Open Arms

Open Arms
...caring for orphans and adoptive families...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Grandma and the Boys

We were greeted with hugs, kisses and roses. It was such a joy to finally meet Sasha (the kids older brother)! He smiles as much as Pasha and is working so hard to do something with his life. We were so happy to have some time with Sasha, Jenya and Grandma Galina. They are all doing pretty well.

Sasha is home from sea for a few months, taking some more classes to try to get a better job aboard the ship. He and his girlfriend are expecting a baby any day now. We had a talk about this new responsibility and he seems to be taking parenthood seriously. Please pray for him along with Sabrina and little boy Pochinok! We will let you know when he arrives. Sasha really like to read and we bought him several Frank Peretti novels, and one by Joel Rosenberg. We asked if he had a Bible. He said he did but that it was really old. We gave him a brand new one. We pray that the Spirit use it in ways we can't even imagine.

Jenya didn't want books, but dinner now that was his language. He eats as much as he did a few years ago, but it was obvious to both of us that he had lost weight. He was also sporting quite a shiner. It seems he has taken up boxing. For extra money I suppose. Jenya had quit corresponding for a while and even friends in Odessa weren't sure where he had been. However a few weeks ago he showed back up at church with Dr. Paul. We tried to encourage Jenya. He needs vision. He's not looking much past today. Please pray for him. He just needs Jesus.

Grandma was so excited to see us. We received LOTS of kisses. She moved in with a friend and seems happy staying there. We are just happy to know that she has power and water and a safe place to stay. The kids sent her a couple new dresses, shopping bags,small gifts and lots of photos. The highlight though was Grandma skyping with the kids!! Not sure who was crying more, Grandma or Steve! It was an amazing moment. We have called her regularly...but to see them as they talked. Technology is an amazing thing.

They did not want our help on the apartment. At least not now. Maybe in the future. Time will tell. For now we will encourage them, love on them and help them in whatever ways we are able. Thanks so much for your prayers for them! Please don't stop.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One Day in Odessa


Psalm 126
A song of ascents.
1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."

3 The LORD had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

4 Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like watercourses in the Negev.

5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with shouts of joy.

6 Though one goes along weeping,
carrying the bag of seed,
he will surely come back with shouts of joy,
carrying his sheaves.

The tears flowed freely during our travel. We don't usually cry so much but this was not a choice...the tears just flowed.. The Psalm above was very comforting. We continue to cling to it's promises for this land.

Andrew's orphanage #9
The director was so kind to invite us in even though the children were all napping. Most of the kids we knew are no longer here. They have either aged up to the next orphanage or been sent somewhere else. We learned that one little girl that was a friend of Andrew's is in Kiev in the hospital. She has HIV and is often ill. Please pray for Val. The director did ask if we wanted to bring more home! What a loaded question.

Steven looks out over the Black Sea

Back at the apartment time with Yulia and Anya before dinner.






Thursday, June 9, 2011


Odessa is a beautiful city, but with much oppression, open shameless prostitution, and a missing older generation, among many other struggles. As we walked the city, Cameron noted that there weren't many younger kids, (abortion is common practice) and most of the people 40 - 60 are either dead or in prison. We haven't checked the statistics, but as you look out on the general population what you see is youth. In spite of this total flop of our generation, there is a remnant of young adults that the Spirit is calling out to, to rise up and reclaim their country. On Tuesday night as we were praying with two young women, Anya and Yulia, about their ministry and their hearts for Odessa, I heard the Lord speak to my heart, As the advertisements on the internet speak of the women of Odessa as the most beautiful and desirable (for all the wrong reasons)...the Lord says that the women of Odessa are beautiful and desirable (for all the right reasons)....They are His precious jewels...He desires their relationships, their lives, their hearts. He desires intimacy with them. Please pray for Anya and Yulia as they minister to the brokenhearted.

During our time in Odessa we went to visit orphans, we reached out to the street kids, and Bibles and Christian literature were purchased and passed out at the Internot #4, on the streets and to the local church.

We met and prayed with a young missionary couple (Adrian and Elizabeth) that has an outreach to street kids. They took us to see an old school building they are praying about obtaining. It is in bad repair, a shell only, but full of recent liquor bottles and used syringes. It is a building still in use by some. They shared how out of the group of homeless children they work with that 3 have died just recently. They want a place where they can house people in need. Not just the children, but homeless mothers and children. We prayed for them, their ministry and this property.


