Category Archives: Ukraine Missionary

September 2013 Newsletter

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.

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Two other girls in Illichevsk desire to continue their education. They talked about their vision for their futures in this interview.

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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 Together 2topsoil 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.

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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.

Sveta’s Journey
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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.
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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,

Sveta

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

January 2013 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

Happy New Year 2013! Our Christmas fundraiser this year fell short of our total goal, but we will be able to operate the computer classes for the complete goal of one and a half years.

Learning will be eciting for us!
We (picture to the right) are very excited about that! The remainder of the funds raised will go toward the massage therapy programs at Dobromel and Froonza that will continue from last year. A second part-time massage therapist for the Dobromel orphanage may be possible in the future, if we can find more monthly sponsors.

MUCH had two surprises this Christmas. After reading our November Newsletter, friends from North Carolina offered to buy a sewing machine for the orphanage-school in Marganets. When the assistant director heard this news, she was very pleased. The children will be thrilled with all of the mechanized options that they will be able to use. They will even be able to sew in script to personalize their projects!

The second surprise involves a church, a mission organization, and a new sponsor. Between the three of them, money was contributed to buy two new washing machines for the Transition Home in Marganets. The director and the washwomen were very pleased to receive these machines because they had been washing clothes and bedding for 30 children by hand.

After our two month fundraising and holiday time, Sveta and I have returned to Ukraine exhausted, but we will begin this year with a new perspective on Ukraine. Sveta’s first visit to America did yield culture shock for her. For me, I saw America through her eyes, which in turn, helped me to see Ukraine with new eyes. After ten years, the cultural differences and the visual effects have become very “normal” for me. When I would visit America in the past, my world, my perspective, was only bigger. Now, seeing through Sveta’s eyes, I see two different worlds.

Our time in America was constant mental activity. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my niece’s wedding, and family visits kept us busy. Then, there were the many sponsors that we visited and the presentations that we gave. Sveta’s one year of studying English proved to be very successful. She spoke in front of large groups without hesitation. Her Ukrainian perspective of MUCH gave them new understanding of our work with the children.

Additional stress visited us in the last few days of our journey. My passport was at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington DC, waiting for a Visa D to be attached. When I called, I learned that I had sent the wrong amount of money, too much, and they couldn’t accept the postal money order. Mom sent another while Sveta and I were out of town, but the adventure heightened as we tracked the return express mail envelope. After great efforts by two gracious postal workers, (unbelievable in Sveta’s eyes), the envelope was available to be picked up at 7AM the morning that we were to fly back to Ukraine.

My heart sank as I opened my passport to learn that I had only 45 days on my Visa D. I later learned that this is normal under the new law. The second step is to register with the government office for a one-year Visa D in the city where I live and work. After I get this, my next step will be to apply for full time residency, not citizenship, as the spouse of Sveta, a Ukrainian national. This will be available after we are married two years, January 10, 2014.

Our next adventure met us at the JFK International Airport. Our connecting flights to Odessa included two stops in European Union countries, Germany and Austria. This was not a problem for me, carrying an American passport. On the other hand, Sveta had a Ukrainian passport; therefore, she needed a Schengen Visa to fly into more than one EU airport. The clerk at the Austrian Air desk was able to give us two options for flights that would go directly from JFK to Vienna where we could connect with our final flight. We were blessed with the first option, standby tickets for a 6PM flight that would leave in two hours, and a $316 change fee, versus a $1016 change fee for a flight the next day. As we waited patiently, we were invited to the 6PM flight. On we went.

Our focus in 2013 will be to create videos of the work that we do with the children, particularly in the massage therapy programs. These videos will be available to view by way of the internet or a number of our sites, such as Flickr, YouTube, our blog, Facebook, and Twitter. The massage therapy video that I made for the presentations on our trip opened new eyes of understanding for many people.

Sveta’s Journey

Our two-month trip to America is over, we returned to Ukraine, and of course, I am very glad to see my family and friends in Ukraine. I was a little sad that I had to leave my wonderful new family and friends in America; they gave us attention, love, and support. I enjoyed socializing with people; I saw a lot of care and a desire to give us their valuable time. I was bathed in love.

