Thursday, May 4, 2017

Summer Trip

I am very excited to be sending out this update. Our American team will be traveling to Ukraine at the end of May for a two week trip that will be jam packed with goodness. We will be opening our cafe (YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As long as we don’t hit any roadblocks) and doing village outreach for the kids. We are over the moon excited to be finally opening our cafe, which has been a dream for years. We know this will not only provide jobs in the village, which is so necessary, but also community. As much as I am excited for all that we will be doing, I am even more excited to see Sasha, it will be 3 months that we haven’t seen each other. I am so thankful for all of you who have faithfully supported, whether that be financially, emotionally, or in prayer. That being said, we need your help. We are hoping to do a carnival for our village outreach. If you would like to be involved by helping us, here are some of our needs: (you can donate the items or give money towards them)

-Small toys for prizes
-Coffee and tea for the cafe
-Hygiene products
-School supplies (pens, pencils, folders, notebooks, backpacks, etc.)

If you would like to donate physical items, we will need them by May 23rd to pack them.  If you would like to donate monetarily, you can use the link below. Thank you so much!

 Here are some of the people I CANNOT wait to see!
Sasha and Andre being their normal silly selves :)
Dusya painting the cafe
Some of the beautiful village girls celebrating Vala's birthday

Vala's 10th birthday

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Village adventure...

Life has had some serious changes this year for us here at Open Arms. There have been many ups and downs, sometimes the downs seemed to outweigh the ups. But I am so excited to get back to Ukraine next month! Four of us friends/team members (Anika, Chelsea, Sasha and I) bought a house in Ukraine last year and will be moving into it next month! We will be living in the village this time around which will be a new challenge for us. We've always lived in the city and just visited the village, but for the time we'll be there this summer we will be village people. Our house (which is almost 100 years old) has no running water other than a hose hooked up to an electric pump outside, no toilet, no shower, no kitchen... It'll be interesting. We do have electricity(most of the time), and an outhouse that has a soup pot used for the toilet.  And a little less than 2 acres of land. We might be crazy, but we're excited. The village where we'll be living is called Ivanivka, and it's the same village where the orphanage is and Dusya and her family. We have a huge heart for this village. As always, we have big ideas for how to best serve.

I am about to book my ticket back to Ukraine for a little less than a month from now and I am suddenly overwhelmed by the need for support and prayer. I'm just going to get the money part out of the way because I hate talking about it. If you would like to  supporting me through Open Arms, I would very much appreciate it. Whether its 10 bucks or 500, one time or monthly, it all helps! To set an online donation through Open Arms, you can use the link below to get that going through our PayPal account. To make it an automatic monthly donation, select the box that says, "Make this recurring" for it to go automatically every month. Thank you so, so much for all you've done in the past, whether you are able to continue or not.

If you prefer to send a check, you can mail it to us as Open Arms Ukraine, PO Box 1148, Oakley, CA 94561. Please make sure to note my name and/or account number (1216) on the memo line.

Please be praying for us as I'm sure there will be moments when we question our sanity in choosing this particular move. Let’s be honest, I am not as young as I once was... Pray for funding as our fundraising in the last year has been lower than normal. Pray for the people of Ivanivka's hearts to be open to God and to us being there. Pray for God to raise up Ukrainian leaders to lead a church in Ivanivka. Pray for our health as sanitation in the village is a bit of a struggle.

Thank you again for your support. I am so blessed to be able to do this and so very thankful for your part in allowing me to serve in Ukraine.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Fundraiser Tea

$12 each to reserve your spot at the tea. Only $10 for kids.
Contact Melissa for more information.

Click here to donate $12 to reserve your ticket for the tea. 
Click here to reserve more than one ticket or donate a different amount. Please specify your number of tickets. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas for our Grads...

You have all probably been to youth group, heard about youth group, or know someone that has gone. And these places are normally filled with fun activities for the kids. Well, our kids are no different than those kids and they want a place to go that is fun. We are very blessed to have a church who loves on our kids and allows them to come there once a week. And even though kids are coming to "church" it doesn't mean that they don't want to have fun. So I would like to ask you to help us fill our little room full of fun for the kids. I am hoping to fill the room with things such as a ping pong table, foos ball, a small pool table and maybe some darts. I want this because it will not only help our kids have a place that is safe, it will draw out other kids who are in need of a safe haven where they can let loose and have some fun while learning about how much Jesus loves them. I have dreamt of a community center for years. I want this because it would be a place that would allow kids to come and have the opportunity to stay out of trouble if they choose. I know we don't have the means to have a community center right now but even a room would be an amazing start. Please think and pray about how you can help with this. 

Here is about what each would cost:
Ping Pong table: $300
Foos ball: $150
Pool Table: $150
Darts: $65

Here is the room we have our meetings in.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Orphanage fun...

Today we got to go to the orphanage and do a little program there for the kids. We went on Tuesday and when we were leaving the kids all asked when we were coming back. It was obvious they needed some love. So we quickly put together a program and went today. We played some games, sang songs, and had a bible story on creation.  The kids had so much fun with the games, here are some pics to show how cute they all are.

Gummy bear game :)

She just can't get any cuter!

Singing some songs..

So thankful for these great people who all helped make this program great!

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Life can sometimes be depressing or feel so overwhelming, but this little girl has brought some serious joy into our lives the past week. This pic was too cute to not share.

I honestly don't know what the future holds for Alina and baby Melissa but I am thankful I know who holds their future.
I was also thankful for a much needed night out. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

It's the small things...

The last few weeks have been some of the hardest that I can remember... Someone I dearly loved went to be with Jesus and watching the family lose their dad/husband/papa was maybe even harder. To be honest, I was looking forward to coming back to Ukraine to have a day's rest. Unfortunately, there has not even been a day of that since coming back. Some pretty bad stuff has happened that I can't write about. Let's just say we have new roommie with a baby for the time being. Then on top of that, things have not been great with some of the grads. The girl in me starts questioning everything we have ever done in Ukraine(Yes, I realize that is a bit dramatic, but these kids are so good at making you feel like complete crap). I have been a little depressed and feeling like we have done more damage then we have good. I am good at letting my mind run with all the faults I have ever done.

All that to say.... I met with one of our grads today and we had a good talk, both telling each other truths that aren't always easy to hear. Then walked home and was thankful that although it is cold it was warm enough still to walk and take some pretty pictures. I felt I got some clarity from my pity party... :) And even though life feels hard and I feel a little lost, I was reminded that this too shall pass. And sometimes, it is the small things, like a walk home by yourself to help you see some much needed perspective.

So thankful I get to enjoy fall if only for a few days. (the river is already starting to freeze)

I love this walk...

Our little giraffe :)

I am beyond thankful that I get to be in this little girl's life.