The Memorial Service.
Family and friends gathered to remember and comfort one another.
Our brother Tim welcomed everyone and started our time off well with scripture and a prayer.
Granddaughters Debbee and Katie read Pop’s eulogy and Melissa read a special tribute she wrote. Our sister Lana read Psalm 103 in English after we shared a recording of our Pop reciting the Psalm from memory in Russian. Interesting note: Psalm 103 in the English Bible is Psalm 102 in the Russian Bible. Here are the first couple verses in Russian and English.
Прославь, душа моя, Господа!
Господи, мой Боже, Ты очень велик,
Ты облачен в славу и величие.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Our sister Kathy, her husband Len and their daughter Michelle sang a trio of the one song our pop requested be sung at his funeral, Shine on Us.
Our brothers, Steve and Leonard, gave the message from Lamentations and other scripture. We lamented and we rejoiced.
Some of Dzeda’s Grandsons were the Pall Bearers.
Andrew, who you see at the back of the casket is our youngest nephew and Pop’s youngest grandson. From here we would travel to the graveside.
I’m copying and pasting our pop’s eulogy here. Dzeda is what his grandchildren called him, short for Dzedushka, grandfather in Russian. The eulogy is written from the grandchildren’s perspective.
Moisey (Moses/Moisi/Morris) Timofeyovich Bagdanov was born May 25th, 1923 to Timofey Fedotovich and Martha Ivanovna (Susoeva) Bagdanov in the small village of Salim outside of Rostov on Don in Rostovski Oblast, Russia. He was one of the twelve children. In 1932, the political situation in the young communist regime worsened for farmers and believers. His father was one of the 9 leaders of villages who went to Turkey and Persia (now Iran) to ask if they would be willing to take Russian refugees. Turkey said no but Iran was willing to allow them into their country. He could not return to Russia for fear of imprisonment so he stayed in Iran leaving our great grandmother to fend for herself and their10 children. They waited for couriers to escort them under cover of night for their escape. After 3 attempts the rest of the family would escape to Iran in 1933, reuniting with their father and other Russian refugees. Dzeda had so many harrowing stories of survival, tragedy and deliverance and we all grew up hearing about God’s faithfulness and provision. Persia is where he would grow up and at a young age begin to work, be it farming, delivery boy or even washing the Shah’s car. This young boy became a young man of marrying age. It was at this time that a girl came to his village where her aunt and grandmother lived. He caught a glimpse of her and knew that she was the one who he was going to marry. This girl was Nadzheda Fyodorovna Shvetzova, a young Baptist girl. They were married September 13,1943 in Rahmanabad, Iran. Together they would defy all odds in their 70 year marriage.
In 1944, Kathy #1 was born and the first of many hardships and heartaches would occur when she died sometime after her second birthday in 1946 from dysentery. Dzeda not only gets to be reunited with Babushka but with his sweet daughter. Then came Kathy #2, the Kathy you all know today. In 1947 they moved again to a country they did not know, with very little money, few skills, a culture and language they would have to learn but with hope and promise of freedom. They stepped into the unknown to make their home and raise a family. America! They left Iran September 3, 1947 on a Red Cross plane from Tehran to Cairo to Rome, to London where they wouldn’t let them off the plane so they were diverted to Ireland. After spending the night they continued to Iceland then Greenland and landed in New York on September 6th and got to Los Angeles by train, September 12, 1947.
During all this travel babushka was pregnant. Vera was their first child born in the US in 1948. Fred was born in 1949 and then Ellen in 1951. After a 7 year break, Tim was born in 1958 followed by Steve in 1959 and then Lana and Leonard in 1963. Although life as immigrants was new and tough, his approach was always positive with a can do attitude which he put to full use working up to three jobs at a time to not only pay off the cost of immigrating but to provide for his family. Within 6 years he was able to buy his first house in Montebello Gardens.
Dzeda had an incredible work ethic. He was dependable, reliable, conscientious and relentless in getting the job done. These were the qualities he embodied and instilled in all of his kids – to do your best. The other quality he had was integrity – we can all say integrity and doing the right thing was the guide and gauge he lived by even before he was a believer. All the while Babushka persevered in praying for Dzeda’s salvation. Her prayer was answered in 1963 when Billy Graham came to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for a crusade. Our Aunt Ellen recalls, “I was in the eighth grade and attended the crusade every night with my father. I’ll never forget the night my dad got out of his seat and made the long walk down to the field to acknowledge God’s call on his life. What a glorious day!” It was not only a day of celebration but also a time when lives were forever changed.
Becoming a believer came at a high cost for Dzeda. Family and friends would question his decision and many ostracized him calling him a traitor from the tradition he grew up in. Because of that we learned what true courage and sacrifice looked like to follow Christ. Dzeda never stopped honoring his Molokan Father and Mother. Dzeda loved his Molokan, brothers and sisters and prayed for them often and loved to share the Good News with them and what freedom in Christ looked like and could be. He also loved fellow believers at Bethany Baptist Church and encouraged them often not only through bible studies and sharing what God was teaching him but even pastoring a small congregation of Russian believers in Santa Ana. He was always in God’s Word, talking with Babushka about what he was preparing and most of all – praying. You could walk by their bedroom and see both Dzeda and Babushka on their knees praying and hearing your name.
In 1990, when they were in their seventies, our grandparents returned to Russia for the trip of a lifetime visiting the villages they were born in and reconnecting with family. Little did we know that this would be the start of a new chapter for both of them as missionaries going back and forth taking money to churches to build buildings to meet in. Dzeda calculated that they had taken almost $200,000 in the 11 trips they made in the 90’s. Then in 1998 they decided to sell their house and move there where they started a Bible study and then a church in the village where some of our relatives still live. Dzeda baptized many and God used him to bring hope and salvation to that little community.
Dzeda loved God and taught all of us the fear of the Lord. He loved God’s Word and up until the beginning of this year he read it daily. Consistently reading his Bible – daily! He probably read the Bible all the way through at least 20 times. And as you saw in the video earlier he had so much of it memorized. If you started a passage for him he would be able to finish it by memory. He would remind himself of God’s truth even in the long days that remained of his life after Babushka died in 2013. He encouraged all of us to do the same. He missed our babushka terribly and tried to live alone but soon needed extra care and attention so Aunt Kathy and Uncle Len offered him a room and companionship in their home and it became his home where he lived out his days and died surrounded by Len, Kathy and Melissa, his angel as he called her. We are all so grateful to them for their devotion in honoring our Dzeda.
We could not be more excited for Dzeda – he is now in heaven! God heard his prayer and answered it – He waited upon the Lord and the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him. As it says in 2 Corinthians: “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Dzeda is now living by sight at home with the Lord – His prayer was finally answered.
If you leave here remembering anything that is said today – remember this – He would want you to know the good news of the Gospel – that Jesus Christ came to this world to die on the cross for your sins and that if you believe in Him you will have eternal life – a life in heaven, whatever the cost – it’s worth it!
Thank you for coming today to help us honor and celebrate the life of our Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Uncle and friend, to support us – but most of all to thank the Lord for a life redeemed and well lived and to be reminded that eternal life means that there is more life to come after we die, a life characterized by the resurrection life and body of Jesus Christ, as James 1:12 says: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”