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Will You Go? Orphan Outreach interns recall a summer to remember
by Julie Cramer
Posted on Monday, December 03, 2012
Doing simple tasks such as grocery shopping, riding the metro, cooking meals, going to church, and feeding ducks with children at the Nikolsky Orphanage in St. Petersburg, Russia, is what Bridget Nyhuis liked most about her internship this past summer with Orphan Outreach.

RUSSIA

“In Russia, I saw a country in desperate need of a Savior and for people to live out the graciousness of that Savior before them,” Bridget said. “The kids were so ready to love and be loved.”

While Bridget felt certain God wanted her to do the internship, she is still wondering why. “While I knew God called and led me to this specific internship to Russia, I am still not completely sure of the reason.” Sometimes, she said, you just have to trust, and she would encourage everyone—“even guys”—to jump at this chance.

“There were many little personal lessons I see God taught and re-taught throughout this journey. He desires to be in relationship with us, with me. Not just a check list of: I went to church, read my Bible, did a missions trip. But He desires to be involved in our daily lives, the whole pie as my brother calls it.”

Brittany Rovenstine, 20, a senior studying economics and accounting at Oklahoma Weslyan University, was with Bridget in Russia.

“I found the internship online. I Google-ed ‘orphan missions,’ and I really liked the setup of the internship program. It was the right amount of time that I wanted to be gone—three weeks.”

She and her teammates hosted a Vacation Bible School program in the mornings at the Nikolsky Orphanage, and also worked with orphan graduates—young men and women, just like her, who are in college, preparing to start careers and families.

“They seemed very driven,” she said. “We could relate. It’s interesting that across the world people are going through the same things that you are. They’re just kids, I guess.”

It was at a crisis center and intake facility—where children are brought to be assigned to an orphanage— that a little girl pulled at Brittany’s heart strings.

“She was saying her mom’s name over and over again. The translator told me she was saying, ‘My mom is coming for me. My mom will come back for me.’ Every day I saw her, she was in tears. That completely broke my heart. I don’t understand how a mother could not be in that child’s life.”

Such hopelessness seemed to pervade the culture, Brittany said. “I was surprised that there wasn’t a sense of hope or joy. The culture has cycled down and affected these kids who have been abandoned by alcoholic parents. A lot of times you just want to fix things, but sometimes you can only do as much as God is calling and you are able to do. This is a societal problem. That was a big lesson that I had to learn.”

If she could fix things in Russia, Brittany would spark a “religious revolution” marked by people willing to live out James 1:27, which says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

“It was such a fascinating time,” Brittany said. “I learned another culture and about myself and the Lord’s call on my life, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Just being so far from home and the comfort of home made me seek the Lord and rely on him. I came to the conclusion that we live in a fallen world; we’re all sinful people, but it’s our responsibility to advocate for those who don’t have a voice.”

INDIA

From the Taj Mahal to the slums of Delhi to the snow-topped Hymalayas, India stunned two young women with its lush landscape, harsh poverty, and indelible faith of its believers.

Lacey Richards, 20, a junior at Lee University studying childhood development, and Molly McCutcheon, 22, a senior at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, studying psychology, began their three-week internship visiting a new Orphan Outreach ministry partner.

All 20 children in the Gan Sabra home have AIDS, and many of their parents have AIDS or have died from the disease.

“The first night we arrived, we prayed aloud with the kids … just hearing all the languages and seeing that the kids were in deep prayer was like a small glimpse of heaven,” Lacey said.

“The children were so excited that people on the other side of the world would come to care for them,” Molly added.

To welcome their visitors, the children hosted a special occasion dinner, borrowing silverware from their neighbors.



“I was surprised to encounter so many people in poverty; I knew it was there, but I guess I never knew the depth of it. They went before God trusting that He would provide all their needs. That hope is all they have left,” Lacey said. “You really can’t put into words what it is like seeing people struggle for the bare minimum day in and day out, and then come back to America where people are so stingy with what they have, and they always feel like they don’t have enough.”

Yet life in India was rich with experiences for Lacey and Molly. The team visited the Taj Mahal, worked with children in the slums of Dehli, and traveled 14 hours past rivers and snow-capped Hymalayas to an orphanage in Manali, where the women bunked with the girls in their dorm. There they slept on the “beds as hard as rocks,” and used the bathroom which was not more than a hole in the ground.

And driving in India was an experience in its own.

“The roads are windy towards the mountains. There’s honking and hitting the brakes every five seconds … I couldn’t even keep my head against the back of the chair to sleep,” Molly said.

A more sobering experience for Molly came in Delhi.

“The amount of trash these people live in … we were in swarms of flies the whole time we were there. It was very uncomfortable, but the kids don’t even flinch. It smells of rotting trash, and the women get paid $1 a day to sort through it. The children don’t even have clothes on to protect them from germs. It’s so sad to think that that’s all they know,” she said.

On their last evening in India, the orphans laid hands on them and prayed for them.

“It was so powerful to hear them shouting up to God and praying for us when they are the ones with all this need,” Molly said. “One thing I have taken from this trip is not only how blessed I am, but how my blessings were given to me so that I can better serve Him.”

***

If you would like to serve God with your gifts and talents through an Orphan Outreach internship, CLICK HERE. Internship spots for next summer are open now.


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