In the February MUCH newsletter, we highlighted the story of Maria. It is amazing how God works. Sveta and I began attending a different church on the opposite side of Mykolaiv in February. Surprisingly, it is located about a half mile walk from Maria’s home. Enna, who also goes to this church, accompanies Sveta’s and my visit to Maria every Sunday after church. We pray for her healing, believing that she will have a new life with a new purpose.
Dobromel Orphanage For Children with Disabilities Five years ago, Luba, the Dobromel Orphanage (for children with disabilities) librarian, asked to talk with me. She wanted to teach the children computer skills in the library. There were a number of computers already in the library, but the majority of the children did not know how to operate them. She saw a possibility for her to become more than a part time school librarian. Could she use her organizational skills to create a unique learning environment for the children? As we talked about the children, Luba wanted to know about my expectations for the success of the children. I explained to her that I anticipated that it would take a long time to see big results. I was looking positively at the long term potentiality. Could a child learn to use a program that they could use in a job? If not that, maybe a computer skill that would improve their own personal quality of life. Now, five years later, Luba has shown that she inspires the children to become something more than they were. Her work with the children with disabilities has created a new interest for them in their other classes. The teachers are very enthusiastic about the children’s new interests in education in general.
Dobromel Orphanage Computer Class
Maria is in the sixth grade. She is very active. For Maria to sit in one place for an extended time would be a great feat for her. She is neat and well organized. Her physical and intellectual development is normal for her age. Maria reads very well. This skill flows to her development of typing skills on the computer keyboard. Her typing proficiency is coming along more quickly than expected. In the classroom, Maria is active, and hungers for new knowledge. She enjoys learning various programs on the computer and even more so, on the computer tablet. When introduced to a new program or game, she absorbs the content and puts it to use quickly
Stephan is in the tenth grade. He is an average student in the areas of knowledge, skills, and abilities in his academic subjects. He always wants to be the first, and strives for new knowledge, with pleasure. Luba is his teacher. As she challenges his knowledge, he performs with about 90% correct answers. Using the keyboard has improved his knowledge of the Russian alphabet. Along with this, his reading skills have become better. When asked to read aloud, Stephan’s pronunciation is still not very clear. He seems to learn new material well. As long as it is in his short term memory, he can retrieve it. Once in long term memory, he needs to be reminded, to hook on to the previously studied material.
Misha is in the ninth grade. He is also hungry to know everything that he is able to digest. His attention has become more focused. Misha is no longer distracted and can keep his attention on the task for a longer time. He is now better able to orient himself in time and space. His memory has improved. Previously, it was difficult to understand Misha when he spoke. Now his speech has improved. He still stutters often, especially when he is worried. Compared to last year, Misha has become purposeful, balanced, and calm.
Luba has adjusted a computer program for Sergei. Even though he is in the ninth grade, he functions at a low level of education. Sergei digests concepts and develops his thinking at a slower pace than his peers. He cannot draw elementary conclusions and has a limited vocabulary. During the conversation, he worries and stutters. Sergei is prone to emotional breakdowns, and his attention is unstable. When he is told what he is to do next, he often needs to have his instructions repeated. Last year Sergei did not want to do the same task for more than ten minutes, but now he has become more patient. He began to understand the meaning of a computer game and its goals. He types slowly, trying to learn how to use both hands.
Luba sees that teaching computer skills is useful for children. It develops their ability to gain knowledge and apply it in practice. Their aesthetic interests are cultivated. Developing computer skills also increases personal creativity, attention, ingenuity, and contributes to the development of logical thinking in these students. Since children have different levels of ability and learning, Luba has an individual approach with each child and prepares lessons according to their personality and mental capability. She is pleased with the results she sees with her students. The fact that for some of the children it takes several years to accomplish the desire results, Luba remains pleased. It is so wonderful to be happy with what you are doing for the children and especially if you are doing it for the children with disabilities! Living my dream, Sveta
Sveta and I are so very grateful to all of you who read our stories, share our stories with your friends, pray for the children, Sveta and me, and for those who share financially. All of you are what makes MUCH move forward. Thank you for your participation. God Bless You! Blessings of love and healing, Mark and Sveta
Have you pruned your fruit trees? Spring is right around the corner. Days of sunshine are more abundant. Sveta is ready to get out and work with her roses and vineyard. Our nineteen fruit trees are mine to care for. Sveta and I are very happy to hear that Americans are receiving vaccination to combat COVID-19. You can read about the most recent vaccine beginning activity in Ukrainehere. This news from Radio Free Europe is dated Feb 23. MUCH focuses on working with infants and children. For some of the little darlings, development comes early, and others, with time. But there are some youngsters for whom MUCH can only provide treatment that will maintain a plateau of progressive change. Such a story is told in Mark’s Moments, below.
Three years ago, MUCH enabled two Christian young women to become massage therapists in our city of Mykolaiv. One of them, Anya, was introduced to a teenager, Maria, who has severe cerebral palsy. She has worked with this girl for three years. This year, a third Christian massage therapist that MUCH enabled in Mykolaiv last year, is also providing massage therapy for Maria. Oksana (in picture) is very happy to be working with her. Maria is seventeen years old. She has grown, and maintains her weight. Spasticity is a big problem when it is time to move Maria. Because of COVID-19 and Maria’s own bout with illness, she was without massage therapy for four months. Sveta visited with Oksana this time and saw how much of Maria’s progress was missing.
Her arms and legs are stiff and very challenging to manipulate. It is very difficult for Maria’s grandmother to bath her and dress her. Her grandmother is not a healthy women, and has high blood pressure. She has raised Maria since she was 6 year old. Maria’s parents divorced, and only this one grandparent had compassion for her. It was typical that children with severe disabilities are abandoned by their parents and most relatives. That is changing as more medical services are becoming available. A Ukrainian family raised money for this child. When Sveta passed it on to the grandmother, she was in tears. She said, “I knew that God would provide money. I didn’t expect it to be this way.” Her financial need is so great. She scrapes by with her small pension and even smaller government provided pension for Maria. MUCH home-visit treatments are serving children who would normally not receive any regular help. Six of the thirteen MUCH massage therapists are home-visit therapists. The rest either have their own clinic or work within a government orphanage, or transition home.
Periodically, during the quarantine time, when many children were at home since last year, orphans continued to spend time in the orphanage. Of course, it’s not fun to know that your friends are with family and you are in the orphanage. Even so, several snowy days brought them joy
I remember the time before my marriage to Mark, when he asked me to provide a twenty-day massage therapy program. I agreed, and lived at this orphanage. I was to provide massage treatment for the children and share the results with the Director of the Dobromel Orphanage. I provided massage therapy treatments during the day. In the evenings, some of the children gathered in my room.
Of course, I missed my son, daughter, and especially my one year and three month old granddaughter. One evening I was so sad that my heart sank with self-pity. I cried and thought, “What am I doing here? God, why am I here when my daughter needs me at this time to help her with the baby? My parents need me too.” My face was flooded with bitter tears and at that moment I heard the Lord inside me say to me: “You are not here forever, soon you will return to your family. And these children have nowhere to return to. Imagine how hard it is for them to deal with this situation. These children are mentally and physically challenged; they also need family and love. “
My tears instantly stopped, self-pity disappeared, and compassion for these children settled in my heart. Since that time, compassion and love for them always accompany me. I am sincerely happy when I see the results of massage treatment!
Last year Misha, (in the dark plaid coat), received four ten-day massage treatments. The boy’s posture improved. Thanks to the speech therapy facial massage, he began to speak better. He expressed himself with an emotional tone, instead of mono tone.
This year, the boy’s aunt promised to take him to her home for a few days. But she did not come and the child took it very hard. The boy closed himself off from others, became aggressive, and he again displayed behavior representative of mental disorders.
Natasha, the massage therapist gave Misha a ten-day course of relaxing massage therapy, including drawing with sand on a color lighted sand box. Misha drew a house, a family. This symbolically resembled what he had not yet been able to express. He was filled with fears, high emotion, and psychological trauma. Drawing was like an evaluation of his emotional mood. It is also one of the lessons of game therapy. After the complex massage treatment, music therapy and drawing with sand on the sand box, Misha’s psycho-emotional state stabilized. Misha became friendly and a smile shone on his face again.
We received $3,060 for our Christmas Fundraiser. Our goal is $7,500. Thank you to all who gave to sponsor the massage therapy program for the children with disabilities. We are hoping that other friends of MUCH did fundraisers on Facebook.
We have been blessed with snow, temperatures as low as +1F for a week or so. We think that is enough of that kind of blessing! In November, I promised some pictures of what we completed on our second floor project. Here are pictures of the two roofs, doors and windows, and the inside. Sveta and I floored the attic with OSB and covered it with RockWool insulation. This spring we will complete the roofs with soffit and facia. There is plenty to be done on phase 2 of the project. For now, the plan is to save, save, save!
Nadya in Ovidiopol Ira is the MUCH manager in the Odessa Region. She is also the wife of the pastor of our church, here in Ovidiopol. She introduced Mark and Sveta to Alla, a second massage therapist, and me in my home in Ovidiopol, west southwest of Chornomorsk, in 2019. Later that year, Alla and I were students at the massage therapy training course in Odessa. Alla and I began working as massage therapists in our town of Ovidiopol in January 2020. MUCH sponsors four children a month for each of us. I decided to work out of my home. I have three children. My son is 15, my daughter is 13, and my youngest son is 7 years old. In August of last year, my husband died of a heart attack. This loss, of my husband and father of three, added to our challenges of life in Ukraine.
How does being a massage therapist for MUCH change my life?
feel and know that I can be useful for my loved ones and especially for people who do not have money. For me it is very pleasant to give them warmth and hope. Massage therapy for children is a very good avenue to tell parents about God, that He loves them in a special way, and He cares. My three children have begun to have a different attitude toward me. They respect me more. They always ask, ‘Mom, can you help my friend with certain physical problems?’ Not only do they ask for help with massage, but now, they also ask for my advice.
I really enjoy improving myself. I find a lot of useful information about massage therapy and special exercises through various videos. I use this knowledge in my practice. For everything, Glory to our Merciful Lord!
Marganets Transition Home Winter Needs
The children who live at the Transition Home are often taken from their parents without much warning. Many times they are taken with only the clothes on their backs. In some cases, the clothing they are wearing is all that they have. During the Christmas Season, the director asked for funds to provide indoor foot wear (slippers) for twenty-two children. They may live in the Transition Home for up to nine months. An extra five pair were purchased for children in the day program. The children of the Transition Home thank you, sponsors of MUCH, for making their winter a little brighter.
What do you think can cause attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity in a child? ADHD has a number of causes with a variety of reactions, such as social maladjustments, lack of calm physical movement, and low self-esteem. Below is a story of two brothers who struggle through life in this way.
Alex and Stas
The mother of six and seven-year-olds, Alex and Stas, had difficult pregnancies with prolonged labor. The doctors believe that these two problems are the cause of the diagnosed ADHD. The boys have very tense neck muscles. This, in turn, does not allow the nervous and vascular systems of the brain to work normally. They cannot concentrate on learning new things, and are restless. When they start a game or some activity, the boys cannot complete it, and quickly switch to another interest.
Alex and Stas’s mother turned to Nadya, the massage therapist of Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope, for help. During the first days of the massage, it was very difficult for Alex and Stas to just lie and enjoy the massage.
They tried to get up and had to run about the room. But gradually, when the tense muscles began to relax bringing a calm experience. The boys felt peaceful and seemed to pause a little in their need for movement. After a ten-day course of full-body, relaxing massage, the boys’ mother and Nadya saw results. Alex and Stas became calmer and more attentive. Three months later, Nadya recommended that the parents repeat the massage treatment for the brothers.
Nadya gives children massage therapy at her home. The room that she specially equipped for massage is not as warm as the rest of the house. For the winter season, she moved her massage treatments to another room. For little patients like Maria, it is important to keep warm. At the age of four months, Nadya was already giving her massage therapy. Maria had a pronounced flexor hypertonicity of the extremities. At eight months old, she was receiving the second ten-day massage course. By the end of this second course of massage, the problem was solved. The child’s parents are very pleased with the result. In addition to the massage treatment for Maria, her body was being stimulated to initiate crawling. For this, the muscles of the child must be strong enough to support her body weight. When a child crawls, it develops memory, spacial orientation, and visual-spatial perception.
Exercises on the ball delight Maria! This is a great workout for the inner ear and balance, (vestibular apparatus)! When she started to crawl a little, this surprises her! The world around Maria looks completely different! It’s so wonderful to reach the goal by yourself, to crawl, and take what you want!
How important it is to detect a problem in a timely manner and immediately begin to solve it. Katya had first degree scoliosis. When her parents discovered this problem, they came to our massage therapist, Nadya. A fifteen-day course of massage therapy and exercises on the ball helped correct this diagnosis. After the first therapeutic massage, Katya said to Nadya: “I fell in love with you very much, I like the way you give me massage.”
All of these problems seem insignificant at first glance. But massage treatment today, for these children and many others, is the solution for how their health will be when they become adults. Many thanks to everyone who helps us carry this ministry to children in Ukraine. Thank you for your prayers and financial assistance! God bless you and your families! Living my dream, Sveta You can see all of our videos at our Youtube site http://www.youtube.com/user/smmuch Blessings of love and healing, Mark and Sveta
You can help in providing life-changing help for children with special needs in a big way and it will cost you very little. Imagine being able to help many children who have no hope but you. MUCH is in great need of financial support. Due to COVID-19, our donations have declined. To keep our current programs running, we need to raise $7,500. As you know, MUCH is a Christian based mission that serves young children with physical and mental disabilities. Massage therapy helps these children attain marked improvement. It offers them hope and gives them opportunities to lead a better life. Sveta and I greatly appreciate your continued support to help disadvantaged children in Ukraine. Thank you for your help!
A MUCH Success Story Valya is nine-years-old. Her parents were deprived of their parental rights because of their immoralities, so Valya was sent to a Baby House. The care at Baby Houses is minimal and lacks maternal affection and parental attention and care. The developmental stages of growth are stifled. After spending three years in the Baby House, Valya was sent to the orphanage in Dobromel, Ukraine. She has speech problems and problems walking. After three years of full-body massages and speech therapy face massage, Natasha, the massage therapist of Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope, noticed that Valya was better at pronouncing certain words. She began to express herself. Before the therapy, one of her legs seemed shorter, making it was difficult for Valya to walk. After therapy, her hips became level and she walked with greater ease. This is just one example of how MUCH helps children with disadvantages improve their physical and mental well-being.
Hello family and friends, The roof is on the house, the windows and doors are installed, Sveta and I are insulating the attic, and winter has arrived. We completed phase one of our project, six weeks past our deadline, and $300 over budget, but we are very happy with how things are at this point. The exchange rate was 26 -28 UAH per $1.00 over the five month period. As stated in previous newsletters, this project is funded with Sveta’s and my personal savings. There is plenty of work to do in phase two. Pictures will be in the January newsletter.
This year our Christmas fundraiser will have three ways to donate. 1. You are welcome to donate by check or PayPal as before. 2. If you use Facebook for social media, you can create a fundraiser for MUCH on your Facebook page, asking your friends to donate. We will send directions of how to do this on December 6. It is very easy to do. 3. If you are unsure, you can make a regular donation and try the Facebook fundraiser.
Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope received $59.61 from the AmazonSmile Foundation for the third quarter! Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice (Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope) we hope. Shopping through AmazonSmile for your Christmas gifts is the easiest way to donate to Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope. It adds up when you shop AmazonSmile!
You haven’t heard much from our massage therapists. Recently, Sveta asked our massage therapists to respond to this question. “How has being a massage therapist for MUCH touched or changed your life?” Here are answers from two of our fourteen therapists in their own words:
Albina wrote: When I come to the Transition Home, I understand that what I am doing is necessary for the children. Most importantly, I share my love with them. I give them a massage, but also the opportunity to feel wanted and needed. I have a child of my own. I understand perfectly how important this is, especially when the child orphan. In return, children give me pleasure through their sincere communication. They are all different, and each is interesting in their own way. Even on the most difficult days, coming to them, I can rest my soul and get recharged with positive emotions for a long time.
I was surprised by your question. I had already begun thinking about noticeable changes in my life. I thought to myself, “How did she know?…” Then I understood that it was by her own experience. In a word, my daily routine is significantly saturated. I work from 9 to 5. I used to run home to rest. Now, after work I give a massage, sometimes a few. I’m getting tired. But this is a pleasant weariness. It is because I feel much worse when there is no one to receive my massage.
I am in constant tension. Will there be anything to write a report about at the end of the month. During my first months, there was a general nervousness. This is worse. So let there be a lot of massage recipients. When there is someone to receive my massage, the feeling of being useful, needed, and doing good is added to the feeling of pleasant fatigue. Periodically, my feelings are supported by visible results in my patients.
I understand intellectually that everything is in God’s hands, but I still worry and get nervous every month. I confess, there was the thought: “Why do I need this? I am nervous, with constant tension, and am under pressure. I can’t sleep, eat, or rest until there are children on the horizon who need me.” This is my life now. There are the pros and cons. As I am writing to you I am thinking: “If I knew then what I know now, would I have said yes to becoming a massage therapist? My answer is “yes.” I choose the challenge over an empty and less meaningful life. Thank you for your question and concern. God’s blessings!
I remember when I first came to Ukraine as a missionary. It was a great challenge. Even so, I soon found more purpose in my life that ever before. This is what I see happening in the lives of our massage therapists.
For different reasons, many parents abandoned their children immediately after their birth. When their child is found to have extreme diagnoses, some parents make extreme decisions. Many decide to give away their child. No one can judge them. Perhaps, in the future, many of them regret their actions. Others, perhaps in an alcoholic fog, do not even remember that they have a child.
But thank God that these boys found a home and family in an orphanage in the village of Stepovoya. Here they are loved, the employees try to organize the lives of the children. They provide social relationships with other people, taking place in the limited space of the orphanage. Aside from social skills children are taught basic life skills.
When Andre’s mother brought him to the orphanage, he was twelve years old, but he could not sit, or walk. During his first year at the orphanage, Andre learned to walk and sit a little.
Eleven-year-old Anton, has numerous complex diagnoses such as cerebral palsy, congenital anomaly of the brain, and profound mental retardation. When he recently arrived at the orphanage, he received massage therapy for the first time in his life. Every day, the massage therapist, with the help of another caregiver, tries to teach Anton to stand and walk with support. They believe that their persistence will lead to at least a partial improvement in the child’s condition. This has happened more than once with other children at this orphanage. When you put your heart into a child with love, patience and faith, God manifests different types of miracles.
Eleven-year-old Denis has cerebral palsy. He lived with his mother and brother in a one-room apartment. Seven years ago his mother brought him to the orphanage because she did not know how to help her child. Subsequently, his mother died. His older brother, who was registered in a psychiatric hospital, embarked on a slippery path to crime. The child perceived massage therapy absolutely without emotion. But after a while Denis began to recognize the massage therapist with a smile.
Seventeen-year-old Nick’s leg muscles atrophied due to cerebral palsy. The child also has profound mental retardation. Boy has contractures in his knee and foot joints. While receiving massage therapy, Nick began to smile for the first time. He spends most of the day in a wheelchair, and therefore massage is very important for him. This treatment helps prevent bedsores.
Dan’s parents refused to even look at him in the maternity hospital. The child has severe mental retardation. But this does not prevent him from being the first mate for adults. He is always going somewhere. He is often running, and seldom sits still. He is very talkative, and loves to listen to music. Massage therapy brings great pleasure to Dan. For him, it is like rest for an adult after a hard day at work.
Boys are deprived of the warmth and care of their relatives. These functions are performed by Natasha and Ira, our MUCH massage therapists. They are staff members at the orphanage.
Natasha and Ira told us that they love the children very much. When they provide massage therapy, they simply pass on their love to the children, not even thinking that this is work.
Through your financial contributions, our therapists are changing the lives of so many children. Can you imagine the breakthrough of seeing a child smile for the first time. You made that happen! Thank you so much for your interest in the children of MUCH!
Hello family and friends, Sveta and I hope that this fall season will please your eyes with wonderful colors. We hope for good health for all of you and your family. Here in southern Ukraine, the temperatures are dropping to the 40s F and 50s F. The children in all of Ukraine are on fall break. We are in “red zone” for two weeks. The latest news as I write this newsletter is that the children will go back to school November 2. As we continue to encourage the massage therapists and children from a distance, MUCH carries on, helping the children in need. Fifty-four children receive massage therapy each month. God blesses our team with good health and opportunity to love the children. See our stories below.
MUCH children are so naturally beautiful. Even so, inside each of them are mysteries and painful memories. They function best with regular routine. Since COVID-19 disrupted the routine of the world, and their world, change began to disrupt their lives. Every summer the children had a vacation, somewhere in Ukraine, from their orphanage environment. This summer of 2020, the true orphans stayed at the orphanage all summer.
In September, when Natasha returned to the orphanage, she resumed massage therapy for the children. They appeared different from how they had been in years past. Starved for attention, they talked all the time. Apparently, they acted as if they had been sitting in a cage (the orphanage) for six months.
One of the older boys, in need of great amounts of attention, went to one of the classrooms on the upper floor. Alone, he pulled out some matches to play with. When he realized that he start a fire, he ran to another room and hid. After being evaluated, the boy was hospitalized for psychological care. The fire was contained, but not before considerable damage had occurred. Damage was done to the classroom, and the room below where Natasha gave massage therapy to the children. When Natasha was given another room to work in, she faced new problems. Since there is no water in the new office, she had to go to the hallway restroom to wash her hands after every treatment.
The heat was not turned on for the season yet, so Natasha had to heat the room with a small portable heater. Things could have been so much worse. Natasha’s children are receiving massage therapy again. They are happy, and are reverting back to their previous emotional progress!
Nik is eleven years old. He has been struggling for a long time with muscle hypertonia, causing him to stoop forward. For the past two years, he has been receiving massage therapy. This is effecting all of the muscle groups in his back, improved his posture. He gladly comes for massage therapy, that also elevated his mood. In addition, exercise increased his symmetry, especially exercises for the back. Massage therapy has a positive effect on the central nervous system. Nik became more active, confident and happy.
Particular attention is paid to chiropractic therapy, which realigns the spine. Nik participates in physical games and activities now, with less pain. Because of massage therapy treatments, his life has greater potential and more opportunities to participate in school competitions.
Do you think it is possible to recognize scoliosis in a child under one year old? After all, the baby cannot communicate any discomfort with words. The baby can only cry.If parents are attentive, they may notice something is wrong. Any asymmetry in the folds on the child’s body and limbs may indicate that the baby has a problem. When Alex’s parents discovered asymmetry of the folds on the legs of their four-month-old baby, they turned to the pediatrician. The pediatrician also discovered that the child was lagging behind in physical development. Alex could not hold his head up, hold a toy in his hand, or roll over. All these are symptoms of muscle dystonia, shortening of muscles that pull on the spine, leading to scoliosis.
After the first course of massage therapy, the results were visible! Alex began to hold a toy in his hand. He turned from stomach to back and vice versa. Three months later, our massage therapist, Oksana, did a second course of ten-day massage therapy. Now, the baby is seven months old; he holds his head up with ease. The folds of the skin on his legs are symmetrical!
The common cause of infant scoliosis is muscle dystonia. In the initial stage, scoliosis is not dangerous. But if you do not consult a doctor in time, the vertebrae will become more and more misaligned. This will lead to muscle asymmetry, pinching nerve endings. With age, headaches, back pains, and malfunctions of internal organs will begin. Because of you, dear friends, massage therapists of Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope help children in early intervention avoid becoming disabled at an older age. How wonderful that Alex received two ten-day massage courses in time!
Living my dream,
Sveta and I are so grateful to our partners, sponsors, and those who share our stories with friends. After living through two revolutions, a coup, an occupation, and a war that continues in eastern Ukraine, we look at the children. They are, many times, lost in the shuffle. The goal of MUCH is to help the Ukrainian people help their own people. Thanks to all of you for helping us help Ukraine help their children.
Our long, hot, summer has come to an end. It has been the most interesting one in all of my years in Ukraine. In the July Newsletter I wrote about our long term ministry plans for the property. Our first step was to add a second story with roof. After working with two contractors, we finally found some workers who wanted to work continuously.
The front wall with three window seats and the back wall are waiting for the beltway that will be finished by September 10. The back wall will continue upward, creating a vaulted roof and ceiling. Down the road, we anticipate solar panels on the roof. This is becoming very popular here.
We had water damage on the first floor in June after the roof was removed. Until last night, we had very hot days. More rain visited us until this morning. A small area in the bathroom was leaking, but nowhere else.
I came down with a fever at the end of August. While caring for me, Sveta also acquired the same illness. While I continue to regain my strength after nine days, Sveta, that strong Ukrainian woman, bounced back within three days! God is good!
COVID-19 has not stopped the work of our massage therapists. It has stopped our growth and reduced our support in the first half of 2020. We had three people ready for massage therapy training, but this has not developed because of COVID-19 and MUCH shortage of funds.
In our February Newsletter, we told about a couple working with 400 children in the Happy Family program. They were ready for massage therapists, but COVID-19 got in the way.
A friend of ours from Poltava knows someone interested in massage therapy, but MUCH funding is not available at this time.
All other activities of MUCH continued during the first half of 2020 as in every other year. It seems that this fever that Sveta and I had, is going around in Ukraine. You can pray for our manager Ira Kolosova. She has a fever at this writing.
It is difficult to say much about COVID-19 in Ukraine. The infection rate continues to climb, but new cases are requiring new rules. Our border has closed to foreigners. The regions are regulated according severity of illness. Mykolaiv region remains on the safer side of danger. I visited a virtual Home Town meeting by the American Embassy in Ukraine the other day. In general, things are better in Ukraine than many other European countries, as I understand it.
Mark and I planned to visit several families with disabled children who receive massage therapy under our MUCH program in our city of Mykolaiv. We thought that by September COVID-19 would be under control. Parents invited us to meet them and their children. But since the quarantine was tightened, we decided to postpone our meetings.
Our massage therapists continue their work, and parents continue to open the doors of their homes, even during the quarantine period. They are seeing great results. Their children, small or big, with severe disabilities, and very high muscle tension, are in great need of help.
Many children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hemi-paresis, or tetra-paresis, receive a ten-day massage course every month. This sixteen-year-old child cannot walk and spends all of her time in bed. Her grandmother who alone takes care of her granddaughter, has a difficult time turning the girl over during the day and the child stays in one stable position for a long time. Progressive muscle imbalance can lead to dislocation of the hip in the hip joint. Blood circulation is impaired. These and many other problems can be stopped and prevented from developing through massage therapy. After the massage, muscle hypertonicity is noticeably reduced and this brings great relief from pain for our dear children.
Two brothers, eleven and seven years old, have the same diagnosis of autism and scoliosis. Victor is very calm and self-contained. Ivan is super active and fidgety. It was not easy for Anya to give him massage therapy. The boy was constantly struggling and spinning. In the middle of the ten-day course, Ivan calmed down and enjoyed the massage therapy.
Parents of children with autism notice that after massage, children’s behavior becomes more social. Language skills improve, anxiety reduces, and concentration increases. This significantly improves the quality of life for the children. And this is very encouraging for parents!
Soon after Sasha was born eleven years ago, our massage therapist, Tanya, was contacted for help. Sasha was born with a traumatic doctor error, leaving him in a vegetative state, unable to do anything for himself. After eleven years of massage therapy designed specifically to relax dominant muscles and strengthen weak muscles, Sasha continues to live. We have seen small signs of progress. In his case, the best that we are seeing is an improved quality of life.
He has a three year old brother and his family continues to love him. Life continues for this family in a positive manor, mostly because of the treatment and personal interaction of Tanya with this family.
