Hello family and friends,
We begin our newsletter this month with some very sad news. On the evening of May 9, the director of the Dobromel Orphanage died in an auto accident. His death will be a great loss to the children and staff who loved him with great respect. I have put together a brief tribute to him in a short video. He was a treasure to me as we worked together serving the needs of the children. Please pray that God will provide a new director who is open to the direction of God and has a passion for the need of the children.
Easter in Ukraine is celebrated in May. Here is some information about how Easter is celebrated in Ukraine and some history about it. From my personal interviews of Ukrainian people, I learned additional information. Christianity reached Kiev, (then Kievan Rus’), in 988 AD and became a state religion after Vladimir the Great was baptized into Christianity. There was a drastic change in religious practice from pagan rituals to Christian relationship with the living God. Later, to reduce conflict with the pagans, some of their practices were blended into the Christian practice. The most common are the Easter Bread and the Easter Egg.
Today, the Orthodox Easter experience begins on March 18. For the next 48 days, there is a long fast. This means that they do not eat any meat and what they do eat is very simple food. On May 4, the fast is complete and they begin Easter week. They observe Pure Thursday, and Passion Friday. Saturday evening, an Easter Vigil is held at the church from 11 PM to 3 AM. Easter Morning, about 6 AM, The priest rings the church bells, calling the people to come. With holy water, he blesses their baskets of Easter food: bread, eggs, and a candle. As the people go about the streets, to and from the churches, this day and throughout the following week, they greet each other saying, “Christ is risen.” The reply is, “He is risen indeed.” Sveta and I visited the Baptist Church for our Easter church service. We would like to share some of the beautiful songs and music with you:
Sveta and I will be in Dobromel May 24 through May 28. We are very excited to see the progress of the children who are receiving massage. Also, we look forward seeing the progress of the computer class that began this year in February. Watch the video of our interview with the manager of the Dobromel Orphanage during our September 2012 visit.
Sveta has kind and encouraging words to share about Mikola, also.
Two weeks before our May trip to Dobromel, we learned of the tragic death of Mikola, the director at the Dobromel orphanage. For us, it was a shock. All day, Mark and I remembered him. I remember when I lived at the orphanage for a month and personally saw his father’s care of the children. He lived in the house across the street from the orphanage and, often at night or early in the morning, came to see if everything was OK. He knew every child by name; he knew the children’s interests and abilities. Mikola was interested in providing real help for the children, not just for the official reports and documents. He personally delved into the history of the life of every child, and found ways to specifically help children whose parents were not worried about their fate.
Every Sunday, after the children returned from Church, they participated in all sorts of games or contests. Every teenager could try their strengths and talents in certain games, and the small children were the audience and could gain experience as they grew up and would also be able to actively participate in these fun competitions.
This is a wonderful event for girls. They show their skills in different areas: as future hostesses who can nicely serve the table and prepare a delicious meal, as a hairdresser to be able in the future to help her husband and children to look well groomed, and many other skills.
Girls getting ready very thoroughly for these competitions, prepared a variety of dishes, decorated them, and judges tasted all the foods that the girls prepared under the guidance of a teacher. Some girls had confidence and skill, and for others, it was their first experience. They had not acquired these skills in their families, but were learning them in the orphanage.
The girls also spent much time with each other doing different hairstyles, braiding pigtails, and putting flowers in a hair weave. They did it great! Director Mikola was the organizer and always participated in programs for the children.
We have prayed that the new director will also love the children and give them his time, love, attention, and care. Please pray, that God will give the orphanage in Dobromel a director with a huge heart for the children.
Living my dream,
We hope that our efforts to share more of the reality of life, as well as our work in Ukraine, through our videos, is interesting to you. I am learning to work with video and Mac’s iMovie software. I am very happy that I am able to share so much more with you.
As always, thank you for your prayers and financial support. The children thank you very much!
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta