Monday, December 28, 2009
May I invite you to visit their blog this week and see what has taken place. It will be a meaningful few moments. Here is there address: http://actofkindness.blogspot.com/
Blessings to you - our friends
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Not a day goes by that we don’t talk of our precious friends there…from little Anita to Natalia to Valera and Luba. All of our friends hold a very special place in our hearts. We deeply appreciate and love Lynn and Ruby Johnston and Don and Johanna M. Buchman, our team founders for the invitation almost two years ago to "show up and see how God leads."
We have come to embrace this country as our second home. While we are home here, a part of us is still over there. Thoughts of the people and work are never far from us. Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog throughout this year. Here are some special memories and moments with the people who captured our hearts in this Central Asia country this past year.
To me, this picture captures David's heart and love for the children of this Central Asia country. This is Islam and Ruslan.
What do you have when you put 20 some children together and some childlike adults? FUN! These remarkable children from one orphanage where we spent a great deal of time knew just how to get our heart's attention. We can't wait to get back and reconnect with them.
Being in country for these many months has given us the opportunity to get know people of all ages and have the time to build relationships. This young man is especially important to us and David spent a lot of time with him.
Natalia is not only our translator, but our very special young friend. There are many funny stories we share as a result of our experiences together. One of the most delightful is the day we went on a picnic. We, along with John and Julie Wright were walking to meet the children near a river bank. I think Lynn and Ruby were there, too. The children saw us and came running. Of course, we thought the children were running to us....but breezed right on by to embrace Natalia. All the children love her and we think that is great. That's how it should be.
The Remarkable Young People
A door of opportunity opened for both David and me to be involved in the newest univeristy in this county. It is the new International University of Central Asia. Both of us are on the faculty and we will be involved in a greater capacity when we return in March. One of our favorite places to be is on the campus. We have so enjoyed building relationships with these fine young and dedicated students and the faculty there.
David with a group of 2nd year psychology students.
This is a picture of the first year of the university. Starting off with 40 some students, the school tripled in 2009 and we are looking forward to continue growth of this excellent university.
This is a group of social workers who are commited to building a foster care program in this country. This group represents a portion of the heart of the work of LAMb in child welfare. We are working with a number of opportunities to assist in the develpment of a child welfare program - on many government levels, including the work at the Humanitarian University in the capital city.
As this year draws to a close, we do reflect on the life changing experiences we have been so privileged to have while we minister at home and overseas. We look to the open doors in 2010, desiring God's leadership in all that we do. The next blog we will be sharing about our work while home and our anticipated plans for overseas. We will be returning to Central Asia on March 14, 2010 and will be there until late May.
May your new year be a time of new adventures and experiencing God in new ways.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Here is the story from Lynn and Ruby's Journal
We have a great taxi driver here. His name is Hymanot. We have known him for almost two years, have had dinner in his home and consider him a friend – not just a taxi driver for us!
He is kind, a loving father of four children and a dedicated husband. Before the Soviet Union fell, he was a pilot stationed here from Ethiopia. He had great career and a great future. Then everything changed in 1991 when the Iron Curtain came down.
Like so many other people, Hymanot was now “LOCKED” in the country he was working in. He could not leave – his country would not allow him back. There were other pilots in the same situation. He tells of the pilots from Somalia that were told they could return only to be shot – all 12 of them – at the airport upon their return. He says that although his life was spared he has lived without a life here ever since the fall. He is not accepted in this culture, nor are his children or his Kyrgyz wife. Why? Because he is a black man from Africa!
His children are ridiculed; he is stopped constantly by the police. He has tried on different occasions to get a permission to return to Ethiopia, but has not been successful. In fact, he said it would be dangerous for him to return right now. He tried to emigrate his family to Germany, but was refused refugee status. Ethiopia will not allow him back, Kyrgyzstan does not accept him or his family. Why? Because he is a black man from Africa!
His wife’s sister was given refugee status in Norway and that is his plan now for his family. His beautiful children, (four in total) deserve a better life he says. He knows his life is past “saving” but feels if his wife and children can emigrate to Norway to be with her sister, they will have a chance – a chance he did not have.