After talking to people and reviewing what they saw, I learned and saw many differences in their culture and way of life. First of all, I was very impressed with the people. They were very welcoming, friendly, discreet, ready to help, and to encourage. I did not feel lonely or outcast in this new culture; I felt the love and acceptance in a great family where there is love.

Today it is considered that the experience of a new culture is a shock, because it is unexpected and can lead to negative evaluation of one’s own culture. I do not appreciate my Ukrainian culture in a negative manor. I love my country, and God has put love in my heart to help Ukrainian women and men of retiring age when Mark and I retire. We will help them find hope for the future, because it is usually the time when the Post-Soviet people retire to a meaningless life. Children are grown, the grandchildren are adults, and they have no work or hobbies. There is no further purpose in life, having completed all previous goals (attending university, having a good job, a family, a baby, raising grandchildren) the people are at a loss – how to live on?

Mark and I are thinking about the time when we will retire. We want to help these people regain confidence that life can be rich and fruitful, even after the person has retired. We already have a plan to do it. While in America, I saw a perfect example of people in the retirement age having an active and productive life.

All the people we met in America were eager to know about the children in the orphanage. I know many stories because I know many of the children. Each child has their own unique story; they have experience with big blows of fate for their young age.

I finished school, now it’s on to trade school
R. (to my right) is a boy from the Dobromel orphanage. He looks older than his years. Maybe it is because he was found on the street many years ago when he was a little boy. He could not say his name, age, or give any information on who his parents were. R. was given his name by the boarding school, along with some created identity where they recorded the year of his birth. Police were looking for a long time to find his family, but did not find anything. The boy is an orphan only in words. Because of the lack of true documents, he cannot have the financial help benefits of being an orphan, as there is no proof of the death of his parents, or their rejection of this child.
Please pray about my future
Last autumn, R. (to my right) finished boarding school and now attends trade school as a builder. He lives in a dorm and gets a very small $30 monthly stipend. Since the law does not considered him for an orphan pension pensioner, after he finishes all of his education, he will no longer be entitled to the stipend, much less any other government aid. The director asked us to help him. We know a Christian family that has experience working with children and helping them adapt to life after the orphanage. We think that they will help R.
Visual stimulation and massage are changing my life
K., (left) 7 years old, has cerebral palsy. He can say only one word “mama”. K. has respectable parents, but they are very busy and very seldom visited the child, and of course, the boy misses them and has become very closed. When the massage therapist gave massage for him, the first few days he was very stressed and did not want to be touched. Now K. is gradually beginning to open up and blossom like a flower that was drooping for a long time without water.
Computers will help us with our language skills.
Two brothers, I. and P. (right) are special. I love them very much. When Mark and I come to the orphanage, the elder brother is always beside us; the youngest brother is shy and follows us at a distance of several meters. They cannot speak well. Their parents are alcoholics. When it is vacation time, parents take these boys home, but it is really better for them to stay at the boarding school. The boys told me they do not like their mom, and they do not like to be at home.
Every adult has a destiny that he can change. Children are dependent on their parents or other adults who are involved in their lives, whether positive or negative. Particularly dependent are the children with physical and mental limitations. These children have little ability to change their own destiny, but their parents or other adults in their lives may have big influence on their future.

Thank you very much for your financial support of the computer program that will operate for a minimum of one and a half years at the Dobromel Orphanage-Boarding School. After having more than 20 computers sit idle for more than a year, the children will now embark on a new adventure in learning. It is all because of your generous contributions that this has become a reality.

Your love, prayers, and financials support, our friends and partners, help us perform many projects to help children. Thank you very much!

Living my dream,

Sveta

As we enter 2013, we see change happening in Ukraine that will affect the children. The government is closing many of the orphanages, mainstreaming the children into regular schools. Our focus on health care, education, and clothing will remain our objective. Our ability to reach out to more children this year and next will depend upon people with hearts for the children.

If God is nudging you to make a monthly commitment to help our children, please understand that $5 or more dollars a month will make a difference in the lives of our children.

As we work together to build a stronger Ukraine through caring for its children, we work together to build a stronger world! Thank you for taking an interest in our children who look to us for help.

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

August 2012 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

It has been hot recently, in the mid 90s. But, then again, it is summer. Sveta has coaxed me to swim in the sea a few times this summer. The water has had a cool temperature, just right for swimming. The ½-mile long beach has been packed with vacationers from Western Europe and Russia. The Illichevsk beach remains free, although it has become very commercialized. There are many ways to spend your money.
My focus this summer is to write articles on Sveta’s and my blog about the education needs of the children. My series begins with “What About Education? – Intro,” and, if you are on the Internet, you can find it in the second article, Wednesday July 11, on this page http://tinyurl.com/bqevdjv. With each article, I am building the foundation of environment and need of the children in Ukraine. This series will come to a conclusion soon, and will be followed with a series on Health Care and how MUCH is involved.
MUCH is not an organization created to educate the children of Ukraine. It is our intent to evaluate what is current, and be a catalyst for inspiration or change to create opportunity that will improve the options of the children. Here in Illichevsk, our Transportation Scholarship Program (TSP) does this. Our long-term goal is to alter society through education. Our focus is not to teach our thoughts and beliefs, but rather to encourage and challenge the children to continue on to higher education that is already waiting for them.
I believe that this will break the cycle of poverty, giving the teenagers a bigger picture of what is available for them to do with their lives. With a picture of something more than their past lives and how they were raised, these teens will not only have the opportunity for higher education, but will realize that there are people who care enough about their future to help them. Some of the teens who do want this are not able to afford the transportation to and from Odessa every day. That amount is about $2.50 a day for an hour of travel each way! Imagine that!
In Marganets, the staff and administration are committed to the 156 children in their orphanage. It is government-run, but this one is operated so much better than others in Ukraine are. Their focus is to challenge the children to find their highest abilities and excel. For some of the children, these areas are in computer or music and dance. MUCH believes that these classes are preparing the children for their futures in a bigger perspective, developing thought processing and new patterns of thinking, which were touched on in the June Newsletter.
A third course of study that MUCH supports in Marganets is provided by a local church. In the beginning, we asked them to meet with the children and teach about morality and self- respect, with a focus on prevention of drug and alcohol abuse. For children in an orphanage system, this can be the biggest influence on their lives. Taught by loving teachers, the children can develop character that will carry them through the difficult times that they will face in their futures.
MUCH has been influencing the lives of children in Ukraine in these ways for six years. Our desire is to expand our education programs and inspire the teachers to do more. The government is not likely to add to the budget, so MUCH sponsorship may be the only way to express to the teachers that we care about what they do.

Several months have passed since we met with the parents and their daughter, A., in their home. This time, while visiting the massage clinic and the doctor/masseuse Natasha B., Mark and I saw good results from A. Her parents give a lot of attention to the child. Four times a year A. is being treated in a children’s multi-therapy clinic called “Golden Angel” in Odessa. She receives medical treatment and massage therapy, and during the summer, the parents bring A. daily to an Equine Therapy program near the town, where she rides a horse in a small walking circle.

Sveta’s Journey

Contact with the horse gives A. many positive emotions, helps relax her spastic muscles, and builds tone in her legs. Contact with the horse warms up the muscles and joints of the legs and pelvis, and also develops coordination. The girl is very patient and she is accustomed to numerous procedures, training, and massage. Her parents are actively involved with the child at home. They use a special suit that holds the muscles of the extremities in the correct position. We reported on A. in the February Newsletter that she could not raise her head. During this visit, she is able to raise her head and hold it in a raised position for a count of 60 seconds or more. This is great progress.
D., an eight- and-a-half year old, is a very interesting and clever girl. She is an extraordinary child! When she learned that Mark would be at her massage treatment, and that he would be taking pictures of her, she carefully prepared for the meeting. She wore her best dress, jewelry, and her grandma braided her hair beautifully. D. met Mark about 4 years ago, and she loves him very much. When it came time to say goodbye, it was clear that D. did not want to part with Mark.

