That is the name of our third international conference...Change Our Future!
Last year it was entitled, We are People First. Pastor Sasha called the first one, Hug and Do Not Let Go! He continues to give every conference that title!
Since we had such a large team last year we thought it would continue in the same vein. We planned on going to 4 different orphanages with 4 different teams, spending a few days and reconvening in Kiev for the conference.
We plan, God laughs.
We were astounded when one after the other from our previous team could not join us this year because of various reasons. We had a keynote speaker from Virginia and his wife and our friend Cindy, who has been with us for all the conferences, but NO ONE ELSE. My husband David said maybe there wouldn't be a conference this year. I said," let's wait two weeks."
In two weeks we had a bigger and better conference taking shape that we hadn't envisioned.
But He had.
Our keynote speaker will be Mr. Johnny Kelley who we have heard twice. He is a very powerful presenter and Ukraine won't know quite what to do with him. Johnny has Cerebral Palsy and is a technological wizard. He has a touch screen and writes his own power points that are delivered by a computerized voice. Johnny says he can do anything if he has a ramp. Ukraine doesn't have ramps but we're bringing some along!
His wife, Alesha Kelley is going to accompany Johnny and be a presenter as well. Alesha is an Occupational Therapist and this will be the first trip out of the country for them both. We need your prayers, Ukraine will be rough to get around in for these folks. We admire their spirit and pray it will be a great experience for them.
Dr. Cynthia Normandia, delights the people of Ukraine with her knowledge of how to work with the disabled. She breaks things down step by step and they are always hungry to hear more. Cindy is the head Occupational Therapist for the Chesapeake City Schools. We are blessed to have her.
Cindy shared a documentary with us called NOT FORGOTTEN when we were in the planning stages. It is about the children in Ukraine who are autistic. Two doctors were featured in that documentary. Guess what? They're both speakers at our conference!
Dr. Irina Galina, lives in Odessa, Ukraine and opened a center for these kids 20 years ago. She gets government support which is incredible, and she now has 200 young adults she serves. She has written three books and wants to open another center. Dr. Galina started the first one at the age of 60. Don't you want to be that active at 80?
Dr. Jim Peipon is the other doctor who appears in the documentary. He and his wife are American and have lived in Ukraine for 10 years setting up medical missions trips and ministering to the orphans of Ukraine. We are so delighted he is joining us with his expertise!
Chris and Mary Malone are an American couple with 9 children who decided to move to Ukraine after adopting 4 boys with Down Syndrome from Ukraine. We met Mary at last year's conference and knew she was a kindred spirit! They have 5 birth children, one of whom has DS. They're like us...but younger!!! Delighted they can join us!
The Down Syndrome group in Kiev are sending two young men to tell us more about their wonderful group. The more we read about it the more impressed we are! The DS group have sent letters to 220 social workers in rehab centers across Ukraine asking them to come to the conference for training. We are amazed!
My husband David will be presenting as well as helping to make sure everything runs smoothly. I will REALLY miss not being there this year but I cannot leave the children for 12 days and come back only to leave again in two weeks for our adoption appt. I will be there in spirit.
Pastor Sasha Skripak and his lovely wife Olya are our partners in Ukraine who put this all together. The young people from their church act as our interpreters, techno wizards, set up and break down team, promotional team, program printers, and all around amazing workers! We could not do this without the months of work they put into it. Pastor Sasha is a wonderful speaker and will close the conference.
I forgot, we have a Ukrainian mom and her daughter with DS who will be sharing with us. We met them last year and were so impressed with them both. They have gone against the flow and have accomplished amazing things!
We started out giving them Hope. Americans showing Ukrainians what we do. This year Ukrainians will be showing Ukrainians how to make a difference.
Isn't that a better plan? God is so good!
Blessings to you all, Jane