Hello family and friends,
Sveta and I returned safely with only a couple of glitches. Our Munich flight delayed us a few hours, making us late for our train to Mykolayiv. We took a later train to Odessa, and then took the bus to Mykolayiv. We arrived at Sveta’s daughter’s home in time for lunch. Our next adventure was to traveled to the Dobromel Orphanage for a visit with the children in the third week of September. Our house will be ready to move into upon our return from the orphanage.
Mom continues to show small amounts of progress. My sister took her on a shopping excursion and Mom did very well. The vacancy that Mom left in MUCH is being filled by my brother, Tim and his wife, Sonya, and my sister, Mary Pat. MUCH is going through some changes, but we see that they are all for the good. Please continue to keep Patricia Koehler in your prayers.
Sveta and I attended our monthly church leaders meeting the other night. As the pastor told the story about the problems that they are having with the electric company, I could barley believe my ears. Three presidents ago, the then President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, sold the government owned electric company in Mykolayiv to private businessmen. It was theirs to operate as they wished, having the power to oppress whomever they wished.
Oppression and corruption toward our church continues in the following way. The pastor was told that they should put their church under a particular plan that would be to their advantage. Each month, when it is time to read the electric meter, the person from the electric company dreams up some new improvement that is required to keep the church “up to code”. Sometimes, the money for the improvement goes toward products sold by the electric company, other times it is simply oppression. They are told to collect certain documents, requiring a great deal of time and effort. Forcing churches to run out of money, thus trying to make them close, is the flavor of communism from soviet times, in a free society format.
I thought that the problems the current war created would cause the country as a whole to seek God, attend church with new interest, and stop all forms of oppression against their own people. In some places this did happen. After seventy years of oppression, the oppressed have become the oppressors. I saw this, even in the churches, when I first arrived in Ukraine twelve years ago. I saw it at the post office, on the train, and in government positions. As time went on, I saw less of this. Now, I am seeing it again.
Sveta and I left America on a rainy cold day early in September, arriving in Ukraine on a very warm afternoon the next day. As we prepared for our trip to northwest Ukraine, it was difficult to remember the weather in September. Dobromel, ten kilometers east of the border of Poland, is cold even when the sun is shining. In spite of the temperature, we were greeted with warm hugs from the children, tea and cookies, and wonderful communication. Sveta has more to tell about our stay at the Dobomel Orphanage.
In the end of September, Mark and I arrived at the orphanage in Dobromel after 12 hours of travel by train and 6 hours by three buses. The children recognized us from a big distance, running to us, hugging us with great strength, and hanging from our necks, like always. New children who arrived this year watched the other children interact with us. Their big eyes expressed disbelief of such freedom in our relationships. They could not understand who we were, and why the other children were so happy and excited to meet with us. The next day, the new children also began to hug us and have communication with us.
Meeting in the Computer Class
The computer teacher, Volodya, told us about eight of the children who graduated from the orphanage last school year. They don’t have computers at home, but because of the computer class, they have good knowledge of computer skills. The children studied typing text, graphic art, worked with different programs, and found useful information on the internet. They learned about other nations through the internet and studied many interesting concepts using. The children from last year have a big desire to continue learning about the computer. For the past one and a half years, Volodya has been teaching children how to use the computer through this MUCH program, seeing many good results. He is working with eight children this school year.
The manager of the orphanage, Lydiya, shared some of the positive influences of the computer class. She told about three children that she taught Ukrainian history to last year. She knew their capabilities then, and sees a big change in their abilities now. She sees positive psychological changes and improvement in their social communication. Their memory has improved and they are able to pay attention better and for longer periods of time. Their mentality has begun to be more logical.
Meeting with the Massage Therapist
Many children have different degrees of spinal problems. Busy parents have not paid attention to the physical growth of their children. Children who come to the orphanage from the Baby House have not had treatment. They only have a document that states their diagnosis, as a report for the bureaucratic system. Here, in the orphanage, we have found a solution for the children’s problems of poor posture, scoliosis, kypho-scoliosis, and other structural differences.
With big enthusiasm, Natalya the massage therapist, told us about many results due to the MUCH massage program. Ivan, standing between Mark and Natalya masseuse, has a history of heavy breathing due to pressure on his lungs. His breastbone is concave, giving his lungs less room to expand. Now he breaths freely and feels more relaxed.
Another child, Igor, has received three courses of massage therapy for each of the last three years. Each of our visits to the orphanage showed gradual change. At first, he was wild, but now he is calm. He was undisciplined and impolite. Now these characteristics have changed for the positive. His shoulders were very rounded. Now, his upper back is fifty percent straighter, causing him to stand much taller.
Living my dream,
In this newsletter, we have highlighted a handful of children at the Dobromel Orphanage who are benefiting from the MUCH programs. The computer and massage programs are bringing positive changes to the children that we had not imagined. More than twenty of the 120 children at the orphanage are directly effected by our programs. As in every portion of life, the ripple effect causes the community of children and staff at the orphanage to be effected in some way or other. Your contributions make this happen. Thank you for touching the lives of our children with your prayers and gifts.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta