We Bet You’re Free This Sunday at 12:15…

They saw it with their own eyes…your love and support is changing the lives of the children, teachers and caregivers at the Slobodskoy orphanage. Please join us for a complete report from the October travel team including photos, written notes from the children and testimonials from the team about their 9 incredible days in Russia.…

Random Post-Trip Musings – sponsored by Panera

Yep, I am writing this from the finest dining establishment in the United States – Panera Bread. I clearly have found my comfort food as this is my third trip to God’s Kitchen since I have been back in the country – which, of course, has been only four days! I’ve even varied things a…

Gratitude and Joy – by Patti

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) My heart is filled with gratitude — first, to our loving God, always present, always providing what we need, always leading the way.  There are also countless people to thank.  I will…

Friday Reflections – from Tony

Well this is my last day to write.  It was such a great week.  This has been one of the very best experiences of my life.  I am so glad to have shared parts of it on the blog.  I know you will get the blogs all at once, but please know that each one…

Lost in Translation – by Christi

One of the great gifts of this trip has been the accompaniment of eight wonderful interpreters who stay right by our sides almost all the time.  They are, without exception, gentle, joyful, gifted people who are a joy to be around.  They are invaluable for our communication with the children.  They are very intelligent and…

Wednesday Reflections – by Tony

Strange start to my day.  Could not sleep most of last night.  Probably going on about 2-3 hours of sleep at most.  Also not feeling my best.  Nor is my roommate, BJ.  The rest of the group seems fine.  Finally it was raining outside.  Because of this I started the day feeling it would be…

I Can See Clearly Now – by Christi

Our scripture today is Jesus’ healing a blind man.  This particular healing in Mark 8 is a two-part healing, the only one that I know of in scripture that happens this way.  Jesus first of all takes the man by the hand, and leads him out of the village.  Then he spits on his eyes. …

Tuesday: Our First Full Day – by Craig W.

(Continued Caveats – this was written when we thought we might have semi-regular access to the internet. That did not happen but I’ve kept the post the same.  More are coming and we’ll do our best to post them in order.) Generosity comes in many forms and some times, it’s something as simple as staying…

Why no posts?

So sorry for our silence. We have not had access to the internet until now. But even now I am typing on Koss’ Palm Pilot over the cell network, so this will be short. All is great. We have left the orphanage and are headed to Kirov. We have a few posts to send once…

A First Timer’s Perspective – from Tony S.

Wow.  What an incredible day.  Getting off the train was nice.  Tough to sleep for long in a small place.  Also, I really needed a shower.  So getting off the train was a reminder that such was close.  That said, once we got of the train we were greeted by more friends.  Friends I had…

Back to (the country formerly known as) the USSR!!

We’re just over 24 hours away from wheels up to Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) in Moscow. All the planning, packing and preparation is (almost) behind us – all that’s left is the anticipation and excitement of what awaits us. It’s amazing to think that in just a few days, we will be on the other…

WOW – Blessed Beyond Belief

As many of you know, last night was the first annual (we hope!) “To Russia with Love” fundraiser for Mission 1:27. It was an amazing evening of fun, fellowship and food. By all accounts, the evening was a huge success! See the end of this blog post for some pictures of the soiree. So, “How…

No Escape from Reality This Time

During the summer months, many of us will take the opportunity to catch up on some reading – oftentimes with light, easy beach books that allow you to “escape from reality” for a few hours. I am no different and this summer I was treated to a full smörgåsbord of Harlan Coben and Lee Child…

An International Project with Local Impact

As soon as the conversation starts, I know that the question is coming. For it happens in every conversation…and this exchange is no different. Very quickly, my friend asks, “Why Russia? Aren’t there people closer to home who need help?” It’s a fair question – or actually, two fair questions. We have been asked similar…

The final update (Days #6 and #7)

I will keep this last update short (for now).  After arriving on the train in Vladimir at 5:55 a.m., I gathered with the rest of the team at the hotel for our final two days together.  During breakfast, we shared stories and updates from our respective meetings.  Clearly, God is bigger than we could imagine…

Graduation Celebration (Day #5)

After a good night’s sleep, we returned to the orphanage for our day with the graduates.  The day started with more classes – Ernie teaching English and Craig teaching geography.  As with most teenagers, the kids were less interested in the lesson plans and more interested in the pictures from our trip (the first one…

Now I lay me down to sleep (Night #4)

It was very different to be on this trip with such a small (two person) team.  At times, it was challenging to balance the needs of so many kids with the important tasks of supporting Galina and the staff.  For the most part, everything seemed to work out great, with the only issue being that…

The Return to Slobodskoy (Day #4)

(Okay, due to internet limitations, I am behind in posting on the blog.  So I am going to try to get caught up, breaking the last three days into a series of notes.  The Surgeon General recommends that you read them in order to get the full effect of the timing.) The day had finally…

And the Journey Continues…

Early Sunday morning, as I talked with Craig and Holly in the church parking lot, who were adjusting suitcases into the back of their car, I thought about how remarkable this moment was, Craig is traveling back to Russia to start a second journey. And on this same day, Holly and I, along with the…

Being touched by a friend, thousands of miles away

Here are some words from another supporter of the Mission 1:27 effort, Elizabeth Esser.  Even though Elizabeth did not travel with our group to Russia, her heart has been touched by the Mission 1:27 effort and she has invested a great deal of time, energy and commitment to helping the children in Slobodskoy.  Here is…

Nothing’s better than a firsthand account

Over the last four weeks, everywhere we go people stop us and ask about our mission trip to Russia.  Some have read the blog, some have seen the pictures – but everyone seems genuinely interested in hearing the stories and tales of our journey to Russia.  We are more than willing to oblige. 🙂 The…

The reason we keep going – and blogging!

