Posts Tagged ‘novgorod’

Did you know that the Russian people celebrate Christmas on January 7th? So, if you enter a home in Russia right now, you might still see a Christmas tree still standing decorated and in lights.

Right after the Christmas celebration, our Novgorod Director, Marina, made sure the kids in the only unofficial orphanage in Novgorod really knew the meaning of Christmas. Once again there was singing, dancing, sharing the Nativity story and giving out presents!  This orphanage is divided into three sections: preschoolers, elementary and High School.  Each group of kids received their presents and had a celebration of their own!  The older teens have always been hard to work with because of set stereotypes about Christianity. Sitting down around some food helped to melt the ice and have a wonderful time of fellowship about a God that sent His Son to this earth over 2000 years ago.  To see these teens thirsting for the truth makes it even more important to continue the relationships that our summer teams built with each one at that orphanage.

We are excited to see what God has planned for this children’s home in Novgorod. Please keep the kids and staff in your prayers. And, please pray for our Novgorod Director, Marina, as she continues to minister to the kids and empowers the local Christians to take care of orphans. 

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Once again the TB Children Center in Novgorod was busy this past December with getting ready to show their friends the story of Jesus’ birth!  So exciting to see the kids and teens acting out the Christmas Story!

The children were so eager to do the play “The Birth of Jesus” this year again that Marina, our Director in Novgorod, could not resist their excitement to do the performance even though on the first days it was hard to organize them. They behaved so badly that we were about to cancel the play. But to her surprise, on the next day of the rehearsal, she saw that almost all of them learned the words and and even prepared the costumes for the play. It touched her heart.

We are sure that the children who participated will remember the wonderful story of the Jesus’ birth. The kids were nervous a bit because we had many guests – the staff and some of the parents of the children who came to see the performance.  Some of the parents heard the story about Jesus’ birth for the first time! About a Savior from their children. Isn’t it amazing?

At the end all the children received their Christmas present!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Christmas project at the TB Center in Novgorod.  A special thank you to International Concern for Children Foundation, ICCF, who made it possible for the children to receive some basic necessaries in their presents!

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Greetings from the Novgorod team! Here’s a little update from each team member!

Adrienne: Hello from Novgorod family and friends!!  Today was day 4 of our VBS with the kids, and I can’t fully express my love for each and every one of them. Their energy and joy is contagious, and I can’t get enough of their hugs. I could seriously go on for days about each of them. Not only are the kids wonderful, but this place is amazing as well. It already feels like home even though we’ve only been in Novgorod for a week (not to mention the food is absolutely delicious). I can’t wait to share the stories, memories, and pictures when I get back with all of you. I miss you all lots, and send tons of love from Russia!!   Love, Adrienne.  P.S.- Happy Birthday Blair!!! Wish I could celebrate with you, but I hope you are having an amazing day, and I send lots of love and best wishes!! Hope you went and saw Harry Potter with mom (just kidding of course).

Tim: Hi friends and family! Greetings from Novgorod. Today was day 4 of our VBS at the T.B. Center. It has been great spending time with the kids, playing with them and just seeing their smiles. Its only day four and they are already wanting us to stay there overnight. Our translator Artyom and Marina told us that before, the kids did not do that until the last day. That meant a lot to me and my team. And just thinking that we still have two weeks to spend with them is a dream! Can’t wait to get back and share amazing stories!

Alli:  Hi Family and Friends!!!  We have now been in Russia for 11 days and I love it! We started working with the kids in the TB center on Tuesday. There are about 50 children and they are all full of love and energy. We start every day with a song and a skit, then we do a craft with them. They are so grateful for everything we do with them; from making bracelets to playing games and coloring with chalk. Most of the children go home on the weekends, so tomorrow we are going into the city (Novgorod) and to the banya (it’s like a Russian sauna.)  Then on Sunday we are doing the children ministry in the church we are staying in. Before coming to Russia we were a little bit skeptical about the food here, but I have loved everything we have eaten. We eat the best food and drink tea at least once a day! I hope everything is great back home! I love you and miss you all!  Love, Alli   (PS Sammi and Marla…have fun moving into the apartment! J)

CaBaHa (Savannah): To my family and droogs!  Oh how I miss you guys so much! But let me tell you…I have fallen in love with the children of Russia. We have been at the TB center for four days now and I feel like I have known these kids for years and years. They are the sweetest children in the world. It hurts me to not know all of their stories and know that they come from broken homes, but we have just been loving on them and trying to make them feel special. The little boys are crazy but I get along with them so well and I have been playing soccer and volleyball every day. Every single one of them melts my heart and I cannot wait to see them again Monday. I have not had a bad day here, and I can just feel God’s presence at the center. This trip has really been a blessing. I miss you guys so much but I am loving life. Love you all!

