Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Day with Little Time to Stop

It has been simply a wonderful and beautiful day here today. But it just isn’t the weather that has made it so beautiful, but the connections with so many of people who have been special to us.

David’s Day Started When…

He left very early to walk to the University for his last class today. Exams are next week. We are so thrilled to be able to interact with these dynamic young people. Just last week, he was sitting out under a tree in the center of campus talking with a young man. Shortly, he was surrounded by 10 or 12 students who just wanted to talk with him. Our hope while on campus has been to develop caring relationships with these students and simply love them into the kingdom. Open conversation is happening more all the time. David is very busy the rest of today with grading research papers and designing final exams for three courses.

My Day Started When…

Natalia and I went to the government office building to talk with the key person in charge of children’s issues. We are discussing a new and most promising project- the creation of a family type foster home in Tokmok. Financial backing has come in for the purchase and renovation of a home where ten children will live. They will never enter the orphanage system. A few government hoops must be jumped through, and we are praying for God’s direction here. As soon as we have a clear green light, I will share more about this amazing project.


We went to the baby hospital to see Melana, a six week infant, abandoned by her 15 year old birthmother. Ruby had the privilege of naming her and Melana means “grace” in Kyrgyz. Melana apparently has some potential heart problems and through the project, “Babies Bound for Blessing,” she has been sponsored and will be taken early next week to the hospital in Bishkek for evaluation.

Little Melana will go to the hospital next week and then shortly move to the baby orphanage.

My heart breaks for birthmothers here as they simply are forced to walk away from their newborns, never knowing whatever happens to them. Maybe someday, we will find a way to minister to them. Relinquishment is not an event, but a lifelong journey for these young, frightened birthmothers.


We went to the bazaar because the doctor told us she had no baby food left for Melana from the supply given to them by Lynn and Ruby earlier. We hadn’t planned on shopping today, so had just enough money to get a few supplies – the essentials – oatmeal and diapers. Early next week, we will stock up the food supply at the baby hospital.


We headed to the university to gather the final news articles for the school’s first newspaper to be published early next week. After a quick lunch, we ran a short bank errand (40 minutes to withdraw some funds).


With all of 20 minutes left to get to the T-shirt factory before the manager left, we rushed to pick up the shirts for the journalism class. More about that later.

We hurried back to the baby hospital to deliver our small bundle of supplies…

Natalia, our friend and translator, (l) Hymanot, our friend and driver, and Altynai, a precious young student at IUCA who has a story of redemption all her own, helped deliver things today.


We came back to our apartment to finish some last minute changes on the student’s newspaper articles.


We grabbed a taxi for the last journalism class this term. Before rushing any further, I wanted to share what it was like to be with these 11 students. Here is the short article that will appear in the paper next week about the young people.

A Fantastic Group of Enthusiastic Journalists
By Jayne Schooler, Faculty Advisor to the Journalism Club

Something came to be today that just eight weeks ago was not even a thought. That something is the very paper you are holding in your hand – the new IUCA TODAY.
Just eight weeks ago, I met a dynamic group of ten young people, enthusiastic and eager to tackle a project in which they had no experience. And, tackle it they did.
How? Class attendance (8:00 am Monday mornings) was nearly 100% throughout our eight weeks. Each student readily took on new challenges, asked many questions, showed up and followed up with completed assignments.
To introduce the new course of journalism and to get a first paper out in eight weeks is just short of a miracle. I am so proud of these ten fine young people who worked hard and together published the first edition of the IUCA TODAY.

At the beginning of the class, I had the opportunity to share with them about the most important decision I ever made in my life and that was to make God the center of my life. I also told them that it was my journalism teacher over 40 years ago that led me in that decision. Following that short testimony, each student was given a t-shirt with the journalism logo they designed.

The IUCA TODAY journalism staff - a brand new experience for everyone of these young people.

                                  Did someone say "no final exam?"

A Day of Contrasts
This was truly a day of contrasts – engaging in the world of child welfare with all of its heartbreak and complexities and then engaging in the world of university students who are looking for meaning and purpose in life. We are truly blessed to be a part of it.

