Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Desires of My Heart


So how do you explain going to Ukraine to follow up with the children we hosted this past summer and coming home with a desire to coordinate a medical conference for caretakers of children with special needs?  How does a desire to plan for next year’s hosting program turn itself into a long term of goal of bringing the gospel to an entire community?  I can explain it no other way than by saying that God is giving me the desires of my heart. 

I am going to step out on a theological limb right here.  As I made phone calls this week, skyped, wrote letters, and met with board members, seemingly driven by a motor, I had this sudden revelation:  God is giving me the desires of my heart.  Here is the theological limb.  I did not first have a desire that God granted.  Rather, God has given me a desire.  My heart has new desires; not any that I sought after; but those that he has sovereignly chosen to give.

I remembered this today during worship service at the Church at Brook Hills.  We sang:
Praise to the Lord
Who o'er all things so wonderfully reigneth
Shelters thee under His wings
Yea, so gladly sustaineth
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

My spirit soared; seeing how my desires have been granted in what God Himself ordained to occur while we were in Ukraine.  I have known Dr. Jim and Marianna Peipon for 5 years.  Unbeknownst to me, Dr. Jim  has been bringing teams to Kyiv, Ukraine for 5 years, speaking to caregivers, teachers, and parents about a multi-disciplinary approach to treating children with disabilities.   He has been looking for connections in eastern Ukraine.  God took me to eastern Ukraine and gave me connections.  All I really wanted to do was provide disposable diapers to children who needed them.  God wanted more.

Last spring, Anton interviewed several orphanage directors before recommending one to host from.  One of the orphanages, I had never heard of or visited.  I visited for the first time this month.  I can tell you that there is a noticeable and distinct difference in the atmosphere of orphanages where there is a regular gospel presence.   When Christians are visiting, hugging, leaving small tokens of grace, there is a light not found where Christians are absent.  Anton unknowingly chose an orphanage for us which lacked those invaluable tokens of grace.  I have seen first hand how hosting can affect an orphanage.  Christian families come to adopt.  Missionaries make connections.  English lessons are offered.  Repairs are made.  The Bible gets opened.   God knew where grace was needed and He sent us there.  I remember little Yura this summer, hanging on my every word, waiting to hear how Eve would respond to the serpent.  I remember the questions about heaven, the quiet contemplation of the Jesus Film.  And I remember the coldness of the orphanage to which they returned.

I rest today in the assurance of Philippians 2 that it is God who not only gives the desire, but also the ability to do what pleases Him.  My cause, to bring grace to the lives of orphans and the lost in Ukraine, finds success because it is God’s cause:

Psalm 37:4-6:
 Delight yourself in the Lord
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
    the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

May it be so.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What If?


It seems that some people seem to have a natural gift of compassion for those with special needs.  One of the first friends of mine to ever adopt was Linda Crawford.  This was back in 1990 and she intentionally sought out children with significant needs.  I could not understand it.  Since then I have met others like Linda, as well as those who minister to these unique individuals in other ways:  special education, Special Olympics, etc.  For whatever reason, those with such unique needs and abilities were never on my radar. 

That began to change a few months ago.  Marianna Peipon told me about the lack of facilities for children in Ukraine with HIV.  Most of the regular orphanages do not want them since such stigma is still attached to those in Ukraine who are HIV positive.  I heard of someone who was fostering a lot of these children, taking them to a village near the border of Ukraine, teaching them another language, and preparing them to work in a factory that was being built in a nearby country.  Marianna told me of the children she ministers to weekly in Kyiv who have been abandoned in the hospital simply because they are HIV positive.

Taryn Kilpatrick told me about her visit this past summer to the only Level 4 special needs orphanage in the Lugansk Region of Ukraine.  She told me about Lucia, an 11 year old girl who has no use of her legs but is otherwise healthy.  And about Vitalik, who was born with no legs and has spent the 19 years of his life institutionalized but is now learning to read. 

And then I visited Lucia and Vitalik and the other hundred or so children that live in K4.  I delivered  disposable diapers because their budget does not provide for them.  I gave Vitalik a Jesus Storybook Bible.  I laughed with Lucia as she looked at each picture I took of her.  I looked into the smiling eyes of Andrey, bedridden, alone and delighted by visitors.  I held hands with Sergey whose sensory issues seem to overwhelm him.  Were conditions at K4 deplorable as some describe such orphanages in Ukraine?  No, they were not.  Instead what I observed at K4 was a system that once worked well for the purpose it was designed to serve.  What I saw were professionals who were doing the best they could with the knowledge that they have.  And I saw children made in the image of God who know nothing of His grace.
 
