Monday, January 15, 2007

Thanksgiving

“Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all things...” 1 Thess 5:17-18

Our last day in India was the first official day of the festival known as “Pongal”. Initially, it was explained to us as the equivalent of the American celebration of Thanksgiving. The first day people spend in preparation, purchasing food and celebratory items, the second day is spent with family, and the third day of the festival is spent in thanksgiving…

and supplication

to one of the 330 million gods of the land.

At breakfast our waiter presented us with a sweet dish of rice and nuts and said, “Happy Pongal.” The head waiter brought us the paper (in Hindi) with pictures of some of the activities that would be carried out in celebration of the holiday. One of which, is the chasing of a bull through the streets that has a bag of money tied around his neck. Many risk great injury to grab the prize, in spite of the fact the bulls horns have been sharpened for the event, and his temper enraged by chili powder up his nostrils and alcohol poured down its throat.

It seemed amazing, and had been describe as an innocent and innocuous holiday of festivities and village traditions. However, all our innocence on the issue was dispelled by the picture of the goddess they were paying homage to in their activities. We inquired (out of polite curiosity) of our host, who the multi-colored, many armed woman pictured was. “She is our main goddess of the temple, the goddess of destruction.”

This was thanksgiving? To a deity who destroys? Homage, in hopes the destructive one would be on your side instead of spewing wrath and wreaking havoc in the coming year.

As we were driving the two and half hours to the airport, we passed through towns and villages where loud music carried into the street. We asked if the music had any religious significance. Our escort laughed and said, “no these are just songs from movies that are popular and put people in a holiday mood.”

“White Christmas” anyone?

Along the two lane road, thousands of people were walking in a variety of yellow and saffron colored robes. All of them were barefoot. We asked where they were headed as well as the significance of their clothing and lack of shoes. Our host explained, they were off to the main temple (one of the largest in India) to this deity of destruction. From where we were it was over 50 miles away from where we were on the road, (but the pilgrims were not starting from where we were, but some from as far as 80 miles.) Men, women, young and old, walking out their “salvation” in hopes to please and spare themselves hardship. He also explained they are taking days to accomplish this. Some not even stopping to sleep and eating is out of the question.

What saddened me was not their destination, or even their misplaced desire to seek salvation from a goddess of destruction instead of the God of love and mercy. The heartbreaking fact is here were thousands of people of all ages and stages of health, devoted and willing to walk for days, barefoot across dirt, rocks and glass to earn a false security for the next year. While “we” sit in our comfort wondering what our God (the ONE) is going to give “us”. I cannot count the times I’ve heard and I confess said, “I didn’t get much out of church Sunday.” How quickly we have forgotten it is not about us “getting” but us “giving”. Worshipping the God who is worthy of our praise!

I pray to return with the conviction and vision to share “thanksgiving” to the living God for the privilege to fly twenty hours, drive by car and bus up and across the pathways of foreign countries, sleep in train cars traveling to orphans, as a pilgrimage of praise and thanks for His mercy and gratitude for His love.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Acts

“all the believers were together and had everything in common” Acts 2:44

Sunday morning came quickly. The plan was to have our “team” split into three groups, each visiting a different worship service in the area. T and K visited the Sri Lankan (Tamil) refugee camp, G and N visited a congregation of ten, while V and I went to the Training Center Pastor’s church, located not far from our hotel which made for an easy safe drive. We turned down a dirt road and arrived at a small house with the congregants gathered outside waiting for our arrival. We trudged through the separating alley between the two houses, trying not to step in the droppings of the various animals residing alongside the people.

The church was a palm thatch construction, with mats laid over the dirt and sawdust floor. The people were already at worship, we heard the praise of God as we entered. As in most worship situations, we are asked to remove our shoes, while it may be in an effort to keep the dirt out, it also has an air of holiness as if following the instructions of God to Moses, “take off your shoes for the place where you are standing is holy ground.Ex 3:5

The singing and praying went on for over half an hour, and then we were formally introduced. V spoke on ministry and seeing the worship of God all over the world as well as the importance of children to the Kingdom of God.

