Thursday, December 31, 2009

My First Birthday Present

Yesterday was my birthday and I wanted you to see Harrison's gift to me:

You may be wondering what that amazing delicacy is.
Well, Harrison enjoys making pancakes in the morning so he prepared a unique Birthday Pancake Cake and brought it to me in bed.
We still have remnants of Christmas candies in the house so the Birthday Pancake Cake that I received included the following ingredients:
Four Eggs
Honey Nut Cheerios
Chocolate Milk
Lemon Heads
Peanut Brittle
Peanut Butter Balls
Sugar Babies
All topped off with Whip Cream

The assumption made was that since all of those things taste good separately, surely they will taste great together.
Now that I look at that list I realize that we got way too much sugar for Christmas.

We spread a blanket over the top of the bed, all got in bed together with forks and enjoyed breakfast.
How did it taste?
Well, we all ate some...
We enjoyed being together...
It was filling...
The kids said it was delicious...
Karina said she had never tasted anything like it before...
The fruit was yummy...
It was a great way to start a birthday...
It was another great reminder of how wonderful it is to be a dad...

Thanks, Harrison, for a great start to another year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

To Have Parents

We were on our way home from church today when Karina pulled out her Bible, read a verse from the sermon and asked what it meant.

After a brief explanation she put her Bible down, sat back in her seat and said, "It is so good to have parents... to have parents that can tell me what things mean... to have parents that can explain what the Bible says... what God wants.  It is good to have parents."

"It is good to have children ask questions."  I said.

To have parents... the dream of the orphan child.

To have children ask questions like this... one of the many joys of parenting.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve 2009
Christmas Eve one year ago Sheila and I were in court in Odessa, Ukraine when a judge declared that Karina was our daughter.  It was a wonderful day and the past year has been an incredible year.  We praise God for the way he has blessed our family and how he has grown Karina.
This is what we posted one year ago today:

Received another call...court will not be at noon....maybe at 2PM Odessa time...6AM Central.

Please pray that we can find a flight is a tough season to book a last minute flight.
Thanks for all your prayers and support.
We received another call...

Facilitator:  "Matthew, um...yes...the judge says the electricity in the courthouse will be cut off from 1-4PM today.  There will be no court, again.  He will not promise court today or tomorrow.  He has too many cases tomorrow...and is not sure when he can reschedule your court.  I do not know what to do."

Matthew:  "Can we go ahead to the courthouse and wait to see if the electricity actually gets cut off?"

Electricity...maybe yes...maybe comes and it goes...where it goes and when it returns nobody knows.

Facilitator:  "Yes, we can do that.  I will wait until after 1PM.  If it stays on, I will come get you.  Maybe it will stay on."

Matthew, Sheila, Jay, Martha and all of you out there spend time praying.

We spend 96 minutes and 49 seconds on the phone looking for a way home...praying that we will have court and praying that we can see Harrison, Isaac, Noah and Storey Grace for Christmas...praying that we can find a flight and that it will not be too expensive...

First flight flights from Ukraine to Jackson until Saturday..."we can get you home Saturday with overnight stay in New York"...transferred to someone else..."let me see if I can get you home"...listened to groovy telephone music..."ok, thanks for your patience"...(she did not understand what we have already been through - we thought she was fast)..."I have found a Ukrainian airline that flies from Kyiv to Paris, Air France from Paris to Atlanta, Delta from Atlanta to leaves Kyiv at 6:30AM December 25."

"Wow", I say.  "One problem...the overnight train does not arrive until 6:12AM...flight leaves at 6:30AM.  Let me call you back."

Talk with Sheila, Jay and Martha...hmmm...if we have court early enough we can run from the courthouse and catch the one flight from Odessa to leaves at 6:10PM Christmas Eve.  

Call Delta - "We would like to book the 6:30AM out of Kyiv to Paris, Atlanta, Jackson."

(Still praying because we do not know if we will even have court today to be able to go to Kyiv to catch this flight home.)

Delta - "Sure, that will be the change fee plus seven dollars."

(We have expected the change fee from cancelling our earlier flight...and as we have been checking on flights home, the least expensive new flight we had found flying out around Christmas was $3,000.)

Matthew - A little confused but very pleasantly surprised..."Seven thousand?  Seven hundred? Could you please say that again?"

Delta - "Seven dollars."

Matthew - "One more time...I think we have a bad connection."

Delta - "Seven dollars plus the change fee will be charged to your credit card." 
(Can you hear me now?)

Matthew - "Yes.  We would like to book that flight!"

So...we have the flight we are praying for court so we can take that flight home.

Phone rings..."Matthew, the electricity is still on in the courthouse...there is a red taxi waiting for you outside."

Sheila has been packing while I am on the phone, so we get our luggage...tell Jay and Martha goodbye (we will miss them so much...they are dear friends and we thank God that He allowed us to spend this time together...Jay and Martha, you are in our prayers!  Thanks for everything!  Keep your eyes open - you never know when your "gangsta bus daddy" will step onto the bus you are trying to "blend in" on.)  Keep praying for Jay and Martha...they received more good news today...things are moving...keep praying...they are so appreciative of your prayers.

