Sunday, July 31, 2011

A View That Takes Your Breath Away

On the second day at ROJ we decided to hike up to the top of this rock.  It was no big deal for Sasha who is in excellent shape or Julia who has endless energy and a competitive spirit-- but for me it was one of the hardest things I have done in a long time. 
I'm sure we surprised this goat as much as it surprised us.
Every few feet of the steady hike up, I had to stop and rest. I turned around and took pictures of the village around us. Here is a home right next to the river. After an old retired prosecuter.bought it-- up went the cold, ugly cement fence.
Isn't it picturesque?
These grottos were nice and cool.  The perfect place to stop and rest. 

At the top of the rock
Right below Julia is ROJ property.

Here is a house across the river from ROJ.  It is quite palatial.  On one of our walks, we stopped and had a refreshing drink from the spigot outside the gate.

Here is a closer look at ROJ.  The tent is where everyone met during children's camp.

Someone had big plans for these buildings,  They hoped they would be nice apartments but now they sit abandoned.  Some foreigner bought them for a few thousand dollars but has yet to do anything with them yet.  What a waste if you ask me.  I can think of so many good uses for them.

Climbing to the top of this rock took my breath away.  So did the view.
This is the river on the walk back to ROJ. 
This is what the walk looks like to ROJ.  It is not like any other experience we have had in Ukraine on previous trips.
I miss it already.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Finally... About Camp

When David (the founder), Julia, and I arrived at ROJ, the second children's camp was in full swing.  David thought that our arrival towards the last few days of camp would allow us some time to do other things like discuss the future of ROJ, spend time getting to know those that help out at ROJ, and visit the Semochkov family who is currently fostering a houseful of kids.

So.... this is what we saw upon our arrival-- after Sasha helped carry in our bags.  In case you didn't know, Sasha is the young man smiling at the camera.  Feeding close to sixty people everyday was no easy task-- but the serving hearts at ROJ sure made it look like it was.
The children's camp was much like a long overnight VBS.  In the mornings and evenings everyone would meet in this tent to sing songs of worship, go over the days' activities, hear a new message, do skits, pray, etc.  The worship leader on the guitar named Avenir was full of energy.  Avenir, a seventeen year old from Bulgaria is currently living in Moldova-- and he came all the way to ROJ for camp in Ukraine-- imagine that!
The leaders of this camp are so full of life and on fire for the Lord! Here is Maxim with his arms out wide who was married just a few months earlier here at ROJ.
One evening we witnessed majority of the kids step forward to repent and give their lives to the Lord.  Repentence is what they call becoming a believer in case you were wondering. 
The kids kept busy during the day playing games, going on walks, doing crafts...
playing house under this tree canopied room...
and taking turns jumping on the trampoline.
Julia and I had fun getting to know the kids.  It was obvious by their smiles and laughter that they were having a wonderful time. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Starting From the Beginning

 Even after twenty hours of traveling, Julia was all smiles to finally land in Ukraine.  We made it!
Though I had tried to get some sleep during a four hour layover, I was still very tired when we first arrived.
Bogdan and Allosha showed us where the store was across from the orphanage.  There we were able to get something refreshing to drink.
This hat display right outside the door was very pretty.  Hats varied in price from 15 up to 60 grivna.
Inside the orphanage that Bogdan works with seems to be in wonderful condition.  I love the set up-- very open and inviting.  Here I am with David the founder of  River of Joy.  Click on the name to check out the minstry.
This puzzle was on display in the eating area so we took a picture.
Here are some of the eating areas in the orphanage.  This particular orphanage houses older kids with slight delays.  Here they go to school and learn how to make something out of their lives often times sticking around to help out within the organization.  I do not explain his amazing minstry very well, but it is very apparent how vital Bogdan's ministry is to this area of Kiev and to the children.  Please continue to pray for this minstry-- it is in constant battle with the government and people who see the land that this orphanage takes up more suitable for apartment buildings in the ever growing Kiev.
Here is another eating area. We didn't get to see many of the kids who were away at camps.
The orphanage kitchen is open and cheery.  Here the kids learn to cook, clean, and serve-- one of the kids works in a restaurant as a result.
The kids were shy, but very proud of the meal they served.  Like I had said in a previous post-- it was very delicious.
Here is Allosha, the guy who picked us up from the airport.  He has aged out of the system but has not let that stop him.  He drives, he mentors the younger kids, and honestly I couldn't be more impressed with a young man.  He is one of the countless examples as to why it is so important to invest time and love and money into orphans.   They have so much potential!
For dessert we had cheese verenki with smetana.
Here we are on the train down to Simferopol, Crimea.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today

I am so glad that I saved some of the donations. I am not sure why I should but I had a feeling that I shouldn't hand out all of them to the kids at camp. Now I know why. Today weet are going to visit the Semochkov family. They are a very unique family in that they have ten foster children that they are raising. You can read a little more about them on the ROJ site. I am very excited to be an encourager to them... and I trust that we will learn so much from them.

In case you don't know, ROJ is an NGO whose goal is to take in orphans to prepare them for family life-- teach them love, nurturing, education, purpose, and about the Lord's salvation. This has not happened as of yet.... for many reasons. That is one of the main reasons we came. I have had many discussions with the founder on how to move forward and begin taking in orphans-- the idea is that the people around us will see the value of doing this and begin embracing the children themselves. The Semochkov family is already doing this.... but they are very unique. Over here they just don't normally do that.

Anyway, I will share more about our exciting day. After, we have an appointment to look at some property for sale. Finding families that are willing to become a fostering home is only part of the plan. It is logical to expect that a bigger family would need bigger housing and financial help in caring for the kids. As ROJ's vision is playing out-- it needs more buildings and to renovate the old ones. I didn't realize how much fun drawing up plans and seeing first hand building going on can be.

Please pray. Amazing things are happened here. But that also means that the enemy is having a field day trying to interfere.

Cooking Fun

What a fun day! Can't you see the excitement in their faces?


This is my new haircut. It is growing on me.


Anna is learning to dance through an online dance site. She would have

done this all day if I let her.


Julia made a triple batch of cookies last week. One batch went in the freezer for us to take to Ukraine-- the other two batches were for eating. My instructions-- hands off the cookies in the freezer. John was the first to sneak-- Adam was the last. One of his siblings snitched on him-- half the cookies were gone by then. I was not happy. My solution was for him to bake more.

So he did.


I made Russian Coltyetes. Annalyn's exact words, "This meat is the best in the world!"


We had so much fun making them today.


Annalyn crushed corn flakes and Sveta mixed up the meat.


Rachel grated the potatoes.

I coated the meat patties.


Galina formed the patties.


I fried them up.


They turned out delicious. I'll share the recipe when I get back.


Julia wanted to play pirate.


Rachel was just being goofy!

Sometimes it can be so much fun cooking in the kitchen!


Julia shoving a donut in Galina's mouth.


Does this at all remind you from a pose in Napoleon Dynamite?