Category Archives: Progress

June 2020

Hello family and friends,

June has zipped by so fast. It is amazing! Covid-19 is challenging Ukraine once again. We thank God that MUCH is not being challenged as much this month. All of our massage therapists who work during the summer months have full client schedules. Sveta and I are very happy to see how God continues to provide for the children.

Mark’s Moments

Sveta and I were married in 2012. By 2014, we realized that we needed to buy a place of our own. We looked at a number of properties with land that were above our price range, but far below the value and possibilities that we were looking for. A realtor friend of Sveta’s told us of a property that was still being built. When we looked at it, a vision of what we could do with it began to blossom. The house was small, but the back yard was plenty big. The outhouse and outbuilding provided more opportunities.

 

 

 

 

The inside of the house was not finished. We were thankful for that. It gave us freedom to create without undoing what was done. We made the most of the space we had. The first room inside the front door became a beautiful entry way. A wall now separates the entryway from the large bathroom with laundry. During the past six years, we have improved the house, step by step. This summer we are adding a second floor.

All of the funds for our purchase and building projects come from our personal savings. We are investing in the children of Ukraine not only for today, but for generations. We are setting an example. As we imagined the different possibilities, a greater vision developed. Sveta and I have seen many examples during our visits with Ukraine Challenge in northern Ukraine. Our current vision has begun to play out in this way.

The second floor will be used for visiting missionaries, small group seminars, and overnight guests. (Temporary roof) We will rebuild the outhouse, adding a shower and sauna. Aside from use during summer orchard and flower garden work, the outhouse and shower will be for the children’s camp programs. A number of years ago,

 

I was surprised to see a ceramic toilet made for the dacha outhouse. It will be nice for the children. The outhouse will be rebuilt with accessibility for children with disabilities. We are setting examples for future generations.

God has provided the property and the people, so we will connect the dots.

Sveta’s Journey

In Mykolaiv, MUCH has a wonderful massage therapist, Oksana. She helps many children from the age of two months to one year. On the recommendation of pediatricians, parents bring their babies to Oksana for massage treatment. It seems to be minor problems for babies, but without timely help they can lead to disability in the future. Therefore, it is very important to detect and remove the problem in time.

After a routine examination, two-month-old Yegor’s pediatrician discovered an umbilical hernia. This is when part of the intestine is pinched in the umbilical ring. When the correct passage of food and feces through the intestine is disturbed, it causes pain for the child, who in this case can be very restless. She recommended a course of massage therapy. Oksana gave the baby a course of massage, paying special attention to massage of the abdomen near the navel. This massage for the umbilical ring improves local blood supply and helps to tighten the umbilical ring. In two weeks the baby got stronger, began to hold his head well, and colic in his stomach decreased. His mother was satisfied with the results. On the recommendation of a doctor and our massage therapist, Yegor needs to undergo another course of ten-day massage therapy to consolidate the achieved result.

Four-month-old Alex’s pediatrician also recommended a course of massage. The child had hypertonicity of the upper extremities, stiffness in movements, and did not turn over from the back to the stomach. The diagnosis of torticollis was also established. Alex completed a 12-day course of massage. After the third massage treatment, the child began to roll over, the muscles returned to normal, and his sleep pattern improved. Alex’s mother was satisfied with the result.

 

 

For eight-month-old Nikita, it was his second course of massage therapy. At four months old, he had some lag in physical development. Nikita held his head poorly, did not hold toys in his hand, was inactive, and did not turn over from his back to his stomach. By the end of the first 10-day course of massage, the boy became more active, began to roll over and hold toys in his hand. But hypertonus of arm and leg muscles continued to be a problem. After the second course of massage therapy his mother and the doctor saw the changes and were satisfied with the result.

Four-month-old Daniel also had a small torticollis, holding his head poorly. After a 10-day course of massage, he began to hold his head in the correct position. Daniel’s parents were satisfied with the result of the massage treatment.

Living my dream,
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Sveta

The parents of these children and as many as thirty more each month are so pleased with the results of their children throughout the four cities and three villages in Ukraine. They all send great thanks to MUCH sponsors and those who pray for their children.

