Charlene Reitz - Mon, 26 Feb 2001

Read Lena Kosik's letters about her ministry with the orphans of Khabarovsk.

Dear Friends,

This month I am writing about the ministry of Lena Kosik to the orphans of Khabarovsk. It has been a long time since I have shared her letters with you. Lena has been working with and for the orphans of Khabarovsk for a long time. Her sincerity and love is God given and she recognizes God's calling in her life. Some of you have met Lena when she visited us in the summer of 1998. Her letters speak for themselves. The newsletter will be longer than usual. I considered using two months to bring you her story, but I felt that it all should be told together. I know you will be led to pray for Lena's work as she continues to do God's will for the orphaned children.

Before sharing Lena's letters, I want to bring you Pastor Yuri's latest letter concerning his ministry to the homeless in Khabarovsk. I know that many of you will want to know how God is working through Yuri and his congregation to minister to these dear souls.

Yuri writes:

Hello, dear Charlene!

We are fine now. It is still cold. But hopefully, it will be warmer by the next week, This week was very busy and we were able to make and to feed 500 meals. We have begun a new thing. We started to place a verse from the Bible on the plastic box ( with a meal ). Each hundred meals has a different verse. People who eat, say that they do not want to throw this box away in the trash. There are still many people on the dump and when it is warmer there will be even more people. Sometimes we go to the train station, city market and other places to find new people. There many children who ask for bread.

I am so thankful to everyone who has participated in this ministry. When people take meals which we give them they say, " Praise God !" and it is so good when Praise comes from such places; God's heart experiences peace when poor, homeless and hungry people have something to be thankful to God and to praise Him. I am so glad that I am able to be part of this ministry. Many people in our church participate and work hard that this ministry could work. When we were feeding 100 people a week - it was much easier. There was less food to cook and less preparation. It takes a lot of people to cook 500 meals a week. I pray God will help us to work in this schedule constantly.

Thank you again. I pray that God will bless your family, give you good health and strength to serve Him.

Pastor Yuri


July, 1999
"I still visit the infant orphanage in the hospital. The babies are getting better there. Lena, my coordinator found another hospital that needs more help. It is Hospital #9. Sue is interested in helping there. I will go next week and we will begin to make relationships there."

August, 1999
"From May 1st, I have been working for the agency that Lena, my coordinator and I organized after meeting Jim and Elma Miller in Khabarovsk. They are very active, very interested in this work in Khabarovsk. This is a nonprofit agency from Seattle. The director came to Khabarovsk to meet us in June. I am mostly an interpreter and I will translate the papers the family will send to the court for adoption. I will also meet the families when they come and help them to find safe, reasonably priced housing while they are here for the adoption procedures. This agency is not going to charge a lot of money as other agencies may do. This should help the orphanages a lot."

June, 2000
"Orphanage #8 is a large orphanage (104 kids). The kids there are really difficult. Recently eight of them ate medication they found and got very sick. Luckily no one died. They need shoes, socks (each child is given 4 pairs of socks a year), and school bags. I can buy 104 pairs of socks. I will only need 600 rubles for the cheapest. The problem will be with bags. One costs 300 rubles. Note: 28 rubles = $1.00.

There is one more orphanage that needs help, Internat #4. This is a home for kids with mental problems. This is the poorest orphanage in Khabarovsk. I saw many kids I met in different orphanages I visited in May when the clowns from America were in Khabarovsk.

I would also like to continue to help the new babies' orphanage. I trust the director there and believe our help will be valuable. Hospital #9 has received much help from us in the past and their greatest need now is medication.

September, 2000
"I am working at buying the sheets for the cribs now. I visited Hospital #9 with Jan. This hospital is doing well. There is enough baby food provided regularly but there is still a need for clothes, soap, and medication."

October 17, 2000
"I am doing fine. I started teaching English to the kids from Orphanage #8. I am doing this with pleasure because I like teaching English. I believe this is something I can do for the orphans. It is very important for them to have this skill."

October 22, 2000
"This is a special letter to everyone who knows me. I need your encouragement because I am going to do very important things for the orphans. I need your prayers.

I am busy teaching my students at home. I also started teaching English to a group of orphan girls. It is hard to teach at the orphanage because the children are now well behaved, not friendly to each other and they often fight. I am interesting in doing this work as long as God will give me power and patience. I would like the orphan children to get a better education and a better choice for their future.

Every time I go to the orphanage I pray God to help me. But, it seems that he does not hear my prayer. Maybe I do not pray, as I should. My mind is now with children all the time. I am thinking about what I taught them and how to teach them better and more effectively.

Next week I am going to the hospital to visit Ksenia, a blind orphan girl. She is 18 months old. I wanted to go earlier but I had a cold. I heard about Ksenia a month ago on the radio. She needs clothes and medication. She loves to be held and to have someone talk to her. I wanted to visit her and see what I can do for her. I called the woman who leads the radio program and she wants me to tell more about Ksenia on radio. I am not sure this is a good idea. I don't like to speak in public and I don't want to make a show of what I am doing.

Some days ago I received a letter from a retired teacher from Canada. I met her at the airport in Anchorage two years ago. She was flying to meet her Russian friends who live close to Khabarovsk. We talked a lot while flying. We talked about the Lord, our faith, Russia, and orphans. We exchanged addresses. I didn't hear from her since that time. I was really happy to get her letter and very surprised to find a ten dollar bill in the envelope. The ten dollars traveled safely through the whole world in a simple envelope and no one stole it! God wanted this money to come to Khabarovsk to be used to help others. This ten dollars came just in time! I was thinking about finding some money to buy shoes for Katia, a little girl whose adoption fell through, and other older girls. And then, I got it from this woman. This is really wonderful!

Last week I bought 100 pairs of socks for the older kids. You know how cold our winters are and how important it is to have warm socks to wear inside and out. Please pray for my work in Khabarovsk."

November 23, 2000
"My life is much the same. I teach English to students as a tutor and also have home schooling for two other students. These children cannot attend regular school. One girl has leukemia. She is wearing a wig because she has lost her hair from the treatment. I really pray for God to be merciful and heal her. My husband, Nickolay said she needs to live two more years to start recovering. (Nickolay is a cancer specialist)

Sometimes I think about what more I can do for the orphans. I teach them English and take them some clothes and medicines but it seems to be so little. I feel bad about that. I am happy the missionary team is also working for the orphans. Elizabeth's ladies group is making quilts. That is a very good project.

The work at the adoption agency has slowed down. I do not have much work there right now. I really enjoy teaching. I would do this all day and night. But, unfortunately I can not make a good living as a teacher. My salary for 8 hours of work in school was only $1.00. I am sure this is hard for you to believe. Please continue to pray for my work with children of the orphanages."

October 24, 2000
"Today I visited children's hospital #2 which is far away from downtown Khabarovsk. This is where the blind girl lives. The doctor greeted me and showed me her room. The room was very small with four cribs very close together. There was no space between the cribs. The conditions there are very poor. There are no clothes for the children and no crib sheets. There is not enough food for the babies. The doctor told me that no one had come to visit the blind girl after the radio broadcast. I saw Ksenia and felt very sad. She looks like an 8-month-old baby although she is 19 months old. Her mother didn't have prenatal care and Ksenia was born with an infection that affected her mind and nervous system. That is why she is blind and mentally ill. She is not able to move by herself. Her future is very unclear. How long she will live nobody knows. She spends most of her time in the hospital because she is so sick and needs special care. She is always cold.

There were two other children there from Children's Home #1. Roma is almost three years old but looks as though he is only one year old. Vitya is two and one-half. They have arrested development and are not able to stand. They also need vitamins and good baby food. Vitya's teeth fell out. The boys need someone to hold them and some toys to play with. Vitya plays with his shoes and feet. They are sick so often that they spend months at the hospital.

I was very depressed seeing these babies. What do you think? Can I use some money to take care of these children? Please write when you can."

December 23, 2000
"My students keep me very busy and do not let me rest. Orphanage #8 and the girls there are a very big problem. I teach them English and sometimes I am not able to discipline them. I started giving rewards that worked but created another problem. There was jealousy toward the smarter girls for the rewards they achieved and the girls started thinking about the rewards only instead of learning. The teachers in the orphanage were not happy about the gifts either. I must find another way."

January 11, 2001
"Christmas is over for you but not for Russians. We celebrated Christmas yesterday. I am doing well. We are having a holiday break now and it is good to rest and do whatever I want. In a few days I will be teaching my students again.

Some days ago I had Ari, Sue and Tanya (American missionary team) for lunch. We talked a lot about the orphans and shared our experiences. I told them about how I teach English at the orphanage. I told them it is hard because the children are not encouraged to study well and the smarter kids do not want to study hard and be different from the others. I am using my skills to teach these children and my program is working. The girls are now studying better. They do not complain when I come and see them watching TV or getting ready for a walk.

Several days ago I bought some books for each girl for Christmas. Nickolay and I saved some money to do this. They never had their own books before. I was very happy to see the shining eyes of the children. They were holding and hugging their books as though they were the dearest treasures. They told me they would never give their books away. Masha was not sure that others would believe that the book is hers. I told her that her name is on the book and she was relieved.

This experience was very touching for me. I know that books are very meaningful and essential for our lives, but I did not expect the reaction the kids had for my presents. I told the girls that now they have a small library of their own. There are 14 girls and now they have 14 books to share with each other. I told them that the next time I come I would ask them about what they have read. I am going to save some more money by summer and give each girl one more book to read at summer camp.

Some of the caretakers are asking me to teach some more boys too. I wish I had more time to do that! There are very many smart girls and boys and I wish I had more money to provide the program of rehabilitation for the children. Tatyana, my friend from my college is teaching art to these girls. The art she teaches is special art to help develop their minds and hands. This is very good.

I am going to use my salary to buy vitamins, fruit, and clothes for the fourteen girls. I think they need this more than I need the money. (This program is being helped by an American family who tried unsuccessfully to adopt a child from this orphanage.)

Nickolay and I are thinking about taking care of one girl but we can't provide for all 14 on a regular basis. Our salaries are not large. I wish I had more money to provide for the 14 girls.

This week I am going to visit the blind orphan girl and choose the washing machine for Infant Hospital #9. Please pray that I will be successful as I continue my work."

January 18, 2001
"Thank you very much for your letter and for your concern about orphans. I feel embarrassed when people thank me every time I bring a donation to the orphanages. I explain over and over again that many Americans are sending money to care for the orphans. Sometimes I wish I were not there and wish to be invisible and bring something magically.

I wrote to you before about the orphans I teach English. They are very smart. Among them is a 9-year-old girl named Masha. Everybody loves her in the orphanage. She is clever, polite and a very obedient child, but she has very serious problems with her health. Nickolay is going to examine her and talk with other specialists about her treatment.

I know I have money for babies to be spent. I saved some money already that was sent to me for teaching the orphan girls. I am going to use it for helping Masha. Charlene, nobody is interested in treating her. Masha's health is very bad. Her bones are fracturing now. It causes many problems. Nickolay and I are willing to take care of her. May I use some money sent to me for orphans if my savings won't be enough? What do you think about that?

I am glad I have chosen the way I teach students now. The school employs me but I teach only students who have home schooling. I teach them at their homes. Not all teachers are interested in visiting students after their main work.

I am doing fine. I try to take care of myself and eat more vegetables and fruit. This is very difficult for Russians because the prices for food are rising again. No matter how much money my family earns it is only enough for food. The adoption agency is being accredited now and there is no work for me to do there right now.

But, I teach orphans and am very happy to do that. I am getting more attached to them. There are many smart children there who could have a better life. It is very hard to change their lives for better, but I am trying. It is still not easy to teach them. Sometimes they are not well behaved. Nickolay said that if I am successful in teaching them I will be more skilled as a teacher.

