Monday, October 23, 2023

How Long, O Lord?

I know I am not the only one asking "How long, O Lord?" It only takes a quick glance at the news to see massive suffering all around. There are wars, floods, earthquakes and wildfires snuffing out and drastically altering tens of thousands of lives, sometimes in the span of just a few minutes. Beyond the headline news is still more suffering occurring in countless lives and countries that simply does not reach our eyes and ears. In Ukraine, we continue to be hit daily with news that is just devastating. God is in control - I do know and believe that - and yet my heart cries out for Him to shower this nation and people with mercy and an end to this war and all the death and devastation it brings. 

At the Agape Rehabilitation Complex, we continue rehabilitation, the construction of the Resource Center, and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the de-occupied areas around Kherson. We seek to be faithful in the continuation of these tasks and we each have our role to play.  

First, I would like to share feedback that we received from a recent patient. Receiving her comments was unexpected for us and also a great encouragement, particularly for her therapists. Tetyana is a 52-year-old female who acquired a spinal cord injury two years ago and arrived at Agape in a depressed state. While we all witnessed her progress during rehab, none of us understood the full impact on her life until she wrote back upon returning home. Here are her words: 

"A MIRACLE happened to me! I was depressed for two years. And now I feel happy every day! My trip to Agape inspired this. Two months ago, I sabotaged my first trip with a broken leg. As soon as the cast was removed, my daughter asked me if I really wanted to go to rehab. She always said, "I'm ready to help, but if you don't take responsibility for your life, I'm powerless to do it for you." I decided to go.

It was three wonderful weeks. Above all, I wanted to learn how to transfer to a wheelchair without help. Weak muscles did not allow me to do it skillfully. But when my therapists gave me a special board for transfers, I felt like a hero. I even learned how to get into a car.

I also learned to self-catheterize. In my condition, this is a vital procedure. You can't imagine how happy I was that I didn't have to call someone for help all the time. And the Agape employees rejoiced with me.

I returned home with the feeling that I will be able to overcome my fears and insecurities. And on the first day after my arrival, I already began making adjustments for my independence. I bought a light fixture that I can turn on from bed with a remote. We rearranged the furniture so that it would be more convenient for me to move around the apartment in a wheelchair.

The next day, for the first time since my injury, I completed my morning routine on my own, transferred to the wheelchair, made tea, set the table and invited my daughter to breakfast. I even washed the dishes.

Recently, the roles have shifted in our family. My daughter took care of me for a long time. And now everything has fallen into its rightful place. I am a real, loving mother! I cook her favorite dishes, which she missed so much. I support her and make her happy with her achievements.

I believe that my good mood, which I ignited in Agape, will stay with me forever!

I thank God that he did not leave me and again gave me a thirst for life!"

When we provide rehabilitation for our patients, we have the privilege to give them increased independence, hope, and life. And we get to share the love of Christ with them as well. What a joy! 

Below are a few recent pictures from rehabilitation. Among our current patients are five soldiers (all with spinal cord injuries) and one civilian wounded in the war. 

Men from Agape continue to make 2-3 trips per month to deliver humanitarian aid to the Kherson region. They have made a total of 17 trips in 2023. The area also experienced flooding after the dam explosion earlier this summer and they are still under near constant shelling. Most of the villages continue to be without water and electricity and the residents depend on the aid delivered by volunteers. Many of the residents are elderly and/or have a disability and they are very grateful for the help of volunteers such as our men from Agape.

Please pray for the safety of the volunteers who deliver humanitarian aid. It is not without risk that they make these trips. 

In the flooding that followed the dam explosion, rescuers were welcomed by all.

Sasha really touched the hearts of our volunteers. He is wearing, as he apparently does every day, tactical gloves given to him by his dad when he departed to fight in the war. Sasha says he plans to wear them until his dad returns home. We have prayed at Agape that indeed his dad does come home safe and alive!

Construction of the Resource Center continues on the territory of the Agape Rehabilitation Complex. Each time the builders complete another floor, we hold our employee meeting for that week on the construction site for prayer. In the picture below, we are standing on the ground floor and below us is the bomb shelter. The ground floor will be used to store large equipment, such as electric and standard wheelchairs, hospital beds, etc. This floor is now also complete and the second and final above-ground floor is being built. It will be used for storage of smaller items, such as diapers, non-perishable food items, hygiene products, etc. The builders say they can get the roof on before winter if there are adequate finances to purchase the needed materials.

In more personal news, I spent a week this summer in the village helping with a children's camp. I ended up hanging out all week with the smallest kiddos, ranging from 3-6 years old. As you can see, they were super cute and we had lot of fun together! 

And to wrap up the summer we took a week off to head to the Carpathian Mountains! It was a blessed time of hiking, relaxing, and just simply getting away from day to day life. The beauty of the mountains never gets old for me!

None of us knows what tomorrow holds, no matter where we live. I am thankful for the privilege to be in Ukraine at this time and for the God-given opportunities to trust His plan both for my life and for the people and nation of Ukraine. 

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