Songs, the story of the boy who was blessed by sharing his lunch with Jesus and 5000 others, crafts and gifts were all a part of a party on December 1. Fifty-three children and their parents were blessed by the generosity of the Cle Elum, Washington Seventh-day Adventist Church and Smile Alliance International. Richard and I had the privilege of being on-site to present these wonderful gifts shipped from America.

When the boxes first arrived, I was overwhelmed by the amount of gloves, hats, and children’s pajamas that had been sent. I knew God had a plan for them but most of the orphans we work with are larger than the sizes of pajama that were sent. The quantity and quality of all these gifts were remarkable. I prayed that God would show us where they were most needed. I tried to give some of the footed pajamas to a couple of moms who told me they were too difficult for their kids to get off when they needed to use the toilet. They are an entirely new concept here. Then I found a young Ukrainian mother in ministry who was thrilled to have some for her girls. American friends had given them used ones previously and the girls loved them but they were now worn out. I was glad they could use them. But the BIG question was, “To whom could I give the other 60 plus pair?”

Tanya, a young woman who had been our Russian teacher last winter for a short time, contacted us in September. She had married in May. Sasha, her new husband, and she had recently moved to our village and were living with a family from their church. We re-established contact and they started staying at our home when we are on outreach. It’s been a wonderful arrangement for all of us. The drug rehab center up the street from us is a ministry of the church they attend in Bucha. Many of the church members are recovered drug addicts who are now in ministry to other people with addictions and HIV, prostitutes, and others. They are joyful and love God but are very poor. It is a church with many young children. Thus was born the idea of a party to distribute the pajamas and other things.

Crafts were a big hit. The small children were thrilled with the stickers of the nativity scene which they put on construction paper and colored around. I heard one tiny girl naming off the people in her picture—Papa, Maria, and Jesus. It was so sweet. The older kids decorated door hangers with Christian symbols, glitter glue and pens. They created some really beautiful items.

The mothers were thrilled with the warm pajamas and the kids loved the toys. Children two years and under received hats, mittens and large stuffed animals. Three to five year olds received pajamas and hats along with a Grandma Rosa blanket containing a small stuffed animal. The kids, 6 and older, were recipients of hats, wallets, and blankets. They all seemed to be excited.

At the end, the children gathered for a picture and a 13 year old boy prayed for Richard and me, our ministry, and the donors in America. Then many of the kids came and either kissed our cheeks, hugged us or shook our hands. It was beautiful and we were very blessed. So I say, thank you, to all of you who have sacrificed and given to these children.

Just as we were getting ready to leave, three more children arrived. Tanya told us that the lady who brought them lives in the same building as they do. There is one kitchen, one bathroom and numerous rooms that the people live in–it sounds somewhat like a boarding house to me. But she said it was in terrible condition and these kids live with a violent, alcoholic father. Apparently as they were leaving to come to the party, the father was yelling at them and the lady who brought them. He was saying some very nasty things to them. We ask you to remember these two girls and their brother who are trying to come to church and to follow Jesus. I was impressed with how polite they were. We were glad they arrived in time for us to give them some blankets, hats, and other things.

This weekend at church Marek from the Sunshine Center quoted Ecclesiastes 11:1. I share it because I feel it is true for all of us, but especially for each of you who have supported and encouraged this ministry. “Cast your bread upon the water, and after many days you will find it again.” Eccl. 11:1 NIV: When you bless others you will in turn be blessed many times over. That is our prayer for you.