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Russian commentary no empathy, no truth

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Mission Network News has learned that there is a growing conflict between Russian evangelical Christians and Ukrainian evangelical Christians. The accusations between the two sides are astounding. 

On March 9, Dr. William Yoder (no relationship to me, that I know of) wrote an article and commentary about the schism between the two. Unfortunately, he sided with the Russian pro-Putin church. 

I’ve decided to give equal time to Ukrainian evangelical church who are in the cross-hairs of Yoder. Here is the response to Yoder’s accusations. 

Ukrainian Christians believe some Russian Christians are aligning themselves with pro-Putin radicals in Russia. Russian Christians are accusing Ukrainian Christians be being ultra-nationalist revolutionaries. Dr. William Yoder, representing the interests of the Russian Baptist Union, came to the defense of Russian policy regarding Ukraine.

In his mailing on March 18th, 2014 he criticized the Ukrainian Maidan protesters and their defenders for not being democratic enough, and not waiting for the next elections, but instead seizing power and provoking the secession of the Crimea.

Additionally, Yoder compares Ukraine’s claims to the Crimea to a former spouse, who was never actually legally married, but after splitting up claims a right to the other’s belongings. Crimea was given away by Khruschev illegally in 1954, therefore no one owes Ukraine anything.

 

Justifying Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, Yoder criticizes Ukrainian church leaders who have come to the defense of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of their country. He corrects of the vice president of the Ukrainian Baptist Union, Valery Antonyuk, and states that Kiev Protestants have no right to talk about their country’s integrity because the eastern part of the country wants to be part of Russia.

 

He also commented on the “illegal” interim government of Ukraine and acting president Oleksandr Turchynov, a Baptist, who is supposedly hurting the reputation of Baptists in Russia. William Yoder defends Yanukovych’s regime from accusations of cruelty by saying, “Was Yanukovich’s administration more despicable than Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge?” It seems that all regimes any less despicable than the Khmer Rouge must be acknowledged as fully democratic.

 

But the height of cynicism from Yoder’s side was his criticism of a Christian organization for supporting the family of Alexander Khropachenko, who was killed by a sniper on the Maidan. Yoder believes that this is evidence of one-sided sympathies. Yoder suggests equal assistance for the families of police who lost their lives (who killed over 100 Maidan activists and injured hundreds more), in order to show a non-partisan and peacemaking front. And because some of the ministry’s leaders took a clear stand on the side of the unarmed protesters instead of the armed killers, Yoder accused them of criticism of Russia and anti-Russian viewpoints. However there is a distinction between disagreement between Russia’s policy, which is natural for the civilized world, and truly unacceptable Russophobia.

 

The commentary of Dr. William Yoder is a mix of naïve faith in the authority of Russia, loyalty to his employers, and lack of understanding in the sphere of politics, history, and culture. You cannot talk about peacemaking while avoiding the truth and failing to distinguish between the aggressor and the victim, right and wrong. Peace can only be achieved after truth – acknowledgement of and repentance from crimes committed. Therefore the comments of William Yoder should have begun with an acknowledgement of the obvious fact of Russian intervention, without which everything written is a manipulation of facts. But what is even more noticeable and sad is his lack of empathy and sympathy for the tragic events in Ukraine. It is a bad sign – without empathy you cannot hope to come to the truth, let alone achieve peace.

 

M. Kuznetsov

Ukraine In Crisis

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Ukraine (MNN) — I have been watching with dismay the situation in Ukraine. The ouster of the government, now the Russian troops that have invaded Crimea, and now an illegal referendum vote, have left the region in chaos. This is Ukraine in crisis.

(Image courtesy Sergey Rakhuba via Facebook)

(Image courtesy Sergey Rakhuba via Facebook)

It reminds me a little of the Cold War days when the Soviet Union would do things that were only in their interests, not the interests of the people. This situation, though, could have serious repercussions for the world both politically and spiritually. How?

Let’s talk about the political side first. Ukraine is wrestling with a new government that has basically divided the country. The pro-Ukrainian side appears to outnumber the pro-Russia side. Unfortunately that divide could  cause the country to lose a portion of a treasured region, Crimea. This pro-Russian mindset may be the spark of sussession. Ukraine is mobilizing troops to try and defend its sovereignty, but they don’t stand a chance.

That leads to other questions. If Ukraine attempts to defend itself, will it ask for help from the United States and he European Union? If those nations respond, will China get involved? If the United States assists Ukraine, what will that mean for the future of USA/Russian relations?

If the United States and the EU are asked to help and they don’t, what kind of message are we sending to the rest of the world? Is it a sign of weakness? Is is a sign of disinterest? Will Ukraine ultimately fall into Russian hands, creating another Soviet-like state? If the U.S. doesn’t respond, will this be the end of U.S. Influence in the region? Will Russia continue it’s invasion into Ukraine, eventually taking over the entire country?

On the spiritual side, the crisis in Ukraine is creating an uncertainty that this generation in Ukraine hasn’t seen before. Openness to the Gospel has never been better. Russia has a similar openness, which I witnessed while I was in Russia this past week.

Will the strained relations between Russia and the U.S. prevent American Christians from being able to go to Russia to help people understand the Gospel? Will short-term mission trips to socially needy parts of the country end?

These are all questions that have no answers, yet. Because there are so many questions we MUST pray. Don’t just pray for the country, pray specifically for the following:
1. Pray that Russia will leave Crimea and that peace would be restored to a sovereign nation.
2. Pray the newly appointed Ukrainian government will be given wisdom from God to be able to handle this difficult situation.
3. Pray that God would use this uncertainty to help Christians share the certainty that can only come though the Gospel.
4. Pray that the EU and the USA would be used by God to help the situation end it peace.
5. Pray each nation’s leadership would be given divine inspiration on what they should do.
6. Pray that God would use this crisis to lead entire cities and communities to Christ.
7. Pray that planned ministries would be allowed to move forward despite the uncertainty.
While these are the requests of men, pray that these requests are also the desires of our Might And Holy God.

Mission Network News will continue to cover the unfolding situation in Ukraine, including the Crimean Penninsula.

Final days in Russia

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Men watching the Russian hockey game in the Fun Zone tent.

Men watching the Russian hockey game in the Fun Zone tent.

Sochi, Russia (MNN) — The final day of ministry in Sochi, Russia wasn’t very nice. A cold rain fell on the Fun Zone all afternoon. It kept many of the usual visitors away, however it wasn’t a complete wash-out. There was both ministry, excitement and concern.

The day started with our friends from Russian Ministries and The Gideon’s International of Canada joining local and national Christians, volunteers from SOAR International in the United States for ministry at the Fun Zone.

Flashmob at the concert. Singer on big screen. Flashmob in front. They kept cutting to the group during the concert.

Flashmob at the concert. Singer on big screen. Flashmob in front. They kept cutting to the group during the concert.

Face painting, balloons animals, and crafts were all moved inside the ministry tent on the church grounds. The other activities were moved into the back annex of the church. Practice for the flash mob, also was moved inside. Oh, I didn’t tell you about the flash mob.

All week long volunteers from Russia and the United States worked on a flash mob that was to erupt during at concert Tuesday night. They worked very hard. A Christian singer was having a concert during the Olympics. When she got to the song of choice, the flash mob was supposed to start their choreography. Even though it was a rainy evening it went well.

Rahim was arrested as he handed out Scripture during a flash mob at a concert.

Rahim was arrested as he handed out Scripture during a flash mob at a concert.

One of the local Christians decided that would be a good opportunity and risk handing out Bibles. He was arrested and later released. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to interview him before we left because we left Wednesday morning. According to our friends at SOAR International, the man was arrested and released. SOAR reports, “Rahim risked it and started to give away New Testaments at during the flashmob. You can’t really do it outside of church territory. He got arrested. Now back and smiling again.”

Pray for the church in Sochi. One of the churches there is facing pressure from the governement. The government wants to reclaim the church property and sell it. The church is located on prime real estate. They city would make a lot of money from its sale. The pastor of the church is working with authorities to try and work out an agreement. If it isn’t overturned, the church will lose it’s home and the community will lose a neighbor who’s investing in their lives helping with marriages, teen problems and the Gospel.

SOAR's Richard Page (left) with MNN's Greg Yoder (left) in front of the church hostel in Sochi, Russia.

SOAR’s Richard Page (left) with MNN’s Greg Yoder (left) in front of the church hostel in Sochi, Russia.

Before leaving Sochi, I interviewed the president of SOAR International Richard Page. We talked about the project, ministry, and the future of SOAR’s involvement in Sochi. You can read the story here: http://www.mnnonline.org/news/olympic-ministry-moves-forward-despite-higher-costs/. Page tells us that the cost for doing this ministry was much more than anticipated. They failed to accurately predict the inflationary prices created by the Olympics hysteria. Food, water, everything went up because of the Winter Olympics.