Sveta and I thank you who read our newsletters, hold us up in prayer support, and sponsor the great work that God has called us to do. It is such an honor to be a part of caring for special needs children here in Ukraine. We invite you to join us to help the children through prayer, financial gifts, or simply sharing our stories with others by word of mouth or forward this letter to your fiend.

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Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta

April 2017

Hello family and friends,

We hope that each of you had a pleasant holiday celebration. Sveta and I spent our Sunday afternoon with friends. Lena met us at the bus stop and we traveled to our house together for lunch. Tanya arrived later. It was so nice to see these three friends together share old times and new direction in their lives.

Sveta prepared buckwheat and chicken, garnished with garlic greens. Hard boiled eggs and grated beets, both topped with mayonnaise and greens. Pickled tomatoes and pickled cucumbers added unique flavor. Finally, Sveta’s mother’s preserved vegetable salad completed the festive meal.

Mark’s Moments

Marganets School #3

When we were at this school in the fall, we visited the fourth grade class. They showed us what they were doing with the computer tablets that MUCH provided. This time we visited the first grade class to see what they are doing with the computers tablets that were designated to them this year. The children surprised us with their artwork. They are ready to learn to use computer technology! Why wait until they are older. Director Nataliya has the vision for her school to move forward now!

 

The big surprise came when I asked Svetlana, the first grade teacher, if she knew how to use the computer tablets before they were given to the school. She told us with big excitement that she had to teach herself first, then she could teach the children. That is how far behind small towns and villages in Ukraine are with education tools.

By improving the teaching tools, MUCH is changing the potential of this school. This will have long term effects on the future of Ukraine. Better education changes countries; it is changing Ukraine. This teacher thanks you!

Marganets Transition Home

Sveta and I met these two friends at the Transition Home in Marganets. Inseparable five year olds, Irena and Sasha go to Yana together to receive massage therapy. You were introduced to them in our March newsletter.

It was a delight to watch Yana give each of them a massage treatment. In the process, Sasha had many questions. Looking at his picture, can you imagine what his inquisitive conversations could be? Yana thanks you for the opportunity to bring emotional healing to these children!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irena kept busy with her art work while Sasha enjoyed his massage.

These are only two of the thirty children who live at the Transition Home. Each child has a different story. Each story will break your heart.

MUCH has sponsored the Transition Home through our clothing program for more than seven years. We started the massage therapy program here this year. We see good progress.

Not only are these children from broken homes healing emotionally, but most are being placed in good Christian foster homes. Some are being adopted. We are pleased to partner with these professionals.

Massage Therapy is an ongoing program. We have nine massage therapists working in four cities and one village. At the current exchange rate that is around 27 UAH for every $1, the massage therapy programs cost a total of $800 per month to maintain. We have one more massage therapist waiting in the wings for funding in the large village of Ovidiopol.

If you are one of the 250 people receiving our newsletter regularly, please know that only about 20 of those 250 who receive our newsletter support our programs regularly. Imagine, if nine new sponsors gave $10 each month, we could support a massage therapist in Ovidiopol.

Our help with Education is about projects. We learn about the needs of a particular school, and we raise money for the specific projects. You have seen our Christmas fundraisers each year as an example.

Imagine, a yearly project is about $4000. If 200 people gave only $20 each, we could easily provide the education needs of a village school each year. A village school serves the children from two or three surrounding villages.

Think of the impact you can have on the life of a child!

Become a MUCH sponsor and give a donation today!

Sveta’s Journey

Chornomorsk

Mark and I visited Chornomorsk in March. Mark spoke to the students of the Transportation Scholarship Program. He talked about the value of education and the impact that they can make on their community. He also told the students that higher education is not only about learning information, but more importantly, it is about learning how to think.

When you know how to think, you can teach yourself many things. We see how committed they are to learning. They fully understand that MUCH and their parents invest love and finance in them. The gratitude of the students is expressed not only in words, but also the excellence of their study. These four students are doing a good job with their studies! Mark and I are glad that we have such an opportunity to encourage (left to right) Arthur, Nastya, Anya and Daniel through those who support the Transportation Scholarship Program! They are very grateful about the ongoing support from MUCH. They thank you!

One woman approached Mark and told him that seven years ago, when her daughter Valya was three years old, the doctors diagnosed the girl with Pes valgus of the feet and rickets. These further lead to disability.

