[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ife on the road is always exciting and challenging. You spend countless hours worrying about whether you packed your deodorant, toothbrush, clothes and all that gear you are taking on the trip; however, the real reason we spend all this time worrying about these things is because of the people we meet along our journey.
In 2011, I found myself in a little village outside of Petrozavodsk, Russia. This story was shared after the trip, but I thought I would share it here on the blog as we embark on this journey.
There are days when you awake in the morning to the coolness of the air – snow rests upon the ground, and you are not quite sure what God is going to put in front of your path. As the day unfolds before me, we are gently whisked away with the church planter to a family outside of Petrozavodsk. We quickly move from suburban or urban life to a lakeside retreat and eventually, village life.
Village life is a simpler way of life. There are less cars on the road, the homes seem to appear from among the trees, and animals are scampering about with no care in the world.
We arrive at our destination and the car pulls into the grooves the road has laid out before us. We are greeted by the cutest little puppies you have ever seen as they come racing out of the attached shed. There little paws still getting used to the snow underneath them.
We are greeted by the owner of the home who invites us in for afternoon tea. He introduces us to his daughters who come to see who has entered their enchanted castle. This visit appears to be a rare occurrence for the family.
As we sit for afternoon tea, the husband drew water from a bucket to boil. As I scanned the room, the red wallpaper with its silver pattern adorned the room. A pink bunny hung on the wall where you would expect to see a family photograph. The only light entering the house was from a window on either side of the room.
The kids come scampering back into the room, and with a few clicks of the shutter, I had moments that revealed true happiness in their eyes. I remember the girls had the cutest smiles you could ever imagine. The one little girl smiled, and I remember, wanting to sweep her up and bring her back to my dentist because her permanent teeth were already rotting.
Laughter filled the quiet room as the children (and some youth) played “paddycake”. The sounds of … Clap-Slap-Clap-Flip Hands-Slap-Clap seemed to breathe life back into this tired room.
As we re-grouped, the family's son joined the festivities – hey, why not, we are a fun bunch of folks! In the beginning, I had asked if I could take a picture of the entire family.
Similar to other Russian homes, I did not see any photographs of the family. The photograph contained smiles from the girls, a baby full of life, and a son hanging on proudly to his father.
Tea was served, and I remember, how nice it was to share some time together with the whole family. It's not everyday that I find myself in a small Russian village surrounded with happy kids, little puppies dancing in the snow, and a memory that could change the trajectory of my life.
It's been three and a half years since I took the family photograph seen above, but the story remains tattooed on my soul. I often find myself reflecting on this picture, the story, the time shared together. God uses everyday moments to provide a glimpse of our potential future. For some the vision is strong right out of the gate, for others He needs it to fester and develop a holy discontent as Bill Hybels would say.
What has God tattooed on your heart? I encourage you to stop, reflect and answer this question. When you dare to answer this question, you invite God to do His best work in you.
[alert type=”muted” close=”true” heading=””] This post was originally published in 2011 as Reflection: Faces in a Village. I wrote this post before heading out on a missions trip to Russia and the Czech Republic in the summer of 2011.[/alert]
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