Our team witnessed a tremendous blessing today! An answer to a long prayed prayer. A house was purchased to start the Russian Christian Foster Home. The Russian Christian Foster Home is a project that has been in the works since 1999. This home was part of the original vision of The Boaz Project. Several things delayed its start. At the time, it was not legal to foster children in Russia. Additionally, the right people and property was also needed and the people of Boaz were waiting for God to provide them.
The mission of the Russian Christian Foster Home is to bring children out of the state-run orphanage and bring them into a loving Christ-centered home. It is also to model and encourage other Russians to foster or adopt. One family is designated to take in the children and the house is qualified to take in up to 9 children. The aim is to take in another child every one to two years.
The first foster daughter to enter this home was a little girl named Yana (pictured above left). Yana was born in prison after her mother was imprisoned for murdering her boyfriend. In Russia, statistics deem most orphans uneducable and likely to turn to drugs and prostitution. Yana is well on her way to proving this stigma wrong. She has been in the foster home for a year now and is thriving! She loves to go to preschool, to church, and to pray for her brother.
Our team has been incredibly blessed to witness God’s hands at work through The Boaz Project. Please pray as the Russian Christian Foster Home continues to develop. Furthermore, continue to pray for our team as we near the end of our time in the orphanage. Pray that we all continue to stay present rather than being focused on the hard task of saying goodbye. And pray that we continue to provide the children with love and encouragement.
To God be the glory!
We continued our work at the orphanage today! The kids were thrilled to see us all again. Many of them greeted us with hugs and animated shouts of excitment. All of the children were little balls of energy and they kept us on our toes throughout the day. We continued to develop deeper relationships with the kids. Our interpreters have truly been invaluable in this process; they bridge the language barrier gap between us and the children. They give us a voice. It is often easy to only concentrate on the impact we can have on the children and easy to forget about the impact that we can have on our interpreter:
“One of my favorite ministry moments today involved sharing the stories of Adam and Eve, Esther, and Jonah with a two and a half year old boy and a four year old girl. After a lesson plan went south yesterday, my partner and I reviewed our plan and were excited to try using an interactive Bible app that would use Russian audio on an iPad in combination with a simplified version of the stories shared by Emma and me through our interpreters. There is something really special about hearing God’s word in your own language. The children had a greater understanding of the stories than the day before, and they were answering questions correctly, which made us excited. However, when our interpreters started asking questions of their own we became more excited. They asked questions about Satan becoming a serpent, who Satan is in relation to God, if scriptures were really true, why Esther could not approach King Xerxes, and why God was angry at Jonah. We discussed our thoughts on these questions. The girls also asked if we were Christians and why we knew so much about Bible. It was such a joy to share with them the truths that we can glean from the scriptures and how we have joy in studying God’s word in our college courses and personal lives. Please be praying for God to bless the interactions that our team is having with both the Russian children and interpreters each day.”
Please continue to pray that we touch the lives of those whom we come into contact with. Pray that our actions and words continue to reflect God’s goodness.
To God be the glory!
We made it safely to Russia last night. This morning our team met our interpreters and headed to the orphanage to meet the little ones that we would be spending the next week with. The orphanage was situated on a block where gray was the common color. The orphanage was painted a light green color, making it brighter compared to the other buildings around it. As we entered the orphanage we could hear shrieks of laughter from the children. Some children peered around the corners to peak at us curiously and stuck their tongue out and ran away. Our team split into groups and went with our assigned age groups. The children in our group-4 and 5 year olds-were lively and rambunctious. We soon discovered both the joys and hardships of working with the orphans. The most rewarding thing was being able to bring a smile to their faces with a simple piggy back ride, sledding, or a game of duck-duck-goose. They craved attention and we were more than happy to shower it on them. But with the joys also came difficulties. Not being able to understand the children when they spoke in their native tongue was frustrating. Relying on interpreter to be our voice was a foreign feeling for most of us. Many of the children would compete for our attention because they craved it so much. A lot of the children would refer to us as “mommy.” No matter how much joy we brought these children today, we knew that it could not replace what they craved most:
“This afternoon we had the opportunity to play with the children outside in the snow. They’ve got all kinds of playground equipment that the kids can play on as long as it’s not covered in snow! I was playing on this airplane playset with a 7 year old girl, a 4 year old boy, and my interpreter, Zhenya. The 7 year old girl, Madila, was pretending to be our pilot and joyfully asks, “Where would you all like to go?” Zhenya and I suggested places such as Germany or Italy. We decided to ask the young boy where he would like to go. His response was something I was not ready for, but felt like I should have expected. I’m staring down joyfully at him, expecting him to name a city in Russia or a European country. However, he looks forward and simply says, “I want to go to mom.” I was speechless. Here I am thinking about cool European vacation spots and he is dreaming of home. When he thought of a place he wanted to go he didn’t think of a city, an attraction, or somewhere with favorable weather. He thought of a face. He thought of a person. He thought of the one place that is so easily accessible for so many of us and may be the most inaccessible for him.”
The day has finally arrived! The suitcases are packed, passports are in hand, and the excitement is high. Today at 5 p.m. our team will board a flight from Indianapolis for the first leg of our journey to Vladimir, Russia. Our team has been blessed to serve alongside the Boaz Project at two different orphanages, Vladimir Children’s Home and Seslavskoye, and a Russian Christian foster home. During our trip, we will spend one-on-one time with the children in these orphanages and we will teach them about God’s love through various lessons, crafts, and activities. In James 1:27, God calls us “to look after orphans and widows in distress.” We are so grateful that we have the opportunity to serve the ones that God holds so dear.
Our team is appreciative of both the financial and prayer support that we have received so far! Please continue to pray for our team. Pray that we will be eager to listen, love, and learn. Pray that we will humble ourselves so that we can best serve those that we will come into contact with. Please pray that our actions and words will reflect and glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you for partnering with us in prayer and support through this journey!
To God be the glory!