Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Train to Kyiv

Friday we had told some of the orphans that we would return on Saturday, so after lunch we began the walk to see them.

About half way to the orphanage Karina began to slow down and the look on her face was a look of fear.  We asked her what was wrong and she said she did not want to go back to the orphanage.  We talked for a few minutes and decided that since we told some of the kids we would return, we should see them at least for a few minutes.  Karina agreed but told us that she wanted this to be the last time she goes inside the place she has lived for the past seven years.

Inside she spent time with her best friend in the hallway.  Sheila and I found some of her former classmates locked in a room with no supervision.  After a while, a teacher came to unlock the door and we spent about 45 minutes playing and talking with these children that we were leaving behind.  It only took a few minutes before the boys wanted to wrestle with me.  They climbed all over me and tried to bring me to the ground.  We wrestled until all of us were tired and sweaty.  It was great.

Then Karina was ready to go.  Sheila and Karina went ahead while I threw the boys around a couple of more times... then I heard a boy yelling at Karina… I quickly went outside to find Karina behind her mother who had the look of a fierce woman ready to protect her child… the boy acted like he wanted to beat Karina up but the moment her dad looked at him he cowered towards a door and closed his mouth.  We walked towards the iron gate and Karina said, “I do not want to come back here.  It is not a good place.”

“You do not have to come here again, dear Karina.”

Sunday was a wonderful day of worship.  In the morning we worshiped with the Evangelical Reformed Presbyterian Church of Odessa.  It was a blessing to be with these Ukrainian Christians and see the missionary families again.  The missionaries in Odessa are doing a great work and we have grown to love them.  Please keep them in your prayers as they labor for the gospel.

After the service we ate lunch and walked through the park near the church.   We worshiped at the English service that evening and the missionaries and other English speakers were able to meet the former orphan that they had prayed for just a few weeks before.  Sinclair Ferguson preached the sermon (previously recorded) and it was quite encouraging and convicting.  He used a passage from Revelation 2 regarding the church at Pergamum – believers that have become worldly – they have compromised.  Some of his examples were people that want to be a Christian but they do not want to appear too radical – they want to go to church and confess Christ but they do not want to appear “crazy” before the world.  These are the people that Jesus says must repent or he will war against them.  Jesus wants all of us… he wants us to serve him whole-heartedly.  Forgive me, Lord for so often caring more about what this world thinks of me.


After the evening service we fellowshipped with some good friends that serve as missionaries in Odessa over delicious pizza.

Monday was the day that Karina wanted to talk about her life before the orphanage. 

She wants us to know her… and to love her.

We talked for hours Monday as she described her first five and a half years of life that she remembers so vividly... she was more kind to those who abused her than the social worker was... when she was through she said,

"But there are other children that had it worse than me." 

We shed tears... we held her... we promised not to hurt her.

She said, “I know you will not hurt me.”

She told us how many times she thought she would be adopted but was not for many different reasons.  She told us about Christmas 2007 when she was told she was going to visit America but when she walked out of the orphanage to get on the bus with the other children she was told she could not go.  She was so sad.  They did not tell her why… they just said, “You cannot go.”

She watched her friends ride away in the bus and she returned inside.

We told her God was saving her for us… we would not have met her if she had come in the winter instead of this past summer.

We asked if she thought we would really come for her when we told her that we wanted to adopt her many months ago.

“I knew you would.”


Tuesday we received the call that Karina’s passport might be ready.  We waited until the passport office opened after lunch and then went in.  I told Karina that we did not have a translator and she would have to talk to the government officials.  At first she was nervous but then she began talking to them and did a great job.  After a few minutes and a few different people… we were handed a passport that read Karina Ann Nasekos… this gave her permission to travel internationally… and was her ticket out of Odessa.

She literally leaped into the air over and over as we walked  down the street.

“I am leaving Odessa.  I go home!!!!”

To say she was excited is to understate the way she was feeling.


We packed our bags, said good bye to some friends and got on the train to Kyiv.  Smiling she looked out the window and said,

“Good bye Odessa!”

We asked her if she was sad at all to leave Odessa.

“No!!  I am happy to leave.  I go home!”


She smiled and giggled… we talked and drank tea together.

Then she fell asleep… with a smile on her face...

And the train sped across the snow covered land… on the way to Kyiv.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Please do not forget me!

"Please... do not forget me!" is the cry of the orphan when a child gets a family and leaves the orphanage.


Yesterday we had Karina's going away party with her class.

We went to the store and told Karina she could pick out anything she wanted for the going away party.  I wish you could have seen her pushing the cart around the store with wide eyes and excitement as she picked out each item... bananas... imitation crab sticks (apparently a favorite)... bread... cheese.... some type of pepperoni (I think)... cake... candy... gum... cranberry spice drink... coke... sprite... 


We took a taxi instead of walking because of the gifts and party food... Karina gets us around town... telling the taxi drivers where to take us.  It is fun watching her negotiate with the taxi drivers and then the drivers look at me... trying to tell me that he needs more money and wondering why I was not talking to him... Karina continuing to negotiate the price and where we need to go... the man continuing to look past her and plead with me to help out... finally he realizes I do not have a clue what he is saying... he accepts her price and off we go.


At the orphanage we were greeted with hugs and kisses and Karina was surrounded by her classmates with dozens of questions.

The children prepared plates making sure everyone had exactly the same and then they patiently waited for us to say something...


We told the children how much we loved Karina... thanked them for being her friend for the past several years... told them that we loved them, cared for them, prayed for them and shared the good news of Jesus Christ with them - how we have a problem and that problem is sin - this sin keeps us separated from God and there is nothing we can do on our own to solve this problem but God loves his people so much that he sent his son, Jesus, who lived a life we could not - a perfect life - Jesus died on the cross and paid the penalty our sins deserve - he rose from the dead and is in heaven praying for his people - he has sent his spirit and his word (the Bible) to teach us - believing in him makes us right with God.


Then each child said something to Karina...

"We wish you happiness."

"We are glad you have a family."

"Do good in school."

"We hope you are happy."

"Please... do not forget us."


Karina's supervisor expressed how much she loved Karina... many tears were shed.

And then we ate together.


After eating, we passed out some gifts for each child; some of the kids tossed a football with me... and then the boys wanted to wrestle... one boy used me as a punching bag until he told me his hands were sore... it was almost like being with my boys... I wonder how often in their life these orphan boys have wrestled and punched a man for fun... we had a great time.

During the hours that we spent in Karina's old playroom, child after child came to Sheila and I and whispered to us... 

"Please, do not forget me!"


"Will you find a family for me?"

"Can you help me?"

The cry of the orphan when one of their friends has a family is, "Please do not forget me!"

They understand that it would be easy to leave and be forgotten...

all they want is a family...


They asked if they would see Karina again and we told them that we would return Saturday.

As we left a girl hugged and kissed Sheila... "Please... will you find me a family?"

We will try dear A.

A boy carried our bags outside for us, hugged us and said goodbye.  I gave him the football we had been throwing earlier.  With a huge smile on his face he said thank you.  And again I wondered what would become of this boy.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mary treasured up all these things....

The above title is a portion of the passage of Luke 2:19:
"But Mary treasured up all these thing, pondering them in her heart." (ESV)
A few Sundays ago our pastor referred to this passage in conjunction with the passage from Luke1:66:
"and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts saying "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him." (ESV)   This passage is in reference to the birth of John the Baptist.

    Both of the passages struck me.  From the time my children were born I have tried to store up my memories of them and treasure my time with them.  During my time in Ukraine and when we were home for 3 weeks, the task seemed to be even more important.  I want to treasure every moment with my children..... both at home and here.  My heart is full of things to ponder.  God has been so benevolent to me.  I am so thankful for his blessings in these, His children.  Our time with Karina has been so sweet and dear.  I have loved just watching her.  She has had so many "firsts" in just the last 2 days.  She has handled them so well.  She is truly entering a new world....even here in her own country.  She now has to make many decisions that before were made for her.  She is rising to the challenge.  I am inspired just to watch her as she navigates through many new tasks.  We went shopping yesterday,(see the above new outfit for the product of our labors) and it was so much fun.   Not many moms can say that about their teenage daughters.  She was so thankful and thoughtful during the whole experience.   I want to treasure all these experiences.  I want to remember the goodness of God in all of these blessings.  Even the little things like shopping with my daughter.  I so often forget.  I am like the Isrealites..... I need stones of  remembrance.      I love the second verse of  "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing":
    "Here I raise my Ebenezer hither by Thy help I've come, and I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home, Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God, he to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood."(Trinity Hymnal)
   I need a pile of stones to constantly remind me of God's mercy and blessing!!!  I do not want to forget one of His blessings from this journey to adopt Karina.  If you wonder what I am doing while I am here..... I am piling up stones and pondering them.

     Please continue to pray for us as we spend time with our daughter.  We love her and we so enjoy this time with her.  May God bless this time that we have with her .  Thank you all so much for your prayers already.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Through the Iron Gate

In December we had to leave the orphanage each day at 5PM.  Karina would follow us out of the building you see above and we would stop at the iron gate that closed the orphanage off from the outside.  Beside this gate we would hold each other and we would pray for our girl.  After our prayer it was hugs...kisses...goodbye...and we would walk through the gate and Karina would run back inside the orphanage.

Yesterday we made the 20 minute walk to the orphanage to meet with the social worker, inspector and an assistant to the director at  9AM.  

Karina was called good it was for us to see and hold her.  We did not have a translator for this meeting so it was quite interesting when an argument broke out between two people...I eventually realized that they were arguing whether the papers they were filling out could be photocopied or copied by hand...the result after much back and forth was...copy by hand...we were relieved to find out that the entire argument was about that and not anything more significant.

We signed a few papers and then left the room to stand in the hallway...Dima, a sixteen year old boy that we have become friends with talked with us...Sasha, Karina's close friend came to tell Karina and us goodbye...a few minutes went by and we were given a sheet of paper that said Karina was free to go... no longer a resident of this orphanage.

We walked outside and another friend ran out to hug Karina and tell us goodbye.

Then Matthew, Sheila and Karina Nasekos walked to the iron gate that we had walked to many times in December...

only this time, we all walked through the iron gate...

... and kept walking.  In the above picture Karina paused at the gate long enough for me to snap this picture... we were all so excited to go through that gate together.

What did Karina leave the orphanage with?  Her parents and what you see in this picture...a coat, gloves, tennis shoes, the clothes she is wearing and a purse.  
What is in the purse?  Pajamas that Sheila gave her before we left in December, a notebook where she has some of her drawings, and contact information of her friends, a photo of one of her good friends, a pen and her Bible.
The above list was all the possessions she had.  It is amazing to see her joy and excitement... her earthly possessions are so few...she has clothes on her back, she has her Bible, she has her parents.... we asked her if she had anything else...

" is ok.  It is all I need."

We hopped into a waiting car and it was off to the birth certificate office....more paperwork... then a birth certificate was issued -   Name:  Karina Ann Nasekos - Born:  Odessa, Ukraine - Parents:  Matthew and Sheila Nasekos.

Then lunch with Jay and Martha!!!  How fun it was to see them again and their two boys!  

Next we went to the passport office where Karina had her passport picture taken and we applied for her international passport so she can leave the country!  There is at least a five day wait before we receive it.

There is so much more to write about...we will try to spend more time writing tomorrow.  Today has been such a joyful day...a full day with our daughter.  Through some of our meetings we have learned more of her at five years and five months she first ran away from home to escape the the state stepped in when they learned how much she was the orphanage has been her shelter while she waited for the parents that would not beat her but love her and care for she has waited seven years for us.  Words and tears do not express the love and joy we feel towards has been one of the best days of our lives... thirteen years after she was born, Karina has spent an entire day as Karina Ann Nasekos with her mom and dad.  Many thoughts have gone through our minds of those thoughts is how could a parent abuse and throw away a child?  Karina is a precious girl...I am sorry for her biological parents...they have missed so much...I am thankful that God has given this precious treasure to us...

Dear God, thank you for this gift...and help us be good parents.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Love You, Daddy!

"I love you, daddy!", Storey Grace cried as I closed the door of the van sending four of our children to grandmommy and grandfather's house....again.
Thanks, mom and dad for being so enthusiastic about caring for our children...we hope less time than in December.
We had a wonderful Lord's Day together as a family worshipping at First Pres - the songs, the scriptures, the sermons, the fellowship from both services and Sunday school were so encouraging, uplifting and Christ centered.  We are thankful for the blessing of our church.
After the morning service we had a family picnic on the front lawn...the kids told us they were sad Sheila and I were about to leave but also glad that Karina will be home soon.
We also had an interesting conversation with them about love and marriage.  Storey Grace told us God created her to get married and Harrison told us that he did not want to get married until he was at least 18 because it would be disgusting before he was 18 and then he said he did not even want a girl friend until he was 18.  Isaac and Noah wondered what in the world Harrison and Storey Grace were talking about...the bugs in the grass and the mud on the football were so much more interesting.

This picture was taken after the evening service just before the kids went to mom and dad's house.  We appreciate your prayers for them and my parents over the next couple of weeks.

Thank you so much to those of you who sent supplies and money to purchase supplies for the orphans...WOW!  They will be so surprised by your generosity and gifts.  They so enjoy time spent doing these crafts.  THANKS!

Sheila and I are sitting in the same location we were Christmas snow covered Kyiv, Ukraine...awaiting our departing flight for Odessa.  
God blessed us with a smooth flight after a three hour delay and de-icing in New York.
It was tougher to leave the kids behind this time but we are so excited to be able to see Karina tomorrow and...hopefully, she will walk away from the orphanage.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Last Day of Camp in Peru

When the buses rolled into camp one of them had a sign taped to the side: “Thank you very much Twin Lakes…Please Come Back.”

During the morning assembly the US team was asked to stand up front and receive gifts from the Peruvians. One of the gifts for the entire team was a large leather picture with the names of every team member engraved onto it….”many thanks always, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Peru”. We also had gifts for them and told them thank you for inviting us and helping run camp. Tears began to flow and continued through the morning at different times. We were told that we would be missed and they are so grateful for this ministry.

Before we ended assembly to begin activities, all the orphans came to the front and surrounded me so that we could thank them for coming and pray for them. Tasha, who is officially beginning her orphan ministry in Ukraine in February, prayed for these orphans of Peru (details about this ministry are coming soon).

Yuliana gave me several hugs Friday, was sad that camp was ending and asked if I would take her home. Has anyone started praying for her, yet? A family would be blessed to have her as their daughter.

These people loved camp and asked several times if we were coming back. I am not sure of a day when I have been hugged by more people…even the staff that worked at the facility we rented gave hugs, took pictures and said thanks…every one we came in contact with was impacted by what God has done this past week…I reached out my hand to shake the hand of the owner of the facility but he ignored my hand and gave me a big hug. One of the Peruvian staff members gave me a hug that must have lasted several minutes...he looked at me and said, "You people are changing our lives. Thank you."

Every day as the children arrived we would make a tunnel for them to run through…on Friday, as we got on the bus to leave, they made a tunnel for us to run through. I was asked so many times, "Are you coming back?"

We hope so. We hope some of you reading this will join us next year. They want us to expand this camp ministry to another city in the Andes Mountains of Peru as well as continue to run the camp in the desert. God has blessed this ministry in so many ways and we praise him for what he has done.

Before the campers arrived each day we gathered as a staff for time in God's word and singing. On this last day the last song we sang together was Blest Be the Tie that fitting it was as we prepared to leave our dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.

Before our Father's throne we pour our ardent prayers; our fears, our hopes, our aims are one our comforts and our cares.

We share each other's woes, our mutual burden's bear; and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives our courage by the way; while each in expectation lives, and longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain, and sin we shall be free, and perfect love and friendship reign through all eternity.

Thank you, LORD, for allowing us to be part of this great work that you are doing in Peru.

And thank you, LORD, that in four days we will be on our way to our dear Karina.

Prayer Request

We have been overwhelmed by the number of people praying us through this adoption journey. Thank you for those prayers and thank you for your support. None of this has been possible without you.

Monday we leave for Ukraine to complete the process and bring Karina home.
This morning we recieved a bill for adoption expenses that we were not expecting. Of course, this has been a process in which we never know what is waiting around the corner....but we have always seen God provide.

Please pray that God will provide what is needed to complete this adoption and come home with our daughter.
We have seen God provide every step of the way and we know that he will provide for this.
Thanks for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Crafts for Orphans in Ukraine

As we prepare to go back to Ukraine, here is a list of some craft items that are needed. A missionary spends time with the children making crafts and she needs these items. If you can help send some to Ukraine please send me an email: and we can arrange a time and place to get them - we need them by this weekend if you can help. Thanks.
pipe cleaners
any kind of paint for kids
perler beads (these are the beads that you set on a little tray and then melt together with an iron)
paint with water books
two or three pairs of lefty sissors
construction paper
cupcake wrappers
stirafoam balls (I could use a lot of these - any size)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Blessings and a Butterfly


 All 26 of us arrived safely with luggage and camp supplies after midnight, Saturday January 3.  We spent Saturday in Lima and then caught the evening flight to Trujillo.  Sunday we worshiped at the Wichanzao church in the morning where Ephesians 1 was one of the Scripture passages.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”  Vs. 3-4

The passage goes on to talk about how God loves us, has adopted us, blessed us, redeemed us through his blood and forgiven our sins, “according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us…”

It is because of what God has done for us…because of the love and blessings he has poured onto us that we are here in Peru to tell others of the wonderful news of what Jesus has done for us.  It is also the reason that we have adopted Karina…because of what Christ has done for us.

Oh, how we miss her……soon.

Sunday after church we ate lunch with most of the missionary families in a park near their homes.  It is a blessing to be with these families and see their love for God and the people of Peru, to see their sacrifices and their joy.  They are an example and encouragement to us.

We are blessed to know them.

Sunday evening we worshiped at the Larco Church and then ate supper in Allen and Sandi Smith’s home where we had my favorite cake:  Tres Leches (Three Milk Cake)…the best cake in the world is here in Peru.  We also had Black Jungle Cake for SaraCaroline’s Birthday – she is the youngest team member and is here with her mother, Carrie.

While at the Smith’s we had a wonderful time of worship together as a team, singing and praying together.

Monday was training day.  The 26 of us joined about 35 Peruvians (most were with us last year) to prepare for the details of running camp.  The reason that the churches asked us to come work with them in this children’s ministry is to assist the church in raising godly leaders through intentional sacrificial service to others.  We practiced some of the camp songs, went over the purpose of camp, walked through details of running the program, my dad, Paul, taught everyone how to share the gospel of Jesus using the wordless book and Child Evangelism Fellowship materials – then had everyone practice on each other, went over rules for campers, advice on caring for the kids while at camp and spent time in prayer.  

We then had a delicious Peruvian feast with rice, French fries, a beef/vegetable mix, an incredible pepper sauce, Inca Kola and ice cream.  

Next we gathered our camp supplies and headed to the Sol y Luna – the Sun and the Moon – this is the facility we have rented – to make final preparations for camp and then it was off to the Hogar de Esperanza (House of Hope).  The House of Hope is an orphanage for 41 children.  Last year 15 orphans came to camp and I had been praying that God would make it possible for more to attend this year.  While at the orphanage I met with the director and she agreed to send all of the children.  I wish you could have seen the joy on the children’s faces as they found out that all of them could come to camp. 

One girl that attended last year had been told that she could not go this year and with tears in her eyes she showed us her Twin Lakes t-shirt and told us she could not come again.    When we told her that she was coming, she jumped up and down and gave us many hugs – every time she sees me she hugs me and says, “Gracias!”  Her name is Yuliana and she needs a family.  In July she will no longer be available for adoption.  Is there anyone out there that can give her a home?  Will you pray about being her mommy or daddy?

We spent a couple of hours at the orphanage playing, chasing, giving piggy back rides, swinging, see-sawing, passing out candy and stickers, laughing with the children and dreaming about possibilities.  

Twin Lakes Summer Camp, a ministry of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS sent all the unclaimed lost and found clothes and shoes from last summer with us to give to the orphans.  Tuesday, many of the orphans came to camp with those clothes on.  Thanks, Twin Lakes for blessing these kids!

What a blessing it is to see the orphans here at camp.  To all you supporters that made this possible, thank you!  You have made 41 orphans so happy and given them an experience they will never forget.

Please pray about the relationship between House of Hope and Peru Mission.  God seems to be opening up some ministry opportunities for Peru Mission (and for us)!


Tuesday was the first day of camp.  We have 240 people here at Sol y Luna singing praises to God, playing, doing activities that some of these children have never done and hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I have mentioned this before, but I will mention it again:  Sol y Luna is based at the feet of the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon in the former capital of the Moche Empire.  The Moche were a pre-Inca civilization that ruled parts of South America.  The Temple of the Sun was the administrative center of the Moche and the Temple of the Moon was the spiritual center where human sacrifice was practiced.  If you have seen Mel Gibson’s Apocalypse, then you have a picture of what the Temple of the Moon was like.  All throughout the temple are carvings of the Decapitator – a creature with a knife in one hand and a human head in the other.  Right where we are holding camp, many years ago, people were enslaved and sacrificed to pagan gods.

Today, at the foot of this temple children are running free, laughing, playing and hearing the wonderful news of what Jesus did for them – how he lived, died and rose again for his people.

Jesus does make a difference.  Thank you, Jesus, for blessing us.

After camp we took a nice break by going to the beach and enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and black sand.  A few of us braved the cold water – even in the summer the water in Trujillo is cold…but not as cold as the Black Sea is in December…but that is another story.


Today, Wednesday, is the second day of camp and I am sitting in a corner of the open air dining area.  Last year and yesterday I ran most of the details of camp but today it has all been turned over to the Peruvian staff and they are running everything from welcoming the campers to starting and stopping activities, deciding the daily schedule (the schedule is a living schedule – it changes from one moment to the next…it is Peru), running snack and lunch – the only thing an American is doing is helping lead worship (Allen is just amazing leading this and he has assembled a great Peruvian worship team).  It is exciting to see that just in our second year and second day of that second year camp is running without an American leadership team – we are here if the Peru leadership wants us but they are in charge.  That was our goal from the beginning:  Equip them to do this ministry.

In front of me children are making bracelets and key chains using beads the colors of the wordless book.  To my right, the worship team is praying together preparing for assembly after lunch.  Beyond them the youngest children at camp have started eating rice, chicken, avocado, salad and drinking Inca Kola Coke and Sprite.  Avocado from Peru….simply amazing.  As I look straight ahead beyond crafts, the pool is full of playing children.  Tuan, on staff with Twin Lakes, is in the middle of the pool and has a line of children behind him anxiously awaiting him to toss them through the air.  I do believe that the pool is the most favorite activity for the campers.


To the left of the pool is Super Fun Games with a giant parachute and inflatable water slide…continuing on is the soccer field where the children are learning different sports.  Above sports is archery and face painting – face painting is another huge hit with the kids…they love being painted on.  To the right of face painting is horseback riding. 

I walked around camp to see how things were running and as I returned to the dining area the Peruvian Camp Directors were talking.  

They told me, “The children will be sad when this is over.”

One of the Camp Directors is also a pastor here in Trujillo and he said, “You are always welcome to come here…and this invitation is not just from these churches (in Trujillo), this invitation is from the presbytery, from the denomination.  We are glad you have come.”

I started writing this on Wednesday…now it is Thursday and we are wrapping up another great day of camp.  Each day we move closer to our goal.  When I arrived I told the Peruvian leadership staff to act like I was not here at all…not even to give advice.  I told them to make all decisions…so that is what happened….I have not been involved in any decision making or details of camp and the Peruvians ran it all!!  This is so good.  Not only did this accomplish one of our goals to let the Peruvians do this camp ministry on their own but it gave me time to meet with some of the Christian Missionary Society missionaries and we were able to open up an entire new branch of outreach for the organization (CMS is branching out beyond Peru) and develop a new position for the team that is really needed (more on this later).


Today almost every child recited the verses they have learned this week by memory.  It has been special to see their enthusiasm for learning God’s Word.

Tomorrow – Friday- is the last day of camp.  The US team will only be here for half of the day and none of us will run any aspect of camp.  It will totally be done by our Peruvian friends - another major step toward equipping them to do camp ministry without us.  We leave camp at 1PM and then we will go back to the hotel, gather our belongings, head to the airport and fly to Lima and then home…arriving Saturday.  Today the Peruvian leadership told me that when we leave the Peruvians will cry.

We will return.

Blessings…God has blessed us that we may be a blessing to others.  Thank you First Presbyterian Church, Jackson; thank you Twin Lakes; thank you Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Peru; thank you Larco, Wichanzao and Arevelo churches in Trujillo; thank you Peruvian staff; thank you Peru Mission; thank you to all of you who came on this trip; thank you missionary families; thank you to all of you who financially supported this trip; thank you to all of you who are praying.  It is a large group of people that God has put together to pull off camp.  Thank you…lives are being changed.


A butterfly.

One of the team members on this trip is Tasha.  Tasha is from Ukraine and knows Karina.  Just before she came to Peru, Tasha called one of the teachers at Karina’s orphanage to see how Karina was doing with Sheila and I no longer there.

Her teacher said, “Karina is like a butterfly fluttering around the orphanage.  She is oblivious to everything around her, smiling….she is so happy to have her family.”

Our dear butterfly…we will see you again in 12 days…soon.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Preparing for Takeoff

Twenty-one of us are in the Jackson airport preparing for takeoff to Atlanta...then Lima, Peru.  Our first flight has been delayed just slightly...original time was 12:16PM and now it is 12:35PM.  

In Atlanta we will meet team members flying in from Little Rock and Baltimore and then in Lima we will meet the rest of our team:  26 total.

Thank You and Prayer Requests

We were able to talk to Karina on the phone was wonderful. She says she is doing good...loves us....misses us...ready to come home. Karina, we too, are ready for you to come home and we love you and we miss you.

We praise God for all of you who have lifted us up in prayer and for those who are also praying for the other families that are adopting from Ukraine.

We praise God for your encouragement through those prayers, through comments, emails, etc.

Thank you for laboring with us. Thank you for your prayers.

By tonight, Matthew will be in Peru leading a group of 26 people from the States and Ukraine to join 30 Peruvians to lead summer camp for the children of Trujillo, Peru. We may have up to 30 children from the orphanage that was involved last year. The rest of the children come from the churches and neighborhoods that Peru Mission works with.

Because of the extended time we have spent and will spend in Ukraine, we decided that Sheila and the kids will remain in the States...all of us would like to be in Peru for camp but we are just not able to do it this year. The boys, especially are sad...they enjoyed camp so much last year and loved every moment of it as they sought to serve the other children...but they understand why and are sooooooooooo excited that Karina will be home soon. Storey Grace is still trying to figure out why Karina is not here already.

Please join us in prayer:

1. Sheila and the kids - rest, safety, obedient children, protection as they travel to stay with family, final preparations for Karina's arrival home.

2. Mission Team: health, safety, wisdom, travels, families that are left behind, protection and that all of us will be godly servants willing to minister to others and put the needs of others before our own. Please pray that no one gets sick.

3. Camp: that the gospel of Jesus Christ will be clearly and boldly proclaimed and that God would use his word to draw many to himself, safety for all the campers. Paul Nasekos (my dad)will be teaching on Creation and Fall through Noah to point to what Christ has done for us during assembly times as well as working with a team using Child Evangelism Fellowship materials in our "Evangelism Tent".

4. Churches: that the churches and church leaders would grow from this experience and become more like Christ.

5. Peru Counselors: that the Peruvian camp staff will continue to understand the fundementals of camp ministry and that they will be blessed in order to be a blessing to others.

6. That Matthew will lead with a godly, wise, gentle and serving heart.

7. That God would be glorified, his kingdom will be built, we will leave those we work with encouraged in their faith in Jesus and we will come back with a greater passion for Jesus.

Thanks for your prayers.
Not sure what kind of internet we will have in Peru but will blog if able.

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, January 1, 2009

More Fun with Jay and Martha

As far as I know, Jay and Martha are the only ones still in Odessa continuing on this adoption journey. This is their latest news regarding New Year's in Ukraine:

Happy New Year to our Ukrainian adoption family!  We wanted to be the first to welcome you into 2009 and to make you aware of a wondrous, merciful blessing God gave you and you didn't even know it: YOU MISSED NEW YEAR'S EVE/NEW YEAR'S DAY IN DOWNTOWN ODESSA!  What a nightmare!  We had been somewhat prepared for revelry and noise and fireworks and all the trappings of a New Year celebration; however, we were NOT prepared for the extent of all that celebration.  We walked down to the promenade by the Black Sea to see the sights and lights.  Deribosavskaya street was almost dead - the stores were closing around 9 PM, McDonald's was closed, and people seemed to be calmly walking around enjoying the sights and sounds.  We stayed up until 11:30 - a stretch for us - and at midnight...  A CATACLYSMIC CACOPHONY OF CLATTER AND CHAOS broke out.  There were endless fireworks explosions, yelling and cheering, and general mayhem.  We kept thinking it would eventually quiet down, which it did at around 7 AM.  What fools we were to think the partying would be sensible!   Whew - we survived New Year's in Odessa and we've made a covenant NEVER to celebrate this particular holiday in this particular city ever again!  It was really hard to find a cow to bring back to our apt, cut it in half, and walk through the middle of the animal to formalize our covenant, but we did it!  Now there's manure everywhere, but that's a different story...

We went to McDonald's today and heard a fellow in line ahead of us speaking flawless English.  Jay said, "You speak pretty good English!"

Man: "Hey, I'm Ned (or something else) from Arizona."

Jay: "I'm Jay from New Mexico."

Ned: "We're neighbors!  What are you doing in Ukraine?"

Jay: "We're adopting a couple of teenage orphans."

Ned: "Wow, that's great!"

Jay: "What are you doing in Ukraine?"

Ned: "Getting a wife."

Silence and a long pause...

Jay: "Well, good for you."  

We both wondered about the most appropriate response to someone who has just said that.

Ned: "It's not as easy as it sounds.  I've been here two days this time..."

Silence and long pause...

Jay: "Well then, good luck to you!"  We quickly retreat.

I swear we do not make this stuff up, except for the fact that we can't remember his name so I made up a name for him!  Other than that, it's all true!  We truly walked away scratching our heads.


Tip of the Day - If someone comes to Ukraine and decides to make something for dinner, say spaghetti, they should NOT buy mushrooms in a jar.  They should use fresh.  The mushrooms in a jar are pickled mushrooms and could very likely cause the spaghetti sauce to taste pickled.  Just a hint.  No extra charge.