This blog is sponsored by the special donations made to help Life Model Works share the love and peace of Jesus with people in Ukraine! Thank you to all who contributed to the Ukraine trip for LMW. We were able to teach passing the peace in the middle of a war. Our team was active in four regions of Ukraine, leaving behind new friends, video recordings, materials undergoing translation, trained counselors and churches in Immanuel Prayer trauma recovery, old ladies weeping because they had not been forgotten, and hopeful girls.
Thomas and Elke Gerlach led and coordinated the trip. The trip coincided with Thomas and Elke’s 20th anniversary. The couple had planned to have a special trip together but, as the date approached, both were strongly drawn to the needs in Ukraine. Elke insisted they make this trip their anniversary trip. They invited Dr. Jim Wilder to join them. Serge, who Thomas met on his first trip to Ukraine, was our driver, translator, and cultural attaché.
Vivienne came with Thomas and Elke as part of their spiritual family to complete the German part of the team. Vivienne, who is trained in social work with special needs children, stayed in western Ukraine helping orphanage programs and outreach to Roma families. Vivienne’s mother was in critical condition with final stage cancer. Each day was difficult as she waited for news of her mother’s passing. Vivienne felt strongly that she was to make this trip to help the orphans. Her mother, who has translated Life Model materials into German, agreed.
Vivienne met and stayed in western Ukraine working with Leah (from Texas), who leads a ministry in government orphanages. The care children receive in orphanages is contrary to all attachment and joy principles for raising children. Over 90% of the children in those institutions actually have parents but were left there because of their special needs or family circumstances. Leah and her ministry use the Karyn Purvis methods of parenting that are highly compatible with the Life Model. Her goal is to introduce parenting skills and resources so that most of these “orphans” can return to their parents and families.
While Vivienne stayed in the west, the rest of the team visited an orphanage in the central region of the country. Here we found children from early infancy to 18 years old. We arrived during an air raid (which happens daily) to find all the children sitting in a hallway singing to the beat of the drums they were playing. There were forty-seven of them in a facility that could only hold thirty, with more buses of children on the way. Children are being bussed to orphanages from the region where it is reported that Russians have captured 16,000 children and taken them to camps intended to erase their family connections, national identification, and culture. Our team brought gifts (such as flashlights) purchased with funds you donated to the orphanage. The gifts were selected to help during loss of power from missile attacks and nighttime evacuations. We were told not to take pictures of the children or disclose their location to prevent them from being targeted or abducted.
Travel in Ukraine seemed nearly idyllic in the Carpathian Mountains – aside from the snowy roads and military checkpoints. Across the steppes that constitute most of the country, the roads brought us past military convoys with tanks and other materials, many sets of trenches, sudden gaps in the highway with holes full of mud and the frequent air raid sirens. However, good coffee could be found almost everywhere.
Translators are often particularly impacted by the time they spend with teams. Not only do we get to know them better, but they hear our teaching repeatedly. In Ukraine we had two types of translators, one set for events and another set for written materials. Serge drove for us and translated for some of our presentations, hotels, meals, finding bathrooms, talking with people on the streets, and making arrangements for travel and meetings. Every time the air raid sirens went off, Serge would get calls from his children wanting to know if he was safe. His daughter liked it when the sirens went off just as she reached school because it meant going home again instead of spending the day in the cold and damp school basement behind the sandbags.
We hope you enjoyed this segment by Dr. Jim Wilder about his recent trip to Ukraine. Look for the next Ukraine Update Part 2 of 4 “Passing the Peace During Kiev Air Raids.”
Donations to further the work of translating and spreading Life Model resources in Ukraine and around the world can be made HERE