June 28 - Citizen Galina

Galina's Story

I traveled to Mstera, Russia in March, 1997 to deliver bad news to a 16 year old orphan named Galina Korneva. She thought I was coming to deliver the final papers for her adoption by Bob and Gloria Horner, a couple from my Concord Church. They had met Galina in a 1996 summer camp and fallen in love with her. They had begun adoption procedures, only to find out too late that the rules had changed and Galina was now too old to be adopted.The purpose of my visit was to let Galina know she wouldn't be coming to America. 

We arrived at her orphanage just in time to see the kids put on a fashion show. Galina was in a beautiful yellow dress which she had made. She was beaming as she walked out. I was dying inside. She didn't know the painful message I would shortly give her.

In the Directors office I broke the bad news. We all cried…for probably 10 minutes. Galina cried. Her orphanage director and his assistant cried. George Steiner, head of our ministry, cried. Katya Celenina, our translator, cried. And I cried. There was nothing else to say or do but cry.

The assistant director broke the silence when she said, "Galina has always been unlucky." That made me mad. Not at the assistant director, but at the situation. I don't believe in luck, good or bad. But I do believe in a God who can work all things together for good. 

Galina and I went outside for a walk with a translator. I encouraged her not to give up hope. God would make a way where there seemed to be no way.
But inside I was struggling with questions and grief. 

Bob and Gloria decided to apply for a student visa for Galina to come to America. They were told not to bother. Russia never gives student visas to orphans. They are afraid the orphan will just "go underground" in the US, never really go to school and never return to Russia. But they applied anyway. There was nothing to lose. And then… there was some kind of "mistake" by the Embassy. The visa was granted! We had Galina on a plane for America immediately!

Speaking no English, Galina went to Riverside High School, then Portersville Christian School. Bob and Gloria loved her like a daughter, and also provided for her like one. Gloria worked night shift cleaning rooms at Geneva College to help pay Galina's way to college. Galina graduated from Geneva College and found a job.

She met and married Eric Ferrigno, a great guy! They had planned to get married in late summer, 2007, but moved the wedding date up when I announced that I would be leaving Concord Church at the end of June and would not return to do weddings (a professional commitment I've always made when leaving a church). How honored I was to perform their wedding on my last weekend at Concord Church!

Galina received her American citizenship on Friday, June 28, 2013 at the Pittsburgh Homeland Security Office. (YES!) I was privileged to be there and share that experience with Galina and her family. 

I look back on those pictures from 1997 and am amazed at what God has done in the life of Galina. God made all things work together for good. 

And Galina, I am more proud of you than I can put into words. 

[Click on the first picture to cycle them.]