“Let the little children come unto me” Matt 19:14

The proportion of children to adults was over three to one. Among the village, children are allowed to come to the church since the parents view the moral instruction as a good thing. The youth group from the Training Center, performed a cute drama skit about a well (well - that was what we figured out it was about).

I was up next and remained seated to be closer to the audience seated on the floor a foot lower than the water buffalo dung stage we were seated on. They (as always) loved the tricks, as well as the older boys, finding out how the trick worked. We ended the program with prayer, and more praise and worship. Although we were running late, the Pastor insisted we stay and have chai (tea). The children all got sweets (we wished we had kept some of the balloons) and we enjoyed our very sweet, very hot, milk tea.

We arrived in time to meet our group, deciding on lunch and drinks (lime soda is everyone’s new favorite.) V and I decided to try the local handicraft market. We purchased a few items and headed for the “dam” that turned out to be closed “dam”. It was an interesting ride through the villages on the way back through the sugar cane fields. We were of course quite an odd sight, traveling down the streets. After our “dam” discovery, we headed out to the main road. At the junction, an old woman started yelling at our stopped car. We couldn’t make out from her tone if it was a good thing or a bad thing. We asked our companion to translate. He turned and smiled, “she is saying, come back, come to our village, visit us again.”

A renewed invitation from the Lord, “come again – go and preach.”

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Vision

“… good eyes! I’m making every word I give you come true.” Jer 1:12

We came down from the mountain late Friday afternoon to be ready for the dedication of the new training center near the city on Saturday. The drive down gave us visions of far reaching mountain hillsides, as well as a sunset befitting the nation we found ourselves in. Stripes of orange, yellow, magenta, and purple spread like multi-colored sarongs across the sky. It was breathtaking and an inspiring view of His creation in its splendor.



“The God of Gods – its God! Speaks out, shouts, “Earth!” Welcomes the sun in the East and farewells the sun in the disappearing West.” Ps 50:1

The training center was just a short ride from our hotel and the property was adorned with plants lining the driveway to welcome the visitors, church pastors and graduating trainees. The director gave us a tour around the facility, pointing out the buildings constructed to house the animals (goats, rabbits, chickens and ornamental fish) that would become a self-sustaining source of income for the center as well as support the baby house and provide food. On and on his description went, of the existing property as well as the future plans for building and expansion. It was inspiring to see such a young man with a great heart and vision.

“While I was among the exiles… the heavens opened up and I saw visions of God…” Ezek 1:1

Friday, January 12, 2007

Saved

"I knew you before you were born, I formed you in the womb.” Jer 1:3

Due to the late arrival – we left for the baby orphanage at 10:30 in the morning . We were not sure what to expect as far as the facility and we were told it was 45 minutes further up the mountain, and the day before, another team member had a difficult time making it up the hillside due to the mud. The director described his work saving the babies from infanticide. The process is difficult as well as dangerous, involving many people willing to risk their lives to save these baby girls from murder at the hands of midwives under the direction of paying superstitious parents.

At the end of a one-lane hillside road, we stopped. Stairs and makeshift bridges covering streams of mountain water would lead us to the “saved” in their hilltop sanctuary. The building was a two-story structure with multiple rooms and a kitchen. In the first room were the oldest little girls, six precious ones sitting up amidst rag dolls and stuffed animals, astounded by the incoming guests. Several began crying, looking to their caregiver for comfort.

The others moved on to tour the facility while I took a seat and blew up Happy Face balloons to distract them. After a short time they began to enjoy the brightly colored new additions to the array of play things. I rose, to look for the others and came to a room with six tiny babies lying on a bed. Their caregivers standing over them were making sure they were wrapped up, warm and happy. The oldest one was the most animated, and when our driver came in and started talking and making faces, she just smiled and giggled readily.

