Sunday, July 31, 2016

"Point of Contact" Camp

God richly blessed the camp for adults with disabilities!  Prayers were answered for our new patients and their families to come (only one canceled at the last minute), for the Gospel to be clearly shared, and for good weather.  People were flexible with some of the shortcomings of the new campground (like losses of electricity which stranded people in the elevator) and they really enjoyed the comfortable facility and the beauty of the surrounding forest.  

The theme of the week was "Point of Contact" and we focused on the stories of different people who came into contact with Jesus, what He did in their lives, and what their lives looked like afterward.  A different category of people who need God (moral people, immoral people, people with disabilities, etc) was presented each day and various members of our team shared their testimonies at night around the bonfire.  The testimonies, small group studies, and nightly preaching all pointed to our need for a Savior.  We are excited that Vasya (on the left in the picture below) repented and we continue to pray for the fruit of repentance in the lives of many others. 

We welcomed people to camp on the first day with a festive atmosphere:


Large group sessions around the bonfire included singing, preaching, skits, small group presentations, and testimonies:


This year we had more men than women with disabilities, requiring 4 men's groups to only 2 women's groups.  But more wives, moms, and sisters accompanied their male family members with disabilities than ever and for the first time we were able to get them all to join the women's small groups.  Many of them engaged in the small group discussions and it was evident that God was working on their hearts.

Again this year, people who could not easily move themselves had the opportunity to use electric wheelchairs.  Olexander and Tamara (below) were rehab patients during the past year.  Due to the level of his spinal cord injury and high spasticity, Olexander can do very little for himself.  But to everyone's delight, especially his wife's, he could drive this electric wheelchair.  During the camp, he marked the one year anniversary of the diving accident which resulted in his quadriplegia. His wife, Ira, remarked that in that year she had never had to wonder where he was or search for him.  But with the electric wheelchair, his freedom of movement was partially restored for a week and he definitely enjoyed it!
Tamara had a stroke and relearned to walk with a cane during rehab.  But due to her stroke and arthritis, her gait is slow and laborious.  Using the electric wheelchair enabled her to save time and energy as well as sit comfortably during the small and large group sessions to be able to listen attentively.   

Andri has cerebral palsy and is able to walk with a walker, but he enjoyed a few hours here and there in an electric wheelchair too.

Morning exercises were a highlight for many people each day - particularly for Ira, who I assisted all week.  

Sasha (above) got his spinal cord injury when he was 14 years old.  He came to rehab many years ago and has come to camps and other activities intermittently over the years.  He lives in a local nursing home with his grandparents and has struggled in many ways over the years.  At the last minute, he called and asked to come to camp.  Following an evening session, he professed to the group that he had repented at home and wanted to follow Christ for the rest of his life.  We rejoice over this new brother in Christ and pray for his spiritual growth.

A highlight for the week was the day spent at the lake.  We blew up air mattresses and everyone had the opportunity to swim or float.  God provided the perfect weather - warm yet cloudy - so that everyone could enjoy the day together.  Joy was abundant!

God was clearly working in Oksana's heart during the camp.  Please pray the Holy Spirit would continue to remind her of the truths she heard and convict her of her need for a Savior.

I was blessed to spend the week serving Ira, who is 30 years old and has cerebral palsy.  Together we shared a room with her mom and Tamara (pictured below).  Tamara was open and attentive to the Word of God, starting reading the Bible in our room during the day, and was very sad and emotional when the camp ended.  She lives in our region and expressed a desire to come to church services.  We are praying that this will be possible and that God will work in her life to produce fruit from the seeds planted during the camp. 

Not everything at the camp was as we would have had it.  Just after lunch on the first day, one man died in his room.  He was the father-in-law of Vadim (one of our therapists) and the grandfather of Lena (who helped to lead the singing).  He came to camp last year and his wife, daughter, and other family members who are believers had shared the Word of God with him many times, but he never repented.  As you can imagine, this was a difficult situation.  But our pastor used it to remind us that none of us is guaranteed the next moment and that we must not delay in responding to God in repentance. 

Thank you to all who prayed for this camp!  Please continue to pray with us for Vasya and Sasha to grow in their new faith and for the repentance of Tamara, Oksana, and the many others who heard the truth of God's Word.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Rehab Wraps Up Another Year

Another year of rehab has come to an end as our team is leaving on Friday for camps.  In May, we celebrated the 9th anniversary of our rehab center.  It was a cool, cloudy day so several invited guests chose to stay home, but we were thankful that God answered our prayers and held off the strong rains until the moment we began cleaning up. 

Enjoying some volleyball


Vadim cooked the shish kabobs

Rehab continued to be busy throughout the spring and summer.  We are thankful for how God uses this center in the lives of people with disabilities and their families. 


Each of the adults pictured below is planning to come to camp.  Would you join us in praying for their salvation? Some of them have cognitive deficits that can hinder their comprehension - please pray that God will grant them the ability to grasp something of Who He is and of their need for a Savior.  Many of them will have family members with them at camp for whom we also pray for salvation.


Andri and his wife, Oksana (not pictured)



Pasha (pictured below) is joining our rehab team full-time in September.  He received his physical therapy degree in Poland last year and has been a part-time volunteer at our center for about 6 months.  We are so grateful that God is answering our prayer to bring a qualified, male therapist to our center and we look forward to having him! 

 Here are a couple of our new faces:

Matthew is a sweet and very active boy with challenges in several spheres, including walking, speech, and coordination.  He smiles often and claps when he thinks he has done something well and has already begun to show progress with rehabilitation. 

David lives in the village and was working with his family when his left arm got caught in a machine, resulting in fractures and significant damage to muscles and nerves.  He was released to begin therapy only a couple of weeks before rehab closed, so he had an intense program.  Please pray for maximum recovery of his arm function and for David and his family, who are believers, as they continue to trust the Lord and to testify of His goodness in their lives.
During the final week of rehab, we were blessed to be joined by Nastya, a speech therapist.  Her family immigrated to America from Ukraine when she was a child and she is actually a native of our region.  She learned about our center and wrote to volunteer her time while she is visiting family and friends this summer.  Many of our patients have speech/language and cognition challenges and we are not qualified to address these areas, but want to offer them any assistance possible.  So we were super excited to have someone who is not only well-trained in this sphere, but who also knows Ukrainian and Russian in addition to English. Nastya was able to have individual consultations with many of our patients while one of our therapists listened and took notes.  Then we had a question/answer time with our therapists and she was able to give us some guidelines to use with our adults with strokes.  We look forward to how God will use our relationship with Nastya more in the future and we are grateful she followed God's leading to volunteer her time with us.
It's hard to believe it's July and time for camps already! Here is what we have going on for the rest of the summer and a some ways you can be praying. 
- July 10-16: camp for adults with disabilities.
- July 20-25: camp for families with children with disabilities. 
For both camps, please pray for the leaders, speakers, and volunteers as we serve people with disabilities and their families and as we share the truth of the Gospel with them. Please also pray for cool weather as we will be at a new campground this year which has very little shade. 
- August 15-19: Team begins working at Agape.  We are praying for God's direction for our leaders as they continue to assemble this team. 
- August 22-26: Training for new workers at Agape. Several of our friends with disabilities will live at Agape for a week so the staff can learn how to care for them properly.
- August 22-September 2: First session of the PT Training Center.  Currently we have 7 students: 3 from our ministry and 2 groups of 2 from other cities. Please pray for these students to prepare well by studying the material they were previously sent and for our final preparation of the schedule, teaching material, etc.
- September 5: Rehabilitation begins in Agape.
I hope you are all having a blessed summer!
Thank you for all who stand with us in prayer!