Hello family and friends,
I begin this newsletter with the sad news about a train/bus crash in Marganets. Forty-two people died. I ask you to join me in prayer for the families and friends of those who died. The story was carried by a number of international on-line newspapers.
Our Christmas Fundraiser, announced last month, was designed to focus on our original three outreach groups: Marganets Orphanage/School #3, Emmaus Food Program and Illichevsk Massage Clinic. Our contributions have been under budget this year, and, while MUCH continues to be offered new opportunities to help children, we can only reach out as we have sponsors to support our work. Our expenses are minimal, so your gifts are working hard here in Ukraine.
Do you remember the story of Karina, the twelve-year-old who broke her neck in 2004? God taught me then that I could not help every child in need that I saw. I was recently informed that the Emmaus Food Program, one of our original outreach programs, will not operate this next year due to lack of funds. This Baptist Church program lost funding from a major foreign sponsor, as I understand it. Our contribution to improve the quality of food was less than 5% of their monthly expense. Once again, a door has closed, hopefully only temporarily. I am sorry for the children, but God has their lives in His hands. We will continue the Transportation Scholarship Program for the three young students from Emmaus who are currently in college or university.
It is not clear what doors God will open to replace the ministry we have lost, but we do have several opportunities to serve children waiting in the wings. One of them, Orphanage/Boarding School #2, also in Marganets, is funded only by the local, impoverished government rather than by the national government. This school is different from Orphanage #3 in a couple of ways. The children are able-bodied and mentally well. They are from difficult homes in the Marganets community. The children need warm clothing to stay healthy through the winter months and have similar needs as the children in Orphanage #3.
MUCH has approved a Christmas gift of socks and shoes for the children who arrive there in flip flops and no socks. We will determine if we are able to begin to help these children on a regular basis, as we have been helping the children from Orphanage #3 for the past eight years. That decision will depend in part on the success of the Christmas Fundraiser to keep our other commitments.
When I left Froonza, Crimea after my visit in January, after discussing the possibility of starting a massage clinic for the physically disabled children in the village, we had no cooperation from the local government. The doctor for the village would only recommend massage for certain children but would not be more involved. Our solution was to have the masseuse provide massage in a different child’s home each week. I believed that we had overcome the barriers that stood in our way.
As my translator, Nellya, and I approached the village of Froonza in the first days of October, Anya, the new manager of our massage program, called and asked if I would talk with the director of the Froonza Center for the Elderly. To my great surprise, the director of the Center offered the use of their massage room and their masseur for the new massage program. So, after a nine hour overnight train ride, an hour-and-a-half electric train ride (full size version), and a twenty-five-minute bus ride, unshaven and tired, I met with the director and the masseur for more than an hour. On October 2, Anya’s foster child Kolya received a massage. On October 4, our program officially began. As the results are shared through the grapevine, I’m sure that the other children with disabilities will participate. Locating the program in the Center is the best possible arrangement for the children and parents. Unfortunately, the cost for cleaning and massage supplies and purchase of a heater will be greater than budgeted.
Before arriving in Froonza, I had been in Marganets for a week. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Julia, the child from the orphanage who attends the music school, won a national vocal competition. The dance team and Julia will also compete in the national competition for dance later this year. MUCH has accomplished many things with the orphanage in the past eight years. More than anything, we have changed the self-images of the children and the staff and given them hope.
As you make your Christmas plans, please consider adding the children in our programs to your shopping list. A gift to the Christmas Fundraiser will help to keep other doors from closing, doors to the futures of these children. If writing a check, please note that it is for the Christmas Fundraiser.
Our video that is in production will be available on our website later in November. We have met with a few delays, but we are excited about what will be available to share with you soon.
Please pray for Sasha that the doctors will determine they can help her in some way. Her disabilities will become life threatening as she grows. And please continue to pray for me, our team in America and here in Ukraine, and all of our children that we will be able to continue to meet their needs.
Blessings of love and healing,