Friday, May 14, 2010

Sweet Sixteen

Yesterday, a sweet young lady by the name of Luda in the "51st Army" orphanage turned 16. I wanted to make this day very special for her because I remember what a big deal it was for me when I turned 16.

Because there are an average of 45 kids in this orphanage (the number of kids is constantly changing) and because the funds available to this orphanage are limited, birthdays are celebrated once a month. Twelve times a year, the kids have a cake to celebrate everyone who had a birthday in the last month, and during that time small presents are given from the orphanage. I knew this and realized that Luda really would get nothing special on her special day, so that is why I decided to take action!I bought this delicious caramel cake, a bottle of Pepsi, and some plasticware and showed up (with my buddy Nelya, who is my right-hand gal) at the orphanage. We came unannounced with our little "party" and really surprised the girls! Now, originally I had planned to take Luda and her sister (along with Nelya) out to eat at a restaurant (which they have probably never in their life done), but she turned down the offer. I think she was embarrased and overwhelmed, so I decided to come up with "Plan B" in order to make her feel more comfortable. "Plan B" ended up being the best option!But the very best part of all, and the thing that has had me in jitters for weeks now is the gift we were able to present to her... her very own great-quality Bible! Awhile back, a sweet lady from Florida (whom I have never met) wrote me and explained that she is adopting a baby from Odessa, Ukraine, which is several hours from us. She has been following my blog and wrote to ask if there was anything she could do to help with our orphanage ministry here. So, I responded by telling her my DREAM for these orphans... to eventually buy every single one of them their very own, quality Bible. What better gift to give these orphans than a ROAD MAP for life?!
Marianne sweetly sent $40 for me to purchase TWO Bibles, and the first one I bought with her money was for Luda for her 16th birthday! (The Bible ended up costing a little more than I told her, but we gladly added the extra few dollars). The second Bible I get will most likely be for Luda's sister, but I am waiting for a special Bible I ordered to come in. Which brings me to this thought... can you believe that we have a Christian bookstore here in our city?! It is very small, but I certainly will not complain! And, it is too bad they do not do name-engraving here...
Before we presented Luda with the Bible, I asked Nelya to open it and write a letter in it. In the letter, Nelya explained that this Book would guide Luda through life, would help her through problems, big decisions, and anything else that would come up in her life. She encouraged her to read it daily and treasure it. I am sure she will!
Luda (on the right) with her sister Ira
The orphanage director has agreed to let us bring 10 orphans to teen camp with us this year... 5 young ladies and 5 young men! This will be the first year we have involved the orphans, so I am thrilled beyond measure at the prospect of what this week will mean in their lives spiritually. Luda and her sister Ira both want to come... so now we will just wait and see who the other 8 will be. PLEASE begin praying, even now, that God would do amazing things in their lives this summer!
Please visit Marianne at her blog here, and join me in thanking her for making a difference in an orphan's life! And pray for her, too, as she goes through her adoption journey to take home a little Ukrainian girl with Down's Syndrome to give her a better life. My hats off to you, Marianne!


  1. Hi - just wondering where you are located in relation to Odessa. We are adopting Aaron from Odessa! - Thanks - Julia Nalle

  2. Julie,

    We are about a 6-hour drive East and then South from Odessa. We are in the center of the Crimean peninsula, in Simferopol.

  3. Great post! Always exciting to hear about what is going on in the Ukraine. Sounds like the suprise party and the Bible was a special treat. I'm sure she will always remember her "sweet sixteen"


  4. I'm so glad that your plan "B" worked! Luda and her sister are blessed to have someone who truly cares about them and shows them the love of Christ. I will pray that their eyes and hearts will be open to His word and that they will come to faith in Him! That is great news that they want to go to camp AND that the director will let them! Thank you for the update - you have such a big heart and it's wonderful that even through all your busy-ness of being a wife, mom, and missionary that you still make time to care for and love the orphans.

  5. Jolene,

    My heart was truly touched by your story. How I would love to be able to put my arms around these girls. I will pray for them both, and will mention them to my teen girls.

    I love you. Thank you for sharing!


  6. What a beautiful Bible! What a memorable birthday surprise.

  7. Jolene, I just loved the pictures of Luda and her sister! Precious. I'm praying for Luda today, asking our Father to make His Word come alive to her and that she truly views her new Bible as "the roadmap for her life!" What an exciting ministry Jolene. Thank you so, so much for sharing what our Father is doing in, through, and around you in the Ukraine! *hugs*

  8. Good story! PTL for the bookstore closeby...does your hubby have a blog? Praying for you all today!
    -Bro. Daniel for The Coates

  9. Grace and peace to my dear ones in the Ukraine,

    You "kids" have been busy. Really enjoying both of your blogs. I can open them now on my very own! Kimberly showed me, I do not know what I did the first time but I did something wrong. I pray for each of everyday.

    Miss Jolene, Bro. David, how do I go about sending money safely for Bibles for the orphans?

    Thank you for being so willing to give of yourselves for the LORD'S Service. The both of you are such a blessing to this old man!!! Give each other a big ole "TEXAS SIZED BEAR HUG" for me!!

    Please tell Miss Luda, belated Happy Birthday from Ann and me. You are breaking my old heart with the photos and stories, from both blogs! Keep them coming!

    Miss Jolene, it is time, young lady, to bless people with your very own book! GOD has given you a great talent for this. I do not know anything about that kind of stuff, all I know, you have a gift in telling stories in such a way that GOD uses you to touch hearts! I believe, I can not be the first to tell you this!

    Keep the Faith! May our GREAT GOD and SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST reward you both and your dear little ones with all Peace and Joy and Happiness. May the gentle winds of GOD always bring HIS Blessings into your lives.

    Give the little ones a hug for us.

    We love y'all,
    Craig and Ann

  10. Jolene,

    I just read your post about Luda's birthday and I was really touched! My heart really aches for the older orphans who face such a difficult future.

  11. Jolene, I enjoyed your post, and also Marianna's blog.

  12. What a wonderful birthday party and special gift for Luda. You are precious.
    Love you much.

  13. wow how wonderful!! you are touching so many lives in such a positive way! hugs!


Thank you for your encouraging comments! "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25