Message from the Missions Director
On May 23 a mission team left Atlanta for a survey trip to Ukraine. This is the first trip since covid prohibited our travels. Our last trip was in March of 2020 when we were forced to return early due to the pandemic around the world.
Hearing of all the destruction and devastation in Ukraine since the Russian invasion, which began in February of 2022, DMI felt we needed to see firsthand the needs of the people. We also wanted pastors and congregations in Ukraine to know that we fully supported them and were not going to abandon them as they went through this crisis. The team was composed of Dr. Geoffery Conner, Diane Simms, Dean Robbins and I.
Many people thought we were crazy to enter the country while the fighting was still taking place. However, our team all felt that this trip was necessary and our plan was to carry medical supplies and finances for the relief of those suffering in Ukraine. Our goal was to take one day at a time. We had to fly into Krakow, Poland and from there enter Ukraine. If the fighting became more intense and focused on western Ukraine we would stay in Krakow and have our supplies picked up by some of our contacts.
Our planned first stop was Rivna about 200 miles from the border. There we were met by our dear brother Sasha Malov. He had traveled from Kiev to meet us and take us on our most memorable journey. Conditions appeared safe, so we traveled to Cumin in central Ukraine, then on to Kiev where we spent a few days branching out to some of the villages and cities near Kiev.
The Lord blessed us to be able to travel to all of our planned sites. During this entire trip, not one of us felt that we were in any danger, and we trusted the Lord to bring us through. In all, our journey covered 13,655 miles. Following are reports from all of our team members. Each of us covers a different area of the trip.
By: Diane Simms, BSN, RN DMI Medical Director
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
It's been almost 20 years since I felt God leading me to be a part of the DMI Medical Team. We've been to Ukraine many times, but none of them has affected me as this one did.
We've all seen footage of war torn Ukraine on TV, but to see it in person and meet many individuals who have been deeply and personally affected by it is a much different perspective. Devastation and destruction were all around us. It was very emotionally draining.
In the midst of all the horror, a bright spot! Happy Home is an orphanage for children with disabilities. It was a vision and creation of Oxana, a loving and selfless young woman who has taken in as many as 9 children at one time. These children were taken from state run orphanages where their basic needs were not even met. They
are left in cribs in poorly lighted orphanages with very little attention, affection, stimulation or love. They receive nominal amounts of food and are left in diapers far beyond the normal age. But some have been blessed by being selected to go with Oxana to Happy Home.
Oxana explained to us that it is "Happy Home," not "Happy House". She said a house is merely a place where people live, but a home is a place where you feel loved, cared for and nurtured.
Oxana and her twin sister, Leah, worked together not only to care for their basic needs, but also to provide them with love, acceptance, and security. Theyprovide many fun activities that help them develop mentally, spiritually, and physically. Many of these children were withdrawn and showed no affection, but through Oxana's work with them and love for them, they are amazingly outgoing and happy. They initiated hugs and hand holding with us, though we are total strangers to them! She's done such an amazing job with her innovative and effective methods that she has been approved by the government as a provider.
Happy Home was originally located in Kiev, where through much prayer, many donations and hard work, Oxana was able to purchase a larger home. This would allow her to accommodate more children. Unfortunately, when the war with Russia broke out, she felt it unsafe to stay in Kiev with the children. She took them to her parent's home in Novyi Korets', Ukraine. There was an abandoned building across the street that they have been allowed to use during the day, with plenty of room for the children to play. Nights are spent with their staying in her parents' home where love abounds for these children!
During our visit, Oxana stated that she was planning to return to Kiev with all the children the next Saturday. Thankfully, God had spared their new home from the bombings and shelling. Her sister, Leah, was to join her to help with the children. Unfortunately, the day after our visit, Oxana sent word that Leah had died during the night unexpectedly from a blood clot. A month earlier, Leah had fractured her femur and was confined to a month of bedrest. This treatment plan was likely the cause of death. Naturally, Leah, her parents and Leah's daughter were devastated and heartbroken. Their return to Kiev was postponed indefinitely, but her work continues!
Having been able to witness firsthand the senseless death, devastation and destruction of innocent civilians' lives, I now understand fully that while the images on the news are heartbreaking, one will never understand the true sorrow of this evil without having seen it in person. To see a large, multi-story apartment complex bombed, destroying an entire section of the building and killing 79 people was horrible. Finding a shoe here, a hat there, shattered walls decimated, with a stove and kitchen table way over there and a washing machine demolished over here makes it far too real. Imagine innocent people just living there, going through their normal daily routines, then BOOM and they're gone. Our thoughts turned immediately to the seemingly insurmountable task of rebuilding and returning to some type of "normalcy". This probably won't happen during my lifetime, but I pray that it can and will happen in God's time.
Through all of this, a bright spot of hope - Happy Home! Happy Home is supported financially by DMI. It is a blessing for these mentally and/or physically challenged children. Please consider helping them by donating to DMI and earmark your donation forHappy Home. It will mean so much to them and I know it will be a blessing to you.
Diane Simms, BSN RN
DMI Medical Director
Annual Delegates Meeting October 1, 2022
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