As the doors open to our humanitarian aid center, people begin to
file in from the queue gathered in the stairwell. Sitting behind
her narrow desk is a kind woman, smiling her welcome. This is
Svetlana or 'Svyeta' – literally, the face of Tents of
Mercy's humanitarian aid program. For some 12 years now she has
lovingly received all who have entered our doors in need of
assistance. Svyeta is a gifted listener and has heard many
sorrowful stories and has offered in return words of hope,
encouragement and acceptance.
Svyeta explained that many folks come not only to receive food
and clothing but to talk and even more importantly, have someone
listen to their story. A number of our clients held prominent
positions in the former Soviet Union. It is a sad fact of life
that in these days many former professionals have fallen on hard
times. As I make my way to my office across the hall from Svyeta,
I often see her sitting patiently as someone pours out their
lament or maybe just shares a pleasant word or two.
Over the years many people have expressed their appreciation for
the help they have received by writing Svyeta a note of thanks.
Svyeta keeps every one of them neatly catalogued in a blue
binder. Across these pages is a sample of these notes of thanks.
Of course these letters not only reflect on Svyeta and Tents of
Mercy but also on you, our dear ministry partners who have helped
to stock our shelves with ample provisions to give to those in
need. I am reminded of Paul's words to the Corinthians: "as
grace flows out to more and more people, it may cause
thanksgiving to overflow and bring glory to God" (II Cor
Svyeta displaying her book of Thank-Yous