I can honestly say that a whole lot of my heart is on the other side of the world right now, and it will remain there for a very long time. It was a tearful goodbye, and the kids I met will forever leave a very large imprint on my life.
When we arrived in Vladimir, we jumped right in. For most of my days I was in the Russian Christian Foster Home with four preschoolers. I instantly fell in love with these four, and it was exciting for me to see how engaged they were in learning story after story of God’s everlasting love for us.
On Saturday, we had the privilege of going to a state-run orphanage. We were only there for three hours, but one thing in particular hit me. I was working with the girls who were four to eight years old. They greeted us with contagious smiles and amusement. As I sat on the floor coloring, I heard one story that broke me.
A four-year-old with an innocent face I will remember forever started speaking to me in Russian. As I pretended to understand, my interpreter began to explain what she was saying. I don’t think I have ever been more speechless in my life.
She was telling me (in detail) all about how her dad abused her mom, using hand motions to be clear that I was following. The only thing I was capable of doing in that moment was pray for her innocent little heart that has seen way too much.
I don’t understand why a four year old had to go through that, but I have to trust that God has a plan for her life, and that her story is just beginning.
As if that wasn’t enough to shatter my heart, we moved on to snack time, where she told me that she was saving two crackers: one for her mom AND ONE FOR HER DAD. The person who abused her family and has caused her so much trauma was the very person she wanted to give her cracker to.
This is unmeasured love. This is grace. This is the Gospel. We are undeserving, unworthy, and sinful people, yet we received a gift that is far greater than a cracker. It is eternal life. Accept this sweet gift, because Jesus wants to have a relationship with you. That’s what He died for.
There is still a lot from this trip that is too fresh to talk about. It is too soon to process everything. It was hard. I saw things I will never unsee, and that is good. Because it is in the trials and hard times that you see God more clearly and your heart is bound tighter to His.
God showed up big time. He showed me that loving with your whole heart puts you in vulnerable positions that hurt. He showed me that He is in the waiting and unknown. He showed me that He has given me a heart for kids for a reason. He showed me His love covers all.
My heart broke over and over again, but the good news is that God does not leave us broken, He is the ultimate healer. I leave Russia knowing that I am not a hero. God was in Russia before me, He was there with me, and He is there after me. There is great comfort in that truth, as I try to continue daily life as a changed person.
I’m so thankful for The Boaz Project and all they do for orphans all around the world. Their passion for the love of Christ to reach orphans is contagious. I’m blessed to have played a very, very small role in their big mission.
If YOU would like to join The Boaz Project on a short-term team ministering to orphans, click here for more information.