She has Cerebral Palsy, but she goes to a regular school and has almost no free time. She regularly receives massage treatments and visits a dance choreographer for lessons in stretching muscles. The stretching exercise is very hard work for her. Currently, D. is interested in working with beads. She showed us her work, a beautiful bracelet for her wrist. D. loves animals, especially horses and dreams of working with them in her future.


Two years ago, D. underwent surgery to lengthen the muscles in her left heal cord and her right hamstring, behind her knee. Before, she could stand only on her toes. After the operation, she is now able to stand with her foot almost entirely flat on the floor. She receives a single injection of a medication called Disport, to relieve spasticity of her leg muscles once or twice a year, depending on the results. It costs 1500 grevnya ($187.50) per dose for her. Currently, MUCH is not involved with the cost of this injection treatment.

It is very important when doctors and parents notice the child’s deviation from the norm in infancy. Actions taken in time, especially before the child reaches the age of one year, can greatly alter the development of the baby. M. began receiving massage treatments when he was one month of age. He is now 1 year and 8 months. During this time, his muscle tone has been restored. His mother is delighted with the good results, and understands the importance of massage for him.

V. (right) has hemi-paresis, and he began to receive massage at the age of three months. Now he is two years and four months old. During this time, he has received massage treatments and also has good results.
Our hearts were saddened when we learned the story of this next boy. I. (below) has a very rare disease and has already suffered a complicated surgery to remove his colon. Mark and I visited him at home. I. is now a patient of our masseuse, Tanya. The doctor caring for I. has prescribed
massage as mandatory. He states that it is very necessary to receive massage as an important means to help restore the function of his body. He is a beautiful child!

Thanks for your help! You are sincere and good people. You are well aware of the complexity of situations and in the past have been ready to provide much needed assistance. Charity is one of the most important works in society. With your help, needy children receive timely assistance and can always count on your support. People involved in charity, by helping others, get moral satisfaction from their work.

Living my dream,

Sveta

You will be hearing more about our efforts toward education and health care as we enter the fall season. MUCH is made up of many different people. I am only one here in Ukraine who moves things forward. There are thirty-one people of Ukraine, in three cities and two villages, who are involved to some degree in making the work of MUCH happen. In America, the MUCH board of directors guides my financial decisions here in Ukraine, and the sponsors of MUCH make it possible to carry out the work that God guides me to do. Finally, but equally important, are those who lift us up in prayer in America and here in Ukraine. The children thank you all!

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

June 2012 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,
It was in the upper 50’s F yesterday, but summer is right around the corner. School is almost finished here in Illichevsk, and the children will be running to the beach. Ice cream stands will be rolled out to the sidewalks, and life will appear happy for all. As I walk through the streets of Illichevsk, I am thankful that I was called to live and work in this clean city. Sveta’s and my one-bedroom apartment meets our needs and is our home sweet home. We treasure it as we journey home from our fourteen-hour train and bus trips visiting the children in Dobromel, Marganets, and Froonza.
Continuing our look at how we spend our funds, I will share two general areas: education and healthcare. Why is MUCH interested in Education? Everyone knows that education provides the building blocks for functioning in life. It shows us the road to a brighter future. Here in Ukraine, we are looking at two very specific problems: poverty and alcohol abuse. Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty. We believe that alcoholism is a direct result of poverty, although alcoholism has additional roots. We look at the family structure and see that children from poor families have little motivation and almost no encouragement to live a better life.
V. is hungry for a better life
Five years ago, we began the Transportation Scholarship Program with two high school graduates. As you saw in the January newsletter, one of the two graduated. The second dropped out of our program and disappeared. Over the years, three or four more students from very difficult homes were encouraged to go to college. Only one had the motivation to go. Currently, we know of two in college who are in need of help, and more who will graduate high school in the coming years. We have the opportunity to help Illichevsk break the cycle of poverty one child at a time. Currently, we have one student, V, who is in the nursing program at the medical college. The cost for one student to travel to Odessa and back (there is no dormitory system similar to the US) is about $42 a month, the cost of one taxi ride in some US cities. Currently, MUCH does not have the funds needed to help more than one student, but they are waiting.
J. begins vocal training.
At the Marganets orphanage, we support in a small way the Computer and the Music and Dance classes. The administration sees big results occurring in the children because of these two programs. MUCH sees the same results, but why are we convinced that the programs are of value for our support. We understand that music is a central focus in the lives of children and teens all over the world. More importantly, we look at the effects on the brain. Music stimulates the brain and is documented in many studies to have multiple effects on the body and mind. More information about music and its benefits can be found on the internet or in libraries.
J. is vocalist for the dance team.

Dance also has multiple values. It provides exercise, improves balance, flexibility, fluid movement, organized thought, team interaction, and more. Learning computer skills provides the obvious preparation for the work world and social media, but our focus is that it teaches the children to think using logic. Using the computer is an activity that requires the developing use of logic. We support these programs with a small contribution of $25 a month. It began as an incentive to the teachers to teach new programs. The manager recently gave us a wish list, which included $250 a year to buy material to make costumes and buy dance shoes, and $125 a year to buy new library books. Currently, MUCH does not have the funds to provide these materials. Watch J perform in national competition
Sisters struggle together.
The second focus is healthcare. We are concentrating on two types of help. The newest type provides funds for medical treatment of children in a village transition home. This is a small contribution, $37.50 per child for a hospital or Emergency Medical Service visit. To refill their medical box with total contents costs $62.50. This facility is only large enough to house 11 children. Since we began helping these children about five months ago, we provided all of the supplies for the medical box, which was empty. We helped two children recently, one needing an appendectomy and the second in need of an EMS visit because of her heart. This is a small program, but these children are very much in need of a program that can provide funds for medical treatment. We have a Ukrainian sponsor who is giving toward this need.

The second type of healthcare is our medical massage program. We have been providing massage treatment for children with disabilities for eight years. One massage currently costs $2.85. We manage five massage programs in three cities and one village. Twenty-one massage treatments are provided each day, costing $59.85, less, I believe, than the cost of one medical massage in America. Each month, we spend $1,197 on our massage program. There is NO overhead! The massage rooms that we use in each program are free to MUCH. The parents bring their own sheet and towel for their child, and the masseuses provide their own massage oils, if they use them in their style of treatment.

After receiving massage for my own minor disability, we began our massage program in 2004 with enough funds to give three children massage each day for a twenty-day treatment program. Our results have been very good since the beginning, and we have grown over the years. In Illichevsk, we have two programs totaling 12 children a day. In the village of Froonza, we provide four children massage each day. At the orphanage in Dobromel, we began a program in January for (4) children a day. When Sveta and I were there in April, the director was so excited about the results that he

A. battles Downs Syndrom with massage.

and his staff were seeing

in the children, that he wants to have a second masseuse to treat an additional four children. At the orphanage in Marganets, the manager is very pleased with the results that the doctor and her nurse are seeing. We discussed having a masseuse from the city community come and work with the children. This is another opportunity for us to expand our massage program.
In all of our massage programs, we are treating a maximum of 252 children a year. So, how many children with disabilities are within our radar? There are about 600 children in the three cities and one village who have disabilities that could benefit from massage. MUCH is limited in providing more services by a lack of funding. In the ten years that I have lived in Ukraine, MUCH has initiated new programs and caused them to grow. We want to continue to meet the needs of more children, but we want to see growth come along slowly but surely, as we have during this last decade. In order to grow, we must see new sponsorship.



Sveta’s Journey

Welcome to Dobromel, Mark!

