Hello family and friends,
The first of September fell on a Sunday this year. Even so, the school system brought in the ceremonial First Bell where the children dress in their best clothes or school uniforms and honor the teachers with flowers. The ceremony includes music and speeches, kicking off the school year with enthusiasm and new energy.
For MUCH, September brings our focus to education scholarships, and the great need for seasonal clothing for the children in the Marganets orphanage and school. In our scholarship program, Vika is in her last year of medical college. She wants to continue her medical education and become a doctor of microbiology. See her video.
Two other girls in Illichevsk desire to continue their education. They talked about their vision for their futures in this interview.
Moving is always a great adventure. There are seasoned movers, novice movers, and those who see it as a challenge to overcome, something like a contest. A young couple we know took the challenge. The husband said to his wife, “We can pack in three days!” When I told Sveta that we would move in April 2014, she began to pack in July 2013. It is a good thing that she did.The rent went up quite a bit in August, so Sveta looked at me and said, “I’m ready to move when you are!”
I have been visiting a language school as a guest speaker for the past two years. During my final visit, one of the students asked me why I wanted to leave Illichevsk. It is a seaside resort, and a very clean city. Soviet and post-Soviet people often remain in the same city, in the same flat or private home most, if not all, of their lives. After a moment’s thought, I realized the truth. I replied, “Sometimes we get too comfortable in our lives and need to be pushed into something new and challenging. We need something that will bring out our best selves.” There is a phrase that goes something like this “Comfort those who are bothered, but bother those who are comfortable.” I was getting comfortable.
When Sveta and I got married in January last year, we pushed ourselves from our individual lives into a life that causes us to become selfless toward each other. On September 21, we moved to a village south of Nikolayev where we will live until our house is built. Now, living with her parents and her brother, we push ourselves out of our comfort zone to become selfless toward them.
The travel distance between Illichevsk and Nikolayev is about 124 miles. Waiting for buses and travel time, usually takes us about five hours and three bus changes. We hired a truck to move us, and friends helped us load and unload. The travel time was close to four hours. It was a full day for Sveta and me. Our work has begun! In June we had started digging the foundation for our house that we will build in a year or two. Sveta and I began by moving the topsoil from the foundation area to the back of the property where we will have a garden. (Sveta and I are pulling a two-wheel-wheelbarrow in this picture.) We are very excited about our new adventure.
My time and opportunity have come to expand my personal involvement in ministry. Our involvement with MUCH will remain the same. Ira Kolosova, my previous assistant and contributor of the Ira’s Insights articles for the MUCH newsletters, will manage the ministries in Illichevsk. Sveta and I will visit Illichevsk, Dobromel, Marganets, and Froonza twice a year, as we currently do. In the house that we will build, there will be a multipurpose room that will give us opportunity to minister to the village community with programs such as exercise for the elderly, Christian small group meetings, Bible study, and other social activities.
Life in the village is quite the challenge if you are used to city life. The many luxuries that were within walking distance in Illichevsk are now a twenty minute bus ride away. Any project that I may do must be very well planned to avoid spending the day traveling to and from Nikolayev.
On the other hand, our opportunities to reach out to people in the village may be greater than they were in Illichevsk. In the village, everybody knows everybody. I think that many people know about me already, even though I have only met two people from this village of Galitsinovka.
Sveta and I are pushing ourselves into the reality of the vision that we have talked about for the past year. Exercise for the elderly will begin with Sveta and me encouraging each other to exercise. Once the garden is finished, we will have a large area to exercise in. We are almost unpacked, so we will begin soon.
The first week of October we will be in the cold northwest at the Dobromel Orphanage. It is always interesting to me to see new and old buildings beside or across the street from each other.
The results of Soviet times effect the buildings as well as the people. What a great contrast of these two pictures that are across the street from each other in Dobromel.
The second week we will visit the Angelina Foundation Maternity House near the city of Zhytomyr, east and bit north of L’vov. Marina narrates their story. Take a look!
Our goal is to better understand the lives of girls from the orphanage system, the problems that they face after leaving the orphanage, and what is available for them. It has been on my mind for about nine years as we ministered to the children at the Marganets Orphanage.
I am waiting for our visit to the orphanage. I am thinking, “What can I prepare for the children when we will have meetings with them? What interesting and instructive things can I do to leave a good mark on their lives?” I remember a year ago; I prepared a few games and tried to get the children to play them. I was not successful. I was saddened to tears.
Under the terms of the game, children were divided into two teams in a competitive manner and as quickly as possible they were to bring some balloons to the finish point. I explained to them the rules of the game, but the children were focused on the fact that each of them wanted to have a balloon. There was a disappointment among the children. The children did not want to join in the game; each child wanted to have his or her own balloon.
Mark said that I have a talent of very good communication with the children, asking about their lives, their dreams, and encouraging them. Therefore, I decided not to create games. We would bring God’s love through us, through our communication with them.
Living my dream,
You can see all of our videos at our YouTube site. http://www.youtube.com/user/smmuch
Thank you for continuing with us on our journey of service to the people of Ukraine, particularly the children.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta