Monday, January 18, 2010

Ready For Some Football

Never in my life have I seen so much snow.  Flying into Kiev as far as the eye could see was beautiful, pure, bright white.  The crisp, cold air and whirling snowflakes were refreshing after so many hours of travel.
We are in Odessa where the snow continues to fall... but let me go back to last Sunday.
How encouraging it was when Ligon Duncan preached from Luke 9:10-17 on the compassion, the power and the provision that Christ has for his people.  A few thoughts from the passage continue to fill my mind as we reach out to orphans:
Just as Jesus came to earth to serve others and deny himself - we are put on this earth to serve.  We exist not for ourselves but to serve others.
When the people came to Jesus, he welcomed them, taught them, healed them, fed them.
Jesus is more than enough.  When Jesus provided for the people everyone ate, everyone was satisfied and there was plenty left over.

Satisfaction... only Jesus can truly satisfy and nothing this world has to offer satisfies like worshipping my savior.
My mind is also full of this past Sunday's sermon where Derek Thomas preached from I Samuel 17 and reminded us not to be afraid of or impressed by outward appearances and to be reminded of God's past faithfulness to us.

God's faithfulness is amazing.

After the early worship service (where we were encouraged not only by worship but by many friends who let us know they are praying - thanks!) we headed to the airport and met up with the Ulerichs.  It was Anderson Ulerich (five years old - wearing baseball sweatshirt in above photo) who thought of the idea of baking "Karina Cookies" to help support the adoption of Karina.  His mom, Erin, is one of our team members.  Erin has been praying for and writing numerous stories about caring for orphans (published in Parents & Kids Magazine, Metro Christian Family, Belhaven Tartan, French Camp Today, several newspapers and others).

In Atlanta we met Robert Landrum (Landrums Blog) and Kristina Landrum.  Robert and Leslie adopted Kristina a year before we adopted Karina.  Kristina and Karina were best friends while living in the orphanage and have seen each other one weekend last spring and then now - it was a sweet reunion when they met at the airport in Atlanta.

The five of us headed off for a quick layover in Paris, France and then on to Kiev... I wish all my kids could see the snow in Kiev.

For those of you praying, thank you!  We brought hundreds of gifts and supplies for the orphans and everything made it through... except my gloves... now where did they go... Kathy I am now very glad you sent extra gloves with us to give away... I may be wearing them before I pass them on.

We got tickets in Kiev for Odessa and landed in Odessa with more snow whirling around us.
In Odessa we were greeted by wonderful friends that we have grown to love.  We are thankful for their love for God, their love for people, their servant hearts and their amazing ministries.
We are staying with a wonderful Ukrainian family that has a heart for orphans and we are so blessed to be with them.  We pray that God blesses them immensely for their care of us.

I mentioned in the last post that one of the goals while we are here is to be part of a documentary.  The film crew met us at the Odessa airport and immediately began filming.  The main goal of this movie project is to make people aware of the orphan's situation in Eastern Europe and what a difference God and a family can make in the life of an orphan.  It was fascinating to see the love that this Ukrainian film company has for orphans.  They told me that the orphans have almost no hope if they remain in the system as an orphan and they hope that their movies can be used to encourage people to reach out and care for these kids.
The film crew followed Karina and Kristina as we left the airport and came to the home we are staying in where they had set up a studio for filming.  I hope that many of you will be able to see the testimony that was revealed through this documentary.  It truly amazes me to see how God has delivered these former orphans and how he is working in their life.
Many tears were shed as the girls compared their former life with the life God has given them now.
After several hours of recording, the film crew wrapped things up and headed back north.
They hope to have the movie aired on Ukrainian TV all across Ukraine.

Karina sat down beside me after they left and said, "Daddy it is hard to think of my friends and other orphans that remain in the condition I was once in.  It makes me so sad.  I hope God will one day use me as a missionary to help orphans."

I did not tell her but I thought to myself,  "He already is."

The day before we left I gathered all of my children around me and asked them what they thought about this time in Ukraine.  The response was....
"Every day we read God's Word and pray together.  Every day we hug and kiss each other.  Every day we have a mom and dad who loves us and takes care of us.  Every day we have you but the orphans never get that... there is no one to have devotions with them... no one to hug and kiss them... you must go!  We must always be willing to help them."
When Karina saw this response from her siblings... she cried.

With the filming behind us, we turn our full attention to the orphanages.  We appreciate your prayers as we spend time with the orphans today.
We will also be visiting with orphans that are not living in an orphanage.
I appreciate you keeping the rest of my dear family in prayer as Sheila cares for our other five kids at home... this pregnancy has been a tough one but the little man inside is doing well.
I miss you my dear wife!
I miss you Harrison, Isaac, Noah, Storey Grace and Baby Boy!
Thanks for your sacrifice... my children in your own words you told me it was worth it so that the fatherless could taste a little bit of what it is like to have a father.
My boys at home, I hope your football game goes well today in the front yard with your neighborhood friends... I pumped up the footballs that I brought tonight and will be taking them with me to the orphanage... boys at the orphanage, I am keeping my promise to you... I hope you are ready for some football!


  1. We are praying for you--all 7 of you in your 2 countries! Thank you for the faithful updates.

  2. Praise the Lord that you are there safe and ready to serve the other orphans. How awesome to see the love that Karina has for them as well...your family has so much love for Jesus and your family is an inspiration to ours.

  3. I can't wait to read about the reunion when you go to #4. Oh, how I wish I was there.

    I am so happy Erin, Robert, and Kristina are also with ya'll. What great people to have around you during this time.

    Glad the filming went well. I wish there was a way we could see it somehow.

    We are praying here and I will also have Grisha follow along with you and the Landrum's. He will enjoy that.

  4. I'm excited to hear that you are in Ukraine! I will pray for all of you while you are there. May God be glorified through you in all you do!
    I was just facebooking one of my Ukrainian-American friends the other day (she lives in Nebraska). She is feeling a desire to return to minister in Ukraine as well. Maybe she will get to do that some day.
    If you see Marat (#4) please tell him pryvyet from Pam! Older Andre too (he's 15). I better not start a list or it will be too long. : )
    Here's a video with lots of faces that I'm sure you know. Tell them ALL hi for me! :) (joking)I just love and miss them all so much. I'm glad you are there to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to show these pecious children God's unconditional love.
    For His children, Pam