God working in my life

A lot of things to process after 40 days in Ukraine. I want to say thank you for all your prayers for me, the teams, and the kids. You could just feel God working through all 3 camps and it was just simply amazing.
Spending time with the Ukrainian team was incredible. I consider them to be my second family and I already miss them so much. They are all amazing Christians searching for God’s will and willing to get down and dirty like the kids to show them Gods love. They have taught me a lot of things, just by their actions, attitudes, and willingness to do whatever it takes.
All three American teams were great! I have to admit, I had concers about them, but God had a plan. Each team worked out perfectly for each camp. It was increbile. I honestly don’t know why I worried because God’s got control of everyting. I am so excited about the new relationships that were created and the old ones that became stronger. I am so happy I was able to be apart of their journeys and I am looking forward to seeing how God is going to work in their lives back at home.
How God worked in my life during this 40 days was mind blowing. I learned a lot of things about myself, good and bad. Things that I know I need him to help me with and rely on him through everything. This trip I learned a lot about selfishness and how selfish I can actully be. It wasn’t about how much I didn’t want to leave or how much I was going to be hurt because of how much I miss them it was about Him and His work that I was doing and sometimes I failed to see that. I need to be able to let go of my selfishness and let God have control. After all, it’s not about me and my sucess, but about my faithfulness to him. He also taught me the strength in prayer and how many differet ways he answers them. There were many times when I just prayed and prayed and my prayers were answered which is an incredbile feeling. I also learned that I just need to give everything up to him, whether a situation with a kid or the simplest thing like learing Russian. I just need to give it ALL up to him. I should not worry because He has control, which is way easier said than done. I know that God is going to continue working in the lives of these kids and in my life. I am learning how to let go and let God, to not be selfish, to rely fully on him, and in every situation, wether at home or in Ukraine, to look for His will and to accomplish it. I am so grateful for the things he taught me and is still teaching me and just for this amazing opportunity to serve him by loving His children. I know this is what God wants me to do with the rest of my life and I am beyond excited to serve him.
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Last Camp: Barvenok

The third camp was very different than the other two. The conditions were definitely worse and the kids were not motivated. This time I had 9-13 year old boys, kind of like I had in Krivoy Rog, but of course these boys were completely different.
Two boys from that camp to remember are Vasya and Roma! These boys just shined. There was really never a moment when I didn’t see them smiling, and when they would see me they would yell my name and run to me and give me a huge hug. They squezed me so hard sometimes that it actually hurt. When I first met Vasya, he was in all black and had one of his ears pierced. I thought he was going to be a rebel and not really listen during group and kind of shrug us off but I was soooo wrong. He was the sweetest kid with a huge heart. When I saw this in him, I knew he would be one of my favorites. One day I sat him down with Ira and we talked about his life and his relationship with God. His dad is an alcoholic and he has no idea if his mom is dead or alive. He’s been at the orphanage for two years which I think is tough. He is 12 years old and now he has to live in these crappy conditions that he didn’t know before but he has a good heart about it. When I told him a little bit about myself and some of the similiarities between us he opened up more. I told him I knew that what he’s going through sucks, but that God has a plan. And that there have been many times in my life where I have questioned God about what I’m going through and why I am going through it but in the end, God always comes through and is always there for me. After this Cody McMurrin came up and helped me talk to him about accepting Jesus. It was such an amazing experience to go step by step with someone in their walk to salvation. It was so exiciting and we got him a Bible which was awesome! I already miss him so much and seeing his smiling face whenever he sees me and tickeling him in the morning to wake him up. I am so excited to see how God works in his life.
Roma was such a cute kid with such a sweet heart. Him and Vasya were such good friends and spent every minute together. He was forever asking for my camera and taking really good pictures. Unfortunately, I was not able to talk to him about God, which I regret a lot, but I know that God is going to work in his life and maybe even use Vasya to do that. He was also always smiling and forever giving me a hug. I am so privileged that God gave me the opportunity to serve these kids. 

Vovkavinci for the 3rd time!

Vovkavinci for the 3rd time!
  My third trip to Vovkavinci and I fall in love with my kids even more. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely difficult and a faith challenging trip, but God opened doors for me. When we first got to the camp, neither of my two favorite kids were there. Sasha wasn’t coming back and Dima was away playing soccer till the next day. When all of this hit me at once, I was so surprised at how content I was with the situtation. There was a calmness in my heart, which definitely didn’t come from me, and I was ready to make new relationships with different kids. I knew that if my two boys weren’t there, there was a reason for it and I’m pretty sure that reason was to create new relationships.
  This time I was not in Dima’s group. I was in the oldest group which had mainly girls and 4 or 5 boys. This challenged me the first day. I was wondering if I should be in Dima’s group or if it would be better not to be. But I know now, there was a reason for me to be in the group I was in.
  The first couple days at the camp were difficult. Not just for me but for the whole team. It’s a very dark camp and most of the children come from the street. A lot of the kids feel like they have nothing to live for. They waste away their days going to the club, drinking, and smoking.. But by the grace of God, about 14 kids accepted Christ by the time we left.
One of them was in my group. His name is Yanick.
  I don’t think I have ever been as excited as I was to hear that someone accpeted Christ. Knowing that one person’s life had changed because of God bringing our team back to that camp, is mind blowing but around 14 kids? That’s a miracle. Yanick hadn’t been there the last 2 times I had been there because he had been at home visitng his mom and sisters. He has been at the orphanage for 6 six years and now he’s leaving. He wants to be a soccer coach and actually do something good with his life. I cannot wait to see what God is going to do in his life.
  Even though a lot of my time was spent playing volleyball with Yanick or just walking around finding a translator to talk to him about God, my relationship with Dima grew even stronger. When I first saw him I was so scared. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and how he was going to act. Well, he kind of shrugged off the fact that I was back to see him and didn’t really talk to me the first 2 or 3 days. This, of course, bothered me but with God and prayer I got through it. I just let him have his space and eventually he got over whatever it was and warmed up to me again. Just being with Dima makes me happy. He is worth all the drama, all the layovers, the countless hours in the airport, and all the worries I have about him. You can see God working in him. Dima is trying so hard to be a Christian, but he doesn’t have the positive influence in his life that he needs. One kid told us that when our team leaves, their faith leaves as well. How sad is that? Dima wrote me a note and gave it to me by the end of the camp and it basically said that he is trying really hard to read the Bible and have a relationship with God but that’s it’s just really hard for him. I know God is inside his heart, he’s just having some trouble finding him and trusting in him completely.
  Vovkavinci will forever be my home and comfort zone in Ukraine. The kids there are family and the love that I have for them is undescrible. I cannot even imagine how much God loves them.

Ukraine: Krivoy Rog 1st Camp!

Ukraine: Krivoy Rog 1st Camp!
No words can decribe the love I have for the kids in the first camp. Krivoy Rog was an experience all in itself. These kids were loveable and accepted our team with open hearts. Don’t get me wrong, these kids definitely need Jesus, but they were more recpetive to hearing about him then the kids at Vovkavinci.
Two kids to remeber. First Ruslan. This boy is so incredible. He has a good spirit and a beautiful heart. I must have at least 300 pictures of him on my camera. It’s safe to say he has part of my heart and will forever be apart of me. He was always smiling and when things were rough for him, you could tell he looked for God. I had long conversations with him about his belief in God and how he knew he was saved.. His response.. He knew he had Jesus in his heart because he could feel him there! It was incredible to hear about his past and the wrongs that he did and how he has overcome them. He is one of those kids that you “just know” God is working in. I miss him so much and pray for him almosy everyday!
Nastya is the second orphan who will forever be apart of me. She is a beautiful person, inside and out. I didn’t really get to know her until 2 nights before I left but the last 24 hours in Krivoy Rog with her were amazing. She became my best friend. She is 17 and goes to church often. We did not leave eachothers side the last day and a half I was there. I ended up staying an extra day with the Ukrainians and I am absolutely postitve she is the reason the circumstances worked out so that I could stay. Words cannot describe how much I miss her and how much I wish I was with her.. I ended up getting a phone while in Kiev and I call her everyday from it. Though our conversations are limited because of my lack in Russian, she knows how much I love and care about her. This girl has been through so much and has lived at that orphanage since she was 3 but it does not affect her attitude in any way. She is always smiling and you can just tell she has God in her heart. When I was leaving she was telling me about a church camp that she wants to go to.. I cannot wait to see the plans God has for her.
The expericence at Krivoy Rog is indescrible. The love I have for those children is beyond words. know that God was working in that camp and I hope and pray that he will continue to live through the kids there.

WHEW – WE DID IT, AUCTION OVER AND THANK YOU :)

Faraway Place held its First Annual Benefit Concert and Silent Auction on May 6th, 2011 at First Baptist Altamonte Springs.  For those of you who volunteered, donated, attended, bid or did all of the above, thank you for your compassionate hearts.  As for the music, Chris Hall (with his oh so beautiful sidekick Jessica) and Evan Taylor Jones Band, it was AMAZING.  We also cannot forget to mention the beautiful and entertaining Mistress of Ceremonies, Laurie Copeland who kept the event flowing which allowed it to come off without a hitch.   Oh, and the food, yummy, yummy, yummy and thank you Sarah.  She single handily fed us all and from the feedback I received, she should seriously consider a catering business.   

On a personal note, I want everyone to know I will make sure our kids (kid’s of a generous God) will know how their American brother’s and sister’s in Christ worked hard, long and relentlessly with giving attitudes and bighearted thoughts for them and for Faraway Place.  We know scripture tells us that God is a good, loving, truthful, and compassionate God which means everyone who took part in this event (no matter how small) embraced their Christ like hearts and I was honored to share in such resolve!  We all worked through Him and in Him and it was a beautiful experience. 

So, from Hannah and I, and all the teens who will soon be under our roof and part of our new home, may the Lord keep you and bless you five thousand fold! 

P.S. Pictures will be added 🙂

God is Great!

As many of you know the Silent Auction/ Benefit Concert is quickly approaching! We are still gathering donations and preparing for what is to come. We are getting really excited about the things God is going to do during this auction.
This past week, Northland showed a video of Mom and I to the whole congregation. We had some amazing responses to the video! This video was truly a blessing for us. It’s so hard to believe that over 5,000 people now know what God is doing in our lives!
I have recently talked to Dima about living with us when we move. He is still unsure but he has made the decision to leave the orphanage at the end of this summer. This is such a scary thought and it has been on my mind 24/7! Please keep him in your prayers. I know (and so does mom) that Gods got this under control and that no matter where Dima may go, God will be watching over him.
Though things get tough sometimes and it feels like nothing can go right, Mom and I know that God is in control! Everyday I have to remind myself that it’s not about my success but about my faithfulness to Him. He is amazing and he will rain down all over the children of Ukraine!

I have a prayer request! My mom has recently had surgery and is still feeling pretty bad. Please pray for her recovery! Thank you so much. We love you

SILENT AUCTION IS SCHEDULED

Faraway Place will be holding a Jazz Musical Spring Fling and Silent Auction on May 6, 2011, from 6:00 pm until 10:00 pm at First Baptist Altamonte Springs (babysitting will be available).  Faraway Place is a faith-based comprehensive transitional home and program, which will serve orphans who age-out of Ukraine’s system.   Our teenagers will be provided housing and necessary life skills training to teach them to live as successful and independent adults.   To find out more, visit http://farawayplace.org.   All of the funds raised from this event will be used to support Faraway Place’s work and the deserving teens involved.
Will you please consider donating an item for the silent auction?  By donating an item, you’ll be making a tax deductible contribution that will allow Faraway Place to continue to help make life better for these orphans.   Additionally, you will benefit from the exposure of your company’s name to those who attend the event.  Donors will be listed on the event program, and the merchandise you give will be on display throughout the event.  We will also list donors in the Faraway Place monthly newsletter.
Of course, as a donor, you’ll be invited to attend the event as a VIP, so you’ll be able to meet prospective customers, enjoy the entertainment and even possibly find a few bargains of your own.

Michelle M. Bosgraaf
Silent Auction Coordinator
Faraway Place
407 738 0777
Michelle @Farawayplace.org

Ukrainian Christmas Trip!

So to start off, my trip was amazing. There were some hardships and a few tears, but all in all it was fantastic. This trip definitely tested my faith in God and showed me that I need to look to him for strength. He is my rock and I trust soley in him. After I got back this summer, my life changed completely. Since my last trip, it has changed even more. My walk with Christ is straighter and my faith has become stronger. This trip I learned so much about trusting in the Lord. I never realized how much I need him and how much I need to rely on him. 
The struggles during this trip made me realize that what my mom and I are about to begin is NOT an easy thing at all and without God by our side there is NO way we are going to able to accomplish anything. But the one thing I have to remember the most is that it is not about me or my success but about my faithfulness to Him.. He’s got all the rest covered.

Being with the kids was a whole other experience compared to the one this summer. A lot of the kids weren’t there which was sad but most of the ones I spent my time with during the first trip were. Dima was good. There were some rough moments with him and I prayed very very hard concerning him but through those rough moments my relationship with him became stronger. Dima means everything to me and I know I am suppose to be with him. Sasha was great as well. Though he’s shorter and younger than me, he protected me and kept we safe while I was with him. He is my precious gift and I am so thankful for him. God was so incredibly good to me while I was there and he helped me get through those rough moments in one piece. 
 My time spent there was a blessing. The new relationships I made and the older ones God made stronger made everything I went through to get there worth it. This trip, though very difficult, reaffirmed what I know I am suppose to be doing. Yes, it is very crazy and Yes, it’s going to be difficult, but I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me.






First Newsletter – Hannah is in Ukraine

Okay, our first official newsletter… Faraway Place is up and running.  Hannah is in Ukraine at the orphanage we visited this past summer.   She has gone there to tell Dima (the boy we wanted to adopt and could not because I am a single mom) that we have not abandoned him and will be there to get him sometime in 2011.  I have not heard from her since her arrival on 12/30 and I am crazy with worry but confident in our Lord; He’s got her back!  She is blessed to be with our kids and they are blessed to have her there. 

Lake Brantley, “Faraway Place Club,” raised enough money doing fund raisers to buy winter gloves for every child at the orphanage.  Wow, teens giving back to teens, you gotta love that. 
Lake Brantley Faraway Place Club
As I sit here typing, my mind races with anticipation for Hannah to be home and for me to hear her AMAZING stories.  Mostly, will Dima want to be with us?  When we get there will the others trust enough to live with us and learn life skills, go to school and discover the Lord?  Wow, sometimes I simply cannot breathe.  Okay, I am going to my happy place (Hannah’s smile).
Hannah and Dima
I have a meeting tomorrow at FBAS… they believe in the goals of Faraway Place and have agreed to help us achieve Gods’ desires with respect to our mission.  Our Silent Auction will be held at their facility sometime at the end of April or begining of May. Cory, pray for him, he answered our cry for help and has a vision unobstructed by politics and instead rooted in God’s love.  Faraway Place is blessed to have such an AWESOME church and congregation involved in sharing the Gospel of the Lord while providing safe haven and love for teens that would otherwise never stand a chance at much more than surviving. 
Enough for now… love all of you and I will share more soon.  Keep looking up, Michelle