Monday, December 29, 2008

The Wrights Are Coming for a Visit

We are so excited with the news that our Kygyzstan friends, John, Julie, Emma and Bekah are coming to help us share the word about the orphan care ministries in Central Asia. They will be here in Lebanon, Ohio the weekend of January 30-February 1.

Emma is on the far left, John in the center in red and Julie and Bekah just in front of David.

The details for this upcoming event are still in the planning stages, but to get a little taste of the excitement, visit their Email us if you want more information on attending this fun-filled evening.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

How We Feel About our Time There

Dear Friends,

I have posted a very short video with a song from the Kay Warren ministry. It really says it all about how we feel about what God has done in our hearts.

(permission pending for use of the song)

It is December Already

Dear Friends,

Time has gone so quickly since we arrived home, but our hearts and thoughts are never very far from our friends in Kyrygyzstan. We talk every day of our plan to return in mid-March.

Life has been incredibly busy here. I am in the final stages of finishing a new book and have been privileged to work with six other outstanding authors. It is entitled Wounded Children, Healing Homes: The Impact of Traumatized Children on Adoptive and Foster Parents. We are excited about this resource as it is intended to validate the journey of some families and offer resources and hope.

David has been extremely busy with many hours of personal counseling and teaching opportunities. As the time nears for our return overseas, we will update you more on the plans ahead. Please pray for our friends that you have met along this journey who lived and minister there.

More to come, the journey continues....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Now That We Are Home

David and I have been home three weeks tomorrow. It has been so wonderful to reconnect with our family and friends. We have been able to see our grandson score two touchdowns and we lost count of how many times he sacked the quarterback. We have watched our five year old granddaughter cheer and hear some first words from our 18 month old granddaughter. We have seen many old friends and have been able to share stories. Reconnecting has been wonderful.

We are both back to work. I am training in Akron this week and David leaves to teach in Virginia on Sunday. We count it such a privilege to be able to do what we can. We don't have a clear direction yet on the extent of our ministry here, it has not yet been revealed.

We reflect daily, actually many times a day on our time in Kyrgyzstan. We truly miss the people and the work. That place has become part of us. The people that we met are new friends that we care deeply about. We are making plans to return in mid-March as God leads.

Please continue to watch the blog as we will update it on the events happening there and most importantly, the needs of the people there.

Thank you for all your support as the journey continues....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sights from our last week in Tokmok

One might say the theme of our last two weeks in Tokmok was "Good-bye - for now." We spent the week being with many of the people that we have come to cherish as friends.
A Week with Ruby and Lynn
Part of that last week was spent with Lynn and Ruby Johnston, the founders and directors of ILDC, International Leadership and Development Center, a ministry under the umbrella of LAMb International. It was so incredibly exciting to have them with us as we prepared to go home.
We visited the home for invalid men. It was our fourth time there, but their first. They launched the "Cabbage and Potato" Club, as you will see from the pictures. We were excited to see a brighter place. The ministry of John and Julie Wright, and Larissa, who ministers there every week is evident. The spirit of heaviness is gone and the light of God is there. You can see it and feel it!

David and the potatoes for the Cabbage and Potato Club for the home for invalid men.

John Tsai, President of Mercy Foundation helps unload cabbage for the men.

Ruby Johnston and Natalia, our translator meet a new friend.

This is Larissa, who has been ministering to the home for invalid men for a number of years. She has brought a bright light into a very dark place.

We join the medical staff and some of the men for this photo. The head doctor in the blue coat was so appreciative of the work that has been done at the home as well as the gifts.

Meeting with the Government
Also, during that last week, we all had the opportunity to visit with a number of national government leaders. Ruby and Lynn followed up that initial visit after we left and we are so excited for the doors that are opening to training in child welfare in Kyrgyzstan. More later on that as the details are formalized.

Teaching at the Professional Institute
During the last two weeks there, David has the opportunity to teach an extended seminar to the 2nd year students at the Professional Institute. It was an a very fulfilling experience for him as he met with these dedicated young students. I also had the privilege of teaching three days a week in the English classes. What an incredible joy it was!

David's class of 2nd year students at the Professional Institute.

These are some of my favorite students. I know you are not supposed to have them, but I did. I told them so, but not to tell anyone else! We are staying in touch by email.

