I would like to share with you an event I was honored to be part of on May 7th. As I am making my way through Europe with my sister, we stopped for a while in Ekaterinburg. We came to stay with a new friend, Dana, for a couple of weeks.
Dana works a lot with adoptive moms, having adopted two children herself. She has started a group where they can come and get resources and support. She also is building a house on a couple acres of land where she will be able to expand her ministry to include pregnant single young women who have chosen to carry their babies full term and raise them instead of aborting them or giving them up for adoption. Young women will have a place to stay with a family and be able to experience what many never have: a normal, healthy family life. They will have access to resources to help them to become independent.
In Russia, March 8th is a national celebration of women (and also the first day of Spring). Together with Dana, we hosted 15 ladies who are adoptive moms for a tea and spa day. We decorated in a casual, fun style and handmade name cards for each guest. The meaning of the name was included in the front with the inside containing an encouraging scripture verse related to their name.
As the ladies trickled in, we settled into a rhythm for the day. I did makeup on ladies that wanted it. Christina styled their hair, while another volunteer did gel manicures. Dana kept everything running smoothly and gave hand massages after the tea while I did makeup. Ladies that were waiting played games, chatted, and sipped on sparkling juice in a relaxing atmosphere.
Halfway through the 6 hour event we stopped for tea. Side table groaning under the weight of many dishes, we loaded our plates with all manner of tasty foods. We had a couple extra guests and we were very snug around the table (in other words there.was.no.space). The ladies were insistent that we join them so we pulled up a stool and sat as near the table as we could contrive.
Russian tea time is an event with much more than simply tea. There is much food and lively conversation. It often lasts over an hour and a half. During this time, ladies read aloud encouraging things about themselves that all the other guests had written and put in the jars that had their name on it. So often they would read compliments about how others perceived them and say, “oh, that isn’t me” or, “I wish I were really like that.” Even though they were a little self-conscious, I could tell it was a very encouraging time for them and it was good to see them be edified. (Let me also say that we’ve been part of this game in America, and it is very interesting to see everyone’s reaction here, as well.)
Christina and I spoke for a few minutes encouraging them that what they do makes a difference even when they don’t see it. I believe true love is never wasted. Even if it is not received, God sees it, and it pleases Him. Adoptive parents, and especially moms, can have a very hard time; many orphans in Russia have learning disabilities and because of the lack of a parental bond are behind in healthy emotional development. It’s a hard, beautiful thing these ladies do, some married and some single.
Dana also spent some encouraging the ladies. We had all grown quite emotional by this time. As one of the ladies recounted the moment when she knew that the boy she had adopted was her own son and she truly was his mother, most of us were wiping away tears. It was incredible to look around the room at these beautiful women and see their vulnerability, their hopes, their strength and to feel that we had come to know them a little and been able give them time to be refreshed and rest.
We continued our spa time after the tea and Christina wrapped up the evening by taking portraits of all the ladies who were willing. The photos are in the process of being edited and will be sent to each individual to remind her how strong and beautiful she is.