Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reaching to Russia - Finding Happiness

Taking a minute today to lift my head above the road to recovery that we are on, I’ve been thinking about happiness. Despite Traci’s breast cancer diagnosis in early August, she and I are happy. So are our kids and our parents and our friends who have walked with us step by step since this began. I had lunch today with a friend and new partner to our ministry who complimented my disposition during this whole thing. Best he can tell from what I write and how I talk, I’m actually still a happy person. He’s right. I am. Why?

Answering this question for me is not too different than answering it for the orphans and at risk youth that are a part of YouthReach International’s mentoring programs in Russia and Ukraine. One of the main things that makes me happy is something that is available to these kids through our program to make them happy as well. So you will not think this is some narcissistic rant about how I can make me and my life happy, I am talking about this idea of happiness within the context of what we can bring to the youth who are in our programs. While we all want them to know, experience, and respond to the love of God, do we also not pray for just a bit of happiness in their otherwise very difficult lives? Of course we do. How do we give that to them though?

I recently finished reading Michael Eisner’s book, Working Together. I highly suggest it to you. Let me quote from the very last pages of the book:


“Not too long ago, the Atlantic Monthly published a Harvard University study in which over 250 men had been interviewed every 5 years since the 1940s, to determine what really makes someone happy. To summarize the results, there was just one overriding cause of happiness: sustained relationships over a long period of time. Wealth and social class didn’t mean, and even exercise only helped so much. What mattered was having real communication with someone, love, – all of which you get through a sustained…significant relationship.”


One very real reason for our happiness in the midst of this yuckiness is the fact that we have people who we share long, sustained, significant relationships with who are walking through it with us. Traci has me and I have her. We have her parents and my mother. We have my brother and his family and her brother and his family. In my inbox right now, as look at the last 9 emails I’ve sent in response to Traci’s journey, I see people I have been friends with for 14, 32, 12, 41, 25, 22, 12, 15, and 26 years respectively. I’m 41 years old by the way. Clearly, I have many such lasting relationships.

Orphans do not.

I think it is only fair that Vitya in Novosibirsk and Sergei in Donetsk and Dasha in Simferopel should have the same kind of relationship with at least one person. Don’t you? YouthReach Mentors are some of the most amazing people I know. They give of their own time, their own resources, their own passion to go, sit, talk, walk, study, play, pray for and share life together with a child in an orphanage or at risk situation. I am honored to call them my friends and partners. While God is the source they are the deliverers of happiness to so many at risk youth in their own countries. Pray for the Mentors. Pray for the kids. Pray for YouthReach.

A few things I have been meaning to share with you:

  • Buster Olney, ESPN Senior Writer, has finished his book, How Lucky Can You Be, about my college basketball coach Don Meyer. It will be available November 9. Go ahead and mark it down as one you will want to read as soon as possible. Talk about significant relationships and you talk about Coach Meyer.
  • My two oldest sons and I will be at Catalyst here in Atlanta tomorrow and Friday. Email me if you’ll be there. I’d love to say hi and drink a cup of that great free coffee with you that they serve there.
  • Think about sponsoring an orphan in our program. It’s easy and it is life changing. Click here for more details.
  • Ruslan Asadov, our Russians Operations Manager, arrived in the U.S. last night from Novosibirsk. He’ll be here about two months. Look for more information coming soon on where you can see or hear him speak while he is here.
  • Orphan Sunday 2010 is coming. Folks, this is an important day. At the very least, mention it to your church leadership and have at least a prayer that day for the orphans in our world. Be they across the block or across the globe they deserve our attention and need our help. Write me now if you want me information about how you can partner with YouthReach on this very important day. There are meaningful ways to do that will not cost anyone a cent.

Traci, by the way, visited her oncologist today for lab work. He told her that this would be her worst feeling day of this first blast of chemo. Traci kinda smiled when she heard that as she feels quite well. She has been able to do all she’s needed to do thus far. That’s a huge blessing and it is from God. We are thankful to him. Her next chemo is October 20.

Life truly does go on. So does our ministry. Thank you (again) God for that.

In Him,
Rob


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