Saturday, September 19, 2020

Another session completed!

The fourth class of the PT Training Center returned to Agape on August 31 for their second session. As usual, the session began with a test over the material from the previous session. A few students needed two attempts, but eventually everyone passed, earning a certificate of completion for the first session. 



Between students, temporary residents, and rehab patients, Agape was full to the brim for these two weeks! Since spinal cord injury was a big topic for us this session, it was extremely helpful to have so many residents currently at Agape with spinal cord injuries. Another plus for the students was to have multiple members of our rehab team (Alina, Katya, Veeka, and Pasha) participate in teaching. All of them are former students of our program and I really enjoy seeing them now teaching other Ukrainians!





We covered many topics and learned many new skills, often moving out and about in Agape to practice on one another: 








This group is now halfway through the program and will return in January for their third session. Several of them are from the Lutsk area and have the possibility of joining our rehab team in the future. The other three work in Rivne with some former students to provide rehab at their church. God is calling more and more people to use rehabilitation as a means of sharing Christ with people with disabilities in Ukraine and we are grateful for the role we are called to play in their training! Thank you to all who prayed for us during this session! 

Looks like we have said good-bye to summer, but God's beauty continues to abound as we say hello to fall! 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Summer in Review

Summer is rapidly winding down here and it seems like it went by so quickly! Praise the Lord, Agape has been operating in our normal capacity since mid-June! We are thankful for the Lord's protection that enables us to continue to provide rehabilitation and temporary residency for people with disabilities. There have been and continue to be challenges to our work in this era COVID-19, so we continue to pray for wisdom to address the various situations that arise, for the health of patients and employees, and for God's continued provision and protection. 




The rehab team gals!

Summer camps took place in abbreviated and atypical formats so we were unable to participate this year. Children with disabilities and their families had an online camp followed by one day together at a campground. Adults with disabilities had a 3-day day camp at a nearby campground. The overall number of participants was lower, but all expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to host and attend camps.

 

Other events of the summer for us included hosting a 4th of July cookout complete with a game of touch football (but no fireworks): 

                                         

The football players above and the spectators below...

We had birthday celebrations for various members of our rehab family which took us on evening picnics to the local river and all-day trips to the lake: 




Sveta and I spent 5 days hiking and relaxing in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains:













And we enjoyed some of God's beautiful nature from our own yard...





The second session of our PT Training Center for the 4th class begins on August 31st. Please join us in praying during these 2 weeks for clear teaching/translation of the material and for the students to comprehend and retain the information. 

Please also continue to pray for the work at Agape, for the health of employees and patients, for wisdom for those making decisions regarding our work, and for God's continued protection. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Two steps forward, one step back...

Well, in this case it was actually "two weeks of work, one week off." Agape was open for two weeks of outpatient rehabilitation and then had to close again as that format was simply not sustainable. Thankfully, however, we only closed for one week and tomorrow reopen with our normal inpatient rehabilitation format. Of course, our work will not be completely "normal." There will be less residents in the building initially, new guidelines for how we work, and all employees and residents have undergone/will undergo testing for COVID-19, but we are excited to be taking this step back toward normalcy.

Of course, opening Agape is not without risk. Ukraine is still in the process of easing the quarantine restrictions and the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Ukraine actually hit record highs this past week. Much prayer and discussion went into the decision to open Agape and much prayer and discussion will need to continue as we begin our work. Our trust is in God to provide, protect, and guide! We ask you to join us in prayer!

In other news, summer finally hit here - at least for one week! Warm, sunny days were a welcome change and the week off from work allowed us to travel to visit friends and spend plenty of time outside.




Late spring and early summer in Ukraine are truly beautiful as everything grows and blossoms. Tulip season (my favorite) is now behind us. Wheat fields have taken on a lighter green color and are now often dotted with red poppies. The bright yellow canola fields of May are gone, but large fields of sunflowers will emerge before long. The sky provides some incredible views and rainbows can often be seen after the rain, particularly here in the village. I hope you enjoy seeing some of Ukraine's beauty...













"And the waving wheat, it sure smells sweet..." from "Oklahoma" suddenly popped into my head while taking this picture. I have yet to smell that sweetness but I do enjoy the beauty of the rolling wheat fields!

