Archive for the ‘kids’ Tag

LIKE A LITTLE KID   Leave a comment

I have been volunteering as a teacher or assistant in Children’s Ministry at churches I attend for…. wow – 16 years.  I didn’t quite realize how long it had been until I wrote that.  One of the things I have always heard was that to be successful in children’s ministry you have to be kind of a big kid yourself. And I have never really thought of myself as a big kid.

So this week was kind of a chuckling eye opener for me.  On Wednesday nights I trade off teaching the Grade School kids with another teacher.  We finished our curriculum last week and the new one has not come in, so we had a party.   Since she’s the Children’s Minister for the church she did all the work, bless her heart.  She bought snacks and drinks and set up games for us.

I came into the Kids area and a big grin spread across my face.  Ping Pong!  I LOVE ping pong!  Corn Hole!  I LOVE corn hole!  A carpet bowling game!  I LOVE carpet bowling!  Tiny cupcakes!  Pretzels!  YEAH!!!

I wrote her the next day how much I enjoyed it.  I was just being honest and letting her know her hard work and planning had not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.  She wrote back, “One of the things I love about you is that you are truly a kid at heart.”  It made me smile.  ‘Cause, I guess I did sound like a little kid in my email.  And I guess I really am a kid at heart when you get right down to it.  And since Jesus said we should all have the heart of a child, that is okay with me that I am that way.

Posted May 26, 2017 by Maureen in Christian, Musings, Uncategorized

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Unusual Kindness   Leave a comment

Last Sunday Pastor was talking about the passage where Paul is shipwrecked, and everyone ends up safely on the island of Malta and the people living there showed them “unusual kindness” (I think that is NLT).  He asked us if we had known (or shown) unusual kindness, and it took me right back to Russia in 2002.

I was on a missions trip, visiting orphanages and old folks homes.  Our group split into two for the weekend, and I went with the group who made the long trip north of where we were staying to the twin cities of Gubaha and Berizniki.  When we got there we went to a handicapped orphanage in Gubaha.  This was a huge orphanage – I think it was 5 stories high and had probably 1,000 kids there.  The place where everyone gathered to hear us was crowded, and I finally persuaded a child to sit on my lap. He shuffled over to me, barely able to walk and stay upright, and I hoisted him onto my lap and we enjoyed the program.

As soon as he sat down it was obvious he had soiled his pants.  It was all soaking into the jeans I was wearing, but I didn’t care.  He was so happy!  He kept smiling and leaning back and putting his hand on my cheek.  He didn’t understand me, but I prayed for him and told him what a precious child of God he was.  We knew we would be staying overnight in Berizniki so we had packed for it – I had brought a change of socks and underwear and a shirt.  But I only had the one pair of pants.

Afterwards we went through each floor, hugging, playing, and interacting with the kids.  In the infant floor we picked up babies who were stiff and unresponsive because no one had the time to hold them and they didn’t know how to react.  Many of them wore urine soaked clothing and my shirt got soaked with it.

By the time we made our way back to where we were staying — I didn’t smell very good.  I knew that I would have to rinse out my pants.  I was already ripe — there was no way I could go another 24+ hours wearing those jeans without cleaning them.  I explained to our translator.  She told me that the apartment where we were staying, home to Victor and Luba, did not have a washing machine or dryer.  I assured her it was ok, I understood, but I needed to be shown how to use the bathtub and where some soap was.  I would hang up my jeans and wear them wet the next day if I had to.

She explained to Luba.  Her husband Victor was the pastor of the church in Berizniki, a large church. He was away on a seminar, but Luba had already shown us her wonderful hostess skills.  Silently, she listened to what the translator said, and then she looked at me and held out her hands. Now, by this time it was after 11:00 at night.  We were all tired, and Luba had had hostessing duties on top of everything else that day.  I did NOT want her to wash my jeans.

I insisted I could do it, I didn’t mind, I just needed to be shown where things were.  Without a word she kept her hands held out, gazing at me steadily.  I knew I had to give over my jeans.  I had to let her wash them.

When we got up in the morning, here came Luba in our room, smiling, holding her arms out with my jeans folded neatly on her hands.  I thanked her profusely (I could at least say that in Russian).  You have probably worn jeans that were not dry all the way.  Maybe you were in a hurry and didn’t let them dry all the way, or just didn’t notice they were not all the way dry.  The seams, where they are thick, and especially the crotch where the seams come together, hold the moisture more than the other parts.  They are uncomfortable to wear when they are wet.  I had fully expected to be wearing wet jeans all day.

Not only were the jeans dry and smelled terrific — there was not a speck of wet on them. I could not feel any moisture in any seam anywhere.  They felt brand new!

I have no doubt that not only did Luba carefully clean them, but she also ironed them dry. Have you ever done that?  Do you know how long it takes?  How long do you think it would take you if you didn’t have an electric iron?  I don’t know for sure if she had an electric iron, but chances are high she did not.  Chances are high she had one of those manual irons, where you put the bottom iron part in the oven to get it hot, then grabbed it with the tongs or top grippers and ironed until it cooled, where you then had to put it back in the oven to get hot again.  It must have taken hours.

