Author: Patsy S. will leave on Friday for her second visit to Slobodskoy, Russia. She and her daughter Maddie went on Mission 1:27’s first trip in March 2010, and her husband Tony went on the October 2010 trip. Their son, Max, is anxiously awaiting his first visit to Russia in the coming years.
Today is the perfect day for me to write about our upcoming journey to Russia. March 23rd (today) is the day my daughter Maddie was born. She is the enormous gift that God gave to me on this day and with her my journey to an orphanage in Russia began.
I think often of the children who live in the orphanage so far away from here. Will they one day get to feel the pure joy, like I feel today when I look at my now 15-year-old daughter and marvel at who she has become? A young lady who three years ago asked her mom and dad, as she looked at so many tiny faces in photos pinned to a board in our church. “Do you think we should sponsor one of these kids?” And with that question the first part of our Russian journey began. We decided to sponsor a boy that day and his name is Ruslan, and with that sponsorship our lives have been forever changed.
I never imagined that my path in life would take me to a place as remote as an orphanage in Slobodskoy, Russia, but there I was, one year later, very unsure of exactly what Maddie and I were about to experience. I recall the day we arrived at the orphanage last March like it was today. I remember clearly the moment my eyes first caught the eyes of Ruslan. In that instant there was an overwhelming feeling of joy in my heart, this little boy, who I had never seen before, knew exactly who I was and with a look that is unexplainable, I knew God was there. God led Maddie and I to this very spot, to these very children, to this very moment in time. How incredibly blessed are we to have received the gift of these children, who have so little but have given the two of us so much.
I know much more now as Maddie and I prepare to return to the orphanage on Friday. I know that the cold walls of the orphanage are not really cold, instead I know that those walls are filled with 108 warm hearts and beautiful faces. I know that although the children have had days that may be fearful and lonely; they know that in America is a group of people from a remarkable church who love them and cannot wait to return to them and share that overwhelming love with each one of them. I know that with every hug I receive my heart will be filled. I know too, that I am not traveling alone, beside me will not only be my remarkable daughter Maddie, but also God, who has given me so many gifts and continues to show me a love that I will share with Ruslan and all of his friends in the orphanage.
I looked back at my journal today and read some of my memories I have from that first trip and because it is Maddie’s birthday I will share a few of my reflections about how I saw my daughter on our journey together.
“I want to remember how amazing my daughter was on this trip, how she was unwavering in all that she did to get us here. She started me down this path and she never, ever gave up. She paid her own way and says she would do it again and I believe her. She never complained about anything, not lack of sleep, time change, long train rides, bumpy bus rides, unusual foods, very unpleasant bathrooms, different personalities, nothing. She was never rude or unkind and she never argued. She was focused and driven to be present and loving to each and every child who touched her, grabbed her, hugged her or looked at her. She smiled always and never ever gave any indication that she wanted to be anywhere else but with those children at their home in an orphanage.”