Introduction by Pastor John Smith
I called Monica the cowgirl on our team. A dairy farm worker from Chambersburg, Pa, her sister Carey had been to Russia several times with the Harmony-Zelienople United Methodist Church. Monica knew her sister had been blessed by her involvement in Russia with Orphan’s Tree, and decided to experience it for herself.
I heard about Orphans Tree's work in Russia and I felt I needed to go see what all the talk was about. As I did fundraising I got asked "Why Russia?". All I could say was God has laid it on my heart and I need to go see why.
My first trip was June 2018 to the English Camp, where we taught basic conversational English to 20 orphanage graduates. We held the camp at the Kostroma dacha and had staff and orphan grads from all three Ministry Centers. It was amazing to watch how staff, orphans, and Americans all mingled and bonded. When it came to meal time we were just one big family! We ate, talked, laughed ,and played together just like a family. I never once felt like I didn’t belong. It was like we all knew each other forever. Needless to say the trip was life changing.
When I came home I decided to head back to Russia in August 2018 to help with the Orientation Camp in Ivanovo. This week long camp helps young people just out of their orphanage adapt to independent living. As I started fundraising I got asked again "Why Russia?”. This time my response was "Why not Russia?”.
At the Orientation Camp it was the same experience as my first trip. We all ended the week as one big family. As we took the grads to the dorms where they would stay while attending Technical Institutes, it felt like sending my own kids off to school. It made me realize how in America we tend to be too busy for friends and family.
So my answer to the question "Why Russia?” is "Why Not Russia?”. I now have an American family and a Russian family. I feel like some of my best friends are in Russia. I love both my families. I believe that this big family that has formed between Americans and Russians can only be described as God’s plan!