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Hello family and friends,

Our wonderful adventure with our garden is coming to an end. It has been a big experience for Sveta and me. Now it is time to begin traveling to see the children. Visiting Illichevsk, Dobromel, and Marganets will keep us busy collecting information and pictures. In the middle of October, we will visit America for two months. I will write more about this in the September newsletter.

Mark’s Moments

Sergey, fifteen and full of enthusiasm, makes an opportunity each Sunday to speak with me in English. You read about him in the March newsletter. The story was about the English conversation group at our home. I began to think about this group and if they would continue during the summer.  The other two children showed no signs of interest in meeting with me. When I saw Sergey at church,
I asked if he had any plans for his summer. To my surprise he had no plans.

Earlier in the spring, he helped Sveta prepare some of the garden area, so I knew that he liked to work. I asked if he wanted to help me with some of my projects during the summer. Even though he did not know what the projects might be, he enthusiastically said, “I will help you.”

He walked six miles ‘round trip every Thursday and Friday to work a few hours each day. As we began each of many different projects, I pleasantly learned that most of the activities we were doing were new experiences for him. The first time that we needed to drill holes in plaster and brick, I showed him what to do. I handed the drill to him, but being a bit shy he said, “You should do this.” I insisted. From that point, he was ready to go. Shovels, garden rake, scythe, hand saws, manual and power screw drivers, hammers big and small, all brought new adventure to him.

By the time that August rolled around, he was ready for almost anything. Sveta was going to the beach with her daughter and three grandchildren for five days. This gave me time to work on tiling the floor in the middle room. I asked Sergey if he wanted to help me work Monday through Friday. He agreed, not fully understanding that we would be setting tile on two-thirds of the middle room floor. I told him to study the process on YouTube. He did.

We prepared the floor on Monday and began to set tile on Tuesday. I looked at Sergey and asked, “Is this your first time setting tile?” He looked at me with a big smile and said, “Yes!” Looking back at him, I replied, “Mine too!” With big eyes, his excitement blossomed.

Each day we made some progress, learning about details that are learned only by doing. By Thursday, Sergey was beginning to feel pain. We talked about it. The tiles are two feet by two feet. They are heavy enough to make him tired over time, but the bending, lifting, and working on his knees, used more and different muscles than he was used to using. He told me, “The video that I watched had much smaller tiles. I thought that it would be very easy.” Even so, a smile remained on his face and he worked without hesitation. By Friday, he was exhausted.

I am not shy to say that Sergey has been motivating me to get the job done. What is more important to me is what he received. For Sergey, it was a summer journey into the real world. He wants to study to be an airplane mechanic. When I put a ratchet wrench in his hand, he took the first step into his work future. He wants to study in Poland, and the opportunity is available. Time will tell.

I’m thinking that a program for young boys to learn about using tools is a good idea. It would be great to get a few adults who work in the trades to guide boys on a project that would be more than doing something for my personal needs. Rather, to create a mercy program to help people who cannot afford to have the work done or cannot to do it themselves. Boys who apply their education and learning to use tools to help people in need is a win-win opportunity. Dad, thanks for teaching me to use tools!

Sveta’s Journey

The job of our massage therapists is not limited to giving massage therapy. The children that we work with have a suitcase full of emotional, psychological, and family problems that affect the progress of massage therapy. In addition to these problems, the parents are dealing with issues of their own. Working with our children requires our therapists to use many aspects of the healing process. It is like an orchestra where each instrument is connected in harmony with other instruments creating a magnificent masterpiece.

During the last 25 years of soviet times, I had not seen a child who had a disability until I took my own child to a heath sanatorium (spa) for treatment in the early 1990s. I was growing up in in Kazakstan, Siberia, and Ukraine, but never experienced children who where unlike me. If a child was born with a disability, he/she was sent to a Baby House, an institutional facility where life is only maintained, in most cases. In the last twenty-four years, many mothers have chosen to raise their child in spite of the disability. Unfortunately, it is common in Ukraine for a father to be unable to accept his own child if he/she is born with a disability. It is a difficult task to rase a child with a disability. Many men are not ready for the commitment.

Four-year-old Sasha’s father is one example. Within the first year after Sasha was born, his father divorced his wife and move away. Two years later Sasha’s mother, looking for a loving husband and father for her son, met a man that she soon fell in love with. He was invited to move in to their apartment and live with her and Sasha. Within a year, Sasha became very attached to this man and loved him very much.

The man soon came to realize the difficulties of living in a family with a disabled child, and left them. After his departure, Sasha suffered psycho-emotional stress. In this regard, the boy lost his desire to exercise and the expected results did not appear after massage therapy. Much of the previous positive results have been lost. His mother had stress also.

Because of the lost progress, Dr. Natalia found it very difficult to work with his muscles. She did her best to keep him interested in massage therapy and exercise. The results were good. She saw reduction of muscle tension. His emotions and sleep patterns improved. Sasha’s misbehavior changed and he began to relate better to people. He started to take an interest in toys. Now his is able to stand with some support.

Thank God that He has provided the MUCH team of people whose hearts have compassion for others. Thank God for everyone who prays and who helps with finance. Each of us is part of the big picture of God’s vision.

Has the war touched my family?

My son, Misha, is 31 years old. He has a beautiful wife and a five year old daughter. He was born with a minor type of cerebral palsy affecting one side of his body. It was not noticeable enough for the doctor to diagnose Cerebral Palsy. Even Mark had not noticed it for a number of years. Misha worked hard at developing his body.

When he was eighteen, he was proving himself, mostly to himself. He wanted to join the army, but  the military government did not take him. They gave him a document that disqualified him from entering the army. Misha was very upset because he had a big desire to be in the army.  Later he took up boxing as a proving ground. That was for two years and he was proud of his efforts.

Misha went to college for three years and got a degree in refrigeration repair. After that, he went to university for five years and got a degree in mechanical agriculture. He worked as an operator at a brewery for one year. He quickly moved up to management, enjoying it for the next seven years. The past few years Misha has been restless about the seasonal supply and demand changes for their product. He wanted a change in his work and his life. He was looking for a better job, possibly relocating to another city.

Last year when the war broke out, Misha was very uninformed about Russia’s part in the procedures. He talked about leaving the country with his family. Some of his friends moved to Russia, Poland, or Belarus. Many things went through his mind.

Finally, Misha made a decision that surprised everyone. He joined the local military unit, similar to the national guard. He was told that he would be serving locally, in Mykolaiv, but that is unknown. Currently he is in training for the war. Whether he will go to active duty is unknown. Ira, his wife, has visited him on occasion, and I talked with my son on the phone a number of times.

Ira continues her work at the brewery, Masha, their daughter, continues to attend kindergarten, and life goes on. For Misha, there is no more stress about the government forcing him to go to the army. His job is to learn about army life, be safe, and stay alive. He will serve his country with all of his heart. He is in God’s hands, as we all are. Mark and I pray for him. Your prayers for Misha will be appreciated very much.

Living my dream,


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