Thursday, December 25, 2014

New Words - New Experiences - New Life

Just a couple of days ago, Lynn and Ruby Johnston sent us an incredible video from Kyrgyzstan.  It is is posted below, but I wanted to comment on the power of what this video shows.

Children touched by the ministry of Lamb International are children who have experienced abuse, neglect, trauma and loss at a level perhaps we can never completely comprehend.  What the words did from those staggering events and the life experiences children endured  created a belief system that is fueled by damaging thoughts.  "I am unloved."  "I don't even exist."

How does one change a belief system?  A belief system is changed by new words and new experiences overtime.  That is exactly what the Lamb team on the ground in Kyrgyzstan is doing with Dayspring (home for girls) and Jeremiah House (home to teens who have aged out of the orphanages.)  The power of this video speaks for its self.

Click on the link just below the picture to see this heartwarming video.

Thank you all who have supported the ministry of Lamb International.  It is making a huge difference in the lives of children.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lamplighter's Third Annual Adoption Conference A Great Success

Now history, the Dayton area's Lamplighter's Adoption and Orphan Care Ministry conference was a great success. It was held at the West Carrollton Church of the Nazarene on November 8 and featured both national and international speakers.  It was so exciting to see scores of adoptive and foster parents enter the building on that Saturday morning. All came with a singular passion - to care for the heart of a wounded child. Our prayer as we began the day was that those coming would find hope and encouragement. From the responses we have had, in a very large way, that happened. We are thankful for the opportunity to serve the Dayton area's foster and adoption community.

Here are some highlights of the day:

Keynoter: Beth Guckenberger, co-executive director of Back2Back ministries sharing with just moms

Just for Dads - David Little, adoptive father from Minnesota and missionary with The Navigators

Workshop Presenters

Paula Gates from Pathway Caring for Children in Canton, Ohio

Raymond Lloyd - Ohio Child Welfare Trainer and Expert and Springfield Pastor

Betsy Smalley - International Expert and Author in the field of Child Welfare

Deb Amend - adoptive mom and special education specialist and author

Daron and Heidi Holland - adoptive parents and Empowered to Connect Trainers

Jen Hauk and Carrie Combs - adult adopted persons sharing their story of reunion as Rob McNally facilitates

Chris Combs, adoptive father and director of Cincinnati's Coalition of Care

David and Jayne Schooler - Pastor and International Trainer/Author

A conference like this could not happen without the many volunteers who helped. We didn't get pictures of all of them so here are just a couple of our group of over 20 from various area churches.                                               
                                                                  THANK YOU

APRIL 17-18  Sensory Smart Weekend - registration opens the first week in January
OCTOBER 24, 2015 - next year's conference

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Busy and Meaningful Days

"Thank you for coming. You have changed our belief system through new experiences and new words."   A young man in our training session slipped up to David as the session ended last week and quietly said these words to him.  It is always good to get feedback indicating what has been shared has been helpful. 

Meeting many new people from different cultures is one of the greatest joys we experience in working overseas. The last ten days have been filled with new faces and new experiences.  We finished our 2nd three day training series today, which was the pre-conference focus for the Romania without Orphans national event.  

With Josh Wientge with us, we have the opportunity to get some awesome pictures and videos.  Josh captured some thoughts from some of our participants from Building Trauma Competent Healing Caregivers.  All of the participants, either foster or adoptive parents or workers, carry heavy loads as they live with or with work children from very difficult early beginnings.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us.....we are so grateful that God has opened these doors for us for this time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

HIghlights of First Day in Romania

Many sights, sounds and feelings greeted our first day in Romania.  We are learning so much about Livada Orphan Care - an organization that has been a pioneer  in caring for orphan and high risk children for over ten years. The breadth of their work here is amazing.

Before the training day began, we visited emergency home - Big Blue orphanage, where children are taken who are in need of emergency protective  care. It was a good reminder for us why we are here as begin our time with social workers, foster and adoptive parents, therapists, and volunteers. We are privileged to be sharing with over 100 folks from Mures County in Romania.

A big highlight for us this trip is having Josh Wientge with us.  We are so enjoying our conversations with him.  He is here to create videos and photo memories of what we are doing in this capacity building initiative.

Here is a highlight of our first day from Josh's perspective.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Would You Consider Coming? What Happened When We Said Yes

Seventeen months ago, during a pause in our presentation at CAFO conference in Nashville, (Christian Alliance for Orphans), a gentleman slipped to the front of the room, handed David his card and said quietly, "would you consider coming to Romania?"  That was Livada director, Bruce Thomas. Now all these many months later, David and I, along with Josh Wientge from Lebanon, will be heading tomorrow to Romania for 12 days of training. We will be meeting many new people who share our vision for hope and healing for children devastated by trauma and loss. This is another awesome partnership as our connections continue to grow.   Orphans Promise is providing the funding for our travel there and two of their OP staff will be joining us as well.  It takes the efforts of many to continue the work to which God is calling so many.

