BY PAIGE OWENS, GRACE ATTENDER
I recently came back from a Grace Church trip to Ukraine. This was my second time, and I feel this trip was a pretty unique experience for me.
My team went to work with Grace’s Partner Mission to Ukraine (MTU). Every summer, MTU holds summer camps for children with disabilities. We attended the camp.
As we were preparing for this trip, we realized this year would be different than in years past. MTU wasn’t able to reserve the campsite they had used for the past ten or so years, so they found a new campsite. Because of this, the camp wasn’t to start until July 10. My team arrived on July 5.
It’s really cool to look back at how God orchestrated this trip. For the few days we were there before camp started, we had the honor of working a day camp at the Romaniv boys’ orphanage.
Romaniv is an orphanage for boys and young men with disabilities. These boys were rejected. Unwanted. You see so much joy and love in the boys’ faces. You also see the harsh reality of where they live. They deserve so much more.
We spent two days at Romaniv playing games, singing, and doing crafts with the boys. We also had one day where a few of the boys went on a field trip to a space museum. We hung out with them at the museum and a cafe where we all ate lunch.
My experience was unique because every year, a selected few of the Romaniv boys go to the MTU camp. They are on their own team. I was put in the team with the Romaniv boys at camp. I was so excited to spend my entire trip with them.
I got to know so many of the boys. On our days at Romaniv, I really connected with a boy named Serosha. He ended up coming to camp, and I was so thankful for that. At camp, I was paired with a nonverbal boy named Zenya. He had a very quiet presence (unlike Serosha who was very social), but I knew he liked me in how he always took my hand when we were walking from place to place at camp.
I truly saw God’s love in the boys. I couldn’t understand how any of them could ever have been rejected. I was happy to see the love and dignity they receive from the caretakers and volunteers they interact with every day. I was thankful to be a part of giving that to them.
These boys have taught me that no matter what, you’re accepted by God.
No matter what, you're accepted by God.
MTU does a lot of great work. They work with Romaniv and other children with disabilities. They also have a crisis pregnancy center. I’m so honored to have been a small part of all that. For more on MTU and how you can be involved, check out missiontoukraine.org.
And if you get the chance, go on this trip. It will change your life.