The innocents, were literally snatched form death and the evil intent the enemy had for them. Here they lay, looked after, a future, a hope given to them by the obedience of a family and workers dedicated to seeing the plans to “prosper and not to harm” the Father has for these precious ones.

“Nursing infants gurgle choruses about You, toddlers shout the songs that drown out enemy talk.” Ps 8:3

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Arrival (NOT)

“He was a stranger in the land.” Heb 11:9

After multiple starts, stops, layovers and lounges, we landed in Madurai. It was warm and once again I teased V about bring her winter boots from Russia. We collected our bags and went outside and met our ride (the brother of our contact). He took one look at our clothing and asked if we had anything else. Heads turned, questions formed in our minds (though muddled) as he said, “We are going to the mountains, it is bitter cold there!” We all said “what”, at the same time. Next question “how far away is that?” “Two or three hours” “What?” our second astonishment – but nothing really prepared us for the ride up the mountain that was actually four hours. We fell into our rooms at 1:00 am – sixteen hours of a journey – the next part of the journey.

Knowing (NOT)

“By faith he went out not knowing.” Heb 11:8

One thing we have been assured of over our time in Raipur, the provision of Pastor P and the joy we left in the hearts of the children is this: God does KNOW!

V and I undertook this portion of the journey mostly as research and development for future EW teams. However, we are certainly seeing “a man may plan his steps but the Lord directs his path.” Prov 16:9

Even if the sum of our trip is completed (although we know it is not) it has been a journey worthwhile, ordained and obeyed.

We do not know what lies ahead but our eyes are fixed on you – still!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Pursuit

“would he not leave the ninety-nine...” Luke 15:4

We left Moscow in the middle of the night that would be the beginning of a very very very long day: uneventful flying, arrival in Frankfurt, and then flying on to Bombay. We did discover the “shuttle” from one airport to the other airport and transfer of luggage, thanks to information from our new travel companion. We road across the tarmac to the domestic terminal and tried to figure out how to spend the next six hours!

It was long and long and we tried to rest in the coffee shop that did not allow sleeping. So we held the newspaper at an angle to look as though we were reading – not very restful but… there are certainly worse situations and places we could find ourselves in.

When we finally arrived in Raipur, G was actually waiting for us (a nice change from my usual missed connection) and we headed for the hotel. He made us aware of an opportunity to see a medical clinic the mission was hosting and asked if we were up for it. We showered and hit the ground sleep-walking and trying to run.

We rode through the city and what a complete 180 degree difference from Russia. I know V was taken aback at the sites, not really knowing what to expect. We arrived at the clinic, and walked through the gathered crowd. Of course the onlookers quickly multiplied, seeing white people arrive.

The physicians greeted us warmly and explained their goal in the community, as well as showing us the various stations where medicines and disease awareness was carried out. Children were coming in out of the surrounding housing, giggling, laughing and the obvious STARING. We left the hotel so quickly – I failed to bring any tricks, balloons or other fun. We left with just goodbyes and handshakes, but lots of smiles. When our two interpreters and staff workers suggested we go to the “Mercy House”, I insisted we stop at the hotel for “supplies.”

We arrived at the orphanage and the boys were neatly seated on the beds waiting for our arrival. They sang a song for us in English (This is the Day) and waited to see what these strangers would share. They were quiet at first, not quite sure how to react or respond. But when I shared the “Coloring Book”, they really got interested.

I told the “Rainbow Story” using one tiny youngster who I placed atop the table. The boys finally started lightening up, just a little, and laughed a little easier. The best part was seeing the face of Sharat, my interpreter, when the Coloring Book changed colors. It was one of speechlessness! Our thirty-seven hours of travel in pursuit of the next mission was revealed in that one look of amazement.

