Friday, August 17, 2012


The first time I saw Kate she was around four years old. There were probably 20 to 30 children gathered in the play yard shelter to see "the Americans". I wasn't sure if she was a girl or a boy. Her hair looked like a girls, but she had her shirt off much like the boys. She was bright eyed, and had the inquisitive look of a bird, hunting for that first morsel of food among many brightly colored stones. We had many McDonald's Happy Meal toys, some Hot Wheels cars and trucks, and a variety of small dolls. Being the traditionalist that I am, the boys got cars (machines) and the girls got dolls (I don't remember the Russian word for that). Kate was complaining, and began to cry after the toys were distributed to all of the children. The teachers were trying desparately to "shush" her. I finally got an answer to my question of "why is that child upset?". It seems that Kate did not want a "stupid, useless doll" she wanted one of the cool "machine's" that all of the boys got to play in the dirt with. I told them to give her what she wanted, we had plenty, what difference did it make? I like playing in the dirt when I was her age...make her happy. I wish you could have seen her face. I know she was not trying to be ungrateful, but it is very hard for a four year old to mask their true feelings when it comes to important stuff, like toys! She had thrown down the stupid doll and was happily playing with the "machine" (pronounced 'mah-cheen'). She doesn't remember the incident, but I may never forget it. Several years later, I met Kate again as a young teenager and thought that she looked SO familiar to me. When I returned home and looked thru pictures, there she was, the little girl who didn't want a stupid doll! Her face hasn't changed much, but she has grown into a very lovely young lady. I have enjoyed watching her grow, and develope into such a funny and creative and strong young woman. Kate is going to make it! She has the determination and strong will to go the distance. Over the years I have watched her live in that shell that protects her from the harm the world has done to her. Refusing to let any one get close. Pretending it didn't matter when it hurt so deeply. Not letting any one see her tears. She has done a good job of not needing anything from anyone...until lately. You see, Kate is one of the very reasons I come to Ukraine. I want to make a difference somewhere...I want someone to be better off because they see Jesus in me...I know this sounds so selfish, it isn't about me, it's about Him and them...but I guess this is my Gideon fleece. I CAN live with never seeing the seed sprout...I guess I just WANTED to know it was growing. Many people have asked me about baptisms here. I only know of three that I have a first person relationship with (Dima, Larissa, and Masha). There are some that are sprouts from people I have contact with. But, to me, it's not about the number of people you get wet and never see again. It's about the people you have a relationship with who come to know Jesus and then have a relationship with Him. That takes more than an hour or two study and a trip to the church baptistry (or the Dneper river in this case). Kate is one of those people I have a long term relationship with. She knows me, she trusts me, I believe she loves me. This year, I saw evidence of that. The way she greeted me (and Sharon and Bennett) was different. Perhaps it is because this is her last few months at the Dawn. She is a "graduater". (a child who has graduated from school AND the Dawn orphanage) She will go to technical school or college in September and live in the "hostels" (very much like dorm life in the States). Her life is going to be forever changed. She will not longer be able to depend upon the teachers at the Dawn to make decisions for her. She will not longer have the close knit "family" of girls and boys that live on this campus. She will be on her own. That tends to make you reevaluate your situation, and start asking the big questions: where do I go from here; who am I; what is the purpose in my life; who is this God I've been hearing about? She has. I am seeing a softer side to Kate. For the first time as a teenager, I saw her cry. Kate has an extroidinary artist ability. Her painting is truly beautiful. She is the young lady that made me several "Ukrainian" note cards a couple of years ago, she also painted two stemmed glasses for me last year. This year, Sharon and I purchased several of her hand painted pieces. This may have been one of the first times someone actually validated her talent that wasn't one of her peers or her teachers. I think she was surprised by that. Sharon was so moved that Kate let us "in" that she was teary eyed. THAT is when I saw Kate. The little girl wanting someone to tell her she was worth something. SHE was talented...SHE was good at something...and NOT because we HAD to! Kate was moved to tears, and she didn't really know what to do with that! She quickly went to her room to wipe her face, and came out and let us take pictures of her and the goods that she had painted. She gave us each a placque with a hand painted rooster on it, and we purchased several items from her as well. Everyone was very happy with the deal. This is to you Fayrene. Every year you donate bracelets to the girls. If you ever wonder if they make a difference or not...don't. The first think Kate showed me this year was the bracelet she received from you two years ago, carefully stored in the package. She wanted Rita to translate what it said on it for her today. It was a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. She came back with her small Russian New Testament and showed Rita that she had found the verse in the Bible. She is reading God's word. She is asking questions. Jesus has touched this young ladies heart. Thru much prayer...a "machine"...some bracelets...God's people obeying the command to take care of widows and orphans. She asked Rita what she thought about "icons" (the pictures of saints that the Russian Orthodox church worship and pray to). Rita told her that they were nice drawings, but not something she believed in bowing down to or praying to. Kate told her she had heard of other people saying the same thing. And that she had visited a church that didn't have them either. This young lady CAN be reached. She is being touched by the Master's Hand...thank you all for helping me be a very small part in her journey to Jesus. And thank you Fayrene for being a HUGE part of my walk in faith, and for loving me and "my girls" enough to not stop giving when it would be easier to let someone else do it! till another adventure begins

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