Hello. My name is Karina and I learned something that I want to share with you.
I was really upset about what I saw yesterday and today.
I was an orphan in an orphanage in Ukraine. There are a lot of kids that need a family in this orphanage and I was one of them.
Our life in the orphanage is not good. We need love and we need parents.
Children in the orphanage are the same as children everywhere else except we are orphans and need a family... but I think that people think we are different. Why do people think we are so different that they will not make us part of their family?
I was waiting for someone to adopt me for a long time but it never happened. I wondered why it took so long.
Children in the orphanage are usually mean to each other, fight with each other and make fun of each other.
In our orphanage every child has imperfections and I was no different. I had imperfections too but I did not see them. I was looking at other people's imperfections instead of recognizing my own.
In 2008 I was adopted and left the orphanage.
I was really happy but I remembered the kids still in the orphanage and I knew they needed a family and most of all they need God.
He is our heavenly Father and we need his love more than anything else.
One year after I was adopted my daddy was planning a trip to Ukraine and I wanted to go with him.
He told me that we were not going to Ukraine just to "hang out". We had a mission. Our mission was to visit orphans and people that ministered to orphans.
I wanted to go with him and go to the orphanage where I spent so many years.
I was able to go with him to Ukraine and we went to the orphanage I came from. I saw my friends and supervisors but the thing that made the biggest impact on me was that I saw a change in the orphans and I saw a big change in my heart because I realized that God had given me true life.
Everything went good while at the orphanage.
My friends asked me why I did not make fun of a boy that I use to make fun of when I lived at the orphanage.
I said, "I do not want to make fun of him anymore. It is sin."
After that, the girl that use to be a good friend would no longer talk to me.
When we left the orphanage I was thinking about all of this and I realized that only God could have changed my heart from one that always joined in with the crowd and made fun of those that were weaker than me to one that wanted to help and care for those that were weak or "different".
When I was an orphan I would make fun of people.
I am no longer an orphan.
I wondered why the kids made fun of certain kids in the orphanage just because they looked a little different or were weaker than them.
I realized how sad it made the kids who were made fun of. I realized how sad I made these kids when I did it. I realized that I use to hurt people with my words.
Thinking about this made me cry.
I cried because I realized what I was like before I had a family. I did things that were wrong but I did not know they were wrong. No one ever taught me that they were wrong. I had no one that loved me enough to teach me the things that are right and the things that are wrong.
I never knew how much I hurt people. I never knew how sad people were because of my actions.
I never knew until today.
I know now that everyone has imperfections but we do not need to make fun of them.
I do not ever want to make fun of a person again.
I want to show them love.
I also want to tell you that there are a lot of orphans that need a mom and dad. These orphans have never been taught what is right and what is wrong. Will you reach out to them, take them into your family and teach them?
If you do, there will be one less child crying in the orphanage tonight.
What a blessing daughters are. God has blessed me with two daughters that I treasure immensely. I thank God for Storey Grace and Karina.
I pray that God allows me to be a good father to them...
To raise them in the way of the Lord...
To protect them...
To teach them...
To love them...
To prepare them to be the women God wants them to be.
They truly are good gifts.
With Valentine's Day approaching I asked two of my Valentine's if I could take them to lunch. They both excitedly agreed and so, yesterday, my two girls dressed up and went out with daddy.
We were able to eat lunch at a nice restaurant where we talked about how they were doing, how God was working in their life and spent time praying for them and their futures.
After lunch we walked around just talking, went to a flower shop and Storey Grace picked out pink flowers, Karina picked out white flowers and we picked out some purple flowers for mommy.
It was a great time with the girls God has given me.
I encourage all fathers to give their daughters some time this Valentine's Day weekend.
Your daughters need you.
Right now it is 21 degrees Fahrenheit in Kiev... warmer than it was a couple of weeks ago... but still cold.
How cold does it have to be for you to put on a coat?
How cold is it when you put a coat on your children?
One of my favorite things in life is to snuggle up with my children and keep them warm.
"Keep me warm, daddy!" they often tell me. Warmth and love often go hand in hand.
For some children in Ukraine, even when the temperature drops below freezing, they do not put on a coat... because they have none.
There is an orphanage... there may be many.... where the children do not have coats to wear this winter.
Before we left for Ukraine several friends gave money to purchase coats for these children. Thank you to everyone who gave. I cannot imagine spending much time outside in this weather without a coat.
Thank you for showing your love for these children by keeping them warm.
It was an adventure getting the coats... driving through the snow, walking and sliding through the snow and ice, bargaining for a better deal, carrying big bags of coats and getting suspicious stares as our coat bags got larger and larger.
It was a joy to be able to do this. Thank you for wrapping the kids up in warmth and love!
The following is from a letter written by someone who visits orphans every day:
"Little boys shoveling snow in the freezing cold with no gloves... screaming teachers... older boys bullying younger ones... kids running wild around the orphanage... or lonely kids wandering the hallways alone... during the last few weeks I have seen all these things and more in the orphanage.
The reality of life in many orphanages is shocking.
It is not a pleasant reality to talk about.
For those of us looking in, it is much easier to pretend that it doesn’t exist.
For the children trapped in the middle, it is easier to think “I am okay, I can make it”.
But no matter how we all look at it, the harsh reality remains the same and it won’t go away until someone steps in to help.That someone is ultimately God because He is the one who loves the children most of all, and I also believe that God wants to use us to help these kids know and understand His love.
In many ways I feel helpless to do anything that will really make a difference for these kids.
I feel that all I have left now is my voice, my words to express to you what I have seen and heard in the orphanages, to speak out for these children, and to communicate their deep desire to be loved and adopted into a family.
In these last few months the urgency of their needs seem to fill my heart even more, I have been quick to share with you about the desperate situation these kids are in.
But as I long to share with you and show you the reality of life here, I have been reminded of an important lesson. . . .the lesson of what must come first, and that is crying out to God for these children.He is the one who can save them.He alone is the one who can work in hearts and lead His people to action on their behalf.
And so, today, I want to thank you for joining me in lifting these precious orphans up to the Father and ask you to continue. He wants them to be loved and protected, safe and cared for.
“The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow.” Psalm 146:9a
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling.God sets the lonely in families,”Psalm 68:5-6a
And he calls us to be involved:“Learn to do right!Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Psalm 82:3"
If you are interested in receiving a prayer calendar for the orphans, contact me.
Through our adoption process we learned how governments and groups like UNICEF are responsible for keeping orphans from being adopted and in some instances causing the death of orphans. The situation in Haiti is displaying this tragedy for the world to see. Doug Philips of Vision Forum has been in Haiti caring for orphans since the end of January and explains the situation including his assessment of the missionaries accused of kidnapping. Please visit his blog to learn more: www.visionforum.com/hottopics/blogs/dwp/
Our hosts in Odessa are an amazing family. They have committed their life to caring for orphans and the love they have for God and others is energizing and wonderful. Their ministry, which we are partnering with, is far reaching and effective. The four main areas of ministry consist of Orphan Outreach, Sunday Schools, Kids Games and Summer Camps. The photo above is a picture of two team members preparing to visit sick children in a hospital and bring them joy through clowning (just another aspect of the ministry).
Through the Orphan Outreach they are able to visit orphans in areas where almost no one visits. As they entered one of the orphanages they were told that they were the first people to visit the orphans in over one year.
Think about that for a minute.
Imagine not one person coming to see you this year.
Now imagine that you are alone...
You have no family...
No one to care for your needs...
Imagine that you are a small child...
And no one ever comes to see you.
Now imagine that there are people around the place you are living that are commanded by the God they worship to visit you.
But they never come. What would you think of their religion? What would you think of them? What would you think they really believe?
What if you, as the little orphan child, were sitting on a crowded bus and you drove by a Christian's house one Sunday morning.
The yard was perfectly landscaped.
The house was huge and beautiful.
The people were dressed nicely as you saw them heading for the church building in their fancy car.
What thoughts would go through your mind as you witnessed this year after year after year?
You would understand what was important to the Christian.
And you would understand what was not important.
It is important to them to look good, have a well kept house and yard, have a nice car, be well educated, go to church and know all about good doctrine. It is important to them to be healthy and wealthy.
And those with you....
You are not important. You do not matter.
The Christian, by their lifestyle, would be reinforcing what you have already been told by others.
It would have been better if you had not been born.
You should go the way of your biological parents.
You are worthless.
You are stupid.
You should die.
Not even God cares about you.
These are the things that some orphans learn...
from the world and from Christians.
These are words that were spoken to our own daughter as she grew up in the orphanage.
Why are we partnering with this ministry? Because they are doing what God calls all Christians to do... to visit orphans and widows in their distress.
Why are we involved in orphan ministry? Because there are thousands of orphans that not only have no family... they also have no one to visit them... no one to teach them... no one to tell them about Jesus... no one to care for them physically or spiritually... and many of the Christians around them ignore them.
What about you, dear Christian?
What is your response to the orphans and widows?
What are we teaching them by our life?
By God's grace we desire to live our life to serve and glorify Jesus. He is our treasure. He is the one we trust. He is the one we love.
We are a family of eight praying that God will use us to minister to orphans around the world and encourage Christians to reach out in mercy to orphans. At home we serve with Palmer Home for Children. Palmer Home is a ministry to children who are growing up as social orphans without the nurture and support of a loving family. Palmer provides a stable, Christ-centered home for these children. Internationally we serve with Share the Hope. Share the Hope ministers to orphans around the world. Both at home and around the world we proclaim good news of Jesus Christ and reach out in mercy to these precious children. We hope that this blog is a testimony to you of God's mighty hand and that you are encouraged to serve Jesus with all your heart and to reach out to orphans.
Matthew, Sheila, Karina, Harrison, Isaac, Noah, Storey Grace and James!