It’s been a whirlwind here in Russia. We had hoped to post more frequently, but have encountered a lack of internet that has made transferring videos nearly impossible. They are coming soon!

As we arrived in Moscow, we spent the first few days visiting art museums and historical sites like Red Square. And as the weekend started, we made the trip out to Vladimir to begin our journey to Mstyora.

When we got to Mstyora, we met with the director, toured the orphanage, met with kids, and heard about the work Woodmen has done over the last 15 years. While difficult to see all that has happened in 15 years, Matt made an interesting observation about Woodmen has “entrusted orphans with hope.”

They may not know at the time how valuable that hope is…but through the care and love of so many Woodmen Valley Chapel members, the kids at Mstyora are filled up with hope.

Here is a testimony from one Mstyora grad who was adopted in 2000 that I think gets at the heart of this. After watching this video about Mstyora graduate Yana Pankova, Zhanna offered this reaction…

My name is Zhanna Jacobo (Manushina). I was in the orphanage with Yana. This video is so amazing and true. When I taken to the orphanage I was so scared because I didn’t know what to expect. It turned out that it was just like a big supportive family. But, there was one thing that was always missing, mother and father and everything else that comes with it. “American people” that came to the orphanage always made me feel like that they cared about us like a mother and father should. I just want to take this time to tell you how much I appreciate what you guys did for all of us and how you made us all feel important and how you made us believe that there is hope out there no matter if you are an orphan or a person that lived at home with their families. After getting adopted from the orphanage in 2000, I’ve never forgotten about you guys and wished that someday I would get this opportunity to tell you THANK YOU. You guys gave me things that I thought I will never be able to have again (love, care, importance and more).

After so many years, Zhanna still remembers how the volunteers at Woodmen cared for all the kids–making them feel special, important, and loved.  And helping them believe in hope!

That “one thing” that was missing–the family–Woodmen Valley Chapel has restored. Orphans like Zhanna and Yana and hundreds more were entrusted with this transformational hope. Yet this didn’t happen once or twice. It happened 2-3 times a year for nearly 15 years. That type of long-term commitment leaves impressions. Now as we look back and view the impact of those impressions, a whole and clear picture emerges.

Matt commented to me that he could see the completeness of the care. It wasn’t just that the kids were cared in one dimension. But instead they received care and support in holistic ways…dealing with all facets and corners of their lives.

It feels a bit like geology.

Here Matt is looking back at layers upon layers of ministry. Layers that took time to build and shape. Yet those layers are not made of sand and rock, they are the restoration of what those kids are missing. There are layers that show the impact of education and tutoring. Layers devoted to arts and creative expression. Layers showing how kids were transformed by the love of ordinary people from Colorado Springs who cared to fly over the sea.

Matt has seen the sum of those layers, and they are most definitely greater than the whole.

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