Grammy on a mission

Grammy timeJanuary 9, 2014. And this is my first post? Oh my. Life is happening…fast and furious!

Grammy on a mission? Haven’t I been on a mission since before grandchildren? Well, yes. I’ve been a most satisfied missionary in Ukraine for over 12 years. We began said mission with our children in tow…well, not exactly in tow — the girls were 18 and our son was 16 when we arrived in Kyiv.

Twists and turns scattered our family around the globe — Kyiv, Kathmandu, Boston, Salisbury. Boston is no longer a home for our son — Salisbury is — and our younger daughter moved from Salisbury to Delmar. Fortunately those two towns in Maryland are just minutes apart. Well, fortunately for the proud grandparents! One stop and we see them all!!

Our older daughter is still in Kathmandu — though we were ALL together over the holidays, even my mother and sister in Cincinnati. That’s a first in 18 years!

Husband Jim has returned to the European side of the Big Pond and I am still in Maryland. (He will be joining be periodically, Lord willing.)

As hard as it was to leave friends and ministry in Ukraine for several months (the longest time since we moved there in 2001), I know that I am in the right place for a specific time.

Still on a mission.

This time to help my daughter with her two young sons (nearly 3-1/2 and nearly 2) while she prepares for the birth of their little sister. She is considered a high-risk pregnancy (Baby Girl has pulmonary atresia) and she will be delivering this little bundle at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Two-and-a-half or three hours away, depending on traffic. Finding someone to watch her boys ALL DAY while she and her husband make weekly visits to various departments at Hopkins is more than a notion. Energetic. Excited. Loving. Just some descriptions of the boys. It requires someone with no children — just one of them with a cold and the whole plan fails! Sweet friends have stepped up to the plate, but this Grammy was ready for the privilege, responsibility and challenge of spending LOTS of time with these little boys. Once Baby Girl is born she will require heart surgery and will most likely be hospitalized for several weeks. Grammy gets to be the ‘constant’ in the little boys’ lives.

Her delayed arrival at home will also take some getting used to, so I will be available to help that whole process run more smoothly.

Somewhere during this process (early March) our daughter-in-law will be adding a second child to her family. Here in Salisbury. Have I mentioned that I am so so thankful that they are so close geographically? Her mother will be spending two months with them, so THAT’s covered…just hoping to get some little snuggles in along the way.

For my wonderful friends here, please know that I would love to hang out with you. But that will not be too possible until Jim has arrived back as reinforcements! Unless you come to me. Or it’s a convenient time for Jeanne. I am truly here with a mission…four weeks to accomplish much!

To be clear, I am not here as a babysitter…I am here to help Jeanne take care of her children. Not INSTEAD of Jeanne, but WITH Jeanne. I didn’t give up ministry with special children in Ukraine to simply be here so that she can run around town doing this or that as she pleases. Appointments, yes. I’m here and I’ve got the boys. Bible studies? We’ll all go together. Church? We’re a team. Jeanne has never asked me to come help, but I need to be here early to see the different routines that make up the boys’ lives…that way I can simply continue with what they already know about their days.

Trust me, it is not without sacrificing important conferences, ministry, and precious time with my husband that brings me here. I know I am here for a purpose. And I love it.

Just want to make clear to all just what that purpose is.

Pray for us all as we adjust to so many changes in so few weeks!


UMO board

Give thanksHow very thankful I am for the amazing board of Ukraine Medical Outreach…those currently serving and those who have served in the past. We are amazed at your dedication to the ministry here in Ukraine, and cannot express in simple language how much your encouragement, your prayers, your skype calls, your notes, and your direction has meant to us…and also to the people we serve here in Ukraine. You are a gift from God.

Board member Tom Saxon is arriving today as part of a team spending a week here to improve the care for children with autism and to help support their families. Please pray for not only the conference at the end of the week, but also for the strategic meetings with government officials and educators over the next days. Pray also for the specific families that the team will be meeting to evaluate their children, to give encouragement, and to give some specific direction in caring for them.

Tetyana Demiyanova and Project Hopeful

Give thanksSo thankful for Tetyana Demiyanova! She has accepted a new position in our ministry — Family Consultant. She works directly with the parents, grandparents, and caregivers of those children who are hospitalized in the HIV/AIDS unit at Okmatdet, the national children’s hospital. She has not only accepted the position, but she is flourishing! Everyone loves her…the children, the parents, and the staff.

She has already created a flyer with valuable information for new patients’ families. Complete with a map of the hospital grounds, closest metro, restaurants, grocery stores, ATMs, hair salons…things you want to know but you don’t know who to ask.

Tanya is also in the process of compiling frequently asked questions to then put together a handbook for families with newly-diagnosed children. So often, it seems, parents are given too much technical/medical information…and all at once. We pray that this handbook will be a resource that will also point them to other resources when they’re ready for details!

We are thrilled to partner with Project Hopeful in this endeavor…and, in particular, with Traci Heim. While Traci was in-country adopting — AGAIN! — she visited the hospital with us. She observed as a new child was being admitted and innocently asked the question, “Who reaches out to the parents?” When Tanya heard the question, she couldn’t forget it. And she realized that SHE could be the answer to the question.

The rest is history. Well, since September. And Traci will be arriving in Kyiv in time for World AIDS Day. Tanya is organizing lots of visits to various sites so that Traci will have a better picture of just what it means to be HIV+ in Ukraine. The stigma is overwhelming. There is MUCH to be done. But we are on the way!!

Coalition steering committee

Give thanksWhat a privilege to be part of the steering committee for the Coalition for Children at Risk in Kyiv, Ukraine. The coalition is made up of many different organizations and groups who strive to meet the challenges of children on the street, in abusive homes, with special needs, hospitalized orphans — through live-in centers, foster care homes, transition homes for orphans moving from the orphanage to real life, hospital volunteers. If there is a need to be met, odds are that someone in the coalition is meeting it…or knows someone who is.

I love the networking that takes place. I must admit that early on in the life of this coalition it seemed that groups were very territorial. And even if someone else was doing the exact same thing only one block away, groups would not unite to serve nor even spread out! But as we all have learned to trust each other, much cooperation takes place. And all for the sake of the children.

Thankful to be blessed by the friendships of the committee members and also by the many that I meet through the meetings at large.

God is good and He is doing a mighty work in Ukraine — to God be the glory!