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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Hello family and friends, We are safe in God’s hand’s. His hands are working through us!
My friends, I will tell you honestly, I struggle with my feelings about Russians. I divide them into groups that I have identified. Putin, the Kremlin, and the oligarchs, fit into the category of evil. Those who protest this unprovoked and evil war show good and honest hearts. Many who continue to be brainwashed through the Russian media see power and authority as their provider. I have recently been introduced to one more category that I will refer to as unexpected heroes. Here is their story. I have receive the story from people that I know who were witness to the event. Russian maritime sailors working for a Romanian company, were sailing under the Romanian flag. A Russian War ship pulled along side the Romanian ship and demanded that they be a shield, enabling the Russian war ship to come close to the city of Odessa. When the Russian maritime sailors refused, the Russian warship fired a missile at their own people, on the Romanian ship. A fire started on the Romanian ship, forcing the men to jump into the freezing water. While their ship was sinking, the Ukrainian rescue ship saved them from the frigid water and delivered them to the hospital.
A local church reached out to these men, men whose country was at war with their rescuers. While in the hospital for two weeks, men from this church brought them food, clothing, medical supplies for their recovery, and even a phone to call their families in Russia.
Because they were Russian citizens, and Russia was at war with Ukraine, the sailors could not return home. They were something like prisoners of war. Because of this, the Ukrainian soldiers guarded them day and night at the church, and in the worship services, too. Ukrainian troops from Zmiiny Island that were captured by Russian soldiers early in the war were traded for the Russian maritime sailors.
When the Russian maritime soldiers returned home, their wives called the pastor of the church to thank him for treating their husbands so kindly. They are now looking for Baptist churches. One of them gave a video interview and told the truth about what happened, but it was censored from Russian television. The truth is once again censored, just as it was in soviet times. “Sadly, Russian Christians together with their nation do not believe that the war is bringing great destruction to our nation of Ukraine. They think Russian troops are saving us.” When you read this story, it is up to you to determine how many groups of heroes there are.
As for Sveta and I, there remains a shock, a numbness. It is gradually fading away. Our emotions catch up with us; 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
Hello family and friends, We are safe in God’s hand’s, understanding what it is like to be a refugee from the eyes of Mark and Sveta, residents of this world, Citizens of Heaven.
Mark’s Moments When God showed us the future of MUCH in developing countries, He explained that the foundation would be through churches. With this concept firmly established in our minds, our third day in Krakow was a Sunday. Lusia introduced us to a friend of hers. We met her friend, Martinek, at her church, and Lusia continued to her own church. Martinek, introduced us to her friend Monika, who is interested in our massage therapy program. Each of them had someone else in mind who would also be interested in working with massage therapy. The following Sunday, Monika, Ela, and Cheszka, met with me after church. (Lusia and Sveta were on a two day spiritual retreat.) The four of us talked about the massage therapy program, and my vision for it in Krakow for refugee children, in particular. This is where we are at as of Sunday 3/27. In one other direction, Sveta and I anticipate living in a multifamily house for refugees in the near future. At this time, there are two families with a total of two children living in this home. When we move in, Sveta will provide massage for these children. We anticipate finding/training massage therapists to be available throughout Krakow. (Big picture) We will follow our Ukrainian MUCH model of no/low overhead. We have not discussed price per massage yet. But again, it will be modified from the MUCH model. We are not interested in becoming a business, but each massage therapist could develop a business from our startup model. I will share more as we move down the timeline. “Make yourself available, and God will use you.” Oh! Does that sound familiar? God continues to open doors for Sveta and me wherever we go. The story can only get better.
Sveta’s Journey We are so thankful to God and to all of you, dear family and friends. We see, and the Ukrainian people also see, your love and compassion. Your big help is proof of your love. Our two managers and their children have moved to other countries where they were surrounded by love and care. The financial assistance provided by MUCH touched their hearts deeply. They said that these gifts were most unexpected, but very timely.
Dr. Natalia remains in her city. She continues not only massage treatment for disabled children, but helps their families, and families who need support, through church organizations and MUCH.
Another massage therapist, Anya, of MUCH remains in Ukraine with her sister and mother. Her husband is in the army, fighting for freedom in Ukraine. Anya has been providing massage therapy for Maria, who we have written about in recent updates. The money that Sveta added to Vera’s (Maria’s grandmother) account made it possible for Anya to do some shopping for Vera. She continues to provide massage treatments for Maria. The war has challenged everyone greatly. Even so, our therapists who are still in Ukraine are working diligently. In western Ukraine, our therapist and computer teacher continue their work with children, hungry for activity, knowledge, and stress relief. The goals may change somewhat, although their love and compassion march on.
This morning, my brother sent a picture of our house. There was a piece of metal in an upper window. The source of the metal is unclear, but it remains lodged in our triple pain window. We are amazed that no other damage has fallen upon our house. We want to tell more heroic stories of our people who remain in Ukraine, but it is not safe to release information and locations that may jeopardize the lives of any, or many of our Ukrainian people. Know that we continue to help the people in need that we have contact with in Ukraine, and those that we are meeting in Poland. Please continue to pray for our city of Mykolaiv, City of Heroes, that continues to receive attack from the Russian barbarians. Living my Dream, Sveta
As for Sveta and I, there is still a shock, a numbness. They may be hiding within us, but I think that they are still there. We find 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
Hello family and friends, No place is safe in Ukraine for more than the moment. We are safe in God’s hand’s.
Isaiah 54:10“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, Who has compassion on you. What shall we do? Believe! Believe that our King is Sovereign! Psalm 57:1 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed. II Kings 6:16, 1716 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. This morning, we were awakened by explosions at 5:45. It is difficult to tell what is happening as we listen to the “fireworks.” Sveta’s brother keeps us in touch with what is happening in the city. He works for the city water company. It seems that the utility workers are keeping things rolling. They have police escorts while working. I understand that the price at the gas pump is high. When you go to the gas pump, consider your freedom. We are fighting for the freedom of Europe. So when you put gas in your tank, say, “This one is for you, Putin.” You are fighting the war in Ukraine at the gas pump, turning away the Russian tankers, mid ocean. Everyone in the world can go to battle in one way or another. Nobody needs the Soviet Union to be reborn! Here are some pictures: of the results of the attack on our city this morning.
As for Sveta and I, there is a shock, a numbness. We find 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