You can help in providing life-changing help for children with special needs in a big way and it will cost you very little. Imagine being able to help many children who have no hope but you. MUCH is in great need of financial support. Due to COVID-19, our donations have declined. To keep our current programs running, we need to raise $7,500. As you know, MUCH is a Christian based mission that serves young children with physical and mental disabilities. Massage therapy helps these children attain marked improvement. It offers them hope and gives them opportunities to lead a better life. Sveta and I greatly appreciate your continued support to help disadvantaged children in Ukraine. Thank you for your help!
A MUCH Success Story Valya is nine-years-old. Her parents were deprived of their parental rights because of their immoralities, so Valya was sent to a Baby House. The care at Baby Houses is minimal and lacks maternal affection and parental attention and care. The developmental stages of growth are stifled. After spending three years in the Baby House, Valya was sent to the orphanage in Dobromel, Ukraine. She has speech problems and problems walking. After three years of full-body massages and speech therapy face massage, Natasha, the massage therapist of Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope, noticed that Valya was better at pronouncing certain words. She began to express herself. Before the therapy, one of her legs seemed shorter, making it was difficult for Valya to walk. After therapy, her hips became level and she walked with greater ease. This is just one example of how MUCH helps children with disadvantages improve their physical and mental well-being.
Hello family and friends, The roof is on the house, the windows and doors are installed, Sveta and I are insulating the attic, and winter has arrived. We completed phase one of our project, six weeks past our deadline, and $300 over budget, but we are very happy with how things are at this point. The exchange rate was 26 -28 UAH per $1.00 over the five month period. As stated in previous newsletters, this project is funded with Sveta’s and my personal savings. There is plenty of work to do in phase two. Pictures will be in the January newsletter.
This year our Christmas fundraiser will have three ways to donate. 1. You are welcome to donate by check or PayPal as before. 2. If you use Facebook for social media, you can create a fundraiser for MUCH on your Facebook page, asking your friends to donate. We will send directions of how to do this on December 6. It is very easy to do. 3. If you are unsure, you can make a regular donation and try the Facebook fundraiser.
Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope received $59.61 from the AmazonSmile Foundation for the third quarter! Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice (Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope) we hope. Shopping through AmazonSmile for your Christmas gifts is the easiest way to donate to Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope. It adds up when you shop AmazonSmile!
You haven’t heard much from our massage therapists. Recently, Sveta asked our massage therapists to respond to this question. “How has being a massage therapist for MUCH touched or changed your life?” Here are answers from two of our fourteen therapists in their own words:
Albina wrote: When I come to the Transition Home, I understand that what I am doing is necessary for the children. Most importantly, I share my love with them. I give them a massage, but also the opportunity to feel wanted and needed. I have a child of my own. I understand perfectly how important this is, especially when the child orphan. In return, children give me pleasure through their sincere communication. They are all different, and each is interesting in their own way. Even on the most difficult days, coming to them, I can rest my soul and get recharged with positive emotions for a long time.
I was surprised by your question. I had already begun thinking about noticeable changes in my life. I thought to myself, “How did she know?…” Then I understood that it was by her own experience. In a word, my daily routine is significantly saturated. I work from 9 to 5. I used to run home to rest. Now, after work I give a massage, sometimes a few. I’m getting tired. But this is a pleasant weariness. It is because I feel much worse when there is no one to receive my massage.
I am in constant tension. Will there be anything to write a report about at the end of the month. During my first months, there was a general nervousness. This is worse. So let there be a lot of massage recipients. When there is someone to receive my massage, the feeling of being useful, needed, and doing good is added to the feeling of pleasant fatigue. Periodically, my feelings are supported by visible results in my patients.
I understand intellectually that everything is in God’s hands, but I still worry and get nervous every month. I confess, there was the thought: “Why do I need this? I am nervous, with constant tension, and am under pressure. I can’t sleep, eat, or rest until there are children on the horizon who need me.” This is my life now. There are the pros and cons. As I am writing to you I am thinking: “If I knew then what I know now, would I have said yes to becoming a massage therapist? My answer is “yes.” I choose the challenge over an empty and less meaningful life. Thank you for your question and concern. God’s blessings!
I remember when I first came to Ukraine as a missionary. It was a great challenge. Even so, I soon found more purpose in my life that ever before. This is what I see happening in the lives of our massage therapists.
For different reasons, many parents abandoned their children immediately after their birth. When their child is found to have extreme diagnoses, some parents make extreme decisions. Many decide to give away their child. No one can judge them. Perhaps, in the future, many of them regret their actions. Others, perhaps in an alcoholic fog, do not even remember that they have a child.