We visited the Dobromel Orphanage at the time when many of the children who have family were going home for a short holiday. As we traveled toward the orphanage/boarding school, my heart began to sing a joyful song. After being away from my new little friends for six months, I wanted very much to see them again. Our visit with the children brought great joy to them. When we arrived, they came running to us, with hugs and kisses for us, asking, “Will you’ll be giving us a massage?” I replied, “We’ve come to visit you, to see how you are doing.” All the children were eager to receive massage. The week that we lived across from the boarding school, they asked me each day to give them a massage.
Natasha, the masseuse, is educated in Sports Medicine. She gives massage and children receive exercise training directly related to the focus of the massage. When these are combined, the results are very effective. One therapist cannot give massage to a large number of children. At this orphanage/ boarding school, virtually all children need massage.
We spoke with Lydia, the manager, and she enthusiastically talked about the great results that she saw in the children during the first four months of the program. The program of massage in this boarding school started working in January 2012, and even in such a short period, all of the teachers and educators have noticed the physical and psycho-emotional changes in children for the better. Hyperactive children were less excited and more relaxed, more attentive in class, and some even improved handwriting and posture.
The director, manager, Mark, and I are very pleased that the children have a wonderful opportunity to get a massage. The director has a vision to provide progress reports on the results of the massage program for Government authorities to obtain official permission to add a position for massage in the budget of the boarding school.
We brought pictures of children who were photographed in October during our past visit. They love to be photographed, so this time we took many pictures of them and they will be looking forward to our next visit when they will receive new pictures.
During this wonderful time spent with children, God gave me new eyes to see the children. My heart ached as tears fell from my eyes, such pain as if they were my own children. I do not know why God allows me to see, filled with compassion, the children’s hearts. Of course, I pray for them. While we are visiting them, I can hug them and give them my love. I ask myself this question: “What more can I do for the children; I only spend time with them twice a year?” Familiarity with these children helps me to see their needs and guides me how to pray for them. They are in your hearts and mine, and I know that these children are in the heart of God.
Thanks for your help! O.
O has a very sweet personality. You can see the smile on his face and the joy in his eyes. O has scoliosis and a deformity of his chest. Without massage and exercise treatment, his condition may become a more serious problem. In the February newsletter, you read about E, and saw the picture of his severe scoliosis and deformed chest. It is possible that without treatment, O could go in the same direction. MUCH is taking the time and making the effort to improve O’s life. Please help us to guide his health in a progressive direction.
M, a young girl, two years ago received an extensive burn on her back, abdomen, and parts of the upper arms. Together with other children, she ignited a fire to bake a potato, the fire burned low and the girl decided to pour
Massage helps me so much!
gasoline on the fire. Splashes of gasoline fell on her sweater, and it began to burn. M was scared, but her younger brother quickly realized that it was necessary to remove her sweater and he removed the burning sweater. Then, when she was brought to the hospital, the doctor said that it was very good that they removed the sweater; if it were not so, he would have had to remove the sweater with the skin. The girl showed us her post-burn scars. All the back and stomach wounds healed solid brown. After several days of massaging the skin, it became softer and more elastic. She is also in need for corrective surgery. M really likes when she receives massage. It also has very positive emotional effect for her.
Where else may all these children receive massage and the results of restoration of mental, emotional, and physical health? My prayer to Almighty God is for healing of mind, body, and soul for these children, for God’s mercy and salvation of their souls.
Many thanks to all of you that you keep praying for our MUCH children and financially supporting the work of all of our masseuses. God bless you!
Living my dream,
Sveta
We want to share more about the children at the Dobromel orphanage with you in the July Newsletter. Until then, please keep the children and us in your prayers. Thank you for reading!
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta

International Riot in Marganets

For three days before I arrived, the city of Marganets was closed to all traffic going in or out. At least six buses of militia were guarding the city. I knew nothing about this until I had been in Marganets four hours.

This is the story that I pieced together from two reliable sources. Two men, a Ukrainian and an Armenian were at a bar drinking. After a time and a few drinks, their conversation became a disagreement. The disagreement became violent. The violence spread to the onlookers. They began to take sides. Ukrainians were damaging cars known to belong to Armenians.

Finally, the police arrived. By this time, the fighting had escalated into a riot. In the process of taking control of the situation, one policeman was killed with a knife. A second officer was hospitalized. By the time that I arrived, the only evidence that something had happened was the presence of the militia, walking the streets in teams of four and five, patrolling the city.

