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Hello, my name is Rina and I was born in Russia. When I was very young, I lived in a small village with my mother and two sisters. We were extremely poor and lived in a house with no running water, little food, and a bucket for a toilet. There were a lot of rats where we lived, and I would play with them.

My mother was sick and because of this, I was not allowed to be outside but I would sneak out to play with the neighbor kids. The neighbors around us knew my mother wasn’t well, so they would sneak food to me when they could or I would steal food since we didn’t have any. This was my normal life when I was five years old. I was very underweight and had medical issues as a result of abuse and neglect. My father had left my mother when she was six months pregnant with me and my mother blamed me for it. Every day I fought hard to survive my life with my mother.

One day out of the blue, a military bus came and picked me up and took me away to a hospital. I remember seeing my mother chase and scream after the bus, but I never saw her again. I had hoped that my life would be different after I got taken away from her, but I was wrong. The abuse continued in the hospital where I stayed for a month due to my medical issues. I also had tuberculosis.

After a month in the hospital, I was placed in the first of three different orphanages. I moved from orphanage to orphanage until I was seven years old. In each orphanage there was abuse from staff members and other kids. I got to see my Russian sisters occasionally but that eventually stopped and I never saw any of my family members again.

A short while after my final move to the last orphanage, 45 of us kids were told to pack our belongings because we were leaving Russia to go to America. We flew to the USA to a little town called Branson, Missouri. A group of Americans awaited our arrival at a Baptist Church. We went inside, and were greeted with families that had pre-picked their kids from the orphanage–except there wasn’t an American family there for me. I waited and waited. Finally, later that night my family came for me.

That next day began the start of many ‘firsts’. I had a fresh bed with fluffy pillows and soft blankets – I had barely had a bed in the orphanages. I ate my first real meal – a package of hotdogs, a bowl of ramen noodles and pop tarts, and had my first real bath (Mom said the bath water was so brown.) I had fresh clothes for the first time in a long time.

The American families and Russian children spent three weeks traveling together and having fun. We communicated through translators. Unfortunately, we had to return to Russia until the adoption process could be finalized. My world was shattered again as I returned back to my reality in Russia. I didn’t think my family wanted to adopt me. I had gone from knowing love and joy to having nothing again.

But after a year, my adoption was finalized and my parents came to Russia and surprised me to pick me up and bring me back to the USA. I knew once I saw them again that my life was never going to be the same. I was beyond excited. This was the start of a whole new life for me.

Shortly after my adoption I accepted Jesus into my life. I was eight years old. This was the start of my relationship with the Lord. I grew up in a loving Christian home with incredible parents and family.

Looking back on my life, I can see that God had a plan for everything that had happened to me. He had his hand on me even before I knew who He was. I am forever grateful that God gave me the family that He did. I can’t thank God enough for His ultimate sacrifice for us all, His son Jesus Christ and His unconditional love for all of us. I would not change a thing.

1 Corinthians 10:12-14 says: “God is faithful and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”


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