While this may not be part of the "beauty of Ukraine," shooting around on this little court in our village park has brought me some extra joy lately. Now to convince some friends to join me!
In closing, I want to thank those who responded to the request to help us raise the salaries of our therapists. God has used you to answer our prayer and we believe we now have adequate funds to raise their salaries beginning in July. The caregivers are the next group of employees for whom our administration wants to raise salaries. These men and women work 24-hour shifts every 3-4 days to care for the residents and patients of Agape. They help them dress, eat, bathe, transfer to and from wheelchairs, turn in bed, go for walks...whatever the need is, they are there to help fill it. It is physically taxing work, but the opportunities to share the gospel with patients are also abundant. If you would be interested in helping to raise the salaries of our caregivers, please contact me (cmoss19@hotmail.com) and we will discuss how that is possible. Please join us in prayer for God's provision of this need.

Also, we would ask for prayer for summer camps for adults and children with disabilities. They were on, then one was cancelled, then both were cancelled, and now they are both back on. Please pray for the leadership teams of both camps to have wisdom and discernment as to whether they should hold the camps and if so, what they should look like in these partial-quarantine days were are living.

Nearly three months of closure at Agape is coming to an end and it's back to work we go!
God is good!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Moving forward!!!

Like most, if not all, of you we have started to see an easing of the quarantine restrictions here in Ukraine! Although we are still only in the first phase, we are extremely grateful for the changes. We are also thankful for God's mercy that the situation in Ukraine with COVID-19 did not look like some of the other European countries (over 18,000 cases, 514 deaths) It is definitely an answer to prayer.

Here's a quick rundown of some of our quarantine activities:

- An early morning rise to catch a beautiful sunrise by the river in our village



- Lots walks and runs, finding new paths and witnessing more and more of God's beauty in His creation. Spring in Ukraine is truly beautiful!!





- Planting a garden (sorry, no pictures)

- Road trip to bring one of our therapists back to Lutsk (no public transportation) and stopping to get cool, spring water!


- Two drive-in church services at Fimiam, including on Easter. For those without cars, live-streaming was still available. It was great to people, even if only from the car.



- As the restrictions have eased here, we have hosted and visited friends more and more. SO good to see and fellowship with friends again.


My home church gathered yesterday to grill out!

- And we completed a 2-week session with the 4th class of the PT Training Center! The first week was conducted via Zoom and after a 2-week break we all gathered at Agape for the second week. We finished the session with 7 students and they did great, despite the unusual format. 




Veeka, one of our OTs, participated in the teaching 
With no residents at Agape, we used anyone we could find in the building to give our students more practice. Olya now tells everyone how she "donated her body to science!"
Lunch breaks were spent driving electric wheelchairs since they have gone unused for almost 2 months. 

Now it's time to move forward from the strict quarantine and Agape has a plan! Starting May 25, Agape will reopen with a temporary new format. We will be treating patients on an outpatient basis, so there will be no residents and fewer employees in the building. Only patients who live nearby and can provide their own transportation or choose to use ours will come and go each day. Of course, this means that not all patients on the waiting list will be given the opportunity to have rehabilitation in the beginning, but it's a start and we hope it will not be a lengthy period. We have been praying for wisdom to know how and when Agape can reopen and I believe this is an answer to that prayer! Please continue to pray with us that God would protect all who come through Agape in the coming weeks and that we would be discerning to know when we can return to our standard operating procedures. 

Please also continue to pray with us for the financial needs of Agape. Being closed for 2 months naturally means we have generated no income and with 50+ employees this has a huge impact on many, many lives. There is a desire to increase the salaries of all of our employees, but at this time there is a particular need to do so for our therapists. We have a great therapy team right now! They have learned so much and gained invaluable experience over the past few years together at Agape. Losing any one of them would have a huge impact on our department and Agape as a whole. Unfortunately, in order to keep the cost of rehabilitation as affordable as possible for patients, Agape cannot continually raise the salaries of our employees. It is truly a difficult situation. 

I consider each of our employees to be a domestic missionary. I witness frequent, often daily, conversations in our rehab gym about God or the Bible. God uses our therapists not only to impact patients physically, but also spiritually. I understand this is a difficult time financially for many people, but if you believe God is leading you to help support one of these Ukrainian missionaries, please contact me (cmoss19@hotmail.com) and we will discuss how that is possible. Even a small amount can have a huge impact since their salaries are roughly $300-475/month. If you cannot or do not feel you should give financially, please pray with us that God would provide this need and continue to provide for Agape and all of its employees in the future. Thank you to all who stand with us in prayer! May your life join the heavens in testifying of God!

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." 
Ps 19:1