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Village Ministry

Village Life 2018

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

We’re here! We landed in Ukraine on Saturday night and made it home in time to ring in 2018 from our little village home. It’s always an adjustment being back in Ukraine (10 hour time difference, outhouse instead of toilet, no kitchen…) but we’re excited to be here! God has already been affirming us in our being back. We decided to move back with very little in the bank account, but trusting that God would continue to provide. And then on January 2nd, we were notified that received a very generous donation from a special donor – such an encouragement to start off 2018! Thank you again!

You may have seen on social media that we were able to go visit and bring gifts to Vika and Tolik in the hospital/shelter that they were in near us. There were four other little kids staying there, probably all from the same type of situation the Tolik and Vika are in. We came with an entourage – Dusya and her two kids, Vala and Andre, as well as Vasya who was visiting from Sumy. Dusya, Vasya and Sasha all grew up in the orphanage and it was neat to see them all loving on these kids. All 3 of them were eager to go to the store and buy cookies, candies, dolls, trucks, and other treats, not just forTolik and Vika, but for these kids. They excitedly told them that Ded Moroz (their Santa Claus) had dropped it off for their New Years presents. The kids were so excited for some outside interaction and little gifts. Plus the kids were just adorable so it was fun for all of us.

As for Tolik and Vika, they’re doing ok, though understandably having a hard time with it all. Tolik in the short time that we had there, brought up multiple times how bad things are with their mom. It was heartbreakingly hard to watch him visibly struggle through it all. While it will be better for them in the long run, it’s pretty sad, lonely, and scary right now. We’re waiting for a call from them to hear an update as they should now be in Sumy at a more long-term shelter. It’s not exactly an orphanage, but a place where neglected, abused, and/or orphaned kids generally stay up to 9 months before being moved back into their homes or a more traditional orphanage. Our sweet friend, Ira, will hopefully be able to visit them even sooner than we will. Please keep them in your prayers as this is such a hard transition for them both. We will keep you posted as we are able to get updates and visit them when we’re in Sumy.

 

2018 IN THE VILLAGE

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!

SUMMER PLANS – CAFE & CARNIVAL!

By | Fundraisers, Village Ministry | One Comment

cafeWe are just about 2 weeks from flying back to the village. We can’t wait to be back at our house, to see our friends and the kids in the village! And we have some exciting things planned. Lord willing, we will be having our grand opening of the café in Ivanivka! We hoped this would happen in February, but we hit some roadblocks we did not anticipate. Sasha and Dusya have been working hard to get things ready there – painting, planning, and paperwork – to get it to a point for us to be able to open up in the first week or so of June.

The other thing we are planning is a carnival for the kids of Ivanivka. The village has about 1100 residence, many of whom are kids. We have been able to meet and begin relationships with some of them, but are very excited for a big outreach to get to know more of them. We are hoping to use the grand opening of the café to help advertise and bring people in for the carnival. We will have games, prizes, candy and lots of fun!

Please be praying for our goals as our whole team will only be together there for about 2 weeks. We’re going to be working hard to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Be praying for acceptance in the village, no more hold ups with paperwork for the café, team unity, relationships with the people of Ivanivka, and finances. We are so incredibly thankful to those who have already donated. We’ve had money, candy, toys, clothes, and hygiene items already given and we are so grateful! If you would like to help, there is still time. We would like to bring some American candy as the kids are always very excited to have something American. We are also collecting American coffee and tea for the café.

If you would like to give towards specific items (some will be purchased in the states and some in Ukraine) here are our cost estimates:

-bag of candy $5 (5 more needed)
-coffee $10 (10 needed)
-tea $5 (10 needed)
-game supplies $20 (5 needed)

We are also working to offset the cost for our 3 team members’ flights to and from Ukraine, as well as other supplies and general needs in Ivanivka. Any sized gift would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much! Be on the lookout for updates and pictures as we get ready and working!




VILLAGE WINTER IS HERE

By | Village Ministry | No Comments

IMG_1275First of all, happy new year! Sorry we’ve been a little silent on the blogging since we’ve been back… Winter has hit pretty hard here in Ivanivka and we have so much snow! Just this past week, we had a day where the knee-deep snow kept us from going anywhere other than out to play. Luckily we had nowhere urgent to be because here in the village we would have likely gotten stuck in all the snow. The only thing we can do on those kind of days is make snow angels. And so we did 🙂 Village life is very different than life in the city and ministry is also different. Some days seem busy from sunup to sundown while others move more slowly. While some needs are similar to what we’ve done in the past, there are also very different needs here.

IMG_1303Today we had a little reprieve in the weather and were able to get out to the post office. We wanted to thank all of you who faithfully support us. Because of your help we were able to send two boxes today. One was for a kid we met 11 years ago at the orphanage. Unfortunately, he is in prison and will be there for the next few years. He has no family and no one to help him. We were able to send him some essentials such as toothpaste, socks, warmer winter clothes, and some food. The other box was for a girl we also met at the orphanage 11 years ago who now has a son and is pregnant. She needed a warm blanket, jacket, and some food as well. Again, thank you to all who helped make this possible!
IMG_1300We’re going to try to not let the weather hold us back and get back into our weekly Tuesday Tales, so be on the lookout for more updates soon! And keep us in your prayers as tomorrow starts our first week of home church in our new study of Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. We can’t wait to tell you how it goes!

TUESDAY TALES – 11/02/16

By | Fundraisers, Prayer Requests, Tuesday Tales, Village Ministry | No Comments

img_0012For months, we have wanted to do a harvest festival for kids in the village. But we ran into problem after problem ranging from not being able to get permission, no where to do it, and dates not working out for people being able to come and help.

As Monday got closer and we had a few of the regulars over, we got to talking about what they planned to do on Halloween. It was clear we needed to have a safe place for them to come. Now that being said, we at that point still did not have heat, just the one room that was being heated from a small wood burning stove. We cleaned what could and just decided to make some food, have a few fun costumes, and have games with candy. We had 6 kids in our one-stop room and it was a blast. The night started with kids finding costumes, played some crazy games, and end with Captain America (who was the hit of the night), reading them John 3:16 and giving them a challenge to memorize it in Russian and English with the promise of prize next time we meet.

img_5895As thankful as we are to just have a little room that is literally everything from where we sleep, cook, clean, hang out, and now do ministry, it was clear that night that it would be really helpful to get some running water in the house. Because we had little kids, there were multiple times we had to stop the festivities so they could bundle up to then trek outside to use the hole we call a bathroom. When they are only able to come for a couple hours this hurts the flow of our activities.

We couldn’t be more thankful for all the help, prayer, and support from those of you who are so faithful to give. We hate to feel like we’re asking often, but we need your financial support for our all-purpose house. Since we run every part of our ministry from here, it would be incredibly helpful for us to have running water, a toilet and a shower in our house. Please don’t think we are just trying to make our house fancy. If it was just us, we’d be fine with no plumbing. But seeing as this has become our home base for all ministry, and it’s cold now, we’d really like to make it a functional place to serve the people of Ivanivka.

Every day we have visitors in our all-purpose living/bedroom/kitchen/closet-room. Having running water would allow us to cook and clean dishes for these visitors. We currently wash and rinse with well water in tubs on a table in our everything room. A toilet will help in moments like at our harvest festival so kids don’t have to bundle up in the cold to walk out past the fence to the hole we dug for a toilet. Running water would allow for a washing machine to help wash clothes, sheets, towels, blankets not just for ourselves, but also for people like Dusya. She has more than once told us how washing is the hardest thing for her all year, but especially in the freezing winter temps. And a shower? I think you know why a shower is necessary. 🙂 And realistically it isn’t gonna cost that much to make it all happen – around $1130. The break down looks something like this: Shower – $600. Toilet – $60. Sink – $120. Pipes – $50. Digging for drainage, piping, water pump – $300.

If you are able to contribute to these needs, please use the PayPal button below, or by sending donations to us at PO Box 1148, Oakley, CA 94561. We are so, so thankful for any amount you can give to help support us with this specific need!




VIKA & TOLIK – NEEDS UPDATE

By | Fundraisers, Prayer Requests, Village Ministry | 2 Comments

img_9928Got another visit from this sibling duo today. This is literally how they are sitting here at this very moment, watching a movie on our couch/bed as I write this blog from across the room. They came in today with a few embarrassed requests that quickly turned into a full list of things they need. Vika in her same dirty pair of gray pants and worn out, too-small shoes. Tolik in his same outfit as yesterday, and little canvas tennis shoes in the 30-something degree weather today. They both need new shoes, pants, warm socks, beanies, basically a new wardrobe. We are going to be in Sumy tomorrow (to celebrate Sasha’s birthday actually!) and will hopefully have time to purchase a few of their needs. If you would like to contribute to helping with these purchases, we would be so thankful for your help!



TUESDAY TALES – 10/26/16

By | Fundraisers, Prayer Requests, Tuesday Tales, Village Ministry | No Comments

This img_9915past year has been full of changes and sometimes we haven’t fully understood where God was taking Open Arms. Except we knew it was the village. This summer was different than we expected as we thought we’d be able to do a lot more ministry in the time we were here. But it turned out to be a lot of time spent working on our house and preparing for future ministry. Not even fully understanding what we were going to use the house for, but knowing that we needed to fix it.

This past week has given us a glimpse into why God lead us to buy this house, why we’ve been fixing it up. Not to be cheesy, but the phrase that has been coming to mind all day has been “if you build it, they will come.” Today alone we had 2 unannounced visitors at different times throughout the day. First Tolik came by because we had offhandedly given him an invitation a few days ago. As we sat on the floor playing cards and dice games, he opened up about life at home with his mom.img_9894He shared how he wishes he was still in the orphanage. A couple hours later, we got another knock on our gate from his sister, Vika. She was also tired of being at home and was looking for a safe place to hang out. It was nice to have Tolik and Vika, as well as Dusya and her kids all over for a few hours this afternoon. Even though we were all confined to one room due to lack of heating in the house. We are super thankful for our little woodburning stove that heats at least the one room! Even as they all were leaving a few minutes ago, they asked if they could come back again tomorrow.

