A note from Jeff – On a recent trip to Ukraine I visited the Hearts of Love Center together with Pete Wooding from our UK office. We heard about Natalia’s story and visited her home. She shared about carrying her daughter Maria on her back, walking to the Hearts of Love Center a few miles away. I had been grumbling about testing for Covid-19 before my departure and after arrival, and quickly realized how trivial my complaints were. She was not complaining but was just sharing how important it is to her to have sponsors and the support of the Hearts of Love Center. Recently at the center, several mothers of handicapped children have found Christ.
“Hello, my name is Natalia Budinchenko and my daughter’s name is Maria. We call her Masha,” Natalia said.
“Masha is my 5th child. When she was born, I had never seen a child with Down syndrome. I didn’t know any parents who had children like this. At the hospital they told me that most parents give their child away to a government orphanage that specializes in children with handicaps. They said that there are very few children like this in Konotop. They assumed that I would not keep the child.”
How did you find the Hearts of Love Center and what was your impression of it?
In the hospital they told me there was a public rehabilitation center for children. I went there and it was terrible. But while I was there, I met another mom who told me about the Hearts of Love Center. She said that there is a wonderful Center here in Konotop where they actually teach the children.
“My husband died 1 ½ years ago from cancer. I thank God for how He provides for us. I don’t think about what I don’t have, but I am grateful for what I do have.”
Masha was 6 months old when I visited and the center was not nearly as nice as it is now. Lena, the director, accepted us as if we were her children. She took personal interest in us. They offered physical therapy to Masha to help her learn how to walk. A Christian team came and brought her a walker and special boots that correct the feet. Before she was 3 years old she learned to walk!
“Masha is in kindergarten now. She doesn’t like it but she loves the Hearts of Love Center.
“I am so thankful that our sponsors help us and our children. It would be impossible without you. Look at Masha, she is happy and her disability is not so obvious. Lena and her staff are with us and we are not alone.”
Our Christmas Joy Project Begins!
“Please pray for us. My Masha needs heart surgery. We sold some land and our cows to pay for my husband’s cancer treatment. I am not sure what to do now. I hope the doctors will tell us more in the next month.”
As in past years we will support widows and needy families in Kosovo with 3 months of winter firewood for heating their homes. We stepped out in faith and asked Pastor Urim to order the firewood and begin deliveries before the cold weather arrives. 15 families will receive $200 worth of firewood each ($3000 total) lasting them to early spring. Pastor Urim personally visits the families. Please keep them in your prayers.
Keeping Them Warm at Hearts of Love
This winter the director Lena asked us to help them with their winter heating bill. $2500 will provide 5-6 months of heat for the center. We need to guarantee their local utility natural gas contract immediately to make sure the heat stays on and the center remains open.
70 Campers including staff are really looking forward to the Winter Bible Camp for teens. No amount of rain, snow, or cold weather can stop them. After lockdowns and online learning, they are ready to get out, have some fun, and learn how to love Jesus. $140 per camper for 7 days is needed. ($9800 total) Thank you for investing in their lives!
Christmas gifts will be warm blankets, bed sheets, chocolates, and for some families, school supplies. We try to help each family according to their need. $25 per present = $15,000 total needed. The shopping has begun and our office is preparing for an invasion of presents. Thank you for your help and for remembering these families.
We are grateful for your faithful trust and support. As Natalia said, “It would be impossible without you.”