Greetings from Sunny Russia.
We were privileged to be invited to the "Fourth Forum for Foster Families in the Far East" being hosted as a joint effort of NGOs and the Russian government (Ministry of Education). A large number of various government and non-government organizations were represented, along with foster and adoptive families. Hundreds of people were there (two hundred families were invited). Overall, it was very encouraging and we commend the government authorities that hosted it. They did a very good job hosting such a big event.
This is a photo from one of the small-group round-table discussion sessions.
Various viewpoints and suggestions were given by the various parties. Most were trying to find ways to encourage adoption and foster families. The Orthodox Priests were in favor of putting the girls in convents and the boys in Military Academies. Tonya gave a brief explanation of the "Life Skills" program that we do.
We were impressed by the number of people who attended.
After the conference one of the organizers mentioned to Tonya that there was a bit of nervousness when they found out that an American had been invited; but were later impressed because he was so polite. Cecil laughed when he heard that. "All I did was nod my head thoughtfully and keep my mouth shut."
Please pray for increased future partnership with government officials.
We were able to go into an orphanage on Easter and shared the Easter story. When Tonya started the presentation, she asked the kids what Easter is, they weren't sure. A few of them responded, "Our Priest's birthday!" After that we told them the story of Jesus and the resurrection. We were able pray with the kids and give them bags (pouches like in the picture below) that were sent by American children as gifts for Russian children as a sign of God's Love.
May 9th is "Victory Day" in Russia, celebrating the end of the "Second Great Patriotic War" (World War II) against Nazi Germany. It's one of the biggest annual celebrations in Russia. The effects of this war were significant all across Russia (and what at that time was the Soviet Union). About forty times as many Russian soldiers died during the "Second Great Patriotic War" as did American. Also, about 70% of the Wehrmacht dead are buried in Russia.
So a couple of Cecil's friends dragged him downtown to watch the parade.
They will have to do some road repair next week. Those tanks can leave some tracks in the asphalt, and there were a bunch of tanks.
P.S. A story about a Russian soldier in WWII: