Orphanage Ministry


By | Open Arms Lately, Orphanage Ministry, Village Ministry | No Comments

Our American team has spent the last couple of years spending the majority of our time in the US and making trips back and forth to Ukraine. But starting end of this month, Melissa and Anika will be back in Ukraine full time. We hadn’t fully planned on this move but God has clearly been adjusting our circumstances to get us to where we’re at. We’re going back without visas just yet and will have to take a trip outside of Ukraine to get that ball rolling sometime in March. If we’re honest, we’re not looking forward to giving up some of our American comforts (toilet and shower, we will miss you both), but we are excited for some of the ideas and goals we’ve got for the next year!

We would like to say we have some solid plans, but since it’s been almost 10 years since we moved to Ukraine the first time, so we know that solid plans aren’t really a reality in Ukraine. So we have goals.

One of the broader goals we’re working on is teaching English in a few different ways. We’ve been in communication with the orphanage director at Pravdinska and she is excited for us to hopefully help teach English to the kids there. We have also been brainstorming starting ESL academies in the village and beyond. We’d love to start tutoring at the cafe for the kids in the village learning English in school. Again, all goals but we are working on it! If anyone has experience/curriculum/tools for ESL teaching that you think might be useful, please feel free to shoot us an email!

Our Ivanivka Cafe hasn’t honestly been financially successful. We were never expecting to make tons of money, or even necessarily break even very quickly, but we’re definitely still a long way from either. We’re changing our mindset on it to know that it will probably need constant changes and revisions to continue. And knowing all the things we can use it for as not just as cafe, but a community outreach center, gets us excited.

Another goal we’d like to make happen involves education help for orphans and at-risk kids. Very few of the kids who grow up in orphanages and small villages seem to complete any high education. They often don’t have the help financially, emotionally, or even practically to even get in to a college or university. We’d like to start little seminars with kids who are currently in or have graduated from college to help encourage, teach and improve success rates of younger kids as they prepare to graduate from 9th or 11th grades.

One more goal we’re working on is having a team come out to Ivanivka in the spring/summer. If you’re interested in being a part of it, please let us know. Any details would be announced later, but you could expect village outreach, time in the community cafe, and plenty of village dirt.

As for our team… Dusya is loving running the cafe and having the steady income to support her adorable family. Melissa and Sasha are still awaiting answers from US immigration for Sasha to be able to come to the states as a married couple. Anika is planning on being in Ukraine for at least the next year or so, and we’ll see what happens from there. Sasha has been working hard to get an additional building constructed from the ground up for our house… The whole 375 square feet of heated house that we currently have kind of limits us with what we can do (not to mention personal space for 3 adults).

With our on-the-ground team growing again and outreach kicking back into gear, obviously our budget will need to be expanding. If you’d like to make a year-end tax deductible gift we would greatly appreciate it! And if you’d like to become one of our regular monthly donors we would be so grateful. Click here to go to our donation page. Thanks for sticking with us as we enter into this next year of adventure!

TUESDAY TALES – 09/27/16

By | Orphanage Ministry, Tuesday Tales | No Comments

Eleven years ago in July, marked the first time we ever went to the Pravdinska Orphanage. There have been many changes over the years for the orphanage and for us. But one thing remains the same, our love and dedication to the kids who are there. The orphanage has changed in size tremendously since we first began going there. There once was over 200 kids and now there are less than 50. Our role there has also changed and evolved. But we are thankful to have a better relationship with the director than we have ever had. We help in whatever ways we can. This summer your donations helped us give to allow them to repaint their floors (yes, they paint floors in Ukraine) in the classrooms and in the kids rooms where they sleep. After we gave the money she said it “helped us to solve a lot of problems before the start of the school year.” So thank you all for what you gave to help the kids at the orphanage!

Here are some pictures that she recently sent us of the kids on a field trip to Kharkiv. She said it was a great day as the kids were able to learn and have a fun day. Stayed tuned for more updates.


By | Fundraisers, Orphanage Ministry | No Comments

We’ve gotten a couple of emails from the orphanage director at Pravdinska this week. One was to tell us that their school has been named one of the top 200 schools in Ukraine. Congrats to Pravda! They are, of course, very honored to be added to this list. A book is being published called, “Leaders of Ukraine – The Best Schools.” The school is hoping to get a copy, but it will cost them about 3500 grevna that they don’t have in their budget.



