Camp Dream Ukraine June 2007

This morning we returned from an outreach to Camp Dream in the Lugansk region of Ukraine—the far eastern part of the country. It was a long distance to go for such a short time but we really feel God had a reason for this to take place. We are not yet sure what it was, but in time God will connect the dots and we will probably know.The camp was beautiful and if you walked down to the river–200 meters or so–you looked across to Russia on the opposite bank. There were 150 kids attending this camp session. In the two days of working, our dentists did exams on 110 kids and finished 29 procedures which included many fillings, extractions and a several root canals–Inna loves to do these. They worked long, hard hours. It was difficult for them because we knew they would probably never see any of these kids again for treatment. And this is the first place where there were many, many children who were terrified to have treatment. There was one little girl that I watched Richard trying to give an injection to. I saw her visibly shut down emotionally–we could not get any type of response from her. She was incapable of opening her mouth or even moving. This is the hardest type of patient for our dentists because we know they have been abused–either physically or emotionally or both. He had to just let her go without treating her. It is so frustrating to not be able to help them. The mouths here were very much in need of treatment. Many of the children were from an orphanage of 237 children in a nearby town. We met the director, his wife and daughter—they had come for opening ceremonies of the camp. We have never seen a director that was as loved by the kids as this man was. We are very glad to know that they have someone who cares for them and has their interest at heart. Many of the girls–and there were several very small ones–wanted to sit by me, wanted hugs, or just wanted to hang out with me even though I didn’t always understand what they were saying. Some of them spoke a little English and wanted to try it out on us. Even some of the boys liked to get hugs. All of them loved to have their picture taken and see it on the digital camera. They wanted to know if I could get pictures for them to take home but I’m not sure how to do that from this distance.
I wish I had known that they didn’t have much in the way of craft materials etc. or I would have tried to take some. It is a Christian camp–the cleanest camp I have seen. We were treated royally and fed by a guy who is a professional chef, went through a rehab program and became a Christian, and is volunteering for the summer at the camp. All the staff are volunteers except the nurses who have to be paid $200 and the camp is struggling to find the money for that.

This part of the country is very Soviet in attitude and the gospel has not been received as readily here as in the west. It is a dark area. They are struggling with some problems with some of the older kids who have possibly been involved in some witchcraft. Prayers are really needed for them and for the leaders to know how to deal with these issues. It is so very hard to see this and not know what we can do to help.

I want to tell you about the boy in the picture. His name is Anton. He was often around the area in front of the dental van. When it was his turn, he never spoke and even though afraid opened his mouth and had a tooth pulled. I kept trying to connect with him but couldn’t even get a smile. He always just looked away. He left the van before I had brought the small gift bags out that we give to patients. So when I saw him the next time I asked him to come to the truck and I let him pick a bag out. He left but a minute later came back to the door and said, “Thank you.” Those were the only words I heard from him but I cherish them. Then just before we left some of the girls wanted a picture taken with me. Anton was sitting close by and I asked him to take it with my camera. I had not let any of the kids use it. I put it in his hand but he didn’t know what to do–he just held his arm up where I lifted it. So I took his picture. Then I put it back in his hand and showed him how to take the picture. Several other kids tried to take the camera away and take the picture because he was taking so long. I just took it back from them and handed it to him again. I told them that I wanted Anton to take it. Finally, he did it. I showed him the completed picture and gave him a thumbs up. There was a ghost of a smile on his lips. When we left, I believe I saw his hand move in a slight gesture of good-bye. He touched my heart. I pray that God will bring people to him to light up his dark world. Please join me in that prayer.

Pastor Ivan, who runs the camp, wishes he had people to provide programs for the kids but they are struggling just to have enough people to be with the kids. I am thinking that next summer it would be wonderful if we could get some teams to come and help. Please pray about this for us and if you know of anyone who might like to be involved, please let us know. I’d love to put together a team or two for this purpose. There are three camps of three weeks each taking place there this summer. One is for disabled kids and their parents and the other two are for orphans and some kids from churches in the area.Our two train rides have given me an appreciation for other types of travel. The trip out was 19 1/2 hours in an older train. But it wasn’t bad. We had a Coupay–a train cabin for four that you can make into beds. Dr. Inna and her daughter, Masha, (who will be 9 tomorrow) shared it with us and Rosen from YWAM slept in another cabin next door but spent the waking hours with us. It was fun even though it was a long ride. The trip back wasn’t as nice. The air conditioning in the room didn’t work and the attendant kept shutting the hallway window–which was the only window near us. It was next to the smelly bathroom and smoking was allowed in the area at the end of car with only a door between us and them. Although it was only a 16 hour trip and a newer car the whole thing was bumpy and swayed a lot. Several hours later we are still feeling the movement. I really don’t have a desire to repeat this experience again soon although we are supposed to go west in a week–an 18 hour trip. We are looking into taking a bus or flying. I think flying is out though because of the expense. The trains are fairly inexpensive–although our Ukrainian friends think otherwise. Round trip was about $40. Flying would be more like $250. I guess we shouldn’t complain because most people travel either in seats–not sleeping compartments–or seats that make into beds with no privacy–only a car with many bunks and no privacy. It was definitely an experience.


With a busy summer ahead of us, I want to again ask for your prayers for the safety of our dental staff, the YWAM and other ministry teams, and most of all for all the lives that will be touched in the name of Jesus. Thanks again for your support.

Here we are on a hill overlooking Russia. Without a visa we cannot enter it, but we look. It’s not quite the same as Moses looking into the promised land. I really don’t have a big desire to even visit again unless God sends us.

Blessings,

Vicki and Richard

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