The Club of Leaders

David had the privilege of speaking on a number of occasions to this group of fine young people. They formed a group which they call "The Club of Leaders." Our last week there we took them all out to dinner for "shasleeck."

This is an incredible group of young people who want to make a difference in their country.

Our Last Night at the Tokmok Orphanage
Our last night with the Tokmok kids was Friday night, September 26th. We arrived about 7:00 with a cake and brownie feast that Ruby Johnston had prepared! The kids sang and danced for us, we all enjoyed the cake...and David and I got a lot of hugs and some tears. John and Julie introduced us to these precious kids and they have become very important to us. Natalia will be working with them on a regular basis to learn English and Altayni, whom you have met earlier on the blog, will be tutoring a number of them to help them with their studies.

Ruby's cake and brownie feast was a BIG hit! She is filling up Maksat's plate!

We have come to love everyone of these precious kids and pray God's protection and blessing over them.


Melody Turned 6

We heard that Melody was saving a for new bike....and being the grandparents we are at heart, we couldn't resist helping that savings account meet its goal.

I share with most everyone that comes to Kyrgyzstan, that they can't leave until they meet Melody and Davina. Just before we left, we had the awesome privilege of being at her 6th birthday party and it was quite the celebration.

Our last week was so busy connecting with people, these pictures only capture a small bit of what it felt like to say good-bye -----FOR NOW! We told each one would we see them in the spring!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Preparing to Leave

This week has been one full of saying goodbyes-temporary goodbyes- to the many people we have come to know and love. Our LAMb partners, Lynn and Ruby Johnston have been here with us as we make the transition to go home and to make plans for our return early in 2009. It has been awesome to have them here.

Before coming over, I read a book by Kay Warren, called Dangerous Surrender. I have mentioned it several times over the past six months. In it she talks about being "divinely ruined" for the life you have known. I wondered if that would happen to us and yes, it has. We have been "ruined." The other night while we were out walking, David mentioned that "ruined" is a permanent state. Once something is ruined, it can never go back to the state that it was orginially. We have no idea of the journey we will take emotionally and spiritually as we return to our responsibilities back home, while truly leaving a part of our hearts here. We only know, as God directs, we will be coming back here.

We have so appreciated the many comments and emails you have shared with us over these months. Once I get home, I will update the blog with our last week of pictures - some pictures you don't want to miss! It just has been too busy here these last days to attempt to do that. We arrive home in the early morning hours of Tuesday, September 30, eager to hug grandkids and catch up with family and friends.

Thank you for all your support...

The journey continues....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Encouraging a Young, Gifted Writer - Don't Miss this Story

One of the first young people we met when we arrived in Kyrgyzstan last April was Maria. She is young, gifted fifteen year old writer and artist. Recently, she brought a story she had written about her grandmother to us to see. It was in the local newspaper. We encouraged her to translate it for us so we could read it. We were awestruck with the beauty of her writing. We asked her if we could post it on our blog. Maybe someone reading it will ask the same question we did after reading it - how can we help this young, aspiring writer?

This is a story that will touch your heart!

As any patriot would say,
And versed man knows what I do mean:
Not only front would take the pain
But also rear would forge the win.

“I devote this story to my beloved grandmother
Galina Ivanovna Gavrilishina”
By Maria Sidorenko, age 15
Translated from Russian by Maria, with assistance from her older brother

Hard to tell now how many years have passed since those times… It seems that just recently I was hurrying to my village, to our special dating place, to see my beloved. It seemed that even wide open windows of little village houses were looking at me with favor. Hens were cackling near old wickets. Men were returning back from tillage, and the neighbor grannies gathered for evening talks were talking over all the details of a recent marriage that happened last week.

Everything was so familiar to me here – every house, every tree, every little lane. And especially dear to me were the endless fields. Ah! I loved these sweet-scented herbs and wild flowers! They would bestrew the whole field – like a big motley table-cloth. I remember me and my sister twining wreaths from these flowers, she laughed and said that when she grows up she will make wreaths for the whole village so that they could also enjoy.

Here, near the old willow, time would stop. River was whispering something to wind and sunset rays were caressing grass. This was the place where I dreamt of becoming a good, worthy teacher when I grow up. I enjoyed imagining how proud my parents will be of me. I was also thinking about becoming a good wife and mother. I was sharing all these dreams with my very king friend - the willow. And it would nod its twigs as it would try to say: “It will come true, my little Galya, it will come true”. This was the place we used to meet with Kuzma, our secret place.

I remember one day we were sitting there embracing one another and watching whimsical shapes of galaxies.
“Look! These stars are just like a small house!” I said.
He smiled – “Probably, ours…”
“May be…”

Suddenly he became very serious and, after a short pause, he said “Galya, be my wife.” At the beginning I even did not understand what happened, but after a moment I cried and embraced him even tighter. “Yes… Yes, of course”, I said.

Our friendship began back in our 7th grade, when we used to just walk home after school together... And now everything was different, and we were different too. We have experienced both enjoyable and hard times. Time was flowing and our dreams started to come true. I graduated teacher’s training college, and he graduated military school to become a tank man. We married in February of 1941, in Kaunas, Latvia – Kuzma was carrying his military service there…

When we received news about the war, my husband was immediately sent to the border. Women and children were being evacuated. We, wives and children of military men, were transported by cars, trains and even tanks. It was a long way and we all were very scared. Finally, I managed to come to the village named “Tyumentsevo” – the village where mother of my beloved Kuzma lived at that time.

When she met me, she cried:”Galya, my dear Galya, Kuzma perished…” I almost fell unconscious. I tried to ask something more, but was only able to utter a hoarse groan. With trembling hands his mother gave me a shabby piece of paper – the letter. The only word of all I was able to see- “Perished, Perished, PERISHED” – booming echo was tearing my mind. An ominous vortex of thoughts was filling me – “So what is now?!?! What will I do without him?!?! May it be a horrible mistake??? What if he is in the hospital?.. Suffering, but alive?!?! Oh God, why did this happen?!” I was unable to stand and tears were rolling down my cheeks that still kept the memory of his last kiss.

Time was passing by but the war was still there. All work in the village had to be carried by women and children. They were plowing, sowing, reaping and looking after cattle. Everyone was working hard, because all knew that it is wartime and the country needs bread.

I remember, that every morning I would wake up early and go to school to teach children and direct other teachers. I, a young teacher, was given a position of school principal. It was very hard. We did not have pens and pencils; we had a big lack of notebooks. And still, children were doing their best to study, even though they have been working all night along. Sometimes they were falling asleep during the lesson. We teachers, understood them very well, so we would kindly awake them… and again the lesson continued.

My heart was full of pain when I was looking to these children, so small, but it seemed that the fear will never leave their eyes. They were our best helpers, and despite the cold and starvation they were working equally with adults. There were no free pair of hands and so much work! Children were working day and night, and would never object whatever you ask them to help. They worked until sores on their hands. Reaping would last for two of three months that time. And all that time boys were carting corns. After the morning dew falls combined harvesters would stop, and only at that time boys would unharness horses and take a nap under their carts.

After an hour or two combines need to start harvesting again so we would start to wake them up. You raise his head and it falls back again as of a weak ducklings head. They were unable to wake up and crying. And we were crying with them, so painful it was to see. Finally you wake them up and they go to work again. And all their food was one piece of bread and water. My heart was covered with blood from pain.

Finally so long awaited victory came! I was so happy! No more fear for lives of relatives, no more deadly starvation. But the most important was that now our husbands and brothers, fathers and sons will return home. Maybe… Maybe my beloved Kuzma will return too. Maybe he is still alive, my dear Kuzma, maybe still alive… And again I had a little hope in my heart, again the wounded bird was flopping the wings.

The train station was full of people. Air was filled with a pleasant buzz of arriving men’s voices. I saw mothers, who were hugging their sons and crying of happiness. And lots of loving couples, that were lucky to meet each other again. Many brothers, fathers, grandfathers and husbands returned back.

Awards found their owners. Many people received medals and orders. A was also honored by a medal “For valorous and self-sacrificing work in the years of the Great Patriotic War”.
Many people returned from the battle front. Among them was courageous soldier Misha. He asked in marriage with me. At first I refused, after all I still loved Kuzma. Everything was changed after talk with my father. I came to him to share my doubts. “My dear Galya”, he said – “You shall understand that the war took lives of many, and also it took life of your Kuzma. But you are still here. Now it is your duty to bear children and make them grow worthy people. Give the world new people in place of your perished husband. The happiness of being mother will heal your wounds.” “I will ask for advice”, I said and cried. My father did not ask from whom, maybe he could guess.

And once again I was running through my village to the place that was my intimate little world. My friend willow was waiting me there. I did not even have to tell anything, it seemed to know all my thoughts already. Standing near the willow I felt the leaves kindly touching my cheek, such as it would favor my decision.

I agreed to marry Michael. We had four children. We brought up our children to be honest and helpful people. Anatoly is a sculptor, Michael is a military man, Natalia is an economist and Yuri is an engineer.

Years flew by fast. The sunset of my life is near. And as always I follow the beaten track to my close friend willow. Now I do this much slower than always – old age tells. I come to ask the willow if I lived my life the right way. I come and hope that it will embrace me with its twigs and rustle softly – “You did it right, Galya… You did it right.”

Maria remembers the stories her grandmother would tell. She passed away a number of years ago, but Maria captured her spirit so well in this story.

Why did I post this story? I have a magnificant obsession, it has been with me for years. It is to help young aspiring writers, just like I was helped. My hope is that someone reading this will had a creative idea on how to help this young woman from Kyryzstan become a published author in America. I believe in dreaming big!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Busy Season of Training Concludes

When we first arrived last April, we met right away with a local orphanage director. She proved to be the incredible contact for us throughout the region during the months we have been here. I haven't shared a whole lot about this area of our work, but wanted to now to give you an idea of the amazing doors that have opened to us here. The neat part of this is that we didn't seek after them, they just came!

Since meeting this local orphanage director and offering workshops in this area, we have been invited into the offices of local administrators and regional directors. Most recently, we have been invited into the offices of national government people. Later this month, the team leaders of ILDC (International Leadership and Development Center), Lynn and Ruby Johnston, David and I are scheduled to meet with a number of key national people in the government as well as the university sector. We have no idea what this may bring, but will simply show up and see what happens. They heard about the work here and asked us to come to talk with them.

In June and July we conducted a six week series on child development and attachment for sixteen social workers. I enjoyed spreading the training over a number of weeks because it enabled us to get to know folks a little better each time.

Since early August, we have been training local and regional social workers in a different training location and it has been an energizing experience for us. I experience so much joy in collaborating with these colleagues in the field of child welfare for we all have one thing in common - we care about the children.

Tokmok social workers - August -September

"We have never had training like this." We heard it over and over again as we trained 18 social workers from the city of Tokmok. They were so appreciative. The focus of this four week session was on early child development and attachment. I believe we had 99% attendance over four weeks. When we are out walking, which we do a lot, it is fun to run into people we have connected with in these workshops.

The Tokmok participants really enjoyed using the Classroom Performance system remotes for a fun way to answer questions.

We asked the regional vice-director to pass out certificates. The director, who arranged the sessions was on a month-long vacation. Two of the workers told us they cut their vacations short to come to training. Was the pressure ever on us to make it worth their effort!
Four weeks later and we celebrated the first ILDC training in this regional office.

Kemin Social Administration - September 4
Kemin is a village about thirty miles from Tokmok. Some of the people in Kemin heard about the trainings in Tokmok and asked us to come and to speak to them about a foster care program. Because foster care is a new concept to them, we started with the basics - the six components of a foster care program. Seventeen social workers and local administrators attended. Days later, we were told that after our session, the group met the following day to process what we had talked about and plan for the future. We were absolutely thrilled.
Seventeen social workers and local administrators attended this foster care workshop. Foster care is a new concept to them and one of the first questions I had was , "what is a foster parent?"

Our Major Training Event - September 10 and 11 - Caring for Traumatized Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused

We have been planning this major training event for over six weeks. A lot of time and planning went into this event. Natalia, our most competent translator, worked hard for several weeks in translating training material and PowerPoint slides. We wanted this to be the very best! We want to thank a fellow American social worker, Jerry Heatherly for providing the funding for this event. Twenty-five social workers came from four different regions. Some came from a distance three hours away. The training was held at one of Mercy Foundation's fine schools. The participants were treated to wonderful lunches and snacks, useful training materials and two days of sharing and talking together. Many of them commented that the information learned in the training was new to them. They were so appreciative. Five orphanages were represented in this group of participants along with family social workers.

After we finished processing the two days and asking for any additional questions or comments, we passed out the certificates. When that was done the group just sat there. One of participants raised her hand and pointed to some material I had skipped due to time considerations. I guess she was shy to mention it before then. They all said "we want that too," so we stayed another 20+ minutes. Staying overtime voluntarily, that is new to me!

This was the first time David and I have co-trained was great fun and the participants really appeciated his involvement.

This was Natalia's first experience at translating for two days, five hours each day. She did an excellent job and is growing in her knowledge of child welfare.

As we process the events around our experiences in training the workers here, I will look back on them as enriching, stretching, energizing....absolutely wonderful. We look to the future not knowing exactly what lies ahead...we just know what our hearts say....we will be back. There is much work to be done for the children of Kyrgyzstan.
Throughout the two days, David reminded this fine group of professionals, that they are healing people. What a way to end our training time here (for now!).
The Journey Continues......

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What's In the Field?

Earlier this week we experienced two days like no other - the electricity, water and gas were all turned off. That means these precious people had no way to prepare a hot meal for their families. The gas situation turned out to be temporary, but it was an unsettling early reminder of what is ahead this winter for this precious people. We will write about that later.

These last ten days or so have been so incredibly busy, that we have not been able to take the time to update the blog. We have a little more than two weeks left of this life changing experience. We will never be the same and we hope to return.

Last Sunday, David had the opportunity to speak at Pastor Elenya's church. The day was a celebration of harvest and he spoke on the power of the seeds we plant - seeds of value, blessings, powerful words and kindness. The rest of the speakers captured his theme. One speaker, visiting from Ukraine spoke about the fields and the treasures we find in those fields at harvest time.

As I was sitting there, I felt this man's message connect with my heart. He gave words to explain the deep joy we have had here ministering in Kyrygzstan - ministering in the field. Our joy comes because of what we have found in the field...the treasure of the beautiful people here. That message continues to resonnant in my heart days later.

We wanted to share briefly some picture updates of the ministry here. These only capture just a snapshot of the experiences we have had since our last update. These pictures are of some heartwarming connections we made with people in the last two weeks.

The Sunday before Bekah left, we had the privlege of meeting a village pastor and his family. This beautiful family lives and works in extremely difficult circumstances and suffers much persecution due to their faith.

Just before lunch was served, we heard this man's testimony of how he came to know God in a personal way.

This is Hamenaut, a man from Ethiopia and his precious family. He has served us as a driver, helping us get to remote places. He was living in Kyrgyzstan, being trained by the Soviet air force as a pilot, when the Soviet Union collapse in 1991. He basically has been trapped in this country with no ability to return to his homeland. He and his family of four children (one was asleep and not in the picture) live in a ONE ROOM apartment near us. We hope to help this family on an on-going basis after we leave.

The Club of Leaders

Shortly after our arrival last April, we were introduced to this group of teenagers. They have formed a club called The Club of Leaders. They want to learn how to be successful in their lives. Last Saturday, David spoke to this group on leadership. They were sharp, engaged young people...the hope for a better day in their country.

It has been our privilege to get to know these young people. Before they left us last weekend, they asked to see us again, so we decided to take them out to dinner. On Saturday, the 20th, we are taking them out for "shasleek," and saying good-bye for now.

Celebrating the Harvest

Harvest Celebration was the theme of this past Sunday's worship at Pastor Elenya's church. We just learned this past weekend, that Pastor Elenya is adopting a third child, a fifteen year old girl who soon would have "aged-out" of the local orphanage to a life all alone.

Children are the hope for Kyrgyzstan's future and there are so many children ministered to by this small village church.

David shares in the morning message. We have grown to love this pastor, her children and the folks of her congregation.

You can see why we feel we have found treasure in the field....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Precious Moment

Throughout our time here, we have had the privilege of meeting many social workers, orphanage directors and workers. Following a visit one afternoon to a local orphanage, the assistant director asked me if I would help her do something - tell her eight year old daughter she was adopted. I was absolutely thrilled as adoption is kept a major secret in this country.

