Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas gifts for the orphans, Part 2

Just as promised, here are pictures of "delivery day" - the day we delivered Christmas gifts to the orphanage. I really want to express, once again, my gratefulness to those who gave to this project. I know it was a very costly undertaking and also very time-consuming. However, I do believe it was a very huge investment in these childrens' lives. There is no way we ourselves would have been able to buy something nice for all 42 children in the orphanage for Christmas. However, you who gave made it possible for us to share the love of Christ in a special way that children understand... through gifts.

Some of the things that were sent were things the kids had never seen. Many of us spent extra time with the orphans, explaining to them how to use some of the things they received in their bags. One thing that caused David and I to really laugh about was the dental floss that one of the teen girls received. She opened the small box and noticed the minty smell, so assumed it was chewing gum. After she chewed on it for awhile, some of the other girls noticed her and asked us if she was using it correctly. We explained to her what it was really for and had a good time realizing how "simple" these kids really are.

One advantage to treating the orphans exceptioinally well is that we are winning over the heart of the orphanage director, Elena. David mentioned that he would like for the children to be in church on Sunday for our "Christmas Sunday," and she responded matter-of-factly that she would have ALL of them ready. Normally, for lack of vehicles, we are only able to pick up two car-loads of children each Sunday. This past Sunday, though, we had to find a BUS to pick up all of the kids. Then, we had to have a "game plan" so as to keep our church services orderly since we had as many children in church as we had adults (once you counted in our regular-attending children as well)! We asked our church people to each sit between two or three children, and the services went GREAT! An unexpected advantage to bringing all of the orphans to church is that their social workers have to be with them on outings. So, we had one of their workers in church for the first time, and he received the Gospel and a free Bible for being a first-time guest! To God be the glory for the way He is working in "our" orphanage!
My sweet hubby David, loving on one of the orphan boysMissionary kids (Sloans and Hesses) dressed up and excited about giving... and receiving the "gift of giving"Teen orphan boys... a rough bunch that I am very burdened for I love this picture! He is checking out the contents and deciding what to pull out of this big bag first!
The "winning" gift!
Hot Wheels!
"Christmas in the orphanage" was a fun, unforgettable day. In my next post I will be sharing with you how our family spent Christmas Day here on the mission field...
And, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each of you, my faithful readers!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas gifts for the orphans, Part 1

We received 14 boxes from the ladies of Tulsa Baptist Temple in Tulsa, Oklahoma, several weeks ago, especially to give our orphans for Christmas. They sent 18 boxes, but we are still waiting for the other four.... probably to clear customs. You should have seen me at the post office when we picked these up! I was beaming from head to toe, just like a proud momma! From the post office, we drove to our Wednesday evening services, and I could not stop talking about all of the boxes packed in our trunk!

For awhile, they sat in our living room like this....
Then, I invited our co-worker and helper in the ministry, Nelya, to my house to unpack them and divide the things up for the children. Here are my children, eagerly awaiting to see what is in inside....During the waiting period, we received a second shipment of hats and scarves from Beach Street Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. In this large box were oodles of brand new school supplies, so we decided to add them to the other gifts....And here it all is, laid out on my bed...And here is what would NOT fit on my bed!...A close up look at some of the gifts... All separated out into gift bags...And individualized with names and ages.... We've already delivered these gifts, and I can hardly wait to show you the kids with their presents and happy, contented faces. So, that will be my next post! See you soon...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hats and Scarves for Orphans!

Last week I had the privilege (along with my family and co-worker Nelya) to deliver a box of hand-crotched hats and scarves to the orphanage. This orphanage, located on "51st Army" Street, currently houses 42 children.

A ladies' church group from Texas have "adopted" these 42 children, even though they have never met the children.... or me! This past summer they sent enough hats and scarves for the children to each receive two sets. I decided to wait until cold weather to deliver them, for fear the kids might lose them before they needed them. When the weather got cold enough for hats, the entire country was put on a quarantine due to the H1N1 flu. Schools, universities, many work places, etc., were closed down for nearly a month. During this time we were not allowed into the orphanage and the children were not allowed to be picked up for church.

Finally, last week I was able to make the delivery, and oh, what fun it was! The older teen boys were not too interested in trying on hats in front of me and certainly were not about to let me take their pictures (they are typical, teen boys!), but the girls were another story. They had a little "fashion show" going, having me take their pictures in every different color so they could see what they looked like. (I guess my camera was more interesting than just using a mirror!)

Thank you to Mrs. Cherrie Call and ladies of Beach Street Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, for using your talents to warm our orphans this winter! Helping these children physically opens the door to meet their needs spiritually. Thank you for sharing the love of Christ with these precious children that Jesus loves and wants to draw unto Himself. I look forward to meeting you one day and thanking you in person because I feel like you have done something special for my own children!

Enjoy these pictures of the children whose pictures I managed to take. Aren't they just beautiful children?!