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.Matt 11:25

Sunday, January 07, 2007

INDIA - Calendar of Events

JANUARY 7
Depart Frankfurt Germany

JANUARY 8
Arrive Mumbai
Depart Mumbai for Raipur
Arrive Raipur meet with Nationals

JANUARY 9-10
Mercy Homes Orphanage assessment meetings for future teams to help impact the ongoing ministry of Stonebriar Community Church in Chhattisgarh, India. To learn more about the ongoing work of Pastor Chuck Swindoll's church outreach visit their website: www.stonebriar.org

JANUARY 11
Depart for Chennai for Madurai
Arrive Madurai 8:30 pm

JANUARY 12-15
Redeeming India assessment meeting for future teams to help with village outreach to stop the ongoing infanticide that occurs in the local rural areas. Learn more about this ministry online at: www.redeemingindia.org

JANUARY 16
Depart Chennai for USA
Arrive DFW 2:30 pm

Inheritance

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth..” Matt 5:5

My future inheritance has nothing to do with an impending death. It has to do with a death that occurred almost two thousand years ago; guaranteeing my future and adoption for eternity. Life sure would be easier (at least by the world’s standards) if I already had my treasures, a big bank account and lacking nothing materially. Alas, God’s economical perspective is not mine.

As I “go” and return, and “go” – I try and remind myself, in His accounting of things, I am an international investor. But as He reminds us, where our heart is our treasure is also. My heart is with the orphans of the world, with the disenfranchised, the displaced and the disabled. There is much to be romanticized about the “adventure”, distant lands and iconic landmarks most never see in a lifetime. But the “theory” of the adventurous journeys carry the weight and responsibility of the rest of the picture and “God Story”.



I have seen the Red Square and the Kremlin, but also thousands of Russian orphans hidden in remote and rural institutions, constructed by an ideology void of God and, since its collapse, holding no future. I have walked atop the Great Wall in China and entered the once Forbidden City, but I have also seen hundreds of girls abandoned to a life of hopelessness, because in a society with policy, male children are seen as the only way future aging parents will have provision. As for those born with a disability, most are virtually discarded and devalued for life. I saw the snows of Kilimanjaro, but also the street children who forage among trash heaps for food.

I feel my responsibility is to share the beauty IN the ashes, as well as carrying the hope and truth the God I love and serve, gives beauty FOR ashes.

We press on in our journey. Our teammates are on their way back to the US, to comfort, family and familiar food. As for us, fighting the good fight of faith, as “career officers”, we carry on, to the upward high calling.

This trip to India, we will analyze the “battlefield”, develop “field strategies”, determine how many “battalions” of willing soldiers we will need to enlist to conquer the land! In a nation with over 300 million gods, the “war” seems hopeless. I pray in the coming days, we take our cue from a wise Israeli King (Jehoshaphat) who went before His Lord and said, “the army is too vast for us to conquer, but oh Lord are eyes are fixed on you.”

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Homeless

“but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” Matt 8:20

Our work, set apart before any of our days came into being, was completed. Ornaments and bookmarks were decorated, and Polaroids would serve as a reminder (even if only temporary) of our visit. Now beds were assembled and more were on the way, to be delivered by the teens at the transition center and G’s faithful team who continually visits and ministers to the orphans. We loaded up the “stuff”, gave last minute hugs, and headed through the mud and slush towards the bus that would take us back to Voronezh and eventually, for most of the team “home”. We left at the children’s lunch time, which gave them a destination they needed to rush off to, as well as sparing us a long tearful goodbye.

I looked up at the windows of the building and saw one lone teenage girl as she stood watching our departure. From her third story window she had a good view of twenty Americans, along with their twenty interpreters, walk away. I waved frantically from the bus, to catch her eye and acknowledge her perspective. She waved back and kept watching the trail of people filing past her perch, unaware of her pain, and passing under her tears.

When everyone had finally filtered on to the bus, our leader began commending the team for a job well done, persevered with grace, and “gold stars” all around. One of our youngest team members said, “so what does that get us?” to which our leader replied, “You get to go home.”

Applause broke out – but my heart broke with it.

Jesus speaks in the eighth chapter of Matthew, on the cost of being His follower. By this time in His ministry, He was gaining in popularity and many were seeking out His companionship for further learning opportunities and perhaps to see the “show” that surrounded Him. One eager young man asked to become a follower. Jesus’ welcome to him, was met with a response, “but first let me go and make funeral arrangements.”

