Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Tour of the Subtropics

It's school vacation week!

My colleague Katya and I took a group to a greenhouse exhibit (botanical gardens, as they call it....sounds more exotic). Last year we had taken the same group there, only to a different exhibit.

A little background on this group of girls: I met them when I first arrived in St.Petersburg over 2 years ago, and many of my partners in ministry have had a steady friendship with them for longer than that. The kids have changed so much! They are beautiful young ladies, but unfortunately have become more and more depressed and hard-hearted; forlorn children who have grown into deeply wounded teenagers. Their counselor is dear and welcomes attempts from various Christian mentors to reach out to them. Katya visits regularly. But time is not slowing down. The director of this orphanage agreed to work with us to help Russian families become involved in foster care. We hope that it will happen soon. These girls deserve a loving home.

(I ruined the picture with my dopey American smile)

Anyway, back to the botanical gardens...we strolled along for about an hour, taking in the beauty of the lush vegetation and sniffing the glorious scents.

Then we took the kids to McDonald's, where we experienced a different kind of scent. I wasn't going to admit that we went there, but while dining I caught sight of an acquaintance of mine, Valya, who's from a rough situation herself. I had lost track of her, so it was good to see her and catch up. God orchestrates these things. Even fast food plays a role in the big picture. :)

After that outing, I met up with Sara to plan a curriculum for our new class at the school. While walking along, we ran into a little girl that Sara and I both knew from camp and whose orphanage we visit, Sara more regularly than I do. This girl was with her grandmother and I was able to translate while Sara got acquainted with her. It was a pleasant conversation and another miraculous example of God bringing people across our path. Since many of the kids we work with do have living relatives, it's a blessing when we are able to make a positive connection with the family members and meet face-to-face.

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