Today is just a small example of why we’re doing all the work on our house. We are so thankful to all of you who have blindly and generously contributed to allow us to be here and do the work we need to! We would not be able to have these moments like today without you. This week are are working on getting gas to both heat the house with and cook with (a real stove and oven!), as well as water piped into the house. 20161026_191856This will be an amazing improvement for us here! If you would like to contribute to help pay for these continued improvements you can use the PayPal link here. And if you would come alongside us to pray for us we would be so very thankful! Especially as we work on gas and water this week specifically and spend time with kids and friends here. And also as we plan and try to organize a harvest festival day next month.

TUESDAY TALES – TRAVEL PRAYER REQUESTS 10/18/16

By | Prayer Requests, Tuesday Tales, Village Ministry | 4 Comments

Today, in just a few hours actually, we will be making our way to the airport to fly back to Ukraine. Our team is beyond excited to get back to the village. Because of traveling we might be late on posting a blog next week. But we are very excited to share with you all the new adventures that will happen in our time in Ukraine. We covet your prayers and would love to have you partner with us on praying for some specific requests.

-Safety for travel and our time in Ivanivka
-Doors to open in the village for us to do more ministry
-Tolik and Vika
-Ministry at the orphanage
-Our house: the remodeling going on for future ministry

We will keep you posted on Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat on here as we are able! Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

TUESDAY TALES – 10/04/16

By | from the heart of Chelsea Rollins, Tuesday Tales, Village Ministry | 3 Comments

img_8157It has already started getting cold in Ukraine, and we couldn’t be more excited about the work that is being done on the house. Misha (Dusya’s brother) has been doing some much necessary work to the inside of our house. Misha grew up in the Pravdinska Orphanage with his sister and graduated from there 10 years ago. The project of the house and the work being done has been a blessing in many ways this fall already… For us, it is nice to have someone we know and trust doing the work. We probably otherwise wouldn’t have been able to continue progress on the house while we were in the States. Our sweet Dusya has also been helping at our house and basically keeping everything on track and in order. We’re so blessed by them both and the work they’re doing!

img_9371It has also been nice to have them there as our house and the project of working there has become a safe place for Dusya. She loves a project and has loved sending us updates and pictures as she makes progress in different places. It’s also been perfect for Misha because he is in need of extra work to support his family.

We’ve also been blessed by the restoration of our relationship with Misha. Years ago, he seemed to have a heart to follow God, but has had a lot of struggles since graduating and has lost some of what he had as a young teen. While we were close with him during his time in the orphanage, somewhere along the way, he became uncomfortable with us and we lost the connection with him. When he started prep work in the summer, we were able to reconnect with him and restore some of the relationship that used to be. Sasha even has been able to share with him about God and we’ve been praying for continued opportunities to help bring him back to God.

And if all of those blessings weren’t enough, the work getting done on our house is wonderful! Misha is fixing and drywalling all our walls (they had chunks missing and practically no square corners). He’s also taken out our “pechka” (sort of a brick oven to heat the house) and building us a fireplace instead. Dusya has been cleaning and clearing the parts of our yard that we didn’t get to this summer, and cleaning up after Misha progresses around the house (anyone who has remodelled or repaired in a home knows the dust and dirt that ends up everywhere). We are so excited to get back there in a couple weeks and see the changes they’ve made and be able to continue ministry in a much more livable space! A huge thank you to those of you who have donated to help us fix up our almost-100-year-old house/ministry base! We can’t wait to give you more updates as we keep working on it and sharing ministry moments we have because of it.


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TUESDAY TALES – 09/13/16

By | Tuesday Tales, Village Ministry | No Comments

imageSince last week’s blog was a little heavy, we thought today we’d share a happier story from our time in Ivanivka. This summer we spent a lot of time at and around our house, doing much needed repairs and replacing of things that were as old as the house (almost 100). We didn’t spend as much time doing organized events or programs in the village as we originally thought we might, but we still saw God moving and preparing hearts for future programs and relationships.

Throughout the summer, we took a lot of walks through our neighborhood. Sometimes alone, sometimes together, often praying for the people of Ivanivka – our neighbors, the families, the kids stuck in neglect, the parents trapped by alcoholism… One day as Chelsea was walking she said a quick hello to a group of kids nearby and they all giggled. One little girl yelled out, “you’re beautiful!” to her as she passed. Not too many days after that, unfortunately after Chelsea had already left to go back to the states, those same kids were playing outside near our house. Melissa heard them from our yard… They had apparently asked around and learned Chelsea’s name because they were standing in the street, loud and clear, yelling “Chelsea!!”

imageIt was a clear reminder and affirmation to us that even though it often feels like we aren’t making an impact, these kids are wanting relationship and waiting for us to reach out. Please be in prayer for us because we are trying to put together a harvest festival for the village kids in October. Stayed tuned for more details and ways you can be involved.