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Friday, August 26, 2011

Flexibility.....

Over the past few months, one of the main themes during training has been FLEXIBILITY!  We tried to be flexible with our schedules, timetables, locations....pretty much everything.  The entire team has done a wonderful job at being flexible.  Each day our plans have changed multiple times - once even when we got where we were supposed to be ! :)

These last few days have been no different!  Wednesday was our first day at the summer camp (#2) and we arrived to find out that we wouldn't be able to run through our complete VBS, as the kids were too excited to see us and couldn't settle down!  :)  So, rather than "fight it", we decided to do games, craft and snack - though we weren't happy about skipping the Bible story for the morning.  That afternoon, however, we were able to adjust and do the Bible story while the younger kids were EATING their snacks....a simple change, yet a world of difference.

On Thursday, was team member Heather's 20th birthday!  We were thrilled to be able to celebrate with her.  Another team member brought streamers, balloons and candles, I brought a gift and card, and we were able to to surprise her in the morning. 


We also went to another summer camp (#60).  The two camps were VERY different.  #60 looked very well kept, and we saw the caregivers more often.  In fact, they stayed close by watching what we were doing (I'm guessing to ensure that we were "taking good care" of THEIR kids)!  The kids were very attentive to the stories, loved the craft (we made salvation bracelets) and loved the snack.  Even though it was just animal crackers, they enjoyed getting to sit around the table talking with the team members, enjoying every moment with them.  Orphanage #60 made lunch for the team in their kitchen and it was delicious.  The team continues to be amazed at how big lunch is for those living in Russia.  It's considered the largest meal, with either a soup or salad, plus rice/noodles/potatoes and a main dish.  Orphanage #60 made such a delicious (and large) meal, that most could hardly finish it!

One way the camps were the same was that the kids absolutely LOVED the peanut butter (and either crackers or pretzels) that were offered for snacks.  They called it "paste", but the kids couldn't get enough of it.  They kept asking for more and would rip open their cups to lick all the peanut butter out of it!  The "paste" brought so many smiles, that I want to invest and buy stock in peanut butter when I get home!  :)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
While driving to the first day at the Crisis Center this afternoon (Friday), we learned our plans for the day had changed.  We re-did the schedule and everyone's "assignments" so that when we arrived they'd be ready.  The schedule changed once again during the drive, and then a final time once we actually got to the center.  The biggest change was that the top floor was quanitined due to chicken pox and we were not allowed to see those children.  So, that left us with 2 other floors, but those children were under a semi-quantine, where they must remain on their floor.  We ended up have 3 teams, a preschool aged room, a elementary aged room, and an older teen room.  God was so good, in that we actually brought 2 crafts (one that was appropriate for younger, and one for the older kids), 2 snacks and even extra game supplies to keep the preschoolers happy!  The ladies did an awesome job, and both the kids and team members had smiles on their faces throughout our first day at the crisis center.

Due to the quarantine, we had much fewer kids than expected.....only 20 compared to the 72 we planned for.  This made having 10 team members and 20 kids an awesome ratio!  There was alot of one-on-one time with the kids - talking, holding, hugging and doing crafts.  Everyone agreed they had a great day at the center and wanted to work with the same group of kids tomorrow.

At the very end of the day, the nurse came to ask one group (Aimee and Alison) is they "would mind helping to feed the babies"!  We were told not to expect to hold the babies, as they are very protective of them, so when asked they quickly said YES, and had the most precious smiles of anticipation on their faces!  I also managed to get in the room and help feed one of the babies....it was amazing to be able to sing to these sweet babies that have recently been placed here.  Their smiles went right to my core, and made me smile!  We hope that the other ladies will be able to hold the babies as we continue working in the crisis center!''

We do ask for prayer as team members are starting to battle some "stomach issues", and also attacks as they minister to God's children.  Please pray for God to make it known to each and every team member how valuable they are, how God chose each of them specifically, and that He will heal each one of them.

Before going to the Crisis Center, we toured St. Isaac's Cathedral.  It was absolutely beautiful!

Below are a few pictures from our last few days.  I will post many more soon....but the connection is slower here and taking longer to upload!