Throughout the year the girl received several massage therapy courses. Valya’s mother is so grateful! She thanks all of you very much.

Now Valya is walking better and has no pain. Her mother’s face is shining with joy! It’s so nice to meet parents who are happy that their child is healthy! All good things come from God!

Valya received massage therapy through MUCH. We are leading the way to correcting some disabilities of children in Ukraine.

Very heavy knapsacks and the wrong position to sit at the desk led to poor posture and pain in the back and cervical spine of the twin sisters Olga and Anya. Ira, our massage therapist conducted a course of therapy for these girls. Now Olga and Anya do not feel pain, their postures have been corrected. Ira gave them recommendations for physical exercises to strengthen the muscles of the back. Olga and Anya’s Mom expressed great gratitude to us and the sponsors of MUCH!

I deeply believe that twelve years ago God opened the door to massage therapy and continues to bless children through MUCH! Three massage therapists Natalia, Tanya and Ira help children and comfort their parents in Chornomorsk!

Living my dream,

Sveta

We need YOUR help to move MUCH through another twelve miraculous years.

Let’s begin today!

Thank you in advance! The children thank you! Ukraine thanks you for helping to change their country!

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

March 2017

Hello family and friends,

In 2014, we moved into our unfinished home in Mykolaiv. Each year we make improvements, making the house warmer, drier, and cozier. Sveta was working in the garden this week and her eyes twinkle once again. I am ready to finish the external insulation of the house and am making plans for the workshop/summer kitchen. God has blessed us abundantly with our little home.

Mark’s Moments

The hearts of our two new massage therapists in Mykolaiv are on fire. Each therapist began to reach out to their community, offering home visit massage therapy for children with different diagnoses. They began in January and are building their clientele. This has been working out well. We are seeing results in the first month of treatment.

Anya in Mykolaiv

Anya is working with Philip who is diagnosed with hyperactivity. Home visits are a bit more difficult. Finding a work surface that is comfortable for the massage therapist, and is comfortable for the child, can be a challenge. Another situation that the therapist must deal with in the home visit is the presence of siblings. In this situation, Philip is calmed by watching cartoons while Anya focuses on the massage treatment.

Oksana in Mykolaiv

Oksana is working with George, 14 years old. His diagnosis is kyphoscoliosis. His spine is curved forward more that normal in the shoulder area. Also, you may be able to see in the picture that his spine is also curved side to side instead of being straight up and down.

George complained of upper back pain. He received a 20-day massage therapy treatment. His mother saw changes in George’s posture and emotional composure. His pain was alleviated and George was feeling much better.
Oksana bought her own massage table and treats some of her clients in her home. Her work is straight from her heart. She has two small children of her own at home.

A Deeper Passion

This month, as Sveta has been talking with the our therapists, they are asking about another possible opportunity to serve children. In Mykolaiv, there is an orphanage that serves children with physical disabilities. Our therapists are very interested in investigating the feasibility of focusing their work on the children at the orphanage. This sounds very good to me!

Sveta’s Journey

Dr. Natalia in Chornomorsk

Ilya lives in Chornomorsk. He began to receive massage therapy when he was 1 year old. This timely treatment that we call “early intervention” makes new connections in the brain while the brain and body continues to develop.

Through massage therapy, the “walking” motor skills are trained to develop correctly. The muscle tone of the weaker muscles is improved, and the opposing muscles can now develop together. This causes the brain to work correctly.

Ilya was not interested in the world around him; he could not speak or walk. Step by step there was progress. At first he learned to crawl. It was not easy to achieve such an activity. Then he began to say some words. Although this is normal for healthy children and it happens easily, for Ilya this was the result of much time, and the joint work of Dr. Natalia, Ilya’s mother, and grandmother.

During the last five years, his mother and grandmother have done their best to help the child. All of these years, Ilya has received help from MUCH by receiving massage therapy. Dr. Natalia saw how difficult life was for Ilya’s family and she has also contributed to their need. Last year she invited Ilya’s mother to work as an administrator in her center.

Today, Ilya is speaking well and intelligently. He can construct complex sentences. This is a great achievement for a child with his diagnosis. This little boy learned to walk somewhat independently relying on a moving object (chair). Dr. Natalia believes Ilya has promise and she plans to teach him to walk without support. She wants to improve his intellectual potential so that by the age of nine, he will be prepared to attend a special school.

