Archive for the ‘Vanguard U’ Category

Our time here in Russia is quickly winding down to an end. Tomorrow, we will finish the wonderful and fun two week day camp at the TB children’s center. It feels like just yesterday that we were meeting the kids and playing our first game of Russian zombie tag with them!

Over the last two weeks, we performed a continuous skit in which Sean played our helpful and loyal guide. We used this character to convey the aspects of God and how we can relate to Him as our Heavenly Father. The rest of us acted as a group of friends in different scenarios in which we learned about forgiveness, confidence, faith, courage, salvation, peer pressure and so many other important lessons. Tomorrow we conclude the skit with friendship, forgiveness, and love. The kids have been receptive to the skits and can recite to us what happened since the first day two weeks ago!

We have covered a variety of Bible stories including David and Goliath, Esther, the Good Samaritan, searching for the lost sheep, and the most important Salvation story. In the older group, we used questions to lead in depth discussions regarding some heavy topics such as the participation in smoking and drinking, self-esteem, and obstacles they face daily. Sean, Sara, and Lauren have heard some of their stories and allowed them to partake in some challenging and reflective activities. In the younger group, Eric, Lindsey, Gabby, and Joey have expended their patience and energy to build close relationships with the younger children and teach them simple lessons. The younger group is filled with joy, excitement, and genuine love!

This week we were able to not only join the kids at the movies on Tuesday, but we also took a boat trip around the river in Novgorod this morning. We had a fun time trying to decipher what exactly was going on in the Russian cartoon and laughing at the few comments we understood! The boat was also exciting as it was some of the kids’ first time on a boating adventure! We even defeated the language barrier and taught them some card games! This evening Lindsey, Gabby, Sara, and Lauren made our own little spa. We painted the girl’s nails, curled their hair, and dolled them up with some makeup. We then had a “discoteka” (or dance) in which the boys and girls showed off not only their moves but their best dressed hairdos!

Words cannot describe the amazing time we have spent with these children! Our love for them has dug deep roots and we are working hard each day to trust that God will take care of them after we leave here. As much as we don’t like goodbyes, we know that these two weeks with these specific kids was for a reason and that it has impacted everyone involved for the rest of our lives! We look forward to coming home and sharing all of our stories, pictures, and laughs with you, our friends and family! God has truly blessed us with these 50 or so little hearts!! Thanks for the prayers and support! Keep them coming, not home yet!

Vanguard Team (written by Lauren)

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We came to the realization today that we have only three days remaining with the kids at the children’s center. The time here in Novgorod has been flying by. We started out our first week of ministry anxious about how the kids would receive us, but soon found that they were as excited to get to know us as we were to get to know them.

There are about 50 kids currently at the TB children’s center we are working with. The kids vary in ages from toddlers to teens. It is inspiring to see the people who work at the center because each of them works hard to make it a nice place for the kids to be while they are being treated, and they put their whole hearts into working for the kids each day.

Each day we spend at the center we begin with a skit that is a part of the theme for the week, and which has a message that relates to the lesson for the day. Our first week we began with a jungle theme and this week we are doing a beach theme. Following the skit, we split into two groups with the kids based upon ages, younger and older. The lesson is the same for both groups, but splitting up allows us to go deeper with the older kids and discuss life issues related to the lesson. It has been amazing to hear the kids open up and get involved in discussion more and more as the days go on.  We finish out the first part of each day with a craft, which also gives us more time to talk with the kids and get to know them.

Outside of the skits, lessons, and crafts, we have had the opportunity the rest of each day to simply play with the kids and show them love. We are in awe of how God is constantly using us to reach these kids, most that either are orphans, or come from rough backgrounds at home. We have been building relationships with the kids and hearing their stories. Each day we walk to the children’s center and see them eagerly awaiting us at the edge of the yard. It is wonderful to know that we are able to show these kids so much love.  But it also amazing to see how much love they express to us.

On the weekend we saw more of the city, which is over a thousand years old. And, on Saturday we went to the “Banya”, a Russia sauna, which was amazing!

Thank you for all the prayers and words of encouragement!

Vanguard Team (written by Sean)

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Lindsey—Hi Mom, Dad & Aaron (and everyone else)!! We are having a great time with the children!! They are so fun and full of love!!  The team has been staying healthy (minus the MANY mosquito bites) J, the crafts and Bible games have been going very well and the kids are so welcoming—all thanks to all of your prayers! Please keep praying for health, safety and most importantly for the 50 children that we will be sharing Christ’s love to! Love you all…see you in a few weeks! Love, EE

Sara – Greetings Everyone. It’s hard to believe it’s been a week already- and I survived w/o a cellphone! Being here has been great, I know that everyone has been keeping us in your prayers and I thank you greatly. We started working with the kids yesterday and it was definitely a very fun experience showing them God’s love and our appreciation and seeing them respond to it. The kids do their best to talk to teach us Russian and keep their patience when it takes us 5 times to get it right. All in all, this trip just keeps getting better and better! Sending all my love , xx-S

Gaby- Hello everyone reading this! Just want to thank you guys for your prayers because it lets us know that you care about us and this mission. Mom and dad if you are reading this I miss you guys very much and hope that you guys aren’t missing me too much, you too Naomi and Brian. Dani if you happen to read this, I miss you very much too, and can’t wait to tell you all about it. Love, Gaby.

Eric – First of all, I have to do a shout out to the Russia team from 2010! So many great memories are coming back being here again… I wish you guys were here too!  We just finished spending 1 ½ days with the kids, and it has already been so much fun!  Thank you so much to everyone who is praying for us, and for me especially.  I found out that on our last day in Novgorod I will be able to visit Olesya, a little girl, who really got attached to me last year.  So I am beyond excited to see her again!  Our team is doing great; we are really bonding and working together to plan all the events for our summer camp, which the kids are really enjoying.  Yesterday (after our first day) one of our translators told us that the kids were saying that they were so happy that we were here because they won’t be bored any more.  Thanks again for all your prayers!  God bless!

Sean- Hello friends and family! I just want to share that the experience here in Novgorod has been amazing so far. God has given us such a great opportunity to reach the children at the center here, and it is because of your prayers and support that we are able to be here. So thank you, and I am looking forward to sharing all of the things that God does here with you all when we get back!

Lauren- Howdy ya’ll! Just wanted to check in and say we are having an incredible time here in Novgorod! Loved seeing St. Pete! The kids are so special and God is so present! Don’t know if I will ever want to leave! We are a little stinky and official mosquito landing pads, but all is well! I miss home and everyone there! Keep praying for us! Love you family! Peace!

Joey G. –Hello! We are having an amazing time here in Russia! There is so much to take in. We are on day two working at the Children Center. It’s been awesome! My team members and I are all very attached to the children already! They are amazing! Please keep us all in your prayers, the kids, the team, and our translators Marina and “Art.” God is doing great things here in Novgorod. I am very excited to see what the rest of our stay will be like. Love you all!

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Tuesday in Novgorod…

It’s hard to believe that we left the United States nearly a whole week ago.  Today was our first day at the TB Children Center, and therefore our first day of hands-on ministry with the kids.  We were all so excited to finally meet the kids, start the summer camp for them, and really step into what we came half way around the world to do.

As we were heading over to the center, a few of us were feeling a bit nervous–not sure how the kids would respond to us, not sure how our skits, lessons and crafts would go, etc.  But from the moment we arrived to the TB Children Center, all of these worries quickly vanished.  The kids were so excited to meet us that they had prepared a few songs to sing for us when we arrived.

For our first day, all of us were surprised at how smooth things went.  After starting off with a skit for the kids, we divided the younger kids from the older kids and did a Bible lesson with them as well as a craft and some games.

The younger kids (from age 3 – 10) turned out to be quite a rambunctious group.  During our short Bible lesson and some indoor games, we found it difficult to hold their interest for more than a few minutes.  However, when it came time for the craft, they did a lot better paying attention and really had a fun time with it. In the afternoon, we spent another four hours with them playing all sorts of games outside such as: variations of tag, hide and seek, soccer, and a zombie game that they taught us.  With some of the girls we played some jump rope games, which they could play all day long if you let them!

Our whole team was really surprised at how quickly they began to cling to us.  Several of them would randomly come up to us and just hug us really tightly. While some of them act like normal kids, it is evident with most of them that they come from such broken and abused backgrounds, and are in desperate need of someone to love them in a genuine way.  They really are the sweetest kids, and it just breaks our hearts to hear that the only thing they are used to is abuse and neglect.

It has only been our first day with them, and they have already stolen our hearts away.  Please pray for our team continually these next two weeks, as we pour out ourselves to these kids.  Pray that God’s relentless love flows through us to the kids in a very real way, and that God can use our short time with them as the beginning of a transformation for the better in their lives.

From Russia With Love,

-The Vanguard Russia Team 2011

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Vanguard team has finished their training and sightseeing in Saint Petersburg and is off to Velikiy (Great) Novgorod to start their 2 week camp at the TB Children Center.

Their days in Saint Petersburg consisted of learning about the Russian history, culture and language. Seeing the beautiful Orthodox Cathedrals and the Hermitage museum. On Sunday they went off in groups to several Orthodox churches, where they witnessed an Orthodox service and experienced first hand the ancient atmosphere of Orthodoxy, a religion which uses liturgy from the 5th century to this day!

Sunday night the team was off to Novgorod!

On Monday we took some time to do a prayer walk around Novgorod, a city over 1150 years old! It is so important to start with prayer.  We prayed for the city, the leaders, the churh, the families and the orphans.

Today we start our fist day of camp. Please pray for the team and the kids!

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Today we finished the first day of training and sightseeing! The team from Vanguard University has arrived and is getting ready to start their camp on Monday.

This afternoon they saw their first glimpses of St Petersburg, as they visited 2 cathedrals. Tomorrow they head to the Hermitage Museum to see one of the greatest museums in the world.

We will do our best to put updated from the team and relay the messages that you post here to the team as well.

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It’s that time, the time when we have to say goodbye. However before we say goodbye we would like to give you one last update of our amazing experience here in Russia. Last time we left you hanging with such anticipation for our sauna adventure! As we approached the sauna we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. (more…)

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