But thank God that these boys found a home and family in an orphanage in the village of Stepovoya. Here they are loved, the employees try to organize the lives of the children. They provide social relationships with other people, taking place in the limited space of the orphanage. Aside from social skills children are taught basic life skills.
When Andre’s mother brought him to the orphanage, he was twelve years old, but he could not sit, or walk. During his first year at the orphanage, Andre learned to walk and sit a little.
Eleven-year-old Anton, has numerous complex diagnoses such as cerebral palsy, congenital anomaly of the brain, and profound mental retardation. When he recently arrived at the orphanage, he received massage therapy for the first time in his life. Every day, the massage therapist, with the help of another caregiver, tries to teach Anton to stand and walk with support. They believe that their persistence will lead to at least a partial improvement in the child’s condition. This has happened more than once with other children at this orphanage. When you put your heart into a child with love, patience and faith, God manifests different types of miracles.
Eleven-year-old Denis has cerebral palsy. He lived with his mother and brother in a one-room apartment. Seven years ago his mother brought him to the orphanage because she did not know how to help her child. Subsequently, his mother died. His older brother, who was registered in a psychiatric hospital, embarked on a slippery path to crime. The child perceived massage therapy absolutely without emotion. But after a while Denis began to recognize the massage therapist with a smile.
Seventeen-year-old Nick’s leg muscles atrophied due to cerebral palsy. The child also has profound mental retardation. Boy has contractures in his knee and foot joints. While receiving massage therapy, Nick began to smile for the first time. He spends most of the day in a wheelchair, and therefore massage is very important for him. This treatment helps prevent bedsores.
Dan’s parents refused to even look at him in the maternity hospital. The child has severe mental retardation. But this does not prevent him from being the first mate for adults. He is always going somewhere. He is often running, and seldom sits still. He is very talkative, and loves to listen to music. Massage therapy brings great pleasure to Dan. For him, it is like rest for an adult after a hard day at work.
Boys are deprived of the warmth and care of their relatives. These functions are performed by Natasha and Ira, our MUCH massage therapists. They are staff members at the orphanage.
Natasha and Ira told us that they love the children very much. When they provide massage therapy, they simply pass on their love to the children, not even thinking that this is work.
Through your financial contributions, our therapists are changing the lives of so many children. Can you imagine the breakthrough of seeing a child smile for the first time. You made that happen! Thank you so much for your interest in the children of MUCH!
Hello family and friends, Sveta and I hope that this fall season will please your eyes with wonderful colors. We hope for good health for all of you and your family. Here in southern Ukraine, the temperatures are dropping to the 40s F and 50s F. The children in all of Ukraine are on fall break. We are in “red zone” for two weeks. The latest news as I write this newsletter is that the children will go back to school November 2. As we continue to encourage the massage therapists and children from a distance, MUCH carries on, helping the children in need. Fifty-four children receive massage therapy each month. God blesses our team with good health and opportunity to love the children. See our stories below.
MUCH children are so naturally beautiful. Even so, inside each of them are mysteries and painful memories. They function best with regular routine. Since COVID-19 disrupted the routine of the world, and their world, change began to disrupt their lives. Every summer the children had a vacation, somewhere in Ukraine, from their orphanage environment. This summer of 2020, the true orphans stayed at the orphanage all summer.
In September, when Natasha returned to the orphanage, she resumed massage therapy for the children. They appeared different from how they had been in years past. Starved for attention, they talked all the time. Apparently, they acted as if they had been sitting in a cage (the orphanage) for six months.
One of the older boys, in need of great amounts of attention, went to one of the classrooms on the upper floor. Alone, he pulled out some matches to play with. When he realized that he start a fire, he ran to another room and hid. After being evaluated, the boy was hospitalized for psychological care. The fire was contained, but not before considerable damage had occurred. Damage was done to the classroom, and the room below where Natasha gave massage therapy to the children. When Natasha was given another room to work in, she faced new problems. Since there is no water in the new office, she had to go to the hallway restroom to wash her hands after every treatment.
The heat was not turned on for the season yet, so Natasha had to heat the room with a small portable heater. Things could have been so much worse. Natasha’s children are receiving massage therapy again. They are happy, and are reverting back to their previous emotional progress!
Nik is eleven years old. He has been struggling for a long time with muscle hypertonia, causing him to stoop forward. For the past two years, he has been receiving massage therapy. This is effecting all of the muscle groups in his back, improved his posture. He gladly comes for massage therapy, that also elevated his mood. In addition, exercise increased his symmetry, especially exercises for the back. Massage therapy has a positive effect on the central nervous system. Nik became more active, confident and happy.
