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OCMC News - Learning to Love Like Virginia

by Chris Peleshenko (Posted 12/21/2018)

Thank you for providing me with this opportunity to learn and serve in Kenya. It was an eye-opening experience to how that part of the world works. In Kenya, I found that I experienced every emotion given to mankind. From heavenly tears of joy, brought on by the seminary choir who seemed to join heaven to earth in each service we celebrated, to tears of sadness, brought on by the horrific stories of abuse and choices the young people we met were forced to make just to survive. The Kenyan people, despite their struggles, greeted every day and every person with smiles on their faces and with love in their hearts, offering of themselves to help and provide in any manner that they could. Which leads me to Virginia.

Virginia is a teacher and an example of a saint walking among us. The love she has for all children and her community, despite the struggles they face, is an inspiration to us all. She takes students in off of the streets and houses them with her own family, even going so far as to offer orphans from the street a home permanently and calling them her own.

It takes courage to respond to the horrific stories of the challenges her students face with compassion and love, not angst and vengeance towards the malefactors. As I spoke with her, I could only try to put myself in her shoes. Every emotion raged through my system, but her calmness and love were enough to quiet my soul as she showed me how she handles such situations with the limited resources she has. She tries to show her students that someone truly does love them - a love that is firm, compassionate, and one that breeds hope to "not worry about tomorrow, for today's troubles are sufficient for themselves" (Matthew 6:34). She does all of this with a positive mental attitude and a soul so full of love that it radiates from her. I truly will never forget being in her presence and pray that God continues to give her the strength and support to continue her missionary work EVERY DAY.

I also appreciate using OCMC's facilities to train and meet our team. The bonds that were created in the short two days we were there were reinforced by the struggles of travel, need, and work in the field.

I was not ready for the emotional highs and lows that this trip would bring. From the heavenly joy of being in church every day to the depressive low of exhaustion, due to jet lag and lack of sleep. From the joys of successful lessons to the sadness of hearing the stories of child prostitutes, gun runners, and drug runners. From the love shown by our mentor teens towards us and others, whom they help to get through the same ordeals they went through growing up, and do so in a Christ-like manner. From the frustration of inner team drama to the joy of support and forgiveness we had to provide in order to work together. I am not a person who wears my emotions outwardly, however, sometimes on this journey there were too many emotions to hold in.

There is so much to still digest and learn from, but the one thing I have already started to implement in my life is to look up, smile, and greet everyone with the love of Christ, just as the Kenyans do, sharing the hope that "this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

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Prayer for Missions

God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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