Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to School Blues ...

Well the feelings appear to be 60/40 ... We have three that are excited about going back, and two that are in great distress..and don't even want to say the "S" word. Emma and Bekah are almost distraught at the thoughts of going back to school... They want us to take them back to Central Asia and go to school there. Bekah says "Just hire us a translator for a few months, and we will be just fine ". Benjamin is going back to school to get his Masters Degree... he is very excited and has been looking forward to this for some time. He loves school. Our daughter-in-love, Rachel, is following in Julie's career path and is taking a post grad Addictions Counseller Program and is very happy with this. Altynai started school today at the Technical Institute in town... I think that she has had the most fan fare of any student... We have received photo's from both Sergei and Anya and also from David and Jayne... It has helped us to have so many EYES on her to keep us posted. We have called a couple of times and talked to her, but that usually ends up with us all crying..... The first photo we received was this one

This is Altynai in the middle , introducing her new room mate ( On her right ) to Jayne and Davids friend Bekah. When we saw this we were so excited... the room mate is a girl that we know.... She is a beautiful girl with a genuine gentle spirit... we were so blessed to see this. This is a photo of her on her way to school.... You can see Christina over her shoulder... Christina was such a blessing to us while we were there, and that continued when we left... She and Ruslan took Altynai as part of their family when we left... She has been so good to Altynai and has had a special connection with her... Christina works for PI and was Altynai's English teacher and tutor.... she deserves a lot of credit for the wonderful job that she does with the kids... Here is a photo of their new room.... Maybe we were in Central Asia for too long, but when I look at this photo, the first thing I see is a hot water radiator on the wall and mattresses on the beds ....

Well I guess 3 out of 5 happy is a start...... maybe we will have to offer some sort of incentive to help the other two with their attitudes... how's that for good

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Burdens Continue

We are slowly adjusting back to our life here in Canada... We arrived home and the house was nice and clean, the grass was cut, and even the fridge and the cupboards we stocked with food. We are so blessed to be part of such a wonderful community... As we drove through the streets in town, we could not help but notice how beautiful everything was.. The streets were clean and in good shape, the lawns were all cut and the houses are all in good repair... Norwood is not a wealthy town and they are not monster homes, but it really is beautiful... I have been into a few stores and they all know me by name and were eager to hear how our trip was.... Then they would all ask... "So are you glad to be home...?"... how do you politely say NO!... so we just smile and say oh yes.... Now if you are from Norwood and reading this, don't get me wrong... We love it here and if we have to come back, this is the place to come.... But we are all wishing we could just be here for a visit then get back to work....IN CENTRAL ASIA.....I think that this whole process would be much better if we had a return date .... We continue to be in regular contact with our friends there, and just because we are not there, does not mean that the needs stop....A few updates since we have been away.... Altyni did very well on her entrance exam and not only is she officially the first student enrolled in the new technical institute, but she is even in there flyer's.. She is living with Christean and Rouslan until school starts, then as soon as they are ready, she will move into the dorms. .... Aigoola and her family have been to the Dr's and the dentist, and are being helped with this by Ascell. They are doing well... Exciting things are starting to unfold there that I will share soon. But things are not always rosy, Our friend Jengish continues to find situations that are beyond his resources.... Last week he shared about a man he has been helping for about a year... he is now leaving the drug rehab center, but has no home to go to... or another lady he found on the streets last week.... He is concerned what is going to happen when winter starts...... Here is his report.

This is another homeless family. A grandma and a grand kid. They could easily be helped, simply because they don't do drugs, and they don't drink
alcohol... Little kid needs to go to school, and grandma could work somewhere.
I will have to make some calls and see what I can do to help, but the hard thing is that if we were there, I know we would have found them a home by now....
A few hundred dollars never stopped us then.... why is it stopping us now ?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back in Canada

We arrived back in Canada last night safe and sound... 1/2 hour early. Great flights. Only minor difficulties in customs as we were red flagged for some reason..... Likely because we were away so long and brought so little back with us, or because of some of the countries we visited.... They were very polite and in no time we were on our way. We were still only took about an hour from landing to being out of the airport. We spent last night visiting with Julies mom and sister and her family... We will be heading on our final trip to home after lunch.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A few extra pounds!

When we first started going to the town orphanage, we thought that it would be great to have a family night. We would cook supper for them and then play some games or do some craft with them.... We had no idea at the time the impact that this was going to make on both them and us..... Right from the start, the kids were open to any attention that we could give them, It really was a fun night for us, and we always looked forward to our time with them. As the weather improved, we were able to start taking them on outings as well. When we first got there , one young guy Aibek, had as his claim to fame the ability to do a "stomach roll, " and would gleefully perform for us..

