This past week, Seth and I were able to travel to a place in Ukraine called Krivoy Rog for a mission trip through our school. Krivoy Rog is a city that is south of Kyiv and took us about six hours by train to get down there. Our team consisted of me, Seth, a fellow classmate, and the fourth-grade teacher at our school. We were there for three full days and each day we went to different centers for children. Our reason for going was to help a ministry that works in Krivoy Rog by hanging out with kids at different centers we visited by telling bible stories, doing crafts, playing soccer, and dancing to/playing music.
Day 1: Our first day we went to a rehabilitation center for kids who were recovering from TB or whose parents were recovering from TB. In the morning we worked with kids from age four to six for two hours. We told the story of The Wall of Jericho, colored coloring pages and talked to the children through a translator. Later, that afternoon we went to the same place but played outside with the kids from age four to fourteen for an hour and a half. We told the story of The Good Samaritan, made balloon animals, painted the girl’s nails, braided the girl’s hair, made origami animals, and danced to music. It was so amazing to be able to meet all these different children that all had different stories and bring joy to their day. At the end of day one we were all so exhausted but at the same time so happy because we made a group of children feel special and loved. We reassured them that even though we weren’t coming back for a while that God constantly loved them and would never stop.
Day 2: On Thursday we went to a rehabilitation center for children that came from bad homes. We worked with four to six-year-olds. We told the story of The Good Samaritan, colored lots and lots of coloring pages, went outside and danced to music and did sidewalk chalk art for an hour or two. Later in the afternoon, we went to a social center for children of orphans that aged out of orphanages for an hour. We told the story of Isaiah’s vision from God, played red light green light, painted the girl’s nails, made lots of origami animals, talked to the children, and got to know some of the moms. That night our team went to this church that some of our other team members went to, ones that lived in Krivoy Rog, and got to meet some of the church members and talk about our trip/reason for coming.
Day 3: This day we went to a boarding school for special needs kids that were on the outskirts of Krivoy Rog for an hour and a half. There were only fourteen students that had nowhere to go during their spring break from age six to eighteen. We told the story of Jesus feeding the five-thousand, played a very intense game of soccer, colored coloring pages, and listened to music, and played catch with a ball. That afternoon we went back to the rehabilitation center that we went to on our second day. But this time we hung out with the older kids. We again told the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, played soccer, made sidewalk chalk art, colored coloring sheets, danced to/played music, and got to know the kids. That night we went to an English club. We helped children improve their English by playing word games and eating lots of pizza! That was sadly our last day in Krivoy Rog. I personally loved Krivoy Rog and all the children I was able to meet! I was so sad to leave our new friends and all the wonderful children. But God gave me peace by reminding me of all the joy and love I, and my whole team brought to those children.
I wanted to go to Krivoy Rog not only to help children but also to spread God’s Word and encourage the kids we met. This was my first mission trip in Ukraine without my parents it was truly wonderful and made possible by prayers and our supporters! I’ve done some mission work with my parents but never by myself. It was truly amazing to see how even the smallest gesture of kindness brought joy to a child, even though there was a language barrier. There is a team in Krivoy Rog that lives there and visits at least one of those places every day. I think that we showed them that God’s love is for everyone, no matter who you are or where you came from and that was the most rewarding thing on the whole trip!
I decided to go because I felt like I needed a bigger picture of the conditions of the kids in permanent living spaces (orphanages, rehabilitation centers, etc.), and also because I thought it would be a good experience. I was correct. The thing that stood out the most was how much the kids wanted to talk to us and also the way they interacted with each other. I enjoyed talking and playing sports like soccer and volleyball with them, as well as coloring and attempting origami with them. Something I learned is that the kids in these situations are very curious and love to talk and play with other people–especially foreigners.
Please pray for those children and that our school will be able to send a team to Krivoy Rog next year!