Today, we’re spending our final day in Russia in St. Petersburg. The team will be spending the day see the highlights of the city. I will be visiting a little girl that I met in 2004, Sveta. She’s now 13 years old. She can’t be adopted because of some family issues. Pray for her. She’s one of those children, in the proper environment, could really thrive. I don’t know where she is spiritually, but she’s a loving little girls with a servants heart.

Russian fans watching the USA vs Russia hockey game in the Fun Zone (photo by Greg Yoder).

Fun zone unity is infectious

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Olympic Park - Sochi, Russia (photo by Greg Yoder).

Olympic Park – Sochi, Russia (photo by Greg Yoder).

Russia (MNN) — We only have one day left in Sochi, Russia and the church Fun Zone. I wasn’t able to update this blog until this morning, so let me give you an update over the last three days.

On Saturday, a few of us traveled to Olympic Park to watch an Olympic event. Curling. The trip to Olympic Park is great. It’s a brand new electric train. It’s free to help get spectators to and from events. As you get closer and closer to the events, the excitement grows. By the time you arrive on the 30 minute journey, you’re ready to almost run to where you’re going. Except, you don’t realize how FAR you have to walk. It’s a haul. It’s got to be over a mile.

Vicki Adams Curler for Great Britain (photo by: Greg Yoder).

Vicki Adams Curler for Great Britain (photo by: Greg Yoder).

We walked to the IceHouse, the home of the Curling event. We thought the USA was playing in the three team event, but they weren’t. But, it was a great time. We sat next to Gordon and Kate Adams, the parents of Vicki Adams, a team member of team Great Britain’s Curling team. We didn’t know any of the rules or strategy surrounding the game. The Adam’s were very gracious in explaining them and event encouraged us to cheer for her daughter. The Great Britain team won on the final stone. It was actually exciting, especially as we watched the parents get nervous for their daughter.

We spent a little more time in Olympic Park. The areas features the ‘Fun Houses’ of Switzerland, Russia, Canada, United States and more (I’m sure). But, unfortunately an invitation is required for the most of the Fun Houses. It was a little disappointing. Coke had and exposition and so did Korea, the host of the 2018 Winter Games. I’ll tell you about that later.

Russian fans watching the USA vs Russia hockey game in the Fun Zone (photo by Greg Yoder).

Russian fans watching the USA vs Russia hockey game in the Fun Zone (photo by Greg Yoder).

Following our time in Olympic Park we traveled back to the Fun Zone. Why in the evening? It was the USA vs Russia hockey game. It was a fun rivalry. The Russians were talking ‘smack’ with us. We were gracious (most of us were). One person wanted to bet 100 rubles. I told him it’s not that important, besides he would lose. So, we shook on it and watched the game together. It was a back and forth contest that could have gone either way. But, the Americans prevailed. The whole Russian crowd was disappointed. However, we waved our American flags very proudly.

Germany vs Finland in women's hockey (photo by Greg Yoder).

Germany vs Finland in women’s hockey (photo by Greg Yoder).

On Sunday, Feburary 16th a number of us had tickets to the Germany vs Finland women’s hockey game. I must tell you that we were looking more forward to being able to walk through Olympic Park, rather than watching women’s hockey. After watching so much men’s hockey, I think I’m spoiled. While we watched closely, the speed of the game is much slower and the skill is much less than the men. It was fun to be a part of the Olympics event, but the level of hockey wasn’t really there for me. Finland won 2-1.

Greg's Coke endorsement with the Olympic torch.

Greg’s Coke endorsement with the Olympic torch.

We spent almost all day in Olympic Park. We knew that would probably be the last day our team would be able to soak it all in. So, we went to Korea’s Fan House. There, they showed us the dream for the Olympics of 2018. Hopefully they’ll be able to get everything done in time, unlike Sochi. After that, we stood in line for the Coke experience. It was two huge blow-up buildings. It was basically a coke informercial, which culminated with a free bottle of coke in a special commemorative aluminum bottle.

Following that, we traveled back for dinner at the hostel.

Russian Ministries' Wally Kulakoff with SOAR International's Richard Page at the Fun Zone in Sochi (photo by Greg Yoder).

Russian Ministries’ Wally Kulakoff with SOAR International’s Richard Page at the Fun Zone in Sochi (photo by Greg Yoder).

On Monday, it was a time of ministry. I spent most of my morning writing, waiting to see my friends at Russian Ministries. They were to arrive at the Fun Zone when it opened at 3:00 pm. I arrived just prior to the opening, but the bus ride to the church was interesting.

