Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Time is Here!

It's Christmastime again!  What a great time of year to write a letter to an old friend wishing them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The children at Sovietsk Orphanage would love to hear from you wishing them a hearty Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Please take a moment to write a note to your sponsored child or one of the many unsponsored kids and wish them Happy Holidays.

Scroll down to view a list of unsponsored children on the right side of this page. Contact us and we'll be happy to help you get a letter or email to a Russian friend.

Christmas is celebrated in the Orthodox tradition on January 7th and is treated as a sacred holiday, perhaps even more so than one commonly finds in the United States.  New Year is a festive event in Russia that is often celebrated with close friends and family, much like Christmas is celebrated here.  The emphasis on celebrating New Year as a family holiday is a vestige of the Soviet times when religious observances we banned in public, but were carried on in secret by many citizens.

As you share the holidays with your family please remember those who aren't so fortunate.  Nothing can replace the love of a mother or father, but showing you care is more important than you know in building a family for these children. You can be a part of something that makes a lasting difference in someone's life.

"God sets the lonely in families..."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Help Lonya Hear!

A sweet young man at Sovietsk Orphanage named Lonya (short for Leonid) is in need of a new hearing aid. You can read more about Lonya here: He is 9 years old and  growing up quickly.

Lonya is currently sharing a hearing aid and can only use it part time, so he is missing out on important school work. It's impacting his speech progress as well. We have also been working to get him more financial support for therapies, which is a work in progress.

We only need $1,250 to cover the cost of the hearing aids. Fortunately we have found a local sponsor for half of Lonya's hearing aid. Will you consider chipping in to help Lonya?

If you would like to give a tax-deductible donation to the fund online, please follow the steps below:

1.       Go to
2.       Click on the orange “Give” button (on the rightside of screen)
3.       Click “Designated/Sponsorship: One Time Gift” & type the amount you would like to give in box below
4.       Enter the orphanage number in “Reference Number”: RU0506000
5.       Enter in the “Notes Field”: Medical
6.       Then have the donor complete their contact & payment information.

Thank you so much for your care and love for these precious children, including little Lonya. Any amount you can give is appreciated. We are looking forward to sharing with you when Lonya receives his new hearing aids and is back to work!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Item Drive Update

Hi, all!

Still collecting for the item drive . . . we have until the end of this week to collect items so we can get them to Russia with the next travelers. We still need . . .

-13 girls' winter hats
-11 boys' winter hats
-4 pair girls' winter gloves
-7 pair boys' winter gloves
-6 simple girls' toys (toy jewelry, small (!) stuffed animal or doll, etc . . . . something equivalent to a toy car)
-$$$ for shipping (Money can go directly to Children's HopeChest marked Soviestk fund or we can collect any contributions)

And, of course, LETTERS!!!

Send me a note or leave a comment if you are interested. And thanks to my awesome dentist, Bailey & Wright Dentistry, for the toothbrushes!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Item Drive!

Usually, when we travel, we have a lot of fun collecting items to bring with us and share with the kiddos. It's especially fun to give each little one their own special gift.

Usually, when we aren't traveling, we collect $ for projects as finding a way to get items to Russia gets pretty hairy (and expensive).

Since we are not sure when our next trip is, we have a few items to send. Last Christmas, Bethlehem collected birthday presents at the Birthday Party for Jesus, and we FINALLY have a way to get everything to Russia!

We would love to round it out a bit, to be sure every child has something special. We'd love your help! Now through August 17, we are collecting the following:

-10 pairs of girls' socks
-10 pairs of boys' socks
-13 girls' winter hats
-11 boys' winter hats
-4 pair girls' winter gloves
-7 pair boys' winter gloves
-20 toothbrushes
-6 simple girls' toys (toy jewelry, small (!) stuffed animal or doll, etc . . . . something equivalent to a toy car)
-$$$ for shipping (Money can go directly to Children's HopeChest marked Soviestk fund or we can collect any contributions)

We will be sending all kinds of fun toys, school supplies, and a few odd items here and there.

We also have a young man fighting major illness--lupus, to be precise--and we are waiting on some information  concerning his ongoing financial need to manage his disease. We have some great kids graduating as well, and we are glad to collect funds for graduation gifts for them.

And of course, LETTERS!

More info to come! Thank you for sharing your love!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Updates and letters

We have gotten a lot of letters recently with some updates on how the kids are doing. 

Our dear friend Lena writes:

"It's my final year st school. Of course, I have some problems with my studies. But I try my best and I hope that my marks will improve. This summer I went to economical summer camp. I got some new information, learned a lot and made friends with good people. On the 27th of October we had our orphanage birthday. Sarah and Ben, I wanted to tell you thank you for not forgetting us. I think the most important thing for any child is just to know that somebody cares for him.  We spent good time with Chad, Tom, and Ernest [some Americans who recently visited]. We went to church and all of us climbed upstairs and stood under the bell.  We went to the museum and made potato kebabs. We danced and played different games. It was much fun. But still we miss you very much!!!  (: When I finish school we won't see each other. ): But I'll hope for the best. I'm pleased that I have such friends.  I wish you happiness and love. I wish your boy to be healthy and strong.  I love you very much."

Lena is such a sweet girl and we will miss her very much.  We met her the first time we visited Sovietsk, so we've known her for quite a long time.  I wouldn't normally reprint the entire letter but she said so many great things about the value of sponsorship and writing letters.  It's easy to forget just how important it is to make a child feel special simply by writing a letter.

The last time we visited we met a young man named Nikita.  He is reserved and quite intelligent.

Nikita  recently wrote to us:

"I'm doing great. Orphanage is second home to me. I think I got accustomed to it. But maybe sometimes I doubt it.  I want to finish school and go to Musical Tech School.  I love music.  I like to be DJ. It's not easy here because we don't have special equipment... I also love electrical dances. I think it's very popular here in Russia.  Someday I would like to go abroad and visit your country. I heard a lot about it in school and also read about it on the Internet. But I can't picture it still... In summer I went to the economical camp. I liked people there. They were so creative and full of energy. I think this camp changed me. i started my self-perfection. Now you are a mother. i think your son will become a good man, as he has wonderful parents... I hope one day you would like to see our country under the white blanket of snow. But it's very frosty, so take warm clothes with you... I miss you my friends. Promise me you won't forget me."

We also recently received a letter from a young lady named Masha whom we've never met; she is new to the orphanage. 

She wrote to us: 

"I'm doing well. But I have problems with my studying. I can't understand chemistry [I can relate!] But I hope to cope with this problem. I try my best.  Sorry we haven't met. I'm sixteen. I made many friends in this orphanage. My favorite subject is math.  The most important things for me are my relatives and my friends. October 13, 2011 was a black day. It was the day of my mother's death. Every holiday I visit my grandparent. I'm glad that now you have a baby. We all miss you.  Hope to see you.  Good bye!"

Our heart goes out to Masha.  Sadly, her story is not uncommon.  We look forward to the opportunity to meet her in person someday.  All of these great kids would love to get letters from American friends.  Anyone interested in writing to our friends at Sovietsk Orphanage, just leave a comment and let us know.

This is a beautiful piece of handcrafted art made
by a sweet (if ornery) boy named Artur.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Long, Long Time

My goodness. It has been a long time since I've written. A long, long time.

As you know, we've been blessed with a sweet baby boy. And we love him to bits. And he has kept us busy! For most of his little life, we have had *something* extra to attend to concerning him (or me) . . . most weeks, there has been some kind of appointment or procedure or other activity. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Nothing too serious (so thankful!) but definitely things that needed attention. The good news is things are settling down and we don't expect that to be a part of our lives much longer. Yay, yay, yay!

Aside from that, we've been busy enjoying all of the sweetness of a little boy and figuring out what life looks like now and trying to get some kind of sleep. It has been hard to keep all of the plates spinning these days, but we're getting there.  It has been especially hard to make our actions match our hearts for our beloved children in Sovietsk.

This is the longest we've gone in 7 years without going to Russia. We miss Russia terribly! We miss our children, we miss our friends. It was so strange to come to August 2011 and instead of boarding an 11 hour flight, we were preparing for our little one's arrival. If only we could teleport, they would be a part of his life and he would know them as his Russian family.

We are unsure how traveling will work out in the next few years. We have to balance our son's needs with the importance of visiting our other kiddos. In the meantime, it's important to stay in touch.

In our dream world, we would be taking video and making brilliant movies and sending them to Russia. As it turns out, my tech skills are pretty weak and that becomes more of an undertaking than it should be. Time to shake the perfectionism out of me and send what I can--a choppy video is better than no video! And then there are letters. We've sent a few rounds of letters and photos, but not as many as I'd like. Beyond letters, we have a wonderful collection of gifts to go to Russia, but no way to get them there. Other travelers have their bags full, just like we would if we were going.

Our sweet friends have sent us a few updates and sent James the cutest little baby rattle. We love them so much, and we think of them all the time. Now we have to find a way to send our thoughts to them more often.

If anyone is interested in taking a greater role in the Sovietsk sponsorship, please let me know. We are committed to these children, and the deserve more than we are managing right now. We'd love to share the role with someone who feels the same way.

Also, please remember to write to your little ones! The letters are so important. We'll be updating the site with info about the new children, and what's been happening over the last year. If you have any questions for us, just drop us a line. Thank you, as always, for all you do.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why we've been missing lately . . .

Initially Boy Baby Announcements

Graduation invitations and announcements by Shutterfly.

View the entire collection of cards.

We'll be back, we promise! We have been busy loving our little one. There are some projects in the works, so stay tuned.