AFTER SEVERAL DAYS OF NO INTERNET ACCESS, I AM FINALLY ABLE TO GIVE SOME UPDATES:
Day 9: Thursday, May 20 – On to Another Chapter in
VISION’s ministry to Ukraine
The VISION team
departed from Dniprodzerzhinsk Thursday by train. (If you think that city name
is scary in the Roman alphabet, here’s how it looks in Cyrillic characters: Дніпродзержинськ!)
the five-hour train ride, we had an interesting encounter with a man who heard
us speaking English and introduced himself. His name is Sergiy, and he is an
evangelical believer involved in orphan and camp ministries, including puppetry
and magic illusions for kids. He was amazed to find a group of Americans on a
train in the middle of Ukraine, let alone the fact that we’re believers and
involved in similar ministry, and he felt it was of God. He asked if he could
teach one of our team a few “magic tricks” with a length of red rope, so Lizzy
took that on. These are used to attract kids’ attention, and also to illustrate
simple Bible truths.
in Kharkov with no problems and were met by Vladymir (“Vova”), the Ukrainian
director of Slavic Christian Ministries. Vova was my host a year ago when I had
the opportunity to visit Ukraine for four days following last year’s VISION
trip to Poland.
along with two translators, Natasha and Lena, delivered us to our next
lodgings, two apartments about 2 miles apart, where we settled in and got a
good night’s sleep.
Day 10: Friday, May 21 – Love in
Any (or No) Language
ministry of Slavic Christian Ministries (SCM) focuses largely on orphans, and
our schedule with them includes several all-day visits to various orphanages.
On Friday, we had a great day visiting Krasnakutsk, one of the best government-supported
facilities in Ukraine, as Vova describes it. It was about 90 minutes northwest
of Kharkov in a beautiful green and gently rolling landscape with many trees
children there are very young, from age 2 to about age 9, around 60 in number.
We tailored our performance to them, adding a flannelgraph lesson on Jonah,
taught unrehearsed but very effectively by Liz Converse through an interpreter
with materials provided by SCM. (I must report that Mike’s performance as the
“strong man” in our drama “King of Hearts” was a little too intense for one of
the young children, who ran cowering to one of the orphanage workers for
weren’t performing, we played a variety of group games with the kids, and
generally spent time carrying them around, roughhousing with them, and just
holding them. Their craving for a human touch was evident, and it was moving to
see our student’s willingness to show some of God’s love to these kids. We so
admire the women who serve in these facilities, giving the children the
mothering that they so desperately need.
the VISION members had tears in their eyes as they pulled themselves away from
these precious orphans. They would have taken some home, if that were possible.
(Vova says that very few of these children ever get adopted. For information on
how you can get involved…just let me know!)
the day, it became apparent that Lizzy Byrd was not feeling well. She did her
best to stay involved with the performing and game-playing, but by our late
dinner in a cafeteria, she was experiencing tremendous abdominal pain. She has
had bouts of a digestive disorder in times past. It apparently has to run its
course and the only thing that can be done is to stop eating and try to relieve
the pain. In the States, the treatment has involved hospitalization and IVs. We
were able to contact her parents and get more information. At this point, the
decision was to allow her to rest and sleep as much as possible, and try to
ride out the pain. We had several prayer sessions over her and are praying
without ceasing as we continue into Saturday.
VISION Faculty Adviser