia, called "Mission Prayer Team."
They will be accompanied by a cousin, uncle and their grandmother, all from Tennessee, plus some members of their grandmother's church, West Cheatham Baptist.
"It's very cold and dark there," Kayla said. "I don't like the cold weather but it's kind of something I'll have to get used to."
There are about 16 hours of darkness in January, said her mother, Kathy Myers - and the temperatures range from below zero at night and about 30 degrees during the day.
Their grandmother, Diana Kinslow, of Ashland City, Tenn., went to Russia last March to visit her sister and brother-in-law, who are missionaries there. "I learned about some short-term opportunities," Kinslow said.
When she mentioned the January trip to her grandchildren, the idea was met with enthusiasm. "I surrendered to the mission field in April and I though this would be a good start to that," Breanna said.
The other two Myers children also felt a calling to participate in the mission, especially Anthony. "I'm probably going to become a preacher or something," Anthony said.
And the trip could be the beginning of something bigger for Breanna and Anthony, the two oldest Myers. "This is possibly the start of their lifetime calling," Mrs. Myers said.
While in Russia, the group will do a lot of praying and prayer walks. "It's a time of being together and praying together," Kinslow said.
They will also pray for others. During the winter months, alcoholism and depression are severe problems for Russians, Kinslow said. "They (those in charge of the mission) wanted people to come and be prayers and encouragers to the Russian Christians," she said.
The trip costs about $1,700 per person, not including spending money. The six--person group still has approximately $5,000 left to raise after donations and several bake sales and yard sales. "We're trusting the Lord to provide what we need," Mrs. Myers said.
Earlier in December, the Myers children and other youth from Unity Baptist Church in Benton, where the Myers worship, served at Pizza Inn for tips. Additionally, the group is selling calendars and all-occasion cards.
Only one of the two suitcases each person is allowed to take will contain food. The other will be filled with gifts for those the Russians.
"They love chocolates," Kayla said. In addition to the sweets, the group will take two suitcases of powdered baby formula, and the other bags will be filled with hats, toys and games, Mrs. Myers said.
The three Myers children are home schooled, so they won't face any problems with missing school. In fact, Kathy said they will earn credit for some of the time they are in Russia.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education mandates that home-school parents record that their children have completed at least 1,000 hours of class each year, and Kathy said she will record hours for social skills, language and learning about another culture.
Kayla, Breanna and Anthony have learned about the culture and language of Russia through tapes and books. Although they admitted they aren't fluent in Russian, they are just trying to learn the basics, since they will be staying with host families who don't speak English.
"Some of the words sound the same," Kayla said. Taxi and airport are two words similar in English and Russian.
The youth may also be visiting a school in Rybinsk, the Russian town they will be in the longest for their mission. "Some teachers at the school are members of the church there," Kinslow said. Those teachers are attempting to obtain approval for the Myers and their cousin to attend one or two days of classes, Kinslow said, "just to sit in and observe."
The Myers are selling God's Creation 2006 calendars, with scripture verses for each month, and packages of 12 blank all-occasion cards to raise money for their trip. Cost is $6 each. Anyone interested in buying either of these products may call Kathy Myers at (573)258-0465. The family will also be going door-to-door to sell the calendars between now and the new year.
Donations may also be made to West Cheatham Baptist Church, care of U.S. Bank.