We know that many of you started reading this blog to get an update on our “Journey to Russia” – the physical trip across the world that brought so many new cultural, spiritual and life experiences to our twenty-one travelers.  Now that we are home safely, you probably expected the blog to end.  Candidly, we…

“So…what’s next?!?!?”

Many, many people have asked us this question since we returned from Russia. And the next question inevitably is, “What can I do to help?” Everyone we speak to seems committed to helping keep the momentum and energy from the trip. With that question in mind, here are a few things that you can do…

Perspective from another traveler

Over the last 24 hours, the Slobodskoy travelers have been acclimating ourselves to the “normal” routine of being home, yet we continue to find ourselves returning the orphanage in our thoughts and our discussions. Everyone we encounter wants to hear about the trip, see pictures of the kids and learn more about “what’s next” for…

Day #8 – Final Thoughts for Now…

As I sit here at JFK, just hours away from home in Chapel Hill, I am finding it difficult to craft a “journey-ending post” that will adequately sum up the experience of the last eight days. It may be because it is 1:30 a.m. in Moscow or the pending excitment of sleeping in my own…

A Small Sample of Pictures from the Journey to Russia

Friends,   We just finished our Easter Celebration Service and headed to bed for our flight home tomorrow. More on our final day in Moscow will come in my final blog posting from the trip. But while I have internet access at a little cafe in our hotel, I thought I would upload a sampling of…

Day #8 – Arrival in Moscow

Just wanted everyone to know that we are safely in our hotel in Moscow, enjoying hot showers, wi-fi access and a cup of coffee. We will spend the day being tourists in this city and will end our time together with an Easter Celebration and Service led by Shay. It will be a memorable way…

Day #7 (continued) – We Start the Journey Home

The trip home started with a quiet bus ride from Slobodskoy to Kirov. Some rested, some talked quietly – but all of us decompressed from an intense week of loving and being loved. We stopped in Kirov for some quick souvenir shopping and dinner. We dined at the same restaurant from our first meal in…

Day #7 – Not Good Bye but See You Again

The emotional final day with the orphans had arrived. We all knew this day would come but we knew we were not prepared for what was to occur today. With an early afternoon bus to Kirov, our time with the kids and staff was limited. After a quick breakfast, we had a final chance for family…

Day #6 (continued) – Field Trip Day

The field trips were quite successful – both the planetarium and puppet show were big hits. The bus trip to Kirov took about an hour with five buses mixed with Americans and Russian kids. Kirov is a town of 500,000, about ten times the size of Slobodskoy (about 40,000 residents – a small provincial town).…

Day #6 – Field Trip Day

Once again, since I know that I will have internet access quickly this morning, I will post a quick update on our plans for today, April Fool’s Day. I am not sure that I will have internet access again until at least Saturday night. We are taking all the kids on a field trip today…

Day #5 – Our Second Full Day at the Orphanage

The simple act of arriving at the orphanage seemed like such a strange and uncomfortable event just a day ago but was so welcome and familiar today. We arrive as if we are home in a way, greeting new friends as we walk in the building speaking our choppy and unintelligible Russian. We know where…

Day #4 (Continued) – Our First Full Day at the Orphanage

  Another amazing day with the children in Slobodskoy. Just as intense and draining as the first few days…and even more rewarding. A quick recap of our day with them: We arrived at 9:00 a.m. to set up our rooms for our activities and have breakfast at the orphanage. After breakfast, we were treated to…

Day #4 – Our First Full Day at the Orphanage

Knowing that I will have internet access for a few minutes soon, I will start today’s blog post early. We all had an incredible night’s sleep in a comfortable bed in a warm hotel – yet my mind was filled with the images of the kids sleeping 6-8 in a room with their worn mattresses…

Travel Day #3 – Trains to Bus to Love

The train ride was a special experience for sure. Many of us had never been on a train, so the novelty was quite exciting. The rooms were small but we got used to them quickly. A few made the brave journey to the Dining Car but for most of us, we simply stayed in our…

Travel Day #2 – From Planes to Trains

Our group found getting off the plane much easier than getting on!! We arrived at 10:00 a.m. Moscow time (which is 2:00 a.m. EDT), relatively well-rested all things considered. Customs was uneventful, the luggage all arrived and we quickly found ourselves in Moscow for the day. At the airport, we were greeted by our cheerful…

Travel Day #1 …Never a Dull Moment

First things first. We just heard the news of the bombing in Moscow on the day we were there. Please know that we are all okay and we were never affected by the events that day. We don’t know any details other than there was an incident, but we apologize for not getting word out…

“Please discontinue the use of all electronic devices…”

Those are the eight words that every hardcore business traveler hates to hear.  You just boarded the plane after a long day(s) on the road and thousands of thoughts pop into your mind, all of them turning into tiny little to-dos on your growing list of responsibilities.  But not only does the flight attendant tell…

Final stages of preparation – let the packing begin!!

After almost a year of praying and planning, we are in the final stages of preparing for our trip to visit our sponsored orphanage in Slobodskoi, Russia in the Kirov Region of the country.  Sponsored by Children’s Hope Chest and Christ United Methodist Church, the group visiting over Easter Week includes twenty-one travelers (11 adults…