Well, when it came time for our going away party, he decided to give us another performance .... which he had not done for a while.... Then all of a sudden he got a bit of a concerned look on his face... it appears that all that cooking, he was able to pack on a few pounds in the last few months, and his belly roll is no longer what it use to be...

... I can think of lots of worse problems to have......

Friday, August 15, 2008

Seeing Them High and Lifted Up !

One of the greatest parts of this trip was to be a part of , and watch the transformation of lives... Two families in particular have a special place in our hearts... Both went from desperate situations, to living in an orphanage to having their own homes... We got to watch as the kids, and their mom's, came to life, and the light began to flicker in their eyes. It is one thing to see the photos and hear the stories, but I hope in some way we can convey that this is real life! ... these are real kids... and because of the support of others... they have a real chance at a future......

I know that I am supposed to be on holiday right now, and that the new sponsorship program at P.I. is still a ways off, but some of you are just chomping at the bit to get things rolling.... These are two of the families that some of our readers have been in correspondance about. I wanted to send them this video, but am not able to email a file this big, and figured that it would not hurt for the rest of you to see this as well.... so have a watch and see the spark in their eyes for yourself.... If you have felt a burden for any of the people that you have seen on this blog, let me know, and We will find a way for you to make an important investment into their lives.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Looking Back ---- Thank you

Here is a collection of "Thank Yous" gathered from our family.( in no specific order.)

Thank you to those who have brought or sent us some of the "wants". The familiar taste of Honey Nut Cherrios nearly brought tears to my eyes. Peanut Butter, coffee, Kraft Dinner, tuna......really made a difference.

The antibiotic creams, vitamens, children's Tylenal and those type of things were priceless for the people there. It was such a blessing for us to have triple antibiotic creams for a little baby and a women that were badly burned. It made a significant improvement in their healing.

The Vitimen D for rickets will have a life changing effect for several children. Thank you so much.

The thousands of dollars of blood glucose test strips will give Dr. Tatyana the tools she needs to help diagnos and treat hundreds of people.

We thought we could find tinfoil in town that would work for this specific craft, but we couldn't. Thank you so much for sending excellent tin foil, butchers string, Tempra poster paint and "Sharpie Markers". The children loved doing this art project.

Thank you to the ones who continually prayed for us, day after day. This type of commitment carried us. Thank you to everyone who prayed us through some difficult decisions and situations. Some of you we havn't even met yet, thank you.

Thank you to those who support the "Your the One" project. Through this project we were able to see the signing over of a house to Ira and her family. Ruslan, his mom Raheema, and his sister Maleeka were settled in to their new home. And even as we leave Sergei and Anya are getting ready to place another family in to the third home.

We don't know how to put "thank you" into words for all the many things sponsored by indivudals and groups from a two year old who sponsored a chick to an entire church community who sponsored larger projects. They all had a part in things like:

farm animals to give a family a fresh start
an activity room at the home for Invalid Men
educational sponsorships
many operations that changed lives
eye check ups and new glasses

weekly suppers and family night at the town Orphanage
many cases, like Nicolai the elderly homeless man, where dignity was restored
Village water project
a prom dress

shirts, shorts and shoes and a fun day for 150 children at Village Orphanage
doctors and dentists visits for those who would never be able to afford it

Thank you that we could stay in such a nice apartment. We loved living there.

Thank you for sponsoring the weekly outings with the children. The impact these extra experiences had on us and the children cannot be measured in terms of material things. If this was all that was accomplishsed we could call this trip a success.Here are a few of the outings; puppet show, playing at the town playground, concerts, museum, dance contest with John's famous chili, hot springs, overnight to the yurt camp at the lake, several swimming in the river trips, fishing, shopping sprees at the bazaar, dinners at restaurants, BBQ's, shashleek at the yurts, sleepover for the older girls from village, special days with the younger girls and then the boys, trips to the mountains, the Tower, (so many times we are now considered nationals and we get in free) and probably other trips that we can't think of.

Each time there was a comment on the blog our hearts were warmed. Comments of encouragment, songs written out, just being remembered, knowing that the blog is being read was really appreciated. Emails from family , friends and new friends were vital for us to feel connected and we couldn't have done with out them.

Thank you very much for the ongoing , generous support that helped us get to Central Asia, stay there and have the time of our lives and to get home again. We are so grateful.

Thank you to those who took care of things at home. It was great not to have to worry about these things and to know that they were in good hands. Our dog Lilly, our house, the parrot Buddie, the mail and the bills, our cat Norman, the snow, the grass, the wood, the den, airing out the house, etc, etc, even the person who collects our mail says. "I just got htis letter with a check, I have just two questions. Where do you want me to buy a cow and how do you want me to ship it to you.? " We say, Thank you.

