Monday, May 30, 2011

The hardest part

The most difficult thing for me is being back here knowing that half of the kids we met will soon "graduate" from the orphanage and move into a high risk category.

40% become drug users

40% commit crimes

It is estimated that half the girls become prostitutes

10% commit suicide

Please join us in praying for these children and for how Two Hearts can support the older children who are all but forgotten by their country.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 7 and 8

It has been a very emotional few days as we finished up our visits with the kids and said goodbye. There is so much to reflect on but finding the words right now is difficult.

The Lord certainly made way for some great opportunities here. We have been blessed with a church that is ready to support us, friends to "work" for us and an orphanage director who is very welcoming. We definitely look forward to what He has in store for Two Hearts and these children.

Today we leave the region and head back to St. Petersburg. Please keep us in your prayers as we head back home.

Since words escape me I will leave you with some pictures:


Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 5 and 6


Nanette and I went to church this morning. What a wonderful group of believers. They welcomed us with open arms and were very interested in our "stories." We were asked to speak for a few minutes so we (well really Nanette) explained our purpose and very gracefully thanked the church for all the support they have been providing us since our arrival.

After the service we spoke with the Pastor who has such a heart for orphans. He expressed his desire to have a longterm partnership with us so we can serve from America and Russia. We look forward to all God has in store for us as we work together to minister to the orphans.

After church we had a nice dinner with friends and then I went to the orphanage at night. The orphanage building has a public park next to it and it takes all of 30 seconds for the children to see a visitor. Julia and I were bombarded by kids again. It is such a great feeling to know that we are bringing happiness to their lives, even if only for a week.

We played games and drew pictures with sidewalk chalk until it was time for the kids to go inside for the night. It really was a fantastic day!


When we had our first meeting with the orphanage director we asked her what we might be able to purchase for the kids while we were here with the extra donation money we received. She asked for summer toys, specifically 2 bikes. She explained that since the public park is shared with the city children, her kids will come up to her and ask why they can't have bikes too. They see the city children riding and wonder why they won't share.

Today we went shopping and were able to purchase:

2 bikes
2 scooters
2 soccer balls
4 big bouncy balls
3 jump ropes

This is in addition to the toothbrushes, toothpaste, sidewalk chalk, flip flops, hair ties, misc hygiene products and frisbees we took with us. All the donations were brought from home were well received. She explained that toothbrushes and toothpaste are always needed because they always run out.

The director was overwhelmed with happiness. It was easy to tell that she was very excited and touched by the donations we, through the support of our great donators, gave. We ALL thank you!

The kids we visited today were full of questions for us. Some of my favorites were "Do you believe in God?" "What kind of money do you have?" and "Is Santa Claus real?" It's so much fun to be able to answer there questions and watch the intrigue in their eyes.

2 more days left and I don't want it to end!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 4

Today was very exhausting day. We arrived at the orphanage around 3 pm and visited with 5 groups of children. The children all knew we were coming and that we had gifts. Most of the kids were quietly sitting when we walked in their "apartment" with expectant looks on their faces.

We spent about a half hour in each room. Some of the kids were very interested in us, some were not. One of the hardest things for me to watch is the "pecking order" in the groups. A few times today I witnessed the older kids picking on the little ones and it drives the mom in me crazy. My instincts tell me to step in for the little ones and it is very hard to stay quiet, but I do.

This boy standing up was caring and kind to the other kids in his group. He waited until every child had a bear and then he chose. He is 16 and is part of the "Children's Committee" that watches out for the other kids. He is a very talented woodworker. Pray for him.

These kids were the most interested in us. They were very animated and asked many questions about us and America. They were very polite and asked us to come back soon. Pray for them.

This little boy was FASCINATED with my camera. He was amazed that he could look into and then see his picture. Pray for him.

These boys wanted us to watch them dig a river in the sand. Pray for them.

After we finished our visit in the first building we walked over to the second housing building to await our driver. As soon as we walked onto the playground the children came racing over to see us. We played a quick game of "duck duck goose" with about 15 kids, ages 10-18. Unfortunately we do not have any pictures of that. It was hysterical to watch the kids figure out that their best chance of winning was to tap either Nanette, Julia or I and race us.

When the game was over my camera became a big hit. The kids asked us to take their pictures over and over again. Quickly our following grew to 20 children. Some wanted to practice their English and some wanted to ask us about America. We received many hugs and I was kissed a few times by a very cute admirer.

Some of the kids saying goodbye. Pray for them.

