Our summer 2014
Only one more night and this summer 2014 will be history. On Monday, the first of September, our children will start the new school year. Nevertheless this year everything is different: Instead of the traditional flowers for the responsible teacher our daughters Sarah and Rebekka were asked to bring cloth and other items for the Ukrainian army, new pupils – refugees from the eastern part of our country – have joined the class and I assume that this time when the Ukrainian Anthem will be sung at the opening ceremony many tears will be cried. Every day we receive news from the regions of war. The last two month the most important phone calls we were waiting for every day were from two of our former visitors of our day care centers, who are right now soldiers at the front. I can not write down the reports of these young men and other eyewitnesses … maybe later.
We try to help, where ever help is needed, to reduce the pain and meet the needs of people, affected: we have bought a lot of equipment for „our two soldiers“, such as a safety west and a helmet, for three weeks we had accommodated a family from Slavyansk in one of our centers. Our kids draw pictures and write letters to wounded soldiers, who are receiving treatment in Odessa’s hospitals. Friends from our church visit the victims and collect and distribute cloth to refugees. And all of us pray and hope that this war will end soon and that the war will not expand to other regions. In this difficult period God has blessed us with a wonderful summer. And we would like to share with you some of these episodes, especially because many of you have supported these projects in prayer and with your finances.
The first highlight this summer was our journey to Germany from the 20th of June till 6th of July. 33 kids, youngsters and workers joined the group. Unforgettable excursions, delicious food and meetings with old and new friends made these two weeks memorable. This year we even had nine years old kids with us, who despite of their young age did not long to go home but enjoyed the trip very much. We want to think all the organizers, contributors and helpers for their involvement! After coming back we were almost immediately heading to our youth retreat for 36 youngsters which took place from 9th to 12th of July. The topic of the seminar was „What is my calling? What do I live for? What are my goals in life?“. We enjoyed a very open and warm atmosphere and many of the participants used these days to have personal conversations, took time to pray, think about their future or ask advice from the leaders. The beautiful landscape on the shore of the Black Sea made it easy to relax and we also had enough time to go to the beach and enjoy the sun and the healthy air.
Already at the 19th of July we continued our summer activities. This year we „dared“ to invite most of the regular visitors of our three day care centers. Altogether we were 97, and it was a great joy that David and Steven from ANCL Luxembourg joined our team for this event. What a huge blessing that ANCL, a Christian community, which are David and Steven a part of, covered a big part of the costs for this camp. We are thankful to all the givers, and to all the runners of the marathon, who run to collect donations for our charity. Thank you so much!!! We had a wonderful time! Doing sports, playing, dancing and singing together – we had so much fun. During the mornings I shared a biblical story related to the overall topic of the camp „In Jesus‘ footsteps“. We had a look at important life values like persistence, honesty, compassion and forgiveness. Each child received a camp diary, where they could write down what they found important and implement what they had learned. At the last day many tears were cried, because most of the kids didn’t want to go home. For us as leaders it is very moving to see how God blesses us to see how from a work that started with 12 kids in 2001 now has grown an organization with more than 100 people and how young adults and teenagers take responsibility and share what they have received with the next generation. We fully understand that it is by God’s grace and we want to give thanks to Him for it and to all the friends who are supporting over all these years!
With this intense week the summer activities had not ended yet. At the 28th of July I traveled with 12 young Ukrainians (18 to 24 years) to Armenia to be part of a youth exchange with Armenian and Italian youth. This journey was a part of an EU-project, covering the costs for it as well. This time was a great opportunity to our youngsters. Some of them never traveled by plane and of course none of them had ever been to Armenia – a beautiful, interesting country, with wonderful people and impressing history and culture.
The last big event of these summer was our holiday program for 60 people at our first day care center in the third week of August. Already for the third time a team from FCG Zwickau, a German Christian congregation had prepared the program and came to run it with our kids. It was extremely encouraging to meet seven brave people, who made their way to Odesa by van in these special times and ministered to us and our kids. Most of the team members have spend part of their yearly vacation and we appreciate this very much! Thank you for all you have done! During the morning sessions we came to know the biblical hero „Daniel“ and during the afternoons we had workshops on cooking, crafting, music and many others. It was amazing to watch the involvement of each child according to their interests and talents.
Now we are back to everyday life … School, homework, new volunteers from Italy… But anyway our everyday life today is different from that last year…Please keep on praying for us, our kids and their families and for peace in Odesa and all over Ukraine. That’s we long for most of all!
With deep thankfulness,
Slavik, Nicole, Rebekka and Sarah with all the kids and coworkers from Living Hope Odesa
For donations: Lebendige Hoffnung e.v., IBAN: DE77870540003442001004, BIC:WELADED1STB