Timing

After being in the US for two and a half months, I have returned with some new ideas, new projects, and new program possibilities. I guess that the ways things are done in America are faster because of the hunger for something new. This mentality is becoming a part of the younger people here in Ukraine. The generation born during years of freedom is not as patient as the previous generation.

Not being a business man, I am not in tune with the process of progress. It takes time. Here in Illichevsk, the people are ready for new opportunities that I might share, but it takes a lot of time to make something happen. A number of years ago, I read an article on the internet that suggested that it required a year of communication for an international business deal to come to reality. So, I am taking all of this into consideration.

My big desire is to start an equine therapy program for our children at the massage clinic. I had a great experience in Reidsville, NC at Rolling Ridge Riding . I saw what I want to do here in Illichevsk. It will take a lot of volunteers to make it happen, but that is a possibility. Their program is multi-therapeutic. They include Physical therapy, Occupational therapy, Speech therapy, and Teaching. It all takes place in a riding ring on top of a horse.

I see the vision, I can imagine how to make it possible, but timing is the biggest part of this new program becoming a reality. God must put all of the players in place and touch their hearts. Everyone has to be ready and willing to move forward. So, equine therapy will be my focus for this year. Everyone is busy with the process of living their daily life her in Ukraine, so things tend to take a little longer. It is a hard life for most, but is particularly difficult for the parents who have children with disabilities.

Connecting with the World

About twenty three years ago the personal computer was having its debut in my life, and much of the world. For me, word processing was the big thing. No more typewriter errors requiring whiteout or a total rewrite. I never would have guessed that I would be able to add data by voice, or hear data being read by my computer, rather than reading it.

And then there was internet dial up. What a new world of information. Next was email, then Skype, then video Skype, all with faster internet speed and cable access. The world was at my fingertips. My first computer had a whoppin’ forty megabyte hard drive. My current computer has a two hundred and thirty gigabyte hard drive.

In my current situation, I live in Ukraine as a humanitarian aid missionary. Email makes it so easy to communication with sponsors, family and friends. But how can I increase the number of people who are reading my newsletters, blog, and website? That is a question that my brothers and sister put before me. The answer they gave was Twitter.

Within a week, thirty three people, businesses, or groups are following my tweets (what I write). I follow about one hundred and sixty of the same. That means that I can read the latest news around the world, whether it will be from musicians, politicians, TV personalities, scientists, or my niece reporting on her lunch break. I’m in touch with the world, live, as it happens. And they are in touch with me.

What this will mean for MUCH will soon be seen. My main goal is to have the stories of my children read around the world. What we are doing with the children of disadvantage and disability is changing their lives. I want the world to know what is happening in our children’s lives. I believe that will change the world as they follow the progress of our children. My new job is to use twitter to bring our children to the world, and the world to our children.

Home Sweet Home

I arrived in Odessa Ukraine on June 8th in the afternoon. My assistant, her husband and son met me at the airport and drove me home. On the way, Platon, Ira’s husband, asked if it had been difficult for me to leave America and return to Ukraine. I told him, “No,” as I was reacquainted with the rough roads of Ukraine. As he helped me carry my luggage up to my second floor flat, I was also reacquainted with the odor of cat deposits in the stairwell. My mindset was strong, so this little uneasiness didn’t change my answer to his question.

Awakening the following morning to the enthusiastic chatter of the school-children across the alley from my flat, I smiled, knowing that I was home again. The crows gathered in the trees for their morning gossip. “Guess who’s back?” As I began my day, the fresh air from the balcony and kitchen windows circulated throughout the house. As I walked to the corner store, the sights and sounds of Illichevsk returned to my memory; the potholes in the oval drive between our buildings and the dirt open space inside the oval. Trees reaching above the five story buildings were now filled with green leaves. All of this was crowned with bright sunshine.

As Ira and I walked to the internet provider, I was once more reminded of my limited Russian language skills. We talk to each other freely, but Ira must adjust what I say as she translates. She is most sensitive to the gentle way of speaking to people in her language. And then there is the awareness of people, as I walk by speaking English. No matter how much I blend in, I guess that I will always stand out.

This morning, I was awake at 4:30 as the garbage truck came to empty the four dumpsters across the way. My eyes were not open, but I was aware of the flashing light. Within minutes, the truck had moved on and the morning was silent once again. Soon the street sweepers, with their branch brooms, would be cleaning the walkways and alleys. I was reminded of the dusty streets yesterday. After returning home, I found that spots of brown dust had collected on the bottoms of my pants.

These are a few of the endearing characteristics that have captured my heart. So, you are raising your eyebrow in question? It is not comfort or cleanliness that I find pleasing to my heart. Rather, these are the sights and sounds that are the framework of my mission, that which gives me purpose and feelings of fulfillment. In the midst of what many people find unpleasant, I have found my Home Sweet Home.

A Missionary

So, exactly what is a missionary? Webster defines this word as, “One sent to propagate religion.” In search of a good synonym for propagate, I found what I think is the best synonym. I like the word multiply. I like it better than reproduce. I think that reproduce may infer making more of the same. People are individuals, not clones. That is why I like multiply better.

There are many different kinds of missionaries, but each has been sent to multiply something. Webster says religion, but I think that may be too big of a concept. If you are a Christian missionary, are you multiplying Christianity as your denomination? Are you multiplying churches, as a church planter? Are you multiplying children’s ministries or youth ministries? Are you ministering to the elderly evangelically or humanitarianly? Exactly what is it that you are multiplying?

During the past six years, I have met a number of missionaries in the field. Our discussions were most interesting, revealing so much more about the personality and lifestyle of a missionary. And it seemed that each missionary was a bit different. Most were connected with a missionary organization, but there are some like me, who are independent of a major organization.
The definition begins by saying that a person is sent. I believe that a true missionary is first called. Being a missionary is not a job. Although many fill out an application and are accepted, in truth, it is not a job. If God has not called you to this life of selflessness, one will not find fulfillment, at least not as I define fulfillment.

With all of this in mind, I would like to redefine missionary. In my experience, a missionary is one who is called by God, sent by a church, organization, or God Himself, to multiply His love. Sometimes we can become distracted by life, but multiplying His love is the true calling of a missionary. I have learned this through my experiences. I have seen this, or recognized where it was missing. But most of all, I have felt the impact of His love as I move forward in His calling.

What the Children Need to Hear

Relationships have always been on my mind. Since I was a child, my own need for relationships was a major factor in my life. It was missing much of my childhood. When I interact with our children at the Emmaus Food Program, I see very similar needs in their lives.

They live in very difficult family situations. Some have two parents, some only have one. In each family, one or both parents are alcoholics or drug users. If family and peer group are the two greatest influences on their lives, then I would say that they have a bleak future waiting for them.

Emmaus provides a hot meal five days a week during the school year. The greater needs that Emmaus provides are spiritual direction, arts and crafts, sewing and knitting instruction, computer skills, and in general, a safe place to be after school.

Zoya manages these programs with a wonderful mothering heart. She loves the children and nurtures them, sometimes over a period of ten or eleven years. She has built great relationships with them. Unfortunately, she is locked into the limitations of that relationship. The children need other role models to look up to.

Recently, I published my first book, JC and Me, A Relationship, A Journey. You can find it at the AuthorHouse bookstore. Soon it will also be available to order from bookstores and other online websites. I have been thinking again about relationships and what I can share with the children during my talks that I have with them every second Friday.

This guided me to think about the children and another relationship that they are very much in need of understanding at this time in their life: sex. Mostly girls ages eleven to fourteen, they are ready to make big mistakes. So, I began a series of talks that will hopefully answer the questions that they are afraid to ask.

We began with looking at sex as a relationship, rather that something that is on a list of do’s and don’ts. I think that the girls were surprised, but I did have their full attention. They want answers, but don’t know what to ask. Sex is a subject that you just don’t talk about with adults, in their eyes.

I will be in America for two months, giving the girls a lot of time to think about this relationship. We will talk some more about it when I get back. I hope to influence their lives in very positive ways. Please pray for our children.