Saturday, May 29, 2010

A season of change

I haven't always done well with change in my life. It is an area however that God has graciously grown me in, and I've come a long way from my youth. I mean, I actually cried when our carpet was changed in the house where I grew up. I just didn't want to let go of the memories I guess!

But lately I've been led to seek out a little bit of God a bit more, and step out on a new adventure.

And that adventure started this weekend as I started the arduous task of packing up my sweet little apartment that has been home for the past 4 years. That's right, I'm moving out!

Next weekend I'll be moving to my relative's apartment, where I'll spend the summer while they are away (and I'm traveling between our summer camps and the US) and then in the fall my new adventure will take me to England for three months!

It has been a dream of mine for quite some time to study at a Bible school or a ministry school, and I have continually put it off for a variety of reasons-- always thinking there would be a better time. Well, after much prayer and some wonderful confirmations from the Lord I have decided to take the leap and GO!

I will be in the UK for 3 months taking a course at Ellel Ministires, where I will be learning more about prayer, healing, deliverance and discipleship. After working among orphans in Ukraine for 5 years, I am very excited for this opportunity to learn more about something so needed and so relevant in their lives- healing! I am very excited for this opportunity to learn and study God's word and be among others who are wanting to grow in Christ and learn about sharing that freedom with others.

My plan for now is to be in the UK from October till Christmas and then be in the US for the holidays and then return back to Ukraine late January, when I'll begin looking for a new place to live in Kiev.

That's the latest news around here for now!

So in the mean time...I need to get back to packing up my boxes!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Training in Uzhgorod...a taste of heaven in the west

Castles, rolling green hills, winding cobble stone streets, delicious cheap food! Yes, I fell in love with western Ukraine this past week! We held a 3 day life skills training in Uzhgorod, which is in the Zacarpati region of Ukraine, very near the Slovakia border. Talk about a breath of fresh air! The lush green hillsides and the European style architecture were a nice change to what I am used to seeing in Kiev.

I traveled to Uzhgorod with 2 dear friends and training partners, Mina and Galina- who have both been a part of the Life Skills training for graduating orphans project from the very beginning. We held this training at the Nehemiah ministry center which is a hub for hosting a variety of practical trainings throughout the year in this region. About 30 people went through our 3 day training, the majority of who have ongoing ministries to orphans and gypsy people in the trans-carpathian region. There was even a couple attending from Finland who are doing mission work in Kosovo and have a great need for teaching life skills to the youth they work with! It still amazes me to see the great demand there is for this life skills curriculum and how God is continuing to open up doors for us to spread it beyond the borders of Ukraine.

our group trained

Typically at the training Galina and Mina cover the more theoretical topics involving child development, behavior, and issues pertaining to children who have grown up in institutions- and then I teach example lessons from the curriculum itself so they can see it being demoed and understand the format of the lessons. It's always an adventure getting up and teaching- something I don't really feel naturally gifted in, so it does stretch me...and intimidate me! But I have a great team to support me and fill in the gaps!

In the down time during the week we were able to explore the city a bit and see the castle that overlooks the beautiful city. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to explore other parts of Ukraine and see how much it differs from city to city.

Galina and I at the castle wall
On our train ride home I fell in love with the Western Ukrainian country side! My friends got great joy out of watching me ooo and aww at all that I saw and take a ton of photos- trying to capture the moment from my moving train window. I was tempted to hop off the train and settle into one of those little house for a few days and walk up the green hill singing "The Hills are Alive." Perhaps another day....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spring Play

This May I directed my 6th production at Kiev Christian Academy- a school for missionary kids in Kiev. What a blessing it has been to direct the plays for KCA-- I still count it as my little gift and creative outlet from the Lord (not to mention the chance to put my degree in theatre to use!)

This year we staged The Last Night of Ballyhoo which is a show I did when I was at SPU. Very fun to relive all the fun moments with my oh so talented students! Our audiences loved the show and as always I was so proud to see how hard everyone worked to get it all together. I'm sad to lose yet another group of talented seniors!
Here are a few pics from the show...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Gift of Hearing

Meet Alyona.

Alyona is 5 years old and lives in Kharkov, the second largest city in Ukraine.

This beautiful, smiling little girl, was pronounced deaf by the time she was one year old, and it is likely she lost her hearing because of adult antibiotics she received as an infant when she was very sick. Her family was devastated when they learned of her hearing loss.

Living at the poverty level, her parents could not afford hearing aids to help her with the minimal hearing that remained. But her grandmother was determined that she would function in the hearing world and since Alyona was a toddler, her grandmother has spent countless hours with her, teaching her words and how to read people’s lips. What Alyona is capable of understanding and voicing without hearing sound is amazing!

Sadly, Alyona’s father took his own life this past fall. He had been living in a deep depression because he was out of work and felt he couldn’t provide for the needs of his family and was devastated that he could not help his daughter’s hearing loss. After his death, Alyona’s mother, alone and with nowhere to turn, was led by a friend at work to write our mission in Kiev and ask for help. She didn’t know what to expect, and was surprised when our staff called her and invited her to come to Kiev with Alyona to see if we could help. The family couldn't understand why complete strangers would want to help!