He did not ask for our help – but how can we just ignore four little children being discriminated against so badly when there is a possible refuge for them with family in Norway? It does not take much….visa to a safe country – passage into Norway through the refugee channels and then freedom for the first time for them.
Freedom from the taunts, rocks, words, mean-spirited attitudes directed toward this beautiful family. Yes, it is just one family – but our work is one family, one child at a time. Are you able to help?
Visa’s – 5 - $1,000
Airfare to the “safe country” – we cannot say where - $3,000
Start up money - $1,000
For $5,000 we can help this family – save this family.
Hymanot will remain in Kyrgyzstan for the time being. He cannot travel with his family because of his Ethiopian passport. Only his family will leave for Norway… to be with family already there.
We submit this to you for prayerful consideration. If you feel a prompting to help this family, please email us.
The LAMb Team……
Monday, November 16, 2009
This Wednesday was to be our move day into our new smaller home. We are hoping to downsize in every way to be ready to respond to God's leading in our future. However, sometimes plans we make are not God's plans. Last Friday, our buyers changed their minds.
Amidst packed boxes we are simply waiting to hear when it is time for us to know. The news was very disappointing, but we are at peace with it now that the "dust" has settled. We know that God has a better plan.
Enough of us...next week, I will be putting stories from Kyrgyzstan on the blog...incredible ones that will touch your heart.
Thank you for sharing our journey...as it continues
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Over two years ago, one of the things that we made a decision to do as we sought God's leadership was to sell our home. It is a large one located in a beautiful neighborhood. We love our home. However, selling it would give us more financial freedom to do the work to which we feel called. We received word during our last week there that indeed, after over two years of waiting, our home sold. We arrived home late last Sunday night to the reality that we now have many changes. The first being, we move in ten days. WOW!
We are so excited regarding the days ahead. David will be very much involved with a local church in Dayton, preaching and supporting the pastor while we are here. I will continue my work in training social workers full-time.
IN THE SPRING
Our plans are to return to Kyrgyzstan in the spring and also the fall to be more involved in teaching and training. David already is preparing coursework for the three courses he will be teaching at the new International University of Central Asia (formerly the Professional Institute) in the spring. I will also be teaching composition and journalism there, plus all the unknowns God has for us as we work with the government officials and university officials on development of a child welfare teaching and training program.
I had hoped to update the journal with some incredible stories...that will come in the weeks ahead...right now....working, packing and moving will fill our time until Thanksgiving. Please check back for some incredible stories of some very special people.
Monday, October 26, 2009
All these humanitarian projects, our work feels like we are standing downstream in a raging river. Kids are being thrown in upstream and we are overwhelmed with trying to catch them before they drown. The more we catch, the more it seems slip by us. Someone needs to go upstream and teach the people up there not to throw the children in the river.
When John said that, all I could say was, incredible. What a way to put into words exactly what the heartbeat of LAMb is. Our hope, passion and energy focuses on teaching and training social workers, families, government officials and leaders how not to throw the children into the river.
Last week, Ruby spent Thursday night and Friday night training an orphanage doctor, a government social worker and an orphan social worker on material that they, in turn can use to train adoptive parents for the task. Saturday she conducted the first adoption training in this country with five national families awaiting placement of their babies.
Over the months we have been here, I have had the privilege of slowly nurturing a group of commited workers as they seek to develop a foster care program in their community. We finish on Thursday of this week and will have a group of trainers who have invested many hours in preparation. Wednesday we drive two hours to visit with a group of people who have begun a foster care program in their area. We are excited about the potential of this meeting.
Both David and Lynn are working with leadership and spiritual development issues with the foundation and its schools. Much work to do in this area!
It is late tonight and I could not help but reflect on what John shared with us many months ago. We hope to be able to help those upstream to know how to keep kids from being swallowed up by the raging river of horrific poverty, abandonment, abuse and neglect.
