Friday, May 2, 2008

Ukraine Trip - Sasha (Alex) & Vera

Before I ever met Sasha, I saw him on the DVD that Marianna left with us. (Marianna was the AGAPE caretaker that chaperoned the kids in our house last December). The way he conducted himself on that documentary moved me to want to met him one day. His passion for helping the orphans of Ukraine is very evident. I figured meeting him was out of the question since he was a "Big Guy" with AGAPE and had to do the responsibilities associated with being the president of such an organization.
(AGAPE, meaning God's Love, is a christian based organization providing bible study in the orphanages and to transitioned youth in Technical schools. They also offer free housing to transitioning orphans that may otherwise find themselves on the streets. AGAPE runs a free van rides to the transitioned kids to several bible studies each week in addition to many other services, all centered on orphans.)
The week before we decided to buy our plane tickets, we were distraught with the news from the director (see "Talk to the Hand" entry). We had talked to Karen about not coming and she said that she had an interesting conversation with Sasha with AGAPE. This conversation was about an American couple that was asking questions about two girls at the internat in Kherson. The director had asked Sasha if he knew these people, Sasha in-turn called Karen and asked if she knew these people, and of-course she did! It was us! Karen explained the situation and Sasha said to come to Kherson and he would secure visits with Zina and Rimma. He would also get us a place to stay at the HOB and let us us his driver to visit the other four orphanages. WOW! This compelled us to listen to God's gentile voice telling us to let go, trust him, and get on the plane!
We met Sasha the first day we arrived in Kherson. We were picked up from the train station by his driver, Vanya, and taken to church. Karen had talked to Sasha that morning and he had asked me to speak at the service. I quickly said a prayer and asked for guidance and in a flash, God sent me a message. At the service, when it was my turn, Sasha and I took the stage and he translated my words. I had met my Ukrainian Hero! Over the next week, Sasha asked me to talk a few more times to congregations and bible studies. His wife, Vera, helped us during the Teremok Baby House visit and she cooked us a very special Ukrainian dinner at their house one night, complete with Borscht. Sasha made it possible to visit Zina and Rimma and eventually we were given free reign at the internat. He accompanied us on a number of visits to orphanages and everywhere we went the children called him "Uncle Sasha".

It us evident that Sasha and AGAPE need help with their ministry in Ukraine. We toured his offices, the transition houses, and the classroom programs that his organization sponsors. AGAPE always accepts financial contributions, but they need much more than that (AGAPE is funded via private churches in California). For example, AGAPE just bought a 5000 sq/ft house for transitioning orphans that needs renovating. While we were with Sasha one day, he took numerous calls from an organization in California that is sending him a furnace for the house. The problem is that no one there knows how to install American heating systems. They mostly use radiant heat. So Sasha needs contractors, home builders, volunteers with hammers, volunteer house parents, etc. Most of all, AGAPE needs Christian visitors to show the transitioning youths and his fellow countrymen that we are willing to journey there to speak, comfort, and offer our time to "the least of these".

If you would like more information on volunteer opportunities with AGAPE, post a comment and we can send you the contact information. Thank you.

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Longmont, Colorado, United States
Heidi loves to play sand volleyball, sail and garden. Felix loves to fly at the local aeroclub, sail and fish.