Wednesday, October 21, 2009

160 Orphans

There's 160 of them.
They need love, they need Jesus.
They need shoes and underwear.
They need some kind of joy.
They need pens and paper.
They need to have some fun.
They need a purpose to their lives.
They need a warm coat.
They something to change.
They need a hug.
They need a soccer ball.
They need a friend.
There's 160 of them.
They need you to pray....
You need them on your heart..
All 160 of them.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

,,,,,would you please pary also and spread the word about the village orphanage in Ananyevo (Odessa region). We are going there this Sat. There are 160 orphans. They need almost EVERYTHING: shoes, jackets, stationary, drawing pads, sport equipment and etc. We are going to run the Kids Games project there for 4 weeks (Saturdays) and this Sat is the first one. We trully hope to raise some support so to bless them supplying at least some needs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Outsiders

They live away from the city. They live in places where Americans don't go too often. They live outside the mainstream. They live in orphanages where the kids don't get adopted and the kids don't get the opportunities the Odessa kids have. They don't have.....period. And there's about 160 of them there that just "don't have."

Americans like Odessa. I know because I was there, and I know many other Americans that like Odessa, also. We, as Americans, like to take mission trips to Odessa. We LOVE the orphanages there, the architecture, the parks, the Black Sea, and the choices of great restaurants, the chicken wrap stands, and the hot dog stand. It's a hot mission spot. There's always something to see or do there.

But, what about the outsiders? What about the kids who live in the villages where no one goes? What about them?

Alyona and Slavik go to The Outsiders. But, they really need help helping. They need us. Here's what Alyona says:

">Marsha, would you please pary also and spread the word about the village orphanage in Ananyevo (Odessa region). We are going there this Sat. There are 160 orphans. They need almost EVERYTHING: shoes, jackets, stationary, drawing pads, sport equipment and etc. We are going to run the Kids Games project there for 4 weeks (Saturdays) and this Sat is the first one. We trully hope to raise some support so to bless them supplying at least some needs.

I'm not very good with asking for money. I'm not very good at getting donation buttons to work, I'm not very good at finding the right people to help. There's so much I"m not very good at doing.

But, I do know what it feels like to be an outsider. I wish I could go this Saturday with Alyona and Slavik...I wish I could

Tonight, I'm just praying and pleading for The Outsiders. Won't you, too?

The Clown

The afternoon sun was beating down on us as we walked the old brick pathways of Odessa that Sunday afternoon. We were on our way home from church when we happened to spot Slavik and Alyona on the other side of the street. My heart jumped! I felt a sense of joy and relief at seeing friends who could so connect with my heart. I couldn't help but smile at the sight of their faces!

They weren't alone. One more time they astonished me! They were giving missionaries, who had been staying with them, a tour of Odessa. Now, had it been me, I would be wanting to be home taking a nap on that hot afternoon. But, not Alyona and Slavik!

In their love for sharing Christ, they wanted to find more ways to share His Good News. So, they had invited American missionaries from Romania come for a workshop---a clowning workshop. We enjoyed talking to the missionaries and teasing them about 'silly' things clowns do. They mentioned that Slavik had learned how to be a clown. We had smart remarks to make about Slavik already being a clown, of course; but, then we gave some hugs and went on our way. That was on Sunday. The Romanian missionaries were to go home that night or the next morning.

On Tuesday, I was with Alyona again. In the course of our conversation, she mentioned what Slavik had done the night before----Monday night---the night after the clown workshop finished---the night after the missionaries left. Here's what Slavik did. He put on his new clown suit and painted on his new clown paint and he took his brand new clowning skills and went to the children's hospital. He spent the evening with the children on the oncology wing----cheering them with his 'clowning.'

I almost gasped when she told me.

That's not what I would've done after having company for several days and after attending a several day workshop. I would've done something like, oh, you know, watch TV! Not only that....but, I would've been proud of myself for doing it! What about you? Wouldn't you treasure your first night off? Wouldn't you have a sigh of relief that one more event was past and now you could rest a little?

Instead, Slbeavik spent his very first night, after learning to be a clown, being a clown! I can picture myself as a little girl, crumpled in a squeaky hospital bed, being unable to keep the corners of my mouth from lifting when presented with a big, burly, dark-headed clown like Slavik. I know Slavik's smile---there's no way any child would've resisted his charm.

It makes me think, too, of Jesus. I think about Jesus walking with John, and Andrew, and even tax-collectors. I see him reaching out His hand to Peter on the water, and looking Thomas in the eye. I picture Jesus with the children on his lap and healing men on pallets.

And there's one more picture of Jesus in my mind. I can see Jesus walking onto the children's oncology ward in Odessa, Ukraine. He's holding someone's hand as he walks into the hospital. He's holding the hand of a clown----a clown named Slavik.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kids Games at the Orphanage

I'm going to share with you the letters I receive from Alyona about what they are doing in Odessa. Obviously, I'm not, when she sends me updates, I'll post them. I'm determined for the whole world of Christians to feel the same passion for children, orphans, and the lost that Alyona and Slavik do!

Dear friends and supporters,
please join us in prayer for the new project in this school year "Kids Games". As you probably remember last time we did the Kids Games project for the children from public schools in Yuzhny. It had a great impact on the childre together with Christian lessons and sport competitions. This year we are doing this project in 5 orphanages that are outside of Odessa, in the region. They are in Nikolayevka, Zhovten, Karolino Bugaz, Troitskoye and Limanskoye villages. Those children have never had anything similar to it and we look forward to make their day! It will take us four weeks to run the project since we will be coming there on Saturdays when the children don't have classes. Praise the Lord all Directors of the orphanages agreed to this project and we begin it on October 10. There will be about 100 - 120 children in each orphanage to participate in Kids Games.
We look forward to see what changes for better will be made in the lives of those children. Kids Games allows us to spend more time with the children interacting in sports, conversation and Christian lessons.

We will welcome any financial and prayer support as it will help to make Kids Games possible in the orphanages!

God bless you all,

Slavik and Alyona

You may send your donation to the address bellow.
Intermediary bank: THE BANK OF NEW YORK48, Wall Str., New York, NY 10286, USASWIFT: IRVTUS3N: CHIPS:335504

Beneficiry bank account number:USD 890-0085-762

Beneficiry bank: PORTO-FRANCO COMMERCIAL BANK10, Pushkinskaya Str., Odessa, UkraineSWIFT: POFCUA2D

Account number: 490327570262001Name: Puzanov Vyacheslav

The Camps are Over!

Alyona is now writing on my blog about the camps----funny thing is, she doesn't even know she's doing it! I'm on the other side of the world from her,sitting in the dark of my living room, writing about her, but now I want her words. So...I'm stealing them! I want to share with you what she said on August 22nd about the camps they ran. By the way, the adult camps have a very, very interesting bent to them. If you are a Christian---you can come to camp---BUT you must bring a non-Christian friend with you! Cool, huh?

Dear friends and supporters!

The time is flying! And we greatly appreciate your support and prayers for our camps. On behalf of all children and staff we would like to express our gratitude for being with us these three weeks. It hasn't been easy but the Lord was with us and was blessing us every day.
Please notice the photos of two camps.
The first term was for the children of age 9 -13. There were 60 children. 8 children were payed by sponsors. There were 80% of children from non-Christian homes, poor village families and orphans. We were amazed how well the children were responding to the good news. They had so much fun and would like to come again next year.
The second term was for the teenagers of age 14 - 16. There 55 children and 28 was payed by the sponsors. It was kind of a military camp which was very new and exciting event for the children. There were many good sport games and exercises along with the Bible strudies. Same as in the first camp the % of not Christian teenagers was much bigger. Praise the Lord that we had the opportunity to share with those young people the good ews and love of God. There were some really good descussions by the bonfire every evening.
Tomorrow is the day when they are leaving back home.
These three weeks of two camps were a big challenge for all of us. Also, as you probably know our baby Mark was on the way any day during this blessed time. But the Lord was with us and everyhting was in his perfect time and perfect way as always!
The camp was basicly built in two days. There had to be built the bathrooms, shower rooms, kitchen, dining room and even a refregirator....(underground). Once again we realize that with God all things are possible and especially when God's children have the same goal and work together.
We greatly appreciate your prayers and support!
Please, notice the attached photos. These camps wouldn't have been as susuccessful as they were if not for YOUR paryers and support!!!!!
Have a wonderful and blessed day,
Alyona and Slavik

Slavik and the Tents

The streets in Odessa are tree-lined. Every nook and cranny is used by merchants and cafes. Buses rumble by and wild dogs sneak past. Slavik and I are standing on one of these common Odessa streets under one of those towering trees. We talk...I, in very broken Russian, and Slavik in very broken English. We wait for Alyona, who is currently behind one of those mysterious doors working on mysterious papers.

Slavik is about to make a trip the very next day, he tells me, to Kiev. The reason? To buy tents! The reason he needs to pick up tents is because summer camp is about to begin---like within a few days! He's still trying to get enough tents! (sorry--no bunkhouses here!) He takes the time to draw out a diagram of what the tents will be like on the inside.

To find tents has been quite a task, I later learned. Big tents aren't so easy to find, they're not cheap....oh, and by the way, there's no money to buy them anyway!

So, Alyona and Slavik prayed, and sent out the word to Chrisitans everywhere, that they were called to meet a very big need----that of very poor children to hear the gospel, that of unsaved adults to hear the gospel. This would happen by way of the camps. But, they needed tents, so they prayed God would send some Christians to send the money for them.

No Christians responded. Not one.

They did find, just in the nick of time, an un-saved business man who gave them the money---apparently with a sigh and a promise of "not again would he do this."

Let me insert here that summer camp is quite different than what we Americans would accept. They sleep in tents, there are no outhouses or buildings at all, and there's no kitchen. Camp Wannatonki they are not; to tell you the truth, the camps are actally, well, you know....camping!

So, Slavik took a trip to buy tents. Slavik took a trip to camp.

Slavik served his Jesus!

Monday, October 12, 2009

1000 People and an Outhouse

We got there by driving quickly through the Ukrainian countryside. The city of Odessa dissolved into pastures of wildflowers on one side of our journey while the sassy lapping of the Black Sea kept us company on the other side. I, my teenager, my 11 year old and my toddler sat in the back seat. Slavik drove with the typical Ukrainian pizzazz of a deft and daring race car driver; Alyona threw her sweet smiles and words to us from over the top of the front seat.

We were going to church.

The town was more provincial than Odessa. It was still. The bustle of thousands scurrying down sidewalks and brushing shoulders wasn’t here---we had left that behind in Odessa.

The church sat a bit distanced, buffered by a bit of green and accessorized with some beautiful shrubs that grew along the pathway to the bathroom. Yes, that’s right---to the bathroom.

Though the church building was new, and very, very clean---there were a couple of modern conveniences missing—one being air conditioning and the other being a bathroom! Well, as I made my way around the corner and into the outhouse, one building, two doors---one for men and one for women, my brain started skipping around…..

“Hmmm, this looks like a mission trip to me! No bathroom! Can you beat that? Yes, wouldn’t this be a great thing for Americans to do? I can just see a group of Baptist men coming here for a week or two and putting in a bathroom! Boy, if my friends could see me now! Hm, wonder if they would put a bathroom inside the building or would they have to build a whole new building outside….well, this is just such a great life experience…an outhouse at church…..who would’ve ever guessed?”

On and on my mind went about the bathroom until it switched gears again once I stepped inside. It was great! A big ole’, charming, simple, yet practical Place of Worship. Tall and lanky windows stood in ranks on either wall, titled open to give us the hope of a breeze, and keeping watch over rows of benevolent chairs.

As we sat down towards the back, I wondered how many would come...there didn’t seem to be many people there yet. The place looked big---I figured it had to hold several hundred people, but little did I know…...

However, rather quickly, in fact-- before I knew it, the rows were full!! They were full of people all waiting to pray, sing, listen and worship! The choir loft was full, too, and the preachers were ready! I could feel my heart’s tempo pick up just a bit. Weren’t these people just so interesting? I just had to find out how many people were there! I started counting how many seats per row and how many rows and how many times how many……….oh my goodness! This place held around 1,000 people! And nearly every seat was full!!

I’d been to church in Russia and wondered if it would be the same---two messages and a rag-tag choir that could blow Americans away? Yup—the same! How amazing was this??? There were two sermons and a rag-tag choir that opened their mouth and sang harmonies with silk as smooth as melted chocolate. There were Bible readings and prayers and choir specials and congregational singing---but there was decidedly no air conditioning and no bathroom!

As the heat wrapped me in sauna blankets, I gave in to various musings, again. My mind was a bit fuzzy and my neck was wet with perspiration and, without question, I was sleepy. I could feel myself begin to drift away…and away…...but then, I was jarred awake!

“Wait a minute! What am I thinking? They don’t need a bathroom after all! They’ve got it just right! In fact, it’s oh so perfect!”

It all became clear to me! Here was a church that actually had its priorities right! They built exactly what they needed---and nothing more! They didn’t waste money on what they couldn’t afford. They didn’t worry about having upholstered couches, coffee shops, indoor playgrounds, youth lounges, choir robes, state of the art sound systems, and…well, you get the idea. But, what they did and do spend money for is a very active ministry to children and the lost. These people don't have much money. But, they found a way to do missions anyway.

Not only that, but they have spent money on missions before they spent money on bathrooms!

And this is what I love about Alyona and Slavik. This church is just like them.

1000 people and an outhouse… we have that much faith?