Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Alone at Christmas

It's almost Christmas and I have been thinking back to the orphans in Ukraine that I spent time with last winter. When we were at Orphanage #4 in Odessa I remember that my first reaction to the place was one of loneliness and bleakness. In fact, I posted about it at the time. Of course, there are kids all around but it always seemed lonely to me.

I put together a little video here with some pictures from Ukraine. I start with some of the familiar landmarks in Kyiv, such as the SDA, Independence Square, and St. Sophia and St. Michael's monastaries. From there, we go to Odessa by the Black Sea, and Orphanage #4 where Sergey lived, and finally, Andreyevo-Ivanivka, where Valya lived.

The thing I wanted to mostly show was some of the kids I met, all older, some of which will be kicked out of their orphanages about a year and a half from now. Most of you reading this have no interest in adopting an older child, and I understand. But there really are some great older kids that would love to have a family.

There's an estimate that there are about 147,000,000 orphans in the world. That's a lot of kids; it's even overwhelming. But we can help, one family at a time.

Our friends, the Nasekos family, whom we met while we were in Odessa, posted recently about From Whom? Please take a look at it.

If all of you reading this committed today to adopt an older child, you would have them with you next Christmas. What a gift that would be for them, and for you...

Music Credit
Alone by Matthew Mayer from his CD Crossing the Bridge
He's from South Dakota.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Shoeboxes

Our family has put together Christmas shoeboxes for years.  Samaritan's Purse has a ministry called Operation Christmas Child that distributes these donated shoebox gifts to children all over the world.

We were surprised to learn that our two Ukies were also recipients of these boxes.  We expect the gifts to be sent overseas but I never expected to meet anyone who had received one.  And here our own children had received some over the years.

This year we put two of them together, one each for a boy and a girl, and we had Valya and Sergey select the items to put in them.  They remembered the things they had liked.  For example, Valya's had some underwear, a little bit of makeup, jewelry, a stuffed animal and a doll.  She also included a picture of herself and a letter.  Sergey's had a variety of toys, personal care items, and some clothes.  We paid an online donation and we got barcoded labels so now we will be able to track where our two boxes go in the world.

Whoever gets these boxes is in for a treat.  Our boxes are actually boot sized and packed with things that our kids knew that they would like, from experience.

Valya poses with her box.  She included a picture of herself and a note.