Thank you for sharing our journey as it continues...we leave on Saturday, leaving behind most of our heart, but with a promise to return in spring.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
From Lynn and Ruby
We took a large amount of medical supplies to the Baby Hospital on Monday. They were very appreciative and excited to have many of the items. These items are all donated by Med Wish from Ohio. In the previous visit a few days before, the head doctor, Dr. Anara, told us of her desire to train/teach her staff. We told her about our next visitor to join us – a doctor from Atlanta, Georgia who is well-schooled in child abuse. We went over the entire lecture possibilities with Dr. Anara and she was more than ecstatic. We will translate all of the material for the possibilities and she will host a series of lectures for community doctors in the Spring with our visiting doctor from Atlanta. This is amazing.
So in the spring – Series of lectures for the medical staff Series of lectures for police, social workers and other professionals Imagine – one week of intensive professional development to an audience that is both eager and appreciative of having such professional teaching. We are very excited about offering this training week for them.
NEW KITCHEN FOR THE MATERNITY WARD AT THE BABY HOSPITAL: We were asked to renovate the kitchen at the baby hospital – for a small cost of about $400. We have three donors of $100 for the project, so we said START! Valadie, our trusted friend, will oversee the project. This kitchen serves all the maternity ward and is in desperate need of some help. Construction underway – anyone want to donate the last $100? They have no cupboards, no counters – what you see is what they have
Here is the kitchen sink at the baby hospital. They use a two burner hot plate for food. Should any gifts come in over the amount needed for the baby hospital, they will be used for further renovation projects there.
We delivered the medical supplies to Dr. Jitsun and she was ecstatic. Again, she is so thankful for our help. She took us on a tour of the intensive care unit and it was quite depressing. She was asking for help. The floor is badly broken and the bathroom in deplorable condition. The one bathroom serves the entire intensive care ward. (see pictures below) Her question: Could we help? She is getting the cost for the floor and we will take Valadie over to estimate repairing/renovating the bathroom to a decent room for them. She wanted us to take pictures to show our sponsors. The hospital serves both adults and children. Another opportunity to serve.
The unbelievable bathroom in the intensive care unit at the local hospital .
This glimpse at LAMb's journal really gives just a microscoptic look at the overwhelming needs here. If you are interested in sharing specifically with these projects or giving generally to the work of LAMb, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Many of you shared your resources with us to bring and give as we felt led. Thank you for that and I truly believe you would be pleased to see the joy and appreciation in the faces of those to whom it was given. Everything from coal for a single mom and her three adopted children, to a dinner at the orphanage, to a remodeled kitchen for a baby hospital to tuition for two college students, clothes for children, a food drop for 200 invalid men and so much more. On top of all the above, Jayne has done a lot of training and I have had the opportunity to speak, teach and counsel many people.
Last Sunday, the 18th, we visited brothers and sisters of like mind in the capital city, which included a medical doctor and his family. It was a time of harvest celebration. After the two hour morning meeting, we were gathering our things to leave. I found myself surrounded by many people. The leader of the meeting told me those people wanted me to counsel with them. I worked with each one personally. Over two hours were spent in talking with each one of them individually. It was an incredible experience. Our plans for a Sunday afternoon trip to the mountains were laid down for this ever important time with very special people.
Preparing to celebrate the bounty of this fall's harvest.
We will be home November 1 and look forward to seeing each one of you and thanking you for your incredible gifts to the work here. As we close out our brief time here, we will spend this week making plans for our extended return in March. We feel so privileged to be able to work with and walk with the people who have crossed our path.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Lynn and Ruby arrived last Monday morning. It is so wonderful to have them here. The work of LAMb is expanding and all of us are tackling different tasks. As I look back over this past week, it seems impossible they have only been here a week.
Early morning last Tuesday, Natalia and I headed for Kemin, a region about thirty minutes from where we live. Excited, we anticipated the beginning of training for foster parents in this region. There were four potential families there on along with 18 workers. Next week, we were told to expect more families. There is a growing desire to create a foster care program in this country – one that will move children from orphanages into caring, loving and potentially, permanent families. We love working with this group of social workers. They are committed to the task ahead.
While we were in Kemin, David was busy with a critical meeting at the Professional Institute, soon to be named International University of Central Asia. Working with Dr. John Clark, David has accepted the task of helping to shape the curriculum changes needed for the elementary and secondary private schools here that we work with. He will be working with the school staff in preparation for the changes and when we return in early spring, he and Lynn Johnston, our team leader, will be involved in a lot of training.
