Intern Valerie Bryson reports from Belarus —

bryson2It’s so hard to believe that this time in Belarus is almost over! I don’t think I’ve ever been to such a beautiful country. Everything is green and flowers are blooming everywhere! Everyday has been an activity-filled learning experience! I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported me on this journey and allowed me to take part in the work that God is doing here. I love the people here so dearly; their kindness, hospitality, and patience have been such a huge blessing!

I had been struggling about what it should look or what I should be doing to serve God here, and then I started to read Galatians. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had put a yoke of slavery on myself by trying to make my own plan about what serving should look like. I wanted to live up to the expectations that others sometimes set for people serving in other countries. Where were the results? What if it looks like I haven’t done anything? That seemed more important than following the Holy Spirit’s leading. I wanted to love others, but I was miserable and weighted down by the fear of not being enough. But God called me to freedom. I was making this about me, when it should be all about Him. I was living in the flesh when I needed to be living by the fruits of the Spirit. I love the way The Message version of Galatians 5 puts it:

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-26‬ ‭MSG‬‬

So, once I wrapped my mind and my heart around this and started to live it out, those fears of not being enough left and I felt I could love and serve with a genuine heart.

Me and Elvira. She loves to talk with me and doesn't give up trying even though I can only understand half of what she says to me!

Me and Elvira. She loves to talk with me and doesn’t give up trying even though I can only understand half of what she says to me!

Now, to talk about what I’ve been involved in in Belarus!

I’ve been partnering with Olga Goncharenko, who is the director of Spring of Revival, a Belarusian organization, serving in various ways to many different groups. She has been an amazing host and has allowed me such rich opportunities to experience different aspects of Belarusian culture and people. She juggles so many responsibilities with such grace and shines the light of Jesus wherever she goes. It’s really awe-inspiring!

I have been teaching English to about four different groups: kindergarteners, elementary aged, a women’s group, and the girls from the Minsk Family Home. It’s been challenging as I’ve had to reteach myself the rules of English grammar, but fun!

Speaking of the Minsk Family Home, that’s where I’ve been living! The Minsk Family Home is an apartment for girls who are graduate orphans. I live with 3 other girls in the apartment. It’s been wonderful! Their names are Sveta(with the most beautiful curly hair), Lena (with the most contagious laugh), and another Sveta (we call her Sveta small since there are two Svetas). They have filled my life with an indescribable joy. They have the best personalities and it’s been amazing getting to live life with them for the past month. They have also been extremely patient with me as I try to piece together my Russian! Being orphans themselves, God has given them a compassion to go back to children’s shelters and orphanages and spend time with the kids there, doing crafts, throwing birthday parties, and just being present in the kids’ lives. It’s been wonderful to get to be a part of that.

The garden project. Since this picture much more progress has been made.

The garden project. Since this picture much more progress has been made.

I’ve also been participating in a gardening project that the girls from the Minsk Family Home, boys from the Timothy House (a program just like the Minsk Family Home but for boys), and Yasha (Olga Goncharenko’s husband) have been working so hard on. They’ve built greenhouses, garden beds, and have even begun construction on building a gazebo! They’ve planted potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, beets, strawberries, apple trees, and more! It’s very exciting and also hard work as there is always watering to do and weeds to pull! The reward will be great though!

Please continue to pray for all of the ministries going on in Belarus. That they would be strengthened and multiplied, and that God’s name would be glorified. There is amazing work going on here. Please pray for me as I leave Belarus in less than a week. That my heart would be still as I transition into a different place. That I fully trust God’s purposes and plans knowing that He loves me.

  • Valerie Bryson

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