Note: Several blogs were published on November 13th.
Our journey today takes us to Pushkin, where the Summer Palace of Catherine II was built. Words cannot adequately describe both the opulence and sheer excess of this palace. From the golden gates that lead to the “walking garden” in front of the palace to the gold-covered Baroque filigree on the walls and doorways, the palace is homage to a world gone by. Rather than attempt to share thoughts, I’ll simply share a few photos.
After our tour of the palace, we ate at a most delightful restaurant which specializes in traditional Russian rustic cuisine. And there was borscht. Lots of it. I’m not given to an affection for beets, so the experience of beet soup with a dollop of sour cream was not exceptionally exciting for me. But I closed my eyes and imagined the soup’s flavor without either involved, and determined the Russian’s might make a fine vegetable soup if they would just leave the beets out of it.
We then traveled to Orphanage #40, filled with children ages 4-8 with vision and severe developmental challenges. We adjusted our plans to accommodate the handicaps, and found great delight in simple acts of blowing bubbles, playing with balloons, dancing, and eating M&Ms. I believe the Lord has a very special heart for kids like these. And He has provided them a warm and loving environment with excellent caregivers. You may be asking why in the world I would consider an institution a good place, when we in the United States push so diligently for loving families to adopt or foster. We learned that many of these children are not truly “fatherless;” rather, they have been placed in the homes because their parents cannot or do not care for them. So the orphanage becomes a safe place for children who might otherwise be neglected, abused, or abandoned.
As I watched the children snuggle on Brad’s lap, and watched him tenderly speak to Sasha (a tiny boy with severe vision problems, malformed legs, and hearing problems), I wondered, “Might there ever be an opportunity for us to have a little one running around the house again?” Brad reminds me that, in working for Buckner, I am blessed with helping children throughout the world.
It’s hard to remember that when my heart is captured…