Hello family and friends,
In September 2014, when Sveta and I returned from America, we moved into our new home in southern Mykolaiv, Ukraine. The bedroom was ready for us to use, but other items like the kitchen and the bathroom were not completed. Within three weeks, the house was functional, but is still in need of many items to complete. We will be paying the contractor for completed costs for labor through August 2015. Our allotment for rent when we lived in Illichevsk, Ukraine is our budget money for finishing the house. It will be a step-by-step process. Click on this link to view the progress from the beginning. The video is about 15 minutes, but you can move through the video quickly to 10:35 to view the latest improvements that we have made.
Last fall, a new activity began in our home. Two children from our church, who are studying English at school, asked if they could meet and have conversations with me. We meet when the children have time in their busy schedules and talk about what interests them. As time went on, a younger fellow joined our conversations. It is very interesting to hear what the children have on their minds.
Early this year, I ask permission from the pastor of our church to start a home fellowship for our neighborhood. We discussed the value of home groups to strengthen the church as a body. Because of the war, churches in eastern Ukraine were being closed and pastors were being persecuted. Therefore, the home group can carry on the work of the church without the meeting at large and without the pastor.
He approved and we began inviting people in our area. Most of the women in the picture are retired, so we meet in the afternoon. There are a few others who attend that are not in this picture. Sveta keeps the meeting on track. I see change in the lives of the individuals of our group because of our discussions of relationship challenges that we face. As we change, we relate better to each other and care for each other more deeply. In spite of the language barrier, I enjoy time with our home group.
In Ukraine the first sign of higher prices is the cost of bread. Sveta keeps me in tune with the latest prices on bread. In 2003, bread cost 1.25 grevnya per loaf in Illichevsk. In the first week of March 2015, bread cost 4.40 grevnya per loaf here in Mykolaiv. That is a 350% increase in twelve years. Two weeks later, it now costs 6.60 grevnya per loaf. That is a 150% increase in two weeks.
How will aid from the International Money Fund effect the people of Ukraine this year and next? Click here to read how pensions will be reduced and heating gas will triple in price. It is a real problem that will force the people of Ukraine to change their financial habits with clothing and food, among other things. The cost of healing the economy that years of corruption has destroyed is extreme.
I have lived among the people of Ukraine for thirteen years, hearing their stories and studying their habits. They are a resilient nation who have been attacked from all sides. When the smoke rises, the people of Ukraine will rebuild themselves as a nation and become stronger and better. It may take time, but as a people, they remain strong. It is true that some have left, and others will leave Ukraine. Those who are the heart of Ukraine will stay and make Ukraine a great country once again.
At the orphanage in Dobromel in northwestern Ukraine, Volodya has been teaching the children how to use the computer for two years. He works with about eight of the 120 children. You can imagine the envy that brewed among the other children. The question that played in their minds, “Why were we not invited to these wonderful lessons?”
On our last visit, Marina, a student, peered into the computer classroom through a half-open door. We invited her to come in and she was happy to sit down at the desk and watch the work of other children. It is unfortunate that Marina can not participate because of her mental disability. It would be great to have a specially trained teacher to teach Marina and other children with low levels of mental ability. All of the children at the Dobromel Orphanage have some type of learning disability, but many of them are capable of being taught to use the computer to improve their educational skills.
We have wonderful news! On our last visit, Luba, the part-time librarian at the orphanage, approached Mark and me with an interesting proposal. Because there are also computers in the library, she suggested that she could teach the children how to work with computers right in the library. We took the proposal to the MUCH Board of Directors to investigate the possibilities of the idea.
Thanks to your financial help dear family and friends, the orphanage has a second computer teacher! Luba began working with the children in February. She sent us a report that shows her love for the children, expertise and deep understanding of the child’s soul.
Here is part of her monthly progress report:
“Children come to lessons with great joy. I am pleased when I come to work and my students are waiting for me at the door of the library. This month the children learned about safety precautions when working at the computer and with basic devices that are part of the computer. When I taught the children about the keyboard and its purpose, I paid attention to the rules of the keyboard, hand position, finger placement and key assignments.
The sign that the children are holding says,
“Hi Mark and Svetlana!”
I think that there are six computers in this class of eight children.
The children were more concerned about application. They wanted to interact with a computer game and learn what types of games would interest them. Games of logic, mathematics, or language skills, interested my students the most. Because of this, I tried to choose games for them to develop attention, ideas, thinking, and memory.
Our children with limited mental capabilities quickly become tired and their attention span is short. I try to apply the theoretical material in small pieces between short videos and games that teach exemplary character. I present this material in the form of presentations. At the next lesson we repeat previously learned skills.”
We are pleased that children have such a wonderful teacher. We thank you for your financial help to provide the best education for our children in this difficult time for Ukraine.
Living my dream,
The children, their parents, the staff here in Ukraine, the MUCH Board of Directors, and Sveta and I thank you for your prayers and financial support, encouraging words and letters. Without you as part of our team, we could not do any of the work that we are doing here. God bless you for your part in the big team of MUCH that makes our calling possible.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta