Wide Awake

Our Boys: Gathering Time

Welcome to Part 2 of our series on the time we spend at a rural institution each week.  You can read Part 1 here.

Addy showing a picture we keep on our refrigerator.  Is he watching a ray of sunlight, or a speck of dust floating in the air?  We spend a lot of time thinking about our boys, wondering how they are doing; praying for them.

We must learn to regard people, less in light of what they do or omit to do and more in light of what they suffer.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When we share about these boys and this situation you must know we hold Bonhoeffer's words in highest esteem.  There is no place you can point a finger in blame without realizing that the injustice, the inhumanity, people suffer is at every level of this problem.

Caregivers, who need a job to provide for their families, are required to do a job that cannot be done with the lack of staff, resources and education afforded them.  We watch them do their very best and you can see in their eyes that they wish to do more.

When it comes to food, shelter and clothing, they are doing good work, but there is no one-size-fits-all protocol to address the physical, mental, emotional and institutional disabilities these boys face every day.

This is why MTU and volunteers have faithfully served this institution for the last 5 years. And, it is why God has sent us to help; working to make wrong things as right as we can, this side of heaven.

We enter the building, a long hall with rooms off to each side. Each of us volunteers goes up and down the hall, greeting boys, hugging, and holding their hands. 

Working to make wrong things

as right as we can, this side of heaven.

We help each of the boys in the hall who is able, to walk or crawl to the room where we meet.  After that we go from bedroom to bedroom, fetching the boys who are able to participate.  Some can walk, some we bring in wheelchairs or strollers. 

A couple of the boys shy away from our touch, too overwhelmed by the stimuli to leave their beds.  Zhenya had a seizure earlier that morning, so he sleeps in his bed, unable to be roused.  A couple others sleep hard in their beds, maybe a medicated sleep, or maybe those particular boys don’t sleep well at night?  I’m not sure, but we let them sleep, wishing they were awake to receive love this morning.  

Three boys are tied to their beds with strips of cloth.  We ask the caregivers if we can untie them and bring them to the main room, promising to watch over them closely.  My heart breaks at their situation- the boys’ and the caregivers’.  How would I feel if I were a caregiver and I had to tie a little boy to his bed, just to keep others safe from him, and to keep him safe from himself? 

I try not to judge, knowing I have absolutely no idea what their days of work truly consist of, knowing I have absolutely no concept of how difficult their job is. They don't have the resources they need or the number of staff they need to give high quality care.  I can't even comprehend how difficult their work is.  Every time we are there I see caregivers working hard just to keep the boys fed and diapered.  The sheer amount of work they have to do for the physical care of the boys- moving, lifting, wiping, drying, dressing, feeding...- leaves almost zero time for meeting emotional and cognitive needs. 

And for the boys, to live a life where they are tied to a bed, unable to make themselves understood, unable to regulate themselves in their environment, again, my blessed life has no concept of their reality.  It is truly heartbreaking from every side.  There is no simple solution, and that is why God has put us in this place.  He wants to change things, and He is the only one who can do it.

This little man can't wait for group time.  So much light in his eyes.

I look from room to room, on the search for my Seryozha.  There is just something special about Seryozha.  He has wise eyes.   He doesn’t speak, but I know he understands.  Finally, in the last room I find him, behind a closed door all alone in the room in his wheelchair.  “Oh my dear Seryozha!  Why are you in here all alone?  Priviet (hi)!  I’m so happy to see my sweet boy! Kak de la? (How are you?)”  He is restrained into his chair.  I wipe tears out of my eyes, wondering what goes on in his little mind when he’s all alone.  I try not to dwell on it and thank God He has brought us here today to show Sergei His love.  I pray that while we are away angels minister to my sweet boy.  I wheel him in to the meeting room, the last one to arrive, and we begin.

 
 
Kim Johnson,  Co-Founder and chief mom at Wide Awake Int.

Kim Johnson,

Co-Founder and chief mom at Wide Awake Int.

SUBTLE: two-months on the ground

sub·tle

[suht-l]

adjective, sub·tler, sub·tlest.

1. thin, tenuous, or rarefied, as a fluid or an odor.

2. fine or delicate in meaning or intent; difficult to perceive or understand: subtle irony.

3. delicate or faint and mysterious: a subtle smile.

4. requiring mental acuteness, penetration, or discernment: a subtle philosophy.

5. characterized by mental acuteness or penetration: a subtle understanding.

Before starting Wide Awake International (WAI) I spent the last 10 years working for some highly successful, highly visible non-profit organizations. 

These organizations had passionate founding directors, well-integrated into their communities.  The interventions are time tested and effective.  The staff are highly trained, committed and able to do their best work.

I've been unsure what to share on this blog, because all my past work was drenched in fantastic statistics, impact, change, work, work, work.  It felt so good to be a part of something big... something dramatic... important.

While chatting with a couple who have been fantastic moral support to us on this journey:

Sandra: "Why don't you update us on the Wide-Awake blog?"

Me: "I'm struggling with what to say,  Most of the "news" is me figuring out a bus system or how to say the right word to the woman at the corner market.  It's not an outcome."

If you would like to read about our daily adventures in culture, as a family, visit Kim's blog  www.wideawakefamily.com

If you would like to read about our daily adventures in culture, as a family, visit Kim's blog www.wideawakefamily.com

Sandra:  "You need to share your stories.  People who are engaged now are partnering because they are excited about building something new.  They are passionate.  Let them follow closely so they can celebrate with you."

Me: "Ok, I'll write some posts."

Thank you Sandra for pushing me, for supporting us along the way, and for letting us crash at your house.

WAI is a baby.  Our first job is to learn how to be O.K. with being hand-fed as we discover this big wide world around us.

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Our outcomes are subtle, but that doesn't make them less important. 

Upcoming Blog Topics:

 -  Romaniv: The Weight of Love

 -  Mission to Ukraine:  A rose that grew from concrete... thanks Tupac.

 -  A Day in the Life of average Ukrainians

 

 

21 Days of Prayer - Day 15: a willing heart

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Today, Father,  we reflect on the many times you've given us more than what we needed.  You are extravagant in your love.  Give us the courage to love others the way you have loved us first.

Thank you for joining us in praying as we countdown to our departure to the Ukraine.  You can read more about the 21 Days of Prayer here.  We are blessed to have you join us!     

21 Days of Prayer - Day 10: Your Will

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We appeal to your wisdom because our best plans are not sufficient.   We are dreaming your dreams,Father God; we need your eyes to see what we cannot even imagine.  With all this in mind we say, "Your Will Be Done."

Thank you for joining us in praying as we countdown to our departure to the Ukraine.  You can read more about the 21 Days of Prayer here.  We are blessed to have you join us!     

 

21 Days of Prayer - Day 8: Father

 

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As we move forward, into the unknown, we can trust that you are a good dad who sees the end from the beginning.  You are OUR Father and you are in Heaven.

In each of our lives, make yourself known and make your name great today.  Be bigger than my circumstances. Be bigger than my dreams.  Be bigger than my hopes and fears. Hallowed be your name.

Thank you for joining us in praying as we countdown to our departure to the Ukraine.  You can read more about the 21 Days of Prayer here.  We are blessed to have you join us!   

21 Days of Prayer: Day 7: Prepared for Service


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Would you pray along with us for wisdom and strength for us, our board and all the men and women we will work alongside of on this journey?  May we each overflow with God's grace, lead courageously, encourage others and deploy each of our gifts, talents, resources and time into humble and fruitful service.

Thank you for joining us in praying as we countdown to our departure to the Ukraine.  You can read more about the 21 Days of Prayer here.  We are blessed to have you join us!  

21 Days of Prayer: Day 6: Do the Work


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We can only imagine the things we might face in the coming weeks, as we start serving in Ukraine.  We pray for His strength and His courage to be with us and that He equips us to press on and just. do. the. work.   May we continue to be grateful for the opportunity to be used by Him to serve others.

 Thank you for joining us in praying as we countdown to our departure to the Ukraine.  You can read more about the 21 Days of Prayer here.  We are blessed to have you join us!

Wide Awake: 21 Days of Prayer: Day 1

Hi friends, 

 The Johnson Family leaves for Ukraine in 21 days and we will be entering a new season for Wide Awake International.  

Today, we are embarking on 21 Days of Prayer   for the community and cultures Wide Awake will be serving, and really, for each of our lives.   Join us as we prepare our hearts for this big move.

The Wide Awake International Team has designed some posts so you can join us as we pray with expectation, purpose and passion each day.  God has dreams He wants to give us, truths He wants to show us and steps He wants each of us to take as we, daily, say "yes" to Him. 

Will you commit to faithfully praying with us?  Please consider joining with us for a few minutes each day.  If you miss a day or two, no biggie--just hop back in the next day! 

We hope this time blesses you and gives you an opportunity to be a blessing for the Wide Awake Team as we take this next step by faith.  We're in this together!

 

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Day 1:  Tuesday, October 22, 2013 

Wide Awake 21 days of prayer
Let us approach God confidently in prayer today with the Wide Awake International Team and commit to doing so together for the next twenty-one days. We know that our Father delights in us and loves to answer our prayers.  So we lift up the senders and those He is sending, as well as our collective mission for bringing hope, dignity and love to Ukrainian orphans with special needs.