One of the Pravdinska kiddos


The other thing the director wrote us about was to ask for help with their garden. Every year they plant flowers all over to beautify the orphanage grounds. It does look amazing in the spring! They are also needing to plant vegetables in their garden: tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and beets. We would love to be able to help them with both their spring planting and the book honoring their achievements. They need about $200 for both things. If you’d like to help with the cost you can give here or by mail (PO Box 1148, Oakley, CA 94561). Thank you in advance!


By | from the heart of Anika Bachle, Fundraisers, Orphanage Ministry | No Comments

This past Saturday, we hosted the 2nd Annual Taste of Ukraine in Paramount, CA and we had so much fun! For those of you who weren’t able to make it we thought we’d fill you in on what you missed.

Our dinner included a cold soup called “okroshka”, salads, bread and cutlets. We decided to really authenticate the meal a bit this time around by feeding everyone “salo.” Known in America as… pork fat. We did grind it up and mix it with garlic to spread on bread for Ukrainian “sandwiches”. Some liked it more than others, but it was fun to let people try some of the more different Ukrainian foods.
We had a great time watching everyone who enjoyed the photo booth that night! We love seeing your poses and enthusiasm for having a fun!
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We shared this video with everyone there and got to talk in more detail about the past year and our plans for the future. If you’ve got a couple minutes to watch it now, check it out! We truly are so thankful for all of your contributions, encouragement, and prayer that allowed us to accomplish what we did this past year!

We almost got to have a couple of surprise guests on Saturday… An adoptive mom named Bonnie, and her daughter, Anya. Bonnie and her husband adopted Anya from the Pravdinska Orphanage in November 2014 and were hoping to drive out from Arizona to share on Saturday. Unfortunately due to sickness, they weren’t able to make it, but did send us this sweet letter and video that we got to share. Thank you again to Anya, Bonnie and the rest of your family for your kind words and support!

We are so excited in the coming year for the opportunities we will have for new and extended ministry with the use our our teams new house in the Ivanivka village! Our big fundraising goals were to help cover a couple of things on our new house in the village, some fall ministry at the Pravdinska Orphanage, and for travel expenses for the team. So far we have raised $1141! We have an anonymous donor who will match all donations up to $5000 from this fundraiser and for the rest of the month. We would love to hit that $5000 mark and have the full amount matched! If you would like to give, please use the link below or send a donation to our PO Box with a note for “Taste of Ukraine” in the memo line. 

Thanks again to all of you who came out, prayed, and supported us on Saturday! We hope you had as much fun as we did!


By | from the heart of Ira Taranenko, Graduate Ministry, Open Arms Lately, Orphanage Ministry | No Comments

These past weeks while the girls from OAU are at home, I went to orphanage to visit kids. One time I went there were no kids there, as they all were abroad or at home or at camp. Wednesday I visited orphanage again, this time there were seven of them. And that was kind of sad. I was thinking that they must feel lonely and nobody cares about them as there is no home for them even for summer… But that is the thing we see with our eyes. I am so incredibly thankful to God who cares about those kids more then biological parents could! And my prayer is that they will have amazing home in the heaven!         59fa9b874ce7fc65cf46c2991c8ade13a5d5e874964c735c3d2d8d3f0986658e.0

Also I met Dusya and her kids while I was in the village. That is always fun to spend time with them. I am impressed by Dusya’s strong and joyful character, how she lives with so many troubles and problems but she doesn’t stop caring about others.22d2dbe37a3680060fc211953a34f5b135190b5c0498f34479704af8fc8e3b5a


I was honored to have her and Valya for one day and night in Sumy. We did a lot of stuff: did documents for her, went to the movies, went shopping, even came to home group. Why doesn’t she live in Sumy??

Dusya and Ira
Once I visited our young mom Katya, Ruslan’s girlfriend (he’s a Pravdinska Orphanage graduate). And I was so happy to see how they love their baby Max, how hard Ruslan works to give his son everything he needs and even more. My hope is this family will be always together.


We still have Wednesday meetings at church, unfortunately there are not so many kids. The one girl who attends almost all meeting and sometimes comes to home group is Nadya. Once we walked home together and I found out she doesn’t have food so we decided to help her. She was so happy and thankful for help she didn’t even ask for. In such situations God reminds me verses from James 2:15-16 “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” People needs our actions.
Wednesday Meeting
In June our church team made two camps in villages. It was great time for us and for kids. One camp we have run for five years in Korshachina, so we know kids very well and they know us. I want to share with you one story. At very first picnic we made for kids 5 years ago Marina ‘s mom come to us drunk and yelled at Marina and us. Now her mom  comes to church 🙂 Marina saw a lot of bad people and situations connected with alcohol. Her face is mostly sad all the time. This camp she started to open up and we become closer friends. At camp she read Bible stories and I feel like she is close to God.