Our group of four got on the bus. About four stops in the four people got on the bus. They were speaking broken English. One of them looked around the bus and spotted me, an obvious American. He sat next to me on the bus and started talking to me in Russian. I couldn’t understand him very well, so I told him so. Then he acted like he couldn’t understand me (in English). He asked me where I was from — specifically. When I asked him he said, “Chechnya — Grozny.” That made me a little nervous. But, what happened after that REALLY made me nervous. All four of the people got their Ipads, Iphones and other electronics out and started acting very aggressively. Unbeknownst to each other, we were all feeling VERY uncomfortable. So, our Russian translator said, “Let’s go.” It wasn’t our stop, but we all got up and got off the bus a few stops early. As we got off, we all said, “That just didn’t feel right.”  After we got off the bus and made it to the Fun Zone, we were pulled aside by our hosts that the secret police informed them that a high terror alert was issued. We felt good that we listened to our instincts.

We walked a few blocks to the Fun Zone. That’s when I discovered Russian Ministries had

Russian Ministries Team Gennady Tarkun and Pavel Tokachuk (photo by Greg Yoder).

Russian Ministries Team Gennady Tarkun and Pavel Tokachuk (photo by Greg Yoder).

arrived. It was great seeing old friends: Pavel Tokarchuk, Gennady Torkun, and Wally Kulakoff. Russia Ministries provided the printed materials for the Fun Zone: Bilingual New Testaments and Gospels of John and a little magazine called “Hope.”

Many people attended the Fun Zone Sunday. In an interview with Wally Kulakoff, he told us about their 11 city marathon, sharing the Gospel in 11 cities during the Olympics. This was one of their stops. I’ll tell you more about that in our special report Wednesday.

It has been a wonderful experience being here in Sochi for the Olympics. Keep praying. SOAR International Ministries is helping to support the ministry. They still have a week to go and they need funding to help keep it going. Because of the excitement and popularity of the Fun Zone, they’re running a little over-budget. Could you help support them?  Go here: http://www.SOARinternational.org.

Sochi is not the picture shown on TV

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Taking the train to the Mountain Cluster events at Sochi.

Taking the train to the Mountain Cluster events at Sochi.

Sochi, Russia (MNN) — Day one is under my belt and the Winter Olympics are so different than what you are seeing on television. While the beautiful picture you’re seeing on television is beautiful. The snow, which is beautiful where there IS snow, but there IS not snow in much of Sochi.

Thursday, February 13 I started off on the train. Richard, Anya, John, and I traveled to what’s called the mountain cluster, where the ski events and bobsled competition are taking place.The rest of the team went to the City Center ‘Fun Zone’ to actually work with the kids and adult visiting the center.

The mountains around the Mountain Cluster at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The mountains around the Mountain Cluster at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Yesterday in the mountains, it was 60 degrees. It was amazingly warm. As long as the sun was out, we were warm. But, as soon as the sun fell behind the clouds or the mountains, it got chilly — but not cold.

In the morning, we spent most of the time just taking in the atmosphere. Since the ‘Fun Zone’ didn’t open until 3, we were able to take video, conduct interviews with church members and spent some time being the subject of interviews from CBS News and Russian TV.

We were eating lunch at McDonalds, we were approached by a Russian translator from CBS News. She said they were looking for Americans, but they were hard to find. It was probably because the U.S. media did such a good job scaring away the American public. At any rate, they asked if we would be willing to answer some questions. We agreed. It was fun. We were asked about everything from why we were there, what sports we enjoy (my response was hockey), and why we were there. John told them he love curling. He was so animated. He’s probably going to be on TV.

Teen girls enjoy the fun zone in the mountain cluster.

Teen girls enjoy the fun zone in the mountain cluster.

After our time there, we went to the fun zone. It was a small place connected to the local church. But local kids were very involved in it. They had a trampoline, a blow-up room, and lots of games and interaction with adults. It was a great opportunity to have fun with the kids.

Since this is a battle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness, I found out that our producer (who was filling in for me while I’m in Russia) got the flu. So, I had to head back to City Center to anchor our news broadcast. But, before that I was able to do an interview with Richard Page, John Rysdyck, and other members of the team about what they were going at the ‘Fun Zones.’ That became the story for Mission Network News.

