Friday, March 19, 2010

First Days in Central Asia

Many days when we were here before, we experienced all the emotions. Today was a stark reminder of those emotions we encountered when the depth of the need of people, the grave reality of their suffering is right in front of you.

We left our city and drove about 20 minutes to the town dump. This is a place where day after day, men, women and children come scouring the dump for anything that is edible or sellable. It was windy and slightly warm today, so you can imagine the smells that hit us as we stepped out of the car. The mission today was to join the Wright family and their friend Jodie, in delivering food bags to the families there. This was not just a one time event visiting these precious people, but one of many. The people there know Larisa, an on- the -ground agent of Possibilities International and know she represents many people who care about them.

We arrived just as new loads of garbage were being dumped.

Men, women and children, truly struggling for daily survival comb through every load that comes in.

This young woman separated out what she wanted for the day. Each family creates their own daily stock pile.

Jodie, the young woman holding a box, left the area in tears.  She told me it would be hard for the women who attended her fund raising teas back home in Canada to truly understand what their gifts did today.

As we left, these people who have absolutely nothing blessed us, who have everything.  They praised God for His supplying their need. The young lady on the right led the group in a song.

More food drops
After leaving the dump area, we drove to visit families that have been aided by the work of Possibilities International PI (Wright’s organization). We met a young girl alone at home. Her mother was recently killed in a car accident and her brother had serious injury which required life restoring surgery. Her father was not at home, he was working. What seems insignificant to us – a large bag with oil, rice, potatoes, carrots, bananas, apples, sugar, pasta, tea – is of major significance to them.

This beautiful young lady, living out in a village with no running water, has a dream. She wants to go to school in the capital city. Our prayer is that her dream will be realized.  Larissa, who ministers all over these villages is on the right, John and Julie Wright on the left.

More of Larissa's families.

In a nearby village, we also stopped by to see our special friends, Maksat and Albeck. We first met them in the orphanage and now they live with family members. Both of their parents have died.  We have the privilage in the morning of taking them to the bazaar to buy clothes, shoes, jackets, shoes, etc. Because of our friends back home, we have the resources to do this.  THANKS, Parker and others!

David spent many hours talking with Maksat, on the left and they are special friends.

A Visit to a Special Child
Last spring, we were in a little village not far from where we lived. We met a beautiful family and especially their three year old son who had a severe cleft palette. Through the generous donation of friends of ours (thanks John and Robin) and others, this little one received the surgery that changed his life forever. Where once he was kept hidden by the family, he is now out in the village playing like the other children.

Before surgery - spring, 2009

Today, March 19, 2010 - I have never seen a more beautiful smile.

A Small Hospital
After leaving the village and little Arafat’s family, we stopped in to visit a small village hospital. We were greeted by a number of gracious doctors and nurses and given a tour of the facility. This small hospital cares for over 7,800 people in the surrounding villages. They have little resources, little medication and like so many places like this we visit, have no heat in the building.
This is the small hospital that serves 7,800 local villagers.

The staff greeted us warmly. Their jobs are overwhelming with so many needs and little if any resources to meet those needs.

This small heating stove does not even warm the room it is in, let alone the rest of the building.

Each Time It Gets Brighter
Our organization, LAMb International in a incredible partnership with PI, has been involved in the Home for Invalid men, a very difficult place to be. It is the home for over 200 men who are physically or mentally disabled. Once there, there is really no way out.

When we first went there now two years ago, it was a dark, damp and tremendously sad place. Overtime, as the time and finances of people have been put into this place, it gets brighter with each visit. The needs here like so much we see in this country are beyond our capacity to meet, so we simply believe God will send us to those He wants us to see and provide the resources to help in some small way.  We will write home about LAMb's involvement in this place we think of, not as a home for invalid men, but a Home of Hope.

Still a Bit of Jet Lag

We got home late this afternoon from the day’s activities, extremely tired, partially due to the jet lag. We are still on Ohio time, I think. Having rested now, we are getting ready for a very full weekend.

This is the weekend:

Saturday morning: Shopping at the bazaar with children from a local orphanage. These children will be picking out new clothes and shoes for the spring.

Saturday afternoon: Leave for another city two and a half hours away, where the children from the local orphanage have been moved. We spent a lot of time with these children over the last two years when they lived close by and are so looking forward to seeing them.

Saturday evening: Time at the orphanage with the children

Sunday morning: Church with the kids from the orphanage and lunch afterwards

Sunday afternoon: Bring the all the children (maybe 40) to the capital city for activities and eating out at a restaurant

Sunday evening: home and ready for a new week.

I think the journey has begun.  Thank you for caring.

To hear all that LAMb is doing both in Krygyzstan and Ukraine, visit our partners' blog:


David and I arrived safely and uneventfully early Wednesday morning. And, yes, all of our luggage arrived this time- the first time. We spent the rest of Wednesday resting and organizing our apartment and meeting with the Wright family. Thursday, we went to the Foundation and it was so good to walk into that familiar place and see the familiar faces of the people we have grown to love over the last two years.

Later on Thursday, we met with one of the department heads at the university where we will be teaching this spring quarter. David will be teaching three courses – Psychology, Sociology and History of Religion. I will be teaching composition and journalism. This is our third teaching involvement at this new university and our most involved. These young people are eager to learn as they truly understand the way out of poverty is a good education. We will be on campus three days a week.

It is amazing what we feel as we walk around this town and how good it is to be here. Maybe it has to do with the sense that this is the place God has us to be at this time in our own personal journey.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Family Story of God's Protection

Last night we had a great time with our family. Rick, Kristy, Micah and Lissi, Ray and Lacey joined us for a "see you later" dinner as we prepare to leave.

As usual, the little girls, Lissi, 7 and Lacey, 3 came up with a plan to spend the night together at Ray's. So off they went.  About 20 minutes after they left, as we gathered for prayer. Micah asked us to pray for Lissi as he felt frighted for her and didn't know why. So, of course, that is what we did.

We learned the reason this morning. About 2:00am Ray was awakened by his duplex neighbor and a fire engine.  The wall between them was smoking. Rain had seeped in and shorted out the wiring causing a smoldering fire. Everyone was fine, but I wondered what might have happened if we had not prayed God's protection over our family. The other joy of this is that we saw Micah's sensitivity to God's spirit. At 11 years of age, that is awesome.

We are so thankful that as we leave, we can truly entrust our children and grandchildren to Him.

In the morning...

The night before we leave is always full of last minute things to do.  It is now 8:05. We are almost done with everything.  All the luggage weighs just under the limit. Carry-ons are packed and shortly we will just relax and probably head to bed early.

However, amidst all the last minute activity of the past week or so, we stopped to reflect on God's incredible goodness to us.  About ten days ago, David and I were talking about our resources for the trip. I hope I can say this so it sounds right. We generally fund our own expenses and as we were calcuting our personal resources, we regretfully realized things are tighter this trip. Our needs for the trip are covered for those things to which we have commited ourselves,  but we didn't have alot of extra for the multide of unplanned humanitarian needs that capture our hearts. 

We have seen God provide through His people throughout our years of ministry and now is no exception. SO, let me say, within the last ten days, through the unsolicted gracious gifts of many friends, we are now ready to respond to those whom God places in front of us. We do pray for God's discernment and wisdom in using the funds entrusted to us.

We will do our best to keep the blog updated over the next months.  Thank you for sharing our journey!