Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Parents Visit!

Some of you might know already but our parents were over for a 2 week visit a little while ago.  It was great to see them since it had been around a year and a half since being back in Canada.  Its crazy how time flies but having internet and skype makes it seem like we are not that far away because we get to talk and video chat whenever we want.  I still remember when I was younger sitting in church and being excited that we were going to have a phone conversation over the pa system.  It was just so amazing to me that we could talk to our missionaries around the world!! But now with everything we have it is so easy to keep in contact with people back home and I know it has made my living in Ukraine that much easier.

Well for the first week our parents stayed in Krivoy going around with us to the different orphanages and helping in our program.  It was great to see kids that remembered mom and dad, and I know that they had a fun time visiting with all the kids. 

We then decided to do a few road trips in Curtis car (think 4 door Caviler) so not too big, but with Curtis at the wheel and dad up front that left Luba, mom and I in the back a little bit squishy on our 6 hours + trip down to the sea.  When we got there we went to a town called Alupka not too far away from Yalta in the Crimea, and found a hotel that had rooms that viewed the sea and also the mountains behind us.  It was beautiful weather the whole time we were there and we even did a little bit of swimming even though the water was cold.

It was amazing to see all the sights in Crimea and we had a great time just relaxing and spending time with the whole family.  As our time came to an end we took the overnight train up to Kiev and saw our parents off the next morning.  It was sad to see mom and dad go but hopefully within the next year we will be able to go back home for a visit!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Perfect Timing!

On the last day of our 2nd summer team, we were cleaning up our personal apartment and getting ready for a camping trip that we had been invited on.  With this being said about an hour before I was ready to leave my apartment, Shad Kayser came to me and said "there is water all over the floor in your bathroom" I thought that is not really funny since a month before that I had taken the drain hose for the washer out of the tub (where it drains into since we don't have a separate drain for the washing machine) and then decided to do a load of laundry!!  Then about 15-20 mins into the wash cycle I heard the washer draining and sat there watching a show on my comp and all of a sudden I remembered that the hose was not in the tub! I then ran out of the room into the bathroom to find water flowing out of the bathroom, down the hall and into our living room.  I have to admit I was a little frantic not knowing what to do and called Luba to tell her the bad news.  When she picked up the phone all she heard was me a little hysterical and she thought I had cut a finger off or worse, but then I calmed down and told her what happened and called Curtis to come and help me clean up the mess. 
There was so so so much water that it took a long time to get it all dried up but thankfully we did not have our neighbors coming up complaining that water was leaking down the walls!

Well back to the main story, it ended up that our hot water tank decided to expel all its water on the floor, so I then again started scooping water and Shad helped me figure out how to drain the tank.  Luba then called her brother who is a plummer and he came the next day to figure out if it could be fixed and found that there was a lot of rust in the tank and that the main heating coil exploded! and the electrical component inside was showing and was "shocked" that we had not got electrocuted.  He then installed 2 new heating elements that we were good to go!

We ended up not going on the camping trip due to the boiler leak and that Luba and Jana (a girl that works with us) ended up having to get documents so it all ended up working out and a week later we joined the rest of our team down on the sea for 10 days on the beach! (blog coming soon)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer in Full Swing!

Here in Krivoy it is getting nice and warm finally and now I am sitting here reflecting back on our 2 teams that have come and gone.  It has been an amazing summer so far and is not over yet.

We started off with a group led by Dennis and Sandy Ford.  They brought their team for 2 weeks and the first week we did a bible program at the Rehab Center.  This is a place where they use to only send boys but now they have a group of girls also.  The kids are in this place for 9 months if my memory is correct and then they get placed back in their homes or the orphanages they came from. The sad thing is that these kids get worked with and then put back into the same dysfunctional families so there are a bunch of kids that get sent back to the rehab.  But one cool thing that the director told us was that they are also trying to do some stuff with the families to be able to figure out where the root of the problem is because it is not always with the child.

After that week we moved across town to a Baptist Church where we lived in a dormitory.  This allowed us to live closer to the boarding school camp where we would be doing our program. This place was closer but we still had to take a bus for 45mins each way to get to the camp, but it was well worth the trouble.  #9 Boarding School is a place that our teams have been working with for at least 4-5 years and our relations with the staff and the director is the best it has ever been.  But the one issue was that we were not allowed to talk about God at that camp, which posed a real problem for us.  Our teams have never been shy to let the directors know that we are teaching about God and so when we were told this it was a bit of a blow. We then discussed with the team how we could still work with the kids and came up with to teach them life truths that focused on Christian living without referring to the Bible.  one good thing is that all the kids there know why we come (to share Gods word).  The week we spent there was lots of fun and we had a lot of fun times with the team from Canada!!


After our 1st team left some of us had a bit of down time but Vika and Tanya (2 girls that work with us) worked at a local Bible camp that the ministry supports.  So they worked for the next 10 days in the kitchen at the camp and we were also able to sponsor 8 kids from the orphanages to go to that camp and another 41 to another camp with your donations!!!

Then on the 1st of July our 2nd team arrived.  This was a brand new team from North Carolina and they would be only staying for a weeks working at Solnechney orphanage.  It is always exciting to have a new team come but this year different because we had 4 kids under the age of 12 come with their parents! We were a little apprehensive about having younger kids but after the first day all our concerns were wiped away.  These 4 kids barley if ever complained about being tired or anything and were real troopers. 

One really cool thing was how this team came to be.  The team leader Shad Kayser we met a few years back when his family came to adopt 2 kids from Krivoy.  We met the Kaysers and ever since then have kept in contact and last year Shad mailed me about bringing a team this summer and we began planning and he also brought back the daughter that they adopted for the Boarding School.  The week that we spent with the American team was great and we bonded really fast and by the second day it seemed like we had known the team for weeks! We were only able to work at Solnechney for 4 days and then we also went to the baby orphanage and the handicapped orphanage.  But God really had his hand on everything that happened during this trip and I know our Ukrainian team was really uplifted by the encouragement from both teams. 

We had lots of fun  with our 2nd team but also got into a bit of trouble! LoL, it was on the 4th of July and we had bought some fireworks to celebrate and that evening set them off in the playground where we would set them off every new years.  But after we set off the first set of fireworks a man approached us and showed us his ID saying that he was the police!!! And then told us that we were not allowed to set the fireworks off that close to the buildings.  Then right at that moment the whole American team was on the balcony singing the American Anthem and the cop said "also tell all those people to stop making so much noise"!  The cop was very nice and we tried to be quiet the rest of the night.

So that is what has been happening so far in our lives and we will be going don to the Black Sea for 10 days of rest and then have our final team from Salmon Arm arriving on the 8th of Aug which we are really looking forward to!  So ill try to post when I can about the rest of our summer!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

God is Working!

This last while has been a busy time with Luba working full time and me at the orphanages in the evenings when Luba is done work! She is working so hard and I am so proud of her for the time and effort she puts into her teaching. Considering that she was not even planning on being a teacher (since her degree is in Financing).  But she was offered the job and jumped in with both feet.  There are days when we goes to work for a 7:30 class and isn't home until 4:30pm and then eats and is back preparing for the next day until at least midnight! I know that there are many people out there that work a lot but for Luba to Teach at the College and teach English in her spare time!! I mean WOW!! What an amazing wife I have.  But with that in mind it is sometimes hard because we are so busy but we still make time for each other and go on dates, hang out with friends and family!

For those of you who do not know our family over here let me introduce them to you!  Luba has her mom and one brother and he is married and has 4 kids (2 girls and 2 twin boys and another on the way). So to say the least their house is a little bit hectic but we love to go and visit and hang out with all the kids!
Nastya, Anya and Luba
Andre, Marina, Vitya, and Alosha

These last few months have also been very emotional as we have seen 7 kids that have been adopted to amazing christian families in American and 1 more that the family is coming to get him and take him back to America in the next few day!!!! We have grown up with these kids and even though it is sad to see them leave we know that God has a plan for them in their new family.  We have also been able to get to know the families and we can see that God has hand picked each family for these kids.  One cool thing about these adoption is that the kids who are being adopted are not very young, they are almost teens which is a rare thing for kids this old to be adopted.  After the age of 6 the chances that a family will adopt an older child plummets so a lot of kids start to lose hope that they will ever get to have a real family.  But over the last few months we have seen a lot more hope in the eyes of these kids and others that there might be a chance they will get a mama and papa!

Artur (soon to be an American), Rusya, Vika and Vika (who is in America)

Our team and 2 girls that just left for America

Saying goodbye!

Last of all I wanted to mention that our grad bible studies (kids who are in out of the orphanage) have been going really well.  Last week we had 20 kids show up plus our team.  We have these bible studies to be able to keep in touch of the kids who have left the orphanages and also for them to be able to hear the word of God.  For probably 1/2 of the kids that show up this is there only exposure to the gospel and the encouraging thing is that they keep coming back time an time again! In the last while there have been a few girls that have had babies so that is introducing a new aspect to your meeting.  We are then able to help where needed or just to be able to play with little cute babies and give the mothers a break! So please pray for these kids that come to our bible study that God will work in their lives and that they will hear the message each week they come.

Paulina and Marina

Eva, and I

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Fun Week!

As many of you by now know Curtis is back in Ukraine!! Our team met him at the train station at 6:15am to welcome him home. They really should make the train from Kiev come a bit later in the morning but we survived.  And as some of you might know it was a bit lonely during the days since we can't usually go to the orphanages until the afternoon without Curtis here to hang out with and eat all his Cheerios! So I was a good brother and bought him a brand new box and presented it to him at the train station, he didn't look too excited but when he got home and had no food at all I think that he appreciated it.


There has been a lot of things going on and one very special thing was a wedding of a girl named Larissa.  She graduated from Zarechney orphanage about 4 years ago and is now married to a good christian guy. The wedding was a lot of fun with wedding games, lots of food, and dancing.  I am just so proud to see what she has done with her life as she had some difficulties after her 1st year of school, but changed everything and now is totally living for God and always attends our grad meetings. I remember her from the first year that I went to Ukraine and it has been a pleasure to see her grow up into the women that she is now today.

We also celebrated Sveta's birthday, for those of you who do not know who Sveta she is a girl that graduated from Zarechney orphanage 3 years ago and now part time is helping in our ministry! She helps with crafts and also does bible stories for some of the little kids that we work with. It is great to have her as part of our team as she grew up in the orphanage and now is going back there teaching about God to the kids that she knows. We went out for dinner and then on the walk to McDonald's for ice cream we kinda had a snow fight and be the time it was done we were covered in snow and walked into McDonald's covered in snow!!

This last Saturday we were at Solnechney orphanage and approached one of the educators of an all boys group and asked if we could work with her boys every second week.  Her answer was "yes please that would be great because groups come to the orphanage but never come to our group".  So we were able to spend an hour playing games with the boys and when we asked them if they would want us to come to their group again they all said yes please! So please pray for us and this group, because working with the older boys has always been a struggle as they are not very interested in joining in with us when we come. Working with the boys groups has always been on my heart since the day God called me to move to Ukraine and I have sort of got side tracked because the younger kids and girls groups are always so inviting and open to our team coming that it is just easy not to go to the boys groups.  But seeing the fun the boys had this weekend really woke me up that we need to try extra hard to get in with the boys no matter what.

Today we had a great day spending time with the little kids at Zarechney orphanage and were able to give them Lego that was donated to us from Olga Maslo (Ukrainian missionary).  We also had been given some photo cards from the Bellamy's (Canadian missionaries in Dnepro) that are called "Smiles for Children". The kids really loved them and one art teacher wanted one because she really liked the drawing on the card and wanted it for the kids to practice painting!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Christmas Gifts!

Well it has been a while since I have posted so the next few days I will try to catch up on all that has been going on since Christmas!! We always have a great time during the Christmas season with being able to go to the orphanages earlier in the day since the kids are not in school and are given more freedom since the kids have to school work to do.  Also a fun thing is that Ukrainians love to celebrate, and we were invited to countless parties and concerts that the orphanages put on.

One fun thing that we were able to do with donated money was buy all the kids Christmas gifts! It was not much but the kids loved it.  We were able to buy 2 pairs of socks and some candy for each kid.  This does not sound like a lot but when you are buying for 400-450 kids people in the stores look at you strangely for having two buggies packed full of socks.  They would just stare and some brave people asked us why we had so many and we were able to share with them who they were for.

We are so thankful for all your donations and really could not do it with out your donations so the least we can do is show pictures of the kids receiving their gifts.