Orphanage #2's summer camp - Camp Birch Tree (English "translation")






















Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Relationships....

For those that don't know, we are a team of 10 here in Russia.  4 from Germany and 6 from six different cities all across the United States.  Only one team member from the states knew me, and all the rest have come into this "blind"....except that the knew God called them to Russia on this trip, and they have remained faithful to their calling.  So, with that said, yesterday everyone arrived into Russia, over 4 different flights, arriving from 1pm to midnight.  The first time the team came together as a complete team was for our morning devotional after breakfast.

Have you ever had a friend that you haven't seen in a while and yet when you get together it seems like you've only been apart for a day?  Well, that's what it feels like here in St. Petersburg.  We are ten women, not having met most of the team, and yet it's as if they're long-time friends back together again.  Granted we have done lots of email and FB time, but it's just "different".  It's difficult to explain except that I truly believe that God has chosen EACH team member, very specifically, for this team, and has worked on everyone's heart - drawing them closer to Him, thus drawing them closer to each other.

Our plan....well, ok "MY" plan, for the morning was to do some "team building".  Getting some games together helping build relationships, team work, communication, etc.  It became very clear during our morning devotionals that it wouldn't be necessary.  Instead, we were able to share our hearts with one another for nearly two hours...yup, TWO hours, and it felt like minutes!  This group of ladies has a heart for God, a heart for Russia and it's children, and a heart for service!

As a team we discussed our expectations for this trip.  As a group it was unanimous that though everyone is desiring to be "flexible" and not "expect" everything to go "as we planned", we all agreed that we are expecting MANY other things.  We are expecting to see many miracles this week, we are expecting to see servant hearts, we are expecting to see compassion and we are expecting to have our hearts broken - so that God can make us stronger and fill our hearts with a passion and desire to continue to love on the orphans of the world.

We have already seen miracle these last few days - first the "God's Math" as we packed our supplies (see previous post), continued with everyone's safe travels (even with many flight delays - which allowed more time to meet new people and form relationships), the arrival of all supplies and suitcases, healing of 2 team members that weren't feeling well this morning, but within hours of praying for them they felt much better, for great weather, and for wonderful team bonding today.  THAT was just one day....can't wait to see what miracles and blessings God has in store for us tomorrow!  :)

After our morning session, we were able to get some lunch and then do some sightseeing.  We were taken to the Hermittage, the Winter Palace, and museum with private collections of Empress Catherine II .  The paintings and exhibits were beautiful....we even saw the original painting of "The Prodigal Son".

After touring the Hermittage we returned back to our hotel room (we're staying in a Christian University here in St. Petersburg), and were greeted by a wonderful dinner made by the staff of Orphan Outreach!  After dinner we had our team meeting, where as a group we were able to sing praises together, and work as a team to organize the many supplies and donations!  Talk about team work.....we managed to get everything done in less than a hour. 

The rest of the evening was spent sitting and talking.....things that all women love!  :)

Tomorrow will be our first day with the kids, as we head to Orphanage #2's summer camp.  Please pray for our team - specifically for everyone's health, travel mercies and that we are able to keep our eyes, ears and hearts open to everyone we come in contact with tomorrow, thus being able to serve them.  Pray for the kids, that they are open to be loved on, and to hear (and see) God's love for them! Pray for the staff...that we are not a burden on any of them, and that instead we are a blessing to them (and hopefully giving them a little time of "rest", which we know is well deserved and needed).

As I finish up, I want to leave you with some pictures of our days.

Thank you again for joining our Russia 2011 team, for your continued prayers and love.

Germany team (Delilah, Betsy, Beth and Aimee) preparing to leave for Russia

Breakfast for Aimee....Germany style!  YUMMY!

