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A Place to Grow


Elina is 23 years old. She lives in Jelgava, Latvia with her parents, two siblings, and a dog. “To most people, my life is really nothing out of the ordinary,” she shares. “But there is something that is very special to me. I’ve always loved listening to other people’s stories. Most of the time, they don’t realize how God is working in their lives. How He is arranging their circumstances. And how it is ALWAYS for their good. It’s not just a sentence in the Bible how all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28). And trust me when I say that I was no different.”

elina01Seven years ago, Elina was sitting in her room watching television on a hot summer day when she received a call from her pastor. She was concerned something was wrong, but he quickly put her fears to rest. “He was calling me to ask if I could come to Jelgava orphanage and help with translating for a team of American missionaries. It was the first time I witnessed the work done by mission teams. The American team was spending the day with the children and needed one more translator. We had a fun day together, and then said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.”

The following summer, Elina was recruited to translate throughout the busy mission season. This time, however, she wasn’t ready to say “goodbye” to the children she had come to love. “Why would I think that only guests from far away are capable of showing love to orphans? Looking back, I can see how God was planting a seed in my heart - a seed that would later on help me with all my struggles.”

Elina and her friend continued to visit the children at the orphanage, providing much-needed friendship. They loved their time with the orphans, and soon other friends joined them in their ministry efforts. The ministry lasted until several of the students graduated from school and moved away to attend university.

The struggle to serve as the team disbanded taught Elina a valuable lesson about faithfulness. “It was always clear to me that we were doing God’s work. But it’s difficult to be faithful when you don’t see any results. It is our human nature to want to succeed. But this is what I learned: The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us. God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us. He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part.”

Now, seven years later Elina is still at the orphanage, caring for the children she now calls friends - and she now works with Orphan Outreach. “God’s plans for our lives are always better than our own. Seeing how He has worked in my own life during these seven years just shows how dedicated He is to show His love and mercy to these children through each of us. I love every bit of it - especially the struggles. They show me that nothing really is impossible for God. He always comes out as a winner and I am lucky to be fighting alongside Him."

“I believe that the key to a successful ministry is to always put God first and leave yourself a place to grow. Keep in mind that only God has the bigger picture. He alone can see it and He makes all things work together for good to those who love God. Being used by God is NOT a sacrifice, it’s a gift!”

Elina continues to serve the children of the Jelgava orphanage by holding weekly Bible studies and get-togethers. She also helps teach them about transitioning to adulthood.  Elina works with both the boys and the girls and has gained their trust after these many years. That trust enables her to share about the love Christ has for each of the kids and to help walk them through the challenges they have in their daily lives.

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