Author Archives: Sveta Koehler

From a big city to a small town

Hello family and friends,

Sveta and I have moved to a new location in the mountains of Poland!

After living in a two room flat with our wonderful hostess, Ludmila, for six months, we moved. A relative of hers has a private house in a small town a couple of hours from Krakow. They made a rental offer that we couldn’t refuse. We move on Saturday, September 17.

We arrived in Krakow with two back packs and a computer bag. We moved six months later with twelve bags. We added a few clothing items, and a few essential tools, but you would have to talk with Sveta about the rest of the inventory.

Life in this small town is so very peaceful. A number of Ukrainians live here also, but we have not met them. We will have to go to a city to do our banking, but that will give us an opportunity to learn more about Poland.

Sveta and I are truly bless!

Sveta’s Journey

At this time, the war is hard for everyone; those who left for other countries and those who remained in Ukraine. The elderly are especially affected. Some of them have no relatives at all, and some categorically did not want to leave their home. One of the many elderly people left behind, Grandma Nadya, has poor hearing. Although, she heard and saw the love of the Lord in action. She was very grateful to our friends in the North, for humanitarian aid, for visiting her and praying.

Alena was found by neighbors lying unconscious on the floor. When the police and ambulance arrived, they thought the woman was dead. On the way to the morgue, Alena came to her senses and was taken to the hospital. There she met our friend, who together with his team, came to the hospital to tell people about the love of God and pray for them. Alena was completely alone in this world. Therefore, her joy knows no bounds now that believers have appeared in her life who actually show the love of God and take care of her!

It is a great blessing for Mark and me to have friends who help others! It’s amazing how everyone is involved using so many different methods! Starting from the sponsorship of financial and prayer assistance of our friends, this stream of God’s love flows to us. Then His love continues to our friends and then to those who need support. It returns transformed into great gratitude to God, to us and to you, dear friends! Here is what one of our friends wrote: “I am very grateful to you and the sponsors for transferring finances for such cases in the name of our GOD! Glory to God the Merciful and thanks to everyone for such support in serving people!!!”

Living my dream,


Thanks to all of you who read our stories and those who share our stories. May God bless you.

You can see all of our videos at our YouTube site

Report on six months into the war.

Hello family and friends,

Change is constant in life, so it seems. Our son-in-law was working in England, and moved to Norway for the next season of work. Our daughter and three children have moved from England to northwester Ukraine, looking for familiarity. They flew to Krakow, stayed with Sveta and me for two days, and took the bus to a city in Ukraine. They arrived safely and will begin their new life, once again, in Ukraine. It sounds strange to me, although, Sveta struggles with letting go the past, and many have returned to Ukraine, even to the cities of Kharkiv, Bucha, and Kyiv.

Mark’s Moments

I think that it is a good time to update the status of MUCH, as we have entered the seventh month of the war with Russia. Here are the details for September:

3 massage therapists in Ukraine;

1computer teacher in orphanage in Ukraine;

1 massage therapist in Finland;

2 massage therapists in Krakow, Poland;

6 outreach teams for humanitarian aid delivery, evacuations;

1 refugee home in Krakow;

5 individuals or families in need of survival assistance;

massage therapy is received by Ukrainian individuals only;

estimated number of people that MUCH will help in September = 550;

estimated Ukrainian refugees being helped in other countries though;

MUCH = 32

estimated Ukrainians being helped in Ukraine through MUCH = 518

Here are some examples of our work this month:

This diaper size is one of the biggest needs for teenage children with disabilities who are incontinent. Dr Natalia continues her work at her clinic in spite of the war.

Paul, Elena and, team continue relocating and evacuation people from hot spots. I will guess that they move more than two hundred people per month to places of safety.

Early in August we reported on this woman living in Mykolaiv, Sveta’s and my city. She was collecting drinking water for her home. Mykolaiv has been without clean drinking water for (4) months. We continued communicating with her to learn more about her needs for herself, her daughter, and granddaughter. We learned that they needed firewood for heating this winter. Also, she had experience with goats, so we provided funds to buy two goats and enough food to feed the two goats through the winter. Now they will have heat for their home, milk, and cheese!