In March Alyona was brought to Kiev to receive an ear examination at our medical clinic and the moment she was fitted with top of the line hearing aids, it became apparent that her whole future was about to change! She could HEAR! Her grandmother and mother were in tears as they saw Alyona react to sounds around her—including the sound of her own voice! Her mother recognized the hand of God—someone she had been unwilling to recognize before.

About two weeks ago I had the privilege to travel to Kharkov on behalf of Orphan’s Promise and deliver Alyona the hearing aids that had been ordered for her. I got to spend the whole day with sweet Alyona and her family, as we produced a story about her life and how it was made possible for her to receive the hearing aids-- something her family would have never been able to afford.

What a miracle to witness a child being given this gift! Ukraine is not a country that makes room for people with disabilities, which means these hearing aids will provide Alyona with a better life and allow her to be accepted in the hearing world.

In a year of such tragedy for this family, I can't describe in words how it was to see her mother and grandmother rejoice as their little one received the gift of hearing; and to realize her life will forever be different! Praise the Lord for his provision.

"My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice!" Psalm 34:2

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ode to my Mama...

In honor of Mother's Day I'd like to dedicate this post to my one and only Mama!
Really, one post isn't enough to say how much I love her and how much she means to me...but here I go...trying my best....

If you just see my mom it is clear that she is a beautiful person on the outside- but this outer beauty that draws people to her is just a tiny preview to her heart. My mom is a woman who loves with her whole heart, who gives sacrificially and who lives with a steadfast faith. My mom has taught me much of what I know about Jesus by the way she loves other people. She is a servant at heart and will put her needs and desires last to make sure that those of others have been met. From the days that she served as my ever faithful stage mom as I performed in plays, to her now over seeing all my bill paying, banking, and doctor scheduling as I live abroad- my mama has always taken care of me!

My mom isn't as outgoing or outspoken as I can often be- but instead she leads by quiet example. Growing up, I remember every morning, as I woke for school, wiped my tired eyes and headed to the bathroom, I would pier into the living room and see the back of my mom's head- curled up with a blanket in the easy chair with her Bible in hand-- beginning her day in the Word and praying for her children. She would never draw attention to this action and words would rarely be spoken -- but I saw her just the same. Her actions spoke volumes. Seeing my mom, up before the sun rose, before her children rose, showed me the importance of beginning the day with Jesus. I knew that my mom loved God's word and it was (and still is) evidenced by her time spent with him.

My mom is a nurturer and full of compassion. That's why she makes such a great nurse as well. I remember watching how she cared for her own mother as she fought cancer and faithfully tended to all her needs- until the day she died. I remember thinking she was so brave--so strong. And now with the same strength she lovingly cares for my grandfather- all the while being an amazing wife, mother and the hippest grandmother I know!

I love that my mom has allowed me to be in Ukraine, and has supported my calling and my dreams. I remember the first year or so I was in Ukraine, my parents thought that would be 'it' and then I'd be home to start my life. But as time has ticked away they have graciously stood back in support and have allowed God to be God- which means letting go. I am surrounded by so many others in ministry who have pressures of family telling them to come back 'home' and I cannot tell you what an amazing blessing it is to have a family that loves the Lord and releases you to go where he leads. Her sense of permission has meant the world to me and has allowed me to remain as long as I have.

My mom isn't famous. She's not a public speaker. She's not really computer savvy. And she can even get angry sometimes (something my friends still have a hard time believing)!

But she is my hero.

She is wise
She is beautiful
She is godly
She's who I call when I have a bad day
She's who I call when I have a great day
She prays for me
She misses me
She loves me unconditionally
She is the REAL thing

Mom, I love you. Thank you for making my life better. Thank you for being YOU.
Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Camp planning

We are gearing up again for Summer Camps!! It's hard to believe but this summer I will be taking part in organizing our 9th and 10th camps for orphans and graduated orphans in Ukraine!! Wow! We will be reuniting with kids from last year’s camps, allowing us to follow-up and continue building relationships.

These camps are in large part sponsored by the organization I work with- CBN and our specific Orphan ministry- Orphan's Promise. To see a little bit about what we do at our camps, take a look at this video which highlights one of our camps from last summer:

Looks fun huh! Wanna come?

To fund both of the camps for this summer will cost about $12,000 (which includes housing, food, supplies, transportation and activities). Most of the money has been raised, but we still need about 2 thousand dollars to reach our goal and to buy the needed craft and sporting supplies. With any money I raise through family and friends I will be able to purchase all the needed extra supplies when I'm home in the states this July (prior to our August camp).

For the past 2 years I've given friends and family a chance to partner in our summer ministry to orphans in Ukraine and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity in response. I want to again ask that you join with us to make these camps a reality this summer.

As seen in the video above- lives are truly transformed in these 10 day camps--only God can do that-- but he allow us to play a part!

I have a way set up through an organization called Co-Link, for people to make- tax-deductible donations. This is a way that will allow me to purchase all the supplies myself- instead of sending it through my organization here. Any money that is donated under my name will go directly for the costs of the camp.

If you would like to make a donation please send to:


16261 36th Ave. NE

Lk. Forest Park, WA 98155

Make checks out to: Colink with Acct # 751 in the memo line.

Write "Karen Springs" on a post it and stick to check—that way there will be no confusion.

or to donate online you can go to: (just use account number 751)

Thank you for your partnership!! I look forward to the stories I will share as the summer begins.