Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Russian Friends

Olga, our Russian translator and friend, has been a continual blessing in Misha and our family's lives. We have been so delighted to also get to know Paul and the kids over the last few months.

Paul and Olga, Victoria, Alec, Maryanna, Janet, Eugene, and Paul Jr.

Shortly after Misha's hospitalization he began saying that he missed speaking Russian and hearing his own language. Olga told me she would gather together several youth who spoke Russian and bring them up for a visit.
The first group that came were Olga's neighbors, friends and family. They represented three different churches and it was really good for me to experience how Misha feels when everyone around you is speaking a language you don't understand. I really enjoyed getting to meet Natalia and her children, as well as, having David teach me how to play a game of pool.
We had a great day and I just loved the following photo of Hannah and the girls!
A few days later, Misha had a visit from the younger youth group of Slavic Pentacostal Church in Inman. Stephanie and I were at the Bonne Aime dinner, mentioned in the previous post and unfortunately missed getting to meet this group. Misha and the rest of our family really enjoyed getting to know these precious people, as well.

Our family was so blessed by the sweet and compassionate spirits both groups had toward Misha. We were delighted to hear that some of the churches have Russian services and look forward to taking Misha so that he can hear the gospel in a familiar language. God bless you all for everything you did to make Misha feel loved and special!
Misha sure looks happy being surrounded by so many lovely ladies!

Bonnes Amies

During the Christmas holiday, Stephanie and I had dinner with a wonderful group of ladies, who call themselves the Bonnes Amies (which means "good friends" in french); introduced to us by a friend and fellow church member Judy Bishop. We had a delightful time hearing stories about how Judy's mom, Julia Scott, Mary Jane and Florence formed this group over 60 years ago. The group meets once a month and every year has a special theme for Christmas (this year it was candy canes).
We were so blessed as we observed the special bond these ladies share with each other. It reminded me of the days when women would get together and exchange homemaking skills as they laughed and quilted together. The busy generation that we live in has robbed many women of the priviledge of having such close friendships and opportunities to learn from each other. How encouraging it was to witness a group of women who have overcome such obstacles.

After a wonderful meal and a time of sharing the group presented us with a generous check for Misha. Thank you ladies for the special part you have played in adopting Misha.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Misha's New Wheels!

Update: I wrote this post several weeks ago, but due to our lengthy hospital stay, I'm just now getting around to publishing it.

Philip and I have been so blessed over the last two months by your prayers, gifts and words of encouragement. God has used so many different things to demonstrate His provision for our every need, even before we know those needs ourselves. The following story is a beautiful testimony to this.

When we were preparing to leave the hospital 6 weeks ago, three days after Misha's leg amputations, Misha was very nervous about how we would get from the car to the front door of our house. Our home is not handicap accessible and he was really worrying about how we were going to pull this off. Everyone at the hospital assured us that everything would be fine, but Misha wasn't convinced. After hours of quizing him we began realizing that his big concern was our old wheelchair bumping him around to much and not allowing him to recline to the position that was comfortable for him. We decided to just rent a reclining wheelchair for a few weeks in order to give him peace of mind.
(Misha's old wheelchair)

When the day came to return the wheelchair, Misha had a doctor appointment and since the rental company was nearby we decided to just drop it off on our way home. Just for fun, Philip decided to price wheelchairs while we sat in the car. Minutes later he came out, picked up Misha and told me that the saleman was really nice and had suggested we just bring him in for a look around. As we entered, a used electric wheelchair caught his eye. Philip placed him in it and to all of our amazement he began wheeling himself around with great skill and ease. From the look on his face you would have thought that someone had just handed him the keys to a new Ferrarri. He was clearly impressed!!


However, we left that day realizing that an electric wheelchair simply wasn't something we could wisely spend money on. Two weeks later the salesman called and said that the owner had willingly offered to reduce the price. We were amazed at what a good deal was being offered to us; yet, trying to collect money for Misha's adoption must be our number one focus, so we decided once again that even though it was a great deal... it was a luxury that we just couldn't afford right now.