Particular attention is paid to chiropractic therapy, which realigns the spine. Nik participates in physical games and activities now, with less pain. Because of massage therapy treatments, his life has greater potential and more opportunities to participate in school competitions.
Do you think it is possible to recognize scoliosis in a child under one year old? After all, the baby cannot communicate any discomfort with words. The baby can only cry.If parents are attentive, they may notice something is wrong. Any asymmetry in the folds on the child’s body and limbs may indicate that the baby has a problem. When Alex’s parents discovered asymmetry of the folds on the legs of their four-month-old baby, they turned to the pediatrician. The pediatrician also discovered that the child was lagging behind in physical development. Alex could not hold his head up, hold a toy in his hand, or roll over. All these are symptoms of muscle dystonia, shortening of muscles that pull on the spine, leading to scoliosis.
After the first course of massage therapy, the results were visible! Alex began to hold a toy in his hand. He turned from stomach to back and vice versa. Three months later, our massage therapist, Oksana, did a second course of ten-day massage therapy. Now, the baby is seven months old; he holds his head up with ease. The folds of the skin on his legs are symmetrical!
The common cause of infant scoliosis is muscle dystonia. In the initial stage, scoliosis is not dangerous. But if you do not consult a doctor in time, the vertebrae will become more and more misaligned. This will lead to muscle asymmetry, pinching nerve endings. With age, headaches, back pains, and malfunctions of internal organs will begin. Because of you, dear friends, massage therapists of Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope help children in early intervention avoid becoming disabled at an older age. How wonderful that Alex received two ten-day massage courses in time!
Living my dream,
Sveta and I are so grateful to our partners, sponsors, and those who share our stories with friends. After living through two revolutions, a coup, an occupation, and a war that continues in eastern Ukraine, we look at the children. They are, many times, lost in the shuffle. The goal of MUCH is to help the Ukrainian people help their own people. Thanks to all of you for helping us help Ukraine help their children.
Here is the latest quarterly contribution update from AmazonSmile because of your purchases! This is the easiest way that you can contribute to MUCH. When you shop Amazon, make it Amazon Smile.
MUCH received $66.87 last quarter from AmazonSmile. MUCH has received $1,002.32 from AmazonSmile to date.
If you are not shopping AmazonSmile, you can begin here and choose Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope as the charity that you want AmazonSmile to donate to. You can learn more about this program on this site.
On June 8 we began a project that would test our patience and build our character. We planned to have the roof removed and add a second floor. As of September 21, the beltway is curing and the wood is being treated with fungicide and fire retardant.
The roof work will begin next week. Our workers are busy every day. The exchange rate is 28 UAH for every dollar. The cost of living is such that our project is affordable, but still expensive for us. Our personal savings is going a long way on this project.
With fifteen inch thick walls, the inside of the second floor is a little less than eighteen by thirty feet.
With the exception of the bathroom, the second floor will be one large room. As a multipurpose room, it will house guests, serve as a conference room, small group meeting room, and a room for prayer and healing.
Sveta and I look forward to the day when the windows and doors will be in, the walls will be stuccoed and the first floor corridor complete inside and out.
Before COVID-19 entered Ukraine, I was invited to visit International Messengers. This mission team uses English to draw young people. The director, Caleb, an America missionary, was going to be out of town that Friday. I was asked to come as a native English speaker. It was here that Sveta and I met Dasha, a Ukrainian missionary with International Messengers.
Recently, Dasha visited us in our home from the North side of Mykolaiv. It took about a forty-five minute bus ride and thirty minutes walking. We spent the day talking about missions, her life as a missionary, and the outreach that she does with International Messengers. The discussion finally arrived at a common ground location of our two organizations.
Dasha was looking for opportunities for some of her girls to reach out to help meet the needs of others. It did not take long for me to connect the needs of MUCH children with Dasha’s girls. MUCH children have a very limited social life. Dasha’s girls needed to care for others.
She talked to her girls, Sveta talked with two MUCH massage therapists on Dasha’s side of Mykolaiv, and everyone was in agreement. The children and their parents were ecstatic! As we partner with Dasha, we are eager to see the results.
The Transition Home in Marganets has no days off or vacations. Children are moved here all year round. New ones come, some are assigned to families. Some children are returned to their old families, other children are returned from their new families. All of the children dream of becoming a part of a family that will accept and love them.
Here is Maria’s story. Her mother led an immoral lifestyle. She often forgot to pick up her daughter from school and teachers could not find her mother for weeks, so Maria was brought to the Transition Home many times. Maria’s mother was given several opportunities to fix her life, but everything remains the same. As a result, she was deprived of her parental rights and the Transition Home director began to prepare a new family for Maria. This summer, one family took Maria into their lives, but for some reason, two weeks later, they returned Maria to the Transition Home.
Maria continues to dream of living in a family where she is needed. Albina, the massage therapist, encourages her and helps her to believe that one day she will be in a family. The girl has scoliosis. After the second ten-day course of massage therapy her posture has become much straighter.
Many children pass through the hands and heart of Albina. Since the beginning of this year, 44 children have received massage therapy by Albina, some of them for 2 or 3 courses of ten-day massage. Most of the children who enter the Transition Home do not have physical disabilities. Their pain is in their hearts, wounded souls, with many feeling useless and lonely. Albina brings portions of healing and hope through her interaction with them. We see an amazing value in the outcome from massage therapy for these children! We are constantly seeing very positive results.
Six-year-old Dima was also taken away from his mother, who leads an immoral lifestyle. He lived in the village. His mental development corresponds to the age of a two-year-old child. He does not understand what adults say to him. Dima is hyperactive, and his reaction to massage movements was very violent. It was not easy for Albina to work with this boy. But the results were noticeable. After a ten-day course of massage, Dima began to pronounce some words, and he became somewhat more calm.
How necessary love is for children to correctly develop in all areas of their lives, and then give love to others from themselves! Living my dream,
Please consider donating to MUCH to help children with emotional problems and those with disabilities improve their quality of life.
Our long, hot, summer has come to an end. It has been the most interesting one in all of my years in Ukraine. In the July Newsletter I wrote about our long term ministry plans for the property. Our first step was to add a second story with roof. After working with two contractors, we finally found some workers who wanted to work continuously.
The front wall with three window seats and the back wall are waiting for the beltway that will be finished by September 10. The back wall will continue upward, creating a vaulted roof and ceiling. Down the road, we anticipate solar panels on the roof. This is becoming very popular here.
We had water damage on the first floor in June after the roof was removed. Until last night, we had very hot days. More rain visited us until this morning. A small area in the bathroom was leaking, but nowhere else.
I came down with a fever at the end of August. While caring for me, Sveta also acquired the same illness. While I continue to regain my strength after nine days, Sveta, that strong Ukrainian woman, bounced back within three days! God is good!
COVID-19 has not stopped the work of our massage therapists. It has stopped our growth and reduced our support in the first half of 2020. We had three people ready for massage therapy training, but this has not developed because of COVID-19 and MUCH shortage of funds.
In our February Newsletter, we told about a couple working with 400 children in the Happy Family program. They were ready for massage therapists, but COVID-19 got in the way.
A friend of ours from Poltava knows someone interested in massage therapy, but MUCH funding is not available at this time.
All other activities of MUCH continued during the first half of 2020 as in every other year. It seems that this fever that Sveta and I had, is going around in Ukraine. You can pray for our manager Ira Kolosova. She has a fever at this writing.
It is difficult to say much about COVID-19 in Ukraine. The infection rate continues to climb, but new cases are requiring new rules. Our border has closed to foreigners. The regions are regulated according severity of illness. Mykolaiv region remains on the safer side of danger. I visited a virtual Home Town meeting by the American Embassy in Ukraine the other day. In general, things are better in Ukraine than many other European countries, as I understand it.
Mark and I planned to visit several families with disabled children who receive massage therapy under our MUCH program in our city of Mykolaiv. We thought that by September COVID-19 would be under control. Parents invited us to meet them and their children. But since the quarantine was tightened, we decided to postpone our meetings.
Our massage therapists continue their work, and parents continue to open the doors of their homes, even during the quarantine period. They are seeing great results. Their children, small or big, with severe disabilities, and very high muscle tension, are in great need of help.
Many children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hemi-paresis, or tetra-paresis, receive a ten-day massage course every month. This sixteen-year-old child cannot walk and spends all of her time in bed. Her grandmother who alone takes care of her granddaughter, has a difficult time turning the girl over during the day and the child stays in one stable position for a long time. Progressive muscle imbalance can lead to dislocation of the hip in the hip joint. Blood circulation is impaired. These and many other problems can be stopped and prevented from developing through massage therapy. After the massage, muscle hypertonicity is noticeably reduced and this brings great relief from pain for our dear children.
Two brothers, eleven and seven years old, have the same diagnosis of autism and scoliosis. Victor is very calm and self-contained. Ivan is super active and fidgety. It was not easy for Anya to give him massage therapy. The boy was constantly struggling and spinning. In the middle of the ten-day course, Ivan calmed down and enjoyed the massage therapy.
Parents of children with autism notice that after massage, children’s behavior becomes more social. Language skills improve, anxiety reduces, and concentration increases. This significantly improves the quality of life for the children. And this is very encouraging for parents!
