Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Family Has `Christmas' before Trip

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Family Has `Christmas' before Trip

Article excerpt

Christmas came early for the Curt Eyman family this year.

It came last weekend. And the only presents the family got were trinkets to give away.

The Eymans are headed to Russia on Sept. 22 to teach religion to the residents of Kostroma, a tiny city northeast of Moscow. Eyman's brother, Les, hosted a surprise Christmas party for his brother's family last weekend, since the family will be miles apart this December.

"Ever since Curt got a big house, he's had Christmas every year," Les Eyman said. "Since he won't be home this time, I decided to have the party."

Early Thursday, Curt Eyman and his wife Maureen unpacked all their Christmas ornaments, erected the tree and hung decorated stockings in their home in St. Ann. They spent the weekend stringing lights and positioning decorations in their backyard, which would host about 30 guests for a not-so-traditional Christmas barbecue.

The duo even remembered presents - scissors, Elmer's glue, construction paper, crayons - items that Curt Eyman and his wife Debi could give to the children in Russia.

"One thing we've learned is that material things really don't matter that much," Debi Eyman said. "The Russian people have so little, that they're grateful for the small things we take for granted."

This will be Curt and Debi Eyman's third trip to Russia with their children, Addie, 13 and Eric, 11. They got their inspiration from hosting a visiting 11-year-old Russian boy in their St. Peters home three years ago.

"I can't explain the feelings that came over us," Curt Eyman said. "We started learning Russian so we could write him letters."

Last year, the couple contacted religious organizations that sponsored missionaries to Russia. Devout Christians, they wanted a chance to teach the Bible in the country, which was closed to religion.

In March of last year, the Eymans flew to Russia with Revival Fires, a religious group that recruits missionaries to hand out Bibles and teach in Russian cities.

The trip began with a large dose of culture shock, Curt Eyman said. The family traveled 22 hours to find themselves surrounded by miles of rundown flats. …

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