Thursday, August 29, 2013

A New Territory and New Opportunity

Tonight David and I are busy packing for a new adventure.  As a result of our (LAMB) partnership with Orphan's Promise, we have been given an incredible opportunity to work in a number of their training centers in Eastern Europe.  These training centers are community outreaches to at-risk children - actually, many of them street children or nearly street kids.

Our first training center is in Armenia, which is a brand new location for us. We will be taking our trauma informed caregiver series to them, adapting it to the needs that are there. Following three days of training there, we will fly to Ukraine and then drive to western Ukraine to share with foster and adoptive parents. We hope to be a support and encouragement to them.  The final stop on our  training trip this time will be back in Kiev, at the CBN (Christian Broadcasing Network) training center for youth there.

In mid-September, I will return home and David flies on to Krygzstan for a week of meetings as he is the Chairman of the Board for IUCA, International Univeristy of Central Asia.

We are so humbled by the passion God has placed within us. We are so appreciative of the opportunity before us....the journey continues...Please check back as we will be sharing how we encounter God throughout our time with some very special and new people to us.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Announcing An Exciting Training Opportunity - Please Pass the Word

Last May, we had the opportunity to meet with many folks at the CAFO Summit as we shared our vision for equipping caregivers to care for wounded, abused and neglected children. Our vision has greatly expanded and we would like to announce a three day training series that will prepare leadership and support staff to train others. This first training is part of our Wounded Children, Hope for Healing series. 

Each year, hundreds of children around the world enter orphanages or foster homes and into the caregiving of people with giving hearts and a desire to help children. However many not equipped for their responsibilities. It is our hope to help equip the caregivers for their challenging role in the life of a wounded child.

In partnership with Christian Alliance for Orphans, (CAFO), LAMb International will be holding a training series with Phase One beginning on February 18-20, 2014 in Dayton, Ohio.  

Here is all the information.  To register for this event, visit  www.cafo.org/trauma  





Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Poland Update - The Rest of the Story

This is the rest of the story of our journey with our dear Polish friends. We spent three days of training foster parents, therapists and trainers on our trauma informed series. There were 33 participants from all over the country.  They loved the Trust Based Relational information - the work of Dr. Karyn Purvis and colleagues, that we we integrated into the three day series.

Here are pictures from a week we will remember....

 Discussing a group activity.


Everyone jumps in to contribute to the activity on child development.

 This group is discussing their presentation for the last day
 Not sure what I am doing here....sometimes candid shots are not that complimentary.
 Ania, the 19 year old daughter of Jurek and Edyta, foster parents, was indispensable for the week. We hesitated to have a need because she would move to meet it immediately.

 The workshop was full of opportunities to process the trauma information.

 Jumping to answer a question and winning Wounded Children Healing Homes in Polish.

 David's contribution in the workshop was invaluable.  His insight and depth of knowledge in this area was so helpful to everyone.

 Our group...and we hope to see them again.....

Nothing of this magnitude happens without leadership.  Joanna is the executive director of  "Koalicja na rzecz Rodzinnej Opieki ZastÄ™pczej" - a coalition of foster parent associations around Poland.  Thank you Joanna for the opportunity to share.

Our time in Poland is over for now, but we will continue to work with them on several projects...just hoping also to get back there and see those beautiful children  (see blog entry below)....


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Poland - Beyond Expectations

From meeting incredible foster families, to spending time with social work professionals and therapists, to sightseeing the beauty of a country, our week in Poland, as David said to our friends as we were leaving - "exceeded our wildest expectations."

During our week there we attended and spoke at a national foster care conference, conducted three days of training, spent time seeing the country, but most importantly connected with people of like mind and heart.  It is best shared in pictures....

First - meeting a beautiful special family
Jurek and Edyta have been foster parents for 17 years and have cared for over 40 children, many of whom they keep active contact today.  This was our introduction to the hospitality of Poland.


Jurek..he looks so serious here but he is a wonderful, caring, fun-loving foster dad..


Eight of the ten children who live in the foster family....We can almost tell you everyone of their names.

David was thrilled this little guy wanted to hold his hand..he soon learned he had a plan. . Edyta is a gentle and compassionate foster mom.

 Out on a walk and taking pictures of each other taking pictures.

 Dinner with the young adults who are still very connected to the family. Ania, the biological daughter of the foster family is sitting behind me.  This is an incredibly gifted, compassionate young adult who is deeply involved in the lives of the children in their homes. She has grown up with this as the only way of life she knows and will have a great impact herself on the future of child welfare in this county. I just know that.





 Dora caught our hearts...as did all the children.




C




























Chris, his American name, really connected to David.


Sight-seeing before the serious work


 Visiting an historic church.
 Behind us, across the river is Belarus.  This was a wonderful drive through the countryside.



David's right foot is in Poland and his left is in Belarus....Quite a feat to have your feet in different countries!

The Serious Work Begins

First stop the national conference



 Between 300 and 400 foster parents, social workers, members of the legislation and judicial branches and others attended this first time Foster Care Congress. This was during our presentation as the audience listened to the translation.  We spoke on the Three Essential Tasks for Foster Caregivers.

These foster care youth served in many ways throughout the conference.




COMING TOMORROW - MEETING OUR TRAINING GROUP - THEY WERE AWESOME!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Week of Preparing - Our Privilege

We hear it everywhere - whether home in the US, here in Ukraine and I know we will hear it next week in Poland. Adoptive and foster families struggle with the issues facing them. Often facing unexpected behavioral and emotional issues in their children,  families discover the dream of caring for an abused or neglected child is evaporating into hurt, chaos and confusion.  They find themselves in a situation in which they see no answers. This leaves many hopeless and beyond discouragement.

It is this reality that fuels the passion that David and I and our team members, Lynn and Ruby have for our newest training focus - preparing families and those who support them to grow into becoming a trauma competent healing presence in a child's life.

We spent the first two days of this week concluding our trauma informed care training at SOS Village in Kiev. We began the series in late March and finished it on Tuesday.  The training day turned from just being informational to transformation as the participants really connected with the healing principles of TBRI( Trust Based Relational Intervention - Dr. Karyn Purvis.)

Connecting with children comes through the five senses.  These workers are creating fun lists of connecting through vision activities, hearing  activities, touch  activities, smelling  activities and tasting  activities.  Their lists were very creative. They were excited about the useful ideas.


Beginning this week at SOS Children's Village in Kiev, we completed two days of training
with social workers, psychologists, and foster moms on trauma informed care.
We have focused the last portion of this week on training ILDC (International Leadership and Development Center, Kiev) trainers. These trainers are charged with the task of taking the material back to their agencies to train social workers and families in principles trauma informed care. The same thing is happening here as it did at SOS...our trainers are experiencing real insight in how to teach principles that will strengthen families.

A Glimpse of  Working with ILDC Trainers - Our Privilege


Natalia and Luba are planning their trainer's presentation for Friday afternoon.


David is sharing about sensory processing issues with traumatized children
The trainers are learning how to conduct the sensory processing activity with future participants.

                       
  Lena and Natasha, both adoptive/foster parents, are planning their presentation for Friday.
       

Sharing a group assignment, Luba, Lena, Natalia and Natasha are discussing ways to maximize a child's sense of safety in the foster/adoptive home.

We finish with the ILDC trainers on Friday afternoon, have a down day in Kiev, before leaving early Sunday morning for a conference in Poland and then training the trauma series.

Before Lynn and Ruby left Ukraine on Sunday, we had a rare opportunity to connect with them this trip in Kiev.  We are so thankful for the opportunities they have opened to us both in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.



                Outside a restaurant Saturday evening in Kiev. 

                                        
David and I look at such opportunities as God's gift to us to be able to share. What we have been given, we want to pass on....and it is our privilege.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Touching the Heart of a Caregiver Touches the Life of A Child

"I wanted to be in your second day of training, but I can not come tomorrow. It is not because the training wasn't good, it was because the little boy you spoke about all day was me.  I never had anyone there for me. I never heard warm words. I never had anyone take care of me and maybe that is why I am so sick.  Perhaps this is the reason that I work with children who are just like me."
                                                              From an orphanage social worker in Kyrgyzstan

This comment from a social worker, a young man working all by himself in a large orphanage captured our hearts.  Here is a young man, who never had the loving touch of a nurturing parent and is now charged with the task of giving something to children he never had.  Our desire is to be a help, support and encouragement to caregivers just like him who look into the eyes of wounded children everyday and don't know what to do.

There has never been a greater sense of mission and purpose in our overseas work than what is unfolding in the next few weeks and months.  For over three years, David and I have been on a journey to learn how to better help caregivers, foster parents and adoptive parents be the most successful healing person in their children's lives.And, perhaps, where needed, experience healing in their own lives.

We have read many books, sat under the training of Dr. Karyn Purvis, watched many hours of instructive DVD's, asked God for His guidance and leadership most of all and now have put all of this together in a three day training for orphanage caregivers overseas and for foster/adoptive parents in this country. The last month has been spent writing training guides and in getting the material translated into Russian and Polish.

Tomorrow morning, we leave for two weeks of work overseas, We have the privilege of again working in Ukraine and Poland.  Next week, we will be training foster mothers and social workers at the SOS Children's Village in Kiev. Later in the week, we will work with trainers in Ukraine teaching them the content of the three day series and leaving the material there for them to pass on.  The following week, we revisit our Polish friends, first speaking as a national conference and then also spending three very full days training their selected trainers on the same material.





It is still amazing to us that these remarkable opportunities have opened to us through our mission group, LAMB International and through Orphan's Promise, an orphan care ministry of The 700 Club. We want to show up and do the work we feel God has called us to.  Thank you for your encouragement to us and support of what we desire to do.....

video
                            Here is a video we made a couple of years ago and still motivates us today.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Learning Life Value Principles - A Fun Afternoon with the Dayspring Children

Over the past 18 months, David and I have immersed ourselves in learning much about Trust Based Relational Intervention principles. This is the work of Dr. Karyn Purvis, Dr. David Cross and others from the Institute of Child Development in Texas.  We have intergrated a lot of their teaching into our work both in the US and overseas in training social workers and orphanage workers.  Yesterday, we had the opportunity to try it out with children. Working with them on learning life value principles was so much fun.

Making Sock Puppets...
The first step was creating sock puppets so the children had fun making their own sock puppet that can be used in the life value scripts.

                                     Mark, the son of Olga, foster mom, had some help with his.

                                                   Christina did a great job on her puppet.
                                              Yulia wanted to show everyone her creation
 Costa, foster dad, even got in the act.  He has on his serious face, but it is only a ruse. He is actually like one of the kids - which is great for connecting with them.

Now Upstairs for the Lesson

            Ruby helps them get their skit together on "No Hits, No Hurts" life value principle.
  Emma and Julie Wright joined us and Emma is working with Jenia and Christina on their script.
Costa and Olga work with Mark, Anya and Dasha on "Obey first time."
 
 
The Video
 
We knew that Ruby took video of the lesson time yesterday, and were so excited when she came in today to training with a semi-finished product.  Here is what it looked and sounded like:
 
 


It Isn't Just Another Training Day

Our time spent with social workers and orphanage caregivers is not a day just of giving out information.  We ask God before we step out the door to touch lives in a helpful, maybe even transformational way. We count it a privilege to be with them and so wish we could engage in conversations, but the language barrier is always there.

Whenever the topic of childhood trauma is addressed, we know that it will also touch the personal lives of those who come.  We all come from some woundedness.  Recently, a man who was in our training emailed Ruby to thank her for the training, but to also tell her that it opened childhood wounds for him.  We would have loved the opportunity to talk with him further.

Here are some sights from the training room at Dayspring. It felt like a good two days for those who
came....
We needed a traumatized child for a visual .....I know Ruby will not be pleased we posted her quickie artwork around the world. (She is an excellent artist by the way.)


 These workers are caregivers to a local orphanage and Gulnarda, on the right is the cargiver at the Jeremiah House.
                                                       Going over an assignment.
Sharing an assignment.
As always, we get a group picture at the end of the day....
 
Some of these precious folks we will see again. Some of them our meeting was for only this time.  We trust the two days of time they gave to us will make even a small difference in how they care for the children entrusted to them.
 
We have meetings and plans for the next couple of days. The trip here, although short compared to our others, has been meaningful, fun and always a learning experience.
 


Friday, April 5, 2013

Your Life Touches the Lives of 10,000 Others

John Maxwell is quoted in saying that in our lifetime, we will touch the lives of 10,000 people.  We simply touch the life of one, that one in turn touches another and another and the influence God allows us continues.

In thinking about our LAMb team and the team from Ohio in light of John Maxwell's statement, it is extremely exciting and humbling.

Here are some sights from the lives of children and adults who have been along our journey this week.

From the training room - SOS Children's Village - Bishkek

Training on Trauma Informed Care with Foster Mothers and Psychologists


 
 
Training on Trauma Informed Care with Administration of SOS and Foster Aunts




The Ohio Team Touching the Lives of  Children, Disabled and Elderly

David and I have watched from afar this trip as we have been busy training social workers and orphanage care caregivers.   We heard about their experiences and here are a few pictures.  To see it all, visit the Wright's blog: www.actofkindness.blogspot.com   or LAMb blog: www.lambinternational.blogspot.com



At the Kemin Seniors Home
 
In a local village
 
 
We all shared in the birthday celebrations at this local orphanage
 

                                  These young boys all live together in the same orphanage.


Janel and the Komuz

Two years ago, six children from this orphanage wanted a Komuz....the national instrument of Kyrgyzstan. We suggested they earn it and they did. Now two years later, those instruments are still being played everyday.  We watched Janel played and were so amazed at her gift. She is playing in a concert this weekend.  We also saw that the instrument she was playing was well worn and cracked.  A friend of ours gave us a money gift to use any way we saw fit and getting a new instrument and a case just fit for us.  Thanks, Jen Archer....Janel will continue now to play. She takes musical lessons four days a week on the komuz.



Costa, our in-country director tried his hand at playing, however, in Janel's opinion, not too well.

 David and Yuri - a special little fellow we have known since the beginning of our time there in 2008.
 Ruslan was busy picking the olives off his pizza. He wanted to know if David wanted his pile of olives.
 These three had birthdays recently and we were all there to celebrate.
Two special brothers we have known for a long time.


A busy week has ended and we have one more to go.  Training next week, visiting friends and doing much planning with the LAMb team. There are a number of exciting things to share in a few weeks.

Thanks for your encouragement and support.