SPRINT Russia 2012

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What SPRINT’s all about July 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — spuperkinscenter @ 4:59 pm

Hello, friends!

For just a few hours tomorrow afternoon we’ll have only two SPRINT students outside the United States, marking today as a mid-point in SPRINT’s summer.  (For a full list of this summer’s trips, visit the SPRINT webpage).

 

I know you’re primarily interested in reports from teams’ trips, so I’ll keep this post brief.  Quickly, though, I wanted to offer some background information on the SPRINT program and our goals for all of this international travel, learning and service you’ll read about on these pages.

 

University-sponsored short-term missions at Seattle Pacific University date back to the early 1960s; participants in Operation Outreach, later renamed Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational, have volunteered in countries around the world for many years.  Serving in teams alongside in-country local leadership, the objective of SPRINT trips has always been to provide needed help, a witness to the Gospel and important learning opportunities for college students.

 

Today SPRINT is advised and supported by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development. Perkins Center staff (that’s me) and student leaders partner to recruit, train and send the SPRINT teams you’re reading about this summer.

 

It’s important for us to connect students with effective, sustainable, community-developing work that promotes long-term transformation rather than the negative, dependency-creating outcomes sometimes associated with short-term missions.  To that end, our pre-trip training and host-partner selection focus on a set of values outlined by the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizing local leadership development, empowerment and reconciliation that bridges both social and spiritual gaps. Our hope is that students will learn from effective community engagement models and apply these lessons to their future work, wherever God leads them.

 

Another key aspect of the SPRINT process is our emphasis on post-trip reflection and application.  Neat experiences, great photos and fun stories about new foods do not equal life transformation.  However, when students are intentional in reflecting on their experiences, learning take-aways and challenges of the trip they’re more likely to discover God at work throughout the trip experience and beyond.

 

To encourage the reflection process we’ll send each student a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Service as he or she returns home.  The journal highlights the importance of incorporating service and mission experiences into one’s life through reflection and application.  You might find this sample article interesting:  In “Staying for Tea” Aaron Ausland reflects on the importance of long-term commitment and listening to community in order to find one’s place of effectiveness as an outsider coming in.

 

Thanks again for your support of students as they participate in SPRINT this summer.  If you’d like more information on the program, ways to give or ways to be involved, please contact me at (206) 281-2932 or owen@spu.edu.

 

Owen Sallee

SPRINT Advisor

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God of Hope July 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — spuperkinscenter @ 2:37 pm

We wanted to start our last blog here by thanking you for all that you have done for us. Your love and support has kept us going through the hard times. God has done incredible things on this trip but one that we wanted to share with you is how all of our prayers have been answered on this trip and we know that is hugely because of all of your support in prayer for us back home! We cannot thank you enough; you have made a huge difference here!
Time has really flown by and we only have a couple of days until we return home. The time we spent at camp has impacted us in so many ways. Each one of the kids have touched our hearts and they all have been given an incredible a spirit of joy. Although their lives are not easy and they live in a culture that doesn’t always accept them, they have such joy and SO much love to give. Their workers were encouraging and so loving, always challenging them to do things on their own and helping them when they needed it. One word that we all agree best describes our time at Camp is HOPE. We have heard many tragic stories from some of the people at camp as well as one of the kids, but each story ended in hope! Some may say that these children have no hope, no reason for living, but that is not what we saw. We serve a God who is Hope. These children are so precious and beautiful and are made in His image for purpose and reason. We are so blessed to love them and be loved by them and to learn from them. When these kids look into your eyes, their eyes shine with love, unconditional love. We have felt God’s unconditional love like never before.

It was amazing to see how God has worked in the hearts of the workers at the camp. Many of them approached us saying that they noticed something different about us and asked us questions regarding our faith. One man from Germany asked us “What is with all of this Jesus stuff? Why is He so important to you?” We felt so blessed to be able to share what Christ means to us and were so excited to see people questioning and searching for answers. We know that we are not here to give people answers, because we don’t have all the answers; but to love, live differently and be a voice of hope. We are excited to continue our relationship with the workers at the camp and all the wonderful people we have met here. As our friend Eliza said, “They will always be your second family,” Russia will remain in our hearts forever ❤

From Russia with love,
Ashley, Jessica and Nerissa

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Home soon July 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — spuperkinscenter @ 4:23 pm

Hello, friends!