It is very touching to read the love letters the girls give me. I have never had so many kind words written to me in my life. How can I not come to visit them and teach them after reading their letters?

I am making decisions about the best way to use money sent to me for the infant orphans at Hospital #9. Sheets are needed there again. The doctor explained that the chemical they use to clean the sheets is very strong. I am not sure they are seriously taking care of the sheets thinking that they will be replaced regularly. I know the medicine is used well but it is hard to check on the sheets and clothes. There are 40 babies at the hospital now. I will continue to buy medicines and food with money that comes from your readers. I will make a decision about the sheets if there is enough money."

January 23, 2001
"I am doing fine. For the last two weeks I was not very busy. Most of my students were sick. It was very cold here. We did not have gas at home and had to cook on a small portable electric stove.

I am growing violets on my windowsill and they started to freeze. I hope to save some until spring. I am going to share the violets with my friends and also give some to the orphan girls. I never expected violets to be so beautiful! I would like the girls to love plants.

Nickolay examined Masha, the orphan girl and found many serious problems. He is going to ask the head doctor of his hospital to give her a good examination. The orphanage didn't have the ability to get the examination. My heart broke and I almost cried as I learned from the director that they couldn't do much for Masha. The director was very happy that Nickolay and his hospital could help. I don't know what God's plan is for Masha. I am still waiting for His answer. I really love her and I love other girls too. I want to care for all of them. Nickolay says that we can only afford to take care of one. If only I were able to care for all of them! Charlene, they are so nice! Please keep us in your prayers.

We had very cold days in Khabarovsk for a few weeks. It has not snowed much and this is very bad because in wintertime the ground freezes so deep that the pipes that are underground begin to burst. The city didn't have the coal needed for such cold weather to heat water that is piped to heat the homes. The temperatures were 36 degrees below zero and most houses didn't have heat. People started to use gas from their stoves to heat their homes and then we ran out of gas.

The doctors at the orphanage give thanks to all people who are concerned about the babies. The warm flannel clothing I bought recently for the babies became very useful in this period of cold. The help came just in time! I am also very thankful to people who provide for the babies.

I am taking some pictures to send to you with Jack when he comes."

February 9, 2001
"I am doing fine. I am struggling with a cold for a couple of days. I have started preparing for visiting the baby hospitals. There will be a lot of work there. I need to buy more than 200 pieces of soap for the children's home (it will be enough for the month ). The children's home can not provide that. Next week I am going to make many rides from one area of Khabarovsk to another to buy medical equipment for the hospital. The babies breathe steam with herbs and medication when they are sick. We are having a cold epidemic now all over the city. The babies have colds more often now. The hospital has one vaporizer, but it is hardly enough for the 60 kids there. I will pay 5,000 rubles for it. Hospital # 9 needs also a medical equipment for the babies . The hospital does not need baby food as much as before. The doctors appreciate any help with medication and clothes. The medication is very expensive to buy.

I saved some money for buying a good washing machine for Hospital #9 but the doctors made a priority to buy medical equipment first. The hospitals are waiting for me next week and so pray for me to be able to do that as I promised . Thank you very much for helping the babies. God wants me to help the babies regularly and shows me the ways how to do that. I will continue to grow in faith because I need to share God's love with others.

I have been teaching English to 12 orphan girls 9 to 10 years old since September. My American friend, Janette provides this program for teaching the girls English and Art. I decided to use my salary that I receive for my work to help the girls . I think they need more than me. Art is very useful because it helps to create imagination and develops the mind. I really wish this activity to be continued next year but I do not know if there will be enough money to pay Tatyana , the art teacher. The girls like her and like to make different things of paper.

The girls I teach never share stories about their lives. Sometimes I see their sad faces and ask about their sadness. They tell me they miss home and want to leave this orphanage. I have become attached to all my 12 girls and love them very much. They cannot share their love to me openly . Orphan kids are very serious and not open to others. They write messages to me . To read these messages is very touching because it gives me strength to continue to care about them . If I didn't do this, who will care about them? Their own relatives visit the girls very seldom. Some girls are never visited. They live their own small world and cautiously meet new people. It took more than a month for us to attach to each other . The girls were not well behaved and did not show their interest to learn English at first. It was a big problem to learn words in the beginning. Now they know simple orders, sentences, and they can read and write a little. It is very pleasant that some girls want to became teachers like me.

