I have always been told about the power of a smile. How smiles have the power to change people’s lives. I was once told a story about a woman who was about to commit suicide, but changed her mind upon encountering a woman who smiled at her. Her reasoning being that if someone could smile there must be something good about life, there must be a reason to live. Such a simple, unassuming action. There are plenty of stories such as these, and they always blow me away. Smiling is something that has always come seemingly naturally to me;; I love to smile. People have asked me why I always smile, and until recently I never knew how to answer that question.
It was not until a few days ago when one of these smile stories became my own. Saturday night we held an event for the men and women of the community. We played games, acted out a skit, then broke into men and women's’ groups to talk about love and life. During the women’s session, the missionaries shared stories about their experiences with love and life. It was an incredibly vulnerable and beautiful experience.
One of the women who joined us for the night revealed to us that the reason she came was because of a brief meeting she had with Melody, Toan and myself while on a hike in the mountains of Magadan. It was a chance meeting, and it was so brief that we exchanged only a few words before going our separate ways. She told us that she was not use to seeing people smiling as we did that day. People in Russia don’t smile like that, she explained, and she was curious. So by the grace of God we recieved her presence at our event and welcome her into our community.
I have always been told of the power of a smile, but it never fully penetrated me as it did that day. I learned the true beauty of a smile and how we can change the world through simple actions done with love. I am so grateful that God has given me the gift of joy to share with the world, and I am so glad that I have received the opportunity to know this beautiful woman with a large heart through these experiences.
Jess and the Russia Mission Team