I am a newcomer to Christ Church—my first visit there was to a Sunday evening service in late spring. It was only on my third visit there in which Pastor Steve spoke about the upcoming trip to Russia; he spoke of how he was planning to go and invited others to consider if they also might like to go. I have a heart for children and going to an orphanage overseas has always been a dream of mine. So I was immediately drawn to this trip. Being so new to the church though, I wasn’t positive this was the right trip for me. But, I took a leap of faith, prayed some big prayers,wrote a few emails, had a few conversations…and here I am in Russia today!
It is amazing the number of small details that God worked out in order to orchestrate things just perfectly so that I could be a member of this team and be here in Slobodskoy at this particular point in my life. Details that range from getting a passport on the very day it was needed in order to be able to join the team, to financial concerns being fully taken care of, to a break in employment with a new job awaiting me a week after I return from Russia…there has been no doubt that God has wanted me on this trip from the beginning. He was going to see to it that it happened no matter what. I am so very thankful that He did and know that I have barely even begun to know the blessings that will come from being a part of this journey.
I will not lie and say that the travel was easy or fully enjoyable. It was hard and exhausting and (being my first time out of the country) some of it was very overwhelming. But the children? Oh, the CHILDREN! They are beautiful. They are so very beautiful. They are worth every minute of the unknown that comes with the long travel. They are kind and giving and full of love and smiles and hugs. They are also full of so many hurts from their short lives already. They are desperate for attention and love and smiles and hugs and touch and the presence of someone who cares. I can give them all of these things, but only in the short time that I am here with them. I have loved every minute I have had with them.
Playing with them, laughing with them, hearing their laughter, and being able to wrap them in great big bear hugs…these are treasured moments. My heart aches that in a couple of days we will have to say good-bye. I hate that I will not be able to continue to be with them on a daily basis to give them what I see they are so desperately seeking and needing in their lives. I know I will be heartbroken on Thursday when it is time for good-bye.
But I know that I will take them with me in my heart and in my prayers. I also know that so much more has happened throughout the entire process of this trip than I can even imagine at this point. God is working in a big and mighty way in my life and this trip to Slobodskoy is only the beginning for me. I am excited (and a little nervous) to see what He has in store for me after my return. I am also so thankful for the blessings He has poured over me thus far—through the children, through my teammates, through the amazing interpreters we have worked with, through the staff at the orphanage, and in ways I know I have not even seen yet.