Several days later, Misha had another doctor exam and we found out that he would be hospitalized for several weeks. After the surgery to connect him to the Wound Vac, I had the opportunity to talk with several patients who also had this machine and began realizing that several weeks is a very hopeful estimation. Everyone I talked with had already been hospitalized for at least 6 weeks and most thought it could possibly still be months before they were able to go home.

The thought of Misha being hospitalized for that much time overwhelmed me for many reasons. How would I juggle hospital and home? How could we make a needy child more independent... quickly? These and other questions raced through my mind.

Suddenly my phone vibrated and brought me back to reality. The wheelchair had been privately donated to Misha by its owner. What a shock! And WHAT a blessing!! When I called the store to thank all who were involved with making this gift happen they connected me with the owner of the wheelchair. I was so blessed by the generousity of a total stranger and yet after only moments on the phone our spirits connected by a shared faith. The owner asked that I not reveal their names but gave me permission to share the blessing.


God used this sacrifice to demonstrate several things about Himself to me. His Omniscence was revealed in His knowing our needs long before we did. The day we innocently pursued renting a wheelchair, for a scared little boy, had been orchestrated by a loving God who was preparing others to join with Him in meeting our needs.

Misha has had many painful experiences these past couple of months. The Wound Vac machine has tubes that are connected to a sponge that fits inside Misha's legs. This sponge has to be changed three times a week and is a very painful procedure. Misha's wheelchair was presented to him just moments after his very first sponge change. There could never have been a more wonderful gift for the moment.Because Misha's arms and hands are deformed the removal of his legs required him to depend on everyone else to help meet his basic needs. As I've watched him glide around the hospital with a huge smile on his face, I've realized that the wheelchair help give him back dignity that he had lost. In his wheelchair he can pretty much go where he wants to go giving him a feeling of freedom and control that he desperatedly needed.

Since Misha has been in-doctrinated with atheism, it has been especially wonderful for him to witness the mighty power of God, in providing all our needs.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

World Magazine article on Misha

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by Alisa Harris, a reporter for WORLD Magazine, about doing an article on Misha. Here's the article per WORLD Magazine's website!





One of their own









EASLEY, S.C.—When Philip and Melissa Johnson, the parents of eight children, volunteered to open their home temporarily to a disabled Russian orphan, an organization sent them a photo of 15-year-old Misha Bunitskiy. His hands were twisted towards his body. His elbows were locked straight. His arms were so fragile that you could close your fingers around them. His feet and legs were so mangled he had to walk on his knees.


But a friend told them, "He looks just like one of your children," and since Misha came to the Johnsons' home two months ago, he's become like one of their own. At first Misha had a breakdown if he spilled a drop of food. He was self-conscious about his deformities, especially his feet, until once when Melissa felt an impulse to kiss them. He started to cry, grabbed her in a hug and said, "Mom, I love you!"
It was a breakthrough, Melissa said: "I guess he felt that I had accepted something he's been rejected for." Misha's mother saw his crooked body and abandoned him at birth. Now the Johnsons hope to adopt Misha so he can stay after he completes his medical treatment and recovery. He is with them under the auspices of International Guardian Angels Outreach, a Christian organization that places disabled Russian orphans in temporary foster care while they get medical treatment.


There have been challenges—Misha hates American food and has to break habits he learned in the orphanage, where he smoked and drank—but he has bonded with the Johnson family. "He loved the children," Melissa said. "He really loved me. . . . He came up to me like he wanted to sit in my lap and I just grabbed him and hugged him, and he'd never had that before." He's a mix of strength and vulnerability, Melissa said—brave but terrified of pain.


Misha has already undergone a double amputation at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville, S.C. He'll get a prosthesis and if he chooses, surgery to unlock his arms and fix his hands. For Misha to stay after his recovery is over, the adoption will have to go through before he turns 16 on May 9. Melissa hopes that happens, and that this adoption is part of a bigger one: "The bigger goal is to adopt him into the Lord's family. And you know, that's the reason we do this." — Alisa Harris


To read the entire article, with the other families featured, click here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Longing for Home

Misha is doing great! His legs are healing nicely, and we are praising the Lord that all his cultures came back negative. Every day is filled with occupational therapy and physical therapy among other socialization activities such as crafts and games.

I find that we're kept so busy here, that I've not had the time to update like I would have liked. The hospitalization has also prevented me from getting all the DVD's out in a timely fashion. Stephanie will be sending a batch out today, so I thank you all for your patience.

When I first heard that Misha's stay would be a long one, dread filled my heart. I caught myself worrying how I could ever keep up with all that needed to be done at home and be here at the same time. I praise the Lord for a wonderfully understanding husband, and children who are willing to sacrifice themselves and help out.

I'm daily reminded that God always has us right where He wants us. I have loved getting to know the precious staff here at Shriners. I have met so many wonderful people and have been blessed by so many of the patients as well.

I have a confession. I'm a person who could easily become a hermit. I love being in my home with my family and I really have to push myself to mingle in social situations. Its not that I don't enjoy being around people, quite the opposite, I love people. I am just naturally an introvert and get charged by being alone.

God is using this time to teach me that His plans for our lives are not always comfortable. Stephanie and I have realized that for the moment, God has placed us in an arena where we can share hope to those who are hurting.

Although we all long for home, we will joyfully bloom where we have been planted.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Reflections of Thanksgiving

What a wonderful Thanksgiving we had this year! We traveled down to our oldest daughter's home where we enjoyed the fellowship of her husband's family, along with ours. Our four oldest daughters, cooked the entire meal, providing Isaac's mom and I with a much needed rest.

Last minute touches!

Look at all the delicious food!



And Desserts!



Misha asked us several times what this holiday was all about, so it gave us some great opportunities to teach him about being thankful.


Hannah teaching Misha Yahtzee




During his first days with us, we began realizing that he was not always thankful for the things he received. This confused us because we have always expected that someone who has so little would be grateful for anything they received. Instead, of gratitude we faced a demanding and complaining spirit.



One of the areas that his ungratefulness was mostly displayed was during mealtime. He would say, "foo, me no like"and push away his plate. Maybe some of you out there are also finicky eaters and sympathize with him, but as the mother of a large family I cannot share your sympathy. There are too many jobs in our household to create another. Welcome to boot-camp Misha!!!



Mealtime has become the classroom where Misha is beginning to learn gratefulness!
The Lord has been using Misha's ungratefulness and the heartache it has caused me, to reveal how much my Savior is hurt by my daily demands and ingratitude. As I constantly sacrifice for Misha and work to meet all of his needs, I have become frustrated when he didn't appear to understand the fullness of what all I do for him. One day, when I was in "one of my moods", I began to get a small glimpse of how Jesus must feel when I continually neglect to appreciate all that He has done, and continues to do, for me.

When God adopted me as His child; He took an undeserving sinner and clothed me with a garment of Righteousness. During the 25 years that I have been His child, my needs have always been sufficiently met. Yet, there have been so many times when I have grumbled, complained or questioned His judgement over the circumstances in my life.


Jeanna holding her cousin Mercy

We can all deceive ourselves into seeing only selective things about ourselves. As I have looked into the mirror that God has placed in front of me (Misha), I have seen my true reflection. It is not very pretty!!! I now desire to strive for a thankful, joyous spirit. By the grace of God, and with His help, I will be a better example for "the mirror" He has placed in front of me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Back in the Hospital!

On Monday, December 3rd, we took Misha in for his regular doctor examination. After examining his legs they decided to re-admit him for a surgical procedure that would open up his wounds and allow them to place a wound-vac in both his legs.

The wound-vac is a small machine that connects to a sponge and tubing that is inserted into the wound and kept in place with tape. It gently suctions any drainage from the wound and will expediate proper healing. It also helps keep the area clean so that there are fewer risk of infection.

The negative thing about this machine is that it must stay attached for several weeks to be effective. Therefore, we will be spending most of the month of December in the hospital. Misha's not to happy about that!!!

His surgery went very well. There was no sign of infection, but there was a lot of fluid trapped under the skin. He's doing great and ready to get up and move around.

I've meet some really nice families this visit at the hospital and know that God has providentially led us here. God has proven that He works all things together for our good and He's been using these testing moments to build my faith and trust in Him.

Spending the holidays in the hospital during such a busy time, isn't my idea of a restful break, but God knows how to slow my activities down to the important things. We had already decided to make Christmas very simple this year. God is just ensuring that I have a good excuse!

Please continue to keep us in your prayers!

Blessings to you all,
Melissa

Friday, November 21, 2008

DVD's are Here!


Our DVD's have been duplicated and are now ready to be sent!

If you or your church would be interested in seeing the DVD or passing it around, please email your name and address to helpmisha@yahoo.com.

If you have already donated money, you will automatically receive a DVD unless you request otherwise.

The DVD's are free, so please help us spread the word about Misha, by sharing the video with your church, friends and family.

Thank you all for the wonderful testimony you have been to the "Body of Christ".

Beautiful Feet!


As I mentioned in an earlier post, "My Comfort Zone", stepping outside the walls of protection that I've created for myself isn't something that comes naturally. My family and I are learning though, that having made the first step, God is using our willingness to teach us so many things. One is the depth of God's love for us.

When Misha first came, he was very careful about anyone seeing his feet. Twisted and permanently curled backwards, they reminded me of pictures I have seen of the bound feet of Chinese women. The first time I took off his socks I could see the guarded look of a boy who had felt many rejections because of his deformities. My gentle and approving reaction was a turning point in our relationship. I noticed that in the next few days he felt much more secure in my presence.

One day, as I was drying him after a bath, I felt this impulse to bend down and kiss his deformed and twisted feet. It was one of those times when inside I'm thinking, "This is ridiculous! He's going to think I'm crazy", yet I really felt I was suppose to do it. As I reached down and carefully placed my lips upon the feet that had caused him to be a castaway, his eyes began filling with tears. Suddenly he reached out with a big bear hug saying, "Mom, I love you!" From that moment on, he has never seemed to doubt my unconditional love for him.

Through that experience, I began to remember the times that God has reached down and kissed my deformities. Oh, it wasn't a literal kiss, but He has used several very creative ways of revealing His unconditional love for me, just the same. First of all, God has used the sacrifice of a few Christians, who have demonstrated their love for me when I haven't been so lovely. Their patience and willingness to accept my imperfections has helped ease the pain of spiritual growth.

I began knowing who I could trust with my deepest struggles, and would allow them entrance into my fortress so that they could counsel me on how to overcome these short-comings. One of the greatest things they have taught me is how to die to myself and let Jesus take complete control. Thank you my precious friends! I have truly been blessed!

God has also used His word to comfort and nurture me into realizing my human frailty. I have come to see that God does not desire my perfection. Perfection creates pride! God hates pride! It has been through severe brokenness and coming to the place where I have realized that I, in myself, have nothing worthy to offer God, that complete surrender has come. It was in that broken and unworthy condition that God reached down and kissed my deformities.

Don't struggle against the hands that have created you! He loves you and desperately wants to kiss your feet! They're very beautiful to Him!

Picture found on allposters.com

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nick Vujicic

Shortly after we had agreed to become host parents for Misha, we received a picture that revealed that not only were his legs deformed but also his hands and arms. My husband became very discouraged wondering how we would ever be able to equip him to become an independent person.


I remember driving to town the next day, crying out to God for wisdom in knowing how to handle a situation that was much bigger than us. Misha's handicaps seemed beyond our ability to handle. Philip nor I shared our concerns with anyone but God.

When I got home, I turned on the computer to check my mail. My daughter Heather had sent me a short video clip of Nick Vujicic and encouraged me to watch this incredible young man who was born without arms or legs. As I watched this video, tears began flooding my face. Nick's courage and love for the Lord has given him a tremendous worldwide ministry where thousands have been saved by his preaching and testimony. After watching this video we went on to google "Nick, no arms, no legs" and discovered other video's and sermons by him on youtube.

Nick has truly triumphed over his limitations! God has used him to remind us that: "All things are possible with God!"




Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why A Handicapped Child?



Moscow


For several years, our family had prayed that God would show us what sort of ministry we should be a part of. Most of the ministries we had previously persued seemed to pull our family in different directions. Because family unity has always been important to us, we were convicted that whatever ministry God was calling us to, should be one we could all participate in together.




