Monday, November 24, 2008

A Squeel!

A missionary that gets to see Karina sent this email the other day:

"I saw Karina the other day and asked her if she wanted to know when you were coming. Her eyse got really big and she shook her head. She was almost too surprised to say anything. I told her when you would be in Kiev and she squealed and jumped! It was funny. Her smile was so huge :) She is SO happy that you will be here soon!"

We are jumping a squeeling too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas Gifts for Orphans

Dear Friends - this is a letter from a missionary that works with orphans in Ukraine. Please read this letter and if you can help and want us to take your gifts instead of mailing them, we are taking gifts for these children when we leave December 3. We have dedicated at least two large suitcases to fill with gifts. If you are in the Jackson, MS area, we are having a gift packing party Tuesday, November 25 around lunch time in the Belhaven area- email me and I will let you know details - or you can send items by December 1 to Twin Lakes, 155 Milner Road, Florence, MS 39073 ATTN: Matthew Nasekos

Orphan Christmas Project 2008
My name is ....and for the past 7 years I have been involved in ministry to orphan children in Ukraine. During the past year my friends .... and I have made contact with 2 very poor orphanages outside the city of Odessa. The children in these orphanages range in age from 3-16.
The children come from many different situations. Some have parents who have died, are in jail, have been involved in drugs or alcohol, or have abandoned them at some time in their lives. But no matter the reason that the children have been placed in the orphanage, life there is tough for all of them. The children have the same schedule day after day, eating, sleeping, going to school, and having all their free time right at the orphanage. Even holidays are spent in the orphanage and without any celebration.
As far as I know, the children in these 2 orphanages have never received a special gift at Christmas. This year our goal is to provide a Christmas gift to each child in these two orphanages. Maybe your church or small group would be willing to help?
We have split up the kids into 11 groups, with about 10-15 kids in each group. We are looking for 11 churches to be willing to “adopt” one class to send Christmas gifts to. If you are interested in learning more, I will include instructions about the project at the end of this letter. Thank you for your consideration of this opportunity to be a blessing to the orphans of Ukraine!
In Christ,

If your church or small group is interested in “adopting” one class from the orphanage, please e-mail Matthew Nasekos. Then he will send you an email with information (age and gender) about one of the groups of kids.
It’s up to you to decide how to divide up the needs and gather the gifts. Packages usually take 2-4 weeks to arrive in Ukraine so if gifts are mailed they should be mailed before Dec 15th. In Ukraine, we celebrate Christmas on Jan 7th so hopefully the gifts will arrive in time.
We would also ask that each church send $60 to Youth Of Ukraine (email Matthew for Address). We will use this money to buy shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush to include in each gift. It will be much cheaper to purchase these items here in Ukraine and also it will save on the shipping costs for you.
Gift Guidelines
All gifts should fit inside a sealed quart size zip-lock bag and the cost of each gift should not exceed $10. Each gift should include: 1 pair of socks, 1 type of candy, a Christmas card, and an extra item(s). Some ideas are listed below but these are only suggestions and other items may be included as well. Be creative and use your imagination J The zip-lock may be sent wrapped or unwrapped (We will wrap unwrapped gifts so they will all be the same).
Gift ideas
For younger children (3-7): any small toys, balls, cars, crayons, coloring books
For older children (8-16): nailpolish, hair things, lip gloss, jewelry, photo frame, photo album, small balls, keychains, yo-yo, legos, building games (k’nex, magnetic toys), small notebook, stickers, UNO card game, small puzzles, brain teaser games, small electronic games, watch, markers,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Day of Joy and Tears

This is a picture of one of our guinea pigs. Our children love our guinea pigs. Karina loved the guinea pigs. In every letter she asks how the guinea pigs are doing. Everyday our children would play with and take the guinea pigs on adventures - real adventures - I am not sure any other guinea pigs in the world have experienced the adventures these guinea pigs went on. These guinea pigs were loved.

Yesterday was a day in which we experienced immense joy: Storey Grace turned four - God had granted four years of life to our precious daughter. We also got the news that our much prayed for dossier - adoption paperwork - had been accepted and we were invited to go to Ukraine and get Karina - our 13 year old daughter. Truly a day full of joy.
When we returned late Wednesday night from church we also experienced sadness and tears. A stray dog met us in the driveway. The dog had damaged the cage our guinea pigs stay in and killed them both.

Our children cried...our children sobbed...our children expressed anger toward the dog in the driveway...they said, "But Karina loved those guinea pigs!"...these guinea pigs were their pets that they loved, cared for, played with and took on adventures. We cannot have dogs or we had guinea pigs.

What did God want to teach us during this time of sadness? Thankfulness. As a family we remembered the loss of guinea pigs is nothing in comparison to Job's loss...but we used his example...the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the LORD.
We spent time thanking God for the time that we had the guinea pigs...thanked God for the adventures...thanked God for the love the kids felt toward the guinea pigs...thanked God that Karina had so much fun with the guinea pigs...we thanked God for the blessing that those animals had been to us. And then we thanked God for his greater blessings...for his son, Jesus Christ...for our church, friends, family, for Karina.

It was sad to see what the dog had done...but it was also a blessing...I can say a blessing because as my children cried themselves to sleep they also thanked God for all his blessings...even simple blessings like guinea pigs. God reminded us to not take any of his gifts for granted...he has blessed us with so much...we want to always be thankful for those blessings and turn them into blessings for others.
A day can hold a lot...yesterday held joy, laughter, excitement, a birthday meal with Storey Grace, sadness, tears, the loss of two loved pets, prayer and a reminder to be thankful....
And, oh, how much we all have to be thankful for. I am glad Thanksgiving is next week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Our God is so Good and Gracious and Kind

To see God's hand at work through all of this process has been humbling, overwhelming at times, truly an awesome experience. There is no doubt that the process is designed by him to make us more into his image. To make us lose our grip on this world a little more and hold onto him and his word a little tighter. God may be providing a family for Karina, but at the same time, God is using Karina to make us more like Christ. May he recieve the glory for all he does.

God has so worked that our papers have been accepted and we have an appointment in Ukraine!
We are going to get Karina!!!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for this. Thank you to everyone who has told us you are praying - you have encouraged us so much! Thank you to everyone that woke up in the middle of the night to pray! Thank you to everyone that we do not know is praying! Thank you to those people that we have never met but have been praying for Karina for years - praying that God would provide a family for her.

We will be in Ukraine the first week of December. We still need $15,000 to pay for the adoption. Please continue your prayers that God would provide this money. We know that he will provide with your prayers.
French Camp Presbyterian Church is accepting donations to the Karina Adoption Fund:
French Camp Presbyterian Church
323 School Street
French Camp, MS 39745

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We Need Your Prayers

I communicated with our facilitator in Ukraine today and he told me that he has checked the status of our dossier and we have not been given an appointment, yet. He is going to check again tomorrow and on Thursday if he needs to. Next Thursday is the last day dossier's will be accepted so we are praying that we will not have to redo any of our paperwork. Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray that all of our papers will meet approval. We miss our little girl.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just a short update- Sheila

Thanks goes out to everyone for praying and asking about my mom's surgery. It went very well. After the soreness goes away the doctor is expecting her to be good as new. God was very gracious to her and everything went well. It was good to be there and spend a couple of days with her and my dad. We had some yummy gumbo....always a good thing!!
We are still waiting..... we pray that we will hear something tomorrow. Everyday seems like it could be THE day. God has given me a sense of peace as we wait. I am very thankful for that. Not much else is going on. I hope to write of more exciting news soon. Keep praying!! Thanks.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Last Saturday we joined Anderson and his family at WFCA Day in French Camp to sell Karina Cookies and other goodies to raise money to help bring Karina home. Here are some pictures of the Ulerichs, cookie making and the booth. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let's play the waiting game! -Sheila

That is the title of a song that the kids and I sing often. Now I am singing it to myself as we wait for dossier approval. We thought that today would be the day.....but alas it was not. God's timing is perfect. The SDA has 20 days to notify us.....but sometimes it takes longer :( So, sometime between now and November 26th we should hear something. Today I had the burn to know. I think I might have driven Matthew crazy asking if he had heard anything. God is teaching me patience....something I should have learned long before now. May God be glorified in the waiting.
A note for prayer. My mom is having surgery on Friday, and I am going down on Thursday evening to be with her. It is out patient, but it is still surgery. Please pray for a successful outcome and a quick recovery. I will try to keep you updated. Thanks for your prayers.
As we wait I am trying to get a jump start on packing and cooking meals for the kids to eat while we are gone. If any of you have any great fix and freeze recipes let me know I would love to use them to stock my freezer. Matthew and I know that it will be tough leaving the kids for such a long period of time. Even though we know that they will be in great hands it is still hard to be away from them for that long. Pray for the children, that they will be obedient and helpful to Matthew's parents. Also pray for strength for them as they care for 4 very active children.
This has been a sweet time for Matthew and I in our marriage. I am so thankful for his love and support. The Lord is gracious to us that when one of us is having a down day the other one is there to help them up. God has given me a great gift in Matthew. One that I treasure. I know that may sound sappy to some, but as we have ridden this roller coaster ride God has used it to draw us even closer to him and to each other. Just another blessing of this journey.
Thanks goes out to a sweet and kind family in Kentucky for their support of our adoption. May the Lord bless them a hundred fold. Continue to pray for finances. We truly trust the Lord to provide. Oh, and how he does!!! Today a dear friend called me and asked if we were still in need of bunk beds and I quickly said "YES!" She said her mom had a set that she was getting rid of and asked if we would like them again I quickly said "YES!!!" Oh, how the Lord provides even in the small details!!! Why do we ever doubt? Lord forgive me when I doubt.
Thanks for all of your prayers and encouragement.-Sheila

Sunday, November 9, 2008

From French Camp to Odessa -Sheila

Even though we have not heard from the SDA we have heard from Ukraine. Saturday we were able to call our friend Tasha in Ukraine. We knew that she was planning to visit Karina on Saturday and deliver a package to her from us. Matthew thought he would just try to call and see if he might catch Tasha while she was with Karina. By God's grace, she was at the orphanage when we called and we all were able to talk to Karina. What a blessing!!!!! It was so wonderful to hear her voice. God is so benevolent to give us the technology to reach half way around the world and check on our soon to be daughter. We were blown away to get to talk to her. Tasha translated for us, once again. We were able to speak some in English though. Since we were in French Camp for WFCA Day, Anderson was also able to say a quick "Hi Karina. I love you!" to Karina. It was a very emotional morning to say the least. I think the call was also very emotional for Karina. Tasha said that Karina was so overwhelmed by our call. She said that she wished we could see the look on Karina's face. I do to. Not long we pray.
Thank you all so much for praying for our booth at WFCA Day. God was so gracious to us. We sold quiet a bit. It was so fun to be with Erin and her mom, Lane. It was also fun the hear Erin introduce me as Karina's mom. It was also great to tell people about Karina's story and the story of so many other orphans in Ukraine. The Karina cookies we of course a hit!!! Matthew was able to see and catch up with many old friends. It was a wonderful day all around. Thanks again goes out to the Ulerich's for letting us crash at their house. They were so to gracious to us!! What great friends to walk along this journey with us. They have truly been an example of the sacrificial love of the Church. It is great to know that Karina has someone praying for her. I also have to thank Paula La for letting me borrow some of her fall decorations for the booth. Your ideas were such a help. Maybe we can post a picture of the booth. You were such an encouragement on Friday....thanks. Several people also contributed baked good. THANK YOU!!! Michelle, your strawberry bread was a hit and sold out in no time. The FCA students loved the cookies, brownies and cupcakes. Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy schedules to make them!!
Once again I have written a long post....thanks for reading!!! Thanks for praying and thanks for encouraging us as we walk along this journey. Your support and friendship has meant more than you know.-Sheila

"Have you heard any thing yet?" -Sheila

That has been the quesiton of the day. No, we have not heard anything yet. We hope to hear something by Tuesday. A dossier that was submitted the week before ours heard on Tuesday and we are hoping to follow in their footsteps. Please continue to pray.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Meet Anderson

This is a video of Anderson Ulerich, the four year old son of Stephen and Erin Ulerich from French Camp, MS. Anderson sells Karina Cookies to anyone interested in helping bring Karina home. He made the video below for his Aunt Betsy.
We finally tasted Karina Cookies on Tuesday and they are delicious! Anderson has a booth at WFCA Day Saturday - tomorrow - in French Camp where he will be selling the cookies for .50 a cookie.
Thank you so much Anderson! One day Karina will eat a Karina Cookie!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Letter From Karina

A missionary in Odessa emailed this letter from Karina to us today. Thank you, Michelle, for ministering to the orphans and to us!

Hi my dear Family,
How are you? I am okay. We had hot water turned on. It is just that they turned it off for us. We changed our time an hour back and the time seems to go so slow. We have a break from school. Do you? Is it cold weather there It is cold here. It is reallly boring here, especially for me without you all. I miss you. I really miss America. I have to wait a little bit more, but I can wait. I know that you really love me, but I love you more than you love me. Could you possibly send me some shampoo-conditioner and gel soap? It's just that mine is all gone, and in the orphanage they don't give that kind of shampoo. I have really bad hair and it breaks a lot. Of course only if it isn't too hard for you. I am really grateful to you for your love for me. I miss you all. Tell Storey Grace hi, I really miss her. We listen to music often. We will perform in November. We will have the Autumn ball, but I won't be performing. I don't want to. I will sing one song called "From the first smile" I really miss you. My dear brothers-study! Storey Grace-listen to your parents! I realy love you and miss you. Tell the guinea pigs hi and i miss them too.
I am praying for you.
With love,

We Need Your Prayers!

We heard from our facilitator this morning. Our dossier has been submitted and now we wait to know if the SDA will accept it. Our facilitator expressed some concern regarding one item in our dossier. Please pray that the SDA will accept it!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We are so excited!!! -Sheila

Tonight is the night we have been waiting for since we sent the dossier to Ukraine. It is truly one of the biggest hurdles in the adoption process. Will the SDA accept or reject our dossier? That is the question. We have been so overwhelmed with by the prayers and encouragement of our family, friends, and the Body of Christ as a whole. It is such a blessing to be surrounded by believers as we travel this road. God is so good to us!!! Even tonight at church I was so encouraged by our discipleship group. I truly am thankful to God for that group of believers. I have an excitement that is unbelievable. We are coming one step closer to bringing our daughter home. We feel like if our dossier is accepted we may get an appointment date at the end of November or the beginning of December. That is only a guess from what we have seen from other adoptive parent's blogs. How awesome that would be!!! Please continue to pray. We are so excited!!! Thanks for letting us share this with you. Your prayers are such a source of encouragement and hope to us!! Keep praying.

By the way, for those of you who prayed for Matthew as he spoke at French Camp yesterday, thank you. He did a great job. It was great to see him speak and see the computer presentation that he had worked so hard on. Several of the students were interested in the December mission trip, and many of the staff hung around to talk and ask questions. It was very encouraging. This was his first official presentation. Thanks to Stephen and Erin (Anderson's parents) for letting us hang out with them. While we were there we got to try a Karina cookie. I must say it was REALLY good. So good that I had another, and another....well I won't tell you exactly how many I had. Again God blessed us with such encouraging fellowship. We look forward to going back to French Camp on Saturday for the bake sale. It is amazing to see the Lord use this adoption for His glory.


Please pray. Tonight between 1AM and 3AM our dossier will be submitted to the State Department of Adoption in Kiev (9-11AM Kiev time). Please pray that it will be accepted!

We wait and we trust. We trust that God's plan will be fulfilled. Whatever he has in store for us is best and we trust that his perfect will be done.