Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Glance Back at this Past Week

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.
A worker asks a question about an activity.
Very, very early on Thursday morning, we headed to a neighboring city for an exciting event – the opening of the Kids Around the World playground, which was two years in the planning. We arrived to a park full of children, already testing out the beautiful new playground equipment. Kids Around the World is an organization that builds playgrounds around the world. A dedication ceremony began at 10. Just looking into the eyes of the beautiful children there , we know this playground will bring many hours of family fun. The equipment arrived in a huge container. That container will be left on the playground converted to a classroom, where children will receive English lessons, computer lessons and other lessons of extreme importance.
Kids getting ready for the celebration of the opening of the new playground.

The president of Kids Around the World addresses the audience.

Young high school students share a cultural dance. It was beautiful. Behind them is the container that will house a future classroom right in the park.

This little guy stopped long enough to pose for a picture and it was back to the huge slide.

You can tell by the expression on her face, what she thinks of all of this.

I saw this young man on about every piece of playground equipment. We drove past the park late in the evening and it was still full of children.
On Friday morning, we all shared in a meeting with the staff of the orphanage and local private school. Many changes are coming as the staff joined with us in developing plans for centers of excellence. Ruby shared her vision for improving orphanage care and all of us were excited because we know that this will positively impact the quality of life for children. Our weeks are busy here and yet, not too busy to remain committed to touching the lives of individual men, women and children. We don’t want to rush through and miss what we were supposed to see. In a few days, I hope to share the story of an incredible miracle of reunion – a father and son.
Thank you for sharing our journey

David has been asked to play a cruicial role in the development of curriculum for the six private schools we work with. He shares at the Friday meeting some of the plans.

If you want a laugh….
It is often dangerous to try and learn a new language. You take the risk of using the wrong word. Well, it happened to me at the celebration of the opening of the playground. After it was over, they announced there was ice cream for the children. One of our friends, a 28 year old, Sophia, mentioned that she wanted ice cream. Using Russian, I attempted to kiddingly tell her that she was too old….however, I actually said to her, Sophia, you are too ugly! Good thing she laughed and now I know the two different words!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Faces of Last Week

Almost every day we look into the faces of children, teens, middle aged folks and elderly and wonder what their story might be. In many cases, we know and we long to be able to help them in some way. Occasionally, we can. Sadly, many times the needs far overwhelm our resources.

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.
As I held another baby, just days old, I wondered what his story will be. I couldn't help think of his mother, who I learned was just 16 years old. She couldn't care for him and walked away. I talked with the doctor there and asked her if anyone talked or counseled these birth moms. I already knew the She is very open to staff training next spring for her staff on talking with birth moms...I wonder just how this 16 year old mother is doing one to talk to about her loss and pain.
One late morning last week, we were on a hunt for two young run aways from the orphanage. We stopped along a number of fields and trails asking where the boys might be. This little one caught our attention and is just such a beautiful picture of true Kyrgyzstan.
These two young men captured our hearts months ago. We eagerly arrived at the orphanage to find out they have been moved to another one. Our hearts sank, because the one they were in was wonderful. We didn't know about the other one. We set out to see them at the new orphanage. Upon arriving we were told they had run away - which reallyt means - running home, back to their village. It took us a few days to find them, but we did. We have no idea of their future, but we wanted just a moment to pour love and caring into their young lives. They know we will be back.

Arafat, on the left, continues to heal following his cleft palette surgery last spring. We stopped in his village to check on him and had the opportunity to see the whole family together. Next spring, we understand, he will have a follow up surgery and another followed down the road.

Most of our time is spent with children, but there is a special place we go to visit another group of friends - the seniors home, where homeless elderly live. We stopped in last week to check on these precious people we met last spring. The house cat is loved by everyone, but stays mostly with this babuska.

An Afternoon of Skating - A Moment in Memory
Saturday afternoon we accompanied John Wright and others in taking children from the villages to the skating rink. Not only were these children from poor villages, but five of them lived around the dump, surviving on what could be found to sell. When you look into the faces of these children, it is hard to imagine on this wonderful day, that they will return to live in desperate situations. We love them all...

He lives in a village that up to last year, had no water source. He is the middle son of about 6 or 7 children and whenever we are in his village, we love to see him.

Every child is special but this young lady and her sister pictured below, have a heart breaking story and is one who we want to get to know more. We understand that last year, their 36 year old mother died of an infection that could have been treated with $12.00 of medication, but they had no money. Her father works very long hours and these two precious children are raising themselves.

Larisa is holding this precious little one...the names are so hard to remember. She is six and will always be a "little person." Because she couldn't skate, David and I spent a lot of time walking around with her, buying her juice, and smiling at her. Occasionally, we would get a small smile back. We pray for God's protection over these little ones.

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...