Twenty women and children are housed in the refugee home for Ukrainians. MUCH helps with monthly expenses. We have a massage therapist who provides ten-day massage therapy treatments for (4) children or adults each month.

Thank you for your part in the MUCH mission. We could not do it without you!

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

A light in the darkness of Kharkiv

A good friend of ours, Roman, worked for two years on replacing a small dacha house with a total rebuild for a main residence for his family. He continued to expand his new home. The war came to Ukraine, and then to Mykolaiv. With no options, he sent his family to another country. While remaining in Mykolaiv, he had the opportunity to lead a church camp for a group of children in the village of Shostokova, about and hour drive from his home.

MUCH previously helped the children in the Shostokova school, updating education equipment. We were pleased to sponsor the camp event for the children this summer. 

Roman and his team brought a great camp program to the children. Lots of fun and games for the children. While the war raged on, the children had moments of patriotism. They were reminded of their part in keeping thoughts strong and positive about the Ukrainian soldiers and their love for their country.

A few months ago, the son of my friend Vika was wounded in the war. After treatment in the hospital, he was at home for some time. When she baked pies for him, he said that the guys from his team were so lacking in homemade pies. This is how the idea of baking pies for soldiers was born. Vika bought everything she needed to implement this idea with her small pension. Now, for the second month, MUCH is financially helping this woman to buy the necessary ingredients for pies for the soldiers.

Those who help others in various ways understand how wonderful it is to feel useful and be involved in the lives of others! This is the life of giving! Vika helps Ukrainian soldiers in the difficult conditions of the war to remember the aroma of home, the aroma of family when their mothers or wives were baking pies. Vika bakes pies with fruit and other fillings! The guys come and take away this delicious work of Vika’s hands. They are very grateful to her for such unusual delicious support! And we are grateful to you dear friends!

There is a small town seven kilometers from the border with Russia. Sasha and his friends came to tell people about the love of Jesus and give them food help.

In this house there are three apartments where people live. Sasha and his team sang songs about the grace of God to these people and also gave them food.

Thank you very much for financially and prayerfully supporting us and those who work and serve for the Ukrainian people and children! Thanks to you, we are able to send money to these workers!

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

Do you talk the talk and walk the walk?

Hello family and friends,

A friend of ours introduced us to Sasha, in the Kyiv Region, who is quite the family man. He has ten children and his wife has one on the way. Sasha is a musician and teaches his children to play different instruments.

He is doing a great ministry outreach to people in a number of regions. He has a team of youth that he takes with him to share the Gospel to people in villages that other churches tell him about.

Sasha has access to large print Bibles in the Ukrainian language. The youth have been taught how to share the Gospel, and read to those who cannot see.

In this ministry, it is definitely not about numbers. This ministry is about making the Gospel of Jesus Christ personal. If this team reaches out to one family, or even one person, it is worth their time.

Some people think that sharing the Gospel is only about talk. It is not so for this team. As you can see in the picture, this young man is helping the owner of this garden plow his field of potatoes. For those who don’t know about potato growth, you should “hill up” or raise the level of the soil around the base. That is what they are doing.

These women have been working their garden all morning. Sasha’s team has come to visit with Bibles and some friendly conversation.

Encouraging words are well received, especially as the war drags on. Life in the village is quite isolated from those in the city. Television and radio may give news, but these days, it is better to believe those that you know.

Sasha is also involved with bringing humanitarian aid to people in need. At this time, we don’t have pictures to show you. We will in the future.

Thank all of you who share our stories with your friends, pray for our children, and sponsor the financial needs of MUCH!

Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta

How does your imagination work?

Hello family and friends,

So much is happening. So many people are seeing change for the better in their lives. News tends to focus on the brutal parts of the war. Four months ago, Sveta and I saw the war come to our doorstep. We saw fear flow into our city. Four months later, we are hearing about missiles destroying different parts of our city every day.

The good news is, we are hearing about our city that was once closing most of its businesses and shops, is coming back to life. The resilient people of Ukraine are reclaiming their cities and lands. We are seeing Ukraine begin to rebuild. Step by step, Ukraine is getting stronger and stronger. We still need help. As a matter of fact, now is a crucial time to encourage the people to stand strong.

