At the end of this month my husband and our dear friend Ryan will be heading to Russia. It won't be like any trip they have been on before. It will be a mission trip where they will be loving on the sick, poor, down-trodden. They will visit orphanages and churches, meet with local Russians who have had to endure much harder lives than we can imagine here in our country. They will be laying the groundwork for our church to work future mission trips there. They will come back changed.
I know this because I have experienced it.
My first mission trip was to Poland and I had no idea the impact it would have on me. I went with the thought that I was going to find ways to bless these people in these impoverished Polish communities, who were living in the year 2004 without running water, heat, medicine, shoes, parents. How empty and desperate they must be. I just knew I had to find a way to help and bless them.
That didn't end up happening....exactly.
What did happen, surprised me. This group of complete and total strangers whose life paths crossed into mine, blessed me. With no knowledge of English, and very broken conversations through translators, these people showed me what living with joy meant. It didn't mean having the latest and greatest "stuff", having the comforts of heat or water, even having their health. And although we "know" this in our minds, those of us who are affluent, often don't practice it. We get so spun up about the tiniest minutia in life ~ my dishwasher broke, the car isn't running right, we lost the signal on the satellite and are missing our show. You know what I am talking about don't you??? :)
Joy to these people simply meant having the knowledge that they were children of a loving, compassionate God. They were blessed with TRUE joy because they were content.
I have never seen such pure, overwhelming joy. Ever.
Don't get me wrong, I am sure they would have loved some indoor plumbing, heat and free medicine (and they did love the things we did for them). But it didn't determine their happiness. They were thrilled with the boxes of clothes, toiletries and medicines we delivered. The orphans loved seeing the play we put on about Jesus and loved getting loved on. They tore through the clothes to grab a warm sweater or a hat and treated it as if it were their most prized possession.
Their lack of material "stuff" and wealth did not deter their generous hospitality as they insisted on inviting us into their homes for meals and tea. We sat on their bed/couch/dining room seating to eat. Yes, it served many purposes. They had little to give, but were willing to give it all to us.
As Vince and Ryan head to Russia this month, I will be praying for God to do mighty things in their hearts. That He will change them in a very powerful way. I pray that people who support them in their endeavor will be changed too.
This entire trip will be funded by our own personal finances but is supported by our church. If you are interested in helping with this mission trip, I am giving 8x8" canvas giclee prints of the artwork I created below for every donation of $25 or more. Your donation is tax-deductible as it will be made out to Thompson Station Church with "Russia April 2013" in the memo line. 100% of your donation will go to this trip. The church is partnering with us to help make donations tax-deductible and to support the long term partnership with the Russian missionaries there.
Every donation will go to helping fund this trip, bring supplies to orphans, widows and the homeless.
So purchase as many pieces of art as you want. Stock up for unique gifts for birthdays, thank you gifts, Christmas, Mother's Day, etc. It's the perfect size and price. Please send checks directly to me at: 5022 Paddy Trace, Spring Hill, TN 37174. Be sure to include your shipping information, so I know where to send your art to!
If you prefer to send money through Paypal, you can do so through the transfer function (just click on the pink word paypal and it will link you directly). The money will be sent using my email address: email@example.com. I understand this might be an easier and preferred method for some, but it will not be "tax deductible". Either way, we are very happy for your help!
Thank you in advance for your support!