Heart notes about my time with Russian orphans

June 1 - While in the city we have been given the opportunity to volunteer at a local hospital. Children who are removed by social services from problem homes or Russia's streets are taken to this hospital. Here the children are evaluated and diagnosed medically. It is then decided whether the children will enter into something similar to foster care, go to an orphanage, or be placed in any other kind of institution that houses children.

June 2 - At the hospital, a few of the children stuck out in my mind. One of them was Anya. She was two years-old and had a sister that was with her at the hospital. Her name was Nastia, and she was nine. Anya and Nastia had only been at the hospital for a month, but she stood out to me because she clung to one of the volunteers at the hospital, Svyeta and kept calling her "mama." Over and over again. It was more than sad…I cannot put into words how it made me feel. The second time we visited the hospital, I got to hold Anya. She did the same to me, and it broke my heart. I could not look at her as I handed her back to her caretakers while she screamed and cried out "mama, mama," again. This precious baby, has had such a tough beginning that she doesn't even know who her real mother is. She was literally crying out for someone to be her mother.

One of my team members, Rachel, had an encounter with a little boy that is just as chilling, if not even more so. She said she found a group of little girls speaking sternly to a little boy that was probably nine or ten behind some bushes. The girls ran and got one of the adults in charge of the orphanage to talk to the boy, and after the incident the caretaker walked out with a syringe in her hand. The little boy, who had just come to the hospital the day before, had either been, or been trying to, shoot up drugs. There are no words.

June 16 - Perhaps the most beautiful part of last week was seeing of one of the little girls that we spent time with at the hospital at Orphanage 31. We got to see Anya. She is so sweet and remembered us from when we spent time with her at the hospital.

It was so encouraging and reassuring to know that she is in a place where she will be properly cared for because Orphanage 31 is a great and well kept orphanage from what we could see. It was a great reminder that God takes care of his children. She seemed very happy and content with her new home.

June 16 - Our time with the kids at Orphanage 14 was definitely unlike any other we have experienced so far. Before we even tried to discuss it, the children mentioned that they believed in God. This is remarkable because for the most part the general consensus about Christianity from the children has not been very positive. Culturally, Russia follows the Orthodox branch of Christianity, but due Russia's, at times very sad, history, Christianity and knowledge of Christ is often misunderstood, doubted, or merely avoided. So for a group of young children to acknowledge their belief in God was incredible. A couple of the kids even said that they recently began reading their Bible every night. Basically, the Spirit is moving in Russia, especially among some of the young kids of Orphanage 14.

The older kids were a less interested in the subject, but many of the younger ones were thirsty for more knowledge about Christ. This week a group of young boys questioned one of my team members, who, thankfully, speaks Russian, about the Bible lesson we were teaching that day. Seeds have been planted in them, and as we saw from their active participation in the Bible lesson, their seeds are sprouting. I pray that one day I will meet many of those children in Heaven.

By Sarah Welle, who served in St. Petersburg this summer through Buckner's Project Go! program. Project Go! volunteers travel all over the world and dedicate one or two months of their summer to minister to orphan children, caregivers, in-country staff, and short-term mission trip groups. Portions of this post originally appeared in Sarah's blog at http://sarahmwelle.wordpress.com/.

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