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  A boy who had arrived withdrawn, trying only to muster up a smile for the camera.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


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.