Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A blessing for every year

When God first placed orphans and adoption on my heart in 2004 I remember having a simple prayer-- I prayed that people at home would also catch the same vision. I was so fired up and passionate about adoption that I wanted other people to see what I was seeing- to share in the heart God was giving me.  So my prayer was that I would come to see families I personally knew embrace God's heart for adoption. 

Bringing a group of Ukrainian orphans to WA state in the winter 2007 seemed to be the beginning of that prayer being answered.  Through a performance of a Christmas musical featuring Ukrainian orphans, one family at Northshore (my home church) was stirred to begin the adoption process.  One year later they would bring home one of the girls who had appeared in the musical in 2007, a little girl who had won a soft spot in my heart.

Then in 2011, together with a small group of volunteers we stepped out in faith and began the Window to Hope hosting project and ventured to bring 13 Ukrainian orphans to our community to live in families for 3 weeks. In 2012 we would bring 6 more.

Though adoption was not the goal of the hosting trip, we did know that some of the kids were available for international adoption, and that the trip could expose these kids to families who perhaps earlier would have never considered adopting an older child.

As a result of the two successive hosting trips, 2 families have already adopted 5 of these children  and one more family is brining home 2 more boys in the next couple weeks! I am overwhelmed at seeing how God has been at work through this.

When I prayed that prayer 8 years ago I had no idea what the answer would look like, but I remember hoping that a spirit of adoption would fall on my church and inspire others to consider their role in caring for the orphan.

Now, 8 years later, I stop and can count 8 Ukrainian children among my home congregation. One child for each year that I've been away!   What a very special gift.

When I was home this last summer and saw this small Ukrainian embassy overtaking the lobby of our church I was humbled.  It was a moment to freeze in my mind's eye.

My two worlds had collided and it was simply beautiful. 
Not perfect. 
Not without difficulty, blemish or pain;
Not without cost.
Yet beautiful nonetheless.

A picture similar to my own adoption-
The beautiful redemption that God has poured out on my non-perfect life through Jesus.
It wasn't pain free,
It wasn't without cost,

But beautiful?
Oh yes.

The two newest boys to be added to the clan!

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us."
Ephesians 1:5-8

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bringing change

A couple weeks ago I went with some of our Orphan's Promise staff to several of our project sites we have spread throughout this country.

One of the locations we visited was Mukachevo...a town nestled at the edge of the carpathian mountains and home to a significantly sized Roma (or Gypsie) population.

We have a local staff that has been working among these people for several years now, bringing education to their children on a regular basis and aid as well.

It is difficult to describe what it is like to walk amidst these gypsie communities.  Sometimes only a stone's throw away from their Ukrainian village neighbors, and yet the lives they lead are so different.

poverty...and yet a satellite.  priorities are sometimes interesting

Upon entering one of the gypsy settlements you instantly put aside all of your own problems. They suddenly seem insignificant in comparison to the needs of the people living in these communities. The poverty of the living conditions are even more shocking when winter sets in.  Houses have dirt floors, lack doors, and are not built with heating or a water supply.

So much poverty. So much need. So much corruption and injustice.

One home I walked into was all put 2 rooms with 2 beds...and yet 10 people slept between the two beds.

Many in Ukraine blame the gypsies themselves for the state of their life and the choices they've made. Others blame the State for not trying harder. When I look at the problem it becomes clear that it can't be a blame game.  There is just tremendous need...mainly among the children- and most families have 6-8 of them.

Last winter, our staff from Kiev traveled to several homes in the region and installed several economical heating devices, fixed roofs, installed doors, and distributed blankets and warm clothes.  People were so grateful for the help, and to know that people cared.

The SEED project (something to eat every day) is another project that OP has begun in this region. The project’s goal is to help the poorest of the world’s populations through farming. People in the hardest of conditions are taught to change their lives with their own hands.  

You know the saying...give a man a fish and I he can eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and.....

The results of the project have been wonderful so far. As the gypsy people started to gather the first fruits of their labor nobody could believe the reality--it was working. The success has inspired and encouraged the entire community. 

Another project is the building of a bathhouse.  Since there is no running water in the community this is a chance to use the bath facility for families to bathe in clean water and also learn principles of hygiene.    Its a long road ahead to change a mentality that has existed for generations...but this is the beginning.  

I look forward to sharing more as these projects progress.  But in the mean time, please keep these beautiful people in your prayers...

 "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
 Luke 10:2