Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An AMAZING DAY!

I spent the day at Vorzel today, in Groupa House 1 where I first felt God calling me to minister to these orphans. I remembered how I 'wandered' over there and met 2 young men who were working on the building with their Pastor. They told me about the children with 'big heads' and 'six fingers' and I was curious and wanted to find these children so we could find them families. It's there where I met Pastor Sasha and my ministry began. At the time, the children were never outdoors, and from what I understood, no visitors allowed. It's there where I found the children, lying in silence, no toys, no stimulation at all. There were the lowest of them all, and the children who would soon be transferred. It was a scarey and sad destiny for God's littlest ones. I knew I had to help. Today, the children have toys in their cribs and carriages, the staff laugh and sing to them. It's a very different place. Almaz is working on redoing the bathrooms which is a uplifting for the careworkers. They were delighted to see me and immediately asked about the children who were adopted. They asked if I knew about families for the children who remained. I was so glad that I could tell them that Vlad and Andrey had parents. These conversations would not have occurred in the past. The barriers have fallen and the careworkers are not sceptical about our presence. They see the fruits of our labor. Soon they will have a wonderful area to bring the children outdoors, with real benches to sit on, and overhangs to protect them from the sun. They asked for a fence so they could bring the childrn out in the walkers! What a change! And they allowed me to spend all day with one special little boy, whom I know as Do Vee Sat. This is the little Vietamiese boy with failure to thrive that I was gave them money to buy a blender so they could feed him last year. Not only did he thrive, but he has the most beautiful little full round face! This little boy has a severe case of cerebral palsy; he can not bend at the waist from the contractures in his hips. He is the size of an 8 month old, yet is 3 or even 4!  I sat and held this tiny child for over 4 hours. long after the others went inside. I held him while I played ball with SASHA; while I pushed Andrey in his stroller; and while I gave rattles and toys to the others. ANd I slowly stretched his tight little arms , and massaged his hands, and kissed his neck. And slowly he started to relax; he trasked toys and then he SMILED. The biggest and best smile I ever saw. His face lit up and so did mine! We were in love! I cooed and he cooed! The doctor brought me a therapy ball, and I gently stretched worked his stiff little muscles and he relaxed. I was hoping the careworkers saw his reaction and I brought him closer and they were amazed to see him smile and BELLY laugh! I know that I touched this child today and made him feel special. I know so when I laid him down and he started to cry. When I leaned over him and talked to him he stopped and then slowly, very slowly he reached for the toys which was hanging over his head. And he TOUCHED it! This little boys arms were stuck at his side and after a few hours of stretching he could reach!!!! And he smiled!! I thank God for this ministry he has given me! Please pray that others will continue when I leave to stretched this child so that he can sit! Please pray we can get him a family.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mission Trip Summer 2011

Well, I never packed so much into three days since leaving for the Ukraine a few days ago! I have already flown into Moscow, then Kiev, taken a 9 hour car ride on VERY BUMPY ROADS to Ternipol, visited a Babycol, a preschool program for children with Down Syndrome and other delays, consulted for some individual children and demonstrated intervention techniques, visited and toured a rehab center, a hospital center, had lunch with Pastor Vladimir and his lovey  wife Oksana and son Zacharia, visited a building being constructed for their  ministry  to children with special needs, and presented at a seminar to a group of parents and professionals in Ternipol on Early Intervention Strategies to enhance the development of young children with special needs. After taking a tour of the beautiful town of Ternipol, I boarded a train for the  8 hour trip  back to Kyiv. After being picked up at the train station and a quick meal at McDonald's,  I arrived at the Hotel Spa in Vorzel where our team decided to stay this time to offset our hectic schedule! Then it was off to the orphanage to visit with the children and start work on the playground. During a relaxing dinner, on the water edge (!) we got to meet the other members of our humanitarian team, and rest up for the upcoming week!
Our team consists of Pastor Sasha and his wife Olya, myself, an Early Intervention Specialist and Parent Advocate, Rachel Haas, a Graduate student, Dan Peters, a missionary and self proclaimed 'baby freak', who is the father of 16, whose 2 youngest were adopted from the Ukraine, a couple from Norway, and Stephen, a lawyer and President of a local Down Syndrome Group. Our goal is to provide support through the continued construction of the playgrounds in Vorzel, and services to the children and staff. We will also be meeting the Head of the local Parents group in Kyiv to begin a collaboration of support for the local families. We will be visiting a level 4 orphanage in Znamenka and distributing donated toys and materials. Our group is gathering information on specific needs of orphanages, parent groups , centers, schools and hospitals, and intention on gathering therapeutic equipment in the states and sending a shipping a cargo crate for distribution this fall! We have already had specific requests for standers, Rifton Gait trainers, hippotherapy equipment (more on this later), motorized chairs for young adults, tubchairs, and classroom materials!
More posts with pictures tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Off to Vorzel tomorrow!

Well, you think I'd be resting as I am heading off tomorrow morning but I'll tell you no matter how many times I go to the Ukraine, I'm always running around last minute packing! Donations for the children continued to arrive today and Jillian and I drove around the Poconos picking up precious donations for the children! Odd Lot generously donated over 50 coloring books and crayons (wieght 13 pounds) and i have over 130 Happy Meal Toys as well! I decided this time to put my clothes in my carry on luggage,  and toss the heavy matching suitcases, so I'm packed in 2 large duffle bags each weighing around 40 pounds!That's over 80 pounds of crib toys, rattles, sippy cups, spoons, chalkboards (That's right!), bathing suits, Happy Meal toys, Mardi Gras beads, rings, puzzles, nesting cups, crib mirrors, mobiles, baby toys (one's that make music or vibrate and DON'T require Batteries)and therapy materials. It's quite a hall and I'm  not sure where it will all land, but I know that every toys will be put in the hands of a child who needs it! Other materials will be donated to Parent groups. I'm excited to be traveling by overnight train to Tornopil, to present a early intervention seminar to the families and workers there. It's always exciting to have a new adventure and an overnight train sounds exciting! But more important it is to share what is close to my heart, Early Intervention, and sharing what I know with parents, educators, and the careworkers, so that a child's potential is enhanced and the quality of their life improved. I can't thank God enough for placing me in this field and calling me to do His work in such an exciting way. I'm really looking forward to spending the time at Vorzel with the children and the workers. It will seem odd but OH SO RIGHT to not see Igor, Ivanna, Leeza, Misha, Timur, and Vlad in Groupa House 1, and Masha, Agelica and ANya in Groupa 5 A and of course Ruslan and Timur! But it is a comfort to know that all are in the loving arms of their forever family! There are the other's left behind, to love and comfort; to stimulate and encourage; whose lives I will touch! Praying we can do so much more!
Well, I better close the bags, do a last minute check on the house, make sure the bills are paid, Jillian's bags are packed, print out my eticket and go to bed! Next time you hear from me, it will be from the Ukraine!