Jess:  Hello to my lovely family and friends! 🙂  Today marks the end of our first week working with the children in the TB center in Novgorod, and I am completely in love with them. They are all so vibrant and full of life, despite the broken families and lives they’ve come from. My favorite times spent with them have been simply jump roping, making bracelets, and picking flowers. They seem to love our presence there too—after the first day they were literally blocking the gate so we couldn’t leave! Even though it’s sometimes difficult to communicate with them because of the language barrier, I feel like God is still allowing us to get through to them and share His light. I cannot wait to see what the rest of this trip holds for me, my team, and these incredible children. Thank you for the continued prayer and support, I love you all very much!  Love, Jess.   P.S. Mom, Dad and Alex I love and miss you all! I hope you’re having a great month and I’ll email soon!

Aryn:  Hi Friends and Family!!!  I miss you all lots and I appreciate all the prayers and support, but the work that we are doing here is really something amazing.  We finished our first week at the TB center and seeing the relationships that are being built are AMAZING! The kids haven’t opened up a lot about their lives, but seeing their smiles is enough.  We fill the days with crafts, games, and lots of running around.  At first there were some teenage boys that would just distance themselves from us, but now they are starting to play futbol (soccer) and Frisbee with us, and we have only been around them for four days.  God is at work here and witnessing His work is one of the most beautiful things I have seen.  The team cannot wait till Monday, so we might surprise the kids on Sunday!! I wish you could all meet these kids and see how special they truly are, words cannot describe how wonderful they are.  I cannot thank you enough for all the prayers and support.  Much love coming from Novgorod, Aryn.   P.S. Grandpa I am so happy to hear that you made it to the reunion!  Dad, Mom, and Jordo you mean the world to me and hopefully we will get to do one of these trips together! LOVE YOU!

Таниша (Tanisha):  Hello friends and family!  How I miss all of you so very much! It is hard to imagine that I’ve been in Russia for only 11 days. This beautiful place has started to feel like home. Today marked our official week in Novgorod, with 4 days at the TB Center. I can’t believe how many months my team and I have thought and prayed about this place. Our time with these children has more than I could have ever imagined. They are just all so special. There is such a light in them. They have so much love to give. The moment we had entered the TB center, they grabbed our hands and hugged us all. Every time I hug them, I don’t want to let them go. I have fallen in love with each of them.  I pray every day that these children know how much we all care for them. The language barrier can be hard at times, but we have two incredible translators who help us. My Russian is definitely improving. Thank you so much for all the support, the donations, the well wishes and prayers. Know that I would not have been able to be here without all of your help.  From Russia with love, Таниша (Tanisha)  P.S. I love and miss you so much momma!

Саманта (Samantha):  Hello Family and Friends!  This has been the most amazing four days of my life. It seems like we have been here for so much longer. After day one I had already fallen in love with each one of them. They are so affectionate and show us all so much love; it is so hard to say good-bye each day. Everyone on the team is so amazing with the kids and when we aren’t at the center we still have so much fun. I can feel God working in my life and using situations everyday to bring me closer to him. Keep praying for me and the hearts of the kids at the TB Center.       —- Ma and Holly: I miss you guys and wish you could be here to see and experience what I am. Don’t worry I’m trying to remember everything because I know you’re going to want a detailed play by play. I sent you a postcard but it probably won’t get there until after I get back, but know its comin’. And don’t worry Pamogitia (ok, that was a bad translation) is HELP. Holl, Its HP day. This is a big day for us. Again, if you see it I will not be offended. Love,  #1 offspring.

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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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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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