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Ten Thousand Hallelujahs" Christmas Cantata

This Christmas cantata, "Ten Thousand Hallelujahs," written by Ron and Shelly Hamilton, was performed by our church choir today.... in Russian! Missionary Tony Hess, our choir director, had the goal of seeing this cantata performed by our own people. He gave the music to Sveta, one of our interpreters, who interpreted the words literally into Russian. Then Nelya, another young lady in our choir who is naturally poetic but does not know English, took the translation and the accompanying CD and changed the words around to fit the music. Who knows how many hours it took just for this aspect of it all!

The cantata also includes a skit that is interspersed throughout the songs. In all, the singing and skits took an hour to perform in its entirety. We had 77 people in hearing church today, with 17 of those being visitors! Seven of those visitors were first-time guests! One of our visitors was Oleg, the man who spent about a month in our home, laying tile throughout our main areas. He also brought his wife with him, and it was a joy to me to meet her! Many heard the Gospel clearly presented, certainly for the first time, and one lady was even saved!
It truly was a privilege seeing all of the hard work that was put into this cantata by our 25-member choir. None of us are professional singers. In fact, many of the choir members cannot even read sheet music and a few even struggle with carrying a tune! But all were willing to give it their best and were excited to be able to perform. This was the first time many of them have had the privilege of doing anything "big" like this in church, and I think God really blessed everyone's efforts!
I do not have any pictures from the cantata itself, because both David and I are members of the choir. However, I did snap some shots before it started, so I will share some of those with you here, so that you can "meet" some our choir members:

KATYA, TANYA, AND NATASHANATASHA AND SERGEI (David was able to lead Sergei to the Lord just a few months ago and he is already singing in our choir!)




I wonder what the Hamiltons would think if they knew this cantata was performed around the globe in another language? I am sure they would be thrilled to know that God is blessing their music in such a unique way! I personally am thrilled for people such as the Hamiltons, whom God has gifted musically. I have been listening to their family since I was a child, and now my children are listening to them. Their music is simply timeless. But so is our God!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wood-burning stove... eastern-European style

We are warm again!

David went out and bought us a wood-burning stove.... eastern-European style. So what does "eastern-European style" mean? Well, I'm not too sure... just that it looks like something I have never seen before! (Have any of you ever seen anything like this?)

I had imagined one day having a big cozy fireplace to burn wood in and keep my family warm. But, we desperately needed something NOW, and it would have taken too long to build my dream fireplace. I fear we would have frozen for sake of my vanity if I had gotten my way. So, my "all function, no frills" (but, oh, so wonderful!) husband went out and bought this little contraption. Not too pretty, but it sure is attracting our attention (the kids sat by it and read their books the last couple of hours before their bedtime). Tomorrow, I'll work on cleaning some of the mess around it and try to make it look a little cozier. In the last few hours our living room / kitchen area has warmed up from 50 degrees to 62 degrees. Keeping things in perspective, I'm really "warming up" to this new little gadget of ours!And, thanks to the Van Sants for insisting we stay in their home. Though we ended up not needing to, it sure was nice knowing we had a warm place to sleep just ten minutes away!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

FIVE are better than one!


Ecclesiastes 4:9,11 "Two are better than one... if two lie together, then they have heat, but how can one be warm alone?"

We are all healthy again! Thanks to all who have been praying!

Many have been asking about our heat and wondering if we are staying warm our first winter out in the village. I hesitate to answer this question for fear of sounding negative or making you think I want sympathy! Truly, we are healthy and we have each other, so what more could we need?!

Since we returned from Germany, it has been cold here in Simferopol! (Though, my friends in Siberia would probably laugh at my definition of cold.) The snow that we received in early November quickly melted away and has only just recently returned, and this time, I am certain, for good. My poor David has been working for three solid months trying to get our house ready for these cooler days. In the last month or so, our heated floors have been working beautifully. However, the problem we have been facing recently has been the amount of electricity available to us out in our village. I did a quick online search to find out how much electricity it takes to run a normal-sized, average home. The results I came up with showed me that we are getting less than half of that.

Since we have no gas in our village, we have been trying to heat our home and go about our normal lives with electricity alone. (Most people here heat their homes with gas). The entire village has a shortage of electricity, and our mayor promises that a new transformer will be installed in a month to keep the entire village from our regular power outtages. Normally, we go just a few hours without electricity, but a few nights ago we spent the entire night with no power and freezing weather, so we all five snuggled in bed together, added extra blankets, backed a night stand up to the bed (so no one would fall off!) and had a good, warm night of rest.

Yesterday the boiler that heats our floors gave out on us. (Yes, the new boiler for those of you who have been following my updates for awhile now). So, now we are warming ourselves up with space heaters and living most of our days in just two rooms. So long as our electricity can keep up with the space heaters, we will manage just fine.

Please pray about our heating situation though. We are now considering buying a wood-burning stove in order to stay warm. We are eventually going to out-smart this undependable electrical system of ours. Until then, you can find me snuggling up closer to the ones I love best! (And maybe, this is just the right way to keep our family as close as we are!) I know one day I will look back with fond memories of all of the snuggle time I got with my little ones this winter!