Saturday, November 26, 2011

Time in the Far East

Well I was corrected! Apparently we were further into Russia than Siberia- in what is deemed the 'Russian Far-East.' And after flying for 10 hours east- I agree-- it is pretty far!!  Apparently saying 'Siberia' is the same faux-pa as putting a 'the' in front of Ukraine.  I stand corrected.

Our time in the far east city of Khabarovsk went great. I traveled with two of my colleagues and ministry partners, Mina and Galina and we trained a group of about 20-25 people who desire to teach life skills to older orphans in this region.  There are little to no resources for working with orphans here, so they were glad to have our curriculum brought over and some basic training to go with it!  We did a 4 day training with about 6 hours of teaching each day.

I was amazed to learn of the great need in this region.  To say they have a lot of orphans would be an understatement.  This region of Russia makes Ukraine look like they have their act together.  While  Ukraine is transitioning to foster care and more orphanages continue to be merged or shut down, Khabarovsk suffers from over crowded institutions with over 150 kids in each of the  66 orphanages in this region!  I was shocked.  The statistics surrounding the trade schools where the kids go when they graduate are not any better.  Over 30% of the kids are dead within 3 years of graduating.  Sobering statistics.

The people we trained were so grateful that we came, and made us feel like saints for traveling so far.  But to tell you the truth- they were really my heroes. They are a small group of believers who have been challenged to reach the orphans in their community and are seeking out all the resources they can to be effective-- and they are the minority.

One man who attended the training was a former orphan himself. He stood up after one of our teachings and with tears in his eyes began to speak-- 'this information is so needed' he said, 'It's true what you are saying.  I look today for the kids I grew up with and I can't find any of them.  They are either in prison, dead, or alcoholics. The future is empty without God.  I would be lost like them without Him.'  

I am always amazed at the testimonies of former orphans like this man Yuriy, and hearing how God saved them.  Yuriy now has a 19-year-old boy under his wing that he is trying to help rehabilitate- a boy he picked up off the street-- destined for a life like that of his friends. But Yuriy is determined to help give this boy a different future.  This boy recently gave his life to the Lord and is trying to turn it around--but it isn't easy.

most of the people we trained- on the last day!

It was a privilege to have this opportunity to travel east and equip more of the saints to reach these kids...the many many kids.  It was very humbling.  I now see through even different eyes the work that God has done in Ukraine and how far we have come and how now Ukraine is paving the way for Russia.  My friend Galina keeps telling me I can't leave Ukraine until all the kids have homes-- but now I am reminded that the work is far greater than just Ukraine. Don't know if I'm ready to be sent to the far-east permanently-- but if you are praying about a mission field-- then I'd add that to your list!  The need is overwhelming.

Our time in Khabarovsk was pretty much spent at the church teaching. But what little we did see of the city is below...

I felt right at home in Khabarovsk when I saw a sign with my name!
The caption says 'clothing from Great Britain'--(yes please!) :)
My fearless travel companions and friends- Mina and Galina
Cathedral in center of Khabarovsk- a winter wonder-land


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I always enjoy your stories. Blessings, Kelly

Healy Family said...

I was reading a "post adoption" blog recently - the folks had adopted from Ukraine on virtually the same time schedule we did. They have had some significant issues in the years since. It served as an incredible wake up call to me that while you can take a kid out of the orphanage, it's much much harder to take the orphanage (life) out of the kid. May the good Lord continue to bless your and your collegues as you minister to these kids and train countrymen/women to care for and love their own.

ps, that last picture of the cathedral looks like something you might see in Narnia!

MamaPoRuski said...

Beautiful city, praying for the Christians to grow in strength, numbers and effectiveness of ministry! Praying for more workers to help gather the harvest!
for the Healy family:
Loving the unloveable can only be done through CHRIST! Yes, our adopted children come with many hurts and scars-but as I open my eyes to the hurting world in my American city, the lessons I learned in parenting my traumatized kids have been helpful in loving the traumatized divorced, single parent, or battered women, the recovering addict, the social and family outcast, the emotionally, intellectually and physically disabled...all hurting souls in our midst, the very lost sheep Jesus came to seek and restore to himself! May we all learn to walk along side the broken and bring them to restoration!

Tara G. said...

Rejoicing with you! We have tickets for the Sat. show- can't wait! My schedule is not as full right now; if there is something I can do from home to help, please let me know!

Chris and Monique... said...

As you know we have a heart from orphans as well, so how can we help these children in Russia from here in the states? Love what you are doing for the fatherless . You are a hero to us. Blessings

Phyllis said...

Yes! The need is so much greater in Russia! We had to leave Russia, because of visa problems. Now we're in Ukraine, and orphan care is one of the big differences we see between the two countries.

(If you have time, I'd love to hear from you. We've been living in Zaporozhya region for three years, and we're looking to move to another part of Ukraine and start working with children again. Do you have any ideas or suggestions?