Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jesus Storybook Bibles for Orphans!

I'm excited to share with you a great opportunity to give in a very practical way! 

Last Christmas, through Orphan's Promise we had the joy of distributing the The Jesus Storybook Bible among orphans in the Kherson region.  This is a delightful children's Bible, that I highly recommend checking out in English if you have small children at home.  I have a copy in Russian and I just love the way that the author weaves the promise of Jesus throughout the Old Testament and into the New.  Many are saying it is one of the best children's Bibles out there....and I think I agree!Well thanks to In Lumine Media the book is now in the Russian language, and several partner organizations here in Ukraine are teaming up to do a wide-spread distribution to Ukrainian orphans, so that every orphan in every orphanage will have their very own copy of the Bible!

For just $3 you can provide an orphan in Ukraine with a Children's Bible! (Sounds a bit like an informercial I realize :) ...but seriously-- the book retails at $16 in the USA- however the costs are being off-set here to make this affordable.  So that even a child can give!

The plan for now is to raise enough funds so that at Easter we can have a wide-scale distribution through local churches and ministries.  So would you consider in donating to a very worthy cause?  You can visit this site to find out more information and to download printable material, like the poster above, so that your whole church can get involved!

Orphan Sunday is coming up on November 4th-- so this would be a great cause to support in your churches or small groups!

Feel free to share with others...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Window to Hope

Last year you may remember me talking about our Window to Hope hosting project and the kiddos we brought to my home church in Washington state.  Well this year we did it again, though with a smaller crew of kids from Ukraine.  Long story, but we ran into several issues with documents in Ukraine and as a result were only able to bring 6 kids on the 3 week hosting trip.

Nevertheless it was a fun-filled 3 weeks and the kids of course loved all things America!  I'll have a special story to share in a couple two of these boys are currently in process for adoption and will be having their family come for them VERY soon!

Here is a little window into some of our summer activities....

Thank you to all who supported this endeavor! We couldn't have done it without the donations that came in from across the US.  I love seeing people come out of the woodwork to help with this project. I was so blessed when I learned that a very old friend from jr high/sr. high days heard we were coming (and gave last year) and offered to organize an entire event for our kids and families.  We had a whole evening at a ranch thanks to the connections of this friend-- who I hadn't even seen in years! It was so awesome to see the body of Christ stepping forward and pouring out love left and right.  Such a cool experience.

Till next time...

Friday, September 21, 2012

The lighter moments

Yep, still here trying to play catch up from the summer!  After our camp season ended I spent 2 weeks in Kiev playing hostess to a super-wondeful-family that was here to adopt some super-cute-boys!  There are some families that stay with me that I hit it off with...and then there are some families I really hit it off with.  Kim and Adam fall into the 'really hit it off with' category!

Adam is a photographer (a really really talented photographer might I add), so naturally he and I found some common things to talk about.  AND Adam is so wonderful that he even agreed to give me a few lessons and let me try out his array of so many lenses.  It was oh so much fun getting to click away and have him give me pointers as I went.  I even had my own photo-session thrown in at the end of my lesson. We got gutsy and Adam had me sit on the tram tracks...quickly before any tram hit me!

One thing I love about meeting so many adoptive couples is getting to see many different reactions to stress and difficult circumstances.  Now, some people might think of this as a bad thing.  However, I find it truly educational and eye-opening.

Here you take a married couple out of their normal routine, out of their culture and comfort zone, to a land where they don't understand the language, don't know the customs, and then add to that the stress of adoption and you have the recipe for the perfect nightmare....or some really humorous situations.  And believe me...I've seen both! (Like I said...very educational!)

What I loved about Adam and Kim was their ability to see the lighter side of just about everything.  I know their stay in Ukraine was anything but easy, and they had more waiting around to do then is typical-- but they chose to wake up every day with a smile, keep going, and find the lighter moments of this city and the adoption process.

Case in point--their adoption of the street cat that lives outside of my building.  Kim and Adam are animal lovers (this is an understatement)...and so naturally as they were awaiting the adoption of their 3 boys, they adopted a street cat, who they affectionately named 'Steven-Jeffery' (In actuality, I take full credit for the combination of the two names, as there was a disagreement over which name to call the cat.)
photo taken by Adam Pendleton

'Steven-Jeffery' thus became the amusing topic of each evening conversation. They'd fill me in on what the cat was up to, what they'd fed him, how he responded, and how there was now a babushka trying to move in on our him better food and a collar to boot!

One night we had fun throwing food from my 5th floor balcony to the ground below--seeing if he would go bounding towards it.  Quite a show for the neighbors I'll say.  No doubt that a foreigner lives here now.  2 smiling blonde girls laughing loudly as they throw bits of chicken to the pavement below.

Funny how a cat I had never noticed before, suddenly had so much personality.  I laughed till I had tears when I came home this summer to find that a picture of Steven Jeffery and a note had ended up in my guest book...a love letter to ME about our special summer!

Adam and Kim are now back in the US, settling into their new normal with their three energetic boys, yet they have left a lasting imprint in my home here in Kiev. It's a reminder to look for the lighter things in life.  The things that allow us to forget the chaos and difficulties for a moment....and laugh!    Finding joy amidst the pain and laughter amidst the heart-ache....that truly is a gift.

I can't help but slow down now as I see a little white cat dart in front of me as I leave my building in the morning.
A smile crosses my face and I have my own little that onlookers wouldn't quite understand. Just a little moment...and then I move along my way....back to the day that awaits.

Ahhh Steven Jeffery...and the summer of love.

Praying YOU are finding something to laugh matter what challenge is before you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Teen Camp in Odessa

There is probably a reason why I should blog about events as they happen...because that way I'd actually remember them!! So much happened in the last few months, so I guess what follows over the next week will be a blog blitz of the that it is Fall and I'm settling back into my routine in Kiev.

So my last real post was about our camp at an orphanage in the Kherson region in early June.  After that wrapped up we caught our breath for all of about 5 days before we headed down to Odessa to put on a 2 week camp for teens from orphanages from the Kherson region.

We had about 100 youth and it was an intense two weeks.  Trying to recall specific stories now three months later is post camp blur or something! But I can say it was challenging and I can say that God was at work as He always is at these camps.

Because we've worked in partnership with "Agape" for many years we have had a long standing relationship with the orphanages in Kherson region and so the camp served as a reunion of sorts.  I counted at least 10 kids that had been on some of our hosting trips to the US and others from previous camps.  It's hard to watch these kids grow up and see them still in the orphanage.  But many of them know God and seem to be headed in the right direction.  Others it is sad to see the choices they are making, and we can only pray that the seeds that have been planted year after year will eventually take root.

I was so blessed to spend time in Odessa with Vika.  I've known Vika since she was fourteen, and now she is nineteen and has graduated from the orphanage.  I still think of her as a little girl and in many ways it is clear that she still needs someone to hold her hand in life... as I often found her holding mine throughout the 2 weeks together.

Vika said 'no' to adoption several years ago, as it would have meant being separated from her younger sister. It was a hard decision for her and yet I admire her for making that decision to remain for the sake of her sister.  Because of her multiple trips to the US she has a good grasp of the English language, a skill I know that will help her as she now steps into college.  God is not done writing Vika's story, and I'm happy that I still get to be a part of her life.

The theme of the camp was all around the Euro Cup...which was taking place in Kiev while we were down in the sweltering heat of Odessa. We used our lessons and evening messages to make connections between the game of soccer (futbol) and the game of life.

I'll let the following pictures tell the rest of the story for the fun we had!
one whole day of rope's courses!

Yes, it was a very fun 2 weeks! You should join us next time!