On Tuesday morning, she came over to meet us at Mercy Foundation and for two hours I talked with her about her daughter's story. We made a timeline of events in her daughter's life, events that she has never mentioned to her. I heard the story of her daughter's birth, how she was taken to an orphanage after just a few days and of her adoption at 18 months old. I heard her story of how she came to adoption and the wonderful journey it has been for them both. I heard her struggles and fears about telling her daughter the truth and what may happen when she does. During our conversation, I clearly understood from what she said that her daughter has pre-verbal memories of the time at the orphanage because she makes vague references to it. I told this adoptive mother, it is time to give words to those vague emotional memories.

I have never experienced such an unfolding of a story. I listened to the heart cry of an adoptive mother who wants to do the right thing for her daughter. I saw so clearly the immense relief felt by this Kyryz mother when we were finished. This precious adoptive mother cried and told us, "I know I haven't told her any of this yet, but I feel so free, like a major burden has been lifted." What a joy for us!

On Wednesday, we had our weekly social work training and she came in. Her expression on her face reflected deep gratitude. Because she had others around her, I didn't get a chance to talk with her, but I know she did or soon will do the best thing for her daughter.

I wanted to share this here, so I wouldn't forget this special memory. These experiences don't come every day.

We have a short four weeks left and David and I are praying that God will continue to use our time here to the maximum.

Thank you for all your continued support and prayers...the journey continues

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to School Party with the Tokmok Kids

In April, we met the kids from the Tokmok orphanage and absolutely fell in love with every one of them. The Wright family invited us along on their weekly outings with the kids and when they left at the end of July, we kept going. Twice a week, David, Natalia and I go over to the orphanage - one day to work on crafts, and one day to work on English. While we are with the kids, David spends time talking to them individually.

With school starting, we won't be able to see them as much as we do now, so we had a back-to-school party with them last week. We walked with them nearly a mile to a children's playground, took all 14 of them to lunch - only shasleek would do - and then went back to the orphanage to begin decorating their photo albums.

While out with the kids, Bekah and I took many, many pictures of each one and had them developed and ready to put in their albums today. The kids were absolutely delighted at their own pictures. Those pictures, many of which are below, tell the story of an absolutely fun day. One of the workers joked with us when we got back, "You all come so full of energy when you come to be with the kids and look tired out when you leave." That's true in one sense - we give it our all with them while with them. It one of our most favorite places to be!

Enjoy the pictures....

On the road to the park...Dennis, the young man in blue, is the spiritual coordinator for the orphanage.

L to r, a young man in the park we didn't know, Victor, age 7, Dema, 8, Dennis and Nastya, who is 12.

There are just four girls at the orphanage - in the front, Azat and Angelina, and in the back, Anya and Nastya. Of course, Argen, far right and Maksat, in the back, had to get in the picture, too!

Azat, Albeck, 11 and Colya, 15

Bekah and Dema

Two young brothers, Albeck, 11 and Maksat, 13

Dema and Victor

The kids were excited about shasleek...

Dema kept telling us he wasn't hungry...but ate two full plates of shasleek, (meat kabob's), five watermelon slices, lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, but he wasn't hungry!
David really enjoys visiting with these fun-loving young boys...They have just finished a very big lunch and are getting ready to return to the orphanage for more activities.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

From Invisible to Visible - David's Weekly Perspective

Jayne and I had the privilege this week to see a vision come into reality, from the invisible to the visible. Several years ago, Elder Yang, the founder of Mercy Foundation in Kyrgyzstan, saw a need for an institution of high learning. This institution must be built on integrity and educational excellence. The facilities, staff and equipment must be the best they can be.

On Friday, August 22, I sat in a classroom at this institute watching the students come in for student orientation. The vision has become a reality and now a new story will be told and lives will be changed

For the past two months, I have met with the staff at the Institute sharing core values and leadership principles. In one of these sessions I talked about vision. I shared that a vision...

1. Comes to life in the mind and heart of a person.
2. A vision often comes out of one’s own experiences and history.
3. Visions, of the good sort, always adds value to people
4. A true vision will miraculously attract resources from many sources

Such is the story of the vision for the Professional Institute of the city of Tokmok in the country of Kyrgyzstan.
Elder Yang addresses the faculty and new student body of the Professional Institute on Friday, August 22.

David is addressing the staff of the Professional Institute just before orientation began an hour later.

Students gather on the steps of the school preparing for orientation.
Bekah meets Altynai and her new roommate.

John Clark (in the blue shirt) and Camilla have been instrumental in guiding the staff and faculty in the creation of this new institute.

A Healing Moment

Allow me to share an amazing story about a young boy, around 12, who lives in an orphanage here. The orphanage director, quite concerned about him, asked me to talk with him. A month ago, I began meeting with him on a regular basis, asking him questions and then listening to the answer.

I heard a tragic story of loss, brokenness and trauma that had created much anger and hurt in his heart and mind. We talked a long time and then I asked him if he would allow me to ask God to take all the hurt and pain away. “Yes,” he said. So I simply asked him to feel all those emotions that he carries every day and then we would ask the Lord to take them.

He did this and I asked the Lord to take them. He looked up at me and told me he felt them leave. The Lord also had spoken a word to him. For the past several weeks I have checked with him on how he’s doing. Peaceful and calm, he reports.

During our most recent visit, I asked him, is there anything you would like to share with us? “Yes,” he said, “thank you for making my pain go away.” I quickly told him it wasn’t me, it was the Lord. I told him to always remember that God is real and knows our needs, is present with us and speaks to us.

We rejoiced with him concerning the fact that his pain was gone. Like all the children that we see regularly at this orphanage, this young man has captured our hearts. They all carry the pain of rejection, abandonment and trauma at some level. We truly count it a privilege to touch one life at a time.

This incredible young man represents so many youngsters living in orphanages throughout Central Asia.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bekah's Journey Begins

Very early last Wednesday morning, David, Nastya(from Bekah's host family) and Valera, the Foundation driver, were at the airport to pick up Bekah Gibson.

Bekah is a young, 23 year old student from Treveca Nazarane University, where she is completing her Master's degree in Counseling. We have known Bekah since she was about eight years old and are so excited to have her here for a few weeks. She has had numerous international mission experiences, so this is nothing new to her. However, in an email she wrote to us just before she came, she told us, "there is a mystery in my heart about Kyrgyzstan." Perhaps God will reveal that mystery to her while she is here.

Nasta, left and Bekah....a 5:30 AM arrival at the Bishkek airport. Bekah will be staying with Nasta and her mother, Elenya, who is vice-president of the Foundation. They live in an apartment just above us.

We wasted no time in putting Bekah to work. After a little rest following her thirty hour travel trip, she joined us at the Tokmok orphanage, where we teach English twice a week. While here, she enthusiastically agreed to handle both the English lessons and crafts with the kids. I just get to go and love on the kids and she gets to do the work.

Each youngster took their turn at introducing himself to Bekah.

Victor is one who captures everyone's heart when they come to the Tokmok orphanage...actually all the children do!

A game of "around-the-world" with the English alphabet.

On Thursday, we just began working with the kids at the Orlovka orphanage on lifebooks. We are so excited to be able to do this with them. Bekah will work with the same three girls twice a week as they record important information about themselves, their families and their history in a book they can keep.

Bekah will work with these three youngsters for the next two weeks as they write their lifebooks.

This is the first time the children have had the opportunity to work on the lifebooks. Last year, Lynn and Ruby Johnston trained the staff on this needed tool. They have been wanting to do it since that training and are so appreciative of the time given to help them accomplish it.

Friday, we had the opportunity to join the Foundation people at the mountain camp for a weekend retreat. It was a fun time for all of us and gave Bekah a chance to meet many more people. She speaks Russian and that has been so helpful for her to connect with kids and adults, alike.
David shares with the Foundation staff at the weekend retreat.

Natalia, our translator (and much more than that) and Bekah are becoming good friends.

A game of water ballon volleyball....

...we lost

in the mountains...

We have planned many activities for Bekah while she is here, but they are only plans. We want most of all for her to hear from God on what He wants her to do, to see, to hear, to experience.

Thanks for sharing our journey....