It is hard to believe that five months have gone by since I was on the other side of the world. Part of me thinks it was just a few weeks since I was teaching English and taking Russian classes, living in a rowdy dorm; another part sometimes forgets those experiences are really mine.
I would encourage you to remember our sister Star who put her trust in the Father. She still undergoes persecution in her home. Her parents are not happy with her decision to follow the Lamb, but she is slowly being allowed more freedom again. Please lift up her witness to her family and the testimony of her life. Also ask for a steady mentor for her, as many of the older sisters have taken in more younger sisters than they can handle.
Remember also our friend Justice, who fervently inhaled everything about the Father while we were with her. Since we left, she has not been growing steadily in the faith. Ask for her perseverance and good mentors for her also who can share deep thoughts with her.
I am afraid that I left you all with a cliff-hanger! How did my time end? Well, if I told you everything that happened, or even all the important things, you would be reading all day! So I will sum up with a story that spans almost our whole experience.
During the summer, Callie and I went to a village to help get ready for English Camp then go into the wilderness and—you guessed it—camp! Well, the NGO we were working with did not have all the money they needed in order to go camping. Natalya, our adopted mom, told us that there would be no money to buy candy for the children. Though Callie and I were sick, and not really that excited about camping right then (we were thinking, “what have we gotten ourselves into?”), we did have compassion on the kids. We saw how we had grated carrots enough to feed everyone for a week, potatoes for an army and bread for the whole country of Cuba. Kids need something more. We decided pretty nonchalantly to give the rest of the money that was on us (over $100) to buy sweets for camp. So we got sweets, went through camp and got even more sick! One of our friends gave us some money so we could get back to the city (thanks Kevin), and we didn’t think much about the candy.
Two weekends after Thanksgiving we were able to go back to the village the third time. We taught English clubs all day about Thanksgiving, sang songs, ate food, and played games. Later we went to our adapted parents’ fellowship for a time of feasting and dancing! We were there from seven until one or two in the morning! A messianic-Jewish group came, and we danced around in a big circle! What fun! Well, after dancing, one has to get clean! So we got all squeaky clean and had tea at three in the morning. It was then that Natalya told us her story.
She went around to all her friends, neighbors and frequented businesses for loans to get English Summer Camp off the ground. One man she went to sold meat. She asked him if he would loan her some meat and she would pay him back after camp. He said, “No way! How do I know I can trust you?” “You can trust me,” Natalya said, “I am honest woman! Every time, I pay you.”
“No, no” he said, “I cannot give you meat. Maybe you never pay me.”
“You must help me!” Natalya demanded, “These American girls, they help me. You can help me too.”
“American girls?” he asked.
“They give me much money for sweets for the children. Surely you can do something.”
Honor in question, the meat man thought about Natalya’s proposition. “If these American girls give you candy, I can help you,” he said. He loaned Natalya the equivalent of $800 worth of meat.
Come to find out, this man felt really bad after this incident. “What have I done!?” he lamented. He pondered how his business was going to survive. $800 worth of meat. What would become of him, what would become of his hairbr--, I mean family? Surely his business wasn’t going to survive since he was in the negative for such a long time.
The strong atheist broke down and said, “Oh, Father, I don’t know what to do!” He knew he had done the right thing, but he also knew that his business was in peril. His neighbors, who happened to be brothers in the faith, found out and told him they would be lifting him up. They also gave him a copy of the Scriptures.
After English Summer Camp, Natalya went to the man and told him what she had found out from the Embassy—money still wasn’t there, but it was coming. He asked Natalya then if those two American girls were believers. Natalya said yes. He then inquired if she, herself was a believer. She affirmed that too. That made him think.
Dad really started working in his heart. The day after he had cried out to the Father and the neighbors said, “We’ll ask the Father to bring money quickly,” something happened he did not expect. He went back to work and his friend from a decade ago appeared. This man had once owed him a large debt, but was incarcerated for many years. The old friend had come to pay off his debts, of the exact amount equivalent to $800. From that moment, the meat man says he started to believe. Now his faith is firm and his whole family believes.
Our Father can use candy and silly American girls for a purpose.
One seemingly unimportant act of kindness was used in our Father’s grand purpose to bring an entire family to Him. While this is just one story that we found out, I just want to encourage you that how we portray our Dad in all situations impacts the world. I believe there are stories like this woven throughout all of our lives, we just don’t often get to see what our Father has done through the little things.