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After a most interesting train ride and conversation with a sailor and his girl, I arrived in Simferopol, Crimea. I had three hours to explore before my friends from Froonza would arrive. I had slept ok on the train, so I had some energy to explore. I swung my backpack over my shoulder and headed down the street to see the sites.

Finally, it was time to be looking for my friends. We had not met in person, so it would be interesting to see if we could find each other. Andre spotted me first. Anya walked up to me and asked if I was Mark. My visit had begun. On the way to Froonza, twenty kilometers beyond Saki. I asked Anya how many children they had. When she said thirteen, my eyes became very big.

We arrived at the house an hour later. As I passed through the gate in front of the house, Anya began to introduce me to the children. As she called some of them, they appeared, springing up out of the garden, three five year olds and a ten year old. Once in the house, I was introduced to others as they appeared from different places in this ten room house. I learned that five of the children, ages 20, 18, 16, 15, and 5, were their own. The rest of the children were either adopted or were foster children.

In the process, I was reintroduced to Vanya, now fifteen. For the past five or so years he has been in a wheelchair. It hasn’t stopped his active live, though. He wheels himself three kilometers to the sea to swim, and is active in wheelchair sports. His situation has changed, but I think in a positive way. He has very little muscle tone in his foot and lower leg, so it is no longer a turned ankle that needs to change. In my understanding of the situation, massage therapy and electric muscle stimulation will help to strengthen his legs and feet. I will be checking on him.

One of three foster children, taken from the same family, has Cerebral Palsy. He has been with Anya and Andre for four years. He struggles to walk on forearm crutches, but has such dominant hamstring muscles that he cannot straighten his legs to walk. Another common problem is that his dominant adductor muscles pull his legs together. His therapy will also include massage and electric muscle stimulation. Watching him walk is truly heartbreaking. We walked to the school and stadium each day as part of his new therapy. Some people gawked at him, and some stopped to talk, but it was painfully obvious that most of the community is unaware of the disabled in their village.

During my fourteen days there, I interacted with each of the children on a different level, spoke to an English class at the school, spoke at two church services, and developed some very interesting visions for the needs of the village. As I look back on my story, Waiting for a Miracle, I continue to wonder how big of a miracle it will turn out to be, and how many lives will be touched.

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