Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And one more camp to finish summer!!

I leave tonight on the train for our final summer camp of the season!  I can't believe how fast this summer has flown by. Looking back I had this long list before me of events, places to go and people to connect with and now it's hard to believe that I'm facing the final activity of this very much planned out summer!
We'll be traveling to the Zapporozha region of Ukraine where we will hold a 10 day camp for graduated orphans on the Azovske Sea.  This is the same place where we held this camp last year and we will have many returning campers.  We expect about 70 kids between the ages of 17 and 22!  Yes, I guess we should use the word 'kids' loosely!  The majority of them are all graduates of orphanages in the Kherson region and are now attending trade schools in the region.

last year's group

Please keep our team and these youth in your prayers! It is a fantastic opportunity to get to share with them about the Lord and just love them where they are at in life--and have lots of fun while doing so.  Our theme for the camp will be following the subject matter from the movie "The Ultimate Gift"- which is a movie I'd recommend checking out if you haven't already!!

When I get back from camp I'll have a month to tie up things in Ukraine and put life "in order" (don't know if that every really happens) and then I'll be on my way to England.

Look forward to sharing more when we return....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

If it takes my fleeting breath

The friends that are staying with me right now showed me this music video that a friend of there's did as he was waiting to bring his son and daughter home from Haiti. He is the singer and the songwriter. Such a powerful message and speaks to the heart of those waiting to bring their forever children home. Felix and Heidi- I first thought of you when I saw this video...you are fighting the fight...even if takes your fleeting breath and I pray it means you will be bringing Z home very soon!!
Take a few minutes to watch this video and then pray for the waiting families and children in Ukraine and other places around this globe.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New friends...

One of the things I love about living amidst the international community and adoption community in Ukraine is that I continually get to meet new people, and as a result I often make new life long friends! It's a very transient community over here among internationals and it always amazes me how you can develop friendships so quickly--maybe because you have to!   For those of you who have lived any amount of time in a different country, you understand how refreshing it can be to spend time with other people from your home country- and find some bit of normalcy. For me it is a double blessing when these people are also passionate about Jesus and adoption!!

One such couple was recently brought into my life. Jason and Holly have been in Ukraine for the past month pursuing adoption, and our paths crossed through some connections in this ever so entangled blogging world in which I write! :)

I met Jason, Holly and their adorable son Jacob for dinner a little over a week ago, and after spending a couple times hanging out with them, I did what you do with most perfect strangers-- invited them to live with me for awhile!! :)   And they did what you do when an almost stranger offers such a proposal-- they accepted.  So- meet Jason, Holly and Jacob- my new roommates for the week! This couple has been on quite an adoption roller-coaster already and have had to remain in Kiev longer than most--hence their readiness to accept my offer.  To read more about their story you can visit their blog. 

It has been great getting to know them and hearing their story about how the Lord led them to the adoption journey in Ukraine.  We've had several late nights around the dinner table talking about all things Ukraine, adoption, missions, books, the Bible, and following Jesus.  I've also gained a new appreciation for Texas in the meantime! Please keep Holly and Jason in prayer today and tomorrow as they will be having their very important final meeting at the adoption department and are needing the Lord's peace and guidance about the child(ren) they will be adding to their family.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fun at home

In July I was able to make a quick trip home to see my family and friends and participate in my cousin Julie's wedding.  As always my time at home seems to fly by and I never get to see all the people I want to or visit all the places I intend! There is just never enough time to get it all in!! But I count it as a blessing to get to visit once or twice a year- and I am so grateful for that!  Here are some of the fun moments captured while at home....

cutest little nephew ever!  Caleb-28 months

Julie and Lucas Johnson!

It was so fun to be a part of my cousin Julie's wedding-- we've been dear friends since childhood and have really grown up together and walked through life together- even though we've never lived by each other. It was awesome to see God bring this beautiful couple together and just see his faithfulness!  I was very blessed to get to spend this special day with them and all the fun that came in the days leading up to it!


my lovely family at the wedding!
always fun taking a family picture with a 2 year-old!

Amber and I have been friends since 3rd grade and have seen each other through so much of life!  She has two beautiful children and after missing both births, I was able to celebrate her daughter Hallie's first birthday- which was a wonderful day at Green Lake park.  As you see pictured, I like to use Caleb as my loaner kid!  It was fun to have my beautiful sis-in-law and Caleb get to attend the party as well!

Many of you may remember the story of Oskana being adopted in 2009, by the Jones family- from my home church.  I was able to spend a day with them at the zoo- which was very fun! It still amazes me the miracle God did to bring her home and she is turning into such a beautiful girl!  It is always a treat to get to hang out with the Jones when I'm in town and catch up on all things 'Ukraine'! :)
Annamarie and I have been friends since SPU days and she is now the mother of 3 amazingly sweet children.  The 3rd of which was born while I was home. It is always fun to get to time my trips with the birth of new babies.  Audrey Joy is a beautiful addition to the Windham family! 

And yes-- I did manage to take countless pictures of my nephew while I was home!  This is a favorite! :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

No one's children

When we arrived at the orphanage the kids all came out to greet our team- but they didn’t just come- they ran! They had been waiting for us- waiting for a whole year. I know, because all year they had been calling us with the same question, 'when are you coming back?'

These are 65 kids living in a government run orphanage, in the middle of nowhere, in a location that most Ukrainians have never heard of. They are no one’s children. I don't want to believe this. But this is the reality I see with my eyes.

There is a famous saying in Russian that looses a bit of the meaning when translated into English, but it says something like- “there is no such thing as ‘someone else’s child.” Meaning that children are the responsibility of everyone in a community and every child should belong…belong to someone.

I find it slightly ironic that this is an adage in the Russian language; because spending 10 days in Kolinenska leaves you thinking just the opposite. Clearly there is such a thing as ‘no one’s children- and I just spent 10 days with many them.

Reunited with sweet Tanya
Oh the government will claim these children and say that they are providing the very best, entire communities (like Kolinenska) are able to create jobs on the backs of the orphanage mechanism, but at the end of the day, they are still children who go to bed void of a mother’s kiss and a father’s hug, children that carry both visible and invisible scars, most often invoked by those that were supposed to have provided love and safety.

In lower posts I shared the stories of kids like Pasha and Natasha- and their stories do give me hope- they are the stories that often keep me going. But the reality is, my mind still goes back to the fact that these children remain stuck in a system that is anti-adoption and pro-orphanage. A system that has created children that belong to no one. And this hurts my heart.

It hurts my heart to know that the majority of these kids don’t have the legal status that allows them to be adopted and it hurts my heart to know that this system will hold them captive. The system is evil.

Like I’ve said many times- this is a war. A war against God’s children. Yes, these children belong to Him I know- but he called us to be the physical representation of that- and lately my eyes have seen more kids trapped in a system then in loving homes.

I wish I had more answers.

Camp kids and staff

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, 
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry 
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— 
when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; 
then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; 
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry 
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." 

Isaiah 58:6-10