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