Hello family and friends,
Summer has arrived, blending hot sunny days with breezy mornings and evenings and cool rain now and then. I spent some time in the village at Sveta’s parent’s home, south of Nikolayev, pulling weeds in the onion garden. You might say it was my “time to get back to nature.” I walked Sveta to work through a scenic pine forest paralleling the railroad tracks. Later, in Nikolayev, where Sveta lives, we spent some time with her children and grandchildren. It was very nice to spend some time with her family, learning more about their Ukrainian lifestyles.
About nine months ago, I had a potential new vision for a MUCH outreach; it was about the orphanages and children’s homes in Nikolayev. At the time, I was acquainted with Sveta and had been introduced to a few of her friends. Some of them already were visiting the different orphanages and children’s homes. It seems that in every community there are people who have a heart for the children in the orphanage system. As for my part, I was looking for a connection to expand the MUCH ministry through an organization that was currently involved with these children.
About the same time that this vision came to me, I had been given the address of a missionary couple in Nikolayev. The opportunity arrived to meet them a couple of weeks ago. After a long talk, the husband, Dan, gave me the name of a man in Florida, Gary, who would be bringing a mission team to Nikolayev Region in July. He wanted his team to visit an orphanage while they were here to establish a relationship for future short- term missions. Sveta told me about her pastor and a church member who were visiting one of the orphanages on a regular basis. Okay! That was my door of opportunity, or so I thought.
I met with the pastor and he seemed very positive about everything. I returned to Illichevsk, four hours via two bus changes, with a joyful heart, hopeful that the door would open. After talking with Gary in Florida and making a few plans of my own, Sveta called with some disheartening news. Her pastor talked with the director of the orphanage and told her that Ukrainian people were welcome to visit, but Americans would not be permitted to visit with the children. We continue our search, seeking the door that God will open for us.
Today I’d like to update the situation with Sasha K. She is a seven-year-old girl who has a rare disorder – arthrogryposis. Sasha has one of the most severe cases of this disorder. It impairs her cardiac and respiratory function and causes pain in her chest and back.
A couple of days ago I called her mother and it was a pleasant surprise for me when I heard Sasha’s voice. It was obvious that she was glad to speak to someone by the phone. She informed me that her mother has a new phone number and that now she (Sasha) has her own mobile phone. Her mother is at work every day and she misses her mother very much. The phone lets her communicate with her mother during the day.
Sometimes Sasha has to be at home the whole day alone because there is nobody with whom she could stay. Sometimes she is brought to her grandparents who live in the countryside and it is a great fun for her to be there because she can be outside all the time. But unfortunately it happens not often because her grandparents have some health problems that don’t let them take Sasha every day.
I called to a new phone number of Sasha’s mother, Natasha, and she shared some news with me. Of course, the progress isn’t as we wished. The Israel doctors are slow in their help and unfortunately, there are not many hospitals in the world that could provide surgical help for such children as Sasha. The Israel doctors still haven’t sent the mother promised estimation for the surgical operation on the chest of Sasha. She called them several times and she heard again and again that she would get it soon. When she called them last time she was told that there are some changes in the staff of the clinic and a new manager promised the mother to clarify the situation and send her the estimation and answers on her questions ASAP. Natasha hasn’t received any answer from the clinic yet.
She also investigated the questions of such operations in German clinics. She got the answer that they do such operations on chest of children not younger than 12 years old. Natasha is afraid that by the time that Sasha is 12, her situation with her chest will be much worse than now. She is afraid for Sasha’s life because even today the girl has difficulty breathing because of the concave bones of her chest press on her lungs and heart.
Despite the unfavorable situation with the possible treatment in Israel, Natasha, has a strong desire to continue to “fight” for the better future of her daughter.. She continues to call to Israel clinic and send them emails. She continues learning new ways of treatment for children with such diagnosis. Natasha says that she is a “walking Wikipedia” who knows everything about this rare disease, arthrogryposis.
Recently Mark made me happy telling me that in Ukraine there are some people who are interested in helping Sasha financially. They are ready to donate some money regularly for Sasha’s operation. Of course, it won’t be enough but I believe that very soon thanks to the MUCH website, many people will find out about the need of this girl and they may have a desire to help her to live.
Until next time,
As we all enjoy our summer plans, I ask that you keep our children in mind. Some remain at the orphanage while others return to relatives. Their summers are sometime troublesome without the structure and guidance that is available during the school year. Please pray for the teen girls particularly.
Blessings of love and healing,