Posts Tagged ‘hiv’

Dear Family, Friends and Loved Ones,

Time for our weekly update and we couldn’t be more excited to share about our experiences at the Baby HIV Orphanage. We apologize that we have been quiet for a few days, but fortunately our time has been well spent and we have so much to share!

While Monday was a little shaky with us being introduced to the children for the first time, Tuesday we established what would be our weekly routine. We have been lucky to have an apartment opened up to us for us to stay in and have been treated to some of the BEST Russian home-cooked meals, thanks to the generous spirit of Alexandra who has agreed to come cook for us. We would all be fat and happy if it wasn’t for chasing kids and burning it all off after each day 😉

Tuesday morning, and each day afterwards, the children became more familiar with us and each morning they would rush to meet us. I think it is safe to say that we have all been blown away by how amazing these children are. While facing so many challenges, these children have an amazing capacity to love and each one of them willingly opened their hearts and were generous to share their smiles and laughter. These children have a rough life; they don’t have a family and are very sick. But God has been generous and has provided them with an amazing facility that does the best to accommodate for their unique needs and they daily receive medicine and therapy to help them stay healthy. While stretched thin, the staff there is very compassionate and loving towards the children – which is unique for a place such as this. We are all impressed with how polite and well-mannered the children are, they are happy and it is hard sometimes to remember that they are sick with the smiles on their faces.

For most of our week we have been outside, running around with them. Bubbles were a HUGE hit as was sidewalk chalk. The language barrier was an issue at times, but fortunately for us, our actions were more important to the children than words so we could get around that communication difference, and having two amazing translators helped. We have picked up some more Russian. Thanks to the children we now know that a dog says “Gawf gawf” and a horse says “E-go-go”, that toy buckets and shovels are popular on the playground and that we have to say “Paka!” to the cars passing by. Over the course of the week we have all had amazing experiences, we have all been writing daily in our journals so we can share them all when we return, but here is a small glimpse of what we’ve each individually been doing:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

– Vanessa learned that she is a natural with newborns and quickly became the favorite to push them around in strollers.

-Shannon bonded tightly with a rosy cheeked little 3-year-old girl who cried each time she left.

– Natalya spent a lot of time smelling flowers in the garden beds with a shy 4-year-old girl who had a preference for her and thought she was the coolest ever.

– Elizabeth was well exercised running around with a very robust and energetic 4-year-old girl who taught her a lot of new Russian words.

-Rachel built up some muscles tossing a trio of 3-year-old boys up into the air a million times after catching them on the slide.

-Jessica was attached to the hip to an 18-month-old girl who, while very stand-offish at first, quickly warmed up to her and Jessica was one of the few who could make her giggle and laugh.

-Emily has been sketching individual drawings of each of the children in-between being one of the favorite swing pushers (mainly because she would serenade them in the process).

-Deanna was well adored by a 2-year-old boy who made her a gift out of twigs and leaves as a going away present after spending a week building things with her.

There is so much more that we can say, but then this little post wouldn’t be so little. So we just want to let you all know that we are doing very well, we are all still healthy, we’re getting along well (almost TOO well sometimes, hehe) and are now packing for our next ministry: camping by the Gulf of Finland with about two dozen special needs teenagers. We love you all very much and have cherished hearing the comments you have been leaving. Dosvedanya from Russia with big hugs!


“Emmie” (Emily), “Zhenya “(Shannon), “Raya” (Rachel), “Natasha” (Natalya), “Zhana” (Jessica), “Dinka” (Deanna), “Liza” (Elizabeth) and “Vanya” (Vanessa)  ….(as termed by our Russian cook J )

Read Full Post »

Hello friends and family!

On Sunday, we went to Calvary Chapel service that was translated into English. The worship was beautiful, as it seems everything is in this city! It was an especially unifying experience to sing a song or two we knew from home in English while it was sung in Russian. It is a reminder of the central thread that binds us all together from all ends of the earth. Afterwards, we enjoyed Russia’s finest restaurant: McDonalds. :)))

Then the two teams split up: one stayed in St Petersburg and the other went to Velikiy Novgorod.

We, the ones who stayed in St Petersburg….speed packed and had a wonderful scenic tour of the city by bus (rather than our regular mode of transportation, the metro) as we moved to our new home. We were greeted at the apartment with a wonderful homemade meal by Alexandra, our wonderful Russian grandmother who will be cooking for us this week. Once we settled in, Tanya shared her passion for the ministry we will be working with and the kids we will be loving on. We shared what God’s taught us on this trip and reflected on the trip through journaling before going to bed.

Today was our first day at the HIV baby orphanage. We spent the first part of the day playing with HIV+ toddlers. They ran right up to us and grabbed a hand and went to play. In a way, they picked us out. They just knew we were there to love on them. Those who were a little shy definitely warmed up to us by the end of the day. While they were away at lunch, Dr. Slava took us on a tour of the orphanage. We were amazed by the services and facilities available for the babies there. Psychologists, physical therapists and other professionals dedicated to providing the best foundation for the children. Among many other rooms, there was a fitness room, sauna, salt room for those with asthma and a transition room where the kids are taught the basics needed for living more independently. We went home for lunch cooked by our precious Alexandra and when we returned we cared for babies. Then, the toddlers returned for more fun! By the end of the day, we were all completely exhausted and excited to go home to borsch and quiet time to rejuvenate for tomorrow. This is going to be a rewarding life experience for all of us and we are looking forward to what God is going to do through us this week.

Love, Deanna, Natalya, Shannon, Vanessa, Emily, Elizabeth, Jessica & Rachel

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shannon = Hi Mom, Dad, Cameron, family, and friends! I miss you so much, but I am absolutely loving everything about this place. For lack of better words, this city is breathtakingly beautiful. As we walked to the orphanage this morning I realized that today is what I have been waiting for all of these months. I am already in love with these kids and it is amazing to see how God is working through me and in me.

Deanna = Hey Mom, Dad, Cor, Oreo, family and friends! Mom, can you believe that I haven’t been eaten alive by mosquitoes yet? My blood must not be as sweet as it used to be. Keep commenting on the blog, they are so encouraging to read at the end of the day!

Rachel = Hey guys! I just wanted to say that I’m doing very well. I love Russia and St. Petersburg! It has been an amazing experience traveling abroad and I’m learning more than my poor brain can keep up.  I hope ya’ll are doing well, I miss you all and I’m keeping a journal so I’ll remember everything when I get back 🙂 Love you guys! Poka!

Emily = Hello everyone! It is so wonderful to be able to say a little something to you. I am having the time of my life here in St. Petersburg! I have loved seeing the city and am so excited to finally be working with the darling little ones! I know God will do amazing things in my life and the lives of the kids. I miss you all and hope home is treating you well. Hopefully I can be in touch at least once more before returning home. Much love to you!

Elizabeth = (number for cell phone :8931440337) Priveyet everyone! I am so excited today we finally got to meet our little babies we will be playing with all week! My little buddy is Katia. I am doing so well and having a blast, so much to take in and learn. I love this city, it is absolutely gorgeous. I love you guys so much and miss you tons. 🙂 Poka!

Jessica= Zdrastvooyty (Hello) Family and Friends! Russia is wonderful, it is so much more than I ever expected. Touring the city and seeing some of the culture was great, but this week we have begun working with the orphanage and it is awesome! The children are so sweet and fun to play with. There are so many stories I am eager to share with you all, but for now I’ll leave you guessing ;). Love you guys so much!

Natalya= Hello from Russia! I have already fallen in love with this city and I have only been here for a week in a half.  After a week of learning about the culture and people of Russia we met the children that we came to love and even on the first day they have captured my heart. I am so excited to give them the love that they deserve by sharing the love of Christ with them.  Thank you for all your prayers and know that God is doing amazing things in this country! Dasveedanya!

Vanessa= Hello Family and Friends! Russia is AMAZING! There is so much beauty in this city, I really wish you can all see! I miss you all so much and I want to thank you all for your support and love towards this trip! Today we finally got to start working at the HIV orphanage and it’s just so wonderful how these people dedicate their lives to be there for these children. They are all in deep need of love and care and we are all so thankful for having helps us to get here. Mom and Dad, I love you soo much and don’t worry because I am in great hands! ❤

Read Full Post »

Hello again Everyone!

Well, our week in St Petersburg is just about done and again what a blessing it has been! For the past couple days we’ve been playing with the children as usual and each day brings new experiences with the kids.

As we were playing with the children on Thursday we were all dreading the next day where we would have to say goodbye to the children we had spent all week playing with. Little did we know that on Friday, we wouldn’t have to say goodbye because the children were on a field trip to the zoo! (more…)

Read Full Post »

Dear friends and family,

This week has been simply amazing at the HIV baby orphanage!  When we first arrived at the orphanage, we were greeted with many hugs and smiles from some of the children but many took more time to warm up to our group.

But we stood the test and have bonded with the children deeply, knowing they will remain in our hearts forever.  Every morning, we have been chasing the children and have been blessed with seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter as they play. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Hello Everybody,

We have been in St. Petersburg for a week now, and what a week it has been!

Our first couple of days here was spent training and learning about Russia’s History and the Russian Culture, followed by some delicious Russian home cooking.

Over the past weekend we are also able to do some site seeing and learn even more about St. Petersburg.

On Sunday we attended a local protestant church and it was a true blessing to be loved by fellow Brothers and Sisters.

Our week has started and will end with afternoons spent with the children at the HIV Orphanage.  (more…)

Read Full Post »

For the last two days we have played with children!

Each morning we run, swing, hug, laugh, smile, pull and love a group of orphaned children.

These little ones will spend 18 years in an orphanage because mommy and daddy did not want them.

Abandoned in the hospital, at a dumpster, or just brought to the orphanage and left in the hands of the government.

Their little faces, full of smiles and laughter, do not show the pain of abandonment and pain.  Not yet, at least… (more…)

Read Full Post »

We hope you all have been experiencing God’s many blessings- as we have!

This week our team has been able to see and experience more of St. Petersburg’s beauty.  While the beauty surrounds us daily, It’s often difficult to comprehend the pain and suffering that goes on within the city (which we experience greatly at our ministry sites).  We will proceed to describe our daily activities for the week in order to give you all a better understanding of how we spend our time in Russia. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »