Category Archives: Newsletter

August 2016

Hello family and friends,

We have come to the end of summer in Ukraine. We anticipate that a cool autumn will appear
Sept. 1. The change of seasons are abrupt in this part of Europe.

August 24 celebrates Independence Day in Ukraine. This is their twenty-fifth year of freedom from the Soviet Union. Children who were born in freedom, after 1991, are raising a second generation of children born in freedom. It is a great privilege for me to be here, watching the process.

We have been changing the lives of children at the Marganets Orphanage for fourteen years. August brings an end to this part of the MUCH mission in Marganets. The simplest way to 3dsc02082explain is that we are not seeing the results that we have seen over the years. The need for clothing is less, and the other goals have been met. The children have better self images, are behaving better in the classroom, and have earned the respect of the children in the community at large. Thank you for your support for these children over the years. Your contributions have changed the lives of a generation of children.

Mark’s Moments
Here is a story of how two people encouraged each other to blossom their visions to help disabled children.

In 2003, I was in great need of massage therapy. After living in Ukraine for a year and a half, stress caused my neck muscles to tighten so much that I couldn’t turn my head. I was introduced to Dr. Natalya Borisovna, a massage therapist. At the time, her patients for massage therapy were adults.

After my good results, I asked her if she was interested in working with children. She had been praying for the opportunity for three years! In March of 2004, we began the MUCH Massage Therapy program with two children a month.

Twelve years later, MUCH has blossomed the massage therapy program. We provide massage therapy for at least twenty children per month. We have: two massage therapists at the Dobromel Orphanage, northwestern Ukraine, two home visit massage therapists in Chornomorsk, and one in training for home visits in the village of Molodozjnoye in south western Ukraine. There is also a vision for massage therapy at a second orphanage in northwestern Ukraine.

For twelve years, Dr. Natalya has been on a journey of her own. When she started the MUCH massage therapy clinic in 2004, she worked part time for us and part time in her private practice. A few years later, she was hired to work at Golden Angel in Odessa, giving massage to children with disabilities who came from many parts of Ukraine for treatment.

Dr. Natalya has returned to Chornomorsk, reopening her private practice of massage therapy. She has blossomed her business into a complex treatment of full body massage, hot earth wax, facial point massage, treatment for joints, therapeutic exercise, and an ice bath. This full treatment requires about two hours and forty-five minutes for a ten or fifteen day program. MUCH sponsors six of her patients. She has a team of four massage therapist, and an office manager.

natalyas-teamDr. Natalya helped me: physically regain relaxation of my muscles, begin a clinic for children with special needs, and train our new massage therapists. God used me to: answer her prayer to work with special needs children, encourage her to continue through sponsorship, and ask for her help to train our new therapists.

This is the successful story of how Dr. Natalya and I encouraged each other to develop our visions to help children with disabilities.

Sveta’s Journey
We have made a lot of friends working at the orphanage in Marganets. Our hearts were sad when we had to stop the program. The children were always waiting for our arrival. When Mark and I entered the orphanage gate they recognized us from a distance and ran to us shouting, “Mark and Sveta are here!” We had limited time to talk and play with the children. When we told them that we had other children in their city to visit, they were jealous.

Our work continues in Dobromel. Children are also waiting for us at this orphanage. They receive massage therapy and attend computer classes because of the full sponsorship of MUCH. This is a great help that is changing their lives. The children enjoy massage therapy very much. Eagerly awaiting dscn7556their turn, they ask the therapist, “When are you going to give me a massage?”
Teachers are responsible to bring each child for massage, knowing the appointed time. Sometimes Paul takes a child for massage therapy and returns him/her at the end of the massage. Because the education building is across the street, sometimes the therapist will take two children. While waiting for their turn, they are happy to spend time in this magical room, running on the treadmill, playing on a massage mat, and using other exercise equipment. Some children are so interested in the procedure of massage therapy, they cannot look away from the working hands of the therapist.
We have written several times adscn7555bout children who came to the orphanage from a Baby House (orphanage from birth to first grade). What enormous changes have taken place in their character and health because of massage therapy mixed with the love of people who care about them!
The boy who is watching massage in the picture above came from a Baby House. When he arrived, he was wild and uncontrollable. He has been receiving massage therapy for three years. We are so happy to see the great changes that have occurred in his life during this time.
For me, this boy is a living example of how a child may change through the love of the people around him, and as the love of God unites hearts of Americans and Ukrainians! Thank you for your part in changing the lives of these children!
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

July 2014

Hello family and friends,

It has been a challenging month and a half. Mom took care of me as a child, and throughout my life was there for me. Now it is my turn to care for her the best that I can. Sveta and I are only a part of the family team that is helping Mom, post-stroke. My two brothers and sister and their spouses make up the family team, but there are many professionals who add to the care team. And of course, there is you, our reader who we ask to pray for Mom’s healing.

For the past twelve years, I have been focusing on the needs of children. During that time, Mom has been working indirectly, by my side. Together, we began the mission in 2002. In 2004, Mom created MUCH, (a 501 c 3 non-profit), to make it possible to continue the mission. Teams developed on both sides of the Atlantic. The mission pushed forward.

As I wrote these two paragraphs, the following idea came to mind. It is not a new concept, but it becomes more real to me as I am experiencing it. Children, those that we help in Ukraine, as well as children in general, need guidance, finding their way through the challenges of their young lives. Infants are powerless and need help in every aspect of life. On the other end of the spectrum, each of us will reach a time in our lives when our bodies and/or our minds will leave us in need of more and more assistance. Our bodies wear out, or are afflicted with disease or illness, and it becomes our turn to need the help of others.

The time after our childhood and before our bodies and/or minds fail us are the times for us to help the children, or to comfort and care for the elderly. In America, there are many organizations that help children such as the YMCA and Head Start. For the elderly there are many choices such as retirement communities, nursing homes, assisted living at home, and a number of creative alternatives.

Life in Ukraine is a little bit different. The government provides education and sports programs for healthy children. If you can walk and carry your own books, you can go to school. If not, the government run orphanages are the only option other than keeping your child at home. The government has not given appropriate monies to run the orphanages, leaving the children with one pair of shoes every two years, and two pair of socks every year. Pants, shirts, dresses, and warm winter clothing are equally limited.

Most of the elderly are cared for by their children and grandchildren. The family unit remains quite close. Three generations sharing a small three room apartment is not uncommon. The economy necessitates their families to stay together. In their hearts, they believe that they can care for family members much better than government programs. This excerpt from the linked article says it well “The Ukrainian mentality is: we hurt in the heart and mind for our families. We have a conscience that must let us sleep. If not with high morality and responsibility, – then with fear of human judgment.” Click here to read about the only option that the government provides. (This is a translated article.)

Marks Moments

The conflict in Ukraine continues to unravel. My investigation of this crisis in the country that is now my own legal residence has been a great education. Russia and its relationship with Ukraine during the Soviet Union and after its break-up reveals an interesting history. The Kremlin and Putin have been working on covert activities to rebuild the Soviet Union. The protest and ousting of President Yanukovych pushed the timeline forward.

Four months later, and hundreds of people dead, the most tragic mistake of the separatists has brought Putin’s involvement with the crisis in Ukraine to the forefront. The shooting down of apassenger jetliner has produced the involvement of many more countries in the conflict between the separatists aided by Putin, and the army of Ukraine. Putin is now in a difficult position. What will he do? What will the EU do? What do you think that the US should do?

Sveta’s Journey

Now Mark and I are in America. Our trip to America was a last minute decision made because of Mom’s stroke. Mark’s heart rushed to Greensboro. The first three weeks of our stay here, we helped Mom while she was undergoing restoration in the Rehab Center, and then two more weeks when Mom was at her home. Family surrounded her with big love and care. Each doing a certain part, we were working as a great team.

Mom’s many friends are supporting and encouraging her through letters and visits. Family, our friends and Mom’s friends were a blessing to Mark and me when they helped us with transportation, housing, and food. During the two weeks when Mom was staying in her house, it was not possible for us to live in Mom’s house and we lived with her friend – a neighbor who shared with us her home and food, and helped us with transport. It was lovely to come back in the evening and have dinner with a welcoming hostess.

Mark’s Mom is worrying about the situation in Ukraine. She is concerned about children in orphanages, as she continues to keep them in her heart. We selected several pictures to show and tell her about the MUCH children. Every time when I look at the faces of the children, my heart is full of love and joy about them, the time brings me wonderful memories.

Ivan, an orphan, has no parents. He speaks badly and it is difficult to understand what he wants to say. When Ivan saw Mark and me on the territory of the orphanage, he ran up to us and was staying close by. He followed us as a ponytail and demanded attention. Ivan clung to Mark and to me.

He felt our love, love that attracts like a magnet, attracting love and warmth in its rays. It is God’s love that He has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The heart of this little boy felt this love and in his childlike simplicity he clung to Mark as if he was his father. It was so touching! Later, it was so sad when we had to say goodbye to him. He waits for our return.

It is marvelous to me that my life has changed so much after my marriage to Mark. I am still amazed how God uses me to show His love to the children in the orphanages. I have an excellent opportunity to give God’s love to these children. It brings me great joy and satisfaction to touch their lives! I must keep telling about my immense gratitude to all of you who are praying and sponsoring our programs. You make it possible for me to be in this perfect position!Living my dream,Sveta

What are the children doing during the summer? In northwestern Ukraine, the children of the Dobromel Orphanage are away at camp. This year they are visiting a camp in Odessa, by the sea. About 60 children who are left at the Marganets Orphanage for the summer are true orphans. These children in south central Ukraine have the opportunity to go to different summer camps. The children who attend the school that we help in Marganets enjoy the summer with their families. The children of the Transition House also have opportunities to enjoy some summer activities. The children of the Illichevsk massage programs continue to receive massage therapy.

Some of the MUCH programs stop during the summer while others continue in full force. When school begins again on September 1, everything will be running full speed ahead. We at MUCH are very grateful for your attention to our children. Reading our newsletter, praying for our children, being sponsors, and helping in other ways also make the work that we do with the children possible. Thanks to all of you!

JUNE 2014

Hello family and friends,

June brings the heat of North Carolina along with the cold of air conditioning, both extremes that Sveta and I are not accustomed to. The kindness of the southern culture and the generosity of family and Mom’s friends balances everything out very nicely.

As you know, Mom had a stroke on Easter day. She has been going through the challenges of recovery and rehabilitation. Sveta and I arrived in Greensboro, NC on the 26 of May to help care for Mom in any way that we could. Being at the hospital almost every day, Sveta and I are learning many things about American healthcare that we compare directly to what we know in Ukraine.

Mark’s Moments

Sveta has experience as a commercial cleaner. Talking with the women of the housekeeping staff at the hospital, they compared their tools. In Ukraine, Sveta used a wooden broom handle with a 4 by 10 by 3/4 inch piece of wood attached to the bottom, for a mop. With a bucket of water, she rinsed a rag that is about two foot square and draped it over the mop bottom and began to wipe the floor. She used this rag until it was worthless.

The woman cleaning the hospital rooms used a very clean long handled swivel mop with a disposable sanitized cloth. As Sveta watched in amazement, the woman cleaned the floor in Mom’s room and the bathroom, and then threw the cloth away. Sveta was shocked.

Another surprise was when the woman removed her sanitary gloves after finishing, and threw them away. Sveta told the woman that she was given one pair of gloves per month. Now it was the woman’s turn to be shocked.

In some instances, we in Ukraine, live like the modern world of 2014 with flat screen TVs, computers, washing machines and microwaves. In other situations, the mentality of Ukraine has been behind by about a century. Corruption has ruled Ukraine since 1991 when the Iron Curtain fell. Ninety percent of the population of Ukraine have lived the simplest lifestyle, with many still using outhouse toilets, and limited indoor plumbing and electric.

Does it help you to see maps to better understand what is happening in the Ukrainian crisis? Clickhere to see Ukraine Crisis in Maps. As the crisis goes on, cease-fire talks continue. The speed that news travels through the internet today helps people everywhere keep up with what is really happening. Since the occupation of Crimea, Putin has admitted that Russian people, troops or KGB, were in Crimea before the referendum. Now, it looks like tanks have rolled in from Russia to the Donetsk region. Can we believe anything Putin has said? It looks like it is time for some very serious sanctions. What do you think should be done? The Domino Theory is more that 60 years old, but remains very applicable to Ukraine and western Europe.

I found this article about Crimea to be very interesting. One of the Kremlin’s dreams about Crimea has to do with tourism. Unfortunately, the Kremlin wants their people to think they have access to the best vacation spots in the world right in Russia. For the past 23 years, the people of Russia have been free to travel to other countries and see what has been happening in the world outside of the soviet lifestyle. Vacationing in other countries like Greece, Italy, and Egypt, Russians see there are much nicer beaches and vacation spots than in Russia. This really opened my eyes to the big differences that freedom makes.

Sveta has a unique point of view as she watches her country from a distance and experiences, once again, culture shock. She always sees things with bigger eyes than I do.

Sveta’s Journey

I recently read a story about John Paton, one of the most famous missionaries in the world. From Scotland, he went to the distant islands of the New Hebrides in the South Pacific, where he worked for many years of his life. He lived among cannibals in barbaric conditions and showed them Christian charity.

After reading this book I thought about Mark and myself, and our work in Ukraine. We are not exposed to danger; we live in a civilized society. As I continued to ponder the background of this missionary, our work seemed so small. Is it important to help children, providing massagetherapy and visiting children in orphanages? I thought, “We cannot compare our small contribution to the work of other great missionaries. If God has entrusted Mark and me to do this work, it is important to God, and it is necessary for children, so it should be important in our eyes also.” Thinking about our mission, I decided that Mark and I are in the right place, doing the right thing. The American people are participating in this work showing Christian charity.

The Bible says that our lives are like a vapor. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14 NIV) With each passing year I realize more and more how to decrease my desires about myself and increase the desire to focus on others, especially to be caring for children who need help, love and understanding.

In the Dobromel orphanage, there is a nine years old boy, Alex, who is diagnosed with mild mental retardation. His physical development for a child of his age is appropriate, but he is inattentive, learns slowly, and is poorly oriented in space and time. Alex has an insufficient view of the world; he is not very inquisitive and can not pay attention to certain subjects for a long time. His disability may prohibit him from developing abilities common to children of his age; on the other hand his lovely character trait is very kind, sociable, and he loves to help other children. After the 20-day course of massage, Alex has improved speech, his posture has become straighter, and of course, massage has a positive impact on all organs and systems in his body.

Alex comes from a family of eight children. In spite of the difficult conditions of his family, his mother visited him often and sometimes took him home on the weekends. This past autumn, Alex’s family- home burned down due to unknown reasons. Relatives of his family are giving them a place to live. For this reason, Alex will spend the summer at camps with the children of the orphanage who have no family, instead of with his own family.

Eleven-year-old Masha has the same diagnosis. During her stay in the Dobromel orphanage, her father never visited her,uninterested in her education or health; he did

not even call her on the phone. Masha’s motheris disabled and is being treated in a psychiatric hospital. She is not able to take care of her daughter.

Massage treatment is an excellent method that brings great results for children! Masha hasimproved articulation, decreased aggression, and is more communicative and open.

Stress, anxiety, depression, inattention of their parents and many other reasons are the cause of mental and emotional illnesses for many children. During the course of massage treatment between the massage therapist and the child, a warm and trusting relationship develops. This relationship, to some extent, replaces the lack of attention that the child did not receive from the parent or parents. The child begins to share his/her inner feelings and secrets with the massage therapist, and he/she finds understanding, compassion and love. Some of the benefits of massage therapy are: calmingeffects, improvement of the emotional state of the child, and the development of normal sleeping patterns.

When we read the reports about the results from the massage therapists, Mark and I receive a big joyabout these children. When we visit the Dobromelorphanage and see wonderful changes in many of the children, it brings great satisfaction to Mark and me about our mission.

Our mission impacts the children in many ways. We can have a very positive impact on the spiritual lives of children when we tell them about the love of Jesus. They experience changes in their physical bodies through massage treatment. Their emotion changes and their self images improve through the purchase of beautiful clothes. I believe that the memories of the people who bring the love of Jesus Christ in the children’s lives will accompany and support their dreams for the future and shape their desires for today.

Living my dream,

Sveta
MUCH has a great team, both in Ukraine and in America, that continues to serve the children while Sveta and I travel to America for fundraising or travel to the different cities where the children of Ukraine live.

Sveta brings massage to Mom, who is now back from the rehabilitation hospital, living in her home. The ripple effect of MUCH touches people, like Mom, that we don’t expect, in ways that surprise us. Mom will continue to receive Sveta’s massage Therapy. Insurance will provide Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy from in-home therapists. I met Sveta through MUCH, and because of her work with massage, Mom has received relief from pain in the hospital, and will receive unknown benefits from future massage treatments at home while we are in America.

God blesses each of us in ways that surprise us and change our lives forever. As we sow seeds of love, we reap God’s blessings in many ways. Help MUCH sow love into the lives of the children in Ukraine. We thank you for reading our newsletter and for your continued interest and support of our children in Ukraine.

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

May 2014

Hello family and friends,

Anatoliy Vlasov

I heard today, May 7th, that a good friend died. He has died to this life of the physical body, but he lives now with his Creator Whom he met during his battle with cancer.

I met Anatoliy by phone in 2000. (Click on the blue highlighted words to follow the links.) He enthusiastically talked with me about his passion to help the children in his community of Marganets. Even though I didn’t understand a word of his Russian, I understood his heart to help children. In that spirit, our hearts spoke a common language. In 2002, we began to make his dream for the children come true.

In the Marganets ministries, Anatoliy always looked to me as the leader of the ministry. The truth is, it was always his vision, his passion, and his commitment to the futures of the children. Yes, the MUCH organization provided funds, and approved projects, but it was always Anatoliy who got the job done. He looked at the monumental needs of the children in the orphanage and the small monthly contribution from MUCH, and asked himself, “Where do I begin?”

He put his methodical mind to work and created a plan. To improve the clothing appearance of 150+ children took more than six years to accomplish. During that time, he was challenged with other needs to improve the living environments and the health of the children. Anatoliy brought unique projects to the MUCH Board of Directors for their approval. Some were too big for our small organization, but most were approved without question.

In twelve years time, he connected MUCH with atransition home, processing children from difficult homes to the orphanage system, and with a second orphanage.

Anatoliy was passionate about changing the future of these children. As a grandfather, he understood children. As a man, he understood truth, honesty, trustworthiness, and admirable character traits that many of the post-soviet generation lacked. He understood the virtues that the children needed to learn. In so many words, Anatoliy was a man’s man. He lived a full life, working in eastern Russia for a time, and retiring in Marganets.

When his retirement days came, he was not ready for the rocking chair. In his 60’s, he began to see the needs of the children in the orphanages and wanted to do something about it. He began collecting money from the different venders at the outdoor market, but that amounted to about $10 at the most. When we met, that all changed.

Although we were of the same spirit of passion for the children, Anatoliy and I were from different worlds. We each did our jobs, encouraging the other to do what he did best. This working relationship and friendship continued for twelve years. The last two or three years where difficult for Anatoliy. He struggled with throat cancer, the result of years of smoking. When we visited Anatoliy in the fall, he was unable to get out of bed. His wife Galina told us that Anatoliy continued to direct the process of his work, giving orders from his bed in spite of his extreme pain. This man’s man, died with his boots on.

Mark’s Moments

Many of you know by now that my mother, an intricate part of MUCH, suffered a stroke on Easter. She is showing good signs of progress. Please keep her in your prayers. This family emergency is calling Sveta and me to come to America to be with Mom. We hope to connect with many of you while we are there. My personal victory is that I now have my permanent residency document! I am a resident of Ukraine!

Seven months ago, the then-president of Ukraine made a political decision that changed the future of Ukraine forever. I have been following the news, dividing propaganda from fact, and here is where I believe we stand. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, the West has been trying to influence the Kremlin to think in line with western democracy. On the other hand, the Kremlin has never had any desire to change. It has been covertly creating a system of rebuilding the Soviet Union. The Georgia war was the first step, Crimea was the second step. Military intervention is not so desirable anymore. Putin and his think tank have other ideas.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/05/05/how_putin_is_reinventing_warfare

What seems to be the big picture of recreating the Soviet Union? Which are the most obvious countries that are desirable to reoccupy?

http://www.dw.de/russias-periphery-whos-next/a-17509323

They now have a new method of invading and occupying a country. They send in “regular people” by the busload. These people stir up trouble, spreading rumors and propaganda against the country of that people. I heard recently that this happened in Illichevsk, Ukraine where I lived for 11 years. It happened in Odessa on May 2nd.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.588724

It seems that everyone wants to throw the blame for the crisis in Ukraine at one country or another. Everyone has an opinion. What is the solution? The future of Ukraine will have a big effect on the world one way or the other. What do you, the world community, want to happen with Ukraine?

Walking in His shoes,

Mark

Sveta’s Journey

I want to share a small excerpt from a presentation by Mark’s father at his Men’s Club:

“Before Mark’s first visit to Ukraine, he learned of many children who needed help and he decided to move to Ukraine and help these children.

After two years of Mark living in Ukraine, his mother, Pat Koehler, decided to set up a charity to support Mark’s work for the children of Ukraine. MUCH, which stands for Mission Ukraine Children Hope, was started. It established a board of directors that included his mother, brothers, sister, and local contributors.

Mark travels to two orphanages that house about 150 children each. One orphanage is a fourteen-hour train ride from his previous home in Illichevsk. The first project was to improve the beds. They sagged so badly that MUCH started a bed replacement program to get donations that eventually afforded 142 new beds. It took about 18 months to raise the money for all of the beds.

After several years of working at the Marganets Orphanage, toys became the focus of the Christmas fundraiser. Many of the local merchants generously gave nice discounts for a variety of toys and stuffed animals. The children said it was the first present they ever received. Some were so happy they cried. My wife Jean’s Presbyterian Church in Pompano knitted child size blankets for some of the children. Other blankets were purchased locally for the other children. In the dead of winter, the buildings never got higher than about 40 degrees on any given day or night.

In Illichevsk, Mark was introduced to a soup kitchen that was operated by a local church. It reached out to children from difficult homes, providing one hot meal a day, teaching a variety of basic skills, and Biblical instruction. MUCH supported the food program on a monthly basis until it closed a few years ago.

In 2004, the Illichevsk head doctor gave a room in the polyclinic for use as a massage therapy clinic by MUCH, free of charge. Massage has given new life to some of these children. Some children who started their lives in the institutional system were never hugged or emotionally nurtured. Some of the children, who never walked, now walk after treatments. Trained massage therapists work for only about two dollars per hour.”

For 12 years, the mission has continued to help Ukrainian children!

For many children, early intervention requires only two or three courses of massage treatment to prevent complications and the development of disability. When I look through the monthly reports of the massage therapists from the past two years, I find a large number of children from ages two months to two years whose prognosis has changed to complete body function. Early intervention provides great results.

Today I phoned Ira, our massage therapist in Illichevsk. She talked about a five-month-old baby who had a complication after chickenpox and a cold. Ira noticed torticollis (“twisted neck”) to which the mother and the doctor did not give attention. After one course of massage, this diagnosis was eliminated. Our massage therapist also found the child to have some degree of hip dysplasia. On the eighth day of massage treatment, the problem was corrected! The mother clearly saw positive changes in her child and was very pleased.

From the reports of massage therapist Natalia B., we see what results the children received after massage therapy. It also conveys the emotional background, her joy, and hope for every child to have good reports! It gives mothers faith, hope, and victory!

Alina has cerebral palsy and tetra paresis (weakness in all four limbs.) We talked about this wonderful child in an earlier newsletter. She continues to delight her parents, her massage therapist, Mark, and me with her step-by-step results that even the doctors did not expect. She spends her time in a wheelchair or in bed. Her parents often need to change the position of her body in order to avoid pressure sores. During the April massage treatment, Natalia B. performed therapy for Alina to initiate reflex motor skills appropriate to her age. Alina’s mother saw that during sleep her child was able to roll herself on her side. Now, her mother rarely gets up at night to turn her daughter from her back to her side. This is very good progress for Alina!

Natalia B. told us about a sad event that will affect disabled children. The president of the charitable foundation in Odessa for disabled children, “Forward” better known as “Gold Angel”, has died. The children from Illichevsk also received free assistance in the rehabilitation center. After the death of the president, the center plans to charge patients for treatment. This will leave many children without care because most parents are not able to pay for the treatment for children. In connection with these events, Natalia B. expects an increase in children needing massage, and looking to the MUCH program for help. Already some parents have asked Natalia about it and she turns to Mark asking for assistance for these children.

Living my dream,

Sveta

April 2014

Hello family and friends,

April 15 is tax day in America. In Ukraine, it has traditionally been the day the local governments turn off the heating service in the cities. This year, because of the conflict with Russia, that date was changed to April 1, not a very nice April Fool’s joke. In Nikolayev and Illichevsk, close to the sea, the temperatures are warmer than the rest of the country. Even so, we have been having temperatures in the upper 30s F and the lower 40s F. Then, there are the cities like Marganets and Borislav that have had no heat above 40 F, year round, for the past 12 or more years. Welcome to Ukraine!

Heating up the country, the presidential elections will take place in May. Click on the blue highlighted links.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_presidential_election,_2014

It appears that the top two candidates for the 2014 presidential election will be Julia Timoshenko

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yulia_Tymoshenko

and Petro Poroshenko, the “Chocolate King”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petro_Poroshenko

Let’s see what else is happening.

Mark’s Moments
It seems that Ukraine is learning that freedom is not free. Corruption over the past 23 years of freedom in Ukraine has destroyed the economy of the country. On the brink of bankruptcy, Ukraine has agreed to the terms of the IMF to receive some of the financial help needed. The terms will create difficult times for the people of Ukraine. Here are some of the changes that will take place.

Some of the developing details are a 47% to 66% increase in personal income tax rates; a 50% increase in monthly gas bills; a 40% increase on gas tariffs for heating companies; and an increase in taxes on agribusiness. In addition, while some at the IMF have speculated the currency’s devaluation against the dollar year-to-date (35+ %) is enough to satisfy the fund’s penchant for ‘correcting imbalances,’ others are maintaining that the currency needs to get even weaker. Click on the blue highlighted link.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2014/03/28/ukraine-welcomes-imf-austerity-regime/2/

President Obama and the EU have enforced sanctions against Russia a number of weeks ago. There is a second round of sanctions ready to be put into action if Russia breaches Ukrainian’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. As paid rabble-rousers are sent to Ukraine from Russia to try to get more referendums started in major eastern cities of Ukraine, the new sanctions are being voted on and readied for retaliation against Russia’s move to claim more of Ukraine for itself. What will the sanctions do to Russia; what will the sanctions do to the people of the EU? Click on the blue highlighted links.
http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/305304/Export+controls+Trade+Investment+Sanctions/A+Potential+Fork+In+The+Road+US+And+EU+Sanctions+Relating+To+The+Ukrainian+Crisis

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/09/world/europe/russia-ukraine-unrest.html?_r=0

There is no question that this Ukrainian situation over the Crimean crisis had created an international conundrum. No one wants another military war; everyone is in agreement of that, I think. Even so, sanctions will create a trade war that will have effects on all involved. International trade with Russia has created a need for Russian goods, mainly gas and oil. It will take time to replace the immediate needs of importers and exporters. For more information on this subject click on the highlighted link in blue.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26612848

Last week and this week while working at our house, I was aware of two jets flying low in the sky. This was a daily occurrence. Looking for an answer, I learned that NATO is watching the borders of Ukraine.
How will all of this affect MUCH? As Sveta suggested in the March newsletter, we no longer have access to wire money through banks to Crimea as of the end of March. Things did move very quickly in Crimea. Russian passports were being registered for all Crimean residents, while deporting all of the Ukrainian military and some other Ukrainian citizens. The ruble is now being used along with the Ukrainian grevnya until they can change the currency to only the ruble. This means that MUCH no longer can operate the Froonza Massage Therapy Program. We cannot get money to them, and we cannot get to them to visit without a visa, and maybe not even then, since Americans and Ukrainians will not be welcome in Crimea by the Russian government.

Walking in His shoes,
Mark

In the midst of the problems of Ukraine, Sveta has some good news about the children!

Sveta’s Journey
It is very sad that we stopped the massage program in the Crimean village of Froonza. Because Crimea became part of Russia, it appears that MUCH will not continue to work there. Two years ago, several mothers from Froonza whose children have disabilities wished to meet with Mark. They asked him to continue the program. Given the fact that the village is far away from the city, it is almost impossible to bring the children to the city for daily massage treatment by bus. The massage program in Froonza was a great help not only for children from this village, but also from neighboring villages. MUCH was the catalyst; we set the example. We hope that the current government will pay attention to the needs of children in the villages. We continue to communicate with Anya, who is our manager in Froonza.

P1010034Since MUCH began sponsoring the computer program at the orphanage in Dobromel, the children have been making great advances. These lessons are the children’s favorite and most interesting subject. The children of all ages love these fascinating lessons; no one is indifferent. Two years ago when the program began, the children did not even know how to turn on the computer. The children had a great desire to enter the computer age. Volodya, a young and enthusiastic teacher, approached teaching the children with individual programs designed to advance each child according to their own ability. Using a step-by-step process, the children build their knowledge from the foundation upward according to their own readiness. Volodya wrote us that as the children acquire the skills to work on the computer, they increasing their self-confidence, and they increase their belief in their own abilities. They have a great desire to continue to study the world of education through the computer!

In Illichevsk the transportation scholarship program is continuing! Vika has been in this program for three years. She will graduate her nursing education next month. Click here to see her video from last year. We have two lovely students Natasha and Nastya, who MUCH will support beginning September 2014.

DSCN5446Mark and I rejoice with the two girls. They are very pleased to receive this wonderful opportunity to be in the program thanks to you, the sponsors. Last year Mark made a video with them, interviewing them about their education plans. Click here to see the video. Natasha and Nastya waited for a year and the day finally came! During this year, the girls were not idle, but diligently continued their studies and earned money knowing the dire financial situation of their families. The transportation scholarship pays for transportation to and from their universities and gives them a small stipend for food during the trips.

20130321_094105

 

At the Dobromel Orphanage, Natasha, the massage therapist, is doing a great job. She is seeing very good results with all of the children. Three years ago, Serozja was walking on the toes of one of his feet. This caused additional problems with his hip. After three years of massage therapy, beginning at age 14, he is walking much better. The heel of his one foot is now almost touching the ground when he walks.

 

We have written several times about two boys who had big physical and emotional problems. At the moment, both children are improved mentally and emotionally.Two Boys

Both had some degree of scoliosis. Today, there is almost no sign of scoliosis in the spines of these two boys. The staff of the orphanage, including the nurse, are witnesses to these wonderful changes!

The massage therapist Natasha continues to work with these children. This work brings her great satisfaction and pleasure. Mark and I see Natasha’s dedication to this cause. She is very grateful to the American people who support the massage program at the Dobromel Orphanage.

Living my dream,
Sveta

As I read the news on the internet about the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, it is difficult to understand what is true, real, and worth reading. There seems to be an information war in progress. We ask for your prayers for peace in Ukraine. The election will provide a new government in May. What happens between now and then remains a big question. The children are innocent. They don’t know about politics. MUCH has the passion to continue to help the children in Dobromel, Illichevsk, and Marganets. Work with us to change the futures of these children. We are living in dangerous times in Ukraine. Help us protect the children.

We want to thank our supporters for the prayers, love and support you have expressed for the children, the mission and for us personally. It means so much to know that you care about the continuation of the care for the children during this unsettled time. We do not fear for our safety; we fear only for the interruption of the programs that mean so much to the children and their families who, like families everywhere, want a bright future for their children. For those children who have no families, they need to know that despite other changes in the country, they have loving friends in the United States and other countries who care about them.

When You Find a Heart for Children, Nourish it!

Last year a new opportunity arose while visiting Froonza, Crimea. We have a massage therapy clinic there for children with disabilities. It operates in the Center for the Elderly and is located in the kindergarten building in the village. The director of the kindergarten met with Sveta and me, asking if MUCH could sponsor a speech therapist for the kindergarten children. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrAVJQW4k9w&feature=c4-overview&list=UU7wsKHT3uX4x-VzXgDH8gUw[/youtube] There is a young woman with a heart to help these children, but she needs to return to university to get her masters degree in Speech Therapy. She is currently an English teacher by University diploma. This story is in our March 2013 Newsletter.

“Last year, when Mark and I went to the village of Froonza, to visit our massage therapy program, we met with the director of the kindergarten because she asked for our help. The problem is that the kindergarten does not have a speech therapist. The government authorities do not provide money in the yearly budget for a speech therapist at this kindergarten. In the kindergarten, there are 104 children: in each of the four groups of 26 children, 25% of the children have a problem with the spoken language. The administration of the kindergarten has a great desire to have a speech therapy program for the children.”

“There is a young woman who lives in Froonza who wants to work with children as a speech therapist. Angelina is already working in this kindergarten as a teacher and in addition she gives private English lessons at home. Angelina is a beautiful young woman, the daughter of the MUCH manager in the village of Froonza. She grew up in a big wonderful Christian family where there is much love. This family has five children and eight foster children. See Fourteen Days with Thirteen Children. Angelina has a teacher’s degree and will begin studying speech therapy in the graduate program at the university in September 2013. Her heart burns for the children and she has already started the independent study portion of the program.”

The rule in Ukraine about receiving government help is that you must be registered in day classes in the regular semester system. Graduate studies do not operate that way. The cost of her Angelina’s tuition is $380 per semester. That is less than we are paying for our Transportation Scholarship Program in Illichevsk. My desire is to offer her a scholarship.

Why is this important? Early intervention is the key to change speech problems that challenge children early in life. The bigger problem in the village is that the medical and therapeutic treatments are minimal. I believe the reason is that the village governments don’t have funding.

This kindergarten needs a speech therapist. Without that support, the optimal time for improving the children’s speech will pass, and their opportunity will be denied. For $80 a month, you can educate a teacher to help the children of the Froonza kindergarten improve their speech.

You can help Angelina with your $10 Click here

MUCH Newsletter July 2011

Hello family and friends,

After a rainy and cool June, we have 86 + F temperatures with cool sea breezes in the evening. I have said, “See you soon,” to my friends in Ukraine as I journeyed to America to do some fundraising for MUCH. Now in North Carolina, the temperatures are in the mid 90’s and the ground is parched, waiting for rain. This is my first summer visit in nine years. Will I survive the heat?

My fiancée, Sveta, and I have been talking about preparation for her September visit at the Dobromel Orphanage. Recently, she completed her recertification course in medical massage therapy. She and Natasha, the exercise specialist at the orphanage, will spend two weeks in Illichevsk in August, visiting our massage clinics. They will be watching, asking questions, and learning all that they can from our team of masseuses who have been working with our children for the past seven years. In September, Sveta will begin a demostration project at the Dobromel Orphanage, giving four of the children a twenty-day massage. Based on the children’s improvement and, with the approval of the Director of the orphanage, MUCH will begin its fifth massage program for special needs children.

Children at Dobromel Orphanage …
participating in AWANA games

The children we serve in Dobromel all have physical or mental disabilities. Sveta and Natasha may be working with some of the children pictured above. Massage and specific exercise will improve the physical lives of our children. We expect that they will, in fact, change their future.

Pastor Volodya and his ministry team from the Borislov church have reached out to meet the spiritual needs of these children for ten-plus years. MUCH began to partner with them about three years ago, financially supporting the work they do. Together, Pastor Volodya and MUCH are reaching out to the whole of each child, hoping to equip them with what they will need to be successful in life.
Let’s see what is cooking with Ira.
Ira’s Insights
This year has been very fruitful for my church. We have had eight weddings since January. One of the most significant weddings for me was that of Victoria and Vitaly. Victoria is the youngest sister of my husband. I have already written about the life of this girl in some of my Ira’s Insights. The last story of mine was in the May Newsletter. I wrote about Victoria’s graduation from the Pedagogical University.
The life of this girl wasn’t easy or very happy. When Victoria was 5 years old, she was taken from a life-threatening environment. After finishing high school, this girl had no money, no help and it seemed – no future. However, God’s plans were different. She found good work, she was able to enter the university with the help of MUCH, and at last, God sent a great man into her life. Those who know Vitaly and Victoria say – God blessed both of them with each other. The love story of this young couple is a great example for many young people. Vitaly and Victoria have known each other since their childhood. They attended the same church, the same youth group. When the time came for them to find a second half of their life, they started praying. At that time, they didn’t know that God had prepared them for each other. Their announcement as a future couple at the church in May of this year was a big surprise for many people. On the second of July, it was their wedding at the church. There were many people who came to congratulate this beautiful couple.
This wedding is a good model of the fulfillment of God’s promises for those who pray, trust God, and wait. God has brought many different people into Victoria’s life for his plans to be realized. MUCH has been one of those that have impacted her life. Four years ago, Victoria entered the university. MUCH helped her with a scholarship for transportation during her four years. Today Victoria has a Bachelor degree and in the future, she is going to work with children. She is a good encouragement for those who think that there is no future in his or her life.
I am glad that MUCH continues to bless children in need with their program “Transportation Scholarship”.
I am really blessed that I can see all these wonders in the lives of children in need and it is a real honor for me to say “Thank you” to those who have been helping make these wonders happen.
Until next time,
Ira
Last year, the Emmaus Food program did not operate due to lack of funds from sources other than MUCH. Even so, the Transportation Scholarship Program (TSP), created for the Emmaus children, continued. MUCH has approved extending TSP, working through Victoria’s church and requesting Zoya, the former manager of Emmaus, to continue overseeing the program. This fall, I will be talking with Victoria about helping MUCH promote TSP. She is not only a university graduate, but she is the bride of Vitaly, son of the president of the Baptist Seminary and pastor of her church. I look forward to sharing a presentation with Victoria in her church to encourage scholastically qualified children (in need of financial help for transportation) to seek higher education. Victoria is a great role model for the children and youth of her church.

Please continue to pray for our children. With your help, we are changing their lives, giving them the opportunity to change the future of their lives and the future of their country.

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark

MUCH Newsletter June 2011

Hello family and friends,

Summer has arrived, blending hot sunny days with breezy mornings and evenings and cool rain now and then. I spent some time in the village at Sveta’s parent’s home, south of Nikolayev, pulling weeds in the onion garden. You might say it was my “time to get back to nature.” I walked Sveta to work through a scenic pine forest paralleling the railroad tracks. Later, in Nikolayev, where Sveta lives, we spent some time with her children and grandchildren. It was very nice to spend some time with her family, learning more about their Ukrainian lifestyles.

Sveta’s parents home in the village
A view from Sveta’s 10th floor flat in Nikolayev

About nine months ago, I had a potential new vision for a MUCH outreach; it was about the orphanages and children’s homes in Nikolayev. At the time, I was acquainted with Sveta and had been introduced to a few of her friends. Some of them already were visiting the different orphanages and children’s homes. It seems that in every community there are people who have a heart for the children in the orphanage system. As for my part, I was looking for a connection to expand the MUCH ministry through an organization that was currently involved with these children.

About the same time that this vision came to me, I had been given the address of a missionary couple in Nikolayev. The opportunity arrived to meet them a couple of weeks ago. After a long talk, the husband, Dan, gave me the name of a man in Florida, Gary, who would be bringing a mission team to Nikolayev Region in July. He wanted his team to visit an orphanage while they were here to establish a relationship for future short- term missions. Sveta told me about her pastor and a church member who were visiting one of the orphanages on a regular basis. Okay! That was my door of opportunity, or so I thought.

I met with the pastor and he seemed very positive about everything. I returned to Illichevsk, four hours via two bus changes, with a joyful heart, hopeful that the door would open. After talking with Gary in Florida and making a few plans of my own, Sveta called with some disheartening news. Her pastor talked with the director of the orphanage and told her that Ukrainian people were welcome to visit, but Americans would not be permitted to visit with the children. We continue our search, seeking the door that God will open for us.

Ira’s Insights

Today I’d like to update the situation with Sasha K. She is a seven-year-old girl who has a rare disorder – arthrogryposis. Sasha has one of the most severe cases of this disorder. It impairs her cardiac and respiratory function and causes pain in her chest and back.

A couple of days ago I called her mother and it was a pleasant surprise for me when I heard Sasha’s voice. It was obvious that she was glad to speak to someone by the phone. She informed me that her mother has a new phone number and that now she (Sasha) has her own mobile phone. Her mother is at work every day and she misses her mother very much. The phone lets her communicate with her mother during the day.

Sometimes Sasha has to be at home the whole day alone because there is nobody with whom she could stay. Sometimes she is brought to her grandparents who live in the countryside and it is a great fun for her to be there because she can be outside all the time. But unfortunately it happens not often because her grandparents have some health problems that don’t let them take Sasha every day.

I called to a new phone number of Sasha’s mother, Natasha, and she shared some news with me. Of course, the progress isn’t as we wished. The Israel doctors are slow in their help and unfortunately, there are not many hospitals in the world that could provide surgical help for such children as Sasha. The Israel doctors still haven’t sent the mother promised estimation for the surgical operation on the chest of Sasha. She called them several times and she heard again and again that she would get it soon. When she called them last time she was told that there are some changes in the staff of the clinic and a new manager promised the mother to clarify the situation and send her the estimation and answers on her questions ASAP. Natasha hasn’t received any answer from the clinic yet.

She also investigated the questions of such operations in German clinics. She got the answer that they do such operations on chest of children not younger than 12 years old. Natasha is afraid that by the time that Sasha is 12, her situation with her chest will be much worse than now. She is afraid for Sasha’s life because even today the girl has difficulty breathing because of the concave bones of her chest press on her lungs and heart.

Despite the unfavorable situation with the possible treatment in Israel, Natasha, has a strong desire to continue to “fight” for the better future of her daughter.. She continues to call to Israel clinic and send them emails. She continues learning new ways of treatment for children with such diagnosis. Natasha says that she is a “walking Wikipedia” who knows everything about this rare disease, arthrogryposis.

Recently Mark made me happy telling me that in Ukraine there are some people who are interested in helping Sasha financially. They are ready to donate some money regularly for Sasha’s operation. Of course, it won’t be enough but I believe that very soon thanks to the MUCH website, many people will find out about the need of this girl and they may have a desire to help her to live.
Until next time,
Ira

As we all enjoy our summer plans, I ask that you keep our children in mind. Some remain at the orphanage while others return to relatives. Their summers are sometime troublesome without the structure and guidance that is available during the school year. Please pray for the teen girls particularly.

Blessings of love and healing,
Mark

MUCH Newsletter May 2011

Hello family and friends,

All of my travels have come to an end for a while. I am back in Illichevsk, resting, doing my computer work, and gathering all of my experiences of the past two weeks in East Central and South Central Ukraine. I had nice weather to experience with the children.

At the Marganets Orphanage, I popped into the computer laboratory to check-up on the use of the equipment.

Every computer was occupied; the students were busy practicing some of their computer skills. I remember discussing computers with the manager in 2005. Could the children have the opportunity to learn to use the computer? It was a big dream, but only a dream. Now, children graduate with computer skills learned in a MUCH-sponsored class. Those skills will help them compete in the job market. Some dreams do come true!

In Froonza, I found that Kolya is walking to the Center for his massage treatment every day. He displayed his exercises for me, showing me how hard he is working to make good progress. His legs are not as strong as I thought, but he is able to straighten them with someone’s help. That is the key! He needs some help to do his exercises to get the maximum benefit. Everyone does their best to help him, but it is Kolya who will decide his future. He must have that “can do” attitude. He is moving forward. At age 13, he has a serious road ahead of him. The authorities anticipate sending him to a retirement facility at age 18. That is how they treat people with limiting disabilities. He must learn to walk independently within five years. You can cheer him on with an email of encouragement..

In Illichevsk, more and more infants are being referred to our massage clinic. These tiny tots who were previously overlooked are now receiving the immediate attention that they need. We are seeing great results with our Early Intervention Program. Previously, children had to wait until they were two-years old to be labeled as disabled. Children as young as three months old are now being treated, and in many cases, are having these medical differences corrected. Thank you for helping us make permanent changes in the lives of these innocent ones.

Ira’s Insights

Having lived on the fifth floor most of my life, I didn’t have any experience in gardening. Now I live in the countryside and many new things have been opened to me. I have learned to plant but the most that I have learned – it is waiting for the fruits of my work or efforts. In the beginning, it was very difficult for me even to imagine what beautiful flowers or sweet fruits could be produced from a thin tree or a seed. The time to wait – was the most challenging time for me! But how I was happy to see results of my work! Flowers and fruits made me very glad. Gardening has been a good experience for me and a very good object lesson for my work with MUCH. Now it is easier for me to see what good fruits will be produced from this or that activity of MUCH.

This time I would like to tell you about one of the fruits that have been produced with the help of MUCH in Ukraine. In one of my previous newsletters, I wrote about the Transportation Scholarship Program for children from difficult homes or children in need. Today there are two girls who are in this program. The name of each is Victoria. One girl is finishing her first year of medical college on a government scholarship, but no assistance with transportation. The other has worked between the twice-a-year, three-week sessions, and is finishing her fourth year of Pedagogical University. For both girls, the help with transportation has been a great blessing. Victoria, who is finishing the 4th year, says in her “thank you letter” to everybody who has been helping her:

“…For 4 years I have been receiving your financial help and it has been a Godsend in my studying! Now I am finishing my studies at the university, and I have a great desire in the future to work with children of preschool or school age, and it is a blessing for me. I like to work with children very much.

I thank God for you who have been helping me for so many years. Thank you that you are open to help those who are in need. Four years ago, I was that person. With your help, I have received ‘the ticket to my future life.’ May God bless you and reward you for your kind deeds!!!”

What great news it is – God has changed Victoria’s life for the better, through MUCH. Four years ago, I couldn’t foresee that university would change her mentality, improve her self-image, or provide her with work. Today it is a real blessing for me to see with my physical eyes all of the changes and results that have been happening in Victoria’s life. Without the assistance of MUCH, it would have been almost impossible for Victoria to study at the university. She is the girl who was raised by a family who removed her from a life-threatening environment when she was 5 year old. A couple of years ago Victoria’s mother died. She hadn’t shown any interest toward her daughter from the time she was taken by this family. The family who took her wasn’t able to provide finances for her to study at the university. Four years ago, when Victoria graduated high school, she didn’t have any opportunities. I think the meeting with MUCH was a historical point in her life.

Next month, Victoria will graduate and earn her Bachelor degree. It is great fruit that the help of MUCH has brought to her life.

From time to time, it happens that we can’t see future results with our physical eyes in what we are doing now. For me, Victoria is one of the examples of unseen fruits that will be produced in the future.

God blesses those who take care of such fruits. May He bless you as abundantly as you have blessed Victoria.

Until next time,
Ira

These four stories from three communities, quite distant from each other, are only a raindrop in the pond of the more than five hundred children whose lives you touch. We want you to help us cheer-on our children; cheer them on to a future that will overcome the limitations that they had when we first met. This month, I celebrate my ninth year living in Ukraine; MUCH celebrates its seventh year of overseeing all that we do.

I will be visiting America (July 19 through October 8) to share more stories about the children, but most of all, how God has provided everything for me, every step of the way. Whether it was financial support from you, translators in each city or village, the teams for each developing outreach ministry, or my sweet Sveta, soon to be my wife, God has provided all in the appropriate time. If you would like me to visit your church, small group, or organization, please contact me.

Blessings of love and healing,
Mark

MUCH Newsletter April 2011

Hello family and friends,

I wish for each of you a blessed Easter, Passover, or holy day in which you participate. As we celebrate hope, we see how God is blessing the children.

In my last Newsletter, I wrote that spring was here but I was expecting one last, late snow. It has been quite cold lately, although, I had to go to Dobromel, NW Ukraine to experience that last snow of the season. In the low 40’s F here in Illichevsk, people are still wearing their scarves and winter coats. Even so, they are all out in their gardens getting the soil turned and ready to plant.

Nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, the quiet little town of Dobromel is located only five miles from the border of Poland, it is surrounded by farmland, true to the Ukrainian agricultural way of life. Dobromel is quite a distance from Illichevsk, where I live, requiring a forty-minute bus to Odessa, a twelve-hour train to L’vov, a two-hour bus to Truskavyets, a fifteen-minute bus to Borislav, where I stay with Pastor Volodya, and on Saturday, a two-hour car ride to Dobromel Orphanage. That is a lot of travel time to spend only a few hours with the children and to have a meeting with the director. It is well worth the time; if I could not hear and see it all first -hand when I visit the children, view the improvements, talk with the director, and experience life at this orphanage, I could not fully understand their situation. It is really all about building relationships.

I have been writing about the future massage program for the children at Dobromel Orphanage in the last two newsletters. To my surprise, the director, Mikola, has been busy preparing for a massage program, so much so, that he now has an exercise specialist, trained in massage, on his staff in a limited capacity. After our meeting, there was no question in my mind that Mikola wants MUCH to begin the massage demonstration project in September, with my fiancée, Sveta, providing massage for four of the children. He is very anxious to see results, anxious enough to send Natasha, the exercise specialist, to Illichevsk to observe our two masseuses at the clinic. Natasha will observe massage treatment at our clinic here in Illichevsk in August, with children similar to the children at the orphanage. She will observe massage treatment by Sveta in September with the children at the Dobromel Orphanage. When God opens a door, He opens a door!

Ira’s Insight
Someone has said, “Our lives are filled with challenges and obstacles, but everyone’s life is also filled with abundant blessings. There is only one very important thing – it is to see those blessings.” Working for some years for MUCH, I have come across many people whose children are seriously disabled. For me, most of those parents are great examples of courage and real love that shows despair in none of their life situations.

Last Saturday, there was a meeting of such mothers and Mark. We talked about expanding the massage program in a second location in Illichevsk.

Last year MUCH tried this program, but for management reasons, MUCH stopped it in autumn 2010. I remember how many calls with different questions I got from the mothers at that time: “Why? When will it be started again? Do we have any hope?” All of those questions touched me very much because every mother or grandmother tried to tell me, in detail, stories about the progress that their children had with this masseuse. Some weeks later, this group of mothers arranged the meeting with Mark as a representative of MUCH, and then they wrote a letter of their hope to the MUCH Board of Directors, asking to start that massage program again.

A couple of months passed and last Saturday the meeting with this group of mothers happened again. The mothers read a letter-agreement written by MUCH to them. The letter gives only one condition for the parents whose children will benefit from the massage therapy – to supervise the schedule of massage. MUCH wants to see regular massage treatments for these children with serious disabilities.

For me it was a great delight to see mothers whose dream had come true. The expression of their faces told everything – their eyes shone with happiness. It was a real answer, a real blessing, because they had been waiting for the renewing of this program for many months. The third masseuse, Natalya Borisovna, was the first masseuse in the MUCH Massage Clinic in Illichevsk. Very often, I call her the pioneer of this program.

For reasons of her own, she gave up the original job of masseuse at the MUCH Massage Clinic. When she chose to leave, she continued to work in different cities and places with children suffering with serious illness or disabilities.

My hope has always been and is for Natalya Borisovna to work on the team of MUCH. This woman has an open heart, wonderful hands, and great experience in massage work. I have a great hope to see great results of her work soon.

Until next time,
Ira

I never imagined that my life would be focused on helping children with disabilities, particularly in a foreign country. Although this country becomes less foreign to me every day, it may remain foreign to you. We want to help you understand the culture, the people, and the children of Ukraine. To help you do this, visit the MUCH website. As always, thank you for your interest in our children, God’s secret gifts from above.

Blessings of love and healing
Mark