Okay, so a day late, but better late than never, right?
If you follow Wide Awake on Facebook, you probably saw that I promised to share about the very special night we had on Tuesday. I have to say that “special” is an understatement. I put off writing about it because I was still so giddy about its wonderfulness, that to sit down and try to write about it just seemed tedious (plus we’ve been busy little bees around here). I just wanted to smile about it. But, I want you all to be able to smile about it too, so it’s time I share!
Mission to Ukraine (MTU), the organization we serve here in Zhytomyr, has several branches of work they focus on. One of these branches is the education of children with disabilities. There are preschool classes, school-readiness classes, and life-skills classes that are coupled with Bible lessons. There’s also beading, drawing, and other crafty classes for the crafty type (NOT ME). 🙂
There is one particular group of people that has really been weighty on the hearts of the staff of MTU lately. That group is the young adults with disabilities who have been a part of MTU for many, many years. These guys and gals have grown up with MTU, and for many of them, it is the social center of their lives. It is the place, besides home, where they are accepted and loved just as they are. They are treasured at MTU. They are known. MTU has been their school, their youth group, and their family. And now they are getting older. MTU’s focus is children. What to do? Many of them attend a class on Tuesdays called “Youth Group”. They study the Bible together and build their relationships. The staff want to do more for this group, but they are already stretched thin with responsibilities. There is simply no time left in the day, or staff left in the day to provide them with more time to be together.
Enter, Game Night! Woot!
Some of the staff approached us and asked Jed and me if we would be interested in hosting some sort of monthly, special night for this group to have fun together. This was a duh question. Of course, we wanted to help!
Tuesday night was the first Game Night and it was beyond fabulous. I kid you not. I haven’t smiled that much since I was last in Disneyland! Heehee 🙂
At 5:00pm sharp the guests began to arrive. They were dressed up and lookin’ good, ready for a party. Seeing their excitement made us even more excited!
I wish I would have taken a picture of the food table. Jed and I are feeders. We feed people. It’s our love language. Sooooo if the amount of food we brought to the party was an indicator of our love, it was fairly obvious that we love these guys VERY much. There were cookies, more cookies, magic cake, crackers, meat, cheese, veggies, some more cookies, candy, bread, tea, and juice. We may have gone overboard, just a wee bit. Several of MTU’s finest volunteers came to help and join in the fun. We had the group sit, then the volunteers and we served them food. That was a great time for our kids to help out too. They were able to interact with people right away, and also feel useful. Addy and Ezra in particular, really wanted to help throw the party.
We ate and laughed.
It was gooood.
Then it was game time! There were all different physical ability levels in the fairly small room, so it was important to choose games that everyone could participate in. We started out asking some fun “Would you rather?” questions. We just wanted to break the ice, be silly, and laugh together. We chose some crazy questions and then asked various people to explain their decision. It was so funny!
“Would you rather wrestle a lion or fight a shark?”
“Would you rather eat a bar of soap or drink a bottle of dish soap?”
“Would you rather be born with an elephant’s trunk or a giraffe’s neck?”
“Would you rather be a GIANT hamster or a tiny rhino?”
Oh man, our poor friend Natasha who was translating! We gave her translating skills a major workout. Good thing she’s pretty much amazing. 🙂
After “Would you rather?” we played a game with yarn. Jed asked the group different questions and whoever answered “yes”, had to grab a hold of the yarn. Pretty quickly we had a big web of yarn which nearly entrapped Jed! Luckily, he barely escaped with his life and all was well. Jed just shared a bit about how we are all different, but united by common loves and ideas. It was fun, and a good visual of the beauty of friendship.
Next was free play game time. We gathered small groups around tables and brought out various games. We played Dominoes, Jenga, and Memory. Once again, I have to brag about the most amazing volunteers. Seriously, they rock. They knew what needed to be done and just did it! Many of them have volunteered quite a bit, so they are familiar with the group and know their needs. They helped people eat, served tea and food, moved chairs and tables, translated, and assisted in the games so that everyone was able to participate and have a good time. The night would have been impossible without their help.
Natasha translated for our family and she is just the best. She loves this group and has known them for many years, so not only is she a great help, her heart is deeply invested as well. Oh, and what about Alyona?!!! Alyona works at MTU on “special projects”. Alyona did so much to make the night possible. She gathered volunteers, called the group to remind them about the date, arranged transportation for those in wheelchairs, and helped set up and clean up…basically, she’s superwoman. I didn’t get one non-blurry picture of Alyona because she’s such a hard worker she’s just a blur in each picture! I wish so badly I would have gotten a picture of each volunteer. Grrrrrr…next time. Thank you, dear friends!!! We appreciate you!
I didn’t get the best pictures because I was too busy partying it up, but I hope these pictures have given you a glimpse of the wonderfulness of the evening.
What an honor to be able to serve these dear ones.
What a joy to watch our own children learn to love and serve others. What a joy to see them learn the value of each and every life.
What a delight to see the faces of the parents as they came to collect their children at the end of the night. When someone loves your kid there is no greater gift. How much more for these most courageous parents who have fought against all odds to give their kids the best shot at a fully lived life. Humbling.
I am so incredibly thankful for the years of MTU’s faithful service. With God’s help, they have created a haven in Zhytomyr like no other. What a privilege to serve their vision and link arms.
Game Night is now officially a monthly event. The group has requested next month’s gathering be a Karaoke Night! OMG. Bring.It.On.