The fast track to orphan ministry

The orphanage down the street is a huge red and gray brick structure about 3 minutes from our door. We pass it all the time on the way to the Metro or for groceries and have long hoped to see the inside and made acquaintance with the director. In January Lyle wrote about the miraculous favor he received from the orphanage director in allowing a group he met through the St. Petersburg Christian University to present a Christmas program for the kids. From initial meeting to performance was 24 hours, and the experience ended with an invitation to meet another day to discuss further relationships with the children. Another day arrived just last Wednesday, Feb 27.

Lyle and I did not know what to expect in our meeting with director so we tried prepared ourselves for everything from a long drawn-out series of discussions that would end up nowhere to a possible invitation to return to observe and ease into volunteering. We simply were not prepared for tremendous favor granted us in such short order.

The director asked us, appropriately, our goals for the meeting. Lyle discussed our desire to start by finding out more about them, the orphanage and what they do, give them a chance to learn more about us and our background, our interests, and then begin to discuss some ways that we might be able to serve them. Her next question, “So, what would you like to do? How much time during the week can you give? What time is good for you?” Doing! I was stunned. Didn’t she want to know our background? or complete an FBI/KGB/FBS check? What about wanting our immunization records? Apparently not!

Lyle explained my teaching background, which brought out more smiles and clucks of approval from the director and an assistant. Since the school at the orphanage emphasizes English, I was a “shoe-in” in their minds for volunteering as an English tutor. But what about our kids? We’ve always said that we want our family to serve as a unit whenever possible. Lydia has been eager to volunteer, but her age as prevented her helping at the baby orphanages. No problem! They warmly received the idea of our children interacting with the residents. We finally decided that Lydia and I will teach English Wednesday afternoons to a group of 10- and 11-year-olds, and Lyle + boys will go on Mondays to hang out and play with a different group. Hopefully we can all go as a complete family too.

We feel the openness is genuine, particularly because they invited us last Friday evening to a special performance to celebrate all the Pisces birthdays. Only chicken poxed Kerith stayed home with a sitter. Each child born under this zodiac (about 12) received a short performance by other residents — maybe a song, dance, or poem — and a gift bag. The hour-long experience was long enough for kids to check us out and wonder about that strange family in the back of the room. Two teenager girls seemed particularly attracted to Simon and talked to him afterwards while we congratulated the director on a lovely evening and talented kids.

My first class starts already this week. Lydia would accompany me as my assistant, but since she is still in the incubation period for chicken pox, she will join next week. Am I nervous? You bet. But, I have several lessons all ready and a story book, and in my heart I carry the knowledge that the Lord opened this door. I just need to walk through it.


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