Letter from Anika (Open Arms), October ’08

October 31, 2008

Anika is back in Bellflower! And she’ll be here until December 9th…  : )   

Somehow I managed to forget to post her latest letter. I’m sorry about that. Here it is (a couple week late):

Hi friends!

So a couple of people have asked, through my mom, how I’m doing and when I’m gonna send out another update. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get one out. Every time I think about sitting down and writing, I’m either too tired, the computer is in use, or the internet just decided not to work. I’m gonna try to fill you all in a little bit of the insanity of our lives.

Every day here is still full of the unexpected. Every time we try to think what will happen next, we get thrown another curve ball. Anytime I stop and think of what’s going on and all I can say is, “Oh our lives…” God has brought us through more than I can even explain. We have grown to really be a “family” here and we love it! We make fun of how often Annie breaks things, and how Roman is always spilling [so is Annie]. We all know that only Losha can be in his spot if we’re watching tv, or there may be blood. And Losha knows that after watching a dancing movie, Annie and Melissa go dance in their room. 🙂 We have our good days and bad days with the kids, but we are so thankful that God has given us the privilege of loving them.

I know a lot of you guys have been praying for us often lately, hearing from me or my family how discouraging things were here for a while. Thank you so much for all of you who have been lifting us up and encouraging us! And I especially thank those of you who sent me emails and comments just letting me know you’re thinking and praying for us. That is always one of the biggest encouragements to me. Going into all of this, something that always both motivated and petrified me was the statistics about orphans in Ukraine. Prostitution, drugs, alcohol, crime, abuse, suicide… It all is so overwhelmingly present in the lives of these kids. I never realized, or was willing to admit to myself, just how much the statistics in their lives would become a part of our lives. It’s hard. We are constantly fighting for and with them for something better in their lives. Often we lose. And it’s not just fightitng for them, it’s fighting every other thing in this country. It’s fighting the culture, their pasts, their teachers, their schools, their system, even sometimes their church. And no one else is fighting for them. I think that it is part of what makes it so hard sometimes… knowing that we’re the only ones trying to do anything and then so often feeling like we are failing miserably.

But God is still working. Things are hard, and we’re often fighting on every front, but through the fights God is opening doors for more opportunities for us and these kids. One of our biggest accomplishments recently has been something we’ve always wanted to do: helping our kids get better education. Officially, as of September 24th, after much hard work and perseverance, Losha Yeromenko got into one of the best trade schools in Sumy! We had a lot of… fun along the way getting him there. We had to call and visit 5 or 6 other schools in Sumy, spend hours in meetings, find and send tons of paperwork and official documents, take a trip to a village practically in Russia to talk to his crazy, corrupt EX-trade school director, among other things. Oh, and after missing our train out of the ghetto village that he says God forgot about, Losha and I  waited 10 hours in the freezing train station for the next train – at 2:30 in the morning. It was a lot of work, but he is so far loving his new school and doing really well there! Which is a huge success in and of itself because he used to hate school! 🙂 His old director was convinced we were making a mistake helping him and told us he would never change his habits. Losha sat through our meeting with him and all his words about how bad Losha is and at the end of it all, he simply said to the man, “You watch. You watch and see. I will go to school and I will do well.” Last week, this old director was down in Sumy at his school and started talking to Losha, asking him how he was doing, saying again how he couldn’t be doing well at anything and talking about how stupid it all was. Losha’s main teacher walked up while they were talking and heard the conversation. She stepped in and started praising Losha, saying how great he was doing, not just in general, but coming into the second year of his program, how he should be behind, but is one of the best students in his class! It was a great triumph for Losha, not only to prove his old director wrong, but to also, possibly for the first time in his life, be praised so highly by his teacher. We are so excited for and proud of our Losh, and so thankful for the way God worked things out through it all. Pray for Losha that he will continue to do well and stay excited about being there.

This is, as it always seems to, getting kind of long, so I’m gonna wrap it up for now. 🙂 If you havne’t already heard, I will be coming back to the warmth of fall in southern California soon! I’ll actually be back for all of November, till the 9th of December. I would love, love, love to talk to all of you more about how things have been going here and what we’re working on! God is really opening so many doors recently and we are in need of a lot of support and help. I am really hoping to be able to do some fund raising while I’m home… I’ll probably send out another update about that soon, but if you’ve got any ideas or ways you might want to help with that, please let me konw! Thank you all for your prayers and continued support! I love you all!

Anika

PS. I’ve had some people asking for my address and for where to send donations at home. So if you need them, here they are!
-Open Arms Ukraine
PO Box 277
San Lorenzo, CA 94580-027

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