It was an unusual kindness shown to me when I really, really needed it.  It was a huge blessing, and I have never forgotten it.  What kind of unusual kindness can you show to someone?

Posted May 5, 2015 by Maureen in Memories, Stories

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Zoya’s Hug   Leave a comment

I have been blessed to be able to go to Russia three times on missions trips with the same organization.  We visited orphanages and old folks homes outside the big city of Perm, which is about 1,000 miles east and a little north of Moscow, in western Russia.  All three trips were unique and wonderful experiences, and if I were to tell you all about it I could blog every day for a year and still not be done.

This is the true story of Zoya.  When we went to Zoya’s orphanage it was in a town about 2 hours from where we were staying.  As is the usual practice with this organization I was with, we met up with the local Pastor and talked to him about his ministry and work in the area.  Some Pastors we met with had never been to the orphanage(s) in their towns, and others had been once or twice, and sometimes (not often) we met Pastors who had regular visits scheduled and even people from the church giving Sunday School at the orphanage.

There is strong opposition to Christianity in Russia from the Orthodox Church, so sometimes it is hard to do any real ministry except on a one-on-one basis.  That combined with the general Russian attitude of “Oh – the government looks after the orphans” and what you have are towns with 5-8,000 people in them, two orphanages, and no one from the town ever visits the orphans.  Not the Christians, not the Russian Orthodox church, not the Muslims – no one.

But I digress.  In that town there were two orphanages, and unusually they were close together.  We went to the first, and when we were done many of the kids ran ahead of us (5 minutes or so) to the next so they could see us all over again.  We did our “program” if you want to call it that.  When we were done singing and telling stories and giving a simple gospel message, our regular practice was to give every single person a hug.  Men and women workers, helpers, and every single child.  I could tell you story after story of the healing, awesome power of a simple hug given sincerely and firmly without reservation.  Grown men and women breaking down and sobbing.  The hardest child melting. 

At any rate, sometimes when we did this one child would ‘latch’ onto one of us.  It varied as to whom would get a child that was just drawn to them, but that child would hang around and keep their eyes on you and just not want to let you go.  Sometimes this would be a very emotional thing for the child (and the adult of course), with the child crying and clinging to you.  Those were very hard to deal with, as eventually it was time to go and you had to peel the child’s arms off you and leave.

When we did our ‘program’ at the second orphanage I noticed a little girl sitting in the front row, watching me and smiling at me.  She had reddish-brown hair, straight and fine.  She looked to be about 10 years old, but it was sometimes hard to tell with the orphans as they did not get good nutrition and were often smaller and skinnier than they would have been somewhere else.  She had soft brown freckles on her face and a very nice smile.

When it was time to give our hugs all the kids joined in enthusiastically and the Americans all made sure, as was our usual practice, that everyone in the room got at least one hug.  I suddenly found myself being hugged by this girl.  And she didn’t let go.  She didn’t sob or cling – she just stood there and hugged me firmly, resting her head on my chest.  And she wanted me to keep my arms around her.

Her friends were running around, posing for pictures, laughing, playing with the balloon animals we had made them.  Zoya and I just stood there in the middle of all that and we hugged.  Members of my group came by to check on us and I assured them we were just fine.  I knew enough Russian to ask her name and to tell her that Jesus loved her and that she was a beautiful girl.  I had one of my team take a picture of us.

The orphanage workers don’t like it when the kids cry or are not happy.  They want the Americans to see that the children are happy and well taken care of.  There is always the hope one of the kids will be adopted by one of us, or that we will go back and bring more Americans with us.  At one point an orphanage worker came up to us and berated Zoya.  I don’t know what was said because it was in rapid Russian, but it was quite obviously a severe scolding, and Zoya shrank against me.  I just turned my head and ignored the worker, pretending she wasn’t there.  When she left Zoya and I went back to just standing there and hugging.  I gave her a squeeze and rubbed her back and she squeezed me back.  I was praying for her, enjoying the feel of this little girls arms around me.  I felt very much that she was just looking for comfort and human contact, and for some reason she chose me for that.

Another worker came by later and scolded her again, and a couple of her friends stopped by and tried to get her to run and play, but Zoya just wanted to hug me.  So we stood there a long time in a firm embrace, and I loved every second of it.  Eventually, it was time to go and we went arm in arm down the stairs and out to the bus.   The kids were running and yelling and jumping and shouting, and Zoya and I walked up to the foot of the bus and I gave her one more squeeze and kissed her.  She stepped back and smiled and waved at me, and I got on the bus, and we left. 

The next trip I went on we went to that same city, but they had closed the orphanages and the Pastor did not know what happened to Zoya.  I do believe I will see her in heaven, though, and we will be able to hug again.  Until that day, I will keep telling the story of Zoya.

Posted October 23, 2010 by Maureen in Memories, Uncategorized

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