Ending With A Bang! (Part 2)

Uzhgorod Orphanage Just days after returning from our week in Komarivka it was onto the train our almost 18 hour one-way trip to the western edge of Ukraine. Steven, Greg and I accompanied a team from YWAM to bring Christmas to our ongoing work: the Gypsy Orphanage. As Greg put it in his blog, “they aren’t “The Orphans” anymore… they’re Sasha, Evan, Aurthur and Joseph”. After summer camp and Greg’s other visits to Uzhgorod, it was like visiting family. The children all welcomed us. Even “Mr. President” was there waiting for us. I was happy to see my little friend the “watch girl” who so touched my heart last summer.

They called out to us by the names they had given us from past visits. In Steven’s case it also included “malinki brat’ which means little brother. I am for the most, “Papa”, being known both as Steven and Greg’s father and being the “old guy” on the team. Our team consisted of part YWAM Key of Hope (Greg, Steven, Markus) part YWAM Counseling Ministry (Emily, Brandon, Luda) part YWAM Mothers Care (Sonya, Inga) part YWAM Lutsk base (Valik) and part YWAM Family Ministries (me). We represented not just multiple ministries, but five Nations - the US, Ukraine, Russia, Denmark, and Finland. We actually sang Silent Night to the orphans in each of our languages, ending in Ukrainian. I love the multicultural/international aspect of YWAM! It is thrilling to have missionaries from five nations doing the kingdom’s work in a Gypsy orphanage in a remote corner of a former Soviet country. We are so very blessed to be called to be a part of this!  The kids were great. We spent the first day reacquainting ourselves with the kids and spending one-on-one time with them and playing outside in the COLD. The second day we did a program with songs and Markus lead the kids in a skit of the Christmas Story where Steven got to reprise his roll from this past summer as a donkey.

Steven the Donkey

At the end the orphans sang Ukrainian Christmas songs for us. They were great! We were blessed! On the last day Markus played Santa Claus (aka “Det Moros&rdquoWinking and we went from room to room doing crafts and delivering Christmas gift bags to each child.

The gifts weren't much to speak of by our standards, with the single most expensive inclusion being deodorant for each of the older boys. But you would think we had handed out gold and cash. Everyone was so happy and thankful. Again I was ashamed at all we have and have taken for granted in the past. We ended each classroom visit with Steven, Markus, Luda (and even Greg once) singing 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas'. Once again we found ourselves tearfully saying good-bye to these very special kids.

Greg & Steven saying goodbye

But, I know in their hearts they each knew we would be back again…and again.

May God bless us all in the new year!