I left Ukraine with a God-given compassion for these children.  I also left Ukraine with dreams.  Big dreams.  What if we could continue to provide diapers on a monthly basis, long past our 6 month goal?  What if we could return to K4 in the summer and conduct a “mini-camp”, 2 hours each morning for 3 days where we make crafts, sing songs, and teach these children of the God who made them, and loves them.  What if we could coordinate, with our Ukrainian partners, a conference for caregivers of special needs children in the Lugansk region of Ukraine, made up of medical professionals from both the US and Ukraine?  What if we could somehow coordinate medical care for some of the children with medically correctable issues like cleft palates, or crossed eyes?  What if we could help establish a Christian orphanage for children with HIV who are otherwise shunned by their society?  What if we could have a part in transforming the mindset of Ukrainians that says those with disabilities are worthless, ignorant, and destined for little more than existing.  What if we can truly bring grace to Ukraine?  What if?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus

I decided that the best way to try and convey the full measure of our trip is to share some of the individual  moments that seem to scream out "This is why you are here."  This story does not directly concern orphans but its demonstrates the grace needed to be shared in Ukraine.

Before we left, I order copies of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus in Russian to give out in Ukraine as the Lord lead.  One person I gave the book to was a woman named Luba.  Luba lives in a small village that used to be a vibrant coal mining town.  It is now mostly empty.  Even Luba's apartment building has few remaining residents.

The day after we gave the book to Luba, she called Ira to let her know she had been reading "that book you gave me."  She said further that the book kept referring to another book and she wanted to know if she could get one of those, too.  The Book that The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus continually references is the Bible.  And so we took a Russian translation of the Bible to Luba.

When we arrived at Luba's apartment, she wanted to tell us more about her reading of the Stranger on the Road to Emmaus.  She explained that she usually has a difficult time reading. One, because her eyesight is bad; and two, because she has a hard time understanding what she is reading.  But as she read the book we gave her, not only were her physical eyes able to see clearly but her mind was opened to what she was reading.  She told us that as she read, she got chill bumps up and down her arms.  She had told  some other residents of her apartment about the book and now they wanted to read it, too.  She told us that she would share it and the Bible we gave her with them.

Do I want to get more copies of this book and the One it keeps referring to into the hands of Luba's friends?  You bet I do!  We American Christians so take for granted the bookstore down the street and the church on every corner.  Luba and her friends struggle to find transportation to the doctor that they know they need.  Unless we tell them, they might not even know of their need for the Great Physician Himself.

Along with the books, we also gave Luba some medicine she needed and a blood pressure monitor.  She tried to pay us back with food, candy, wine, anything we would take.

All over Ukraine are people who have never seen grace.  They cannot comprehend why we do things with no expectation of repayment.  And they cannot imagine a God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills who neither expects nor requires a single thing of us except humble child-like faith.  And even that is His gift to us, that we might not boast in anything.

If you would like to share The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus with your unsaved friends or family, you can now order it from Amazon and Grace to Ukraine will receive a percentage to help with hosting costs in 2013.



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fall Trip

We returned 3 days ago from our Fall Trip to Ukraine.  I hardly know where to begin in sharing the details of this trip.  I have to say first that God sovereignly ordained our team.  This was my first time traveling with Taryn Kilpatrick and Heidi Collett and they were awesome companions!  Taryn has been to Ukraine numerous times and coordinates the state side details of Camp Friendship with our Ukrainian partners, Anton and Ira Marchenko.  This was Heidi's first trip to Ukraine and she was such a blessing.  She left the US knowing she and her husband would be adopting one of the children we hosted this summer; along the way, she realized they would be bringing home 2 children.  Please pray for them on their adoption journey.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The One


It has been 10 weeks since the children went back to Ukraine.  I have had some communication with Tanya at Schotova, as well as the guardian, Vita.  Tanya is doing well and wants to come back to America.  I think she means for good.  Sasha K.  has already been adopted by a family here in the Birmingham area and now goes by the beautiful name of Eli Tucker.  Two families have submitted their dossiers to the SDA in Ukraine and are waiting on appointments so that they can ask  permission to adopt  Sasha S. and Valya.  Another family is in the middle of the homestudy process, seeking to adopt Zhenya.  It is my prayer that any of the others available for adoption will find families soon.

It is a sad fact of ministry to orphans that not all will find families.  We cannot understand why some do and some do not; we can just continue to minister to each one we meet.  I am reminded of a quote I read the other day:  The only thing you can do -  the only thing - is to try for the one who's in front of you.  Act as though this one....is the only person in the world - because to do otherwise is to lose that one, too. One at a time, that is all you can do. And you learn not to despair over all the ones you can't help, but only to do what you can."  Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander)

As we prepare to travel to Ukraine in 7 days, this is the cry of my heart:  Lord, may we do all that we can for those you place in front of us.  The bed-ridden child in the special needs orphanage; the Director who might have never met a Christ follower; the village child who still has parents but who is hungry and cold; the orphan graduate who is despairing of his future; the orphan who longs for a family; the “social orphan” who wants nothing more than to be returned to her “real” family.  No matter who we meet, may they feel like they were the most important person to us in that moment.   And may we have the opportunity to share with them their worth to the God of the universe.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Its been a week

One week ago today, the children left Birmingham, headed back to Ukraine.  Many tears were shed that morning by both Ukrainians and Americans.  There were a few children who had family in Ukraine (not parents, but family) that they missed and wanted to tell about their experiences here; yet even those cried over leaving behind the new relationships they had found here.  There were some children who had no one in Ukraine to welcome them back.  A few of those simply asked "Can I stay here?"

One of the hardest things for me personally was saying good bye to a few of the kids who had made such transformations in their time here.  A boy who had arrived withdrawn, trying only to muster up a smile for the camera.  But in his last week here, outgoing and full of laughter, even translating our English to the other kids.  The girl who literally blossomed before our eyes, arriving as  shy and unsure of herself, leaving with self confidence and a sparkle in her eyes.

But despite the pain involved in saying goodbye,  our time together was precious and sovereignly ordained by God for each child and each American who helped, prayed, visited, chaperoned, and brought a meal.  I feel confident that each child heard the Gospel while here and trust that God will water the seeds planted and bring the fruit.  I am already looking forward to visiting these children and their orphanages in October.  I am already asking God how we can help water the seeds that were planted.

Four of the children that were here live in Belaroschenka and translator extraordinaire Anton had a camp already organized for their village.  Teams from American are traveling there this summer to share the Gospel and love on our 4 kids as well as other needy children in the village.  The other 6 children returned to Schotova where an American family was waiting to initiate the adoption process for one of them.  All 5 of the other children enjoyed their visit as well.  Now those 5 are in a government-sponsored camp for the rest of the summer.

I am thankful for technology; that we are able to see pictures of the kids at their orphanages and hear how they are doing.  I am thankful for partners in ministry that update their work there and give us the opportunity to participate.  Because of these blessings, we can correspond with the children and continue to build relationships with them, assuring them of God's love and presence.  Contact me if you, too, would like to send letters to the children that you met this summer.  Our investment in the lives of these children is an eternal one.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sabrinya!

Every night for a month we gathered in this room for what became known as "sabrinya".  We discussed our experiences for that day and our plans for tomorrow.  And then the kids would ask for "the story".  The story was a snippet from the Word of God; we started at Genesis 1 their first night here; some hearing for the first time how sin entered the world and of God's promise of the Deliverer.  We contemplated the curse of sin, we read of God's wrath  being poured out on the Cross, and we ended last night in Revelation 22 with the hope of our eternal reign with Christ.  Sometimes the kids complained that the story was too short.  Sometimes they asked really good questions: "why will Jesus come again?"; "so we won't ALL go to heaven then?" In discussing the woman caught in adultery, they made their own connection between faith and repentance, suggesting that had the woman gone right back into her sinful lifestyle, she most likely did not really have faith.  Nightly, we thanked God for His blessings and we asked for faith to see and believe that Christ was our only way to God.  I had not planned a sabrinya for this morning.  But as we waited for time to load up in the van for the trip to the airport, Lena plopped down in the bean bag chair and with a heart full of memories and emotion, exclaimed "Sabrinya!" and then she burst into tears.  And so we prayed together one final time.  If you are a Christ follower, please pray for each of these precious children, that the Gospel they heard will bear fruit unto salvation.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Thanksgiving Continues

Yes, Marilyn Speakman heard about us through Erica Williams who met us at a conference in the spring.  Marilyn has done one of the most helpful things that anyone can do.  She has prayed for us and told others about us.  Their church, First Baptist of Pleasant Grove, loaned their bus for the airport trip.  They provided a day of fishing and they welcomed us to their church, giving us a few minutes to talk about who we are.  We have mande many new friends through Marilyn.

Olga McBride lives in Dothan.  She is originally from Russia and is a wonderful translator.  She has been driving from Dothan and spending weekdays here in Birmingham.  She goes home on the weekends, then is back on Monday morning.  Thank you, Michael, for sharing your wife with us.

To everyone who has brought meals, donated clothes, paid for outings, provided transportation, done root canals and fillings; to all of you who hugged the kids, tried out your Russian with them, made jewelry with them, swam with them:  you are awesome and God has used you in a mighty way.  Thank you from me, and from them.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thanksgiving

Sometimes I hesitate to say thank you online because I am afraid I will leave someone out.  But today I am making a go at saying thanks to some people who have been indispensable the last 2 weeks; if I leave someone out, forgive me.  I am sure I will remember it in the middle of the night and not be able to sleep until I add you.

Terri Garver and her husband Andy have been able to raise funds for airline tickets as well as get us sponsors to all sorts of events.  Plus, Terri is willing to be my friend even though I boss her around.  At least she lets me think that I do that; I am not so sure.

Staci Hennesy has been managing the kitchen like a pro.  I had no idea beforehand she was going to be able to help us.  I don't know what I thought I was going to do without her.

Last night as I watched Rebekah Mote massage Vita's feet (Vita is the guardian), I was like "Thank you, God, for this servant's heart."  From massages to cleaning up the kitchen to bringing in fruit, she is a true blessing.

The first morning the kids were here, Michele Isbell drove 2 hours from Auburn to bring them borsch and then immediately drove 2 hours back because she had a prior commitment.  She has done that several times; once to loan me her 12- passenger van.

Micki Ray has been remodeling her kitchen for 8 months I think.  She signed up for multiple meals the first few days the kids were here, even before she had an oven installed.  We ate for at least a week because of her.

Marilyn Speakman.  Well, I have to stop now because I have to go shoo wet kids out of the house; but lets just say I am thankful for everyone who has given, who has visited, who has prayed.  I will tell yall about Marilyn at a later date.  


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thoughts on our time at the beach

The kids have enjoyed their time on the beach.  We are so grateful to the Kilpatricks for this time.  Just some random thoughts:
This is Katelyn Brock's last weekend with us.  She leaves for Ecuador on Tuesday to spend the rest of the summer with her family.  She has been a blessing and we will miss her.
Jenn and Mark Smith are a blessing and have done a remarkable job with their 4 Ukrainian children, all adopted at an older age.  They each have a servant's heart and poured love on the kids this weekend.  Taryn Kilpatrick asked a "random" worker at Walmart for a discount if any of the kids went slightly over their allotted gift card amount.  She said no; then showed up at Taryn's side and paid in full for one of the kids' purchases because her dad was from Ukraine and she wanted to give back.  Perfect timing as we discuss God's sovereignty and personal interaction in the lives of man.  Thank you, Alex.
Children are way pickier at shopping when its their own money.  We were in Walmart for 2 grueling hours.  Only 4 of them spend their full amount. The rest will go again in Birmingham.
While it is true that not all Christians are called to adopt, they are all called to visit.  Was reminded of that this weekend.  I was also reminded that those who are called to adopt, will be provided for financially by the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. 
The kids miss "home".  The one in Birmingham.  Bittersweet.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

why bad things happen

Tonight Yura was in the kitchen asking for his nightly bowl of cereal.  We were talking and I asked him about his siblings?  How many do you have?  One brother.  How old is he?  16?  Is he still in school.  No.  He is in jail.  I was not expecting that.  I didn't know what to say.  He started to tear up.  I told him Roman brother had also been in jail and that I was sorry.  He quickly changed the subject.  We had just talked during "sabrainya" about why bad things happen.  That God is good and He loves us but when sin entered the world, bad things began to happen and they still happen to us.  I prayed for them that God would bring comfort to them when bad things happen.  But I don't want bad things to happen to them anymore.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Theology 101

