IMG_0875We can not sit silent while we know so many without the hope of knowing love!  So we prayerfully make plans and in God’s wisdom think creatively.  By God’s grace there will be fruit of our work and by His strength we will never give up.  We are planing our third annual orphan ministry seminar.  The team has grown this year to include people with very divers backgrounds and strengths.  I am honored to be a part of this very important work!  Surrounded by graceful teachers I decided to use this time as a learning experience so I took notes on the board.  IMG_0874

As I made mistakes or asked for clarification my team practiced such patience and helped me in my journey to a better knowledge of the Russian language.  They also blessed me with the opportunity to serve during the seminar in creative ways since I would not be able or comfortable leading a session.  I will be taking care of the coffee-break and preparing some important questions for a hand-out.

I am looking forward to all the churches that will be participating in this weekend the last few days in August.  I pray that through this time they will be filled with strength and passion to take into action the things they learn.  Please pray with me for the Lord to lead the speakers as they prepare there presentations.  Please also pray that many will attend and orphan ministry will begin to spread like wild fire in our area.

Чистое и непорочное благочестие пред Богом и Отцем есть то, чтобы призирать сирот и вдов в их скорбях…

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble…

James1:27

I can relate!

A strange feeling covered the little campground as our Russian friends fearfully filed up to registration.  I could see fear in the eyes of some, wondering what they had gotten themselves into.  For the next 5 days we all forgot all the Russian we knew and only spoke English!  It seamed like our campers where almost going through culture shock.  But they all made it and no one was hurt in the process!

A team from America took the responsibility of teaching the English classes, while the team from Russia worked on the program.  What great teams we had!  The group from America did such a wonderful job teaching, freeing us to focus on making sure everything else ran smoothly.  I was in charge of the music; leading practices and getting the slides ready.  Also each morning we roused the campers with morning exercises!  We did songs like the Hokie Pokie and the cha-cha slide!   DSC_0557 (2)

Other than that my job was to speak English with all the campers!  It was a refreshing change of pace compared to the other camps where I sometimes miss sleep and down time.  Half of the campers were not Christians and every night they heard one of their teachers give their testimony.  Please pray with me for these campers and for the English club that we have year round.

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Each night we had a taste of American cooking. Hot dog and hamburger night! soo good!

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Each evening we had a “Late Night Show” During the show we played songs like Don’t Worry Be Happy and interviewed one of the teachers. During the show we played games that got the campers up and talking! Here is a game kind of like rock, paper, scissors…

Since the camp was somewhat small, each person was noticed.  We became almost like a big family toward the end of the week.  Some would go running together every morning.  Before bed we would gather outside in the cool of the night and jump rope or visit.  But the thing I really treasured was how, each morning, we would spread out around the whole camp site to spend some personal time with the Lord.  Before breakfast there was always a hush over the yard as God’s children sat with Him.

I was sitting on my bench, the place I always go, where the sun shines through the trees onto my face and usually no one notices me.  But this morning one of our students was returning from his morning run and wanted to talk.  He had caught me reading Romans and so I began telling him what I was reading about.  He was engaged in the conversation and seemed like he wanted to know more.  I encouraged him to read the Bible and ask God to make Himself known.  Later I heard from another missionary that this student noticed how so many of us read our Bibles every day.  He asked he if she reads her’s every day too.  🙂  I just love how God works!  Where else would this man get to live life with Christians for a week and see who our God is through how we live and how He works in our lives?

Please pray that God will send another team next year to teach English!  And pray that God will use this ministry to spread His good news and bring Him Glory!  

Youth Camp Star Wars style

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Some people are very happy about walking around with their team in a cardboard spaceship, and some people… not so much.

IMG_2050I was that mean Jedi that worked on a team of other nicer Jedi’s, forcing team bonding by confining 8 to 11 people to one small “spaceship”.  the Jedi’s were the quest creators for our campers at youth camp this year.  Every morning the campers flew out of camp in search of resources on their planets to trade for other resources on other planets.  But the galaxy is a dangerous place!

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The second day of camp a war broke out and the campers had to start looking out for storm troopers who would attack their ship, destroying its protective covering.  In the afternoon the campers flew around in their ships working together to complete challenges as they sought the whereabouts of the New Planet.

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They completed tasks such as untangling human knots and searching for evidence under a cosmic blanket while not falling off into the abyss.  They worked so hard to find the new plant where mars bars grow on trees and Pepsi grows up from the ground like a bush, but they needed the secret weapon to defeat evil and enter the wonderful planet.  

Finally they broke the code and used the two edged sword to quench the watery darts of the enemy.  Victory!

I praise God for all the answered prayer during these very busy few weeks.  The Lord made Himself clear to me one day when it was raining.  Cardboard in the rain is not a great combination and I prayed that, if it was God’s will, He would keep the rain away during the quest.  And He was very exact.  The quest time came and the rain stopped.  As soon as the quest was finished the heavens opened up!  I was surprised to realize God cared about our quest!  It was something I had put hours and hours into and it meant so much to me and then to see that it was blessed by God… it was a huge encouragement.  God uses even the strangest tasks (like pinning candy wrappers to trees) for His glory when we serve as to the Lord and not to men.

A time to plant

As I was busy organizing games for the carnival and typing out songs for evening services I was disappointed how little time I had to visit with campers.  I reminded myself that my busyness was providing the families with opportunities to relax, study the Word and enjoy time together as a family.  And I was running the daycare program so each morning I got to love on the youngest kids group and work with one of our youth as she taught a little lesson.  Sometimes I think that I brush off time with children as just fun and refreshing for me, but it is an investment and counts for something when done by the will of God in the power of God.  Praise Jesus that serving Him does not wear me out completely but gives me new life.

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Singing with the children before we split into groups for Bible study.

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The last day of camp is carnival day.  At each carnival game families earn tickets and then come and buy prizes with their tickets.

New Experiences Together

There was a line of cars in front of our church building as the sun began to spread its light.  Almost thirty young people from my church were headed to a youth conference in a city three hours away.  After a few pit stops for car repairs and other necessary things we arrived in Veronedj.  The day was filled with good fellowship, insightful messages and encouraging music but my favorite part of the trip was yet to come.  We stayed the night with families from the church and returned the next day to be part of the Sunday morning worship service.  Hi up in the choir loft our choir took part in the service through song.  It was the first Sunday of the month so we were celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

They prayed for the bread and then made the long trek up to the choir loft to distribute it to the choir first.  With the way we were standing, it happened that I was the first person in the whole church of a few thousand people to be offered the bread.  When I looked at the plate I was shocked and horrified!  The pieces of bread were as big as my fist!  I quickly searched for the smallest piece, to no avail, and bravely took a chunk.  The Lord’s Supper is such a beautiful time of reflection of Christ’s sacrifice and giving of thanks for what He has done.  A few seconds into my time of prayer and reflection I got the memo that we will be singing as the ushers continue to pass out the bread to others!  I began to stuff the mountain of bread down my throat but it was already too late!  The music had begun.  Still having half the piece of bread in my hand I frantically looked around and saw my friend behind me squeeze her left over piece into the palm of her hand, hiding the evidence.  I quickly followed suit, picked up my choir folder and hid my hand behind the music.  Latter, I heard from other choir members their reactions to the massive pieces of bread.  one of our tenors did not realize we were going to sing during the Lord’s Supper so was peacefully taking his time praying when he heard the accompaniment track to our song come on.  He opened his eyes to see our director posed and ready to begin.  What would you do in this situation?  In a split second my friend stuffed the whole piece in his mouth and sang the whole song with his cheeks full of bread!  During the prayer for the wine I managed to inhale the remainder of my bread. Someone leaned over and whispered, “Know let’s see if they bring us all individual liters of wine to drink!”  This, thankfully, was not the case.

That night as our caravan made its way back to Tambov we reflected on everyone’s experiences from the weekend.  But we just kept coming back to how big the pieces of bread were!  While we were pulled over, during one of our car repair stops, people got out of their cars to visit with each other.  One woman who was traveling with us, had not been in church with us that morning because she was visiting her friend’s church.  She shared how that morning they had taken the Lord’s Supper and the pieces of bread were so huge.  BUT, she asked the usher if she could just break off a little piece, and he replied, “Actually that’s what you are supposed to do.”  The people in my car fell silent out of horror and then burst into laughter!  OOPS!

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Also in Veronedj we were given New Testaments and went to give them to people who would want them.  I got to see many of my young friends who are just starting on their walk with God be bold and engage strangers in conversation.  This is a picture of us singing in the park after we had given out the Bibles.