Thursday, December 29, 2011

A little bit of Christmas

It has been a very FULL last week of life!  A whirl wind of activity with work in Kiev and traveling to Kherson to visit our kiddos then I quickly packed up and flew home to celebrate Christmas with my family in Seattle.  Hard to believe 2011 is drawing to a close. But what a GREAT year it has been!

I wanted to share a bit about our time in Kherson with the kids-- where we brought loads of 'all things Christmas' to 2 different orphanages and the transition home that Agape (a partner ministry) runs in Kherson. It was a bit of a ministry blitz to say the least as we didn't get nearly enough time in each location-- but it was the nature of the time we had and so we had to work with it.

Most of the kids we met with had been a part of our 2011 summer camps, so the trip allowed us to not only celebrate Christmas with the youth but also reconnect with all the kids we had built relationships with this summer.

Our celebrations also included bringing Christmas trees to the orphanages, decorations, Christmas crafts and to wrap up our visit, time decorating cookies!  It was a sweet and very sticky time indeed-- Though perhaps not very clean! (what was I thinking to have over 100 kids use sprinkles and frosting?)

The kids were thrilled when our team arrived, huddling around us as we passed out the pictures we had printed from our time together at camp.  Now bundled up in their winter gear, our recent summer fun running around in the sweltering heat suddenly felt like a distant past. But at we reminisced about our time at camp and flipped through the photos together, the memories quickly came back as we asked the kids their favorite summer highlights....and believe me-- they had many!

The kids seemed excited about their gifts (but really-who doesn't like to unwrap a present AND get chocolate!?). We are praying the Bibles we gave out will be read and absorbed.  If you think of it- be praying for these sweet faces and that the words of LIFE will breath life into their precious hearts as they read the story of Jesus.
I was quite taken away with these sweet girls...

One teen,  Sasha shared how he had given his heart to Jesus at the camp this summer and was doing his best to live for God and tell other kids about his new life with Jesus.  The joy as he spoke was undeniable.  Hearing this was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend!  It is encouraging to know that the seeds we planted this summer have not died out but are truly growing.

I also got to reconnect with two of my 'favorites' (i know that isn't supposed to be allowed!) at the Kolinenska orphanage. Natasha and Tanya regularly call me throughout the week- so that has given us a special relationship. I adore these girls so much and am sad I live so far from them--as they need much encouragement and support. I brought them a bunch of good books, so I'm hoping that will keep them occupied for awhile and their minds active.  As always it was sad to say goodbye..

So that's the Ukrainian Christmas report! (Though the 'real' Christmas celebrations in Ukraine take place on January 7th- when the Orthodox calendar recognizes Christmas).  And you thought Christmas was over?  Think again!

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