It is a long process. Even so, when we see such extreme progress, we can better understand the long term value of the work that our massage therapists are doing every day.

Marganets School #3

The Marganets School #3 students are very enthusiastic about sports. MUCH has provided the equipment and team shirts; the teacher provides the education and leadership; and the students provide the energy and joyful noise.

Now the children really feel that they are a team! They are united not only by their desire to take part in competitions, but also by wearing the same uniforms, they feel like a real sports team! Their teacher, Igor, is always grateful to you, dear friends, for such great support. He thanks you for helping him do his job better.

Also at School #3, about thirty children participate in the clothing program. Orphaned children and those who live in poverty are in great need of clothing, particularly in the winter months. MUCH provides funds for these needs each month.

You would have to meet the children to truly understand their great need. They are very thankful! Even so, their lives are so challenging, it is difficult to see smiles on their faces for very long.

The children thank you for your care about them!

Yana is our new massage therapist. She began this new program for MUCH at the Marganets Transition Home in January 2017. Children who come to this place may not need physical healing, but their wounded hearts need healing. Interacting with children through massage therapy treatment, the massage therapist not only touches their muscles but also their souls.

Almost all the children did not want to undress to receive massage therapy. When asked to do so, they looked at Yana suspiciously. She did not insist. Rather, with patience, she lovingly spent time with children, chatting and preparing their hearts to trust her. On the third day, the children agreed that Yana could give them massage therapy.

She worked at establishing a trusting relationship. Some teenage boys have ceased to be cruel and loud. One girl name Anya was restless and irritable. At first she did not want to do physical exercises and did not want to take off her clothes for the massage therapy. She started undressing herself by the third procedure, and on the fourth visit, she did all the exercises with pleasure. She especially liked to blow up the balloons, an exercise for her lungs.

Vanya was happy to participate in all of the procedures. At first, he only smiled and nodded his head at all of Yana’s questions. From the fifth procedure, she heard the first words from his mouth.

Our dear friends, thank you for helping us touch the lives of these precious children. God bless you and your children!

Living my dream,

Sveta

Nine MUCH massage therapists in five cities in Ukraine are changing the future of this country. Maybe one of our children receiving massage therapy will make a great contribution to Ukraine, or the world. A more concrete reality is that by setting examples of compassion and human rights for these children of great need, communities are changing their mentality. People see hope, and are standing up to speak for children who cannot speak for themselves.

Thanks to each of you who read our newsletter, share our stories with your friends, and lift us up in prayer as we continue to follow God, sharing His blessings with the children of Ukraine.

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

Promise, Provision, & Progress

Seven years ago, I moved to Ukraine to work with children in need. The first group of children that I was introduced to was in the city of Marganets, south central Ukraine, at the Orphanage for Children with Mental and Physical Disabilities. At the time, most of the 156 children had learning disabilities, but some had minor physical disabilities.

Leaving my new-found manager to buy clothes, shoes, and winter boots for the children, I moved to missionary school in western Ukraine for five months. When I returned in December, I was introduced to more of the children with their new winter boots. They were all smiles. I saw a glimmer of promise in whom they were and who they could become!

The following 4 year were filled with provision. Clothing and shoes were the main items provided, but we had a number of projects, big and small. MUCH was changing the physical and visual atmosphere, but more importantly, the self images of the children. God’s provision had been meeting the physical needs of the children, but their spiritual needs were still untouched.

Two summers ago, Ukraine Challenge sent a team of short term missionaries to provide a Vacation Bible School at the Baptist church in Marganets. While there, they visited our children at the orphanage, bringing the Good News to them, possibly for the first time. In the process, I was introduced to the youth group of that church. Each time that I would visit Marganets, I would talk with the youth group and encourage them in some way.

During my last visit, I asked if they would like to put on a concert for our children during my July visit. They said yes and it was arranged. They had lost no enthusiasm between my January and July visits. When they arrived to perform the concert, they asked for some boundaries. I told them that the more involved they could be individually with the children, the better. As they began, I took videos and photos, recording the progress of seven years of loving our children. As I realized what God was doing, tears filled my eyes. A new door had opened; a new team had begun a wonderful work!