Ira and Marina



Another camp was in village where  big family from our church lives (they have 7 biological kids and 3 adopted). We were afraid of new teachers and kids, didn’t know how people would react. So we were asked not make pressure on kids about God or something. But one day our pastor was telling about what Jesus did for us on the cross and then prayed with kids and teacher who were there. And everything was great, thanks To God!



By | from the heart of Chelsea Rollins, Graduate Ministry, Open Arms Lately, Orphanage Ministry, Uncategorized | No Comments

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”   ~Lamentations 3:22-23 

Isn’t it so amazing that we serve such an incredible God! No matter what we face we can trust that His love never ceases, His mercies are new every day, and He is always faithful.

These last couple of weeks have had some tough moments, but in the midst of it all we can hold tight to the fact that our God is in control. We are so thankful for His provisions and for what He is continuing to teach us all through the ministry we get to do here.

Here’s a look at some of the fun things we were blessed to be a part of lately…



We were able to sneak away and have some girl time with just Dusya and Vala. We had so much fun walking around a little town near her village and helping her get some of the things she needed.


A picture of our awesome team that made our two day program at the orphanage possible!


Ira helping a group of kids at the orphanage with their craft.


Super hero relays were a hit!


A few of the boys at the orphanage after they finished their photo scavenger hunt.


We woke up to such beautiful weather the other day that a trip to the village was a must. We spent the day fishing, playing games, and just hanging out. It was such a refreshing day for all of us!


Yesterday we celebrated Vala’s 8th birthday! We love her to pieces and are so blessed to be a part of her life!


She was so excited to celebrate and share cupcakes with her class.

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These last two weeks we have been partnering with Third Bear Candles to help raise money for our upcoming post-orphanage camp. Thank you so much to everyone who has been a part of this and to those of you who have sponsored kids. We couldn’t do what we do without you! If you haven’t purchased a candle yet don’t miss out! The campaign ends May 3rd!


Looking forward to the next Open Arms Lately when we can share pictures and stories from our post-orphanage camp.



By | from the heart of Chelsea Rollins, Orphanage Ministry | One Comment

From the heart of Chelsea Rollins…

This Summer was my first time ever being part of an Orphanage camp at Pravda. It was a very different transition going from a week with our grads to four days with the youngest group at the orphanage. It had it’s challenges, but there were so many kids in my group that absolutely captured my heart. One little boy in particular was Dima. Dima is seven years old and has the sweetest little face and demeanor. Even though our words were few, we still bonded. Read More


By | Orphanage Ministry | No Comments
During a recent conversation with the Pravdinska Orphanage director about our ministry there, the doors flew open for a chance to run a summer camp! We couldn’t help but be so excited as this is something we have been fighting for since our last camp at the orphanage (4 years ago). 
Time is running short to get everything together: paperwork for permission, programming, supplies and funds.
This is how you can be a part of it all:

GIVE (click to be directed to our online donation page)
It’s that simple! Pray for the doors to remain open and for our documents to get approved in record time (we are hoping to run camp NEXT WEEK)! Pray that the kids, teachers, and director will have open hearts! Pray that our team will stay strong and united with a clear vision directed by God. 
Give financial support to help us run the 4-day program – this money goes directly into crafts, games, and supplies to help create an amazing time for the kids.
Here are some of the camp highlights that we look forward to: 
  • Birthday Party – Celebrating each of the kids with a party filled with special snacks, hygiene packs, music, and birthday games!
  • Bonfire Night – S’mores, music, talent show and all kinds of campfire fun.
  • Water Wars – Water games for days! We’ll escape the heat and have an amazing time.
Our days will be packed from start to finish with Bible Lessons, group discussions, crafts, games, group meetings, sports, and sharing God’s love in as many ways as we can!
Although approval from the department has not been officially received, we are forging ahead in faith and ask you to do the same! If you do choose to give, please know that the funds will be saved for day programs at the orphanage and general funds for ministering to these beautiful children (birthdays and more).
Regardless of whether you can give or not, we so value your prayers and can’t wait to share with you all that God does in and through this amazing opportunity!