Every night we have a "sabrainya" or gathering before bed.  We talk about our day; our tomorrow and we talk about God.  We have made it through the third chapter of Genesis with some diversions along the way.  It is a luxury to have a month to share the gospel as it appears from Genesis to Revelation.  Tonight we talked about Adam and Eve's sin. Many of the children have never heard how God created the world; or how man sinned against their maker.  Sweet little Yura was hanging on every word, waiting to hear how Eve responded to the lies of the serpent.  Pray for these young hearts, that God would reveal himself to them in a most powerful way; and they would be able to go back to Ukraine recipients of His grace. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Graduating from the orphanage

Kids go through the 9th grade in the typical Ukrainian orphanage; then they go on to a trade school for the 10th and 11th grade.  The supervision there is not the same as in the orphanage.  Yes, they get fed and have a roof over their head and even get a small stipend from the government.  But they have a lot of hard choices to make when sex, drugs, alcohol and crime are but a breath away.  Many graduates do not stay in school; many give in to the various temptations.  But can we blame them?   Even a well-parented 16 year old would have a hard time being thrust out on his own.  Or what about a well-parented 15 year old?  Or 14 year old?  Could your 13 year old make good choices if left to his own devices?  One of my Ukrainian sons would have graduated from the orphanage at 13 due to being moved up several grades in school.  I thought this was unusual.  But at least 3 of our hosted kids will graduate next year, two at age 14 and one at age 13.  They are much too young for the "freedom" of a trade school.  And it bothers me.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Joseph Innocent

I am judgmental.  I didn't realize it but I am.  Or was.  Now, I am just humbled.  My daughter, Vicka, has been attending Alabama Driving School.  Her instructor is from India.  He works a full time job during the week, then teaches driving all day Saturday and Sunday.  He charges $50 an hour and teaches in 2 hour blocks.  I have remarked that he is living the American dream.  Today, when I paid him, he started telling me about an organization that he supports in India.  My first thought was "he is about to ask me for money".  The organization is called Sunmary Trust.  It was established in honor of his sister and brother-in-law who were killed in an automobile accident in 2004.  The trust cares for lepers, destitute women, and, need I say more, orphans.  As he handed my $100 back to me, Joseph Innocent said, "I do this so I can give back to orphans in India.  I give 80% of what I earn on the weekends to the Sunmary Trust.  I keep 20% for gas and car maintenance.  Vicka told me about what you are doing next week with orphans.  You are already doing what I am doing, so you do not need to pay me." He was not asking for money, he was giving it.   Joseph Innocent is not living the American dream.  He is living a radical life and he has inspired and encouraged me more than he will ever know.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It is God Himself who supports the fatherless

This morning as I was praying for the children, I "randomly" chose Psalm 146 to read.  I was reminded that it is the Lord who opens blind eyes.  It is the Lord who raises up those who are bowed down.  The Lord protects the strangers.  The Lord supports the fatherless and the widow.  God does all.  Is all.  Will be all.  What a joy to rest in his sovereign control of which children are coming; of what individuals, families, and churches will minister to them; of whose eyes will be opened.  My work is easy.  I get to love and spend time with precious kids and awesome fellow believers while God Himself supports the fatherless.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Updates

While the kids are here I will try to update here on the blog as well as on facebook.  I will use these to keep you up to date on changes in plans, needs, prayer requests, etc.  If you need more general information, please go to our website, www.gracetoukraine.net.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Final week of preparations

Tonight I am in Nashville with my oldest daughter.  She has freshman orientation at Belmont University.  We will get home Friday night.  On Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 we will have a work day at our home for last minute preparations as well as to go over volunteer guidelines.  Sunday I am determined to rest! I am so looking forward to meeting all the kids on Monday night.  Then I am sure it will be a whirlwind of a week.  If you  have not already done so, please contact us about how you can get involed.  You will be blessed!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Royalty Part 2

The quote from Eric Ludy that I shared on May 17th has really stuck with me.  Granted, Jesus did not literally say "treat the weak ones as royalty"  but he did say "as you have done unto the least of these you have done unto me".  And who is more royal than King Jesus?  So my attitude toward my preparations has changed in the last few weeks.  Rather than preparing for orphans to come visit, I have been preparing for royalty.  I pray that this attitude can invade all areas of my life and my dealings with all people.   

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Alona P.


