The guys are at home already. But they left a message that so deeply touched our hearts. I read these messages with tears in my eyes. It is such a great encouragement and blessing for us. I thought maybe you will be interested to know what they think about Ukraine... So decided share with you their thoughts and impressions.
I have felt called to mission work since I was about 11 years old. God really worked it all out and made it possible for me to go to
. This trip really exceeded
my expectations. Everything went so perfectly. It was really a life-changing
I fell in love with the beautiful country, great food and especially the people. We were warmly welcomed by the Bible Orphan Ministry team. They treated us like family and they felt like family to us. They are true Christians, always focused on God in everything they do. Even though they are busy and work hard, they're always having a good time.
We visited several orphanages and institutions. It was quite an experience to see in person where the kids live and it was great to be able to visit them and bring them something to do. They get excited when they see the blue van coming and they remember the crafts they've done in the past. It was easy to see that Misha, Alla, Oksana and Nadya make a big difference to these kids. They do a wonderful job.
It was also a great experience to meet some teens/young adults who used to be in orphanages. I made some really good friends. A younger Misha, who helps out at the church, and Yaroslava who helped with some of orphanage visits. Olya and Sasha and their baby, Ehdik were really nice. The language barrier didn't matter. It was easy to become friends and understand each other even though we didn't speak the same language.
Many of the former orphans attend the BOM's church. Everyone at the church was nice and welcomed us. Alla and Oksana did a great job of interpreting for us so that we could talk to everyone at church. Misha is a great pastor and does a great job of leading the church. They are really like a family and the church is important to everyone who goes there.
It was hard to leave and very emotional for everyone, but a little easier since I plan to go back, hopefully next year. I'll really miss the whole team and all the church members, but I'll look forward to planning another trip and seeing them all next year.
We really appreciate them letting us come to visit and making the whole trip so great.
I'll start at the beginning. I was confronted one day by my good work friend Andrew Musk to join him on a mission trip to Ukraine. Flattered, I wasn't sure what to say. Yes, I wanted to go, but would my family support the offer? I came home and asked my parents if this mission trip was something I could partake in, and was ecstatic with the answer. They said yes! The message was relayed to Andrew, and we planned the trip months in advance. Plane tickets were bought, currency was exchanged and a countdown began!
After some first-time independent airport navigation, we finally arrived in Ukraine. As we made our way out of the building, we were stopped by a man wielding a camera and a young woman. They waved and motioned to us to stay still to get our photo taken. It had all happened to fast, I had no idea what was happening. Quickly afterwards we learned they were from the Bible Orphan Ministry. Misha and Oksana greeted us with the biggest smiles and some of the happiest demeanors I've ever witnessed. We then met up with Nadia and Alla and made our way to their nice clean blue Volkswagen van. Sleep deprived, Andrew and I were glad to have a break from the stressful airports. We ate our first Ukrainian meals at the Big Belly House in Kiev, and fell asleep for the two hour ride to our apartment.
As I write this, I look back and see the past two weeks blurred together. This is due to the time flying by so fast! The two weeks we've spent here felt much more like four or five days. Each day was packed full of fun and excitement. We spent many days helping orphanages receive the word of God, and provide some much needed entertainment for those who lack the fun in a childhood many children take for granted.
Not only were we able to visit numerous orphanages, we also saw many beautiful and iconic places in Ukraine. The BOM crew planned our trip very well. We got to hike to a waterfall, see an awesome fountain and light show, traveled parks, ate some rather unique food, and so much more.
I will never forget this trip. It was the most fun I have ever had, and it lasted for an entire two weeks. How children scream and horde together in excitement at the arrival of The Bible Orphan Ministry was truly touching. The fact we were able to provide for so many children amusing and beneficial visitations makes me feel as though I've played a powerful role in my life. The impact we have had on so many people; the smiles we have put on so many faces; the joy had between the entire ministry's crew will be remembered to my death bed. Andrew and I fully intend on visiting next year. We both pray that plans for this next trip will be without obstacles and that we, along with the entire church and ministry stay healthy for this next year.
One thing Alla always asked us after visiting an Orphanage was “What are your impressions?” We always answered honestly and conveyed we were shocked at the conditions of the orphanage. We were also happy to play a positive part in their lives. Now, I believe it's time for Alla and everyone else to know our impressions of the church and ministry. Possibly more than anything else, my heart was struck hardest with joy at how I saw the church. The people there are filled with happiness, delight, and thankfulness. Everyone is so happy to be in everyone's presence. It then got me thinking... many members of this church have gone without a family their entire life, or maybe some from dysfunctional families. It nearly brings a tear to my eye when I see that this ministry is their family. No orphans exist in this church. The church; their family has adopted them. God and love is surely present amongst each other in their every day lives. Thank you for letting us be a part of it all.
I can't say this enough. Thank you, Alla, Pastor Misha, Oksana, Nadia, Vlada, Vasya, Misha, Yaroslava, Olya, Sasha, Ehdick, Dima, Lyuba, Lena, Allona, Kate, Nadya-Kate`s mother, Sasha, Vova, Lyuda, Pasha, and Vova. Thank you all so much. You have all made our trip wonderful. Without your great acceptance, understanding and patience with us, we wouldn't feel so strongly about returning next year.
We came as strangers, but are leaving like family.
************************************On the last day in the Ukraine, it was very noticeable as guys were sad and not talkative. They often said that they did not want to leave... On the day when we took them to the airport, a long time they did not want to get out of the van. There was completely silence... Saying goodbye to them, everyone was in tears.It was so hard! This day was very emotional for all of us. As for this short term they became as dear friends and a family for us...We had perfect and such blessed time together.