As I write this, a new mission team is starting to plan and prepare for the next trip (Spring 2013) to Slobodskoy, Russia. Twice a year people go to visit the orphans there. The visits are very important because this ministry is about forming relationships with our friends there and showing them how important they are. The fact that someone would come all that distance just to see them shows these young people, in a rather extravagant way, that they matter. The visits, however, occur only two weeks out of a year. That is not enough time to dedicate to these precious children.
The most important time is the in-between time – the other 50 weeks of the year – and that is what I am writing about today. How do we nurture relationships, how do we show others that we love them? Through time spent with them certainly, but more specifically time spent in communication with them, and one-on-one time.
In today’s fast paced world, communication usually means texting, tweeting, Facebook messaging, and sometimes emailing, but all of the words are quick, much of the time abbreviated, often meaningless. Who sits down to compose a letter these days? That takes so much time. We can spend hours on Facebook, sending birthday wishes to people we barely know, update our twitter with what we consumed for lunch…but write a letter to an orphan who lives thousands of miles away?… so time-consuming.
But, to our young friends in Slobodskoy, receiving letters is so vitally important. They need to be reminded every day how precious they are. They don’t have the benefit of a mom or dad who teaches them how to ride a bike, reads them stories, or cheers them on at their soccer match. Letter writing is how we create one-on-one time with an orphan.
The Slobodskoy orphans are very good at sharing. They share everything – their clothes, their toys, their living space. You might share a bedroom with one or two people, but how would you like to share it with 9 or 10 other people, for years!? There is very little that these children have that is just for them. When a mission team visits Slobodskoy, even if there are 20 or more Americans, there are still at least 90 orphans, so they even have to share the visitors.
But, if a letter arrives with an orphan’s name on it, it IS just for that child. One-on-one time with their sponsor! And it can happen all year long, not just 2 weeks out of the year. Each of these children desperately needs someone who is willing to invest the time in them, and write words of encouragement to them on a regular basis, someone who knows that child by name. Someone who doesn’t forget them. We can’t be at their basketball games and we can’t tuck them in at night, but we can be there for them consistently by keeping in faithful communication with them. We can fill in the times in between the visits and show these children they are loved.
You may currently sponsor of one of the orphans in Slobodskoy, and if you do I thank you, and I encourage you to write to your young friend often. You don’t have to fill a page, just offer some words of encouragement and let him or her know that you remember them. Email is always the quickest way to get letters to them (firstname.lastname@example.org), but hand written letters in spring and fall are also appreciated.
If you are not a sponsor, but are interested in writing to an orphan, please let me know. You can send me a note at the Mission 1:27 gmail address.