Tuesday, December 22, 2009


One of the first places Frank and I were invited to go to was the First Stage Orphanage here in Berdyansk.  Bill Brower, our WGM missionary in charge of youth work, goes to the orphanage twice a week in the mornings to play with the kids and be a part of their lives. When he invited us, we were eager because we had been talking about the orphanages for two years and had shared about the spiritual and physical needs of these kids.  So we piled into the van with him and his co-worker, Vika, a young woman who also works in the youth ministries.

At the First Stage Orphanage children are usually brought by their parents or other family members to stay because the family is unable to give them proper care, for various reasons.  The children can stay for three months to begin with, but some stay as long as nine months.  After that if the parents still can't care for them the children are sent to Azmol Orphanage, which is the regular long-term orphanage.  There aren't lots of children in the First Stage Orphanage, but there are enough to break your heart.  We spent time with the younger children who don't go to school yet, and they are as adorable as they can be.  We also saw some of the older children who are probably between the ages of ten and fourteen. 

As soon as we arrived at the orphanage, the small children were peeking through the door and couldn't wait to get their hands on us for some hugs.  Bill and Vika had brought some games and puzzles for the kids to work, and we played with them too.  Sasha, a nickname for Alexandra, took a liking to Frank and he helped her set up the blocks.

Daniel was a cute little guy, but he could be a handful too.  Look at his wonderful smile.

Bill Brower has a special love for these kids.  Look at him and Andrei, who is a first class show-off!

Little Denis seemed very sad and withdrawn.  The matron said he was used to getting a lot of attention from visitors, and today he had to wait his turn.  Whatever, the little guy is so very cute.

Pasha, Ulla, and another girl whose name I missed enjoyed the puzzles.  Pasha worked the same puzzle over and over again, afraid to let any other child have a turn just in case he didn't get it back.

We stayed with them for about two hours in the morning.  They are well taken care of, fed well and kept clean and dressed warmly.  In fact, we had our sweaters on and were pretty warm the whole time, so the kids are kept warm too.  The older children go to the local school, although it was a holiday the first day we went so they were there too although they didn't want to mix with the little kids too much.  The director of the First Stage Orphanage is a kind man who seems to have the well-being of the children as his first priority.

We were told that children who grow up in the orphanages don't want lots of people to know about it because it is somewhat of a stigma for them as they get older.  People of their own age look down on them and it is difficult for them to find their proper place in the world around them.  What an opportunity for ministry! not just in orphanage, but to follow-up on them after they leave and try to help them adjust to their world, as well as to give them the spiritual message that even if no one else cares about them, Jesus will always love them and care for them and give them the security they need.

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