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Seniors Take on Russia for Spring Break

Sophie Dunlap and Emily Stevenson, seniors, travel to Russia for a mission trip on spring break.

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Who was the trip through?

ES:  “We traveled with Randy Mayfield and a team made up of mainly Central Presbyterian Church members. We went to Russia to work with the Comfort Foundation which provides physical, emotional, and spiritual support to orphans and children in poor family situations.”

What was your motivation to go?

ES: “I really felt God calling me to go to Russia. I wasn’t exactly sure why God was having me go on this trip, but I was drawn to the ministry and I could not turn down the opportunity God had put in front of me.”

SD: Last fall my church was talking a lot about missions and about the amazing ministries working for the Lord all around the world.  I felt like God was calling me to join the mission field and to go out and serve him in a new way.  I had heard about the trip to Russia led by one of our pastors Randy Mayfield and decided to join the team, not really knowing what I would be getting into.  However, I knew that I had to go.

Where did you go in Russia and what did you do at each place?

ES:  “We visited St. Petersburg and Moscow to experience the culture and sight-see. Vologda is where we spent most of our time because it’s where the Comfort Foundation is located. We worked with young kids, as well as people who have Down Syndrome. We also went to Cherepovets and Koznikov to work in the orphanages there. We did crafts, played games, sang songs, and built relationships with kids and teenagers.”

What was your favorite part of the trip?

SD: My favorite part of the trip was the time we spent with the kids at the different orphanages. All of them are incredibly sweet and spending time with them was so much fun.  They have such different lives than anyone in America, but they act just like regular kids. Although we weren’t allowed to be explicit about our faith, we were able to show God’s love and care by spending time with the children. Even though, we were supposed to be helping them, they were the ones who impacted me.

ES:  “My favorite part of the trip was getting to go to a Russian potato farm. Our team as well as the staff of the Comfort Foundation packed into the farmer’s home. There we had a traditional Russian meal, and enjoyed a great time of fellowship. I was able to hear the hearts of the Comfort Foundation staff and how dedicated, selfless, and compassionate they are. We learned of their struggles and had the opportunity to provide encouragement for the staff.”

Being in a communist country, did anything go awry?

ES: “Our team had an interesting experience with the KGB. Before we came to Russia, there was a recommended medical insurance. This “voluntary” insurance became required the day we arrived in Russia. We were told to come to the immigration office in Vologda and spent the majority of the day signing papers and explaining that we were not aware of any necessary medical insurance. It was all a way for the Russian government to get more money. A few days later we learned that we were talked about on the local radio. So now we can say that we “broke the law” in Russia and were detained by the KGB!”

What was the most challenging part of the trip?

SD: For me, the hardest part of this trip was leaving.  Both our team from America and the Comfort Foundation team in Russia became very close.  I have gained two new families.  I have a new love for not only missions and the Comfort Foundation, but also the people and the kids we worked with.  My new connection in Russia made it very difficult to leave.”

ES: “This trip was an incredibly eye-opening experience. It really stretched me in my faith and forced me to look at my life and the things I take for granted. I couldn’t believe how positive and grateful the kids were regardless of their situation. For many of the kids, their parents left them because they are alcoholics, drug addicts, or criminals and could not properly take care of their children. I am so blessed: I have a family that loves me, I go to an amazing Christian school, and I have great friends. However, I still find that I complain much more than the children I worked with in Russia.”

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The School Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy
Seniors Take on Russia for Spring Break