Thankful

God has brought so many people into my world through our preparations for hosting.  So many godly, loving, hard-working, awesome people.  The boundaries of my world have expanded!  Its amazing to see God doing it all.  I am going to make a confession.  Having already adopted 4 times and living amongst many other adoptive families; having experienced the struggles, the frustrations, but also the victories that come through ministry to the fatherless, I am inclined to go through the motions at times.  I care for the fatherless because the word of God demands it and sometimes it tires me out rather than excite me.  But what a joy it has been to have people come alongside me whose flame still burns bright; who are passionate about ministry to the fatherless and who encourage and exhort me by their attitude.   I am so thankful that God has seen fit to send His children from near and far to provide for these 10 precious Ukrainian children in unimaginable ways.  I am so excited that they will soon be here and that they will be welcomed by a bus load of people who, like me, have been counting down the days.  I can truly say to God be the glory for all that He has done in orchestrating this ministry.

Yuri


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Royalty

Found this quote on a friend's blog.  Definitely worth sharing: The special ones in God’s kingdom are the weak ones: the ones who can’t fight for themselves, the ones who can’t speak for themselves, the ones that don’t have someone to feed them, the ones that don’t have someone to protect them, and Jesus says those are the prized ones and you treat them as the royalty here on Earth. And the way you treat them is ultimately how you’re treating me. What you do unto the least of these is how you’re ultimately treating your God.  - Eric Ludy, Depraved Indifference

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Marina

This story is worth sharing.  It is about a little girl who once lived at Bela, one of the orphanages we are working with.  It gives a glimpse of how life can be for a child in Ukraine.

http://vimeo.com/41876599

Here is a little more background on the story:

http://lanternvision.org/share-a-story/featured-story/

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

God makes my job easy

On Mother's Day I got an email from someone I had never met before.  She said she and 5 of her friends were coming to our informational meeting because the Lord had been burdening each of them about the orphan crisis.  They were looking for ways to show love to orphans.  This is what I pray for daily, that God would bring to us those that he has already called.  It is not my desire, nor do I believe it is my calling, to beg and cajole anyone to help us care for these children.  I have always felt that  I just needed to get the word out and then trust God to bring whomever He chooses.  It was such a joy tonight to meet these ladies and hear about what God was doing in their hearts and lives.  It was also a blessing to meet with other women who obviously have servants' hearts; who want to be, not only a blessing to the children, but to me.  I have a dear friend in the middle of a major kitchen renovation but she does not give even a second thought to signing up for meals.  I am so thankful for the Lord's provision.  He definitely makes my job easy!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tanya


We got the Visas!

The Embassy appointment today was successful.  Vita and Andrey, the guardians accompanying the children, traveled to Kyiv on Thursday evening for the appointment, carrying all the necessary documents with them.   We had gotten official permission from the regional officials yesterday.  All the Visas were granted.  So, on the Ukraine side, everything is in order.  Our facilitators in Ukraine are awesome.  Ira and Anton live in Lugansk and took care of all the paperwork with the orphanages and officials there.  We have known them for about 4 years.  I first met Anton when he acted as my translator the first time I went to visit my son Roman.  We got to know him and Ira better through Camp Friendship.  I plan to blog more about Camp Friendship and how it relates to Grace to Ukraine in the coming days.  We value Ira and Anton, not only as professionals, but as friends to both us and our children.  Our other facilitator, Sasha, lives in Kyiv and handled all of the paperwork there.  We have known Sasha for about 6 years.  He facilitated all 3 of our Ukrainian adoptions and has also been a true and dear friend to us dealing with various situations that have arisen and continue to arise in Ukraine with family and friends.  It is truly a blessing to know Sasha, Ira and Anton and to have them, their compassion and their expertise on our side.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Zhenya


Sponsor a meal

We have made it easy and convenient for you to sign up to sponsor a meal.  Simply go to http://www.takethemameal.com and type in recipient's name "Ukraine" and password "hosting" and you will be taken to the schedule where you can sign up for a day and time to bless these children with a meal.



Friday, April 20, 2012

Please pray for Wilson in Haiti

Not only does my family support work with orphans in Ukraine but also in Haiti.  My husband, Gabe, is on the board of the Hands and Feet Project that has 2 orphanages in that country.  In November, Alexandra, Jay and I traveled to Haiti and while there, met Wilson.  At the time he was very sick and they were trying to get a diagnosis for him.  An American doctor there believes he has cancer, perhaps lymphoma, but they have not been able to get a definitive diagnosis. On April 30th, an American doctor visiting Port Au Prince will evaluate Wilson.  Please pray that the doctor will agree to provide him treatment in the US and that the Visa will be quickly granted for him to travel here.

Suzette

Vasya