Friday, June 15, 2012

Of Lasting Impact

We returned this past week from our weeklong camp in the village of Kalinenska...a remote part of the Kherson region. This was our 4th summer heading back to work with these kids. 

The hardest part about going back every year is seeing that they are still there.  I look at my pictures from the previous years and I see how the kids are growing and changing... and yet there they remain, isolated in a tiny village, waiting for the next group of guests to arrive...hoping for a change from the normal.

What amazes me each year about these kids is their memory.  These are kids who struggle in school and have a hard time putting letters together and remembering one English word I teach them, and yet they remember specific details of previous years together as if the events happened only yesterday.  They will recite which games we played in 2009, they recite song lyrics from two years ago, they will go into detail about films we showed them and they can even remember which day of the week we showed up  last year!

 Honestly it was mind blowing to hear the kind of details they remembered.  After doing dozens of these camps I have a hard time separating them in my mind, and truthfully they all start to blur together. I have to look at the pictures to remind myself who was who and what we did.  Not for these kids. They remember the specifics.  The moments are engrained in their minds.... because for them these moments are significant.  The monotonous routine is broken and they are given a break.  The scenery stays the same perhaps, but the people who fill it are now different.

I started thinking more about this because I realized that to us the camp might just seem like a lot of work at times-- Details to coordinate, games to organize, lessons to create.  And then we wonder whether it makes a difference, if there is any lasting impact??  Well this year as I was hearing child after child rattle off details about previous camps I felt as if God was whispering to my heart....Yes, Karen, it does matter.  Don't let yourself think otherwise.

So this year as we played silly games, taught the lessons, sang the songs and pointed them to the truth of Jesus I found comfort in knowing that even though they don't always seem to pay attention...something here is sticking...something is getting through.    When we leave and they go back to their normal, they will draw upon these precious memories and they will find comfort. 

Maybe it will start as just a simple memory about one of the games, but prayerfully they will draw up words of scripture, words of hope and truth that have the power to change them forever.  

"As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,

and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish, 
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty, 
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

Isaiah 55:10-11

Leaving for another camp tomorrow...this time for 2 weeks. Please keep our team in your prayers.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Finding a place to call home

Last summer we brought 13 kids on a hosting trip to Seattle through a project called Window to Hope that we began through my home church (Northshore) last year.  Two of those girls were adopted in March  by a Northshore family and another 3 are nearing the day when they too will finally leave the orphanage for good and have a place to call HOME.

Some of you who have been following along for several years may remember the story of Oksana Faith who was adopted by a family in my church 3 years ago.  Well, when the Jones family hosted through our program last summer, they did not expect that they would soon be walking down the adoption path again...except not to bring home just one child....but THREE! When the kids first left the Jones did think they were in a place to adopt again, but after a couples months of waiting an praying they got the green light to move ahead.  When I got the news it was shock mixed with joy! So the Jones family will go from having 3 to 6 children in just a few short weeks!  Amazing what God can do.

My heart is over-flowing knowing that these three children will now have a family to love them forever.  To walk with each of them on their individuals roads to healing. I'm even more excited that these smiling faces are being added to my home a total of 6 adopted children from Ukraine will be in their midst! I am continually humbled at the goodness of our God.

Do keep the Jones in your prayers, as they are currently awaiting a court date and this region is known for taking awhile!

This summer we are brining 10 more children to the Seattle area through Window to Hope. You can visit the link to learn more.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spring....into Summer!

Well my lack of posting is a testament to the kind of spring I have had-- very full!!

I spent the bulk of May putting together the final touches of our spring play at Kiev Christian Academy- "Pride & Prejudice"- it was a lot of work and a lot of fun and in the end turned out to be an amazing production.  This is my little creative outlet here in Kiev, teaching drama in my 'spare' time. This was my 8th production with KCA and by far one of the most complicated.  We had an awesome Ukrainian seamstress make all the costumes, and as you can see- she was fabulous.

with my darling cast!
The Bennett Family!
Elizabeth finally gives in...

Now it is 1:30 am on the eve before heading to camp and I find myself posting this blog instead of in bed where I should be! Last the story seems to go. But just wanted to send out a quick update to say you can be praying for our team as we head to the Kalinenska orphanage in Kherson region. This will be our 4th year doing a day camp with the kids in the orphanage there and we are excited to get back and build on the years of relationships developed.

last year at camp

Please pray for:

*open hearts and ears
*leading by the Holy Spirit
*healing of hearts
*safety of team and kids

Will look forward to sharing more when I return!