Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Week in Review -Blessing the Children, First Bicyles, Powerful Touches, School's Out, Training and More

This Sunday evening as David and I talk about the events of last week, we reflect on the richness of the journey here and the beautiful people we meet, work with and so enjoy being with. With the busyness of these last weeks, I have only time to blog once a week, before the next week begins, so here is a snapshot of the opportunities we experienced last week as we journeyed alongside our friends here.

Today – Sunday – Blessing the Children

As we say to each most every evening, “was that just today?” This morning seems along time ago. David had the privilege of speaking at the Chinese Church and we have come to really enjoy our connections with these people. Each Sunday someone will ask him to pray for them or to bless their children. The precious five month old pictured below, is the daughter of a very gifted and special young mom. She asked David to bless her every time we see her – even at the bazaar.

Preaching at the Chinese Church. This church is experiencing growth and it is so good to see. A number of children come each week from the neighborhood and we look forward to seeing them every week.

I have never seen one so young, smile so very much.

Saturday, May 30 – First Bicycles and Powerful Touches
Before we left the US last spring, a number of friends of ours gave us financial gifts to use as we saw fit. Most of those gifts have been given to serious humanitarian needs. However, a small portion of those gifts went to another very worthy cause – two young boys and first bikes. Having a new bike in this country is mostly just a dream for most little boys. Each week we spend time at the seniors’ home and every week we see a family and a grandmother voluntarily taking care of homeless elderly. No pay – little outside resourcing. Each week, two little boys spend most of their time there – playing as there family members meet the needs of the seniors. We felt impressed to take care of the caregivers with a small gift for their children.

Choosing the bikes at a local bazaar.

Charting our way through the crowd with our friend Hymannot. He gets us everywhere we need to go.

Little Aziz helps David and Hymnnot get the bike ready. We realized it is a little big for him, but he will grow into it. He has very mild CP and our hope this will strengthen his legs.

"Grandfather" as Aziz calls David helps him with his first bike tour of the grounds. Notice the beautiful mountains in the background.

Ignot, the youngest son of the primary caregivers, knew how to ride a bike, but has never had one. Once on it, it was almost impossible to get him to stop long enough for a picture. One quick moment for a pose with everyone - Tonya and Colya are next to David in the back. Next to Coyla is Oleg, Aziz's grandmother, Luba, his aunt and the cook for the seniors' home. ALeixi is sitting down behind Aziz.

After the excitement of the bikes, we went in to spend time with the seniors. They are precious people. We had with us something powerful and we didn’t know the power of it until we experienced it. Ruby and Lynn, our team leaders have invested much of their heart and soul into these people, spending a lot of time here. It was difficult for them to leave. Late last week, Ruby sent personal letters to them, wanting them to know they are not forgotten. Natalia translated them and we took the letters to them. Natalia read each one personally to each of the seniors. The look on their faces was so beautiful. It is the look that comes with the knowledge that someone cares for them, loves them and is important to them. It is almost too difficult to describe it. We left their deeply touched with this gesture from Lynn and Ruby.

Natali reads Nicholi's letter to him. This dear man, basically abandoned by family, is blind. All the other men at the seniors' home help him with all his needs. They have become like family.

Lydia could be Ruby's mother...and she cried as Natalia read her letter to her. She knows she is not forgotten.

This picture is for Ruby and Lynn - the stove is working beautifully. Can you see the steam coming from one of the pots?

Friday, May 29 – Celebrating the End of the School Year
Friday afternoon, we were invited to a special program- hosted by the School of Blessing and Mercy Foundation to celebrate the end of the school year. We were thrilled again as we watched these incredibly talented young people perform. We had the opportunity to see them in Rockford, Ill, just a week before we returned here and seeing them again was wonderful. We have never seen such gifted young people, so creative and full of life.

The Ambassadors of Grace

The Ambassadors of Grace

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - May 26, 27,28 - Training in Three Regions

We are excited that training on the building blocks of a successful foster care system continues. We had the privilege of training over 60 social workers and psychologists in three different regions this week. The seminars continue for two more weeks. Our goal has been to simply plant the seeds of what can grow here as this nation continues to go through many, many changes in child welfare.
Social workers and psychologists examine the issues of attachment in this seminar, held in a town about 1.5 hours from our home in Tokmok. Twenty were in attendance at this workshop.

They have such special ways of saying thank you for coming. They are waiting for our team's return in the fall and want many seminars.

Monday, May 25 - The End of the First Year at the Professional Institute

This past week, David spent many hours talking with the students who are finishing their first year at the Professional Institute. This was just a dream three years ago of Elder Yang, and now it is a reality. One thing each student said, over and over again, "this Institute is my only hope for a bright future."
The young man, with David below, is Vitali. He represents to us, the students of this growing school. Sponsored in part by a friend of ours in Ohio, he finished the year strong. He will be working at the Institute on building projects this summer to earn money and plans to return in the fall. is the end of the school year. This music group from two large universities celebrated with the students at the Professional Institute.

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