1st part of team (Germany team) lands in St. Peterburg

lunch before the arrival of the first stateside team

Stateside team - JoAnna, Monica, Alison, Pat and Heather arrive.
Last one arrives a few hours later (though I didn't get a picture...will post a group photo tomorrow)

Sights of St. Petersburg















The Prodigal Son

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Commissioning Service

Today at our Chapel Service, the local members of our Russia 2011 came forward to be prayed over, and blessed, as we prepared to GO and serve our Lord and the children of St.Petersburg, Russia.  Since only 4 of us are from Wiesbaden, we had the rest of the team members on the video screen behind us, as we were being prayed over.  The worship team played/sang "God of This City", and it was a beautiful service.  The song was a great theme song for our team, as it reminded us that God IS King of St. Petesburg and has already been at work there. We are going in to join in His work.  I am thankful for our Chaplains, our Chapel family and my fellow team members!

Russia 2011 Team


Russia 2011 Team with Chaplain Matt

For those that don't know the song, it goes:

You're the God of this City
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You are

[Verse 2]
You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

[Chorus]
For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City

[Verse 1]

[Verse 2]

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

[Chorus]
For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

There is no one like our god
There is no one like our God

[Chorus]
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

Thursday, August 18, 2011

God's Math

Tonight was our Russia team's "Packing Party" (for the Germany portion of the team).  At this packing party, everyone brings their bag that they want to check in, and then an additional bag to pack our supplies that we'll take with us for the VBS program we'll do.  Well, that's what TYPICALLY happens, anyway!

For us, it was different.  Being that we're traveling from Germany to Russia, it's considered a "domestic" flight so we only get one bag (and only weighing 44 pounds), and no 2nd bag.  We can't just pay a small fee (approximately $70 to ship a 2nd bag).  Instead, with our airline, they charge 10 euro per kilogram over weight....which means for another 44 pounds bag, we would have to pay $300.  Needless to say, that's not happening.  I figure we can use that money to BUY the items in Russia, rather than pay to ship them.

So, that left us in a dilemma.  I had 100 pounds of stuff in my living room waiting to go to Russia, and only about 80 pounds of space for those 100 pounds.  Each of us packed minimally for our own personal clothing, to leave as much room as possible in our bags for the supplies.  Well, in the end....God took care of it.  We managed to get everything in those bags, except fo 2 bags of animal crackers!  I truly love how God's math is always perfect, even when mine is not!

Is it possible to praise God TOO much?!?!?  I THINK NOT!!!

Thank you, Lord for startin our trip off with a miracle....I can't wait to see what's in store for us!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On A Mission.....

This year, I am "on a mission" …. literally! God has given me one of the greatest challenges I have ever dared to take on. This August I will lead my first mis-sion team into St. Petersburg, Russia. We will serve the abandoned children of Russia, along with the caretakers of Crisis Center #15 (Hannah’s Hands) , Orphanage #2 and Orphanage #60. Our mission is to be the loving and welcoming arms, to children during a time of great need!


To read more about Hannah’s Hands ministry, please visit: http://www.orphanoutreach.org/news/2011/0301-HannahsHands/index.asp

Did you know:
It is currently estimated that Russia has 750 thousand orphans living within orphanages, and another 1.2 million orphans living on the streets?
 No other country has a higher rate of adult alcohol abuse, leading to a high rate of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in babies. At age 15 to 18, children are forced to leave the orphanages, they’re emancipated, with little or no formal schooling, very limited life skills, and no one to turn to for assis-tance. Within the first year of eman-cipation, 50% of these children will be involved in prostitution or crime, and another 30% are involved in drugs and alcohol.

An orphans life expectancy is 30 years old. In a country, with a population of 143 million, spanning 10 time zones, Russia’s orphan care sys-tem is as shaky as it’s economy.
Though I have been on many mission trips, to Mexico, Guatemala, India and Poland,  I have never before been the "leader" of the trip. The Great Commission, in Matthew 28:17, says "Therefore, Go and make disciples of all Nations".

I have heard the calling, and I will obeyNine of women are also obeying the calling....and will join me on this mission.  Three from Germany and 6 from cities around the United States.  Each of us was chosen by God for this trip, each with a gift to share with the team, to make us stronger.  Some may not know what gift they will bring, but I have learned over the years that EVERYONE plays an important role in each trip, and I look forward to sharing those gifts, and stories of how we each see God at work each day we are in Russia.


I will update each evening, when possible, during our 8 days.

Thanks for joining us on our mission!
Delilah
for the Chapel Next Russia 2011 Mission Team