Today in Russia is Men's Day - 23rd February. It's a national holiday and another reason for a good party. I have not learnt fully what it means but it did mean that I got a card and two chocolate bars from my wife and rather excited little three year old this morning.
We also listened yesterday to a Mark Driscoll talk that looked at the importance and great honour of a father to his daughter, about how amazing it is to bring up a Christian women.
So with all this in mind, and my heart already stirred afresh with wanting to do the right thing for my daughter so that I have the best relationship possible with her as she grows up, as well as all the Men's Day stuff in Russia, it just so happened that today was also to be the first visit as a family to an orphanage!
Oh, how privileged I felt by the end of the time. How honoured that God had allowed me the opportunity to serve these little boys and girls, who have no parents, which gives them very little prospects at all.
Was it just chance that these events all coincided? I doubt that very much!
The orphanage that we went to (myself, wife and three year old, joining our friend Johanna) was south of the city, about 8 stops down from our nearest metro station. A toddler group from a UK church had sent two bag fulls of toys and stuff for them so we'd taken them with us, giving them to the director of the home to be distributed as she saw fit. We just pray they get to the children who need them most.
We only had about an hour with the children, mainly because we were playing outside with them in the snow. We'd been told to wait an hour already so this was now two hours in the cold of a Russian February afternoon, and too much for a three year old, though I also was starting to feel cold as well.
The children all seemed genuinely happy to have us - noticeable was the fact that all the female workers (only females...no men around) just stood around outside, 'watching' the children play but not actually playing with them. We can't pass judgement on this as this is the way it is here, even in the private kindergartens. But while there were only about 8 children outside to start, they kept coming and soon there must have been up to 30 of them running around, all various ages and sizes (meant to be from 5 years and up) but some were very small, surely a result of a poor diet. Many of the children's teeth had rotten away, though this didn't detract from the warm smiles that they greeted us with. The boys were all very polite, constantly coming over to me when they first arrived and saying the very official & polite Russian 'hello' to which I was only too happy to return (the less formal, and more friendly version), getting down to their level so as not to scare them!
So I titled this entry as a Great Honour because that is what it was! It wasn't us doing our good bit for the week, or anything equally worthless. It was an honour to be there, to be a daddy to these children, albeit for only an hour, but it was wonderful.
We really pray now that when Johanna checks next week whether we can come back weekly with her, they say yes! Because this isn't a job or just a good work. To give these little ones, even an hour of attention a week, there's no knowing what impact it would have on their lives.
Jesus - I thank you for each of those little children. I thank you that you have a plan and a purpose for them. I thank you that you haven't forgotten about any one of them, and though life circumstances have thrown them into that home, you haven't stopped loving them. Please help them Lord. Please give them all a future that is centred around you.
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I'm a passionate writer - and therefore spend most of my time writing thriller novels. But I also live an interesting life in the nations. This blog is here for that aspect of my life - our life - I live with my wonderful wife and two daughters.
I believe in encouragement. I live for obedience. I believe in learning from our experiences, and this blog exists for both of those, and more.
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I was part of the leadership team in St Petersburg, Russia - which planted Hope Church in 2009.(www.hopechurchstpetersburg.com).
In March 2012 Hope Church sent my family to plant into Tallinn, the Capital of Estonia. I therefore lead this small but growing church plant team. Here is the website for Hope Tallinn (www.hopetallinn.ee)
For details on our journey here, read the series called Adventures of Faith which is linked for you on the right hand column, just below. That details our original journey to Russia and then onto Tallinn 4 years later.
Author for fiction novels - Cherry Picking (2012), The Last Prophet (2015), The Tablet (2015) and The Shadow Man (2016) are available on all major bookselling sites. Please visit: www.timheathbooks.com
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