Wow. Wow. Wow. What an amazing day! Through our neighbor, we heard that a local church had their services translated in Russian. Russian speaking folk can grab some earpiece headphones and a receiver, and a translator sits in a “green room” listening to the service and translating to the receivers. So we planned to attend, so that she could feel a part of the service and not have me furiously typing and mis-typing into the iPad translator.

We pulled in and saw a man directing traffic. His name tag read, “Yuri”. We took a chance and after we parked, we approached him and asked if he spoke Russian. Indeed, he did. He welcomed J in Russian and then directed us where to go to find the translation devices. Already she had a smile on her face.

We brought the kids upstairs to the kids area. We dropped off Myles in his room and the woman working there spoke Russian. More talking and more smiles.

We sat in the service and I was overcome with emotion. Watching her listen and understand was too much happy for me to handle without my eyes leaking. God’s presence there that morning was undeniable. The message was great, timely and inspiring with a healthy dose of conviction. J really enjoyed being able to understand what was being said,

After the service, we went looking for Alex, who was the one translating. We found him and discovered Alex to be a passionate man who was delighted to talk with us and ask lots of questions. I asked if the church had any materials in Russian since they serve so many in their congregation. He said, yes, and asked if she had a Bible. She claims she does but that is was back home in Latvia. Who knows if that’s accurate. He brought us up to his office, and unwrapped a shrink-wrapped Russian Bible, wrote her a note inside, and gave it to J. I was so happy! I cried a lot that morning and I know Jelena was probably thinking what a loon I was. I told her, “You might as well get used to it. I cry A LOT”.

We went back downstairs and were introduced to several Russian families who were so warm and wonderful. They all chatted with her and it was great to hear her voice and the ease of her speaking. These people were so nice and welcoming, I was convicted of my own tendencies. Am I this welcoming to new people? Do I practically shine with the love of Christ when I speak to people? This was the experience we had. One of the men said to me, “Her Russian is flawless! She needs to hang out with my daughters and teach them to speak as beautifully as she does!”.

We found Craig and the kids again and they were talking with Yuri and his wife. Remember the nice woman in Myles’ classroom that spoke Russian? Turns out, that was Yuri’s wife. Amazing. These wonderful people invited us to their home for lunch. We happily accepted and we had a such a wonderful time. They have three kids so ours and theirs mixed well and were playing like lifelong friends by the time we left. J chatted happily in Russian, and we were grateful for a deeper conversation with the translation available. We learned more of her story, and while my heart was heavy with the pain she has experienced, I was able to tell her how sorry I was that she went through what she did. That it wasn’t okay how her life went. That is wasn’t her fault, she was just a child. I don’t know if she had heard these words before, or if she did, and hearing them again made them more true to her. Either way, we took home as deeper bond and love for this girl, and her hugs have become a bit longer and sweeter.

I cannot say enough how this beautiful family touched our hearts. We felt so comfortable and at ease with them. The fact that all three kids started screeching and whining almost immediately when we got into the car didn’t even ruin the fantastic day. J asked if we were going back to the same church next week and we assured her that we would. A huge smile and a little bounce was her response.

We are continually amazed at how God has been blessing us through this, and we pray that J sees what a beautiful girl she is, that she has value and worth, and that she is fiercely loved by her Heavenly Father. For a girl who has experienced people failing her time and time and time again, it can be a hard lesson to learn, to be able to trust that God will not fail her. I was able to tell her, “I am sorry for what you have experienced, but I am also so happy that God has brought us together”.