Remembering Christmas 2010

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I sometimes feel as though time speeds up with each year. You look around, and realize that it’s not a day or even a month that has flown by, but an entire year. And sometimes I feel as though time is rushing by for everyone, not just for myself, but for the young and for the elderly as well. But time does not fly by so quickly for everyone. When you are waiting for someone or something, then time can feel as though it has stopped. Some people live their lives waiting for many years, perhaps not even knowing what it is that they are waiting for. They wait, hoping for someone or something to enter into their life and change it.

This past Christmas we were able to visit those who have spent much of their lives waiting… and we came to realize, once again, that there are still many people on this earth who are waiting for someone or something.

We began our Christmas trip in the Voronezh region of Russia. After Russia, where we spent four days, we continued on to Belarus. The drive was very dangerous due to the constant snowfall, and there were many accidents on the roads. For almost the entire duration of our trip it snowed and stayed frigid, with the temperature dipping below -10F (-24C). But the thing that kept us warm were the faces of those who had waited so long for us. They were not waiting for presents, even though Christmas presents were welcomed eagerly, but for those who would tell them that they are loved.

Our program consisted of a Christmas play, songs, games, and of course the presents that so many of you funded with your donations. The theme of the nativity play was the weighing of decisions and we used it show the different reactions that people had when they heard of Christ’s birth. We made an effort to showcase the fact that people today must also make decisions, and in so doing they must weigh their options. To drive the point home, each scene revolved around an old-fashioned scale that we had brought with us for this very purpose. The scale served as a visual prop to help listeners understand that they too had to make decisions and weigh those decisions in their own lives.

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During this trip we were also able to visit many facilities for those with special needs and handicaps. While orphans are occasionally visited by outsiders, those children who are living in establishments for invalids are never sought out. We toured homes for the deaf, blind, and the mentally and physically handicapped. We were all especially touched by one little boy in such a place who was missing both arms and had small, malformed legs and feet. His eyes glowed warmly when he saw that visitors had come to visit, and when he was handed his Christmas present, he used his little chin to press it close to his chest. Moments like these cannot be forgotten; they often return to our minds and hearts. We remember these moments, and it seems that we were there in Belarus just yesterday. But time goes by at a slower pace for those who are alone and who suffer. So, while we are content to remember and to ponder all that we saw and encountered as though it had just happened yesterday, they are left asking “why do you not come more often?”

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By God’s grace we were able to visit close to 4,000 orphans and invalids. In three weeks we were able to drive 4,000 miles (almost 6,500 kilometers), visit 45 orphanages, children’s homes, and houses for the handicapped. But there are so many more people in this word who are waiting for someone to visit them. And it is our duty to tell them about the One who came to this earth to save us.

To remind them that He loves them and that He is waiting for them.

-Anatoly Kushnar

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