Jesus then remarked on his own “homelessness”, perhaps in an effort to illustrate being tied to nothing and no one. Once, when told His family (mother and brothers) were outside, He said, “these are my mothers and brothers”, making His family with those in His presence, instead of those who shared His family history.

I believe there is a lesson there, for us who “go”.

We are uncomfortable, inconvenienced and exhausted by all things unusual: the food, the toilets, the beds, the buses, the weather, as well as the cultural and language barriers that seem daunting at times. But in the back of our minds at the end of any given day spent on foreign soil, we harbor and nurture the thought “we are going home soon.”

The image of the girl watching us leave to go “home: stayed with me. And as the “yeahs and yahoos” were shouted over our departure – I wept.

A single girl, peering out an orphanage window wiping away tears, represented the hundreds of thousands – “homeless”. No mother’s embrace at night, making warm meals, or giving hugs. No father’s instructions to sons, protection for daughters, or provision for family.

Our identification with Christ, must tie us to the circumstantial “homeless” and relieve our own “away from home-ness.” His identification with who family is, must bind us to make us family to those whose presence we find ourselves in. While we are away from home and family, we must learn ways to better BE family and create home for those we serve.

Perhaps then, when we walk towards our own “home” we will not walk away from those we leave behind, peering out the windows and wiping away their tears.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:4

Friday, January 05, 2007

Reunion

“On Judgment Day, I’ll bring you back home – a great family gathering! You’ll be famous and honored all over the world. You’ll see it with your own eyes – all those painful partings turned into reunions! God’s promise.” Zeph 3:20

I am frequently asked how I can “leave” the orphans behind. I hold steadfastly to His Word and promise in Zephaniah – all the painful partings I experience will be turned into reunions. Our last day in Voronezh brought a taste of the verse in all its sweetness and joy.

We were scheduled to do a short program and deliver the beds made for the children – but again, communication and information was in short supply. Would volunteers from the team be needed to assemble the beds? Would team members need to paint them? Where would this take place? When? What time would we leave for the bus to take us to the train? It presented an endless stream of questions and a great deal of “we don’t know yets.” When we arrived at Semiluki and V had a chance to see the director, she came to us and said “there are only about 25 kids here and many of the young ones are gone.” My heart sank. My “queens” would not see me, and I could not even calculate or calendar what would put Voronezh back on my schedule.

We walked through the hallways, again establishing where our stations would be, when our program would begin, how many children, etc… on the logistics of having a good time – infinitum! It was not long into the walk before I heard the scurry of feet, a quick slide to stop, grab of my hand, and there they were, Natalya and Masha, my two queens. What a reunion indeed. I explained through my interpreter I thought they would be there that day. They both laughed, “no, look at us, here we are for you.”

The popular Christian song “I Can Only Imagine”, speaks of encountering the glory of Christ for the first time:

“Will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of You be still?”

This last day with the orphans of Semiluki, as well as my encounter with Sasha, the boy who had been moved out to Boguchar 150 miles away, reminded me there really is no way for me to imagine the ultimate reunion with all the orphans around the globe He has entrusted me to see.

“God’s Promise.” Zeph 3:12

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Legends


We have learned to “flex”! Thursday was a day we originally planned to see the Semiluki children for a second time, but G and his team were starting their winter program camp that day and wanted us to visit and see his group working with the teens as well as do a short form of our regular program. Since all the kids would be 16 to 18 years old CARE EE took a rest.