The two young women in the center of the picture are preparing to be trainers for foster parents.
If you want a laugh….
Monday, October 12, 2009
So much happened this past week, we asked ourselves last night, "have we been here only one week." Time is going so quickly and we are counting on God's direction for these days. It is late this Monday evening, and I wanted to make sure to post from last week's experiences before the fullness of this week crowds out the opportunity.
The Faces of Last Week and a Bit of a Story for Each One
This precious newborn's story is just beginning. I met him at the baby hospital in town. It is the hospital where children are left - to be later placed for adoption or headed for the baby orphanage.
An Afternoon of Skating - A Moment in Memory
I started this blog last night - Monday night and couldn't finish it because of Internet issues. I just got home a little while ago from a wonderful day of training of social workers and potential foster families...just so very thankful for this journey David and I are walking on together with our special friends, Lynn, Ruby, John Wright, John and Christa..and the list continues...
Friday, October 9, 2009
“An orphanage is no place for a child to grow up.” That statement by an adoptive father of an internationally adopted child, propels our vision. It is what compels us to offer help, training, and support to the creation of the Family Resource Project of Kyrgyzstan. The goal of the project is to find secure, permanent, safe families for children currently living in orphanages.
Over the next several months, our organization will be working in a pilot project in the region of Kemin, Kyrgyzstan. We began the work last year and will continue in the months and years to come. We are offering training, consultation, support and financial resources to this region as they build the very first family resource (foster care) program in the country.
- What are the projected financial considerations?
- Training costs for over 100 hours of training over the next 12 to 15 months
Translation of training materials
Printing of training materials
Materials needed in the training facility
Translators for the training day
Transportation for all participants
Meals for every day of training
- Financial Support/Reimbursement for Resource Families – we are beginning this project with five families who are trained and prepared to care for traumatized children. The Kemin partners anticipate this number will grow quickly.
- Financial support for housing needs for resource families – purchase of additional bedding, clothes for foster child and other needs for the child
We are projecting the pilot project budget to be $5,000 over the next 15 months. If you would like to participate in the vision you can contact Lynn and Ruby Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or us at email@example.com
Contributions to the Family Resource Project of Kyrgyzstan, can be sent to Kim Gebele, 5886 Craftmore Drive, Huber Heights, Ohio 45424. Checks should be made out to Institute for Human Services with resource family Kyrgyzstan on the memo line.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
“Today is the birthday of foster care for us!” exclaimed Naseyat, the head of the Family and Children Services Department in the region where we live. Today we met to solidify plans for future development of a project we hope will impact children for a lifetime. We (ILDC) are so privileged to be a part of it.
Naseyat, the head of the Family and Children Services Department
Last spring we began working in Kemin with the social services department as they explored the development of a family resource program (foster care). Naseyat is one persistent person and is determined to bring this new way to care for children to her community. Currently children are placed in orphanages – some good, some okay and some not. When I ask her today if she is aware of anyone else doing foster care in the country, she said no. We encouraged her by telling her that if we work well and carefully, Kemin could be a model for the entire country.
Over the next four weeks we are here, we will be extremely involved with training in the region – both workers and families.
Why is ILDC/LAMb committed to building a resource family program? It has everything to do with permanence for children. When a child leaves an orphanage at the age of 15 or 16, unless there are relatives that he “may” find, there is no one for him. This has been driven home to us just this week with the story of Jenia.
Jenia is a handsome, fifteen year old boy who has “aged” out of the orphanage. He had some serious, unattended medical needs that were met by LAMb. He had his first surgery while still living at the orphanage and the staff took care of some of his food needs while in the hospital. (In order to have food at the hospital while a patient, a family member must bring it.) Just two weeks ago, Jenia had his second surgery and was now living on his own at a technical school, with absolutely no connection to any family. There is no one in his life even to take food to the hospital.
Natalia, Ruby, Lynn and David talked with Jenia as he recovered from his first surgery last May.
