Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Meet the Team

UPDATED JULY 3--Okay, this should be the last update for this post!!! HOPEFULLY!!! Different picture of Dima was added. The baby he is holding. Alexandria, is the daughter of a pastor I think (don't know which church). She was so cute. I got to hold her and she was just really content.

First, the Russian team leaders: (I'll keep it brief as I can, since some of you may have already read about them)

Sergei (right, grey shirt)- Founder of Mercy ministries. Married to a beautiful, pregnant women (little girl due in August), and they have two adorable little boys. He was the goofball on the team and made us laugh so many times. He has a mischevious streak to him, but he's got a face that would always get him out of trouble. Although goofy, he also has a passion for God and for the Russian people. It was a joy to serve his ministry.

Andrew (I don't have a very good one of him straight on, so I'm using this one. It's one of my favorite anyway because it really captures his gentleness and love for children)- An American 24 year old guy who got called to serve in Vladimir for 3 years. He came in November 2006 to serve Mercy Ministries. He has a passion for God that you don't see in many younger people. Almost every conversation I had with him was centered around God, with the exception of one, where we talked about sports :) He is also very humble, talking about his struggles and how God used them to change him. I definitely learned a lot from him, and I'm thankful for that.

And our American team:

Tim: Our leader and one of 2 guys on the American team. He is a pastor in Texas, married, and has a little girl named Olivia. His engagement story is one of the best.

Jaye- Assistant leader. So full of life, so funny, and just loves to laugh and make others laugh. She was "Jaye the Magnificent", our magician. She performed at every (or at least most) site and the kids loved it. Some of the most fun times on the trip involved her.

Faith- An 18 year old who was so much fun. She was always so positive, and everyone loved her. She was easy to talk to, and she would talk to everyone. Age and gender didn't matter, she was so accepting of all personalities. Her family has adopted 5 kids, most or all are special needs. Her parents sound like some of the most amazing people, having 2 children, and then taking in 5 more.

Megan- 20 year old will be junior at Messiah college. She, too, was so much fun and so real. She and Faith re-enacted Mr. Tim's engagement story, and made everyone laugh so hard. She has a sweet personality, and was always interested in learning about different religions. I believe it's her love for learning that made her pursue becoming a teacher.

Dave and Mickey- An older couple, who have been married for I think 51 years. It was so sweet to watch them together. Their love for each other is so evident, as is their love for God. Mrs. Mickey is so young at heart, and I loved being around her so much. Actually, at our final debriefing meeting, one of the ladies in the group thanked them for setting a good example to the 5 of us younger girls of a godly and loving marriage.

Linda- An older lady, much like a grandmother to us all. Despite her physical pain (bad back, aching knees and feet, sprained wrist) she was always asking how everyone else was. She's been through a lot. She became a widow I think 6 years ago, and as hard as that is for her, she remained strong in the Lord. I believe it was she who thanked Mr. Dave and Mrs. Mickey for their example for us girls.

Bev- Pretty much the grandmother to us younger girls on the trip. I loved listening to her pray. She talked to God so passionately, and anyone, saved or unsaved, could tell she has a close relationship to her Savior. Mrs. Bev was also asking how everyone else was doing, always thinking of others before herself. I was blessed to have her in our small group.

Natalie (on the right, with Bev. I couldn't find one of just her)- On the quiet side, but she had a funny side to her. She made me laugh numerous times with her quick witted remarks. She has also had a harder life, and I can tell she has a burden for the lost. Not just the lost in Russia, but within her own family. She has been through so much, and to see the way she doesn't give up even though she wants to, and the way she continues to cry out to God for help is an example to me.

Kristin (I'm gonig to try to get one that will enlarge so you can actually see her better)- A young woman with a quiet and gentle spirit, but she has a goofy side to her which I was blessed to witness a few times. She is a newer Christian, and hasn't been saved even a year yet. I would love for you all to hear it, but it's not for me to share. Kristin's courage I think most impressed me. There is no way that sharing her testimony was easy, but she did it, and I believe she did it out of love and thankfulness to God.

Then of course, there was me, Mom, and Sacha, but you already know us. ;)

Here we are, small group picture. Mom, me, Sacha (leader), and Mrs. Bev.
Last, our Russian translators.

Inna (the one on the left in the picture below)- A beautiful pastor's wife, mother of 3 (I think) with such a sweet personality. I didn't spend a whole lot of time with her, but I was so encouraged the times I was. Just listening to her tell us about herself was great.

Olya (The one on the right, blue shirt, in the picture above)- A younger (she looked much younger than she actually was) lady who works with Mercy Ministries as part of the baby rescue. I had the privilege of going with her to visit a mom and baby that she had helped throughout the mother's pregnancy and talked her into keeping her baby. She is so passionate for God, and no matter where we went, she always made it easy for us to share about God, whether it be through an ice breaker game at the Rehab center, or asking mom and I to talk about our spiritual journey to the young mother we got to visit on a home visit. Four years ago she adopted a 12 year old girl, and it's so cute to watch them. They look more like best friends than mother and daughter.

Dima- A 29 year old who was everyone's friend. He fit in anywhere, whether it was with the older ladies, or us younger ladies (and the guys, of course). He was so much fun, and so interested in the American culture. His knowledge of America, and the way he talked was so amazing. All of us found it hard to believe he had never been to America. He was like a big brother to those of us who were younger, and made us laugh a lot. He is a talented musician, which he uses to worship God.

Lena (the little boy on her lap was so cute, he just loved the books GAiN gave the rehab center where he stays)- A woman who was with us almost the entire time. She was with us in both Moscow and Vladimir. I believe she said she got saved as a result of translating for GAiN 9 years ago, but I could be wrong. She was a really nice person, and it was great getting to know her.

There was also a Russian speaking mother, Ira, and her 11 year old daughter, Masha, who mom got to know very well. I got to know them a little, as we were privileged to eat at their home on our "Host Family Dinner" night. They are great cooks, and we had lots of fun playing Uno with them.

There were a few more people, but I didn't really get to know them, so it would be hard for me to tell you about them.

Hopefully I didn't miss anyone, and I hope now you have a better idea of the amazing team I was blessed to serve with. I know just by reading about them, there is no way for you to fully understand why I miss them so much. That's something you can't really understand unless you met them in person and spent a week with them. However, anyone who has gone on a missions trip and gotten to really know the people they were serving with, develop a friendship, and then have to say goodbye, you will understand. I think it was cool how God knows I love smaller groups, and so he blessed me with a group 0f 13 Americans, and a handful of Russians. Of course, when you have a smaller group you bond deeper, but I think it was good. Not many times in my life have I had to say goodbye, and I think I needed to experience that. As hard as it was, and as much as I hated it, I do believe it was good for me. I had to draw closer to God. It reminded me that the people in my life won't always be with me, but that I will always have God, and He will never leave.


Sacha said...

Well stated! I hope that people take a little time to read those descriptions! Oh the floods of memories that come back!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the details. I almost feel like I know these people.
Welcome Back!
DAryl Cannon

Tim said...

Great post! I love the pic of Jaye with the ice cream family-pack! :) I told that story to my wife yesterday & she just laughed & laughed.

Laurie said...

It's great to meet your team! :) Thanks for posting pics.