Hello family and friends,
Sveta and I will be in America October 12 through December 9. We would love to visit with you and share our story. If you would like us to visit with you, your church, or social organization, please drop us a line at email@example.com or P O Box 689, Seven Lakes, NC 27376. We look forward to sharing about the children that we serve.
September first rang in the school year as was expected. Unexpectedly though, the annual weather change did not happen on that day. It was not until the 7th of September that the drastic change took place. Temperatures dropped about ten degrees F.
Our garden is finished. We will be planting a winter cover crop soon. This will fertilize the soil through spring. We have collected cow manure, wood ash, some sand, and compost. We have prepared five holes, six feet from the back fence for fruit trees. Sveta is delighted. The people of Ukraine are agricultural people. They are very knowledgable about soil, planting, and harvesting. It is a matter of survival.
A few weeks ago we were in Illichevsk visiting the children at our massage therapy clinics. While we were there, we had a wonderful opportunity to speak with Natasha. She is in our Transportation Scholarship program. After completing three years of education in the Odessa Baptist Seminary, Natasha continues her education in her third year of university. She is studying to be a translator in English and German. If she is needed by MUCH to translate at an event in the future, she said that she will be happy to help us.
Our Transportation Scholarship Program began in 2007. Natasha is a girl with a big desire to change her life. Her father is not interested in education for her. Her parents are divorced and her mother struggles to raise Natasha’s brother and two sisters. She has a job with a small income. It is not nearly enough to raise four children, sending Natasha to university. Natasha lives at the seminary, working for her room and board while she attends university. Her travel time to university is about one hour, using two buses.
Natasha is very grateful for the help that MUCH gives through the transportation scholarship program.
She is very active in the Baptist church in Illichevsk. She sees the community as one that has hope for her future. Together, MUCH and the local church are helping Natasha build possibilities in her life. With her education, she will not only have job opportunities, but she will break the cycle of poverty in her life. I believe that her example will help other students to change their futures too.
On Tuesday, Sveta and I began our travel to the Dobromel Orphanage in Western Ukraine. Our travels have been uneventful in the past, but this one was an exception. As we walked toward the train I looked in my wallet for the tickets. To my surprise, our Mykolaiv-Lviv train tickets were missing. Close to that time, Jean, the woman who is watching our house while we are away, called to say that she locked herself out of the house. Sveta and I were processing all of this information as our train rolled away.
What were our options. First, I had to take control of my emotions about two things that I could not change. Second, we had to find out what time the Odessa-Lviv train to would leave and if we had three hours to get there by bus. It was 2 PM and we learned that the train in Odessa would leave at 7 PM. We bought tickets. One problem was solved. While Sveta waited in line to get the tickets, Jean arrived to get my key. Second problem solved.
Now it was time to understand why this happened. As I sat waiting for Sveta to purchase the train tickets, a little voice inside me said, “Maybe there is someone that you will meet who needs to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.” The rest of the story is Sveta’s. It begins in Sveta’s Journey.
When Mark realized that he lost our tickets, very unusual for him, our first reactions were disappointment and frustration. As we watched the train roll down the tracks, we discussed our options. We could buy tickets for the next day and return home or ride the bus for three hours to Odessa and take the night train to Lviv. We chose the second option. Mark told me that he had received an insight from God that we would meet someone who would need to hear about Jesus.
When we left the Nikolayev bus station, all the seats were occupied. Before leaving the city at large, the driver stopped to receive one more passenger, a soldier. He sat on the steps in the back of the bus. I was sitting on the seat across from him. When I looked at him, a great compassion for this man rose in my heart. He looked miserable and outcast. I had prepared food for our long journey. I took one part of the food and offered it to the soldier. He said that his one-year service was over and he was returning home to Odessa. He suggested that it would be better if I gave the food to another soldier. I talked with him for about three hours until we arrived in Odessa.
During my conversation with Volodya, the soldier, I realized why we strangely lost our tickets. We had to be on this bus! Volodya told me a lot about the war and about his life. He continued to say that only God could have saved his life in the war when there were a lot of situations threatening his life. He knew the Word of God. We recalled many stories from the Bible, reflecting on many places in Scripture. Even though Volodya knew the Bible and prayed, he did not consider himself worthy to come to God and repent of his sins and invite Jesus into his heart. Volodya said that when he would stop smoking and drinking alcohol, only after that would he come to God.
It was a wonderful experience when I told him, “God expects you right now, where you are and how you are. Only Jesus can help you to be free and to inherit the kingdom of God.” When Volodya said a prayer of repentance his eyes were full of tears and new light; his face filled with a lake of light. In an instant, the adult man of fifty years old was transformed. The Holy Spirit has brought light and life into him. We are very grateful to God that He uses us to change the lives of adults and children!
When Mark and I arrived after a long journey to Dobromel, the children recognized us as always, running towards to us and hugging us.
I am grateful that you, our sponsors, maintain MUCH program’s. Because of this we can embrace these children’s souls. Because of your love that you share prayerfully and financially, children receive massage therapy and computer class in Dobromel, massage therapy and transportation scholarship in Illichevsk, and clothes in Marganets.
Natasha, the massage therapist, is very grateful to all of you that the children are able to receive massage therapy that is not provided by the government. She and the teachers are seeing a lot of positive and excellent results after massage therapy. Children who did not speak before, begin to pronounce words. It improves the mental and emotional state of the children. This year the doctor removed the diagnosis of impaired posture from two children because of the results of massage therapy.
Ten year old Nadia wears a plastic corset to prevent the development of spinal deformity. She even sleeps in this corset. At the beginning of last year, the doctors said that there was not any hope for change, even with constant wearing of the corset. She received four courses of 20-day massage treatments during the school year. At the beginning of this school year, Nadia received a physical examination. The doctors were surprised. They saw no progression of her spinal deformity. Natasha watches and records the changes that she sees in the children. We believe that through continued massage therapy for Nadia, the results will continue to show progress!
Ten-year old Ivan could not speak four years ago. He was one of the children that I gave a 20-day massage therapy treatment during my 20 day demonstration in October 2011. I saw progress; he was making sounds for the first time. After four years of trimonthly massage treatments, Ivan is talking normally.
He can communicate with other children and learn school programs. It is so important to have a colloquial dialogue with his peers!
The MUCH board of directors approved a second massage therapist, Paul, for the Dobromel Orphanage. He is pictured above giving massage therapy to Ivan. Paul began giving therapy to the children in September.
Living my dream,
Thirteen years of my life in Ukraine have come and gone. We have thousands of pictures and videos that tell the story. Thank you for walking through Ukraine with us as we found the children whom God prepared for us to help, and the Ukrainian people who would do the work. Personally, I am very grateful to all of you who have held us in prayer, shared our stories with your friends, and provided financial support to create programs and projects that would change the lives of the children. You have touched my life as you provided for my needs, and now the needs of Sveta and me. God bless all of you.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta