Friday, October 17, 2014

Ukraine's lost children


Bob and I sitting together watching the video I have posted below. The reality that orphan children face in Odessa, Ukraine everyday. This is the place we will adopt from next. God is calling us here...to teenage boys who are praying for a family. A prayer I am sure they can not fathom will be answered.

As we listened to the the last 90 seconds of this video, to the heartfelt words spoke by an orphaned boy now living on the street, well actually, under the street. We were both broken once more for the fatherless of our world. His words pierced our hearts like a dagger.

He starts with "When I was 3 months old my mother abandon me in the maternity clinic. I don't really want to talk about it." He goes on to say that strangers named him, not his parents. "His life was going from orphanage to orphanage to orphanage. That's my life so far. Orphanage. Street. Orphanage. Soon my youth will be over." "I don't know. Every night at the orphanage from the first to the ninth grade, I would cry at night into the pillow. It was so painful. I saw how some children had parents who came to see them. How they were happy.I couldn't imagine such a life for myself. When I did imagine, I cried to myself under the pillow. Honestly, it's so painful without parents.I wouldn't want to wish anyone to live without parents.I'm only thankful to my mum that she gave birth to me. That she didn't abort me..... what else can I say about my life?"

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  James 1:27


We hear you Jesus. We hear you.






Thursday, October 2, 2014

91 Days in Ukraine

 
 We believe choosing to follow Christ is more than a weekend visit to our church or a percentage of our income placed in an offering basket. We believe that our daily life is to be a reflection of our choice. We believe our actions are  to bear witness to our choice. We believe there is only One True King, and His name is Jesus Christ.
It is this belief that moved us to travel to Ukraine and bring 3 teenagers into our family. Teenagers who had little hope of a future in their homeland. Teenagers who had been given no life skills and had no existing support system to speak of. Teenagers who needed a family.
 
 
We ARE a family.
 
 
 
 
We believe that all scripture is God breathed...
 
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
 
 
 
 
 
2-е Тимофею 3:16-17
16 Каждый отрывок Писания, так как оно вдохновлено Богом, полезен при наставлении истины и убеждении грешников, а также для того, чтобы помочь людям стать на путь истинный и исправиться. 17 Благодаря Писанию человек Божий будет готов ко всему и сможет исполнять всё, что от него требуется для совершения добрых дел.

We believe that when God, through the Holy Spirit,  brings us to an awareness, we have a responsibility to act, to do, to step out of our comfort zone and become closer to who He created us to be by meeting a needs of others.

 
We believe that God prepares and equips each of us for a calling. We believe our calling is parenting the fatherless.
This picture is our entire family, including 2 children who remain in Ukraine by choice. We are currently parenting them from afar by ensuring all their needs are met, remaining available to them for guidance, and praying for them daily.
 
 
James 1:27
 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Walking out this calling we have added three children from Ukraine to our family through adoption in 2013.
 
Иакова 1:27       
 Истинное же благочестие, угодное Богу, ничем не запятнанное и чистое перед Богом и Отцом, выражается в заботе о сиротах и вдовах, нуждающихся в помощи, и в сохранении себя неосквернённым от мира.
 
 
 
 
This blog entry contains pictures from that journey. The amazing beauty of the country, and the
heartbreaking things we experienced as we walked among the beautiful people of Ukraine. Those
sights, sounds and smells have changed us. They have given us a love for the Ukrainian people. They have broken our hearts even greater for the orphan. They have left us in awe of our  Great  and Mighty  Heavenly Father.
 
 
 
 
 
This.
This is what we saw, day in and day out as we visited orphanages with our missionary friends. Children desperate to be seen. Children desperate to be heard. Children desperate to be loved.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
So many times, the children would walk with us to the bus and cling to us with an embraced that begged us not to forget them. and every time... every time, it broke our hearts. So many days we would cry as we prayed for them during the long bus rides back to where we were staying.
 
 
And we have taught our children to pray for them as well. Every child should know the security that comes with having a family.
 
 
We praise God for all He has done for our family. He invited us on a journey that allowed us to experience Him with great intimacy. He walked with us as we traversed deep valleys of darkness, guiding our feet, one step at a time. He never let us fall. All praise and honor and glory are His, the Lord Jesus Christ...FOREVER.
 
 It was His hand that made this possible. It was His hand that provided. It was His call for us to go. And it was HE  that continues to lead us on the narrow path that leads home to His Kingdom.
 
 
 
 
 

The Scroll and the Lamb    Revelation 5

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
    and they will reign[b] on the earth.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 





Thursday, October 31, 2013

Doers of The Word (guest post)





We met the Higbie Family at our church in Wisconsin but it wasn't until March of 2012 that we actually got to know them...it wasn't until then that we took a step out of our comfort zone, out of our "busy schedules" to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and go help them peel some potatoes for a fundraiser they were having that week. I say that because that's probably not something we would have decided to do on our own for people we didn't really "know", but after the church service that day when Diane starting telling me about their story and the fundraiser and the help they needed, the Holy Spirit prompted me and I knew we needed to get involved, even if it was just donating our time to help them peel some potatoes and attend a fundraiser until past our bed time. I point that out because serving isn't always convenient, loving others doesn't always look like things we would choose to do, but if you know God is telling you to do something, you just obey and He will reward you for it. Josh led someone to the Lord the night of the fundraiser, God multiplied our time and everything we needed to get done was accomplished, and we know that meeting the Higbie's was truly a divine connection and friendship!

 

It didn't take much time spent with Diane to see her beautiful loving heart, so passionate and full of faith! Every moment I spent with her I was encouraged and uplifted, strengthened and refueled. I can't even tell you how much it spoke to my heart to see her love on her family, her precious children, even the ones who weren't "home" yet! She never hesitated to pray, to praise, to sing, you could just see Jesus right next to her every moment and that so blessed me and encouraged me in my own personal relationship with the Lord!

 

Just a few short months after getting to know Bob, Diane, and the girls, Josh and I followed the call of God on our lives to Pastor my home church in Texas and the Higbie's were such an awesome encouragement to us and our faith as we prepared for our big move. We were learning to trust God, and I mean really trust Him, quitting our jobs, not having a place to live or any guaranteed income, just acting on His Word to go...just like the Higbie's, obeying God's call on their lives to adopt those precious children "a world away", trusting God to provide every step of the way when everything was stacked against them. And to see Bob's faith because I can relate to his doubt and reasoning, wanting to understand everything and know how it's all going to work, that's me for sure, but how he just trusted anyway, wow! Josh and I thank God for this couple!

 

I want to share a few things about faith...

 "But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]."  (Hebrews 11:6 AMP)

We are supposed to be channels for God to work through us, and how does God accomplish things on earth? How does He love the unlovable, father the fatherless, feed the hungry, etc.? He does it through His Body! We as Christians are His Body, we are the hands and feet of Jesus here on this earth, God works through us, us in obedience to Him, actually taking action.  We cannot please God without faith and faith without works is dead.

 

I like the way The Message explains faith in action - James 2:14-20

14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

19-20 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

22 Obey God’s message! Don’t fool yourselves by just listening to it. 23 If you hear the message and don’t obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror 24 and forget what they look like as soon as they leave. 25 But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don’t just hear and forget.

26 If you think you are being religious, but can’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and everything you do is useless. 27 Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.

The Higbie's are full of faith, they are living this out right now, right in front of us, sacrificing so much and being away from their family, against all odds and obstacles, they are not loosening their grip, they hold fast to the promise of God...they continue to speak God's Word and truth when the doubt and the voice of impossibility scream in their face...and God is very pleased with them, they are fighting the good fight of faith, that is the fight you know, keeping the faith, continuing to believe...

 

We encourage everyone to get on board with Bob and Diane and help them out financially as well, they are trusting God for the finances to come in, even as they are already oversees to get these precious children, and how do you think God will get the money to them? Through you and I, He works through people and the longer people disobey and not give when God is telling them to give, the longer it takes. We already know personally the reward of obeying God and giving when He tells us to, it's not ours anyway, we are His channel, to flow through us, not for us to keep everything for our own desires, God has always taken care of us and we do not go without, He is faithful!

 

We pray that the eyes of there condemners have been opened to see the great work that God Himself has fulfilled through Bob and Diane. To God be all the Glory and Honor and Praise. Bob and Diane, thank you so much for living a true Christian life and not being merely talkers but being "doers of the Word!"

 

-In His Service, Josh & Angela Napiwocki
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

National Adoption Day in Ukraine

                                                          
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

Today, September 30, 2013, is National adoption Day in Ukraine. We are so pleased to announce, that on this day, we offered adoption to 2 children we had never met....

More on that in a minute. Let me share what has got Bob and I to this point.




                                                  This is  a road map of Ukraine...





1 kilometer is equal to 0.621 miles. So far in country we have traveled over 4500km by car with Max, our facilitator,  to accomplish the adoption of our children. We are not nearly done. We have at least that many more to go... We have traveled from Lviv to Zaporizhia to Lugansk, with trips back to Kiev to file documents with the DAP office in between. We have seen more of Ukraine from Max's car than we ever expected to. But the togetherness and travel is helping us not only get to know each other extremely well, it is also helping Bob ad I get a much better understanding of the Ukrainian people.  Though out our travels we continue to see striking contrasts in the economic classes within this country. This experience has shown us the people of Ukraine are different than Americans. Not better, not worse, just different. Those we have gotten to know will be life long friends. They are solid, genuine and giving. We are blessed to call each of them our friend. As our journey continues, we hope to add many more to the list of friends we have already been blessed with.




                    On our way to Lviv we saw many horse drawn carts mixed with the traffic...
 
And roads that look like they have been here since the WW II... this road on the way to Lviv went on for what seemed like forever. It took us 3 hours to cover the last 30km.. 
 
and at times Max actually drove in the field NEXT to the road instead of ON the road!!
 
Waiting for the social worker in Lviv to join us. We then traveled to The orphanage where Oksana and Vasyl reside. Offered them adoption into our family.
 Fear kept them captive and they refused our offer.   
 
We then headed back to Kiev to file those documents with the DAP. It left Bob and I with a very BIG decision to consider... Do we get Nadiya and head home OR offer adoption to 2 children we have never met. We spent a great deal of time seeking God's will for our family. We prayed together and read His word daily. And we waited to hear from heaven ...
 
And then... we hit the road again. Referral in hand for our Nadiya. We had a delay as the Embassy here in Kiev could fine no evidence of our filing the necessary I600 form within the 180 days of our I600a approval date. I had to contact the immigration office in the USA, and request for them to send a scanned copy via email to me and CC Max. He then had to compose a letter requesting the Embassy official to draft a letter stating that, in fact, I had filed our I600 within the allotted time and stated Nadiya by name and DOB on that form. Thus giving us the opportunity to move forward and receive her referral. 
 
 
So, after picking up a social worker here...
 
 We FINALLY, after 21 months of waiting got to wrap our arms around our sweet Nadiya!! We met her at the Trade School she is attending. They are training her to be a seamstress.
 
 
 
Our visit was brief as we needed to take all the documentation from the local social worker and the Trade school, along with Nadiya's hand written "YES" to adoption back to Kiev to the DAP office.
 
24 hours later we are again at the DAP office delivering documents required to receive a court date in Nadiya's region.
 
48 hours later Bob and I are sitting in Maria's office with Max. We are discussing moving forward  on offering adoption to 2 children who are in their last days of eligibility to be adopted. We were presented with several options and settled on the children we felt God was calling us to. A boy who is already 16, and his sister who is 15. 
 
 
 
24 hours later, on Friday at 3pm in the afternoon, Bob and I go back to the DAP office to pick up the  referral. This is our third visit in the last 27 days to this small hallway where we wait to sign for and pick up official document allowing us to visit the children we are offering adoption to. 



Sunday morning finds us back on the road. This time for a 10 hour trip all the way across Ukraine to just shy of the Russian border.
 
 
Noticed some strange sights this trip too... Yes that IS an armored vehicle!
 
 
 
AND...If I go the rest of my life and never have to utilize one of these again... I am A-OK with that!!
 
 
 
Waiting in a classroom to meet our perspective children... This room measured about 5x10 and contained 4 student desks.
 
 
Getting to know you... Bob and Y walking to his sister's dorm.
 
Waiting for said sister outside her dorm...
 
 
Allowing them to show us "their world"...
 
 
This is his cot... about 2 feet wide with a 2"mattress in a room approx. 6x8 feet. He shares this room with 2 other boys.
 
 
365 days each year... these are their "facilities"... No running water. No plumbing per say. One for the boys, one for the girls. Inside these are simply multiple "squatters" in open bay setting. The smell is overpowering as you walk the grounds.
 
 
We were not allowed to take a picture of T 's dorm room. It is equally crowded and similar in size and condition.
 
We were given a tour of the school by the social worker in charge their. He is very proud of the school. In sharp contrast to the outhouses... they have the latest technology in ONE of the classrooms teaching computers. A 50" white board that works as an Ipad, with  applications similar to those on our Iphones or Ipad.
 
We remain here in the nearest city  to the kids with accommodations to house and feed us. Their "YES" to adoption was immediate. We will spend time with them each day after they are finished with classes at 2:30 for the duration of the 10 days allowed per law. 
 Today while visiting, I asked if they had coats as they were both wearing just hoodies, and it was COLD. -1 this morning. It has been cold and rainy this past month. Rain everyday except today that we have been here. They told us, "no coats."  So in the morning, Bob and I will find a shop to purchase them each a warm coat and hat and gloves. They both have decent shoes thanks to a summer host family.
 
As this journey to family continues for us, Bob and I thank each of you for your continued support and prayers for our family. We are humbled and so very grateful for each of you.
 
To God be the Glory!
 
 
 
"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." (Psalm 91:14-16)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Just today, as I was trying to figure out my blogger.... all the promps are in Russian, I realized this THANK YOU was never published. I am hoping each and every one of you will accept my most sincere apology for not ensuring it was posted when I intended to post it.
 
Please share this far and wide, and around the globe, as I have been told by Tina, That is where donations came into Grace Haven from.
 
 
 






                                  THANK YOU ...
 
 2 small words that can not possibly convey our gratitude to all of you who are advocating, donating, and shaking heaven on behalf of our kids. Please know this need is very REAL. The danger for Nana, equally real.
 
Tina asked me ...if we have a back up plan, financially.... my response to her "JESUS".
 
We cling to Jesus and believe His promise to us in Mark 11:23, Matt. 21:21, Matt 17:20 and Luke 17:6...."For verily I say unto you. That whosoever shall say unto the mountain, Be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says will come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says".
 
 
   Our HOPE is in you Lord. Thank you all, so very much, for your continuing effort... as for Bob and I... we will continue, obedient, eyes on Jesus, walking it out.


 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ONWARD...

 
Bob and I have had some time while we WAIT....
 
We had a little delay so took advantage of the time to see a bit of  Kiev.
 
 
All the while  we have continued to see God's hand at work... to hear His voice leading us. Assuring us...
 
 
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
 
 
 
 
“All who rage against you
    will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
    will be as nothing and perish.
 
 
(our home away from home)
 
Though you search for your enemies,
    you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
    will be as nothing at all.
Isaiah 41:10-13
 
(shopping for socks for Bob)
 
 
(Seeing Kiev)
 
(every where we walked...
this friendly guy followed ;) )
 
(Only catholic church in the city)
 
 
(St. Andrew's Church)


 
(Andriyivs'ky Desent)
 
and
then on Sunday morning we hit the road....
 
 
and found our way to a very important city!
 
 
Look closely...not ONE but TWO referrals IN HAND!
 
YES, we had an amazing visit with a precious girl who has been waiting 21 months for us. Nothing will ever match the look on Nadiya's face when she came through the door and saw us there, saying ..."Mama!!" There were lots of tears by all and lots of hugs. Bob in tears as he told Nadiya he was so sorry it had taken so long and how much he loved her, really opened the flood gates!
We received a very warm welcome from the staff at her trade school. The Director, vice principal and social worker  all were wonderful to us, and bent over backwards to complete all the necessary documents so we could head back to Kiev. It took them all of about an hour. We spent time with our Nadiya while they worked. It was so good to share pictures of how our family has grown and changed since she was with us.
 
Then the good-byes. The director shook Bob's hand. Then gave Nadiya a hug and said something about "papa".... and then hugged me and kissed my cheek! She said to me, " you good kind Nadiya's mama." With tears in her eyes she thanked me (us) for coming for Nadiya.
 
Did we feel His favor? Absolutely we did.
Can we walk confident that the work He has started in us, He will finish?
Absolutely He will.
Bob and I are exhausted... Bob is coming down with a cold.
We appreciate your continued prayers.
 
 
This bog post courtesy of our facilitator, Max Grudiy, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ... without them, this post would have never happened.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Journey to treasure...









I have cried out to God, seems like a million times,
 wrapped in this scripture ...

Psalm 7
I come to you for protection, O Lord my God.
Save me from my persecutors—rescue me!
If you don’t, they will maul me like a lion,
tearing me to pieces with no one to rescue me.
O Lord my God, if I have done wrong
or am guilty of injustice,
if I have betrayed a friend
or plundered my enemy without cause,
then let my enemies capture me.
Let them trample me into the ground
and drag my honor in the dust.
Arise, O Lord, in anger!
Stand up against the fury of my enemies!
Wake up, my God, and bring justice!
Gather the nations before you.
Rule over them from on high.
The Lord judges the nations.
Declare me righteous, O Lord,
for I am innocent, O Most High!
End the evil of those who are wicked,
and defend the righteous.
For you look deep within the mind and heart,
O righteous God.
God is my shield,
saving those whose hearts are true and right.
God is an honest judge.
He is angry with the wicked every day.
If a person does not repent,
God will sharpen his sword;
he will bend and string his bow.
He will prepare his deadly weapons
and shoot his flaming arrows.
The wicked conceive evil;
they are pregnant with trouble
and give birth to lies.
They dig a deep pit to trap others,
then fall into it themselves.
The trouble they make for others backfires on them.
The violence they plan falls on their own heads.
I will thank the Lord because he is just;
I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
 
Of all the things I have learned on this adoption journey... the truth that GOD'S FAITHFULNESS IS STEADFAST AND UNCHANGING...AND The knowledge that when God opens a door no man can shut it, is so very precious to me.
 
We rejoice in thankfulness today, for after this very long journey, THIS door ... 
 
 
THIS inconspicuous, unlabeled, door. THIS door that leads to a stairwell that is equally inconspicuous. This door opened to us. And on the other side we found the opportunity for treasure of immeasurable worth that has been hidden in the darkness..
 
It seems like so very long ago you whispered your promise into my heart...
 
This is what the Lord says to his anointed,
 whose right hand I take hold of
to subdue nations before him
and to strip kings of their armor,
to open doors before him
so that gates will not be shut:
I will go before you
and will level the mountains ;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
Isaiah 45: 1-3
 
Thank you Father, for on this day, your promises became tangible.
And in my heart I hear you whisper. A whisper filled with gentleness, overwhelming love and reassurance.
 
I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Revelation 3:8
 
 
ALL GLORY IS YOURS, CHRIST JESUS. ALL GLORY IS YOURS.