V asked if I wanted to do a short opening and I felt impressed to share the “Monkeys, Brains and the Peanut Butter Cracker Revelation” (see ARCHIVE APRIL 2006 - April 18) story to facilitate a talk on “warnings”, temptation and judgment. The expressiveness of the BEWARE OF MONKEYS held their attention, made them laugh, but also brought out the illustration the “signs” and laws the Bible contains are not to prevent us from fun and adventure, but to protect us from harm. When it was over, my interpreter shared she watched the boys to see if they lost interest when things turned “religious”, and reported they really kept listening and heard what lessons were being told in a way they can laugh about – but remember. Who would have thought the adventures of A and his monkeys would become the stuff of LEGENDS!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Barren

“Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband," says the LORD. … “ For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.” Isa 54:1-3

We had been warned our drive to the town of Boguchar to visit the orphanage would be long (4 hours) depending on the conditions of the roads. “Bring snacks, bring water, and pack plenty of patience.” We did, and our enthusiasm plus the first-class double-decker bus accommodations carried us the rest of the way.


We left the city early, and the traffic was still pretty scarce because of the holiday week. It took almost an hour just to get out of the city limits. The interpreters all commented on the strange weather: very little snow, relatively warm for winter in Russia (hovering just above freezing) and fog. G insisted we leave the orphanage no later than 4:30 because with the strange (foggy and warm ) weather conditions the roads could turn treacherous.

Because there is little snow, the barrenness of the fields is stark. For miles and miles the landscape as far as you can see shows no signs of life. These are the fields war machines marched across for centuries on their way to conquer a nation, and this is the place where the weather and harshness of the winter oftentimes killed their efforts and their soldiers by the thousands.

Although the drive was long and did not offer much in the way of scenic landscapes, arriving at Boguchar was worth the inconvenience. The children came outside and greeted us and the director and his assistant ushered us in to the building. We were given a tour and shown the “museum” room, which contained a vast historical record of the buildings history, its founding during Soviet times, the tragedies during the Fascist march toward Moscow in WW II, as well as a famous writer who spent time studying there.

While it was fascinating and an obvious source of pride for the Director, we were anxious to get our program underway. As in the day before, the children performed a show, singing, reciting poetry of the winter holiday and finally dancing.

I shared a quick version of the “Rudolph” story and then we split up into teams and teens! The most wonderful part of the day was seeing the familiar face of Sasha. The young boy, now eleven years old, I have seen over the years since he was only four. I told him I still have the picture where he played the “King” and he was so small his legs barely came to the edge of the chair. He laughed and eagerly agreed to help CARE EE wherever he could. All throughout the day, he would try and catch my eye and then grin shyly and wave his fingers in a familiar greeting. He had been moved out to Boguchar from Tailovaya shortly after my last visit to the Voronezh region in 2004.

We were able to finish by the prescribed time of 4:30 and begin the long haul back. Our comfortable double-decker bus made the journey easy back through the dark and barren landscape.

God has many promises toward the barren in His Word. I am convinced those same promises of fruitfulness and harvest are for “systems” and nations laid waste in godlessness. He is Lord of the Harvest both physical and spiritual, and if His encouragement to those whose physical nature He has controlled - is of a time of plenty, surely, His promise to “watch over His Word” to see it has performed all He has ordained for it will be accomplished in the hallways and classrooms of Russian orphanages!

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom 15:13

Visit

Working with a team new to mission and orphanage ministry has its own dynamic. There are a lot of “nerves” to work through, as well as the basic chaos of how to smoothly transition from one “station” to the next. What to down time – lots of little kinks that typically work themselves out in one way or another.

The children we were seeing at Semiluki were “true” orphans (no relatives they could visit over the holiday). We would be their “family”, we were there to provide them with comfort and hope for their future. It was a task not without its critics.

One team member’s interpreter wondered if we weren’t just giving the children a “false” hope. Happiness for one day, only to leave them longing and hoping for more. It was, and is, a valid question. Do these “visits” produce more pain than the short-term, short-lived pleasure and presents are worth?

The veterans and leaders expressed the “purpose” of our time with the children. A time to illustrate “God has a plan”: a plan to prosper and not to harm, a plan to give them a future and a hope.