While we were walking out of church on Sunday, Jenia called Natalia, our staff person and told her he had no food to eat. She immediately left for Bishkek to go buy food and take it to him. Had it not been for Lynn and Ruby Johnston, who stopped for this one in front of them and provided the financial resources for Natalia to buy food for him, Jenia would have no one. He probably would never had had the surgery.
He is the poster boy for the need of lifelong connection and permanence to a family.
So today we began. We are hopeful and realistic that it will take time and resources to build a program that will impact the lives of children and families – not just for childhood, but for a lifetime.
To find out how you might participate in the development of the Family Resource Program of Kyrgyzstan, please read the side of the blog later this week.
Just Before Lunch Today
After leaving our meeting with the government officials of Kemin, we stopped by the Kemin orphanage and school for disabled children. It is such a beautiful and bright place. We walked around the corner of a building and onto an exercise class. John, President of the organization where we serve, wanted to get in on the action, too.
As we were talking later, I noticed a very precious sight – John and Christa. They were comforting a little 8 year old who was crying. It was only her second day at the orphanage and I know she felt lost and alone. I looked at them and thought to myself…this is what their organization is all about.
There is a very special group of kids in an orphanage near us. We visit them often. When we arrived on Monday evening, there were a number of new faces. Two brothers particularly caught our eye.
Tolick, age 7, lived at the orphanage last spring. We knew him. We also spent time in a baby orphanage where one little guy named Artool really attached to Natalia. Just before we left in June, we were with Tolick, when Natalia commented, he looks like Artool. I didn’t see it, but she did. She talked with the orphanage director, who didn’t think Tolick had a brother. She simply asked him. Tolick replied, “Yes, but I don’t know where he is!” The two had been separated just months earlier, he had been grieving because he had no idea whatever happened to him. Our hope was that the two would be reunited.
From Hopeless to Hopeful – a Family Restored
What a joy it was on Sunday evening to meet Altynai’s entire family. The first time we met Altynai and her brothers and sisters was in a orphanage about a 45 minute drive from our home. The children were there for a variety reasons and it looked hopeless that the family would be restored. But this miracle happened.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
We were met by a young 19 year old whose just two short years ago was living in an orphanage with her brothers and sisters. Now through the touch of others, she is a student studying at a trade school in our city.
Just a few steps down the sidewalk, two children came running. We call them "Jessica's family" because a young social worker named Jessica, who visited here last March was deeply touched by their needs, which are overwhelming. We made plans to visit them on Monday.
About ten minutes later, a young couple with a baby came into view and it was a young couple that we knew before marriage, attended their wedding and now met their beautiful baby girl. What a joy it was to see them and connect.
As we were completing our walk, we met another 13 year old young man whose life has been deeply touched and changed. Once in the orphanage with his brothers and sisters, he and his entire family have been restored.
When we left him, we were impacted the fact the course of many of these young people is now changed...what appeared to be helpless situations have become hopeful because of the love and support of so many people back home. Thank you...
Tomorrow night...pictures from a very moving evening we just returned from....
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I do feel in many ways that I am home - at least in my second home. It feels good to be here and we are anticipating great things.
Circumstances are changing here, so we will be doing alot of humanitarian work and social work...much more specific work involving David's focus is taking a different and uncertain path.
Thank you for your interest and support...our next chapter begins....
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
National Adoption Day
September 30 is National Adoption Day and in honor of that day, Holt International Services hosted a national media event to recognize the day. The purpose of the day was to introduce adoptive families, to recognize the national government and non-government officials working in adoption and to announce the release of Telling the Truth to Your Adopted Child, the Field Guide to Child Welfare by Ron Hughes and Judy Rycus and the Step by Step Parenting Series by Lynn and Ruby Johnston and others.
Let the pictures tell the story….
Highlighting the joys of adoptive parenting and the need for adoptive families brought these two families to the event to share their beautiful stories.
This mom shared a poem she wrote to her new daughter.
This couple, having already raised biologial children, felt called to increase their family. What a awesome sight!
We arrived to the rush of setting up TV cameras for this national event.
Participanting in this event were left to right, Alonya, Director of Holt International of Ukraine, Lydmilla, Director of the National Adoption Program for Ukraine and Uri, the head of the Ministry Department of Family, Youth and Sports, like our cabinet positions.