We will be back to visit on Monday.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 3

Today Nanette and I had a great visit at the Children's Home. We met with the Director first and then spent time visiting with 3 groups of children. The Director is very kind and genuinely seems to care for the children. In fact, most of the people we met were very loving towards the kids. Having been around a few orphanages, I can tell the caretakers were proud of their kids. Each one took time to come over and tell us all about each child we met; their likes and dislikes and what they excelled in.

The children at this particular children's home do not get many visitors. We were told there have only been 2 international adoptions done in 2-3 years. When we asked why, the director said "well, no one wants the older kids, do they."

During our time with the groups we played and answered many questions. They all wanted to see pictures of our kids and life back home. We took out our iPhone and iPad, thank goodness for Apple!

Tomorrow we go back to visit with a few more groups and Monday we will meet with the director again to discuss our long term goals.

Kim getting a lesson in hockey.

ALL the kids loved their beanie babies. Even the older boys were happy to have one.

Nanette showing off her kids on the iPad.

This little girl LOVED having women around. She commented on our clothes a lot and wanted her picture taken over and over again.

Pictures of the "apartments":

"Learn to do good, seek justice, rebuke the oppressor,defend the fatherless, plead for the widow." Isaiah 17


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 1 and 2~Russia

Nanette and I arrived in St. Petersburg yesterday afternoon around 4 pm.
From the airport we were taken to The Harbor where we spent the night and part of the day Thursday.

The Harbor ( a transitional home for orphans that have aged out of Russian institutions and are facing life on the streets. The young men and women at these residential facilities are given practical experience in managing their lives.

Orphans are never taught how to live on their own and have always had everything done for them. They are not taught life skills like paying a bill, personal hygiene, house work, even how to make a meal.

At The Harbor, counselors work with the young adults to "develop them in such a way that they are anchored in life and launched into a sustainable future." Each resident is given counseling in practical, spiritual, vocational, emotional, and educational areas.

There are 4 girls currently living at the home we visited. They were very excited to meet us and prepared a great meal for us. It was wonderful to watch the girls take pride in every aspect of the meal; preparation, setup and cleanup.

Sitting-three of the girls and Kim. Standing Julia (our translator) and Nanette

The Harbor was started by Alex Krutov, a "former" Russian orphan and Melinda Cathey, an American woman. We were excited to learn that both Alex and Melinda were in St Pete's and would be stopping over to chat with us. We spent a long time getting to know more about The Harbor, adoption and ministry in Russia.

Alex's story is simply amazing and a true testament to God's heart for us all. You can read all about it in his book "Infinitely More" - I suggest you do.

Nanette, Alex and Kim

Speaking with Alex was certainly a blessing from God and gave us much to think about as we head to the region in a few hours and meet with the orphanage staff we hope to partner with.

Please continue to pray for our trip and that our hearts and minds are opened to Gods plan.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Off we go

It really amazes me to look back on all the ways God worked on behalf of Two Hearts to get us on the plane to Russia.

He has been so incredibly faithful to us over the years. We are blessed to be able to spend our lives living out James 1:27.

We LOVE because we are loved.
We ADOPT because we are adopted.
We give HOPE because that is what we have in Christ.

Please join us in prayer over the next 10 days. Pray for our safe travels, our time in Russia, and the orphans we will be loving on.

Pray that we have clear eyes to see Gods plan for us. Pray that we are welcomed into the orphanages we hope to help in the future.

Father God we thank you for this amazing opportunity to be in Russia!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

An Orphan's Hope 5K

Registration for our 2nd annual 5k is now open! Please join us on October 22, 2011 in Nashville TN to run or walk for HOPE!

Details can be found here - An Orphan's Hope 5k!

Early registration ends August 1st, don't delay!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

200 beanies ready to go!

It was simply amazing to watch the donations pour in for our trip to Russia! We are so very thankful to everyone who has supported us! We were able to raise the money needed to purchase each orphan a small beanie baby and whatever else may be needed once we arrive in Russia.

Thank you to the following families for supporting Mission Russia: (for a complete list, please see the previous post)

Madison and Maverick Stone
Lanetta Gobble
Dana Parisi
Kelly Bhagat
Lindsay Conway
Kimberly Strieby
Kristen Deyo
Lori Anderson-Printy
Karen Kady-McCarthy
Monte Lockwood
Jessica Hodge
Kristina Prutch
Karen Floyd
Kelly Sandaris
John and Debbie Edwards

And a special thank you to Mary and Hannah McNab, Julie Rolfes and Dianna Combs for sending Beanie Babies!