Gifts come in many forms…birthdays, Christmas, time, people…2 days ago, in Russia, God gave me a gift of presence. I am in Russia…we left on Nov 2 and we return Nov 12 (just in case you feel a need to come welcome us home :)).
For the last several years I have sponsored a young man named Kostya. He’s ornery. He is sometimes in trouble. He gets a glint in his eye if he is manipulating you, but you see…he is a child of God. And God pours out his love on Kostya even when Kostya doesn’t feel it. And I love Kostya, because I am filled with the amazing love of my Savior. Isn’t it a beautiful progression?
This year before traveling, I found out that Kostya had graduated out of the orphanage and was in tech school. Wow! The emotions I felt in that moment were extreme! So I came here completely prepared to not see him, yet confidant that he left the orphanage knowing somone loved him, just as he was.
Once we got to Kirov, we got a tour of the Ministry Center at Tech 18. This is a HUGE step for the ministry in this region…absolutely HUGE! I am more than excited for them! They will be able to increase their older orphan ministry, and with the unheard of addition that it I actually AT a tech school…so many avenues for God to work!
I digress…as we stood there, Olya said, ‘One of the graduates here said he knew your team was coming and he was coming to see you.’ I didn’t dare let myself hope it might be him…
The next day we had just finished being welcomed by Gyorgy at the school when I walked out of his office…and when my amazing friend, who did keep hoping for me, turns around and says, ‘STEPH! Kostya’s here!’ I looked past her…and there he was. She says it played out in slow motion like a Hallmark movie…I’m still holding out she’s being dramatic because THAT would be embarrassng. In my mind I walked very fast to him, gave him a HUGE hug and said, ‘I thought you wouldn’t be here!’ And yes, my eyes leaked…apparently a few on the team had some leak too.
It was so surreal…when you’ve convinced yourself that something is never going to happen, then the next thing you know God does what he does and you are in the moment of one of the most overwhelming blessings!
Kostya spent the whole day with us, yesterday afternoon, and then we gave him a ride back to Kirov on our bus. On the bus, we talked close to an hour…about everything I could think of to ask him! He is at Tech 18…where the ministry center is, talk about another God moment because that means I have the best chance at staying in touch with him. He loves his classes. He likes his teachers. He hates the dorm. He’s cooking for himself. He has 5 roommates. He is having a hard time djusting to a large city, since Velikoretskoye is less than 500. He is lonely on the weekends when he doesn’t go back to Velikoretskoye. That place is home for him. He has no other family han his brother who is still there, and he’d been there 9 years.
And every time he thinks of my reaction when I first saw him Sunday? It makes him smile. Which made me laugh and say,’I am so relieved, because later I thought to myself…I hope he didn’t think I was crazy!’ Then he said…the only way he could have made that moment better was to wrap himself in a box and put a bow on it! Ha! That kid…so incredibly funny!
This is what it means to love someone so much that a normally unemotional, non-cryer is so affected by the presence of one 18 year old kid that she physically feels her heart exploding with joy. I. Could. Not. Keep the goofy smile off of my face.
This is what it means to love someone with the intense, overflowing love of Christ.
This country, these kids…this is what I was made for. These moments of pouring myself out on kids that need to feel love from someone in this world. It is an honor, and completely humbling.
And if this is what I feel for a young man who I’ve only known for 3 years, and only seen in person 4 times…how unimaginable is God’s love for me…for him…for you…for the person you haven’t even met yet?
Let God use you. Submit yourself to Him…give your heart, mind and soul to Him. I promise you’ll never regret the soaring feeling that comes to your soul during those moments. Live life with no regrets. Live it out to the fullest. Live for someone else. Live with the abandon that comes with being a part of God’s mission. And you will receive the most incredible gifts from your Savior…even when they are unexpected, and sometimes those are the best ones.