Hello family and friends,
I arrived in America safe and sound on February 17th. The journey included four separate flights within a 24 hour period. On two of those flights, I met people from two churches, one from Akron Ohio, and the second from Alpharetta, Georgia. It was very interesting to meet other people involved in mission work. I hope to visit both churches while I am in America.
On the plane from Vienna I talked to Lynda H. from Akron about a transition home that they run in Tiraspol (Moldova). A number of years ago, I proposed a transition home for the girls at the Marganets Orphanage, but the idea was not well received. After speaking with Lynda, a new vision came to me of how to do this through a local organization. I have read about transition homes for orphanage graduates in other areas of Ukraine. It seems to be the final opportunity to help a teen, not only to prepare for the work world, but a time to build spiritual community with others in the real world.
In January, I visited the children at the Marganets Orphanage. It was so nice to see the children playing in the snow, wearing warm coats and boots. This was a delight, compared to my first winter visit in December of 2002. Some of the 156 children had received coats and boots from MUCH, but not many. And playing outside in the snow was not so desirable. Staying warm in buildings that were heated only to forty-five degrees Fahrenheit was the main goal.
The children of the second grade that I met in 2002 will graduate this year. I will miss them very much. One in particular is Luba. She was traumatized when I met her. At seven years of age, she had witnessed a murder that completely disrupted her mind. She has family but could not attend a regular school, so she has lived at the orphanage for the last ten years. Each time that I would visit, I would look for her. In the early years, I would pray with her. Every time that I would leave her, she would burst into tears. This went on for a number of years. When I saw her in January, she was wearing a very nice coat and seemed happy. We chatted for a while, parting after long hugs. I most probably will not see her again. I am sad to say goodbye to this child. I fear for her future. She remains withdrawn and without much direction. I know that MUCH has improved her life during these years; and the school has helped prepare her for her future, but I see that she needs more. A transition home would have been a wonderful option for her.
In Marganets, I have connected two churches with the orphanage. Both are having significant effects on the children during their most influential years. The children are being taught to pray, and in turn they are praying for/with other children. It has been a long process to be able to include spiritual direction along with MUCH humanitarian efforts.
I will be visiting churches and other groups until the middle of May. Please pray for my travel, that I will continue to be safe as I go to different cities. I will be sharing my story of what God is doing through my teams and me in Ukraine.
Blessings of love and healing,