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!


The Harpers

Give thanksWe love Sid and Wendy Harper and their crazy family. They have been SUCH an encouragement to us since we met them during their adoption process…what an honor, really, to be on the inside as they began the bonding and teaching process even while the boys were still at the orphanage. Such a treat to witness their hearts. And their patience.

Well, after MULTIPLE missions trips to various locations in Africa, the Harper family is moving to Yei, South Sudan next summer! They have advocated for and raised countless dollars for so many trips and adoptions — not just their own! And now they have set a goal to add 100 partners in 50 days — each pledging $25/month. The Peipons are proud and excited to be one of the 100! I promise you that if you read their story, you too will want to sign on…’like’ their facebook page and pray for them regularly. Please.

So thankful to call them friends.

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.

HIV/AIDS patients

Give thanksSo thankful for the open door we have at the national children’s hospital in Kyiv, particularly the unit where the HIV/AIDS children are treated.

For years we have been visiting weekly — Jim teaches medical English to interested doctors there and I simply break up the children’s boring hospital stay with some silliness, some stickers, BINGO, crafts, Jesus Storybook Bible gifts, and whatever else we find to do. On warm enough days we play outside…warning: these boys kick a mean futbol! Chalk is always fun whether we’re outlining their shadows or creating a hopscotch board or a long and winding street for their cars. The youngest ones are just happy to be held. Occasionally we are privileged to witness a child’s first steps!

I am also thankful for those loyal volunteers who join me there. It’s great to see God’s people committing TIME to the least of these. And the smiles and hugs we get in return are absolutely priceless.

Spinning plates

spinning platesMy mind is racing in so many different directions that it’s hard to focus on one thought per post. So one post to let you know that I’m here, alive and well, and much on my plate!

Our ministry is growing! Our family is growing (thrilled to be expecting two granddaughters to go with the three grandsons — all in under 3-1/2 years!)! Our vision is growing!

Please bear with me as I attempt to put everything into words. (And these are just the real biggies!) I have had so many other eureka moments that I wanted to blog about but got distracted. Maybe I’ll just go back to blogging something every day — that REALLY kept me on my toes.

…and now back to language study before my lesson tomorrow.

Connect the dots

thJim posted an article on the Ukraine Medical Outreach blog describing how our life as missionaries sometimes feels like we’re playing ‘connect the dots.’ Read the article to learn how we began to partner with Grace to Ukraine!

Missions Conference

Our church in Kyiv had its very first missions conference on Saturday. We were honored to be among the missionaries who spoke.

The group-at-large was challenged to consider their role in missions whether here in Kyiv or throughout Ukraine or even around the world.

I enjoyed listening to each of the foreign missionaries, but was truly encouraged by two Ukrainian speakers who are actively serving in missions-type work. One of them, at least, has a full-time job as a taxi driver to be able to fund his passion — working with families who are infected with or affected by the HIV/AIDS virus. The other works in prisons in another area of Ukraine and I was not able to determine how he funds his work. Both are totally committed to their ministries.

DSCN4025The highlight for me was a skype call with our favorite missionary, our very own daughter Anna. She lived with us in Ukraine during our first years here and so our church is familiar with her personally. They did not know much about her ministry, though, until Saturday. Tears well up each time I hear our church praying for her, and Saturday was no exception.

We are praying that others may recognize that they are exactly where God wants them to be. And it’s right THERE that God can use them for His glory. Some may be called to leave their jobs, but most can effectively serve Him right where they are! At their work. In their neighborhood. Among family members.

To God be the glory!

Coalition for Children at Risk

174888_50402462366_1191841_nWhat a privilege to serve on the steering committee for the Coalition for Children at Risk!

Like-minded Christians laboring for the sake of children…whether they be abandoned to an orphanage, or living on the street, or in foster care, or in difficult home situations, or hospitalized long-term, or even adopted. The common denominator amongst us all is that we passionately care about children…and we have a deep desire to connect children to adults who will help them succeed!

Do they need tutors? Mentors? Food? Clothes? Encouragement? Counsel? Shelter?

We know their most basic need is to know the Savior. But we have many avenues to build trust with children so that they will listen to us as we share the gospel with them. And then to follow-up with them.

Such an encouragement to listen to the networking taking place and the excitement in the voices of this committee as we share with each other.

Laughter (rather than tears!) as we recognize the same roadblocks along the way of helping.

Prayer as we humbly seek the guidance of the One who is using us as His instruments.

May God receive ALL the glory for ANYTHING good that comes through His servants!


empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner

Sometimes I am quite thankful for the empathy that I have for the situations around me. Though I get frustrated at times, and often feel helpless, my heart pushes me to carry on and look for solutions. It is part of what drives me to advocate for hospitalized children, to pray with and for adopting couples, and to search for better ways to care for orphans.

But sometimes empathy gets the better of me. Our daughter is a missionary serving in east Asia. She has served there for six years and is just concluding two years stateside to earn a degree in bookkeeping/accounting. While in Salisbury she was active in the church through youth ministry, Bible studies, co-leading VBS, simply being available to families needing an extra set of hands. Friends graciously gave her a room to call her own — rough life on the river, eh, Anna?

God in His incredible goodness to our family allowed for three nephews to be born while Anna was in-country. All in the same town. Does it get any better than that? She had hours of time with these little boys — the oldest one turning two next month. You can imagine how hearts were knit together over these two years, and a growing love for her own twin sister.

And so today she leaves Salisbury…with one last opportunity to serve. She is accompanying a young mom and her three children via car to St. Louis where they will meet the young dad driving the moving truck to begin life there as a seminary student. Anna will fly to Asia from there at the end of the week.

She is following God’s call on her life. Just as we have by serving in Ukraine.

So why am I crying? Why have my tears soaked my pillow for the last two nights? Why can’t I type this without crying? Well, I totally know the feelings she will be experiencing as she drives away and attempts to memorize every detail of those little faces seeing her off, not understanding that she won’t be back for months, maybe years. Tears will be freely overflowing. Not just hers, but those whose lives she touched. And especially two young moms who loved sharing their little ones with Aunt Anna.

Empathy. Love it. Hate it.

Love you, Anna. And praying for you.

Kyrgyzstan visitors

Once again, the post from our ministry blog showed a bit of our lives in Kyiv that might be interesting to my friends as well.

Thus, the link: Kyrgyzstan visitors

Meant to post this yesterday, but better late than never.

Please continue to pray for our ministry, if you are so inclined. And as our work increases, I am also trying to be more consistent about writing on both blogs. I know, I know, you’ve heard about my attempts at consistency before. Pray for me!