Treasures is home again...seeds were planted.
We had a cold, warm, and wonderful time in Russia.  Our desire for snow was answered!  Did you know snow is cooooooold?  We were grateful for safe travel as we spent so much time on the roads in snow and ice.
For those who did not get our email from Russia...

We had an uneventful flight, those are the best kind. 

The day started with a visit to the home for the Street Kid Ministry of the Vine Church.  The apartment is a wonderful home for three children.  There are two young women who share their time as house parents.  The pastor who heads up this ministry was there to meet with us.  We were touched by his compassion for these lost kids. 

He shared how the youngest boy, Alosha, had told him he did not understand why they only had second hand clothes.  Why couldn't they have new clothes like the other kids.  The pastor said, "Let's pray about it."  They did.  Not knowing about Alosha's prayer, a Treasures' supporter sent a check saying, "Meet a need".  We received the check and ask God what He would have us to do with this money.  Within minutes, Vitaly's email came saying Pastor Victor shared the need for winter coats for these kids, could we help?  Pastor Victor did not know about Alosha's prayer.  We also did not know about Alosha's prayer.  We emailed right back...yes, buy them new coats and boots!  It melted our hearts as we were able to tell Alosha, God had heard his prayer and answered it by sending help from the other side of the world. 

 As we were preparing to leave for Russia, another Treasures' family gave us money and said, "You will know the need when you see it."  So, what else could we do, but take them shopping for new Spring clothes?  They had a great time picking out their NEW outfits!  

Pastor Victor and Annya came to the hotel to visit with us.  We talked about our desire to find a place for the Barskoe kids to go after they leave the orphanage.  We are hoping the Vine Church can help us start an apartment for these kids, so they will have a safe place to live and go to school.  They were very interested. 

Three years ago, one of our Treasures' friends helped Pastor Victor start a TV ministry.  He purchased video equipment, computers, etc., to make videos for Russian Christians.  A seed was planted.  Because of that seed, Pastor Victor was able to do something no one in this region can do, produce Christian programming.  He was so thrilled to tell us...TBN and CBN are giving him 2 satellites and studio quality recording equipment to broadcast Christian programming 24 hours a day, to the entire Vladimir region!!!!  This is an investment over $1,000,000 that has been provided FREE!!!!!!  Can you believe how God multiplied the seed?  Again, our vision was smaller than God's plan! 

The remainder of the day has been spent getting ready for our Easter party at Barskoe.  All our "boys" came by tonight to help put the Easter gift bags together.  AND, Max spent his time helping us get on line from our hotel small task!  Our task would be so difficult without them.  These young men are a treasure, please pray for each of them and their wives and babies:

  • VitalyAlyona and son, Cristian
  • Maxim
  • Losha &  Katya and their baby, due in June 
  • Our driver, Andre...he is not a Christian, but we are praying we will reach him one day!
Day Two
We started the morning very early, making all the purchases needed for the Easter party at Barskoe.  We were joined by Vitaly, Max, and two of the dental team kids from the Vine Church.  We traveled to a bulk food market where we purchased chain saw supplies, 300 eggs for the kids to decorate, and 50 loaves of bread.  The open market was our next stop to purchase fruit for the kids.  Each child would have a banana, apple, and pear.  Hope our dentists noticed...NO CANDY!  See, you can teach old dogs new tricks.

Director Alex only called 3 times to make sure we were coming.  The new director for the Suzdahl school district had come to meet us.  He had been a history teacher for 18 years.  We were able to share our hopes for the next year:
  1. daytime restrooms,
  2. a woodworking shop to teach the kids and a cottage industry,
  3. bee hives to teach the kids and supply them with honey,
  4. playground equipment,
  5. basketball court,
  6. a safe home for girls when they turn 16.

They have had several broken pipes this winter.  When Vitaly sent us photos of the conditions of the pipes, we talked about re-piping the orphanage.  Just so happens, that was on Alex's "desire" list.  So, when the ground thaws we will begin the new plumbing.

On to the party!  Harold wanted the kids to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...he sliced 30 loaves of bread while Vitaly peanut buttered and Stephanie jellied.  They ate like they had never had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...OH, they haven't!  Each child was given fruit and a bag of gifts, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, beautiful cross necklace, Bible bookmark, rubber stamps.

While the kids went off to class, we gave the workers the seeds and tools we brought with us.  Howard went to visit the workshop to find out what we need to get them a working shop.  Teaching the kids woodworking skills will be great opportunity.  They can also make the needed repairs around the orphanage and sell furniture to help fund the school.

