Report on the Christmas Project 2006

Sharing Jesus at Christmas.

January 2007 - Ann

Wow!  What an action packed December/January Robert and I have had.  We just finished hosting 18 Americans, and one Russian national from Ekaterinburg doing a Christmas program in 2 orphanages in the city of Voronezh.  We left our home in Krasnodar on December 13th to begin to prepare for this team?s arrival and we didn?t return until January 18th.

 

Some of the kids from the Some of the kids from the "You Are Not Alone" Club, played a major role in the opening program at the orphanages.

Now, we live in Krasnodar (a 14 hour train ride to the south of Voronezh) but the Post-Orphanage Transition Center that we are overseeing is in Voronezh along with many orphanages that we have worked with in years past.  In all the years we have done ministry in the orphanages we had never done a Christmas program with an American team.  Our trips were always in the fall/spring or summer camp.

 

So, when Vicki Mullins, the new director of Orphanage Ministry in the Dallas office, approached us about bringing a team in 2006 to work with some of our kids we began to consider Christmas.  Gennadiy Petrov was instrumental in lining up places to go - orphanages that he and his team faithfully minister in, long after the Americans go home.

 

Ludmilla Kotova, the Director of the Transition Center also agreed to allow the kids in the center to be part of the ministry team.  This has been our dream all along to involve these older kids in ministry, giving them opportunities to give back.  They began to work on a drama, ?The Fourth Wise Man? that they acted out as well as sung some songs in the opening of our program.  In Russia they call the drama a ?spectacle? and it was truly spectacular.

 

In the process of preparing for this trip we discovered that during the holidays many of the orphans are allowed to go to relative?s home but that there are usually about 1/3 that have no where to go.  So . .  . we came to them!  We didn?t see huge numbers of kids but the kids that we did see were kids that wouldn?t otherwise have had anything special to do.

 

Danny prepares legs for beds for one of the orphanages, while two guys from the transition center assemble the beds in the background. Danny prepares legs for beds for one of the orphanages, while two guys from the transition center assemble the beds in the background.

For some reason Robert and I thought that being on this side of the ocean would make things ?easier? on us, Vicki and the team.  We are learning that there is nothing EASY in Russia so what started out as a small project on our part turned into more than a full time job for about 2 months.  But it was worth it.

 

Danny, a friend and member of our church back home, is a professional cabinet maker.  He started talking to Robert months earlier about raising extra money and setting up a work shop in the basement of the Transition Center.  With a lot of planning and work between the two of them and several of the transition center guys (cleaning out a very full garage so there could be a workshop) by the time the team arrived there was a functioning shop set up ready to go.

 

Anton, our brother in the Lord that we met a few years ago is a 27 year old young man who has been working in Ekaterinburg for the last couple of years doing his own orphan ministry.  Anton is an orphan himself and has a powerful witness of God?s transforming love.  He joined our team and was instrumental in the ministry not only as a great clown in the opening sessions but also working with the teens during the regular program.

 

God is ALWAYS Faithful to raise up His perfect team in His perfect timing for His perfect purposes.  This time was no exception. God is ALWAYS Faithful to raise up His perfect team in His perfect timing for His perfect purposes. This time was no exception.

The Americans arrived in Voronezh on December 31st ? THE big holiday in Russia.  This was a diverse group of people, various ages and backgrounds but they all had such sweet spirits and were such hard workers.  Several of the guys got right to work making beds for a local orphanage.  This was determined what they needed and wanted most.  The blessing for us was seeing ?our guys? from the transition center working alongside these Christian men learning a trade, being useful and just hanging with godly men.  Nothing like being covered in sawdust to encourage male bonding!

 

The rest of the team spent New Year?s Day like little worker bees ?  on one floor suitcases of goodies were lined out and crafts & games were sorted and 200 Christmas stockings were stuffed with school supplies, beanie babies, candies and treats.  On the 3rd floor of the transition center, meals were being prepared and fellowship was taking place between the team and the transition center kids.  It all truly felt like Santa?s workshop but it was the Spirit of Jesus behind it all, not Santa?s!

 

Meeting and working with our interpreters was another gift from God on this project.  In mid-autumn we were told by more than one person that we would never get enough interpreters during the holidays to work with us.  People don?t want to work on the holidays or they are too hung over to do so.  We are still unclear why we weren?t given this information last spring when we first inquired about doing a trip but who no knows?  . . . ?lost in translation? and another motivator to keep pursuing learning this language!  But God raised up a precious sister and friend in Voronezh who took the responsibility of finding, hiring and coordinating our interpreters and within 2 days she had them all.  And what a great group of folks they were.  To God be the glory!

 

There so many instances like the above where one minute we felt like we were at the Red Sea about to drown or be slaughtered, depending on which way we went and then, at the last minute (in our perspective but not God?s), He would open a way and on we would go.

 

What a privilege to bring the true message of Christmas to these kids, the interpreters, and other people we would encounter.  This country is full of New Year?s celebration and you can find Det Morosh (Father Christmas) and even our Santa Claus every where but I have yet to see a manger scene in any of the stores!  Cy Cozart, one of our team members lugged 2 over in his suitcase and what excitement we had to present them to the orphanage directors to display in their orphanages to remind the kids what Christmas is really about.  May we all continue to remember that each day of the year. 

 

He came to us!