Imagine you are elderly and living in the countryside. You are alone and life is hard. Day upon day requires chopping and carrying firewood, hauling water for cleaning and cooking, as well as struggling to maintain an income to buy food. You are known for selling milk and yogurt and you claim yours is the best, but your only cow is getting older too. You have no husband and your only son is an alcoholic, only coming to see you late in the night when he is drunk and you are frightened to open the gate.
During winter camp we challenged students to work on serving others and to “in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”. (Philippians 2:3b-4) So at the end of the week the girls took a couple of hours to make felt blankets while the guys went out to chop wood. I heard some of the guys provided great entertainment for the locals trying to figure out how to chop the wood, and a few even had lessons from a couple of the babushkas (grandmothers).
Later in the evening we split up into our small groups and each group went to a different home of a babushka in need. We took the newly made blankets along with a goody bag filled with some cooking oil, gretchka (buckwheat) and chai (tea).
The home my group went to was as first described in this blog. At first we were unsure if anyone would answer the gate because we stood and knocked for several minutes before being greeted by an orange tabby and an open door. Our babushka had been afraid that it was her son coming to cause trouble. She was very sweet and extra, extra talkative since she gets very little company and very grateful for the gifts. After letting her chat for a bit we asked her if we could pray for anything and she asked that we pray for her alcoholic son and for the health of her cow, so Helen, one of our Christian students, led the group in prayer.
We walked back down the icy path toward our home for the week as powdery snow began to fall warmed by the joy of knowing a small difference had been made in one woman’s life that evening.