Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two Worlds Connected Today

While we are here, sometimes we feel that we are in two different worlds. There is the world of orphanages, seniors' home for homeless elderly, the invalid home –those encased in hopelessness. And , there is the other world, our university world, where we are with awesome young people weekly who dream of a productive future and are motivated by hope. Two vastly different worlds for us connected today!

The Wish and The Need
While in Kyrgyzstan last September, we met with one of the faculty members at IUCA. We had a wish and Natalia Tsukanova had a plan. Our wish was to teach English to children living in orphanages. Natalia, the teaching methods professor, needed a place to create a practicum for her education students. Today my wish came true and her need was fulfilled. Seven students from IUCA traveled a very short distance to a local orphanage to meet the director and make plans for an eight week practicum.

From left to right: Elimara, the orphanage director, the IUCA students and far right is Natalia Tsukanova, the IUCA professor.

It would be my guess that most of these students didn’t even know that there was an orphanage within 15 minutes (walking) from their campus. It would be my guess that most of these students have not had any contact with children who have suffered abuse and neglect and are permanently separated from families. It is my absolute certainty that these young people will be changed by what they experience in the coming weeks.

As the students and children introduced themselves to each other and the children showed off their art work and sang a song, I noticed a number of them tearing up. As we walked out, I said to one of them, you will grow to love these children. She responded, “I already do.”

IUCA students and children from this local orphanage met today in preparation for their English classes to begin this weekend.

 Both my professor friend, Natalia and I look forward to what will happen in the lives of these students One of the students asked me if she could come and visit the children on her school break. It is awesome to know that IUCA is touching the lives of wounded children in this community as these two worlds connect!

Meeting New Staff and Training Begins

Just this week, LAMb has grown. Two new staff personnel were added to the team – Medlen, our child advocate and Zukhar, our new translator. So who is all here now in Kyrgyzstan with us...Lynn and Ruby, John, Julie, Emma and Bekah Wright,  Natalia, our country director,Talent, Acel and 3 children – Resource Parents,Medlen, new child advocate,Zukhar, our new translator. Our team has GROWN!

Our staff - (l-r) Medlen, child advocate, Natalia, our country director and Zukhar, our new translator.
Last night, we had the privilege of sitting down at Dayspring for the first staff training in the new training room. LAMb is committed to doing as much as possible to prepare the resource family and the rest of LAMb staff for the challenges ahead.

Lynn shares the vision of Dayspring with the new staff.  Our resource parents, Talent and Acel are sitting to his rightThe focus of our discussion last night was preparing this new young family for the many challenges ahead for them and their children. We were very impressed with their wisdom and understanding already.

A team from Ohio arrives early Sunday morning – Randy and Kim Gebele (daughter and son-in-law of Lynn and Ruby) and Pastor Ken Day and his wife, Jackie from Dayspring Church in Beavercreek, Ohio. (Did anyone tell them our rule is “you can sleep when you get home?)

Much is planned for them while they’re here. I think the most exciting thing in which they will participate will be the grand opening of Dayspring Family Resource Center on April 12. More news coming soon.

the journey continues

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An Unexpected Request and Opportunity

David and I have been very much a part of the new university - the International University of Central Asia since it’s beginnings nearly 4 years ago. We saw the campus before renovations began, watched it come to life, helped clean the campus to get ready for the new incoming students and now we both have the privilege of teaching there.

Last Friday, while attending the IUCA board meeting, of which he is a trustee, David was asked a totally unexpected question. “Would you consider assuming the Chairmanship of the Board of Trustees?” As the idea has had time to settle in, we both are realizing the awesome opportunity this provides for David. We also know that this is an grave responsibility as well.

During the remaining weeks here, David will be spending much time getting to know the inner workings of the school, to know its faculty and staff better and to prepare to lead beginning in July. Although, we will be home by then, David will keep in regular contact with the President and Vice-President through email and skype calls. He will return for a period of time in the fall for further consultation and university participation.

David's 8:00 am sociology class. These young people are eager to learn. They take volumious notes and ask alot of questions.

My 8:00 am journalism class is tackling a major project to complete in 7 weeks - the first IUCA yearbook. From the excitement of the students, although it will be hard work, it will be great fun.

Many Have Asked – How Can We Help?

In the last several days, a number of friends have emailed us or sent facebook messages with the same question. How can we help?

One of the most effective ways is to watch our blog, and those of LAMb and the Wrights as they post humanitarian needs almost every day. The needs here are overwhelming. We know that we cannot meet them all and trust and pray we are paying attention to what God wants us to do.

If God speaks to you about a need, go to the Canada Helps button on the right, click it and it will walk you through the process. Put in the memo specifically where you would like your gift to go. (i.e. senior’s home, invalid home, Dayspring)

Current emergency needs on John’s Blog

1. Renovation for a woman attempting to survive – micro financing

2. New floor for invalid home (scroll down on John's blog for the story)

3. Renovation for a widow whose husband died and 40 days later her apartment burned

 This elderly woman's apartment burned forty days after the death of her husband.
She is living with friends for now.  LAMb team was made aware of this situation and is moving in to help.  Funds are needs for renovation costs of about $1,700.  About $500 still is needed.

These are just three emergency needs of many.

Ongoing needs from (Lynn and Ruby) LAMb blog:

1. Dayspring Family Life Resource Center – family type foster home opening in two weeks

2. Needs at Kemin’s senior home

3. Financing of training material in both Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan

4. Many needs around sustainable funding for projects

5. MAD Money - making a difference as the need arises

A need we learned of today:

Today, David and I sat down with the vice president of the new university in Tokmok founded by Mercy Foundation. It is the International University of Central Asia. In the midst of our conversation, we learned that many of the students at the university are on scholarship – without sponsors. In other words, the university allows a student to come in spite of his inability to pay. As Dr. Clark said to us today, “ How can I turn down a worthy student for a life changing education because he has no money.”

This has put a tremendous financial strain on this unique university. If IUCA was not here, these young people from neighboring villages would never have the opportunity to further their education and look forward to a brighter future. Sponsors for students are desperately needed.

We are committed to IUCA. We teach there. We know many of the students by name and their story. We don’t know at this point, what we will do with what we learned about today….but something.

Amina and Aihan represent the dynamic young people of IUCA. Aihan will be spending the summer with Ruby's sister and brother-in-law in Ohio and working at a McDonalds. This is a great opportunity for her and for all of us.