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)