One of the many highlights of the trip will be participating in the first ROMANIA WITHOUT ORPHANS conference at the end of October.We see this as an incredible privilege and take our time there very seriously.

While we are in Romania, other LAMb team members, Lynn and Ruby are in Botswana, after finishing a week in South Africa.  Our dear friends, John and Julie Wright and their daughters continue their hard work in Kyrgyzstan.

We are excited that Josh is joining us.  With Josh along, we will have great video and pictures from the experiences there and it will be meaningful to see how this experience impacts a young man whose heart has been turned to the needs of vulnerable children.

 We do appreciate your prayers as we go....our journey continues

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Days In Poland: A Time of Reconnecting

One of the joys of continuing our work in countries where we have been before is reconnecting with friends we have made.  Our fourth trip to Poland enabled us to do just that.  We had the privilege of once again staying in the foster family home of the Wojtasinska family. They have been foster parents for 19 years to over 30 children. Many of those children (now young adults) remain in contact with the family.

These youngsters will grow up in the same foster home and be a permanent part of this family.  Standing next to David is Anya, 21 year old daughter of the foster parents. This is the only life she knows and is an amazing big sister to these kids.

Edyta and Jarek are key leaders in the national foster parent coalition and have been instrumental in changes that are happening in Poland.
After spending time in this foster home, David and I traveled to Warsaw for 4 days of training.  The group that assembled are key trainers that we have worked with before. The trainers that are a part of the Polish foster parent coalition are currently training the 3 day trauma series that we shared with them last year all over Poland. We were so excited to hear that.   This trip, we followed up on what we did before and added training on teens and trauma and how to conduct TBRI Nurture groups.  One of our commitments is to follow through with how the training is going and implementation of the principles we shared.

There was a lot of laughter amidst so much learning.  

Here is a short video of our time with our friends and colleagues - all who share the vision of helping wounded children heal. Like so many of us, they also dream of their country to become a Poland without Orphans.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Friends in Armenia

Before we landed in Armenia to join Orphan's Promise Centers staffs, we sensed it was going to be a very special and unique time. It didn't take long to realize why.  We were so humbled and challenged by the stories of the men and women who work for Orphan's Promise. From severe life circumstances in soviet times through the devastating earthquake in the late 1980's to now, the older folks demonstrate the power of the gospel of Christ.  The younger ones, children of the previous generation are following their parents's example in serving the children and families of Armenia.  They are bringing the light of the Gospel to dark and devastated places and people.

We spent three days with them on how to minister most effectively to children who come from difficult home situations. It is the trauma series that we have had the privilege of sharing in a number of countries.  There was a lot of hard work, but a lot of laughing, too.

Here are some the picture highlights of a people we will remember and hope to see again.
Beginning the day...asking for God's favor and direction



Samson, one of the OP directors, demonstrating self -regulation technique

Members of one center's team

Karen Springs, the regional director of  Orphan's Promise shares.  

Pastor Rafael closes the training.  We listened to his incredible stories about life in soviet times. What strength these people have.

Our wonderful and competent translator, Liana.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Orphan's Promise in Kiev

Orphan's Promise, a ministry of Christian Broadcasting Network,  is now ministering in different ways in over 60 countries around the world.  We have been totally taken aback by the breadth and the depth of the ministry. We have had the privilege of just a glimpse of the tremendous work that is going on.

Last week , we spent three days with the Ukraine Orphan's Promise staff. We followed up our trauma work from last year, focusing on teens and trauma and also training the group how to conduct Nurture groups, a focus of the work of Dr. Karyn Purvis. So much learning amidst so much fun!

Here are a few shorts videos of our time there.

An amazing group of young men serving the gypsy villages in western Ukraine really embraced the nurture groups. It was so much fun to see them use their creativity to teach new skills.  These men work in very difficult situations, extreme, extreme poverty and deprivation.  We saw pictures of their work - before and after.  When the light of Christ comes in, dark places become places of Light. 
Here is a short video of them teaching the nurture group rules: stick together, no hurts, have fun!

The Power of Yes and Connections Enhance Relationships

Trust based relationship principles, the power of saying yes and simply making connections are two powerful principles.  Two young people shared their stories on the third day of training after they learned these concepts.

Alonya's story

"Every night when I get home from work, my younger brother, who is 13, always asks me to use the computer.  always say no, because I don't want to get up and put in the password or even give him the password.  Tonight, after the training, he asked me the same question again when I got home. Tonight I said yes, got up and put in the password. He spent about 30 minutes on it and then turned to talk to me.  This was the first time in a very long time we had a meaningful conversation. It all happened because of the power of yes!"

Andrei's story -

"I have a 14 year old brother who has pretty much shut me out. Won't talk to me, just kind of mumbles.  I always thought it was his responsibility to initiate the conversation. After the training the day, I realized it was mine to connect. So last night, when I got home, I had making a connection with my brother as a priority. I sat down, started asking him about his day, his friends, school, etc....He opened up to me and we talked for over an hour. " 

We just love these stories and there were many more.  It is Wednesday afternoon here in Armenia and we leave very early in the morning (4:30 am flight) for Poland.  We will have pictures of the beautiful people of Armenia over the weekend.  Thank you for your interest and prayer support.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Learning about Nurture Groups

Training is meant to be fun!  It is also meant to be practical and something that can be used in the transformation of another.  Last Friday, in a training sponsored by the International Leadership and Development Center of Ukraine, we had the fun opportunity to work with over 40 professionals on learning about nurture groups.   This is a concept taught by Dr. Karyn Purvis ( Trust Based Relational Intervention).  I attended the "how-to" training last January in Texas.  I thought we would just be using in the US, but with permission from TBRI, we are sharing this in Ukraine and Poland this trip and beyond.

Here is a very short clip of what the training day looked like. I don't think we heard so much laughter in the midst of so much learning.

We have four more days in Ukraine. This week we are sharing with over 65 folks representing Orphan Promise training centers all over Ukraine.   More about these wonderful folks tomorrow. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Finished First Day in Ukraine

"Children are healed in the context of relationships."  That focus is the purpose of our training trip to Ukraine this trip. Helping those who work with children who have come from difficult places to heal. We had the privilege of meeting with and working with 42 folks from all around the very huge city of Kiev.  They are trainers, social workers, therapist, foster and adoptive parents and they came today and will be back tomorrow for the same purpose - to continue to learn how to help wounded children heal.

Raya, a young woman who attended the Trust Based Relational Invention training two years ago with Dr. Karyn Purvis began the day introducing the TBRI principles of empowerment, connecting and correcting. Her desire and passion  to help parents and others learn how to better connect and correct children is so evident. You can tell by listening to her and talking with her, she has spent many, many hours of study. so proud of her work.
Raya, sharing with the group this morning.

After Raya completed her presentation, we began the journey of understanding Nurture Groups for children. (Pictures will come tomorrow).  What I can say is that the group had a great deal of fun this afternoon while learning and we will continue it on Friday.  

A note about what we have experienced
 As all of you know, Ukraine is in the midst of frightening conflict with Russian.  Just today, we learned that Russian has indeed invaded eastern Ukraine - far from us. However, although the conflict is far from us, people experience it here in different forms. Just today, while walking back from our training, we watched, stunned, as a large group of men in hooded masts began smashing and looting a small store and gas station. It happened right across the street from our apartment.  After that settled down, we walked over to the large shopping mall here. It is brand new.  When we walked up the steps from the underground walkway, we saw the entire entrance to the mall roped off. It was impossible to get in. It had been evacuated due to a bomb threat, which we understand is quite frequent here in large shopping areas.  

We asked our translator how she was doing and others.  She said her life income had been greatly influenced. She felt anxious, numb and helpless to do anything to help the problems here. She said that most people feel that way.  Please continue in prayer for these people. 

We continue our time with the ILDC training tomorrow and begin our work with Orphan's Promise next week.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Getting Ready for Ukraine, Armenia and Poland - Has Been So Fun!

We are in the final days of preparation before we leave for our trip overseas. Getting ready has been so much fun!   We will be taking trainee prizes like we have never taken before.We show you in a minute. (If you know me, you know I am not the crafts type, but I have been unleashed :) )

During our time there we will be training through the International Leadership and Development Center/ LAMb International for the first part of the trip. Then we join the Orphan's Promise staff in Kiev for three days of training with their centers from all over Ukraine. They are expecting about 60 of dedicated folks who care about the welfare of vulnerable children - now more than ever in Ukraine is this needed. We met many of them last year while there. These days will be follow up to our series on trauma competent caregiving, adding teen material and learning how to conduct nurture groups.  We then move on to Armenia with Orphan's Promise to train their staff on the first part of our  trauma competent healing caregiving.

Following our work with Orphan's Promise in Armenia, we will be spending a week working with some very special friends in Warsaw, Poland.  This is our fourth visit to this very special country and we so look forward to this continued partnership.

Now to the trainee prizes.   I was inspired by two friends of mine, Mary Vacario and Carol Huggins- Mitchell during their trauma training last week. They had with them magnets with powerful statements on them as prizes for the group.  I thought to myself, that would be cool to make for our trip.  And the idea grew and grew.  So now what you will see below are pictures of the mugs, buttons, and magnets that are going with us.  The ones below are in Russian, but they are also almost ready in Armenia and Polish. The front room has been a mess- a very fun mess! Get ready Back2Back - Spanish and Creole are next!

"Behavior is the language of children with no voice"  Dr. Karyn Purvis 

"Connect before you correct"    or "For children, presence matters."

The Safety Script Magnets
Everything Russian 

We do ask your prayers as we go as we take our time with these precious people very seriously.  We go simply to speak those things God would have us to into their lives.