We invite these children to get them out of the radiation that still plagues Belarus from the Chernobyl Disaster in 1986. These kids live in radiation levels much higher than would be deemed safe in the U.S. While they are here, we have a medical screening, eye appointments, and dentist appointments.
Sasha is 12 this year, and is still as spunky as she was last year. She loves to play outside and she is very helpful!
Veranika is 7 and is a sweet little thing. Veranika has a strabismus of her right eye. We have worked with a wonderful optometrist, Dr. Van Teague, in Winston-Salem who was able to get us in touch with Dr. Hidagi at the Duke Eye Center in Winston. Dr. Hidagi has jumped through many hoops so that Veranika can have her eye surgically corrected. We are praying that she will have full use of the eye when the surgery is complete. But at the very least, her eye will not wander. This will be a great help to her in her culture.
In addition to all of this serious stuff, we do fun things as well. Last Saturday, Tweetsie Part hosted our entire group for a day of fun. We rode the train, rode amusement rides, and had a great time. We have also been to the Tanglewood Water Park.
I have been on several short term mission trips. This is a challenge that is in many ways the same. Instead of being immersed in another culture, we are helping someone else who is being immersed in ours. These girls do not speak English, so we use signs and Google translate. We do have a translator available if we need it too. But, most short term mission trips are for a week or two. We have the children here for 6 weeks. Having guests, who are not really guests, in your home for that length of time has a certain 'refining' affect on the entire family. Especially when you have 3 teen girls involved. :) The 'catch phrase' for the American Belarussian Relief Organization (ABRO) is "Bringing Missions Home". And that is exactly what it feels like - a short term mission at home.
If you would like to know more about ABRO, please contact me. I would love to tell you more. There are many different groups and our director is always happy to talk to people about starting new ones. Every year, there are children on the waiting list that are not able to come to the US.