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....