from Mary Malone
What a winter we have had! We are anxiously waiting for warmer weather and sunny days. Still, our hearts have been warmed by your faithful prayers and encouragement. We see the Lord’s provision surrounding us and we know that He is making a way for us to continue in ministry here. One such provision is the kids' teacher, Natasha. I met Natasha last spring though our colleague, June. Natasha had been volunteering in the special needs ministry and was willing to come two days a week to try working with Micah and Eliana, although this was something completely new to her. We had been praying for the Lord to provide someone to come alongside me to help me with homeschooling the five younger kids. We were praying for someone with a willing heart and someone who would not be intimated by our special crew and, oh yeah, someone who spoke English. You know - something really easy! Natasha is even more than we could have hoped or prayed for! She began reading and studying how to educate children with Down syndrome. She started learning American Sign Language in order to better teach our non verbal kids. She is an amazing blessing from the Lord. This fall she began coming three days a week instead of two. She has Micah reading short words and writing his name and other words. Eliana has started using many more signs because of Natasha's perseverance. She is now using her signs to ask for help and to say she would like to eat and drink. She is also working on phonetics and learning to letter sign short words. Natasha has become comfortable with our more challenging kiddos and is willing to lend a hand if I need help with them, as well. This Fall, while we had nice weather, she would help me get the kids out for long walks in the neighborhood. This can be a real challenge with our slow walkers and not to mention the many stares from passersby!
Mathew, Ethan and Eli continue to develop as well. Matthew is currently working on toilet training which continues to be a struggle. However, we do see improvement.
Bethany and Seth just finished a very intense basketball season, which kept them in Kyiv most days until 7 or 8pm between practice and games each afternoon. We are very proud of how they kept up with all their school work and dealt with the long commute back and forth to Kyiv each day without complaining. In mid-February they participated in a basketball tournament in Budapest. It was a great experience for them! We are grateful that the Lord has continued to provided the necessary funds for them to attend KCA .
Blake is currently doing his student teaching at a middle school in Edmond, Oklahoma. He is primarily working with woodwinds and flutes, which has been a bit of a challenge since he is a horn player. However, he says it has been good to be stretched in a new area. He will graduate in May.
Hannah is working on her last semester as a biochemistry major. She already has been accepted this summer to work as a lead counselor for Pine Cove camps. Hannah also graduates in May! (And did we mention that Bethany graduates in May?!)
Chris is in the final stretch of his Masters in Theology and Cross-cultural Missions program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also graduates in May. I don't know how it happened that we will have four graduates in the same month, but we will have to figure out some kind of big celebration!
I (Mary) continue to work with the moms on Friday evenings. I am also working with a young lady and trying to mentor/disciple her each week. I work with the younger children during the service on Sunday evenings. And, of course, above all, I am striving to grow closer in my relationship with the Lord, and to be a wife and a mom.
As you can see, our lives are full at the moment (as usual, I suppose). We are clinging to the Father and some days it feels like we are running around with our hair on fire. But, we wouldn't change it. We know the Lord's nearness and are committed to following Him.
Thank you for praying for us. It makes what we do possible.