We arrive at the courthouse and Karina is there waiting on us along with our facilitator, lawyer, social worker and inspector.  (Thanks Alonya for getting everyone to the courthouse when we did not even know if it would happen!  You have been incredible!)
Now we wait and we pray.

Here comes the judge...maybe....YES!  Let's hold court!

Pre hearing: do we want the court to consider?

Leave court room.  Pray for hearing...pray that electricity stays on.
Enter court room.
Hearing:  Answer many questions...
"What is your work?"
"Where do you live?"
"Why do you want to adopt Karina?"
"What is your religion?"
(Praying that electricity stays on.)
"How will you educate her?"
"What does her future look like with you?"
"Did you make this decision as a family?"
"What do your biological children think of this adoption?"
Many more of the questions the judge asked Sheila was:
"You already have four children, do you think you can handle one more?"

I will never forget her response...I could feel the mother in her rising up and filling the court room...she said, "Da"...but I could tell that she really meant, "DA!!!!!!!!!  Yes, I can take care of my children.  What kind of question is that?  Do you think I would have spent the last three weeks in this country if I did not think I could take care of my children?"
We know we can only do it by God's grace - he is the one that allows us to take care of these was just fun to see the mother in Sheila stepping up to take care of the blessings God has given us.

(Praying that electricity stays on.)

Karina had to stand up - she was so nervous - and answer questions.
"Do you understand that this family wants to adopt you?"
"Do you understand that they already have four biological children?"
"Do you have a good relationship with them?"
"Do you understand that you will live in a different country?"
"Do you understand that they do not speak your language?"
"Do you want Matthew and Sheila to be your parents?"

Hearing concludes.  Debate period begins.
"What do you want from the court?"
"It is our desire that this court accept our application to adopt Karina and that her name be changed to Karina Ann Nasekos."
The lawyer, inspector and social worker give their approval.
Leave courtroom.  Pray for decision...pray that electricity stays on.
Re enter court room again.

"It is the pleasure of this court in the region of Odessa, Ukraine to accept the application of Matthew and Sheila Nasekos to adopt Karina.  Her name is now Karina Ann Nasekos.  Her birth certificate will be changed to read Karina Ann Nasekos, daughter of Matthew and Sheila Nasekos."

Thank you, Holy Father in Heaven for this blessing...thank you for allowing Karina to be ours.  Give us the grace we need to raise Karina in the way of the LORD.

When we left the court room Karina said, "FINALLY!"
Karina is no longer an orphan.  She has a family...a mother...a father...three brothers and a sister.

We asked her how she was doing.
"I am so happy!"

We held her for a few minutes, prayed for her, told her we loved her and then she was taken from us...
in Ukraine there is a ten day waiting period between the court ruling and when the ruling takes effect.

Ten days, Karina...she told us, "Soon."
Ukraine's holiday season is approaching when not much work is done through January 15.
So, we have the ten day waiting period and then the offices that we need to get the last paperwork will be closed until mid January...she must stay in Ukraine until then.

After Karina left we jumped in a taxi and sped off to the airport...without tickets...not knowing if there was space on the one flight out of Odessa....but God provides...we are there in time and there is space on the plane...and the electricity is still on.......we buy tickets, leave Odessa and are now sitting in a restaurant that has electricity, great food and internet access in snow covered Kyiv.

Sheila and I leave Kyiv at 6:30AM headed home...God is so good...on Christmas Eve he gives us Karina Ann Nasekos and on Christmas Day he will let us be with Harrison, Isaac, Noah and Storey Grace.  To be honest, it is hard to leave Karina but we know that the time will be short and as she always says....soon.

After the court ruling Karina, Sheila and I held each other in the court.  The judge, who had not broken a smile through the entire proceeding looked at us and smiled.  We told everyone thank you.
Dear Heavenly Father we thank you for giving us Karina.  Thank you for all of our children.  Thank you for your provision.  Thank you for your timing.  Thank you for how you have led us and how you have changed us.  Thank you for causing us to rely fully on you.  Thank you for all the prayer warriors back home.  Thank you for the prayer warriors in Ukraine.  Thank you for our parents who kept our children in Mississippi.  Thank you for all our friends that brought food for our children.  Thank you for those who spent time with our kids and gave our parents a break.  Thank you for Jay and Martha.  Thank you for those who supported us financially.  Thank you for those who supported us through emails and comments and in many other ways.  Thank you for this journey.  We look forward to taking the final steps in this journey and bringing Karina home...soon.  Thank you for adopting us as your children.  Thank you that Karina is no longer an orphan.
Thank you, LORD.

Merry Christmas!  This is a picture of our Christmas tree in Kyiv.
For those of you that want to see Karina...we will keep the blog updated and let you know when she will be arriving in the States.  She looks forward to seeing you!

Monday, December 21, 2009

From Whom?

"Karina, are you excited about Christmas?"

