Hello family and friends,
April is a funny kind of month. Many people in Ukraine are tilling the land and planting their gardens. The temperature remains cold, somewhere in the upper thirties, but warmer weather is on the way. The public transportation is filled with people carrying garden implements, seeds and saplings, on the way to their dacha (little garden in the country). After working hard all day in the dacha, they come home to warm houses or apartments in the city. Then, comes April 15. The city heating system is shut off until October 15. At times, it is colder inside than outside. Life goes on in Ukraine.
Sveta and I focused on travel in April. Two weeks on the road took us to Nikolayev to visit Sveta’s family, before continuing to Marganets. While in Marganets, we had meetings with the directors of the Transition Home, the Orphanage, and School #3. Finally, we traveled south to Froonza, Crimea.
At the Transition Home, Tatyana, the director, is finding good Christian families where the children can be fostered in a loving environment. When I suggested that I may be able to help, she quickly expressed that she had many families waiting to foster children. What great news that is!
At the orphanage, we spoke with Elena, the manager, about the status of the orphanage. The last time that we spoke, there was talk about closing the boarding school portion of the orphanage. That has changed and the boarding school will remain open. A rehabilitation facility for children with disabilities is a reality. This will serve only the children of Marganets. Elena is asking if MUCH can sponsor a massage therapist and provide a massage table, beginning in September. I will pass this request to the MUCH Board of Directors before their next meeting.
We also discussed the importance of the clothing program. I assured her that it will continue.One thing that has not changed in eleven years is the connections that I make with the children. There are always children who express gratitude for the clothing that they receive. It is a joy for me to communicate with them. Their love for Sveta is quite strong also.
Because the heat in Marganets, little as it is, had been shut off and an unexpected cold front came through, classes at School #3 were cancelled during our visit. Sveta and I connected with the director, her manager, and one of the teachers. Our discussion revolved around the results of the MUCH provision of clothing. The children are responding as expected, with blossoming self-images, and new interest in learning. We also talked at great length about local and regional fund raising to remodel the school building, or only a few parts. We left them with some new ideas and hope for possible change.
Let’s see what Sveta has to share about the children after our journey to Marganets and Froonza!
Our visit to the orphanage in Marganets was great! As always is the case, the children ran to meet us. Each one interrupted the other one, because, of course, what they had to say was most important. It was a little bit difficult to pay attention to everybody at the same time, to listen, and to respond. In such a time, I always think about God. He does not have difficulty giving the love and attention at the same time for everyone.
When Mark and I spoke with the 8-10 year-old-children, at first it was noisy and chaotic. Mark then went on to tell them stories from the Bible. The children were quiet and listened to him very attentively. Even I was interested to hear the familiar stories. Some of the stories the children already knew, some they heard for the first time. After each story, to test how they understood the narration, Mark began to ask them questions. All the children were giving the correct answers. From this, we saw that all was clear for them. Some children are poorly versed in mathematics and other sciences, but if they know God, they will have a strong foundation for their future. We are in touch with the local church, which also helps these children to learn about God. They are interested in knowing God; their hearts are hungry for His love.
A wonderful opportunity opened up for two sisters who are now living at the orphanage/boarding school in Marganets. These girls, ages fourteen and twelve, never went to school. Now they will learn, starting in the first grade.
Through your prayers and financial support, we have the opportunity to visit the children. They are waiting for us and know that MUCH helps them to have nice clothes and shoes, which increases the children’s self-esteem. They are happy and content!
Our visit to Froonza, Crimea, was just as wonderful! It was a joy to hear from a doctor about the great results after a course of massage for the little boy, Alex. He is an orphan and lives in the family of mission manager Anna and her husband, who took custody of him and his younger sister. For the first four years, the boy lived with his mother who was not responsible for her children. Because he and his sister were on their own, they now have a strong delay in basic education and social development, compared to their peers.
During our visit, Anna took Alex for his annual medical checkup. The doctor said that she saw much progress in the development of Alex’s spoken language. Last year, Alex spoke only a few words; everything else that he said was impossible to understand.The masseur, delivering massage therapy over his entire body, focused on the head, and face, improving articulation. Angelina, the daughter of Anna, (we talked about her in my last letter) is working with his speech, helping him learn to correctly pronounce sounds and words. For Alex, this has opened great opportunities and a wonderful future!
Living my dream,
I made every effort to complete my next video for this newsletter, but traveling made it impossible to finish with good content and quality. I hope that you will look forward, as I do, to next month’s video in the May newsletter. I am collecting good video of the children and focusing on life in Ukraine. Now that I am working on telling the story with video, I am learning even more about Ukraine.
As always, thank you for your prayer and financial support. God is doing great things through the MUCH team for the children of Ukraine.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta