Friday, May 15, 2009

Stopping for the One in Front of You

I know many of the wonderful people with whom we serve get the same question we do. “With so many, many needs around you, how do you know who to help? You can’t help everyone.”

It is true. It is impossible to help everyone. Reading a book on the way here last March, I was struck by a statement - Stop for the one in front of you. This person serving in Africa learned that God would lead her to the one for whom she should stop.

While here, Lynn and Ruby met a number of people for whom they stopped. A few were homeless elderly. One family to whom they were especially drawn was a small family of three children living in difficult circumstances. They stopped.

Last week, we encountered a “stop for the one in front of you” moment. His name is Aziz. He is four years old and lives in a village about 30 minutes from here. We met him one day while visiting in the village. He looks just like our grandson did at four, with one exception – Aziz has cerebral palsy. We felt very impressed to connect with his mother and grandmother. We learned that up to that point, they had not had an official diagnosis and were struggling with getting him the help he needed.

This Wednesday, we were visiting in Bishkek with friends who we learned were planning a seminar for parents dealing with disabled children. Did we ever listen closely! Quite by “accident” we ran into the physical therapist at lunchtime who would be conducting the schedule seminar on Friday. We made a special trip to the village yesterday to invite the family and Aziz to the seminar where he would be evaluated.

This morning, David rode with the taxi driver to pick up the family and then on to Bishkek to the seminar. It was a very productive day for them as they learned what can be done for him and made connections with parents dealing with similar issues. We will continue to walk with them and finding out what financial support they will need to continue with the right treatment. The therapist was encouraging saying that if he received the therapy he needed, he would grow stronger and more independent.

Aziz spent most of the day with David (who he now calls “grandfather”), either walking around or sitting on his lap. Aziz was a bit frustrated because he talked non-stop to David in Russian, of course, and didn’t understand why David couldn’t talk back.

We truly believe this was a connection divinely arranged. We are praying for a miracle of strength for this precious child – the one for whom we believe we needed to stop.

Aziz had a great day playing with the children and did extremely well. He is a happy youngster, but without intervention, he faces a very diffcult future.

Aziz during his evaluation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Every Where We Go, We Find Caring, Giving People

Just about an hour ago, we returned to our apartment after a very full day in the capital city. We visited an orphanage, a hospital, and a rehabilitation center for children who have been found on the street. We walk away from these places reminded again of the many caring people who step in to care for children in desperate circumstances. The remarkable thing about these places is that the people serving there are not doing it for a large salary – that just doesn’t exist. They do it because they feel a call to care, nurture and restore dignity to those children whose dignity has been robbed from them.

First Stop - The Hospital
About two weeks ago, David and one of our team partners met this young boy in the village. Through the generous gift of one of our friends, this young man will have surgery soon. It was supposed to be done this week, but he has a cold and the doctor wants to wait. We were thrilled to see his father with him at the hospital.

Second Stop - We spent a few moments at an orphanage this morning and met a wonderful doctor and caregivers. It was wonderful to see the children so well cared for.

Third Stop - A Rehab Center for Children Found on the Streets or in the Bazaar

We were gifted with a tour of this remarkable rehab center for children. This director and staff have created a loving, nurturing environment for these children and many are being successfully reunited with families over time. She has asked us to come to train her staff on child welfare issues. We plan to go on Monday to sit with her and discuss her training needs.

This youngster is one of the children living in the rehab center.

David with some of the children. The little boy in the right front, I think has found a new "grandfather." He wouldn't let go of David's hand.
We have enjoyed the presence of Alisha, a 17 year old from Ohio. She came to this country with a desire to see the birthplace of her little two year old adopted brother. Some of the things she saw and experienced today, I believe exceeded her expectations. She is not only just watching, but also participating. Barely off the plane on Sunday, she joined us in a ministry opportunity, singing and playing the guitar at a local organization. Tomorrow, she will join us on several stops of ministry, including doing a craft activity with children from a village. She will go home, I trust with rich memories of her time here.

Alisha with a new friend from the center. This place really touched her heart and as we were leaving, she said that she must come back before she returns home. We will go back on Monday with planned crafts for the children.
Alisha sharing in a guitar class for a local organization.

Tomorrow we met with a local administration. They have asked us to work with them in the creation of a foster care program. This will be small steps for this region as foster care as we know it, doesn’t exist in this central Asia country. Our hope is to be able to walk them through these early stages so when we do return later this year, we can build upon what they have done.

These weeks have gone so quickly, yet we feel there is much more to do before we head home. Each day brings a fresh new need to our eyes and our hope is to be able to touch some of them...the journey continues....