Soon after Sasha was born eleven years ago, our massage therapist, Tanya, was contacted for help. Sasha was born with a traumatic doctor error, leaving him in a vegetative state, unable to do anything for himself. After eleven years of massage therapy designed specifically to relax dominant muscles and strengthen weak muscles, Sasha continues to live. We have seen small signs of progress. In his case, the best that we are seeing is an improved quality of life.
He has a three year old brother and his family continues to love him. Life continues for this family in a positive manor, mostly because of the treatment and personal interaction of Tanya with this family.
When I read the reports and the results of the work of our massage therapists, I see even more value of massage therapy home visits. The massage therapist becomes a part of the family, opening up and releasing pain for them. Parents look forward to the arrival of the massage therapist. Their life, like the life of their children, is limited by a narrow circle of people and the walls of their apartment or house.
Together with our massage therapists, dear family and friends, you are part of these families and bring relief, expanding the lives of parents and children! Thank you very much!
Living my dream,
Sveta Please consider donating to MUCH to help the children with disabilities improve their quality of life.
Sveta and I hope that this letter finds you happy, healthy, and looking forward to a great August, and a new school year for the children. COVID-19 has challenged the world for more than seven months. Let’s work together to overcome all of the problems in the economy and society that have developed during the pandemic.
In this newsletter, Sveta and I will share two stories about children who are not in the MUCH program. Ukraine, with the lowest GDP per capita in Europe, struggles to provide a bright future for its children. Here are two stories that demonstrate the longing of children to have a better life. They show through the hope in their eyes their desire to grow both in learning and in Spirit.
Three years ago, Sveta met one of our neighbors, Alla, from the next street over, on her way to the city. As time moved forward, we visited our neighbor and her husband on a number of occasions. Our visits were pleasant, and the conversations led to speaking about Christianity, our mission, and their own outreach to an orphaned boy, Kolya. They had taken him under their wing, inviting him to stay with them on the weekends for seven years. They took him to church with them on Sundays, teaching him the spiritual things that he never learned in the orphanage.
Alla’s husband, Volodya, taught Kolya many responsibilities and skills around the house. They worked together in the garden, a mainstay of life in Ukraine.
While living in the orphanage, Kolya took a liking to a certain girl. She was 14, he was 15, (not exactly a Sound of Music story). The girl became pregnant, and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Olga. Because the mother was still attending school at the orphanage, Olga was moved to a Baby House. She lived there until the mother graduated from the orphanage, four years later. The mother took Olga from the Baby House to where she was living. After a short time, the government became aware of her lifestyle of alcohol and boys in the house. Olga was taken from her mother again and placed in an orphanage. She lived in the orphanage for two years.
All of this was happening while Kolya was being shaped and molded into a good father by Alla and Volodya. He and Alla loved Kolya very much. They built his character, and encouraged him to take responsibility for the life that he helped bring into the world. They encouraged him to raise his daughter with a better life than he had lived at the orphanage.
Volodya traveled to Russia to visit with their children and grandchildren. While there, he died suddenly. Alla immediately organized her trip to Russia for her husband’s funeral.
She asked Kolya, a young man now, to care for her ninety-three year old bedridden aunt. Kolya cared for her before and after work. When Alla returned, she decided to sell her house, and take her aunt to live with her in Russia. She offered her house for Kolya to live in while it was on the market.
Alla asked Sveta and me to be a friend to Kolya and Olga. In a sense, the grandparent baton was passed on to us. We received it with pleasure.
This year, Kolya organized his parental documents and brought Olga to live with him. Last week, Sveta and I had a nice surprise. Kolya came to visit us with his daughter, Olga. We had a great time!
We are so happy that both Kolya and Olga have a new life together. This is a type of love that Sveta and I seldom see. We are so happy to be a part of their lives.
During the quarantine period, Mark and I did not visit our children in orphanages and did not meet with children who receive massage therapy through our mission. But the work continues and we keep in touch with our massage therapists by phone and see the results of their work in their progress reports. We hope to see our lovely little friends again soon!
A couple of weeks ago, our church organized a two day camp for children. This took place on a tiny plot of land not far from the river. Roma, his wife Anya, and their two little girls shared their yard for camp. (Roma, mostly by himself, totally rebuilt what was a little dacha house.) Roma and Anya, who directed the camp, serve children at our church with all their hearts! They have big dreams for the children.
It’s so great for kids to spend time together in the outdoors! There was just enough room for six tents. Our 5 year old grand- daughter slept in a tent. What an adventure it was for these city children to experience.
The first night the children set up their tents. Later, they had conversation about the two greatest Commandments with Mark and me. Together with the children we discussed these two Bible topics. It was interesting to hear the opinions of children, and their observations. They wrapped up the evening, watching a movie projected on a sheet, between two trees.
