Thursday, April 28, 2011

Transformation at the Men's Home

This project was closest to my heart!!! (Some of the older photos in the video were taken from John's blog)

video

Saturday, April 23, 2011

We are home

We made it home last night. Plane arrived at 11pm then we headed to Skyline. The kids have a tradition of always eating Skyline the minute we arrive back in town from a trip. I think everyone would agree the nicest part of dinner at Skyline was the unlimited refills of lemonade with ice!!!

I will try and catch up on posts later along with doing something with all of the pictures

Thursday, April 21, 2011

John's Post on Wednesday

If you want another view on our trip hop over to John's blog and read his take on what we did. His blog is http://actofkindness.blogspot.com. He does a much better job of blogging than I do!!!!

Here is the link for Wednesday.
actofkindness: Mens home update .... (from this point on, NOT to be referred to as an INVALID home.)...#links#links#links

Wednesday

Wednesday was another great day. I came on this trip with all the intentions of blogging about everything we did. Not just what we physically did but the emotional side of it all also. We have been so busy I feel lucky to even type out what we actually did let alone all the details.
Wednesday we spent the majority of the day at the invalid men’s home. We helped more in the garden. Initially the men objected to our help. Eventually they allowed Laura to help set the the cut potatoes in the dirt. The rest of us shifted to another area in the garden and started planting cabbage. Mason used a hoe to make a row with two other men and then Robert and I set the plants at the required distance and then covered them in dirt. Dawsyn helped cut a million potatoes. We quit working after we had planted a hundred cabbage plants and some tomato plants, Laura and men planted 18 rows of potatoes that Dawsyn and crew had cut. Bransen did a little of everything.


We then returned to the apartment, got cleaned up and had lunch. We were with a team from Wisconsin off and on today. After lunch we headed back to the invalid men’s home for English lessons.






Dinner was at Ruby and Lynn’s house. What a fantastic group of people serving here. David and Jayne are from Lebanon Ohio. They teach at the University and Jayne is transforming the country and the foster care system. Ruby and Lynn are from Canada and were a lot here and in several other countries. They, along with the Wrights, are all wonderful caring, hard working people. It has been such a blessing to spend a little time with them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kazakhstan

We just got back from Kazakhstan.

Up at 4am, picked up at 5 am, hour and a half drive to the Bishkek border crossing and then an hour and a half to get across. The key in Kyrgyz is to be prepared to pay a fine whenever necessary. Without paying our fine it would have taken hours more to cross. Pay the right person and you get to move along. Once in Kaz it was another two hour drive to Laura's orphanage. As we got out of the car one of the caregivers was there and recognized her right away. She was so excited to see Laura. We were taken into the director's office and both the director and head doctor were there and both recognized her right away. We were surprised to find that there are only 45 kids there now and the oldest is only 3. Laura seemed not to be so sure about that and wanted to check her old floor to make sure. The building is under renovations but is still nicer than when we were there.

After visiting there for 45 minutes we headed out to see if Laura could recognize anything in the area. She could not. I think she was disappointed but the growth in Kazakhstan has been quite significant. They still have a goal of being one of the top countries in the world by 2030 and you can tell they are trying. The contrast between the two countries is quite significant

Monday

We started out the morning with a trip to the baby hospital. The facility was clean and you could tell the Wrights and teams had done some work. The system is so different than American hospitals. Here there is a room with 2-4 twin bed frames. If a child is sick and needs to come to the hospital the mother must bring them. They must also provide their own mattresses, blankets and food. The mother and baby stay in the room together with the mom taking care of the child.
We met a little girl named Rosa who had been abandoned at the hospital weeks earlier. She was so cute – yet so small. She was so sensitive to touch. If you caressed her hand with your finger she would almost flinch. After a while she started to smile.
We then moved to the newborn room. There were two babies there. One was a few months old and slept the whole time the other was only four days old and had been abandoned. They placed the baby in Roberts’s arms and the head doctor asked for us to name her. Robert spoke up not realizing they were serious.- thru blog reading I knew they were. After he realized how serious they were he chose the name Julia for her. Dawsyn got to hold Julia and spent the rest of the day asking to bring home Juliia.
So now Dawsyn wants to bring home Julie and the boys want Sasha.
After the baby hospital we went back to the apartment and got ready to go to the hot springs. We met a group of 80 kids from Red River Orphanage at the hot springs. The large pool was supposed to be open – they had called ahead – but was not. So the group was divided into boys and girls. The girls went into the small pool first while the boys hiked the mountain. Then they switched. Mason did such a good job with the boys. Most of these guys were between the ages of 10-15. All of the kids have some sort of disability (a cleft lip is considered a disability) Mason allowed the boys to climb on his back and he gave them dolphin rides thru the water.
We got to see tow of the boys whose parents have been waiting two years to bring them home. What great boys – so well behaved and cute.
After swimming and hiking all the kids were given puffed popcorn, a juice box and a piece of chocolate. Then all 80 kids plus caregivers climbed back on a bus and went back. We headed over to Jayne and David’s for an American dinner.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pictures from Sunday








Saturday

It’s been an adjustment not being able to connect to the internet. We are so used to being connected all the time and that is not the case here. We are fortunate that when we are in our apartment we can sometimes connect on John and Julie’s wifi. It is a bit amusing because we have to be in the kitchen with the computer sitting on the window sill and then we have a half of a bar of connection. It is also different to not be able to access websites that you normally do. We cannot see our own blog. Blogs are censored here. We can write them but not read them. Also we struggle to get emails between the limited time to connect and the challenge of doing so we have not seen many (if you have sent us an email and have not heard from us that is why)

Saturday we started off the morning with another swimming party, this time at the river. It was a beautiful setting. Just on the other side of the river was Kazakhstan and the mountain range.





We returned home and had 30 minutes to eat lunch and pack for the day/night. We picked up a group of orphans and took them to Bishkek – about an hour and a half away. The original plan was to take them to an amusement park but the weather was threatening. So off to a movie we went instead, Rio in 3D (in Russian). Each kid received a small pop. Robert and I decided that you can’t do a movie without popcorn and bought everyone a bucket of popcorn -48 of them. The cashier thought we were nuts!! The popcorn they serve is actually a caramel corn not your typical movie theater popcorn.

After the movie we headed to dinner. For some of the kids it was their first time in a restaurant. They were allowed to order whatever they wanted to eat. The food was good. We then sent most of the kids from the orphanage back to Tokmok and we headed for Karabolta. There is an orphanage in Karabolta that 3 of the ones form Tokmok are being transferred to. They along with 4 older boys that used to live with many form Karabolta headed there. So we dropped 14 off at Karabolta orphanage and the rest of us (14) headed to a hotel for the night. Car rides are interesting… we look like we belong in the circus. We pack a lot of people into one van.



Mason has been a hit with his cell phone camera. He has an app that distorts the pictures. The kids love it and just laugh and laugh. The teenage girls keep a close eye on Bransen. It was such a big deal to them to get their picture taken with them. He was so sweet after we asked him to pay some attention to them; he picked a dandelion and gave it to the one that seemed the most interested.

Post by Robert

Some thoughts from me...about some things that still amaze me.

Julie probably won't post this, but I'm going to write it anyways.
In 2008 (I think, at least thats my best guess) Julie was reading posts by John Wright about the things he was doing over here in Kyrgyzstan.  On one of those posts she read about the invalid mens home John went to visit where many of the men were freezing to death and all the other problems they were facing (total despair, agony, depression, feelings of worthlessness, and many many more).  It really hit home with her and made an impact on her heart.
Julie came to me and said whadda ya think?  I'm sure I put very little thought into the conversation but I'm also sure I thought "sure do something.". Truth is I barely remember the conversation ( I do remember it though) and I'm sure my thoughts were - "We've got everything we could possibly need - so sure give some money or whatever.".   Heres the difference - my thoughts were about what we have - I guarantee Julie's thoughts were about the need over here.
So back to John Wright - yesterday (or the day before or whenever - it's all a serious blur right now) he was reminiscing about that same blog and what was going thru his mind at that time.  He said to me "after visiting the invalid home all I wanted to do was run the other direction.  I did NOT want to go back.". Well, God obviously had other plans.
After Julie and I had the conversation - she emailed John that her heart was touched and that she felt something needed to be done.  I'm not real sure what Johns initial reaction was, but I know he is thrilled now (I figure it was initially "You're kidding me Lord - this lady really is going to make me go back is she?")  Well, no. This lady didn't make him go back - God just used her to push the process along.  He does that with special people.
Now if you've read the blog up to this point - you know we went to the home the other day and we had "swimming" and lunch with about 20 of the men on the first day  The home is FAR from perfect.  BUT we met men who were alive!  Our kids connected with men who cared and just felt great about themselves.  I guarantee that's not how they felt 3 years ago. The caretaker, Larisa, talked about how this past winter no one died.  No one froze to death.  These men now have self worth.  It really hit home when John told me that they were working on getting the men registered.  My thoughts were, to vote, to get mail, to...???  So I asked...registered means what John.  "Registered as a person.  As of now, they don't really exist - but we are working on getting them registered so that they do exist."

Julie helped them "exist" as soon as she read about them in 2008.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wow what a day

When did this day start...... We had one busy day. Jet lag had us all up between 4:30 and 7am. Had a delicious breakfast at the Wrights. John was a cook at one point and does a great job of feeding us. Then we were off and running...

First stop was the bazzar to pick up 150 cabbage plants along with tomato plants to take to be planted at the invalid men's home. Also picked up a lot of bananas, they are a prized fruit around here and very expensive.




Next stop the garbage dump. People scavange at the dump to find food to eat and items to sell to have money. There were about 15 people there today. Larisa is the in country contact for todays projects. She is such a blessing. We handed out travel toothbrushes, toothpaste and a bag full of rice, beans, cooking oil and a few other items. The recipients talked about how valuable Larissa is to them. At Christmas she provided them with gifts and they all talked about how it was the best Christmas ever.




Next stop Iskara East. This is a small town near the dump. Three years ago there were about 80 peopole in this town and many different ethnic groups that did not get along. Larissa with John's support facillitated getting running water to the town - they have one punp. As the water project took place Larissa was able to unite the people. Since the women no longer spend the day travelling to bring water home the poplulation of the village has doubled.


While there we were served a community meal - in the middle of the street. Afterwards we broke out two soccer balls and played with the kids. Mason's favorite part - haha - was the donkey ride he got to go on.




We then stopped at the grocery, picked up snacks and headed back to the apartment for a bathroom break. Thirty minutes later we were back in the car and heaced out to the invalid men's home. Once again Larissa has done an amazing job. (think of the movie Awakenings) A once horrid place has improved significantly - it is still awful but so much better. We got to see the contrast somewhat when we were taken form the area that had the most imporvemetns into the sick wing. It was horrible - we wore mask and the smell still had me heaving. We delivered the plants and ceremoniously planted a couple. We were out of time and needed to leave to go to the next event.




So quick ride home, changed clothes and off to a performance at the Central Asian University. One very good guitarist played many songs. Than kids from a nearby orphanage performed songs for us. It was good but we were exhausted and struggled to stay awake. At one point 3 out the four kids were asleep and my head was bobbing.

Then out to dinner we went. John rented out a restaurant and we took the group form the university and orphanage out to dinner. Again another very nice time.

We are now back at the apratment all worn out. Off to bed I go. We are off again tomorrow for another busy day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We've made it!!

We are in Kyrgyzstan. We made it here without too much difficulty. The control people in the Kyrgyz airport were confused with Laura’s dual citizenship. They could not understand why she has two passports.
We have unpacked and are taking turns getting cleaned up. Unfortunately the water heater was not turned on in the apartment until we got here and we are getting to take ice cold showers. Not a big deal.

John and Julie have a lot planned for us. We will get together with them in an hour and be on the run. We are starting with a “swimming party” (think swimming at Parkside). There are many men from the invalid men’s home that have never been “swimming” before and we will get to watch.

We are impressed with the way John does things here. He is all about getting nationals to do the work. It is also critical to him that projects become self supporting. Yesterday was a huge day for him and the other workers here. They are trying to set up permanent foster homes – so that kids are raised in family settings. In order to support the house parents they are setting up a chicken farm at the drug rehabilitation center. John will find supporters to finance the startup and then the men in the rehab center will run the chicken farm and profits will be split 50/50 with the foster home and rehab center.

In Moscow Airport





Killing time in Moscow airport. Another four hours or so before our flight to Bishkek.



We found the Somalis and gave them the supplies we brought. There are only 2 left. Both men said they hope to get out of here in two weeks. For those that don't know there were a group of 20+ Somalis that have been stuck in this airport for months. They were conned to think that they were escaping their country. They gave all of their papers and money to somoene to help them flee from Somalia to Canada. The person led them from Somalia to this airport and then took their papers, money and disappeared. Without a passport and appropriate papers they cannot leave. They are living in a hallway. They sleep on a stack of mats and blankets that have been left behind for them. We left them some toiletries, food and money. They were so grateful.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flight One Down

We have made it to New York! We have made it thru JFK security and to the gate and are now waiting for the plane. Pretty uneventful so far - keep the prayers coming. We have 6 backpacks, one carry on suitcase and 8 hockey bag size pieces of luggage (only 2 are clothes for us the rest are supplies and donations), Thank you to everyone who gave us donations to take. One of the back packs is filled with toiletries etc for the Somali people stuck in the Moscow airport. We also exchanged some money to leave with them.

Think it should be about 31 hours from when we leave to when we land in Bishkek.

Bransen has decided he needs to talk to as many people as possible this trip. He randomly has been finding questions to ask people. Says he is up to 8 so far - doesn't seem like a lot as there are probably 150 right around us but he is having fun with it.

Mason is still walking around in his own world. Always about 5 seconds late participating in the conversation. He says WHAT? constantly - if he'd get the phone out of his face he might be a little more aware... We are geting a laugh out of it

Monday, April 4, 2011

NO - We will not be bringing home another child!!

Ok, the number one question we have been asked about this trip is are we bringing back another child? The answer is NO! I can say that pretty confidently too as Kyrgyzstan has been closed to international adoptions for two years now. That doesn't mean God won't break our hearts even more for the kids in the orphanages. It just means legally it isn't possible.

Unfortunately there are 65 families that have seen the child they had hoped to adopt years ago that are stuck in the legal nightmare. Families that have held and loved on their to be adopted kids only to be told now that they cannot have them. Most of theses kids have some sort of medical challenge - cleft lip, hydrocephally, cerebral palsy, heart defects etc.. Sadly two of the kids have died waiting to be adopted - their hope of medical intervention tied up in the paper work. Pray for those families. They are two years into a nightmare they wait and pray for their child while governments continue to change the rules.

So we are not planning to bring any kids home with us. Only to go and spend time showing them love. We are really excited about this part of the trip. When John, Julie and family visited they told us some of the things we might get to do. John being the wise man he is picked up on the things our kids like to do and has incorporated those into things we will get to do. Mason loves hockey - we hope to take a group of orphans or kids from the garbage dump ice skating. The girls will get to choose whether we take a group of girls to the circus or to the ballet. And if all goes as planned Bransen will be taking a group of older boys from the orphanage out to golf.