At the beginning of August, Sveta and I attended the European Spinal Cord Injury Federation conference in Prague as representatives of our organization. Our main task was to network with people from other countries in Europe and see if there might be partnership opportunities in the future. Many people were interested and surprised to hear of the situation for people with spinal cord injuries in Ukraine. They expressed a desire to assist, through sharing knowledge and experience or by donating resources, such as used wheelchairs. We are grateful for their desire and look forward to seeing how God uses these contacts in the future. We were also blessed to get to stay an extra night and take in some of the sights of Prague with its castles, palaces, cathedrals, bridges, and parks. It is a beautiful European city!
Following a week of work back at Agape, we headed out of Lutsk to celebrate birthdays. Veeka (OT), Katya (PT) and myself have birthdays within 5 days of one another, so our entire rehab team takes the opportunity to spend a day together out of the city. We grilled, swam in the river, relaxed in hammocks, and enjoyed fellowship together. I love these people and am extremely grateful for their presence in my life. What a privilege to serve and work alongside them and what a joy that we also enjoy spending our free time together!
Next up was the second session for the 3rd group of students at our PT Training Center. All 8 students returned and, with a little extra work for some, all passed the tests over the material from session one and will continue on in our program. This group works extremely hard and demonstrates a genuine desire to learn. Some of them have absolutely no experience with rehabilitation so we sometimes need an extra measure of patience with their repeated mistakes or seemingly elementary questions, but God is merciful to us and to them. I am really proud of their progress and look forward to our next session with them in November.
|Poor Taras is the lone man among all those women, but he handles it well|
|Learning the gait cycle|
|Certificates of completion for the first session|
One exciting aspect of this session from my standpoint was the increased teaching done by our Agape therapists. Pasha, Ira, Veeka and Katya each had at least one topic to teach which was accompanied by skills to demonstrate and work with the students on learning. It is good for the students to learn from others beside Sveta and I. I'm also hopeful that our therapists benefited from their preparation and teaching and that they will have a now more solid grasp on the information and skills themselves. Plus, it gave Sveta and I some breaks from teaching and translating!
|Ira demonstrating sensation testing|
|Katya teaching how to fit walkers, crutches, and canes|
|Veeka showing various pieces of equipment used by people with spinal cord injury or stroke|
|Pasha teaching on wheelchair measurement, fitting, and adjustment|
Following the session, Sveta and I took our one week of remaining vacation time and headed to the Carpathian Mountains. We LOVE the mountains and enjoy both relaxing and hiking in them. Since we went after peak tourist season, we enjoyed even more solitude and quiet than in past years. God's creation is beautiful and I'm so thankful we had this time!
|Just us and a trail - we didn't see a soul for over 2 hours!|
Summer is a wrap! It was wonderful time of working, serving, traveling, teaching, and living the day-to-day of life here in Ukraine. I am so grateful for God's provision, blessings, and grace over these past few months and look forward to witnessing all He will do in the coming months. Bring on fall!!!