I greet you in the mighty name of Jesus with all the saints here in Kirovograd.
Our week is progressing nicely. We have a relatively small crowd of children this week comprised almost entirely of girls. As I type I can hear "Shout to the Lord" playing over and over and over again. The participants in VBS are learning it to present to the corps on Saturday and Sunday. They are so eager to learn more and more things. Everything we present, they want us to teach. It is very encouraging to come across such willing and open children and young adults. The let's-get-this-over-with-as-fast-as-possible-scowl to earnest-desire-to-participate-and-learn ratio is far lower here than in the states. Something to ponder, I reckon... (side note: that's the first time in about two weeks that I've even thought the phrase "I reckon". :]) Aside from the pantomime of Shout to the Lord, the children are learning "King of Kings" in English as we learn it in both Russian and Ukrainian. It's easier than it sounds, trust me. Also, they are learning "This is the Day" in English as we learn it in Russian. It is so much fun. The constantly smiles and stream of giggles whenever we speak in Russian and/or Ukrainski indicates to me that our pronounciation may leave a little to be desired. Still, we all love learning the language(s).
Now to less (and more) jovial topics. Yesterday was a very challenging day. We visited an orphanage for severely disabled children. I (Eddy) had never experienced anything like that. There is a huge problem in this country with the treatment of people with physical, mental or any other disability. They are basically hidden, not integrated into society like in the states. This orphange we visited is the very best in all of Ukraine and still they suffer from a lack of funds and outdated equipment. It is heartbreaking, yet encouraging. The director told us that in the last ten years such tremendous strides have been made. We were informed that ten years ago, 90% of the inhabitants of this home were not mobile, and now, through improvements in equipment, training and funds over at least 70% ARE mobile. Some of the children are now reading. Most are communicating. Some are able to feed themselves and wash their own clothes. It is very encouraging, the strides that have been made. Still, my heart is in my throat even as I type. The smell was not pleasant. The equipment desperately needs updated. They need more well-trained staff. And the hardest part is that this is the very best one in Ukraine. Each of the 24 Oblasts (regions/states) in Ukraine have one such orphanage, but only around 10 are even close to the standards of this one. Pray for a change of mindset in these people. They need to know that these individuals can function and deserve respect and love. I have video of the experience that I will share when the trip is over.
I also have video of the Kirovograd hospital which services the entire Oblast. In both of the institutions, the Salvation Army provides an enormous amount of help and aid. Lives are being saved because of the work of God through the Army. I am very proud to be associated with such an organization as this. It almost inspires me to use the slightly arrogant "Doing the Most Good" motto. Almost ;).
Well, the pantomimery is over and the water balloon toss is on going. I better go out there and goof off.
My love and thanks to everyone.
Grace and peace be with you.
Team Ukraine - The Seed Planters, Path Cutters and Ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