New letter from Anika (Open Arms Ukraine)

January 8, 2009

Hi friends!

It’s officially a new year and I thought I should take the time to write you guys and let you know how things are going. We got back to Ukraine in the beginning/middle of December and have been busy getting settled back into life since then. Getting settled and getting used to the cold weather! It was over 90 degrees for about a week when I was home and I don’t think it ever got lower than 73 degrees… so I struggled a little with the cold here. There has been snow on the ground and pretty much constantly in the air since about the 23rd of December I think. It was 10 degrees with a windchill of -4 outside this morning, when I looked up the weather online and watched the snow falling down [or falling sideways rather, thanks to the wind] from the not-so-warm-comfort of our 63 degree apartment kitchen. The heating in our apartment isn’t all that wonderful. It’s gotten probably 15 degrees warmer inside since Melissa and I self-insulated our windows with cotton and tape one day, but it’s still decently chilly. We enjoy watching our thermometer at night as the bedrooms get down to the high 50 sometimes.  : )

Cold weather aside, things have been good here. Something we really felt God calling us to when we were home is sharing our knowledge and experience in orphan ministry with the local Christians. We’ve had meetings with a couple different churches about getting more people involved, not just in our ministry, but even in their own orphanage ministries. We are actually going to be sharing with a church on Sunday night about what we’re doing and how they can be involved. We have been able to gain a lot of wisdom and experience through all our time spent at the orphanage as well as with the kids that have graduated, and we really are hoping to be able to use that knowledge to help start more substantial and lasting ministry with Ukrainian Christians and their orphanages. Please keep us in your prayers and we dive deeper into this venture and try to share what we know of Ukrainian orphange sub-culture with native Ukrainians. Pray that we are received well and that God would be working in the hearts of His people to move to action.

We were able to make a trip to Pravda on the 6th, Ukrainian Christmas Eve, and visit with the kids we love so much! We were able to bring small gifts for each of the kids there and hand out home-made American cookies. We spent 4+ hours in the kitchen the day before making 400 or more cookies for all the kids and were glad they all seemed to like them! Even the teachers were both impressed and blessed that we’d made them ourselves.  : ) It was great day spent loving on the kids there and talking with the orphanage director about the coming year. We will be running a week-long summer camp this year at Pravda some time in June, and we’re really excited!! Keep that in your prayers as well, as we plan lessons and games and crafts and organize our American and Ukrainian team and translators. Pray that God would be working the hearts of all who will be involved and ministered to through this camp.

Things at “home” here with the graduates have been moving and grooving like usual. We had some interesting situations to deal with when we first got back, and it’s given us opportunity to have some good conversations with a few of the boys about trust and forgiveness. We celebrated American Christmas, New Years and Ukrainian Christmas [January 7th] with some of our graduates and were able to give gifts and lots of lovin’ to them. Thanks to those of you who helped purchase gifts for the holidays!! Everybody loved it and it was a huge blessing to us! School starts again this next week for the kids who have been on break and life will, hopefully, get back into a more normal routine.

Thank you so much to those of you who have supported financially throughout this past year! None of what we do would be possible without you! As we begin in 2009, please pray about how you might be able to support this year. God has provided for us in amazing ways last year and I’m looking forward to seeing how new expenses will be covered this year! Our team as a whole is over $1000 short of what we need for our committed monthly support. If you are interested in helping in any way, big or small, please let me know! Monthly or not, any help you can give is greatly appreciated! Your continued financial and prayer support is so needed.

At the risk of this turning into a novel, I’m gonna call it a day. Thank you again for the ways you have support me and my team thus far! I love you all! Happy 2009!

Anika
[ukrizforshiz.blogspot.com]

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