Saturday began, of course, with breakfast. To their surprise, the morning activity was to prepare lunch as a competition between two teams. It was a sight to see. After lunch, the children participated in other competitions and played games! The big event was swimming in the river! After supper Mark and I discussed with the children about building Biblical character in their lives. Finally, the children, exhausted after a long day, did their best to stay awake to watch a movie under the stars!
Cooking dinner was one of the competitions. It was very thrilling and exciting for the children to cook. And for us adults, it was interesting to watch how they did it. They cut carrots, peeled vegetables, marinate meat … When the jury was evaluating the tastiness of the dishes, the children stood and looked with tension at the expression on our faces. Which team’s food was cooked tastier?
This camp compensated for our failed meeting with the MUCH children. It was a pleasure for Mark and me to be a small part of the lives of these wonderful children! Living my dream,
Sveta I think that you could drop a missionary anywhere in Ukraine and he or she would find children in need of love, direction, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are so many children, even within a one mile radius of where we live, we will never run short of the work that God sent us to do. Thank you for reading this newsletter, and thank you to sponsors, and those who pray for the children and Sveta and me.
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.
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 dachaouthouse. 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.
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,
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.
I believe that it was in 2007 that I was introduced to the Dobromel Orphanage for Children with Mental and Physical Disabilities. For three years, once a year, I would visit the orphanage with a pastor from Borislav. His daughter translated for us. He had a passion for children, but especially for these.
I was uncertain what my purpose was to be with these children. By 2009, I heard God directing me to begin massage therapy for the children at the Dobromel Orphanage. I met with the director in the fall and I explained the opportunity that we were providing in two other locations in Ukraine. I told him that he would need to find someone who was, or was interested in becoming a massage therapist. He agreed to the task.
My next journey to Dobromel was in fall of 2010. Before the meeting, I was introduced to Natalya M. who would be the massage therapist at the orphanage. Anatoly translated my conversation with the director as we discussed the exam table that would be used as a massage table. During the meeting, I explained what I expected the results of massage therapy would be, related to the results of our previous six years of massage therapy in Chornomorsk. I continued to explain that Natalya M. was invited to come to Chornomorsk to train with one of our massage therapists for a week. Finally, I promised to send Sveta, who was my fiance at the time, to the orphanage to give a twenty-day demonstration with the children. The goal was that the director and Natalya M. would see “some” results after the twenty days. They did!
Natalya M. had a degree in Sports Medicine which included some training in massage therapy. She was well qualified to do the work. But in her heart she questioned whether she would be happy working with these children, many who had difficult personalities. Within no time, she was seeing results with many of the children. The big story is how this opportunity changed her heart, her life. For the last eight years, Natalya has been creating new approaches to wholistic change, earned her Masters Degree in Speech Therapy, started a specialized approach to massage therapy for children with emotional disorders, and blossomed the personalities of the children.
She has written many thank you letters to MUCH over the years. This month, Natalya M. wrote Sveta and me a very warm thank you letter. We would like to share it with you.
“It’s just not enough to say thank you! By your actions: letters, phone calls and visits, you say that you are close, always close. It means so much to me to know that you are thinking of the children and me. And so it becomes pleasant and warm to know that the expression “Who needs other people’s children?” is not what you are about. Your hearts go out to all children in need.
Thanks to your help, a large number of children are able to fully walk the paths of their lives. For them, being healthy means being happy! This gift of massage therapy services is a great contribution. I see it in the eyes of our children shining with happiness!
Thank you for being able to share love with those who lack it on this earth.
May the Lord give you peace, harmony and love. Everything you do is an unforgettable gift to our children. On behalf of the children and myself, I sincerely thank you and our sponsors!
P.S. Children are waiting for your visit!”
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For the third year now, Misha and his family have been fighting for his health. While pregnant with Misha, his mother and father were in a car accident. This resulted in his premature birth.
In the doctors efforts to save his life, they gave Misha more oxygen than he needed, and this lead to the rupture of one of his lungs. Misha also had brain swelling.
During three years, Dr. Natalya and her team worked with Misha, use multiple therapies to bring life and new direction to his brain, anatomy and organs. Massage, medical exercises, speech therapy, special training are some of the therapies that help Misha achieve results in his physical and mental development.
In 2017, Misha received a 20-day course of therapies in October and December. He received nine courses of therapies in 2018. Last year, 2019, he received seven courses of therapies treatments.
He is able to support himself on hands and knees, and tries to sit with support! Misha stands in a veticalizerthat supports him vertically. Misha can reach for toys and do other things while in the vertivalizer.His muscle tone has improved.
On Facebook, Misha’s mother always keeps friends in the know, so that they can enjoy the achievements of the parents and the child and those who help him.
Misha is a very cheerful and hardworking child. He is always wearing a smile. He tries his best to help the instructor work with him. His thirst for life and perseverance is already visible in the character of this little boy!
I think that Misha and his parents are a great example for others. They demonstrate how not to lose heart but to go forward with faith. Parents are very grateful to everyone who helps Misha!
Sponsors, thank you for bringing massage therapy and the complex of treatments into Misha’s life! Dr. Natalya brought her skills to MUCH in 2004. She has been developing her specialized team to work with children who have severe disabilities.
April was a full month for Sveta and me. Because of the school quarantine, the grandchildren came to visit more often. This is a delight, but wears us out. We had early warm weather; later, we had some evenings of frosty weather. One of the apricot tree had reached full bloom. We thought that it had lost all of its fruit potential for this year. To our surprise, we are seeing fruit develop.
Sveta’s mother has gone home to her heavenly Father. The last three years were difficult for her. A number of minor strokes, and the difficulty of her life in the village weighed heavily on her. Our pastor performed the funeral. In Ukrainian tradition, the funeral was open casket, set in the driveway of their home. Family and a few neighborhood friends attended.
As of April 28, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 are 9,410 in Ukraine; 992 have recovered, and 239 have died. The current population of Ukraine is 43,733,762, a little more than one half of one percent of the total world population.
Ukraine remains under quarantine restrictions, but some businesses that do not provide essential products or services are beginning to open their doors. Sveta and I visited Epicenter the other day. It is similar to Home Depot or Lowes.
When we arrived, there was a line of about 100 people. We waited in line for about thirty minutes. As one shopper would come out, one in line would go in. Before entering the actual shopping area, each person’s forehead was scanned to check their temperature. When it was time for checkout, only the four self checkout registers were open. No cash was allowed, only debit or credit cards. Can you imagine, 20 years ago Ukraine didn’t have ATM machines.
Sponsors of MUCH, the children and massage therapists are very grateful for your continued financial support. As Sveta reported in her last update, not all of our programs are operating. Even so, 51 children received treatments in April. Sveta and I thank you so much for remembering our MUCH children and us!
Due to quarantine, April was a vacation time for some massage therapists but others continued to work.
Nadya, a new MUCH massage therapist began working with MUCH two months ago. Her first client was her six-year-old son, Anton. Last year, he was injured with a hip fracture on his left leg. Nadya was in the hospital with Anton for a long period of rehabilitation. Even after treatment, he was hobbling along, and it was noticeable. Thank God that his mother became a massage therapist! After two courses of twenty-day massage treatment, Anton’s hobble was almost invisible!
During the quarantine period, Natasha, our massage therapist in the Dobromel orphanage, continues to give massage therapy to the orphans. These have no family and are forced to stay in the orphanage. This month, she worked in the dormitory building, since the heating was turned off in the school and it was very cold in the massage room. Natasha wrote a detailed report about the children whom she was giving massage therapy. She was seeing great results!
Paul (right) has muscle hypertonicity and rounded shoulders, or kyphosis. Massage therapy helped relax all tense muscles. With the help of exercise with the chest expander, the muscles of the arms and shoulder girdle were trained. Natasha also uses game therapy and manual therapy. Light manual therapy helped to unlock the spine in certain locations, to return the mobility of the spine to a better physiological state. The boy became more obedient, fear disappeared, and the child’s self-esteem increased.
Anya, an insecure child, is very emotional and excited. Often she is withdrawn into herself, sometimes crying for no reason. The girl did not want to receive massage therapy. She screamed and did not want to make physical contact with others. But Natasha always has a way to the hearts of children. Step by step, Anya opened her soul to meet the love she felt from Natasha. Massage therapy affected the calming of her nervous system. Thanks to game therapy, not only physical development has improved, but also the development of mental processes. The game allowed not only to survive the situation at a symbolic level, but also to express her own emotions and feelings.
Seven-year-old Dasha often had bouts of aggression, she cried and screamed. This is probably the consequence of how she grew up in cruelty, screaming parents and bullying. Dasha began to walk very late, somewhere around four years old. The girl complained of discomfort in the back, and fatigue. She declined coordination of movements. Also, she had violation of posture, head tilted to one side, and asymmetric arrangement of clavicles. In addition, her chest had deformation and deviation of the spinous processes to one side.
After a course of massage treatment and special physical exercises, the child’s muscle corset strengthened, back mobility was restored, the asymmetry of the shoulder blades was corrected and the pectoral muscles strengthened. Dasha became calmer, more relaxed, self-confident, her psycho-emotional state improved.