I cannot show that I like one girl more than another because the girls are very jealous. One girl, Masha, was hospitalized and I visit her regularly and bring her fruit and desert. I like her very much. She is more kind than other girls and very well behaved. She has many problems with her health but the orphanage has no opportunity to examine her. My husband, Nickolay examined her and made arrangements with the hospital for Masha to be examined and to get some medication. I was very grateful to my husband for doing that. It is hard to explain what I felt about that. I had tears of happiness to know we are trying to help one little child to be happy. The doctors at the hospital asked who Masha is to us. We just decided to care about this smart little girl . We are waiting to hear what God will tell us to do. It is not so easy to care about an orphan. Very often relatives who are not interested to visit the orphanage start caring about their forgotten children when they learn that someone else is caring about them.

The girls started reading books. That is very good. I buy some books and bring them regularly to the orphanage now. I would like to do that in future. The girls like to draw and dream to have thick copybooks and pencils.

Please pray for my work There are so many needs in the orphanages."

February 13, 2001
"I have been having busy days since Monday. On Monday I bought medical equipment, soap and washing powder for the hospital. The main doctor, Tatyana, felt relief when she saw boxes full of soap and baby shampoos brought to the children's home. It is a big problem to wash the babies. The children's home is not able to provide proper soaps and shampoos themselves. These are very simple and useful things but even they can become a big problem if there is no money to buy these things.

I would like to share with you one more story. An infant girl, Lena Salodovnikova was born April 23, 1999 in the hospital where Sue and Tanya visit. Her mother waived her maternal rights to this girl at the hospital. The problem is that this child has many birth defects involving her bladder, urinary tract, and intestinal tract. She has had some initial surgery but needs more intensive care to correct the life threatening condition. The next operative plans involve the creation of the urinary bladder

When the hospital in Khabarovsk applied to the Pediatrics and Pediatric Surgery Research Institute, Department of Urology in Moscow, the hospital received a reply that the surgery should be done in Khabarovsk. But this is not possible because the doctors in Khabarovsk have never done this surgery before. Moscow is not willing to help because the child is an orphan. Who will pay for all expenses and who will care for this child? The situation is getting worse because the girl's health is failing. She is very cute. She can walk by herself, smiles often and is curious. She grasps and plays with toys well. She has no mental problems.

The orphanage has a letter from the Texas Children's Hospital in the United States of intent to admit baby Lena to perform all medical and surgical manipulations required if the child will be adopted. The adoption agency in Khabarovsk will make the adoption free for the family if the family willing to adopt her will be found.

Baby Lena needs a family. She needs loving people who would care about her. She may die if nobody helps her. Khabarovsk Hospital did everything it could.

I really want you to help . Maybe you will find the way out. This surgery may be possible in Moscow but we have no contacts with Moscow hospitals. Nikolay will try to connect.

Please keep her in your prayers. I will send you her pictures soon."

Love , Lena

As always, it is a privilege for me to continue to tell the story of God's work in Khabarovsk, Russia. As you pray about God's work and His servants in Khabarovsk, you may be led to contribute for one of the ministries Lena shared with us. You may even be interested in adoption proceedings for one of the children she mentions.

If you are led to send a gift, please make your check payable to Fishburn United Methodist Church and send it to the address found below. If you are interested in becoming a part of a work team to the orphanages in Khabarovsk or if you are interested in learning more about adoptions of the Russian children, please contact me by letter, phone, or e-mail and I will connect you with someone who can help you.

God bless you all for your continued prayers and support.

In His Love,

Fishburn United Methodist Church
1215 Fishburn Rd.
Hershey, PA 17033

Telephone (717) 534-1087
E-mail: creitz@juno.com.
web site: http://get.to/faith


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