MUCH continues to enable people who are protecting the innocent. Many mothers with children are in need of rescue and relocation. That is what our story is about today.

Mark’s Moments

Many people throughout Ukraine have been seeking safety, living underground, in the lowest level of their homes or available buildings. Can you imagine taking only your necessities underground, and living there for weeks? Each day, coming out to seek humanitarian aid, checking on the condition of your home, looking for sunshine, and rays of hope.

Each day you see more destruction, your road is littered with debris, and cars on the side of the road displaying different kinds of damage. You have read stories and seen movies of the effects of war. Now, you are in the middle of it. This war is your life for the moment. How long will that moment last?

Finally, the “cavalry” arrived. Paul and his team arrived with bags of supplies, boxes of food and canned goods. It has really happened. Can you imagine the joy that would flood your heart? Tears begin to run down your face. At what seemed to be the last minute, help has arrived.

So many of your neighbors stand in line to hear the “Good News” and receive food and supplies to last you for more days of the war. Paul and his team personally handed you food. He said a few words of hope to you, and smiled. And he moved on to share the same compassion with your neighbors.

And then it happened! You were invited to join the group of your neighbors to be relocated to a safe community in another location of Ukraine. You accept the invitation, you gather the few things that you have, and you step up into the bus.

It is night by now, and you imagine only the adventure. The reality will hit you later. Right now, your life has become this moment in time. Your mind stops looking at the big picture. You can only see, digest, each moment as it comes.

Your journey has begun. What will be waiting for you? Will a better life, happier times, new friends, be in your future? These thoughts do not cross your mind. You are caught-up in the moment, many moments, as your journey begins …

Now imagine this story, this experience, and the variations of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of people that Paul and his team have helped.

Thank you Paul and your team, for the great work that you are doing. Thank you for the opportunity for MUCH to sponsor such a great organization doing great works of compassion.

Thank you so much readers for your part in the war effort through MUCH.

Thank all of you who share our stories with your friends, pray for our children, and sponsor the financial needs of MUCH!

Massage therapy is helping autistic children overcome the trauma of war.

Dr. Natalia started the massage therapy program with me in 2004. Many things have happened since then. About ten years ago, she opened a private clinic in Chornomorsk, a city by the Black Sea, not far from Odessa, Ukraine. She invited her son, who completed medical college, and a second massage therapist to build her clinic business. It has blossomed since that time.
Before the war, she had begun to specialize her time working with children with severe disabilities. She was seeing good results. She decided to continue her work after the war started on February 24. Now she is working with children who migrated from eastern Ukraine to her city, Chornomorsk. The emotions of many of the children with severe disabilities intensified because of the war. These are the sensitive reactions of two children from eastern Ukraine who are autistic. Massage therapy helped these children overcome the emotional trauma caused by the Russian invasion.

Autistic children live in their own world of protection and communication with their environment. When that is disrupted, their whole nervous system is stressed. They do not want to talk, closing communication. They do not want to eat, and their bowel and bladder functions do not operate correctly. The behavior of these children had changed to a large degree.
Dr. Natalia uses a variety of techniques to accommodate each child individually. She realizes that many children cannot lay in one position for a long time. She also provides toys to help the children focus on something other than the activity of the massage. Sometimes the child will sit in her lap during massage, or sit directly in front of her while she provides massage techniques, specifically for the overall needs of the child.

In these two cases, each child received a relaxing massage over a ten-day period. By the tenth day, all of the physiological functions, sleep, appetite, mood, bowel and bladder were restored. These children were once again peaceful and communicating.

Much is so very grateful that Dr. Natalia stands strong, a patriot for her country, and a committed doctor for the children that come to her. Let’s help her keep her clinic operating and helping refugees from eastern Ukraine who are in great need of her services.

Thank you so much for your part in the war effort through MUCH. Thank all of you who share our stories with your friends, pray for our children, and sponsor the financial needs of MUCH!

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

How does massage therapy help children experiencing wartime trauma?

Hello family and friends,

The stories below were recently shared with Sveta and me by our massage therapist working in northwestern Ukraine. She shares her experiences with children who have intellectual disabilities and those who have “normal” intelligence, but have experienced wartime trauma. I added these pictures to show that exercise paralleled with massage therapy, along with other therapies, will bring the best results. Here are her stories.

