September 2021

Miracles at Sea

“At our morning meetings, even our unbelieving moms prayed for God to bless our Mercy Projects sponsors.”  Lena Yuschenko, Hearts of Love Center

24 mothers, 37 kids, a foster family of 7, and 4 volunteers enjoyed 9 days at the sea!

A note from Jeff – In the midst of our projects in Armenia and Ukraine, we sent many of our staff and kids from the Hearts of Love Center on a vacation trip to the sea.  This time of respite by the sea is like a healing salve for both mothers and their children.  Some families paid for their trip, others could not, and others received discounts. I love the fact that we as an organization, get to bless these kids and their families.  Our newest staff person Zhenya gathered these stories directly from the mothers of the children.  They are so thankful.  They feel like they experienced miracles at the sea.

The Black Sea Is a Long Way from Konotop

Hearts of Love Director Lena Yuschenko shares about the impact:

Miracles happened for moms and kids alike

“The trip last year had a stunning positive effect on the kids and the moms.  I could only dream that another trip would be possible.  We kept praying, however, and God blessed us again!  This summer we gathered 72 people!  There were 24 mothers, 37 kids, a foster family of 7, and 4 volunteers who enjoyed 9 days at the Black Sea.

“We traveled by bus for 14 hours with children with down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism.  It was a long trip but worth it!” she said.

One mother who attended was Alyona with her 15-year old daughter Ksusha.  She came last year and marveled at the breakthroughs she saw in her.  Ksusha is both autistic and schizophrenic.


Ksusha now speaks in sentences

Alyona shared, “After last summer Ksusha began to call people correctly by name or relation – before she simply shouted ‘Hey!’ She also learned how to swim. This summer she improved and even swims under the water! “

“Another huge breakthrough is in her speech,” Alyona shared. “Ksusha didn’t speak incoherent phrases. But a few months ago, she turned to her dad and said: ‘Daddy, make mommy some coffee, please.’ A sentence of six words, perfectly logical and said in time – we were shocked! I know it is God working in her through the sea!”

Lena shares, “The time in the water and on the beach had the best impact on the kids’ health last year. So, we only planned morning and evening prayer meetings and a few special evening events — that’s it. The rest was personal fellowship, prayer, and one-on-one talks. We already see spiritual growth and changes in several mothers!”

13-year-old Vlad who has cerebral palsy and his mom Alyona had never seen the sea before this trip. She was reluctant to come as Vlad needs her 24/7.

Lena continues, “Alyona is a single parent, poor and lonely. When I invited her to join us,

Vlad’s mother was worried about joining the trip

her first reaction was ‘No, no, I can’t go.
I can’t take Vlad in the wheelchair into the bus and to the sea.’ I promised we would help and she finally agreed.

“This trip became the best event in her life! I often saw her happy tears as she found new friends! Our volunteer Alex carried Vlad into the sea in his arms and put Vlad on the inflatable tube. Vlad totally loved it and wasn’t afraid even though it was his first experience touching the ocean!

“Siblings Yulya and Vitaly were some of the first kids in the Mercy Projects program. They are in poor health. Their single mom never has extra money for recreation.”

“When I asked Yulya, ‘Is this how you imagined the sea?’ She answered, ‘No, it is way more beautiful than I imagined.’ She wakes up early and goes to the beach to watch the sea. She leaves only for meals and sleep.

“It is such a joy to see her gratefulness to God and their sponsors! Yulya and everyone in the group is so deeply thankful!”

“You are a huge gift from God”

Waves of hope, laughter, and tears filled everyone’s heart

Lena went on to share, “You simply can’t understand what your support means to these families! One of the moms told me: ‘Sometimes I don’t believe myself that I was at the seaside with my child. This time of joy and support is a miracle. I look at the pictures and joy fills me up to the top.’

“You are a huge gift from God. Even my unbelieving moms are praying for God’s blessing upon the sponsors! They will never forget your kindness…but please pray for them too!”