Our Work in November 2016

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Dear friends,

Let me tell you about our work in November.

We have a very busy time now as we prepare for a Christmas charitable fair together with our church. We invited crafts people and confectioners to sell their products so that part of the money to be received from the sales would fill the fund for aiding the disabled refugees and the veterans of the current war. We will have concerts, games and competitions for children and parents, as well as prize drawing at the fair. Also, our psychologists will hold workshops on various hot topics. We want to get as many people as possible to participate in the Fair! And right after the Fair, we are going to conduct a Christmas party for the veterans of the war and their families. Please pray that all of our plans come to fruition!

This past November, I (Lena) was invited to speak to the students of several universities of our city. I was asked to speak on the relations between guys and girls. It is always interesting to communicate with students! They are curious, open, and ask many questions.

Our ministry to the refugees, the veterans and their families continues. Our psychologist Victoria actively communicates with children of the refugees. They love her very much and always meet her with joy. They share their joys and sorrows with Victoria, many children still remembering their friends whom they were separated from by the war. And there are those children who, because of their age, cannot really remember their pre-war friends. It is only here, in Odessa, that they went to pre-school, and they like it here.

One of the most serious problems, both with the refugees and the veterans, is alcoholism. Unfortunately, it often happens now that those who are parents among the refugees have drinking bouts and stop watching over the children. So this is exactly what happened to a family of one of those under our care. She is a single mother of five children, the youngest daughter being disabled. The girl is fully dependent on the mother, because she cannot move and has no swallowing reflex. The mother had a drinking bout, the neighbors did not know what to do and tried to feed the child somehow, but the girl nearly choked with food… They are considering termination of parental rights now.

On the photo you see Victoria with children of the refugees.On the photo you see a refugee girl who has a birthday on this day. The mother made a present of a scooter to her. The father died several months ago. The mother has not yet recovered from the grief. And the girl has a strong fear of losing her mother too.
Our counselors Angela and Vova visit the refugees too, but now in another place of their accommodation. Many of the refugees were transported to another city. But the interesting thing is that most of those from Sergeevka who we had been visiting stay here, in Odessa, now. Many of them go to the church that Vova and Angela are members of. Their church is the closest to the new place of settlement of the refugees. In the church, the refugees meet Vova and Angela as family! And Angela and Vova continue visiting them and taking care of them. Also, Vova and Angela continue visiting the wounded at the hospital.
Svetlana is 35. Svetlana was honored with an award for valorous service. The deputy minister of defense himself came to the hospital and honored her there. She is in the hospital with a knee injury, waiting for the surgery. Svetlana is an orphan who was brought up in an orphanage. She is not married. She went to war as a volunteer. In the combat zone, she works as the senior cook at the military kitchen. Svetlana saw all the horrors of the war. She talks about the deaths which she was an eyewitness of. She saw two of her kitchen assistants tripping a mine and being pulled to pieces. Once the squad leader gave the order to three people including Svetlana to go to the battlefield and collect the remains of the soldiers’ body parts and put them into plastic bags. It is with tears in her eyes and with shiver in her body that Svetlana told the counselors about this awful event. She knew those guys, and now from the 12 dead they managed to collect nine bags. As she was telling this, Svetlana relived this horror again. She said she was relieved that she had an opportunity to communicate with our psychologists about this, and that she was able to verbalize this, because these experiences haunted her day and night. Angela talked with her about God and about His plan for mankind. Svetlana was all ears as she listened to her. Angela presented her with the Bible. Svetlana was very grateful, saying that she would be reading and praying.

Roman is in the hospital with injuries of two legs and an arm. He tripped a mine. Roman was one of the few who survived. There are many shell fragment wounds in his legs. The doctors will not even try to remove many of the shell fragments, because they are deep in his muscles. All of Roman’s leg bones were fractured. On the photo beside him is his wife. Roman served as a machine gunner in the war. He was on the battlefield for almost two years. He had no communication with civilians. In the daytime the soldiers slept, and they shot back at night. There, apart from his fellow soldiers, he had almost no one to talk to. Having been injured, Roman lost his consciousness and did not come to his senses until already in the hospital. He was struck more by the contrast between the situation in the war and that in the hospital than by deaths in the war. He has a hard time adapting to the peaceful situation. He sees shooting and shelling in his dreams. As he tries to go to sleep he expects these dreams. Civilians cause irritation in him, and he cannot really communicate with them. His only thought is to return to war. Roman was very grateful for the opportunity to communicate with the psychologists. He was asking them to come more often. He said that he needed someone to talk to, telling someone about those awful events which he saw and experienced in the war.

Nikolay, 58. The photo is taken at the Odessa railroad station. Vova saw Nikolay off, helping him to get on the train, because Nikolay uses crutches. Nikolay is the leader of an intelligence support platoon, having been in the war since the Maidan revolution. His wife is a sniper in the intelligence group too. He has been in the hottest spots all the time. Because he and his wife lived in the Luhansk region before the war, they know that area well. They transferred him from place to place all the time to various military units. He got his wound during the last month before the termination of his contract. A fragment of a mine got into his foot.

Our psychologist Tatyana has been counseling a soldier’s mother for several months now. The guy is 26 years old, and he returned from the war a different person. He did not want to communicate with his mother at all. She was very much concerned, she did not understand what was happening to him, and asked us for help. After a while it became obvious that her son became a drug-addict. He is now in a rehabilitation center. With Tatyana’s help, the mother is learning slowly to communicate with her son in a new way, to support him and to care for herself.

I thank all of you for your prayers for us and those under our care! I thank you for your help and support!

Please keep praying for all of us and for peace in Ukraine. The war still continues. Because it has been going on for 2 years now, it has become, to some extent, something habitual for us. We just live with the war on the territory of this country. Every day we hear reports about those killed and wounded, every day we see in the news the next shell destroy someone's house…
We all are tired of the war and we want peace. Please pray for peace in Ukraine!

With love in Christ,

Lena Kolker,

Director of the Odessa Springs Counseling Center