Friday, the whole team is heading to the City Center ‘Fun Zone’ to spend time with visitors both children and adults. Saturday, I’ll be heading to an actual event. CURLING. Unfortunately, I was able to attend my event Thursday because of the emergency at work, but I’m looking forward to that, and watching the U.S.A. vs Russia hockey game in the City Center main screen. It’ll be fun interacting with the Russian during the game.

Pray for us! I’m battling sleep deprivation because of a snorer in our room. 🙂 Pray that I’ll avoid getting sick and that I would be able to get my work done. But, more importantly, pray that the stories I write will be the stories God will use to call His people to his service.

Mission Network News in Sochi

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While the 2014 Winter Olympics are already underway, I am waiting patiently for my flight to leave. Yes, I am leaving for the Winter Olympics on February 11 to catch up with Russian and American Christians who are working together to love those who are in Sochi. This is a grass roots ministry effort spearheaded by the Russia Inland Mission, support by SOAR International based in Alaska.

Sochi Hospitality Center.

Sochi Hospitality Center.

What’s the ministry? They have open three hospitality centers in three areas. Each center will have viewing centers, but will also provide entertainment and interaction with those who venture in. The goal is to begin relationships that open doors to eventually share Christ.

Beginning February 13, I’ll begin covering the outreach events at the centers. I’ll be interviewing local Christians,national ministry leaders, participants and maybe even athletes about their involvement. I’ll also look behind the scenes to get unique stories about God’s work at the Olympics.

I’ll be featuring stories for radio, video and here on this blog every day between February 13-19. Unfortunately I will not be there for the entire Winter Games, but I’m looking forward to rubbing shoulders with my brothers and sisters who are sharing their faith in Sochi.

 

Greg and Team to Russia

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Russia (MNN) — You’ll never know what it means for you to love a child. That statement is reverberating around in my head. I have been on many short-term mission trips. Most of them have centered around helping orphaned children. I’ve always wondered what difference it made — until now.

On June 30, 2013 I will be traveling with Orphan Outreach to document a story that’s come full-circle. It’s the story of a woman who discovered a little boy with incredible needs and simply loved him.

Greg with Svyeta

Greg with Svyeta

I don’t want to spoil the surprise because the video that we’ll be producing will give you the details of the story. But, the conclusion is that because of this woman’s love and affection for this boy, now, as a young man he understands that God is the one who orchestrated it.

The bottom line is this young man had a disability that most of his caregivers said he wouldn’t survive. It caused incredible deformity. Yet, this woman’s relentless care for him made it possible for him to get the medical attention he needed to lead a normal life (his words). Even though it took years.

Understanding that she did something special for him, he made it his purpose in his young adult life to find her and thank her for what she did for him. One year ago, he found her. This week we’ll be reuniting these two. We’ll catch it all on video so you can see it first hand.

While I’d love to give you all of the specifics, I would like them to play out naturally. As they do, I’ll pass the information along to you through this blog.

It’s all happening in the city of St. Petersburg, Russia. A city full of history. It’s also home to orphaned children who can no longer be adopted by American families. Their futures are bleak.

The second part of our coverage will focus on what happens to orphaned children when they age out of the orphanages. Who do they look to for guidance. Who helps them understand how to budget, buy groceries, pay bills, take care of their apartment, and help them make important personal decisions? Also, what role does the local church play in all this?

We’re hoping to answer all those questions and develop a tool to encourage Christians in the United States to come along side churches in Russia so they can work together to help orphaned and foster care children in both nations.

Come by my blog all week along and I try to share my heart.

Russia Team with Orphanage 60 camp

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Kids at Orphanage 60

Orphanage 60 kids at Camp

There are times when you face uncertainty. And, there are times when you wonder what God has planned. Perhaps those are one and the same. I think all of us had a little of that today as we set out to be the hands of feet of Jesus to a group of young people who live in Orphanage 60 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

However, these kids weren’t in an orphanage this week. They were at summer camp. A place they spend more of their summer, away from the busy city life. This particular camp was a former boot camp during the Soviet days of communism. We were told this camp was over 50 years old. However, many of the buildings were brand new, including a nurses station and laundry facility. They have plans to keep this camp open all year long.

However, our job was to present Jesus to them in a way they would see it, hear it, and understand it.

We started the day with breakfast in the hotel like we always do. Then, the 29 of us got on a bus and headed about 90 minutes out of town to this camp. Unfortunately, the trip had a few surprises. First, there are a few people in our group who get car sick. Secondly, there are some people in our group who weren’t feeling real well and had to answer nature’s call in the middle of no-where. However, those were the only hitches.