The effect of massage on children with intellectual disabilities.

Take a look at this video first: Kolya’s face massage

I want to tell a story about a wonderful boy Igor, who came to our school/orphanage in 2013 from a Baby House. Now he is in 9th grade. During this time, he has been a special child for me, because I see how he reacts to the world, and how he treats his peers, and how he thinks… 

Of all the children, I chose him because I see how he changes every day, I see his emotions, I see his bright eyes that light up after each massage session. Igorchik (term of endearment) is a very emotional boy, when he came to our school/orphanage, he always cried and sat in a corner, hiding from classmates and educators. 

Frequent mental disturbances attacked him and did not allow him to think fully or freely. 

Such inappropriate behavior was apparent in the beginning of his time at our school/orphanage. Very often the issue of taking Igor for medical treatment was discussed.

He often had mental disturbances because his aunt often promised to take him home and did not keep her promise. He often hid within himself, cried, and was often aggressive with the other children. 

 It was very difficult to find an approach with this child, although all teachers (psychologist, speech pathologist, speech therapist) were fully involved.

Thanks to our sponsor, MUCH, children have the opportunity to undergo massage sessions and restore their health. (For which I sincerely am thankful on my own behalf and on behalf of our children. This is a great contribution to our future and to a healthy nation). 

Igorchyk (a term of endearment) also had periodic massage sessions, mostly relaxing massages, aromatherapy, and massage therapy. Every day I saw how his well-being improves, I saw how his eyes glow after relaxation, I saw how his emotions goes from stress to calm. These feelings are best when you see how you help the child. With each session you see how the child’s posture changes, mood changes, as well as the desire to continue working and move forward …

The effect of massage on children in wartime:

I live and work in Western Ukraine. Due to the current events in Ukraine, I have the opportunity to work with children from the Mykolaiv region, south central, Ukraine. Therefore, it is very interesting to observe the mental state of adolescents. Why teenagers? Because younger children, they react differently to current events, and do not perceive this information. They perceive the word of war differently than high school students.

Therefore, I paid attention to children aged 14-16. The children who came to our school/orphanage and attended the massage sessions were very embarrassed, did not communicate much and did not make eye contact. We all understand that everything that is happening in the Eastern regions is hard to call a war, it is a brutal attack by HUMANS. These Russians soldiers, having nothing sacred: they robbed houses, raped women, killed small children …Nobody can imagine this, especially people who believe in Jesus Christ.

For me, these are completely unrealistic things, as we see the world so cruel that evil reigns over us …… and we fight, we win – because God is with us! And I believe that everything will be fine. When I started working with these children, it was also very difficult for me. They did not want to come in contact with me. Who can they trust in this new environment. They were embarrassed to undress, never having had massage. They did not understand at all what I wanted them to do.

The behavior of the children was really incomprehensible to me. They were children whom I did not know at all. They were from a part of our country that was somewhat of a different culture. I was very interested in a boy named Maxim. He was 7 years old. When he came for massage, he took off his T-shirt and looked at the massage table with shyness, most uncertain. I told him, “Come on, lie down, everything will be fine.” And he told me “Will we have time to run to the bomb shelter if we hear the siren”?

I felt so sorry for him, I hugged him and said. I am very sorry that you became part of this terrible war and are going through this difficult time. But now you are in a safe place. Try not to think about the siren and war. He calmed down and lay down on the massage table. During the massage we talked about school, friends, and about rest. Maxim’s psycho-emotional state has really improved, and his nervous system has normalized. Massage helps children to relax and forget about the present. Children feel great and are always happy to attend massage sessions.