When I read the reports and the results of the work of our massage therapists, I see even more value of massage therapy home visits. The massage therapist becomes a part of the family, opening up and releasing pain for them. Parents look forward to the arrival of the massage therapist. Their life, like the life of their children, is limited by a narrow circle of people and the walls of their apartment or house.
Together with our massage therapists, dear family and friends, you are part of these families and bring relief, expanding the lives of parents and children! Thank you very much!
Living my dream,
Sveta Please consider donating to MUCH to help the children with disabilities improve their quality of life.
Sveta and I hope that this letter finds you happy, healthy, and looking forward to a great August, and a new school year for the children. COVID-19 has challenged the world for more than seven months. Let’s work together to overcome all of the problems in the economy and society that have developed during the pandemic.
In this newsletter, Sveta and I will share two stories about children who are not in the MUCH program. Ukraine, with the lowest GDP per capita in Europe, struggles to provide a bright future for its children. Here are two stories that demonstrate the longing of children to have a better life. They show through the hope in their eyes their desire to grow both in learning and in Spirit.
Three years ago, Sveta met one of our neighbors, Alla, from the next street over, on her way to the city. As time moved forward, we visited our neighbor and her husband on a number of occasions. Our visits were pleasant, and the conversations led to speaking about Christianity, our mission, and their own outreach to an orphaned boy, Kolya. They had taken him under their wing, inviting him to stay with them on the weekends for seven years. They took him to church with them on Sundays, teaching him the spiritual things that he never learned in the orphanage.
Alla’s husband, Volodya, taught Kolya many responsibilities and skills around the house. They worked together in the garden, a mainstay of life in Ukraine.
While living in the orphanage, Kolya took a liking to a certain girl. She was 14, he was 15, (not exactly a Sound of Music story). The girl became pregnant, and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Olga. Because the mother was still attending school at the orphanage, Olga was moved to a Baby House. She lived there until the mother graduated from the orphanage, four years later. The mother took Olga from the Baby House to where she was living. After a short time, the government became aware of her lifestyle of alcohol and boys in the house. Olga was taken from her mother again and placed in an orphanage. She lived in the orphanage for two years.
All of this was happening while Kolya was being shaped and molded into a good father by Alla and Volodya. He and Alla loved Kolya very much. They built his character, and encouraged him to take responsibility for the life that he helped bring into the world. They encouraged him to raise his daughter with a better life than he had lived at the orphanage.
Volodya traveled to Russia to visit with their children and grandchildren. While there, he died suddenly. Alla immediately organized her trip to Russia for her husband’s funeral.
She asked Kolya, a young man now, to care for her ninety-three year old bedridden aunt. Kolya cared for her before and after work. When Alla returned, she decided to sell her house, and take her aunt to live with her in Russia. She offered her house for Kolya to live in while it was on the market.
Alla asked Sveta and me to be a friend to Kolya and Olga. In a sense, the grandparent baton was passed on to us. We received it with pleasure.
This year, Kolya organized his parental documents and brought Olga to live with him. Last week, Sveta and I had a nice surprise. Kolya came to visit us with his daughter, Olga. We had a great time!
We are so happy that both Kolya and Olga have a new life together. This is a type of love that Sveta and I seldom see. We are so happy to be a part of their lives.
During the quarantine period, Mark and I did not visit our children in orphanages and did not meet with children who receive massage therapy through our mission. But the work continues and we keep in touch with our massage therapists by phone and see the results of their work in their progress reports. We hope to see our lovely little friends again soon!
A couple of weeks ago, our church organized a two day camp for children. This took place on a tiny plot of land not far from the river. Roma, his wife Anya, and their two little girls shared their yard for camp. (Roma, mostly by himself, totally rebuilt what was a little dacha house.) Roma and Anya, who directed the camp, serve children at our church with all their hearts! They have big dreams for the children.
It’s so great for kids to spend time together in the outdoors! There was just enough room for six tents. Our 5 year old grand- daughter slept in a tent. What an adventure it was for these city children to experience.
The first night the children set up their tents. Later, they had conversation about the two greatest Commandments with Mark and me. Together with the children we discussed these two Bible topics. It was interesting to hear the opinions of children, and their observations. They wrapped up the evening, watching a movie projected on a sheet, between two trees.
Saturday began, of course, with breakfast. To their surprise, the morning activity was to prepare lunch as a competition between two teams. It was a sight to see. After lunch, the children participated in other competitions and played games! The big event was swimming in the river! After supper Mark and I discussed with the children about building Biblical character in their lives. Finally, the children, exhausted after a long day, did their best to stay awake to watch a movie under the stars!
Cooking dinner was one of the competitions. It was very thrilling and exciting for the children to cook. And for us adults, it was interesting to watch how they did it. They cut carrots, peeled vegetables, marinate meat … When the jury was evaluating the tastiness of the dishes, the children stood and looked with tension at the expression on our faces. Which team’s food was cooked tastier?