Thank you to the groups and teams that brought excitment, support, and encouragemnt to us and the people we were working with. A.V.P. team with Pam, P.I. Tour, the adopting mom's team, NPC Youth Team, Loads of Love, and Lamb International. As we look back it is amazing to see how the timing of each team was just right.

Thank you to my place of employment, The Canadian Mental Health Association, for initiating a Self Funded Leave, and supporting me to carry through with this adventure. I wonder if they will let me do it again lol. Thank you that I have the security of my job back in September. Thank you to my co-workers who are picking up the slack for me while I am gone and for keeping in touch with me and for being such a strong encouragement. Thank you to the lovely woman who was hired to fill the seven month contract of my leave. And I am so thankful that you were hired on full time in another position.

It was a special blessing to our family to have the team from our home church. What a great time we had. Thank you to all the senders that generously made that happen. A special thank you to all the terrific personalized gifts for the children and workers in the village. Emma and Bekah were just as thrilled with this as the kids. It was something very special to have our own dear friends and family from Canada love and cherish our new dear friends from Central Asia.

Thank you to our friends in other Central Asian countries who went out of their way not only at home but who joined us in Central Asia. They certainly set a standard that we could only hope to one day acheive. We had such a great time there in April. Thank you.

Thank you to my family for supporting and loving us. Thank you to my sister and brother who gave me their blessing to go on this adventure even when our mom is very sick.

Another added bonus for us was being able to be a part of a McJoyful Christmas Celebration and the distribution of some Samaritans Purse Shoe Boxes. We have supported these programs for years and we were thrilled to watch and be a part of it on the other end.

Thank you to our logistical support at Possibilities International and NPC. Everything from booking flights for ourselves and others to collecting funds and keeping them straight for Revenue Canada. We can only imagine the time and effort you put in to keeping this trip on the rails.

Thank you to our friends in Central Asia. We hope and pray that our friendships will continue to grow for a very long time. It is still very difficult for me to put into words how our lives have been forever changed and impacted so profoundly. As I pause to find what I should say, all I do is cry.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Off for a boat ride !

This is the main street of Yalta from the sea.
Swallows Nest??? Everything is in Russian so we don't know the history yet.

Just a random shot of sunflowers that we saw on the drive down here.

We had a great day.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fire works on the waterfront

Here is a typical day at the beach.... people are packed in so tight that they have perfected the art of sunbathing standing up.... almost like they have heard a bell ring, they all turn at the same time.
This is one of the houses along the street that we pass on the way to our appartment.

We have seen some incredible fire works while we are here. Every night down at the water front, thousands of people gather to watch the show. After about 15 min. Julie said that she thinks that this is the best fireworks she has ever seen, and with that to the other side of us on the beach a second show started at the same time ..

. I watched, but I don't think that even I will be able to out do this one on the long weekend when we get home.

One of Emma's pass times is to sit on her bed and draw the friends that she remembers from Central Asia. This is Juldiz

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Not forgotten

We are settling in here in Yalta. walking on the beach and doing a lot of people watching. Its funny every where we look we seeing people that resemble people we know.. it is strange when we went so long where everyone was "you know the beautifull girl with the long black hair and dark eyes" became a bit of a joke for us. We are no longer starred at everywhere we go...we are however deaply missing all our friends in Central Asia and now as home time approches we are thinking about all our family and friends there as well. When we were in KreVeroge, we visited some of the institutions that Ed has been working in for so long. It is great to see the difference he has made. We can only compare to what we have seen in Central Asia, and this holds out hope.
We took one day and brought hot dogs and a BBQ along with some other treats to a boys rehab center for a picnic. We also brought them a new net and vollyball for there newly built vollyball court... It's funny... we knew it was the Wright thing to do, and we are so pleased that we were able to make it happen for the sake of the kids and Eds workers... but if the truth be known...our hearts were just not in it.
We sort of looked around.... OK they have food, they have running water... bathrooms... windows... shoes and cloths...they even have some workers that can afford to spend time with them..... Still miles from the standards that we would expect in Canada, but compared to what we have seen the last 5 months... they are ok... It was difficult to allow ourselves to make conection with these kids... we smiled and played, but we did not let them in ! I feel bad, but the whole time, our minds were on the needs of our kids in Central Asia .
We still are in contact with our friends there... the problems continue and they are doing there best to solve them as they are able... Jengish has shared several burdens with me that have come to the fore front since he has been able to get back out working with the homeless.... I have asked him to post some of the stories on his blog in the next few days.... I must say that it has been such an encouragement the amount of support that we have recieved... We set out to bring awarness to the trials that many of our friends in Central Asia face every day ... MANY OTHERS HAVE PICKED UP THAT TOURCH AND ARE USING THERE BLOGS TO HELP RAISE AWARENES. Here is an example I found today from a Fellow Bloger . this is by no means the only one out there.... maybe one day I will do a post of all the links I can find....... It sure holds out hope as we see the ripple efect.... Knowing that our friends will not be forgotten is a blessing to us. ( still no spell check)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Crimea adventure

Well we have had quite the adventure.
We drove for about 7 or 8 hours to get to the Black Sea. We had arrangments to meet someone when we got here. We were to call from about an hour out to get directions... When we called, we were told Oh Ya... $100 a night not $70.... but come on in and we will meet you at the bus stop.... or at least a friend of the lady will meet us there ...she is the lady in yellow.... now there turns out to be about 600 bus stops here and everyone is wearing yellow.... so after several phone calls and a third party translator, we are told never mind the lady in yellow, look for a lady standing under a bridge somewhere wearing a white sun hat.... again do you know that every bridge has people wearing white sun hats..... fast forward a few hours... this lady gets into the van looks around and asks where we are from... then gets on the phone, calls someone and says " They are fat Canadians.... they can pay a lot more"... the rest of the day was a right off as she proceeded to show us places that were $160 and $170 a night... she said that was the best they could do.... we said well maybe we will rent for one night and figure somethiong out tomorrow... they then told us that you could not rent for less then a week... We called again to the lady that had told us to come down for a $70 a night appartment... she was out of town but said that we could stay in her Son's one room appartment about 5 km from the water for $65 and she would help us the next day..... so off to this scetchy place with drunks trying to climb in the windows during the night... the next day arrives and she is .... oh my... out of town for a few more days....I am beginning to think it is her plan all along.... so we go off and try to find our own place with out the dragon lady with us... so by 4pm last night ..Eds son Johnathon is able to talk someone down to $125 a night and we are settled in ... now I just need to take a couple days to get over my distain for everything YALTA and maybe we will have a good time after all..... Un fortunatly still no place to put photo's on the blog.... maybe next time I will steal some off Google to show you what we are seeing....and now I see the web blockers will not let me run a spell check so you will just have to work with me here and pretend that it is all spelled right.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

On to Krivarog

We are at an internet place here in Krivarog. We got here last night at 7:30pm. The place is really nice, like a new cottage/guest house in the back yard of the Pastor Gregory's. There are these two ladies that make us food and serve it out side, the place has two bedroms and and kitchenette. It is very nice, oh and a sitting down flush toilet too.
We went to church this morning and what a time we had. We met with the pastor before hand and shared a bit about who we are and what we have been doing and then went in to the service. WELL, we walked in what we thought was the back door, unbenonced to us, stepped in to the front of the sanctuary and the whole place stood and clapped for us. Well I turned and looked behind me looking for a movie star or something, Bekah tripped a little and almost fell in to the sancturay and we tried to get out of the way. Did I mention that this church is one of about 1000 people ..... Then we were escorted over to the front row and had a small table in front of us with water just for us. There was even a servant woman there as well.... we could not even look at the water, and she was up to pour us a glass... we know this because John tried it out a few times
After the excellent worship service we got up and John shared something and Thank God, got to sit down. John brought greetings from our home church in Canada and was asked to share a story from Central Asia ...he did an excellent talk about the getting water to the village story.
We went to a home for invalid men this afternoon, the girls favourite place to visit, and will do some more project visiting tomorrow. The weather is great, sunny and hot. We have had the longest summer of our lives. I hope to work on my tan in the Crimea. We are all fine, Ed's son Jonathon is with us and we have Ed's van. Jonathon is a pretty nice young guy, 21, tall and alot like Ed.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Seeing the sights in Kyiv

Yesterday we took the bus and subway over to the Monastery, then up to the Museum at the Iron Lady...
The Iron Lady is a statue that the soviets built facing to Moscow, to remind everyone where government... Now she stands on guard protecting them from Moscow....
There is a large museum dedicated to the war. It is a very moving place... All around there are some beautiful brass sculptures depicting the suffering that took place here.

Today we Met with Ed and his family and after lunch we went to the open air museum.. It is like a pioneer village. After a nice afternoon exploring, we went back to the boat and went swimming.... We then traded Bekah for Amy and we went for pizza and Bekah went with Eds family for sushi.....
Tomorrow we will head for Kreveroge for a few days... We will be touring some of the orphanages and other projects that Ed is involved with here in the Ukraine. Jonathon will be playing tour guide from this point on as Ed and the rest of his family will be returning to Canada.