We arrived at the camp mid-morning. We were informed most of the boys were away at a soccer tournament. That was a little disappointing

Katya throwing football

because we have four men in our group, all of whom wanted to show interest in these young men, something they don’t get a lot of. We also wanted to hold a basketball clinic. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much interest for that. So, instead, we just starting playing. We through American footballs, kicked the soccer ball, hit the volleyball around, and just ran and played.

Then, the teen group of our team took over. We split the kids up into groups. The first group played games, the second did tie-dye t-shirts, and the last group did a circle of trust. You get in a circle, blind-fold someone, and ask them to cross the circle with the guidance of someone telling you where the obstacles are located. These obstacles were sins written on paper and placed on the ground within the circle. The first time it kind of easy. Then you have people MOVING the obstacles as you try to cross the circle. Then, you have a friend help point you the way. It’s a picture of God using His Word to guide us.

After that, we had lunch at the camp. It was good. Soup, chicken, and potatoes.

Tie dye shirt making

After lunch we played volleyball, made duct tape wallets and roses, gave the girls make-overs and ended the time with a skit which in mime form, addressed certain social issues facing many of these teens. It was presented in a compelling way that helped them understand they need Jesus. While I don’t believe Jesus has any difficulty saving us, I do believe when we struggle in our sin it appears to US the Jesus struggles to take us under His wing. The reality is, we have our idols that prevent us from having a relationship with Him.

The teens watched intently to the drama. Following that, Anna gave her testimony about the struggles she has in her life. I followed up by asking the question? If you follow God, are you afraid you’ll lose your freedom? Then I pointed out they’re not really free at all because they’re trapped in their sin. They can’t escape it without Christ. They can try, but they’re slave to their sin and only Jesus’ death on the cross for evil people can rescue them. It’s His work ALONE on the cross saves us.

I think they heard. I’m praying seeds were planted and much fruit will come from them.

Tomorrow, we leave St. Petersburg and head to the Gulf of Finland for more ministry at orphan camps outside St. Petersburg.

Monday Wrap-up Video – Click here for Monday’s wrap-up video.

Russia Skit Team – click here for the skit video.

Chick pox hits hospital, disappointment

By | missions, MNN, news, special reports, travel | One Comment

It was the first day of actually ‘doing’ something with the kids. Everyone was anticipating a great afternoon. However, like almost ALL mission

Laura and Bethany listen

Team members Laura and Bethany listen to the bad news.

trips, things don’t always go as planned.

We got up and ate breakfast at the hotel. It was a buffet. So, everyone got what they wanted. I ate pancakes, hard boiled egg (because the scrabbled ones looked really runny), meat and orange juice. I added a cup of coffee, too.

Following that, we left for our first sight seeing trip to The Hermitage. We only spent about 2 hours there. We saw painting after painting. Everyone was very much interested. However, despite our jet lag all of us seemed to be anticipating the afternoon of spending time with the kids.

Hospital 15

The intake hospital called, number 15 in St. Petersburg.

We ate lunch at 1:30. Once completed we traveled the 20 minutes or so to Number 15, the intake hospital. Which isn’t a hospital at all, actually.

Number 15 is the first place the children go after they have been taken by the state. These children are found on the streets, taken away by protective services, abandoned by the parents, or actually orphaned in the truest sense.

Once in #15, as it’s affectionately called, the children are assessed, tested and determined a plan of action. They can be sent to an orphanage, reunited with a family member, or foster care is an option — but only a small option as it’s not very popular in Russia.

However, when we arrived we were told the third floor was quarantined because of chicken pox. Because we have a doctor and several nurses on the team, they check with infectious disease specialists who highly encouraged us NOT to go in and visit with the children. Why? Well, it’s highly contagious. If somebody hadn’t had chicken pox they could get it, carry it with them all week spreading it to all the other kids we came in contact with, then when they returned home, ‘surprise!!’

So, rather than run the risk, we decided NOT to go inside, but pray for the kids instead. It was very disappointing, but the right decision. So, we

Russia team members pray

Russia team members pray but don't play today.

spent about a hour praying over the kids as we walked around the building.

Following that abbreviated visit, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We had a great meal. And, walked back to the hotel.

We spent the evening getting our gift and supply bags packed for the rest of the week. We also practiced our ‘play’ for the teens.

Tomorrow, we travel to Orphanage #60’s camp where we’ll spend all day with the teens. Keep praying for us.

Watch our first video here. Russia Trip 2011 – Days 1-3