This camp compensated for our failed meeting with the MUCH children. It was a pleasure for Mark and me to be a small part of the lives of these wonderful children! Living my dream,
Sveta I think that you could drop a missionary anywhere in Ukraine and he or she would find children in need of love, direction, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are so many children, even within a one mile radius of where we live, we will never run short of the work that God sent us to do. Thank you for reading this newsletter, and thank you to sponsors, and those who pray for the children and Sveta and me.
June has zipped by so fast. It is amazing! Covid-19 is challenging Ukraine once again. We thank God that MUCH is not being challenged as much this month. All of our massage therapists who work during the summer months have full client schedules. Sveta and I are very happy to see how God continues to provide for the children.
Sveta and I were married in 2012. By 2014, we realized that we needed to buy a place of our own. We looked at a number of properties with land that were above our price range, but far below the value and possibilities that we were looking for. A realtor friend of Sveta’s told us of a property that was still being built. When we looked at it, a vision of what we could do with it began to blossom. The house was small, but the back yard was plenty big. The outhouse and outbuilding provided more opportunities.
The inside of the house was not finished. We were thankful for that. It gave us freedom to create without undoing what was done. We made the most of the space we had. The first room inside the front door became a beautiful entry way. A wall now separates the entryway from the large bathroom with laundry. During the past six years, we have improved the house, step by step. This summer we are adding a second floor.
All of the funds for our purchase and building projects come from our personal savings. We are investing in the children of Ukraine not only for today, but for generations. We are setting an example. As we imagined the different possibilities, a greater vision developed. Sveta and I have seen many examples during our visits with Ukraine Challenge in northern Ukraine. Our current vision has begun to play out in this way.
The second floor will be used for visiting missionaries, small group seminars, and overnight guests. (Temporary roof) We will rebuild the outhouse, adding a shower and sauna. Aside from use during summer orchard and flower garden work, the outhouse and shower will be for the children’s camp programs. A number of years ago,
I was surprised to see a ceramic toilet made for the dachaouthouse. It will be nice for the children. The outhouse will be rebuilt with accessibility for children with disabilities. We are setting examples for future generations.
God has provided the property and the people, so we will connect the dots.
In Mykolaiv, MUCH has a wonderful massage therapist, Oksana. She helps many children from the age of two months to one year. On the recommendation of pediatricians, parents bring their babies to Oksana for massage treatment. It seems to be minor problems for babies, but without timely help they can lead to disability in the future. Therefore, it is very important to detect and remove the problem in time.
After a routine examination, two-month-old Yegor’s pediatrician discovered an umbilical hernia. This is when part of the intestine is pinched in the umbilical ring. When the correct passage of food and feces through the intestine is disturbed, it causes pain for the child, who in this case can be very restless. She recommended a course of massage therapy. Oksana gave the baby a course of massage, paying special attention to massage of the abdomen near the navel. This massage for the umbilical ring improves local blood supply and helps to tighten the umbilical ring. In two weeks the baby got stronger, began to hold his head well, and colic in his stomach decreased. His mother was satisfied with the results. On the recommendation of a doctor and our massage therapist, Yegor needs to undergo another course of ten-day massage therapy to consolidate the achieved result.
Four-month-old Alex’s pediatrician also recommended a course of massage. The child had hypertonicity of the upper extremities, stiffness in movements, and did not turn over from the back to the stomach. The diagnosis of torticollis was also established. Alex completed a 12-day course of massage. After the third massage treatment, the child began to roll over, the muscles returned to normal, and his sleep pattern improved. Alex’s mother was satisfied with the result.
For eight-month-old Nikita, it was his second course of massage therapy. At four months old, he had some lag in physical development. Nikita held his head poorly, did not hold toys in his hand, was inactive, and did not turn over from his back to his stomach. By the end of the first 10-day course of massage, the boy became more active, began to roll over and hold toys in his hand. But hypertonus of arm and leg muscles continued to be a problem. After the second course of massage therapy his mother and the doctor saw the changes and were satisfied with the result.
Four-month-old Daniel also had a small torticollis, holding his head poorly. After a 10-day course of massage, he began to hold his head in the correct position. Daniel’s parents were satisfied with the result of the massage treatment.
Living my dream,
The parents of these children and as many as thirty more each month are so pleased with the results of their children throughout the four cities and three villages in Ukraine. They all send great thanks to MUCH sponsors and those who pray for their children.
Sveta and I thank you who read our newsletters, hold us up in prayer support, and sponsor the great work that God has called us to do. It is such an honor to be a part of caring for special needs children here in Ukraine. We invite you to join us to help the children through prayer, financial gifts, or simply sharing our stories with others by word of mouth or forward this letter to your fiend.