Yesterday, we sat in the office of the university president to discuss what courses we will be teaching next fall. David will be co-teaching with the university president in a class entitled “Professional Ethical Leadership” and Applied Psychology: Principles of Counseling. He has been asked to be a part of a Learning Center next year, which is actually a guidance counselor’s office as we know it. So many of these young people have no family or broken families or come from very significant poverty situations and life is difficult.

International University of Central Asia's president, Camilla Sharshekoeeva and head of  the linguists department, Tatyanna Dubina.

Although it is still undecided, I will probably be teaching Beginning Composition and Journalism. There is a possibility that with the addition of the new Education Department, I could be teaching a course on early childhood development.

We start the ten day count down on Saturday with much yet to do. Again, we will leave here changed. We continue to be humbled by the gracious, loving people for whom life is extremely difficult, and yet, they extend themselves to us every day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What's In Store for the Two Weeks That Remain

We cannot believe that we are down to our last two weeks here. We just returned from having dinner with our friend and team member, Natalia and we planned the activities for this week. Here is what is ahead, but as we always say here - we must be flexible!

  • We go to the Senior's home in Kemin to help plan a luncheon for the local churches and government administrations in the area.  The family managing the home does so, without pay and with little or no help and we thought it would be a good and fun idea to reach out to the community, get the word out about this life-saving facility and encourage volunteers to come to do a variety of things. The luncheon is scheduled for Wednesday, May 19th. This luncheon is being made possible through the gifts of our friends and partners. We trust that this time will encourage those in the community to share in this vital service.
Tonya and her husband and three sons basically manage the health care needs, nutrional needs, emotional and spiritual needs of 14 elderly people, who would have been homeless without their intervention.
  • In the afternoon, we will drop in with a visit with Larissa, who has a Bible ministry at the home for invalid men. Lynn and Ruby left Bibles and other booklets with us to take out to the men and Larrisa will deliver those wonderful resources. Just last week, we visited the invalid home of about 250 men and took fruit and vegetables and treats to them. This also was supported by friends back home.
God has called this selfless woman to the ministry at the home for invalid men. Once a dark place, the light of God's love has been brought there by Larissa, and through the work of LAMb International and John Wright's group, Possibilities International

  • Following our visit with Larisa, we will come back for an afternoon meeting at the University with the journalism staff. After Thursday, I want to blog all about these dynamic students. I plan to share the picture of all of them in their journalism shirts, which be given to them on the last day of class. These gifts made possible by the gifts of others, is an enormous blessing to these young people.

  • Because of the sponsorship of friends in Lebanon, a young man attends the university. He is doing well in his second year.  We heard early last week of his need for shoes - he literally had none and was forced to borrow from a classmate.  So, on Tuesday, Natalia and Vitali will go shopping for shoes and other clothing items while we are in class.
  • While here, Ruby had the privilege of naming a baby who was born in the baby hospital here and left there by her 15 year old birthmother. Her name is Melana Grace and just before they left, we heard she has a heart problem. Natalia and I will visit the baby hospital tomorrow and Natalia will make arrangements for her to be transported to the capital for tests.
  • David and I have classes all afternoon at the university.

  • We will meet with the university president to discuss their needs for the fall and how we might fit into the picture here in September.
  • David will possibly have meetings, but it is too soon to know.
  • We plan to have dinner with some special friends.  As we prepare to leave, one of the precious memories we experience is spending time with friends.

  •  We will go to see "Jessica's family" in the morning.  The oldest daughter is in need of eye surgery and through the gift of a special friend in West Chester, we will be able to share in this need.
           Ruby and Medina, who needs the surgery, on home renovation day.
  • David and I finish our university classes on Thursday and will truly miss these fine young students.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday - Just too soon to know, however, a few things are planned. We will be going to Bishkek on Friday for dental work for Natalia and again on Sunday as David will be speaking at a church there.

Our love and admiration for our friends here deepens with each trip that we are here.  Our prayer is that in some small measure, we have blessed them as they have, indeed, blessed us.