Thank you dear family and friends! We know that you, too, are walking through difficult times during the pandemic, but you continue to share your heart with children who need help. God bless you!
Our apricot trees are starting to blossom, but they hesitate, waiting for the final frost of the season.
Our church service was divided into home groups of ten people each. The busses are running less often, and limiting passengers to ten at a time. Few people are out and about. Sveta and I, our family and friend remain healthy. Life moves forward.
Our Patricia Koehler Memorial Transportation Scholarship Program continues! In 2007, the program sponsored its first two students. Since that time, five students have graduated university through our program. Nastya, our most recent graduate, is a conductor of music. Her program required eight years of study. She married last summer! This year, MUCH sponsors three students from three villages.
Daniel, 19 years old, is in his fourth year of college, studying radio technology. He wants to expand his education. The field of anesthesiology has caught his interest. As he studies this medical application, he will also learn how to apply his college training, and advance his university training to repair anesthesiology machines. Daniel will continue his education with the help of MUCH for another four years.
Julia’s mother, Daniel, and Julia
Julia, also 19 years old, is in her second year of university. She is majoring in Economics. She is one of five children in her family. Two of her brothers are married. Julia’s parents and other siblings are living in Poland as missionaries. Her father started a church to minister to the Ukrainian labor force in one city in Poland. Julia’s mother, Svetlana, was in Chornomorsk the night that Sveta and I visited the students. She made a special effort to visit us to express how grateful she and her husband are. I met Svetlana, Valodya, and their young family in 2002. They have struggled financially all of their lives. They send MUCH sponsors a very BIG THANK YOU!
Anya is 17 years old. She is in her first year of university, studying computer technology. She rides three different busses, taking one and a half hours each way. Her goal is to be a computer programmer, and work from her home. Also, she wants to use her new knowledge to help her church with different projects. Her father is drawing his pension. He fought in the Afghanistan war. Her mother operates a personal greenhouse, but only receives a decent seasonal wage.
We think that you will like our 2 minute video that compliments these stories: Mentally Challenged Children Learn to read using the computer. Julia is 13 years old. She has changed a lot over the past seven years since I first met her. This precious child arrived at the orphanage in Dobromel from a Baby House. She was diagnosed as “Mild mental retardation”. Her parents were deprived of parental rights. Julia often cried, was embarrassed by her peers, separated herself from the other children, and strove for loneliness.
For these seven years, Julia has repeatedly received massage therapy. She had flat feet and scoliosis. Our MUCH massage therapist, Natasha, achieved good physical and psychological results.
Four years ago, Julia began studying how to use a computer. This was not so easy for her and for other children with intellectual disabilities. These lessons are taught by our MUCH sponsored teacher, Luba, in the orphanage library.
Julia became sociable, looking for communication with adults and with children. In her efforts to study the computer she is very happy about the smallest results! Learning to use the keyboard helps Julia learn letters and build words and sentences. She is learning to read.
Luba works with students from the sixth to tenth grade inclusively. These children have emotional-volitional disorders and other difficult diagnoses. For girls and boys this is a favorite lesson. After all, the children not only learn, but also play on the computer. Luba uses special developmental game/programs that are “initial computer science for children.” Educational games inspire the children to learn.
Basically, all children are unable to focus on one topic for an extended period of time, so Luba motivates them to learn in various ways. At first they may play on tablets and computers, and then they have to do scholastic work on the computer or vice versa.
Mary is 13 years old. She is very emotional and impulsive. She has a mild intellectual disability. It’s hard for Mary to focus on a specific subject. Her attention is unstable and distracted. Because of her inconsistent and slow thinking, it is difficult for a her to remember the material that is taught. She gets tired quickly.
Thanks to the keyboard simulator, Mary studies the arrangement of letters on the keyboard. She is learning how to properly use and perform basic operations with the mouse. These lessons help Mary to focus and keep her attention on a given topic. Thinking through her actions, she is learning to make rough projections about her day.
Victor is 11 years old. His attention is unstable, his perception is slow, the child remembers the material after much repetition, he cannot draw conclusions on his own. But despite this, Victor knows all the letters, and reads the words. Victor cannot practically retell the contents of what he has read, but he answers the questions well. He is a very neat student. He creates clean calligraphic writing. In the classroom, Victor is calm and wants to seek new knowledge. He comes to computer class with joy and Luba is very pleased with him!
Luba hopes that the skills that children acquired in her lessons will be useful in their future lives.
Living my dream,
Thank you for your interest in our newsletters, our children, and Sveta and me. May God keep you healthy and safe in this challenging time.