After a month in Russia, the team will return to the States next week. As you prepare to receive them, here are some things I hope you’ll think about to help the team make the most of this trip.

For those of you meeting students at the airport, here’s flight information:

Ashley and Nerissa return to Seattle on July 30 at 9:50 pm on Finnair/America flight 5737.

Jessica returns to Spokane on July 30 at 3 pm on KLM/Delta flight 8158.

As the group returns, they’ll continue to think through this experience and its implications for their lives. It’s likely that this mental processing will involve at least some of these elements:

· Relief upon returning to familiar surroundings,

· Frustration with aspects of home culture that appear less desirable than the cultural values experienced during the SPRINT experience,

· Sadness and joy over relationships and memories developed during the trip,

· And hopefully, Resolve to incorporate the learning from this trip into daily life as life moves on.

It’s our hope that SPRINT participants will return to “life as usual” with expanded worldviews and a clearer sense of God’s work in their lives. The learning process continues after the trip experience; students will participate in a debriefing gathering in October, and will be encouraged to continue meeting with their SPRINT team to share the story of their host’s work and encourage future generations of SPRINT participants to serve.

I encourage you to give your student time to catch up on sleep, then set aside an extended period of time to share pictures and stories. Don’t expect completely-formed opinions immediately; the reflection process takes time. We remind returning SPRINTers that not everyone will have time to hear the whole story, but that they should find a few people with whom to share the longer, more in-depth account.

I’ve mailed team members some discussion questions and a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship (www.kristafoundation.org), to help them think through their experience as they move forward. If you’ve got time, I’d encourage you to talk though some of these materials with your student.

Thanks for your support of students on this team! Please let me know if you have questions.

Owen.

 

Update from the Gulf of Finland July 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — spuperkinscenter @ 9:29 pm

Greetings from the Gulf of Finland!

The first week has finished and everyone is doing great! The SPU team and our interns are enjoying their time at the camp, as they get to know the teens they are partnered with throughout the day. It is challenging, yet very rewarding to see the impact they have on the teens and staff.

Since there is no internet at camp, this update is communicated through their interpreter

Everyone sends their greetings and appreciates your prayers!

Please continue to pray for good weather: there has been lots of rain the first week, but now a few sunny days have arrived. Swimming is a big hit for the kids, so sunshine is vital for camp.

Please pray for continued good health for everyone. Thank you for praying for Jessica and Nerissa, they are doing much better!

Please pray for opportunities to share about God with the staff of the camp. Most workers are not Christian, so this is a great chance to share Christ with them.

The team and interns will be at camp for another week. There will be another update once they come back to St Petersburg on Thursday

 

After the orphanage July 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — spuperkinscenter @ 10:52 pm

Here’s a report from the team after their time at the orphanage. It’s been challenging, but they’ve learned a lot about their role, boundaries and God’s ability to work despite obstacles.

Visit SunErgos’ blog for pictures to accompany this report: http://sunergosint.org/blog/spu-our-week-with-little-ones/

Greetings again lovely friends and family!

Our time at the Orphanage has been so much more than playing with and loving on kids. God has been doing some incredible things here in Russia! Friday was our last day at the orphanage and we all left with amazing memories and hopes for the kids. Our hearts were broken while we were there. We are trying to piece together what the experience has meant personally, for each one of us. One thing we know is that these kids really impacted us and touched our lives. We were so glad to have worked with them and although we were so sad to leave them, we are looking forward to working at the disabled camp the next two weeks.

Thursday was a really hard day for me (Jessica) as I got an optical migraine at the orphanage. I have been getting headaches a lot and would love continued prayer for our team’s health. It was extremely frustrating not to be able to go to the orphanage on Friday and say good-bye to my kids. It broke my heart to know that they were next door and I couldn’t see them one last time. However, I know that this experience at the orphanage is one that I will treasure forever. I really appreciate the help of the nurses, doctors, and translator, as well as your prayers.

I, Ashley, had a very hard time the first two days. I was not allowed to interact with my kids when we were outside and was told to leave them alone. I often felt helpless and saw their need for love and attention and it hurt me to not be there for them. But it was in those moments that God covered them, as well as me, with His overwhelming love and joy and peace. I realized that covering them in prayer was the best thing I could do for them. We loved as best as we could every chance we had, but we know that God’s love surpasses all human understanding and we have seen with our own eyes how He loves His children; it is so evident in their smiles and their joy despite everything they have gone through. The orphanage really confirmed in all of us a desire to devote our lives to serving children and the less fortunate. We have been so blessed by all of you; our loved ones back home, as well as these children and the people of Russia. God has continually opened our eyes and our hearts to the brokenness in all of us. Thank you for your continued support, we are so thankful!

“ Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever…” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
~Team RU ❤

 

Time with babies July 11, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — spuperkinscenter @ 11:46 pm

Here’s a post from the team. You’ll find photos at http://sunergosint.org/blog/spu-holding-babies/

Hello again friends and family! We are so happy to be able to update you again with how God is working in Russia. Below is our own personal reflection on the last few days at the HIV Baby Orphanage.

Jessica: I have been so enjoying our time at the orphanage! I have been blessed to work with the babies, taking them for walks and playing with them. They are so thirsty for attention and hugs-they are so precious!!! It is fun to try to communicate with their nannies and try to figure things out. One highlight from today was seeing a couple from Israel who came to see their future son. I was able to briefly talk with them and translate a few small phrases from them to their son. It is encouraging to see this hope of adoption when we see brokenness in the lives of the children. Please pray that we would be able to reflect the love of Christ to the kids and be a blessing to their caregiver’s. Thanks! My newest friend is, Masha, 1,5 year old girl. I picked her up because she was crying and pretty soon she was laughing and smiling. It was contagious-when I would make her laugh, the three other children in the play pen would start laughing too! This is one example of the blessings that I have experienced. I love this little girl so much and can’t wait to be able to spend more time with them all tomorrow!

Nerissa: These last few days I have been experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. I’ve felt excitement and joy in showing the love of God to these children who yearn for it. Marina and I have been working with two different groups of incredible children. It has been a blessing to be able to work with children who return the love you give. I see God’s grace and mercy behind the stare of each child I have the opportunity to meet. Eyes that hold more than just love, but heartache and wonders of Gods glorious world. I met two sweet little boys; Nekita and Veetya, both have completely stolen my heart. I hold them and they just rest their head on my shoulder and I feel complete. Please continue to pray for these kids as our days with them will soon be over. Pray that they will be blessed with a family who will cherish time with them and love them. Pray for health (for the kids and for us), and that God will continue to break and rebuild us. Miss and Love you all!!
And please pray for mosquito bites!

Ashley: These last few days in the Orphanage have been really eye opening for my team and I. These children are SO precious and beautiful! God has blessed me with the opportunity to work in the room with kids with special needs. These kids have really touched my heart and my heart breaks to see them yearning for love and attention. The language barrier has been a little challenging in communicating with the nurses but we found a way to communicate with gestures as well as laughter and smiles. These children are full of so much joy and love despite everything. There are some moments where it is really hard and is in those moments where I just pray. Sometimes all we can do is cover these children, as well as their caregivers, in prayer. This afternoon I was left in the room with the children who were taking naps. One of the kids, Alina, was sitting on her bed rocking back and forth. She knew I was present in the room but had not given me eye contact. I started singing worship songs to the kids and she stopped, turned and looked at me for a long time listening to me sing and then she slowly laid her head down and fell asleep. Though we have a language barrier and communication is hard, God still touches hearts and moves and works through us in so many ways; His love has no boundaries. I am overwhelmed with His love and joy when I am with these kids. Today I was so blessed by these two precious babies. Their smiles and laughter filled our hearts with such joy! We ask for your continued prayers for these children and the nurses that care for them. Pray that we would be able to show them the love of Christ in different ways and for the children in the orphanage, that they would one day be cared for by loving families. Thank you for keeping us and the children of Russia in your prayers! Your love and support makes all the difference!

With Love, Team RU

 

Update! July 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — spuperkinscenter @ 10:34 pm

The girls have enjoyed their pre-service training and are looking forward to volunteering at the orphanage next week.

More details at: http://sunergosint.org/blog/spu-finished-training-tomorrow-we-meet-the-kids/

Owen.