Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hope House: September Visit

 This past weekend Amy (roommate) and I traveled to Odessa, Ukraine, on the coast of the Black Sea, in order to visit Hope House and participate in a ministry opportunity there.  Hope House is a ministry of World Hope Ukraine, and there are two Wesleyan missionaries there named Kerry and Carole.

Hope House exists as a sort of transition home for teenage girls who have aged out of the orphanage/internat system in Ukraine at around age 15-16.  Often, they are unable to write their entrance exams for vocational "colleges", and don't have papers to show their status.  Many move to the government "dormitories", but this is a "party environment," as Carole put it.  Generally, within 6 months of "graduating" from the internat, teenagers will commit suicide, be on drugs, or get pregnant.  This of course perpetuates a vicious cycle.  There are about 16 girls currently living at Hope House, ranging in age from 15 to 19.  Hope House provides structure and a family-like environment, responsibility for routines like caring for chickens, and opportunities for learning English.

Last spring, Cliff (Nazarene missionary) asked me if I'd be interested in teaching English down at Hope House, because the Canadian missionaries leave every winter (due to visa issues).  The girls would need someone to help them practice their English.  The purpose of our visit this month was to meet the Allisons, meet the girls and begin to build relationships with them, and learn how to get to the house by ourselves. 

Here is a video that tells a little more about the idea behind Hope House (even though it refers to a different ministry). 

On Saturday morning, Amy and I prepared for our Bible lesson by sorting through a suitcase full of flannelgraph figures (remember those from your Sunday school days?) that related to the story of Deborah.  Carole talked with us about the English lessons, and though I almost thought I'd have to plan a new lesson, I was able to use my original plan as review.

We had lunch with the girls at Hope House, then began our lessons shortly thereafter.  Even though my lesson was a review for them, we were able to get to know each other.   My group--the "advanced group"-- had five girls: Nadia, Vika, Yana, Luba, and Lena.  We reviewed am/are/is, and how to negate them.  I also had different location phrases -- "at the beach," "in the car," etc. -- for them to combine to make sentences.  Some of my instructions for an activity weren't very clear, and because of her frustration, one of my students "shut down" for a few minutes.  I have seen this at KCA with another one of my students, so I kept trying to involve this girl.  Finally, for one of the charades, I had her join me to act out "at the beach" -- she smiled and all was well!

The outside of Hope House
In the evening, Amy and I shared the story of Deborah (Judges 4-5).  We began in prayer -- my first time praying through an interpreter!  Amy shared about the cycle of sin in Judges, because her 3rd grade class had just learned about it in Bible class.  She read the story of Deborah, Lena interpreted, and I moved the flannelgraph pieces.

Judges 4:14 (MSG) Deborah said to Barak, "Charge! This very day God has given you victory over Sisera. Isn't God marching before you?"

"Replace 'Sisera' with any difficulty in your life--a battle, a sin, anything.  God is marching before us, and He'll give us the victory," we told the girls.  We asked them, "What has God given you victory over already?" 

Most of the girls and I after church on Sunday
The rest of our time we spent getting to know the girls -- we taught them how to play Wii bowling, and I walked back from church with two of the girls.

In our conversations with Kerry, he talked about how there is no one who will speak up for these girls, who will help them find their way in society.  "Who will go to bat for them?"  In other words, who will defend them?  Who will help them?  Later, I was thinking, I can't help them with Ukrainian paperwork and the Ukrainian system.  I can't help them find their way in a society/culture I am just simply learning myself!

Then I remembered James 4:17 -- "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them."  For right now, I can simply give what I have -- a willingness to visit them and get to know each of the girls, training/background in teaching, and speaking English as a native.  THIS is what I can give for these girls, to support them in their transition.  God will take the little bit that I have and use it to encourage the girls -- it's my responsibility to obey Christ in these little steps.

What opportunities do you see around you to do good?  How has the Lord provided for you, in order that you may provide for others?

We will return on October 22 for our next visit.  :)

(Click here to read Amy's perspective.)

No comments:

Post a Comment