The evening continued with dinner with our small groups. We are truly building connections with these kids by breaking break with them around the dinner table. Tonight was a special treat for dessert as the Americans treated the kids to s’mores!! Unfortunately, due to the rainy and wet weather, our planned bonfire that had been shifted from Wednesday to Thursday had to be cancelled – leaving us with lots of s’more ingredients that we have brought from home.
Leave it to Eagle Scout Tony who devised an ingenious plan to use their new microwave (a gift from us to Galina) to quickly soften the marshmallows. We built a small assembly line and marched throughout the cafeteria offering this new delicacy for all to enjoy and figure out how to get marshmallow off their hands! The children enjoyed the treat a great deal…but maybe not as much as the staff and caregivers. The smiles and laughter were exciting to hear and reminded us how important it is to share our culture, food and experiences in addition to the Russian cultural and culinary experiences we are having.
After dinner, we retreated to our groups’ rooms to experience some more “Lights of Friendship” and give the children a small gift on behalf of the entire Mission 1:27 ministry. I say “small” only from our perspective – the things in the gift bag represented a tiny take by oversized American standards. But from Russian standards, the gifts represented tokens of our love, appreciation and care for them.
The gifts to the children in Slobodskoy included:
- Three sheets of stationary paper and a pen – to write to their new American friends, both those who traveled and those who did not
- A few pieces of candy – to represent the sweetness each child had
- A new toothbrush and toothpaste – to remind them to brush their teeth AFTER eating the candy (once a parent, always a parent!)
- Some stickers and a rubber bouncy ball – to remind the children to always have fun and be playful
- A unique, brand new, hand sewn pillowcase, each handcrafted with love – to remind them of how each child is made unique and special by God in His image and as a way to remember their American friends during their sleep.
The story behind these pillowcases is significant. Tony’s mother in Atlanta has been touched by the work being done by God and Mission 1:27 and wanted to help in some way. She offered to make these pillowcases as a token of her love and support of the kids. Each of the pillowcases takes about one hour of time to craft and sew. So thanks to Tony’s mom, grandmother, aunt and wife (Patsy), over 85 pillowcases were made and distributed to the lucky and very happy children in Slobodskoy. Thanks to these generous women for sharing their talents with us – and sharing their love with the children in Slobodskoy.
What a powerful and tangible example of how each of us can support these children and the efforts to help the fatherless all over the world. From s’more to pillowcases, love can take many forms. You don’t have to travel to Russia. You don’t have to sponsor a child. You don’t have to give money. It can be a simple as giving your time and talents in whatever form.
There will always be a piece of Mission 1:27 in their lives, helping keeping them warm during the day (the scarves from the spring trip) and safe and comforted during the night (pillowcases from this trip). All because someone like you wanted to help. That’s a gift to the kids…and to us…and especially to God.
With full hearts,