Author: Grace H. is a junior in high school and is on her second trip to Russia. She is traveling with her mom, dad and younger sister. Perhaps most importantly, today is Grace’s birthday, one of four birthdays we are celebrating here in Russia.
People tend to think that going to Russia, or any other sort of mission trip, is above their head. I’m sorry but you are wrong. This is my sixth mission trip, second to Russia, and surprisingly it has gotten…. easier. Cold showers are nothing, eating bread at every meal is no big deal, getting five hours of sleep is average, not being able to speak the language doesn’t even phase you.
Today I got to see my two little brothers, Zhenya and Stas. They were my birthday present I told them and only had smiles on their faces. Since they are so young they don’t quite understand the language barrier. Sometimes they talk really slow and loud thinking I would get it, but no, every sentence ends with “Ya ni pannimayoo” meaning “I don’t understand.”
These two boys shine out, from the moment we walk into the orphanage doors in the morning to when I tuck them into bed, and we are bound together. Words are not important to each other. Our relationship is based on switching nametags, dancing together, singing one another’s names, making funny faces, hugs and kisses. We don’t need a translator. We can read each other. We can see in each other’s eyes more than one can say with simple words. Throughout the day I was reminded why I made this 48-hour trek, to see their faces.
Later year prior to the trip my family sponsored six children, but none of them were “mine.” Zhenya and I clicked suddenly without even saying a word to one another and now he is my official sponsor child, but we are more than just that, we are brother and sister. Today when some other boys were tickling and picking on me, it was Zhenya’s job to step in and put those other boys in place.
Stas always has a smile; little green-eyed, blonde haired, and freckled face boy who is always the observer and never the center of attention. We constantly bumped into one another and finally he broke out of his shell to ask my name. Stas would be categorized as a hand holder. No matter where, how long, or when, we are holding hands.
Neither of them nor I have talked about our families, backgrounds, or lives. We can only be absorbed in one another. That’s all we do, and that’s all we will do. They are my other half here, making up for the distance from home and time a reward for the long travel.
PS – I’m now 17!!
13 thoughts on “It’s All Worth It – by Grace H.”
Happy, happy birthday Grace! Thanks for taking time out to write on your birthday. Your post helps me to appreciate what it means to give of yourself to others in that setting, that is, “…. to serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13
Stas and Zhenya are so lucky to know you and count you among their special relatives.
Happy Birhday dear girl! We are pr0ud of you & all the wonderful time you are spending with the children there. Hope your day is as special as you! Love from TX!
Happy birthday, my beautiful sister! Give my love to everyone, and give Stas and Zhenya a huge hug from me, ok?
Happy Birthday. You are the best at communicating without a common language..hands down. I saw it in action when I was there with you last time. God gives us all the things we need.
Happy Birthday, Grace. What a blessing to have the homecoming with your brother, and with your huge extended family there, on your birthday. Come to think of it, you and I are related by virtue of being part of that wonderful Russian family.
Happy Birthday Grace!!! Sara can’t wait to celebrate with you when you return. You are a wonderful woman…. doing amazing work!! Keep it up! Our love to you and all who are loving one another over there!!
Happy birthday, Grace. What a wonderful post and way to spend your 17th birthday in Russia, an experience you’ll remember all your life. My best to Claire and your parents. Love, Miss Alice
WOW Your BIRTHDAY! Happy Happy Birthday, happy Birthday to you! That’s a song:) Got a little teared up reading your vivid description of your time with your brothers. it takes a special someone to go, give away your heart, knowing that is all you can do and knowing it is the only thing that matters. Peace from your praying, Sister is Christ
Happy 17th Birthday Grace! Wonderful words as well. Thanks for sharing.
Happy belated birthday, Grace! What wonderful memories you are creating for each other. Please give Igor S. a hug from the Wheatons. I, too, am your sister in Christ. Can’t we all feel that in these wonderful blogs?
What a great description of this power we have to connect with others, if only we keep our hearts open. I’m so glad you have those little brothers and they have you.
Grace, happy birthday. Your beautiful last paragraph is a wonderful description of the Kingdom of God. “We can only be absorbed in one another. That’s all we do, and that’s all we will do. ” This example is set for us in the Trinity and in all the books I have read about the Trinity and the Kingdom of God I have never heard that ideal relationship described as well as you just did. May we all find that kind of peace and unity.
Girl, you are IN YOUR ELEMENT!!! You so naturally connect with others, especially kids, and draw them in with your fun-loving spirit. You make everyone feel good!! Happy Birthday, beautiful! Your life is such a gift in the world. Thanks for loving on those kids so well, on behalf of all of us!!!