Over the past year I have worked for Ukraine Orphan Outreach, the biggest highlight and success has been our mission’s trip. If I could choose one verse that speaks clearly of this year, I would choose Proverbs 3:5-6 which says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. I have witnessed this over and over this year as I have to rely on his guidance. It has only been in looking back that I can see his hand of guidance as I have sought one direction and He gently directs and makes changes until it is what he desired in the first place.
If I could sum up this year and this missions trip I would simply say it was a result of being willing to commit to saying Yes. Every team member who went on this trip at some time had to be willing to say Yes to what God was placing on his or her heart. Maybe it was there first time saying Yes or maybe it was a series of Yes’ or maybe it was just an unconscious Yes but somewhere at some point each of them said Yes. The word Yes is one of the most powerful words when it is followed with an alignment of Gods purposes. When we choose to become a part of Gods agenda in this world we become a part of the "working" body of Christ and our lives become an adventure full of purpose and direction.
Last year in December, Grace Place and Ukraine Orphan Outreach began planning their first mission’s trip to Ukraine. At the time, UOO was in the beginning stages of pursuing a transition home and it seemed like the perfect project for a mission’s trip. As time went on it became more and more apparent that this would not be possible and that God had began to redirect. Through a tremendous amount of support through Christian Broadcasting Networks in Kiev we began to put together a camp for 50 children who were either orphans or children from very hard places. What we found out was that children from very hard places are children who are in living environments that are surrounded with Alcoholism, Abuse, Violence, Lack of Food and Poverty. For these children, becoming an orphan is just a matter of time and in many cases they are better off in an orphanage. An orphanage presents some stability, security, food and safety. But for a child stuck in the unknowns of life, it is a very scary place to be. It was in this place we were able to enter their lives and minister love and compassion.
It is impossible to put on paper all the many details and life changing events that happened but I will give you a sample of the week. The team arrived in Kiev 2 am on Saturday and got a couple hours of sleep, showered and prepared for overnight train ride to Kramatorsk. We left that afternoon on a train that is lovingly called the “shake and bake” by those who have ridden on it. Arrived Sunday morning in time to dress for church, shared a message with congregation and meet the leaders and team who would be running camp. We also visited two local orphanages and delivered donations. This time was the beginning of being overwhelmed with the generosity of those we served in Ukraine. We were honored by a dinner put on by the local church the size and lavishness of a typical local wedding feast. Later we hopped on buses and heading into the dark of the night to a camp deep in the woods of Ukraine. The camp was primitive with hole in the ground toilets, cold showers fed from rain barrels and plywood cabins with no heat. The next 4 days we set up camp and assisted in running the camp with the local ministry. We played and supervised the children as well as the camp activities. We left camp with many lifelong friends and many tears. We spent the next couple of days in Kiev touring local historical sites, museums and being tourists. The team left Ukraine with a well rounded view of what life is like in Ukraine and an understanding of their history both very important pieces to understand when serving in a foreign nation. This team endured many days with little to no sleep (first 4 days no one slept more than a total of 7 hours) hot weather, squatting toilets, very cold showers and a lack of knowing what the next day would bring. It was a total honor and blessing to lead this team! A team that came together because of the decisions to say Yes to their call to serve. What will you life look like if you answer the call and say Yes as well. Stay tuned, we should have final dates and agenda set for our 2013 camps late January.
Ps: Many thanks to Oksana Gorbunova of CBN, Grace Place Church of Berthoud and all those who served in Kramatorsk for their countless hours of support and love. May God richly bless you for all you did and accomplished.
Check out our website for ongoing updates: www.ukraineorphans.org
Vision for the Children International