Hello family and friends,
In Mid March we had snow flurries! The freezing temperatures come and go, but spring in Ukraine is just around the corner. My friend from Louisiana told me that he plants according to ground temperature, so we are thinking in that direction.
Our tomatoes are planted and growing toward the sunshine. I knew that those toilet paper rolls would be good for something. — Sveta planted the onions outside yesterday.
May of 2002, I boarded a plane set for Ukraine. Everything that I owned was packed in two suitcases and a hanging bag. I was moving to Ukraine for the rest of my life, although I was unsure of many things. I was certain of one thing. My faith in God would be tested more than it ever had been. I knew one person in Ukraine and I knew that I would help children. Everything else came to me a day at a time.
It happened that the father of this one person would lead me to Marganets. He would become my manager there. I had money from an American organization that I was to deliver to a church in a city call Illichevsk, wherever that was. July 7 I would begin CDTS (missionary school) in Ternopol, Ukraine for 5 months.
My faith would now be put to a test of time. I settled in Illichevsk in April 2003. By that time I had grown spiritually by leaps and bounds. Even though I was involved in the food program in Illichevsk and my clothing program in Marganets, I had much free time. The American work ethic would not let go. Eight months of waiting for God’s next step for me left me in one big knot of stress. And that led me to the development of the massage therapy program for children with disabilities in March of 2004.
The next twelve years tested my faith in many ways. God was my provider, and I was constantly challenged not to forget that fact. I was introduced to people most unrelated to my mission. Surprisingly, they would unknowingly lead me to a new outreach for the mission. Along the way, there was much down time. Thanks to the missionary school, I learned to hear the voice of God. I developed that relationship, and continue to practice listening for His voice.
Sveta and I met in 2010 and were married in 2011. Together, we look to God for provision. We love the children of MUCH, grow in faith in our church, and grow closer together as “one body, one spirit, one ministry, in Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 4:4)
Dobromel and Marganets have facilities that we commonly call orphanages. Technically, the term is ‘internat’. The children who live in the facility may be:
- true orphans,
- children whose parents have lost parental rights,
- children who had to leave their homes because of alcohol, drug abuse, or immorality in the family
- children from difficult homes
- children who live in such poverty that the parents are not able to care for them
In addition to these situations, all of the children in the two orphanages that we help have some type of physical or mental disability
The children at the orphanages who do have families, seldom go home or are visited by their parents during the school year. Some do go home for the summer, and sometimes on holidays. For most children, the orphanage is more of a home than any other experience in theirs lives.
The children at the Dobromel and Marganets orphanages require more time to learn what other pupils learn in less time in regular schools. Although education is very important for these children, that which is most important is the care and protection of the children.
Luba is the librarian and also one of the MUCH computer teachers at the Dobromel orphanage. She works very well with the children. She has wonderful compassion for the needs of the children. Her patience is remarkable! She projects her enthusiasm and love to the children.
Normally, Luba teaches five children. Because of her kindness, she has accepted five additional children. Two children must share a chair and a computer, but their hunger to learn about the computer eliminates their comfort zones.
These children need individual instruction. Luba has devised a plan to meet this need. She works with two children at a time who are on the same or similar skill levels. During this time, the other students are paired, a better student with one in need of help. They review the previous lesson and practice.
The children are very excited about learning new computer skills quickly. Luba considers their memory skills and different levels of learning. Some need to repeat and practice to maintain their new skills. It is a challenge for Luba to encourage the children to repeat the process over and over until they grasp the concept. Others have difficulty grasping the concept and putting it into practice.
Last year, we purchased one computer tablet for children in Luba’s class who can not speak. We wanted to see how it would result in contrast to the physical keyboard and monitor computer. We spoke with Luba recently, and she said that the kids really like the touch screen, and they tend to prefer the tablet. But it is too early to acquire more tablets because she must be close to the pupils to control their actions. Many of the children are unpredictable.
Of the 120 children at the Dobromel Orphanage, only 5% of those who have families, have computers at home. The children really like studying computer lessons. Luba uses interesting and easy-to-play games so that children with intellectual and communication disabilities can learn to use the mouse, keyboard, and examine other simple things on the computer. This is a great opportunity for children to learn to use the computer in this boarding school/orphanage. We believe that many of them, even with learning disabilities, will make great progress.
Living my dream,
Sveta and I thank you for your interest in our work with the children. They are so very grateful. Their lives are changing in amazing ways. Better health, better education, and new experiences are making their world grow day by day. You are changing their futures. We all thank you for your prayers and support.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta