Christmas break is over. The halls at Mission to Ukraine are filled once again with with hugs, well wishes, and excitement. We celebrate Christmas twice here in Ukraine - once on December 25th, and then again on January 7th. That gives us two excellent opportunities to share the Gospel. This year, due to the generosity of our friends in Germany, we were also able to provide over 1000 gifts of toys, clothes, and food to families in need.
We’re so happy to be back from the holidays - loving on our children and caregivers with renewed strength from the Lord. .
Just how important is that we’re back? Let me give you just one example of how critical the work of Mission to Ukraine really is:
“Nastya has been waiting with such great excitement til the end of this Christmas break just she could return to her LifeSkills class. Visiting MTU is a gift for us,” shared Tamara (her mother). “Our times at MTU charge us up for the whole week. Nastya lives because she knows somebody cares for her”.
Throughout the past several years Tamara and Nastya have faced so many struggles and challenges. Sadly, these past two years have proven to be the most difficult. Due to a rare progressive disease, Nastya has lost strength in her muscles to the degree that she can no longer communicate - even with simple “nods.” Smiles need extra amount of energy investment. Tamara needed hepatitis C treatment she simply could not afford. About $1.50 per day of government support left them far below the poverty line. Hard choices between food and medication have left these lovely ladies drained of emotional strength. They have never purchased new clothes and would never even imagine having enough money to take a vacation. Constant financial and health pressures have led Tamara to what is most likely clinical depression.
Nastya is such a good natured, life-loving little girl with a great sense of humor, despite spending most of her days at home alone (or with her mother). Making friends has been next to impossible.. Wheelchair inaccessible surroundings have severely limited her outings to very few a week.
And yet, the Lord has been reaching out to them with His incredible love, patiently guiding them through their loneliness and pain to the source of strength and value.
They look forward to the Mission to Ukraine van picking them up with so much joy and anticipation. Bible support groups have encouraged Tamara to grow in her faith. Nastya is enjoying precious moments of fellowship and fun. Medicines, clothes, food, outings, and summer camps have become bright rays of light, piercing through their dark reality.
Due to some problems a few years ago, Nastya couldn’t attend MTU classes. She couldn’t eat and started having seizures. Doctors offered little hope that she would live much longer. Tamara asked us for prayer support, and God answered those prayers! She soon felt better and returned to MTU. Miraculously, she seems to even be improving. Every time we see her her eyes light up and lips make the hardest ever effort to create a smile. Her smile is the best reward one can get!
Though their journey continues to be one of hardship and trials, as numerous families with children with severe disabilities have, they now know that there are people who care for them - and there is God who LOVES them and lightens their burdens.
Friends, think of it! The hope you give through your prayer and financial support gives life to Nastya (and many other children in circumstances such as this). Here in Ukraine, most children with severe disabilities are labeled “vegetables” due to their inability to speak or their mental disabilities. They have no access to fellowship, development, or anything that would stimulate their growth and meet their critical needs. However, because of your love and care they experience life, and life more abundantly (John 10:10). Thank you for being the conduit God has chosen to use.
Keep your love coming! God has much more in store for these little kiddos and their families!