The house parents were given the opportunity to ask us questions.  They had some very interesting questions.  It was a relationship builder and we hope it helped them understand us crazy Americans!

We finished just in time to travel to Dr. Sergey's home for dinner.  He could not believe all the medical supplies we had been given, thousands of dollars of supplies, instruments, and uniforms.  Each one has the opportunity to save the lives of the tiny babies he cares for.  The computer at his hospital had just broken, we were able to purchase a new one for Dr. Sergey and he would give the hospital his old one.

The day ended with a fresh dusting of snow.

Day Three

We visited the director of the Baby House.  Her husband had just passed away and we wanted to pay our respects.  We were happy to learn he was a believer.  She needed to share her loss.  It was a sweet time for all of us.

We picked up the Vine street kids and finished shopping for tennis shoes and jeans.

We returned to the hotel just in time for the dental team get-together.  The hotel gave us a room to meet...what a surprise when we saw how many teenagers came to meet us!  Pizza and cake for everyone.  The dental program began in January, teaching the kids at Barskoe to brush their teeth and use the fluoride we sent in.  Oksana, one of our translators, is teaching them self-esteem classes.  She invited the youth at the Vine Church to join her, little did she know just how many would catch the vision!  There is now a waiting list for each visit, they go 2 times a month. 

After our meal, we talked to the team about being our hands and feet to minister to the kids at BG.  We appreciate their enthusiasm and faithfulness.  The kids have all kinds of friendship ideas for their visits when the self-esteem and personal hygiene classes are over.  Then the most wonderful thing happened, they began to share what this mission has meant to them!  Isn't that just like God, you just think you are doing something for someone and YOU get the blessing.  Their depth of understanding and compassion was astounding.  God has used our relationship with the Vine church and Barskoe Gorodische to put a Russian church and Russian orphans together.

The party broke up about 10 PM and we moved our "big kids" Vitaly, Alyona, and Max up to our room.   It was a precious time, we are always moving so fast on these trips that quiet time is a treasure.  God has blessed our mission with young, bold Christian helpers.  If one day the door closes for us, they are being trained to care for our kids.

God has placed on Alyona's heart the need to teach the girls at BG who they are in the Lord.  Most of these girls never had a woman to teach them Godly principles about how to behave as a lady with dignity and modesty.  Her father is a pastor and her mother has given her the gift of core values of a Christian woman.  We encouraged her to take a bold stand in this direction on behalf of these girls.

Day Four

The snow stopped long enough for us to make the 3 hour drive to Moscow.  It was a beautiful sunny day, PTL.

We had one last shopping trip to complete.  Our translator, Losha and his wife Katya, are going to have a baby.  They have prayed many years to have a child.  In Russia, pregnancy is kept at home.  They do not have clothes available for pregnant moms.  These young men are so sensitive to our, Stephanie and Donna's, health needs, this is a small way we babushkas have been able to care for our translators (our boys) by helping their wives with maternity clothes and baby needs.  Losha needed a baby bed, so we went shopping at Ikea.  

Day Five

WE SLEPT LATE.  Oleg, our Voronezh partner, arrived to spend the afternoon with us.  We had brought computers for Anna Boys' Prison and medical supplies for Dr. Natalia.  We fellowshipped over dinner, then Oleg hurried to catch the train to Voronezh.

It was snowing when we left the restaurant, a perfect ending to a magically trip. Harold and Howard walked back to Red Square in the snow.  Did I mention, Harold is the most cold natured person around?  He suffered for Jesus so we could have a winter wonderland trip!

Every trip through customs is different.  The rules change each time, therefore, WE cannot be totally prepared.  It's in God's hands.  Once again, eyes were closed as we passed through customs entering the country.  We had 8 suitcases of medical equipment, supplies, seeds, and computers.  Howard and Donna went through the red line to declare the money we were bring in.  We had to be prepared in the event the war detained us in Russia.

The agent scanned Donna's bag, back and forth, not sure what he was seeing.  He either did not know what he was looking at, or did not care.  He stamp her passport without comment or question.  He did not even look at the scanner when Howard's bags passed through.  To God be the Glory!

On our departure, we found if you arrive before 7 AM and go directly to ticketing, customs sleeps late!  They came to their stations while we were checking in at Lufthansa's.  And this did not matter, we had nothing to declare...or not!

Looking forward to the next chapter of the odyssey,
Stephanie, Howard, Donna, and Harold