We prayed with 4 other missionaries living and working in Odessa. The oppression is so wearing. That is the word I heard repeated many times over. They are tired and in need of encouragement.

Another couple, Alyona and Slavik, have a ministry to orphans.

They go into different orphanages each month to be a constant presence in the lives of these children. They work primarily in 4 different orphanages each month. One a week. They are seeking churches, groups or individuals that will partner with them each month to support one of these orphanages. Once a year they will do a large scale project at each location and the other 11 months they will be there to love on the children and provide some of their basic needs. They have a short video titled It's Not My Fault. If you're interested in viewing it let us know.

It was such a joy to go back to local church we had attended 2 years ago. We were blessed with an opportunity to encourage some of these believers; especially the women, who are passionate to pursue the Spirit and reach out to their nation. Please pray for this body of believers. Especially the pastor, Sasha and his wife Lena. Their 2nd baby is due in the next few weeks and they shared their concern for the health and safety of this child as they refused to pay an expected "fee" at the clinic. Sometimes things "happen" to a baby. We are trusting with them for their child's protection.

Our hearts are so full that at times it is difficult to share... the needs are so great...but we have Someone who is greater than all these needs! More tomorrow.

Carol and Steve

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


The first weekend you saw in our earlier post and so we're sorry for the unlabeled photos....but the internet was unreliable at times, as were our emotions. So, it was often hard to write even when we had a few minutes. There was just so much to process.

Monday morning started with hot tea in the courtyard. Laurie and Hector had gone around the corner (literally) to McDonald's and were having an intense time with some street kids. You can read more of their encounters at their website Look under our blog list.

Meanwhile, we (Steve and Carol) were meeting a few other guest staying in our hotel. There were a couple adoptive families and two other gentlemen we spent time getting to know over coffee and hot tea. One of the men even joined us for a mid-week prayer meeting and dinner. It's so great when the Lord gives us opportunity to meet people we weren't expecting to find in our path.

Cameron, Steve and I raced to the Odessa Christian Bookstore to purchase books, Bibles and CD's to distribute to the kids at the orphanage. We walked there and back in record time to try and catch bus 133 by 10:30 so we could meet Dasha at the Internot at 11am. We caught the bus and were running just a few minutes behind when our bus hit the curb and blew out a tire. We all quietly departed the bus and began our walk toward our destination. I tried to call Dasha but I had left her number back at the apartment. Funny though we all had complete peace.

About a block from the orphanage a friend came toward us to let us know that Dasha was waiting but that there was a camera crew there this day and the director and children were in a meeting with the TV cameras. We stopped on the street to pray. What to do? Lord, what to do? We all felt peace to proceed. Some of us had been fasting and praying for this meeting for the previous 3 weeks. The time had come. With a mission in our steps and bags of t-shirts and flip flops in our arms, we headed to seek an audience with the director, Ms. Anna. According to the secretary she was unavailable and would be for some time. So we place a photo of our children, a handwritten card from Pasha, flowers and candy on her desk and left the building.

As we were paying our translator and saying goodbye, the camera crew left. We decided to wait in the courtyard. Let's just say God had gone before us. Shortly, the children and director were out front for a photo and then we were invited into her office. She spent 20 minutes sharing how she has resigned effective June 30 and has no idea what her future holds. This, the same lady that wouldn't speak to us 2 years ago. We asked how we could pray for her and if she would take a photo with us. Photos were snapped and she provided a room for us to pray and meet with the children. We had unlimited time with the kids and freedom to take their pictures. The couch quickly filled with the gifts we brought and we let each child choose their own items. Orphans don't have many chances to choose.

Pray for these kids. They are all at summer camp now with even less structure than before. Pray that the Lord would bring families for these waiting children.
The encouragement to me this day was that God's timing is always so perfect. Thank you Lord for the flat we would arrive at the orphanage when the camera crews were almost done. Thank you for softening Anna's heart.

Odessa is a beautiful.....

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sunday Night

Steve ready for church

Relationships are such the point. We walked quickly toward church this morning excited to be back at Light of (the) World. Steve walked in first, but he had shaved his mustache and he received the look of “I know you, but how do I know you", but as I rounded the corner Anya saw me and jumped up with a huge smile and a welcoming hug and kiss. Oh that was like refreshing water on my tired soul. How good it is to receive a warm welcoming embrace. We enjoyed a time of reconnecting with dear brothers and sisters. We heard wonderful testimonies and an encouraging word from the book of Daniel. Visits were scheduled for the week, along with translators, and times to meet with people to pray. Our calendar is filling up.

The afternoon was like our life at home. Lunch with friends (well maybe a little different in that lunch included 3 orphans that found out we were in town, including Igor !!! Y'all know that made me smile.) and a houseful of people all afternoon. We reconnected with old friends and meet a few new ones. We had a time of worship and prayer. Knowing that only prayer will make a way here.

The Porter Family is staying in the same hotel with us. They are here adopting Katia. Laurie and Hector have been praying for Katia a family for the last year! There is nothing like "seeing" your prayer answered.
Andrei and dudes....

By 5:30 there was time for a fast walk thru the park and back to the apartment to make a supper of grits and eggs. (So happy we brought grits this time. 8-) We needed to hurry because we had more friends coming by for the evening.

Liena came this evening and we were so glad to see her. She was such an encouragement to us during the final days of the adoption trip and we had been counting the days to see her again. We had time to hear of some the things God is doing in her heart and life now. It is such a joy to hear her share heart. Such a beautiful example of a Godly young woman.

Another full day of following where He leads. We're going to bed praying for our visit planned for Internot #4 tomorrow morning. Lord go before us.

Good night.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Internet at Last

Friday night – Our Arrival-
As we left for our trip Thursday morning, Lynn, a friend of ours, called Laurie and told her she had something for us! She had created 6 cards with special words of encouragement and challenge for us to open along the route of our journey. We open one of them each leg of our flight at predetermined locations. What a blessing these words were. So timely, so on target. God is amazing.

We arrived safely in Odessa with only one delay. We were 2 hours late leaving JFK which meant they were boarding our connecting flight when we arrived in Warsaw...but thank the Lord they held the plane for us. Customs was a one asked or even looked at the multitude of flip-flops and t-shirts in our bags. Included in our room rate was an uneventful ride from the airport to our room. That in itself was a pleasant surprise. Uneventful I mean!

First order of business was getting a little food and bottled water to our room. A few Odessa friends came to visit and then we wandered around the “center” to allow Steven, Cameron, Laurie, and Hector to get a feel for the city. We ran into the Porter family from Texas. They are here to adopt Katia, one of the girls from Lyonya's class. Laurie and Hector have her photo on their fridge and have been praying for her a family for over a year. How amazing for them to get to see the answer to their prayers in person!

Tomorrow we hope to go check on the kids Grandma and see how she is getting along. We haven't been able to talk to her lately. We are so excited to be here and see what the Lord has for us to do. We serve such an amazing God. Thank you all for your prayers. Please keep them going!

Wasn't able to post this....the internet was down....maybe tomorrow.

Saturday AM
Over breakfast we talked thru the day, the week really. Realizing there were so many ministry opportunities this morning, all good...we were like kids in a candy store! Which to choose???We chose Him! Oh yes, we chose Him. We went into the apartment to worship. What a sweet time in His presence. I was reminded of Isaiah 40, those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.... How do you hope? The Greek word for hope is to bind to, to attach oneself.....the word picture I read explained it was like a little girl with her arms around the parents waist with her legs wrapped around their leg....How do we do His work? We seek His presence all the more. We must hope in Him and He will accomplish the task. He will go before us into the unknown and “break” the way. He is the breaker...the one that pushes through the darkness to allow us authority to enter another land because He has dominion over all lands and peoples.....not us, Him.. It's all about Him. He allows us to follow in behind Him carrying the aroma of His Spirit to all. 2 Cor. 2: 15-16.

During our worship, Natalyia called us. She was planning to spend the weekend with us but her baby Artemia was sick this morning so she had to postpone her trip. Hopefully she can come from Kiev Wednesday or Thursday. We're waiting to hear back from Sasha, the kids older brother, so he can meet us and show us the way to where Grandma is staying. She is in a different location and we don't even have an address. Hopefully we will get with him tomorrow.

Sweet Lena contacted us around lunch and we will get together tomorrow. Tomorrow morning is church and we are so excited to see Pastor Sasha, his wife Lena, their new baby, Anya, Christina, and the other young adults we connected with 2 years ago. We would like to go to church with our friend Laura because Igor and Big Andrei will be there, but we only have this one Sunday. We sent word to them that we are in town and to come by the apartment any chance they get.

In the afternoon we went to the market, looking around at the property in the area and praying for the city. Hector, Steven, Laurie and Steve stopped and prayed for one guy in a wheel chair that was begging. Lord heal him and let him see You.

God of This City. This song is our prayer for Odessa. Please pray with us.

On Monday, we hope to visit the director and #4 . She didn't take to us much when we were here before, but we have been praying for her for weeks. That the Lord will touch her and bless her. Pasha wrote her a sweet letter, so we plan to deliver it with flowers and candy and ask for permission to see the kids classmates and give them gifts of t-shirts, flip flops, and Christian literature. Please pray she will agree to our request.

Carol and Steve

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We're Here!

Had a great flight over. Details to come tonight!
Thanks for all the prayer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Off To Odessa

Six of us will fly to Odessa tomorrow and see where God will lead us. We have a list of people to visit / minister to and a multitude of things to do, but we are all in agreement that we will follow Him and hunt for treasures. We hope to update this daily so you can follow our latest adventure.

Blessings on you all,
Steve, Carol, Steven, Cameron, Laurie and Hector

PS Please pray for our families at home and thanks to all of you who have made this trip possible. Love
you so much.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring Time

I've been doing a Bible Study on the book of Jonah recently. It's so interesting to think that all Jonah had to do was obey, it seems so easy when it's him, in a book, and we have the privileged to look back in time....but not so easy each day when there are real challenges staring at you in the face. Four of them literally staring me in the face! What if you obey and then you have to remind yourself to stay engaged in the mission each day. All we can say is it is so worth it, anything you may give up to obey a call the Lord has placed on your life. There is truly no better blessing.

A gift from the kids for my birthday.
A York Apple tree! Thanks Kathy!
This week the kids are working a lot. In school they are working on research papers. Lyonya is writing about lions, Pasah about farm dogs, Galya about sharks, and Andrew about police dogs. Writing these kind of papers is not my joy. All I can say is, "Thank you God for Cameron!" She is amazing. Through this whole process they have learned so much.

Pasha and Andrew helped one family in the neighborhood with the digging of their septic system. Lyonya has been working with Hector doing construction many afternoon. (and all last week while we had Spring Break) At the end of the week, Lyonya commented, "This is not how I saw Spring Break looking!" I reminded him it was his choice not mine. =)

Pasha was so tired this night that he missed the whole movie. We helped him to bed when we couldn't take the snoring anymore! Poor guy. Lately he is preparing for the Spring band concert.


Galya has been a huge help as I've been cleaning, sewing, cooking, planting, it doesn't matter what we do she is our girl with a servant heart. She's amazing.

Andrew has a new job. He is now assisting as an usher at church. Can't wait to take pictures Sunday for you to see. He has his headset that will link him in with the other ushers and security officers. He is in his element!

This particular night we were helping serve at the Love4Liberia Dinner raising funds for an orphanage in Liberia.
Steve and Lyonya working the Silent Auction

The garden is in and growing. Yeah. Steve has worked so hard outside. The kids want some baby chicks so a small chicken coop will soon be on the horizon.

The big news is that Steve and I will be heading back to Ukraine at the end of May. We will travel with 2 other couples. Please pray as we seek the Lord's leading on partnering with some ministry there. There is one couple that we are so excited to visit with and see what they are doing in orphan care and how we can help them accomplish their calling. We also want to check on the kid's Grandma and help with some repairs in her apartment. We would really appreciate your prayers for guidance as we seek the Lord's agenda for us during our time there, for funding for the projects and safety as we travel.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Prayer Request for Darryl Andrews

We are calling all prayer warriors! 
Please pray for Pasha's band instructor.
Mr. Andrews is an amazing man with a huge heart for his students. He really took Pasha under his wing last year when Pasha showed up in his class on his second week in the US asking to join the band . They were both so excited and learned to understand each other even with Pasha's broken English at the time.

Right now Mr Andrews is in a fight for his life and we are asking the Lord for total restoration. You can read his story at Please join us in praying for Mr. Andrews and his family. Mr. Andrews has taught Pasha so much above and beyond the French Horn. The band will be performing a benefit concert on March 26th. For more details go to

This song is our family's prayer for him.