"Oh, yes!  I am so excited!"

"What was Christmas like in the orphanage?"

"Well, we woke up and we ate... and we watched movies... and maybe we would go outside... and we ate some soup and two pieces of bread - we always had to eat two pieces of bread -  and we watched some more movies... and we went to bed."

"Did you get any presents?"

She laughed and then said, "Presents?  From whom, daddy?  From whom?"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Children's Christmas Story

The following is an edited letter from some precious friends of ours to their family describing what they taught their children while reaching out to orphans.  We are thankful for the way they have ministered to children on the other side of the world while ministering to their own.  If you are interested in doing something similar, there is still time to send gifts.

"As we read a letter several months ago from some missionary friends of ours who had adopted a little girl named Karina from the Ukraine, our children asked us what an orphan was. We explained that there are children in the world whose parents for one reason or another were not able to take care of them, or had died and there was no one to take care of their children, so there were a bunch of children who lived in a place without mommies and daddies. Their eyes grew wide and their mouths opened in amazement. “You mean they don’t have a mommy and daddy?!” 
“That’s right,” I said. There was a very serious and sad look on our two children’s faces. Then, their mouths were loosed and the questions came in a flood. 
“So who helps them when they fall down?” 
“Who plays with them?” 
“Who tucks them in at night?” 
“Who hugs them when they are scared?” 
“Where do they live?” 
“Who protects them from bad people?” 
“Who buys them toys?” 
“Who prays with them and for them?” 
“Who reads the Bible to them?” 
“Who takes them to church?” 
“Who gives them baths?” 
“Who feeds them right?” 
“Who takes care of them when they are sick?” 
“Who loves them?” 
“Who teaches them about Jesus?!” 

And as you may guess, there are no easy explanations for any of these questions. But it was not too long after this that they came to us very serious - as serious and determined as any five and three year old can be. They said that we will love the orphans. They asked us if we could show a bunch of orphans in the Ukraine that we loved them and God does too. So they wanted to give gifts this Christmas to children 
like Karina who didn’t have mommies and daddies and toys and all sorts of things. They also said that they already had so many toys that they didn’t need any more. 
So, we went to the store and bought socks, gloves, crayons, paper, candy, balls and cars, headbands and purses, playdoh, stickers, and Christmas cards written from both of them. We did this for twenty children - ten boys and ten girls about our children's age - at an orphanage in Odessa, Ukraine where Karina is from. Then we paid the postage and customs shortly after Thanksgiving and sent your Christmas presents to the other side of the world to some children who have no family to spend Christmas with. 
And so you see, two small but big-hearted children, because they are filled up with so much love from all of you and most importantly filled with the love of Jesus, could not sit idly by when there is so much need in such a place at this time of year. 
And so, because they love Jesus and you, they gave just a little of what they knew and enjoyed to children who may not have any of these things. 
You know, it is precisely because the Son of God pitied a bunch of fatherless children such as us, lost and in bondage to their own sin, ignorant of the Father’s love, far from grace, that Jesus took pity on us and came and became one of us, took our sin and punishment that we, who were once orphans, might be adopted into the family of God. He who knew no sin, became sin, that we might become the 
righteousness of God. We who once were justly children of wrath, but now have 
faith in this Christ, have now been adopted into the family of God and become 
God’s children that we might tell others of the excellent greatness of God’s grace. 

This is what our kids, and all of us want you to know: that we gave in your name for God’s glory to children who may not know what Christmas is or what it is all about."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Conversation with My Dentist

This week, last December, Sheila and I were in Odessa, Ukraine finalizing all the details of adopting Karina.  It was such a joyous time and a blessing to get to know the other children hoping that a family would one day come for them.  We still pray for those children and look forward to seeing them again in a few weeks (we have space for you to join us on the trip - contact me if you want to help us minister to these precious children in January).
It is God's blessings on us and the fact that these children are still waiting in the orphanages and crying out for someone to care for them that compels us to tell their stories and ask people to care for them in their distress.
Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with my dentist.  My dentist has a small practice in a neighborhood in Jackson and I started going to him about 14 years ago because I lived next door to his office in a rough part of town (we regularly found drug paraphernalia tossed into our front yard).  I rented a house with four other men, most of us were seminary students, and the neighborhood was a great opportunity for us to put into practice what we learned in the classroom.  One of our windows faced the dentist office parking lot and we decided to set up a life size Luke Skywalker in the window to stare at anyone in the parking lot.  Later, my dentist told me he noticed that every time he went to his car, someone was staring at him.  After several days of wondering what was going on, he came up to the window and realized that, no, we were not as strange as he thought - we had not been spending all day, every day, staring at him.  It was just Luke.  Thus began a continuous stream of conversations with my dentist.
Yesterday he asked me to tell him something weird:  "All day people have been telling me the strangest things.  Weird things.  I wonder if you can top any of it."
I responded with, "I am not sure if you really want to hear some of the things I deal with."
We began a conversation that led him to asking how I was enjoying what I do now.
"I love what I am doing:  caring for orphans.... encouraging the church to reach out to orphans in mercy..."
He stopped.
He put his tools down.
He fixed his gaze on me.
Say that one more time.
"I love encouraging the church to reach out to orphans."
In shock he said, "Do you mean to tell me that you have to encourage Christians to do that?  To care for orphans?  I mean, the Bible... is it not plain about orphans and widows?  Isn't that what Christians should be known for... caring for orphans and widows?"

Before I left his office he told me, "Well, you won.  You told me the strangest thing I have heard all day."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Collecting Christmas Presents for Orphans

Getting ready for Christmas in an orphanage in Ukraine

We are collecting Christmas presents for some orphans in Ukraine.  If you are interested in sending presents to a child, please read the following letter from a friend of ours:

For the last several years I have been involved in ministry to orphan children in Ukraine and some of my friends have been ministering to children in many poor orphanages outside the city.  The children in these orphanages range in age from 7-18. 
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.  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 much celebration.
This year, we have organized a Christmas Gift Project to provide a special Christmas gift for the children in these orphanages.  Many churches from here will be gathering gifts, but we also need help from you in the US.   The goal this year is to collect enough gifts so that each child in 16 orphanages will receive something special on the day when we remember the most wonderful gift ever given: the day when Jesus Christ our Savior was born.  Maybe you would be willing to help?
This project is open to churches, small groups or individuals.  We are looking for anyone willing to help.   If you are interested in learning more, I will include instructions about the project at the end of this letter.  For more information please contact Matthew at
Thank you for your consideration of this opportunity to be a blessing to the orphans of Ukraine!

If you or your church or small group is interested in sending Christmas gifts, please e-mail Matthew as soon as possible ( Please let me know how many gifts you would like to send.  Then I 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.  All gifts should be mailed directly to the address I will send you once you let me know that you are interested in sending gifts.  Packages usually take 2-4 weeks to arrive in Ukraine so all gifts should be mailed before Dec 1st.  In Ukraine, we celebrate Christmas on Jan 7th so hopefully the gifts will arrive in time.

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).  All gifts should be labeled with the age and gender.

Gift ideas:
any small toys, balls, cars, crayons, markers,  colored pencils, coloring books, hair things, lip gloss, jewelry, photo frame, photo album, 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, hat, gloves, scarf, calculator, flashlight, belt, comb, brush, small calendar, expanding washcloth, etc.    

Karina, last year in the orphanage painting Christmas balls.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

When Will I Have a Momma?

One of our missionaries that works with orphans sent the following edited message recently:

"A few days ago I was at the orphanage  and a little boy came running to give me a hug.  He wrapped his arms around my legs and looked up at me with his big brown eyes.  He wrinkled his eyebrows, showing a question in his eyes, and then he asked “When will I have a mama?  In the winter or in the spring?”  My heart was torn into pieces and I had no idea what to say.  Then he went on:  “ My friend was found.  When will someone find me?”    
What can I say to a small child whose deepest desire is to be found and wanted by a family?
I am no longer allowed to help with any communication between America and the kids in orphanage.  What can I say to K who asks me if he can write letters to his best friend who was adopted?    What can I say to V who doesn’t really have any friends in the orphanage, and almost cried when I told her she couldn’t write to Val anymore?  With a serious face, V told me,” It is such a tragedy to lose my best friend.”

What do I say when three orphanage graduate girls are sitting in my living room explaining to me that in the dorm there is one shower room for almost 1000 boys and girls living in the five story dormitory?   How do I respond when we are talking about being patient and waiting for God, and  they say they don’t expect anything from God anymore?
Sometimes it feels like the only response I can manage as I listen to these beautiful children in their desperate situations is tears.    How hard it is to know that these children don’t even have anyone to cry for them.  
 The following poem was written by Antwone Fisher, an orphan boy who grew up in the foster care system in the US.  His questions apply to orphans everywhere:
Who will cry for the little boy lost and all alone?
Who will cry for the little boy abandoned without his own?
Who will cry for the little boy who cries himself to sleep?
Who will cry for the little boy who never had for keeps?
Who will cry for the little boy who walked through burning sand?
Who will cry for the little boy, the boy inside the man?
Who will cry for the little boy who knew well hurt and pain?
Who will cry for the little boy who died and died again?
Who will cry for the little boy, a good boy he tried to be?
Who will cry for the little boy who cries inside of me?
-Antwone Fisher
Who should cry for the little boys and girls who are orphaned and alone in this world?    The answer is  both simple and complicated.  Who should care for orphans?  The church.  We are the church.  Is caring for orphans easy or pain free?  Not usually.

“As long as there is a church on planet earth, she (an orphan child) is not destitute.  If there is a church in the world named after Jesus Christ no orphan should be destitute.  Care for that child.  Do what you have to do to get there.”  -John Piper
Today I want to challenge you not only to be willing to cry for these children, but to intentionally and prayerfully consider if adoption might be something God has for your family.  Even if you have never thought about it before, if you are married and between the ages of 25-60, would you please ask God if there might be a child on the other side of the world waiting to call you mom or dad?  Maybe each time when you read about the plight of orphans you feel a tug deep inside you, maybe you are or soon will be an empty-nester with room in your heart and home for more children, or maybe you have watched others adopt and said to yourself “I could never do that”.  No matter where you are in life, would you please pray and consider adoption?  If you are not in a position to adopt a child,  please pray and consider ways you could assist a family who wants to adopt.
I will be praying for you too, that God would make His will clear to you whatever that may be.  Thank you for your prayers for the orphans of Ukraine and for me.  I really appreciate all of the encouraging emails and prayers as things remain difficult.
Waiting with you for God’s answer to our prayers..."

I join with our missionary...
Karina, once an orphan, joins with this missionary to ask you to consider what God would have you do for the orphans...
Will you adopt?  My family would love to help you.
Can you financially support a family that is adopting?  Our mission agency, Christian Missionary Society, can help you with that.
Will you pray for the orphans?  I can give you names, pictures and prayer requests.
Are you interested in coming with us to see these children?  I will be with them soon.  Join me.
Are you able to support the Nasekos family or our other missionaries working with orphans?  We can only continue by your support.  

Contact me if you want to take that next step toward caring for the children that ask, "When will I have a momma?"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sitting in the Window

God blessed us, while in Ukraine, with other American families that were in the same city adopting at the same time.  One of them recently left this comment for us and I wanted to share it with you as a reminder that the children are waiting for a mom and dad...
sitting in the window...

"I'll never forget the day I came late to visit, after dark, and saw Karina's friend Sasha sitting alone at this very window in the dark. Literally dark. There were no lights on. You know how it is near the front door. It was the day after Karina left. I felt so sorry for her. Time heals hurts and I think she is doing OK now. But we know that time is running out for the older kids to be adopted."

Friday, October 16, 2009

"The Orphans Never Have a Day Like This"

Karina weeped on my shoulder tonight...
not because someone had hurt her...
"this is so much fun"...
not because she had a bad day...
"It was one of the best day's of my life"...
she was weeping because she was thinking of the children she grew up with... the orphans that do not have a mom or dad... the orphans that are sitting in orphanages all around the world crying out "why doesn't anyone want me?"

A friend stopped by the house today and handed me a large stack of tickets for rides at the Mississippi State Fair.  He said, "I want you to have these... go have some fun with the family."
So this afternoon all of us piled in the van and went to the fair.
It was Karina's first time to the fair... any fair.

Now the rest of our kids have been to the fair but today was different.  It was different because, in the past, a typical fair day for us looks like this:
go during lunch so parking and entrance is free... don't ride any rides... instead go to the free petting zoo and look at all the animals... walk around... leave the fair.
Before the fair started this year one of our kids asked, "Dad, can we actually ride a ride this year instead of just doing the free stuff?"
I told him, "We'll see."

Well our friend, Sam, changed that today.  Thanks for the tickets, Sam!
With a large stack of tickets the kids were able to ride many rides... all of them had a blast... Storey Grace, Noah, Isaac, Harrison and Karina.

We spent a while in the kiddie section and then Karina wanted to go ride the big rides.  We all rode the ferris wheel together and ate caramel apples.  Isaac saw a booth where someone tries to guess your weight and he wanted to try it... the guess was wrong and he got a giant sword... Harrison tried and won a sword... Noah tried it and won a dolphin... even Storey Grace tried it and won a puppy.... Karina said she did not want anyone trying to guess her weight.

We spent hours enjoying each others company, talking with people and riding the rides.
All the kids faces were lit up with excitement.... Karina's expression had something else in it...
she talked about it when we were home:
"This day was so wonderful.  I was with my family all day.  We were together having fun.  Today I did things that I have never done... and I did them with my family.  Orphans never have days like this.  Daddy, my friends in Ukraine have never known a day like this.  Will they ever know a day like this?  Today was the best day... I am so happy and so sad..."
She weeped for the children around the world that are sitting in orphanages...
she weeped for the children who never spend a day with their mommy and daddy...
she weeped for the children that have never been to the fair, holding their sisters hand, eating a candy apple, riding the ferris wheel...
she weeped for her friends who, instead of a day like Karina had, are beaten, abused, forgotten, scared, wondering if anyone will ever come for them, sleeping on the streets, hiding in the sewers...

she weeped for her classmates that, one by one, on Karina's last day at the orphanage said, "Karina, do not forget me!  Tell people I am here!  Please find me a mommy and a daddy!  Tell them I am real!  Tell them I will be good!  Tell me I want them... and ask if they want me... I will be waiting for them... I will be watching out the bar covered window to see if they are coming to get me."

The orphans do look out the window.  We see their eyes peering out every time we visit.
They are waiting for you to come get them...
And to give an orphan a day like they have never had.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"My Daddy is Going to Die Tonight"

Last night Karina translated as three Russian speaking pastors explained the gospel to people at a nearby hospital.  When she returned she was full of excitement as she described what happened.
The good news of Jesus Christ was shared with many people in many different situations and all of them except one responded to Karina and the pastors.  The one that did not want to talk told Karina that he was a pastor.  She said he was a sharp dressed man who claimed to be a pastor but when she began asking him questions he told her that he was fine and did not need Jesus.  His good works were enough... they were all that was needed in this life and the next.  Karina said he walked off irritated and she was sad for him... and for those he pastors.
Several people were eager to hear the gospel and many made professions of faith and displayed a desire to serve Christ.
Then Karina said that one child looked at her and said, "My daddy is going to die tonight."
Karina knows what it is like to be without a daddy.  She prayed with the child and prayed for the daddy... that he knows Jesus and will be in heaven tonight.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Few Published Articles

Over the last several months, some of our mission work and the story of Karina's adoption have been published in magazines and newspapers.  To see two of these stories, please copy the links below and paste in your browser.

Mission Camp in Peru - found starting on page 12 of Leadership & Ministry, a publication of Reformed Theological Seminary:

Adoption Story:
From the Tartan, a publication of Belhaven College:

Other magazines including the current copy of Parents & Kids and the July issue of Metro Christian Family have the story of Karina's adoption.  We thank Erin Ulerich for her writing and desire to spread the word about children that need a family.
Our prayer through this is that many people will reach out to orphans in their distress.

God's Amazing Grace

Please keep Karina in your prayers this week as she is getting an incredible experience while serving in an amazing way.  Three Russian speaking pastors from Eastern Europe flew into Jackson yesterday but their translators were not able to get visas to come.  They are here for evangelism training and to attend a conference designed to strengthen churches through developing godly servant/leaders.
A friend of ours asked if Karina would be interested in being the translator.  She willingly took on this great task.
God continues to amaze us by his plan...
This time last year Karina was in an orphanage on the other side of the world and sent us a note telling us that the "hot water was just turned on since it is getting really cold" and asking if we could send her some soap...
This week she is serving as an English/Russian translator for pastors desiring to strengthen and grow the kingdom of God in their own lands.
The story of God's amazing grace continues on....

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's A Boy!

God has blessed us with another boy!  Sheila's checkups continue to go well and she has had no further blood clotting.  As far as we can tell, the baby is doing just fine.  Last week we took everyone to see the sonogram and all the kids were so excited to see their baby brother on the screen.  The nurse was great as she explained to all the children what everything was - what a great science lesson the kids had... they measured their brother's brain, heart, kidney... they were able to hear the heartbeat and learn all about babies in the womb.  It was a great witness to life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

General Update

Our latest mission update newsletter will be going out this week.  If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send an email to

Sheila and the baby are doing well... we have a sonogram scheduled for tomorrow and we pray that all is OK with the baby.  At the end of this month we will need another supply of Sheila's medication.  Please join in prayer with us that God would supply this medication.

Karina has now been home over eight months and she is doing great.  The above picture is of her in Peru with a former orphan from China that was adopted by a missionary family in Peru.  School is going well, she is involved with the choir and she is enjoying the youth program at church.  Next week she will have the opportunity to serve as a translator for some pastors and evangelists.  We are excited about this opportunity she has to use her Russian and English for the church.

We have trips planned to Peru and Ukraine this Fall and Winter.  The children and orphans in Peru are excited about summer camp coming up for them in January and we are working on plans for a camp in Ukraine at the request of a church in Odessa.

We have two missionaries in Ukraine ministering to orphans - please pray for them and this orphan ministry.  Next month this orphan ministry will expand into western Ukraine.
Anyone interested in a vision trip to Peru or Ukraine, just let me know.

As a recruiter for Christian Missionary Society, I can tell you that there is plenty of work to be done... "the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few."  Luke 10:2
We need your prayers and financial support... but we also need people to join us in proclaiming the gospel and reaching out in mercy!

A Tattoo Artist, a Prostitute, a Man without a Job, a Pit Bull and Time with Harrison

Ten of the last twelve years we lived way out in the country... and enjoyed it.  We now live in the heart of the city... and absolutely love it.  What do we love about the city?  There is an endless flow of people... an endless flow of people like us:  sinners in need of God's grace.  What a joy it is to continually come across people to minister to, share the gospel with, reach out to in mercy, encourage, help, learn from, disciple and be a neighbor to.  Our children are great accountability partners... 
"Daddy, does that person know Jesus?"
"Are you going to share the gospel with the people that live at that house?"
"Can we go help that lady?"
"Can we invite them over to our house?"
During the first week a man came over to hook up the phone and internet and our kids immediately wanted to help him and watch him... this house is an older house and did not have modern phone jacks... instead the phone jacks were four pronged squares... so he had to rewire a few rooms... plenty of time to talk about him and what was going on in his life... the good news of how God has provided his sinless Son, Jesus, to take our sins upon himself and transfer his righteousness to us so that, if we believe in him, we will have eternal life... we will be changed so that we can turn away from our sins and obey God... this new life brings a joy that we will never know apart from Christ... invited the man to join us at church...
His response was, "You know, I have seen a lot when I go to houses to work... people fighting and yelling... throwing things... it is good to be here and talk to you.  Thanks for inviting me to church.  I need to come... I need to bring my kids.  Thanks."
I have not seen him yet but I pray that God would draw him to himself.

My work with Twin Lakes has come to an end and last month I attended my first board meeting with Christian Missionary Society.  Each time I travel, I take one of the children in order to spend time with that child and hopefully grow closer to one another and God as we learn what God has to teach us both during the journey.  Harrison came with me to Georgia and we had to travel through Atlanta... little did I know what God had in store for us... we were traveling on the day after the Chattahoochee River overflowed and killed people, flooded homes and businesses and washed out roads and bridges.  Even Interstate 20 was closed for several miles.  Harrison and I were ushered into detour traffic where we spent six hours in a traffic jam before coming out near the Atlanta airport.  Yes, at the beginning of this traffic jam we were a little irritated at being stuck... until we remembered how blessed we were... while the flood was all around us, we were dry, our home was not under water... we were alive... and there were thousands of people around us in need of help.
We began looking around us and realized that we had an incredible opportunity to serve people... as cars began overheating... breaking down... running out of gas... people getting too hot... there was an elderly couple whose car stopped in the middle of the road and one after another cars just went around them.  Harrison and I stopped to find two exhausted people in an old car with no air conditioner... after a few minutes their car was up and going and they pulled off at the next place they could to rest.  We decided to help every single person on the side of the road... we were not getting anywhere fast - the detour we were on had to be detoured because another bridge washed away.  Whatever the need was, we tried to meet it - usually it was a ride to the next gas station or help with their car.  We met several people including a homeless man, a prostitute, a tattoo artist, a man looking for a job... we even gave a pit bull a ride (with his owner - Harrison was very excited about having the pit bull in the car... after he realized the dog was not going to bite his head off).  With a captive audience, we had some good conversations which always led to talking about God's grace through Jesus... the way, the truth and the life.  We pray that God would save them all.

Harrison and I had a great time together and it was very encouraging to make plans for our mission work.  I thank God for the opportunity in Atlanta to serve and I pray that God would use that trip to encourage Harrison to tell people about Jesus every chance he gets... every day that we have been given, may we use it for God's glory.
"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."  Deuteronomy 6:5-7
...and when you are on the way to a meeting... and when you are driving down the road... and when you are stuck in traffic...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Big, Big Summer

A few Sunday's ago Derek Thomas preached from Romans 8:28-30 - "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose..."

Near the beginning of the sermon he quoted from John Piper's book, Future Grace:
“If you live inside this massive promise, your life is more stable and solid than Mount Everest. Nothing can blow you over when you are inside the walls of Romans 8:28. Outside of Romans 8:28 is confusion and anxiety and fear and uncertainty. Outside this promise of all-encompassing future grace, there are straw houses of drugs and alcohol and numbing TV and dozens of futile diversions. There are slat walls and tin roofs of fragile investment strategies and fleeting insurance coverage and trivial retirement plans. There are cardboard fortifications of deadbolt locks and alarm systems and antiballistic missiles. Outside, are a thousand substitutes for Romans 8:28. Once you walk through the door of love into the massive unshakeable structure of Romans 8:28, everything changes. There come into your life stability and depth and freedom. You simply can’t be blown away anymore. The confidence that a sovereign God governs your good and bad and all the pleasures you’ll ever experience is an incomparable refuge and security and hope and power in your life.”

People wonder how we could adopt a teenager from another country that had been abused as a young child... it is because we live inside the walls of Romans 8:28.

People wonder how we can now leave the comfort of the ministry I have served for 12.5 years with a steady paycheck, a nice place to live and a beautiful place to work to face the uncertainty of support as a missionary especially under the current economic times... it is because we live inside the walls of Romans 8:28.

What an incredible promise Romans 8:28 is. It is the promise we rest in... it is the promise we live in... it is the promise we take the next step in... it is the only way we can go on.

God has given us a big, big summer. He blessed camp in many ways... over 1600 children, 130 Leaders in Training, 70 staff... good health, safety, dozens of professions of faith, growth in Christ, growth in the desire to serve others sacrificially, lots of fun... some kids being put, for the first time in their life, into an environment where they see how Christians live... and a great program featuring the story of David and Goliath.
My children had the privilege of being Philistines along side of our 6'9" Goliath (thanks, Paul!). Above you see Harrison, Noah and Karina just before David came in the name of the LORD and conquered the giant and then the Israelites slayed the Philistines.
The children were taught not only that the battle belongs to the LORD - that God fought for his people, but also that the judges and kings of the Old Testament were not enough. They could not bring salvation to God's people. The judges and kings saved the people for a short period of time but something so much more was needed. The judges and kings point to something much greater... they are just a small picture pointing us to Jesus... the one who came to truly save his people.
I thank God for a great summer at Twin Lakes. Here are a some pictures of our children at camp:
Even Storey Grace was able to attend camp this year. She was ready, so at four years old she spent the night for a whole week at camp... she loved it. All the kids attended and had a blast. Karina is too old to be a camper so she served as a Leader in Training - a program designed to train young people from Scripture to lead by serving others. Karina thrived in the program and served for two weeks. She loved all the friends she made, the Bible studies and the work.
Karina had a great summer and is doing well. Her English is excellent. She is growing both physically and spiritually and we are thankful for God's grace in her life. Today marks seven months with her family.
Many of you know that this was our last summer at Twin Lakes and that we have been planning to move to Peru to serve as missionaries with Peru Mission under Christian Missionary Society.
Peru Mission is an incredible mission that proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ along with deeds of mercy. Church planting, training pastors, seminary, schools, language school, medical clinics, economic development, agricultural development, micro-financing, disaster relief, university ministry, music ministry, summer camps, publishing of Christian materials and orphan ministry are just part of what Peru Mission is involved with in order to renew Peru through the power of the gospel. It is exciting to see how God is using this mission to draw people to himself both in Peru and the United States.
This summer the camp pastor at Twin Lakes preached a sermon where he said that God's plans are deeper, wiser and bolder than ours... we have truly seen that this summer... God has orchestrated life for us in a way that will change us from serving primarily with Peru Mission and being based in Peru to serving with Christian Missionary Society (the mission organization that oversees Peru Mission) with a focus on Peru, Ukraine and expanding missions to other lands as God leads while being based in the United States. We are so excited about the direction God is leading and the scope of his plan.

Here are some of the ways God led us:
This summer we found out that we are expecting a new addition to the family! We are all so thankful and joyful about the coming of a new baby Nasekos. Karina, especially, looks forward to having a baby to help care for. She told us that she has never been taught how to care for a baby and is glad she will be able to. The kids are pulling for a girl to even the number out at 3 and 3.

Just a few weeks after we found out about the baby and just three days after camp ended, Sheila was hospitalized with a blood clot. It was a scary time for all of us. Karina was afraid for her mother and said, "I need my mommy. I just got a mommy and I do not want to lose her." She was very concerned for her mother and prayed continuously for her.
After several blood tests we learned that Sheila has a certain condition that makes her prone to blood clots and the loss of babies early in pregnancy. The fact that we have four biological children with one on the way is amazing.
We thought the adoption of Karina was a huge step of faith for us... we realize that step was only the beginning of what God has been doing with us this year.
Camp had ended and it was time for us to prepare to leave Twin Lakes and begin our mission work. In the hospital the doctors told Sheila that because of the blood clot, the condition of her blood and the pregnancy, she cannot get on an airplane for about a year... major change in our plans... what was God's plan for us?
We also learned that there was one medicine she could take that would help her condition and not harm the baby... one medicine that was incredibly expensive with no generic. Our insurance was maxed out immediately... then our savings... how were we going to pay for the medicine?
Next we had to find a place to live since we were already planning on leaving Twin Lakes. Where could we find a house that would fit us that we could afford in the States?

We had several questions... several major things in our life that we had to trust God for... and he has provided in amazing ways. He always does. He was growing our faith.
With Sheila's health condition keeping us in the States for now, we will be doing development work for Christian Missionary Society - a great need that they have. In a nutshell, we will be raising awareness in the States for all the ministries of Peru Mission and the developing mission in Ukraine, growing the prayer support, raising money for the mission, recruiting people to help and developing the orphan ministry both in South America and Eastern Europe. Being based in the States will allow us to do all of this which meets many needs that the mission has and uses the gifts God has given us. His way is better than our way... bolder, wiser, deeper.

Sheila is recovering from the blood clot and the baby is doing well. We were able to have a sonogram and see a healthy, wiggling little baby.

We let the drug company know our financial condition and they sent a 90 day supply of the medicine at no charge... telling us they might send more later... we are thankful for God's provision and pray that they will supply the medicine for the duration of the pregnancy.

A friend called to offer a house that we could afford to rent, it is large enough for our family and in a great area.

God has provided... and cared... and shown us a better way. He has stretched our faith and shown us how much we must rely on him... and trust him...
and TRUST him.
A few days ago I returned from a trip to Peru where I was able to share the good news of Jesus Christ, map out the coming year of ministry, visit all aspects/ministries of Peru Mission and spend time with the orphans that we support and work with.
When we learned that Sheila could not come with me on this trip we decided that Karina would go. Seven months after coming home from an orphanage in Eastern Europe, Karina flew to South America where she was able to minister to and love on orphans in Peru.
When I was packing before the trip she came into the room, looked at what I was taking and asked, "Daddy, where is the stuff for the orphans? What are we taking for them?"
I am thankful that she thinks of others and that her heart is to care for others that are still in the situation that she once was in. I pray that she always cares for others and always reaches out to them in mercy.
We packed a suitcase of things for the orphans.
It has been a big, big summer. A summer of conversions... a summer of growth... a summer of new direction and expanded ministry... a summer of faith in our great God... a summer of remaining inside the walls of Romans 8:28.