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

Helping refugees. Evacuating children with disabilities

Hello family and friends,
It will be two months on Saturday May 14, since we were evacuated from Ukraine. We are in Krakow, but our hearts, as are the hearts of many throughout the world, are in Ukraine. Sveta has daily communication with our team, church, volunteers, and friends in need.
A number of years ago, Paul came to the church we previously attended. He talked about his program that was finding homes for orphaned children, even if it was only for a weekend visit. As the years moved forward, Sveta and I met with Paul and his wife Elena, to talk about massage therapy for the children in the orphanages and temporary foster homes. We wrote about them in a newsletter a few years ago.
When the war began in late February, Paul gathered people with hearts for children. They began to trek a caravan of vehicles across Ukraine, evacuating orphans, disadvantaged, and disabled children from Ukraine. Every trip they are taking as many as 200 to 300 children to safety. We are helping Paul and his team through MUCH. We need your big help with this one. Fuel is the big expense. The price of gasoline and propane has risen to between $6 and $9 per gallon, depending upon the location on the journey. When Sveta and I evacuated, getting fuel was not possible at every gas station.
MUCH is asking for your help. We have already sent him money for fuel. Will you help us continue helping Paul and his team evacuate children across Ukraine? Follow their journey here!
This is just one van load of children and some parents. If you have ever taken a day trip with your children, imagine a twenty hour trip with 10 to 15 children, times a number of vans!
Their stories are written on their faces. Most of the children are orphans or come from difficult homes. All of them have had a hard life.

Paul is now focusing on evacuating children with disabilities. This is an even more challenging journey. Let’s work on this one together!
Thank you in advance for your generous donations!
Thank you for your prayers!
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta

Chornomorsk and Krakow

Hello family and friends,
We are safe in God’s hand’s. His hands are working through us!
These first two months have been a nerve bending challenge as we struggled with moving money from America to Ukraine (MoneyGram), and later from American to Poland (MoneyGram). We have it all figured out. Sveta and I have bank accounts here in Krakow. The rest is safe and secure, enough said. Russia has big ears.
We are now getting money directly to people in need. We reported that our Dr. Natalia in Chornomorsk continues to treat children in need with massage therapy. This special child has been one of her MUCH patients for about five years. This precious child cannot chew food. She can only swallow and digest pureed food. MUCH is buying her a blender to provide fresh food, and better nourishment. Dr. Natalia is one of our Ukrainian Heroes!
If you remember Alyona, from our Christmas fundraiser, here is an encouraging update about her and her children. Alyona sat with children, imagining the dreaded experience, if she had to run for safety in another country with her two children. Thankfully, they survived the Russian attempts to attack her area. They are now finding a small amount of peace as they go about their lives. Her son has found an older friend. It is ok though, because so many people moved away. We continue to support and encourage this family.
Sveta and I were invited to the Refugee House for an Easter meal. Sveta has visited on occasion to translate or help with this or that. I have only visited one time previous. 
Something about food prepared the Ukrainian way looks so appetizing.
Sixteen or seventeen people squeezed around the large and small table, ready for a great feast, good conversation, and laughter.
What amazed me the most was that all of these wonderful dishes were prepared by the women refugees. Most of the food was donated, but the grandmother who has a paying job, used her money to buy much of what she prepared. She was the hostess, organizing and cooking/baking many tasty varieties of food.
I had a good time talking to those who spoke English. Thank you friends! 
As for Sveta and I, there remains a shock, a numbness. It is gradually fading away. Our emotions catch up with us now and then; our memories of our comfort zone remind us of what we called home. We look forward, finding home in our daily moment. We find our home, our strength in the Power of Jesus Christ Who lives within us.
Thank you for your prayers!
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta

Hunger for the Easter Spirit!

Hello family and friends,
Easter 2022
This Easter we shared the tradition of Easter breakfast with Lusia’s Family. It began at 10AM and continued through 4PM. We had a great feast that was followed by a walk to the children’s park. We returned a few hours later to eat more and have more family conversation.
Something about this day reminded me of my family holidays growing up. I thought about it for a while. As I write, I begin to understand what it was. It was the hunger of the spiritual connection of Easter and the physical experience of family. I felt the physical experience of family yesterday.
For so many Christmases and Easters, I have said that everyday is Christmas and everyday is Easter. I always felt that something was missing each year when I would experience these holy days. Now I know what it was. I missed the hunger for the spiritual experience. I missed the hunger because the hunger has been satisfied, it has been full in my heart and spirit every day, ever since I entered into that family relationship with God forty-six years ago. I wish this for all who hunger for the Spirit of Easter.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta