She paced the upstairs hallway, on the phone with someone important. Her voice serious and respectful as she responded to the person on the other line. The tentative smile spread to her eyes as they lit up with restrained excitement as she explained who she was talking to - "That was the "administration" and they said I'll be given my apartment this week". Hearing the good news, the SOAR team member broke into a smile of her own and congratulated her with excitement, which was received with a laugh and the tightest hug around the neck. Masha, was going to have a home of her own and she could barely contain her excitement. With a smile on her face she asked "you and the rest of the team are invited to come with me"! A hearty "Yes!" was given in response to her invitation and she quickly threw her arms around for one last hung and then skipped down the stairs to share the good news with Pastor Anatoly.
I've never been without a home. Even when my family had no money to speak of, I still had a roof over my head. I could long for "my own bed" knowing exactly what it felt like and why it was so much more comfortable than sleeping in a strange one. Masha, whose parents were lost to alcohol, grew up in the orphanage. Being assigned a bed she would use until the time when she would graduate and move out on her own, she didn't have a bed of her own. Angry and often Volatile in reactions to others and situations, it was with trepidation she was welcomed to live at the Wellspring Transition home for graduated orphans. The mission of the home is to guide the youth who come, into young adults who can care for themselves. With little to no training or preparation, most orphans graduate without knowing how to get a job, find a home, cook, clean, or do much at all. The transition home teaches them responsibility, helps them find a home and most importantly shares Christ with them. For Masha, her walk was a rough one. Following the demonic voice in her head she often ran away from the home. She lived in fear and anger. But thanks be to God - one day she heard a different voice in her head that led her back to the transition home and this time, for good. When she returned she told Pastor Anatoly why she came back: "I understood that nobody needed me except God and the kind people in the Transition Hom. Thank you, that you continue to love me and take me back again and again."
It's been four years knowing Masha. I've watched as her attitude has gone from anger and sadness, to one of joy as she became part of Christ's family. I remember seeing her sweeping while singing and thinking "this girl has changed". I remember the first time she called me her "sister" and how happy it made me to be considered her sister. The day I got to walk into her home for the first time, is a day I will never forget.
In the van, she sat tense and nervous. Before heading to the apartment, we had to first stop at the adminstration so that she could receive and sign paperwork for the apartment. From bursts of smiles and excitments, to fidgeting and staring straight ahead as if this was all a dream, Masha was clearly nervous. We arrived at the administration and as happy as I knew she was, she pasted on her Russian business face and walked in to the administration building with pastor Anatoly. When she walked back to the car, she proudly showed us her paper work and...her very own key. From the administration building she again continued to shift between bouncing in her seat and laughing to sitting as still as a mouse and holding her breath. Following the directions given to us, we finally pulled into Masha's new neighborhood. The closer we got, the closer to the edge of the seat Masha moved. Looking around at the different apartment buildings she frantically wondered which one was hers and if it would be new as the administration said, or if it would be in need of repairs. Soon enough, the van came to a stop in front of Masha's new apartment. We climbed the stairs and pulling out her key, Masha tentatively opened up the door to her first apartment. We watched as she walked through the spacious apartment. Not only did she have a large entry way, she had a small bedroom, a large sitting area, and a nice sized kitchen. The previous owners had left some of their furniture and the apartment would need very little work. She smiled at her surroundings and how big her home was. After seeing the entire apartment, we all gathered in her sitting room and prayed with her, dedicating her home to the Lord. As it came her turn to pray, tears sprang to her eyes as she thanked the Lord through tear filled words for this new home - for her own home. Tears sprang to my own eyes as I listened and watched as her heart was laid bare in her words of gratefullness, in rememberance and in dedication. Masha, had a home to call her own.