Jesus was not an economist, a psychologist, a politician or a lawyer. He came as a human who entered in to the suffering of the humanity He is Lord and King over. He did not address the economic plight of the people by making them all millionaires. He did not analyze all their problems and issues and offer a ten steps to happiness program. His nation and people were in bondage to a foreign land, and yet He was no diplomat negotiating for their freedom. He did not seek the moral justice needed for His own, through the complicated religious system that had developed over centuries of misinterpretation of the heart of the Law the Father had put in place.

What He did do, was to walk, talk, eat, sleep and teach among the people. He touched and His touch healed. He taught, and His lessons changed hearts, lives and eventually, the world. He “dwelt” among them. He didn’t strategize, He simplified.

He isn’t asking any more of us today, here with these children. R added and reminded us the “operative” phrase in the well-know, oft-quoted verse in James 1:

“pure religion undefiled is this, to VISIT the widow and orphan “in” their distress”

The verse does not say fix their circumstance, share the gospel, bring money, rescue or adopt them – it merely says VISIT.

VISIT: to go to and stay with (a person or family) or at (a place) for a short time for reasons of sociability, politeness, business, curiosity, etc.

While it is said 90% of mission work is “showing up”, perhaps the other 10% is to keep in mind the “strategy” is in the simplicity of the VISIT.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Dream of a Queen

It always happens.

At any given orphanage, in any given country, there are always “special children”; those who seek additional attention. The ones who break free of being shy of strangers, or language or difference and just come up and stay. Holding my hand, hugging, laughing, looking for ways to get (and give) special acknowledgement.

It was the time of New Year celebrations. Many of the little girls donned princess crowns for the festivities and the special guests. Tow of the girls (Natalya and Masha) giggled and laughed each time I called them “Tsaritza” (Russian for queen). Oh we had fun, I with my exaggerated service to my two tiny queens, and they with their giggling as they proudly led me by the hand around the orphanage.


They showed where their classroom was, the sewing room, around and around we ran through the halls trying to stay ahead of the other group of Americans – or when we lingered too long in one are – to catch up through the labyrinth of hallways. They giggled and smiled incessantly – and towards the end of our funny “tour”, they decided I needed to see where they slept.

Of course, their rooms were simple but well kept, beds neatly made and all things tidy and organized. Natalya motioned for me to test out her bed. So CARE EE laid back and began telling a night-time story:

“Once there was a Queen, living in a far-away country. One day she had a strange visitor – a CLOWN! They laughed and we continued with our oration of the funny fairytale.

At the end of the day, when we were preparing to leave, Natalya and Masha ran into the coat room to find me. They were busy with the lollipops they found in their stockings, but wanted to say another goodbye, get another hug, one last…

As I embraced the girls, again calling them “Queens”, I closed my eyes and began again reciting our earlier fairy-tale:

“Once there was a Queen…who closed her eyes to dream…” I peeked one eye and inquired, “Now, Queen what shall you be dreaming tonight – a CLOWN laying in your royal bed?!”

Natalya answered, “no, I always dream of my mother, every night I dream of her.”

“ For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” Matt 18:10

Monday, January 01, 2007

Assembly

The days are short and the night seems even shorter. Our bodies are having significant adjustment difficulty due to a lack of sunshine at all and very few daylight hours. We were able to sleep for almost ten hours, but even that seemed inadequate waking up to a dark, wet, and snowy morning.

We made our way by a convoy of taxis, to the Teen Transition Center and discussed over breakfast how many actually welcomed in the New Year. Most of the younger kids did, but as for the rest of us, we tried our best to sleep through the fireworks, disc beats and revelry that went well into the wee hours of the first night of 2007.

Once we finished breakfast we set our sites on assembling the stocking we would be giving away over the next few days at the orphanages.


Our efficient assembly line stuffed, separated, sorted, and systematically put 200 stockings together for the joy of the children that would receive them.

We organized each days bags with the items we would need and tried to anticipate for the “just in cases.” We have a lot of “stuff” – “stuff” to stuff. We are trying not to get lost in the material things and the emotional need and just BE here in the moment.

Assembly for God - assembled by God.