Moscow


In 1991, my husband was priviledged to be able to go to Romania on a mission trip. While he was there, his heart was touched by a couple of homeless orphans who roamed the streets in search for handouts. James 1:27 tells us that pure religion is to visit and take care of the fatherless. Since his Romanian trip we had been distracted from that mission, by raising eight children of our own. Even though this desire lay dormant in his heart, it was never forgotten.




Moscow


A year ago, our daughter Stephanie left college and told her dad that she wanted to be a part of helping him fulfill his vision in some sort of family ministry. Caught off guard, Philip couldn't really think of what that would be and recommended that she just help with the homeschooling and chores for now. Steph and I began privately praying that God would show our family His plans. Shortly after our first prayer together, Philp came home from work and as we sat around the dinner table, he began telling us of an organization he heard about on the way home. This organization brings disabled orphans from Russia for surgeries that will drastically change their lives. Suddenly, Stephanie's eyes met mine. We smiled at each other as we both came to the realization that Philip has always had a passion for orphans. As she and I quietly observed the whole family taking sincere interest in this new ministry idea, we snuck off to a quiet corner and shared our thoughts. Was this the ministry God had for us? Did we as a family, have the ablity to help a handicapped child?




Kremlin in Moscow


Every time I was pregnant with one of my children, the sweetest words I could hear from my care-giver was that the baby was healthy and without defect. Yet, just giving birth to a normal child doesn't guarantee that they will never suffer events that might cause them to become handicapped. I've come to realize that in just one moment our lives can change forever. A sudden car accident or disease could remove any chances of us continuing the life we presently take for granted.





Orphanage


My husband and I have always known that, should something happened to one of our children, and they became disabled, God would give the courage and grace to face those difficulties. Yet the question might be asked, "Why would someone willingly seek out to become the parents of a disabled child?"


Children in Orphanage


UNICEF says the worldwide number of orphans is now 132 million and growing. This number is absolutely mind-boggling. One might ask, with there being such a large number of orphans needing to be adopted, and so few people willing to adopt them, why seek to make our lives more complicated by taking on a "broken" child. Why not choose an easier road and adopt a young, healthy child who would be easier to raise? I truthfully must admit that taking the easier way would be my natural desire. Yet, as our family has pondered all these thoughts, we came to the conclusion that the easier road might not be the one God has chosen for us. Having a large family and older children to help with all the extra chores a handicapped child will require gives us an advantage that many considering adoption do not have.





It has been our observation that most couples desire to adopt a normal younger child. We began feeling that our ministry needed to be to a child that might otherwise be forgotten. When we heard about International Guardian Angels Outreach, and the disabled orphans, we began feeling that a six month commitment would give us an opportunity to know if handling a handicapped child was something we could actually do.




Misha leaving the orphanage


After many months of prayer and pleas to the Lord for His protection over our family, we began seeing the doors open for Misha to come to us. We have realized that just as our lives can change for the worse with just one car accident, Misha's life could change for the better with the opportunity to hear the gospel and have so many blessings and priviledges opened for him. Only God knows the plans that He has for Misha. Our prayers have simply been that God would direct and protect us as we willingly committed our family to His glory and purpose. Faith is trusting that God will answer those prayers.

The Providence of God

What a suprise it was for me, (as I'm sure it was for each of you!) to come to Misha's blog and find an anniversary love note from my precious hubby. I wasn't expecting THAT!!! Thanks sweetheart!


For those of you who have done the math, and are wondering how we have produced such a large family (including a 27 year old) in only 20 years of marriage; I encourage you to read "Our Love Story and the Providence of God"



I'll warn you though, you'd better have a box of kleenex because our love story has truly been written by God.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Anniversary!



Happy Anniversary Melissa! I love you very much and I am grateful to God that He chose you to be my wife. These have been 20 wonderful years and I look forward to many more to come!

The natural man would think that sharing your love with such a large family would reduce my portion, but just the opposite seems to occur. With the addition of each child it seems that your love for me grows. Even though Misha requires much of your attention at present, I can feel that your love for me continues to grow.

I love you, and may God continue to bless our marriage,
Your Husband

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Comfort Zone

I have always felt safer in my comfort zone, where life is much more managable. Avoiding situations that might get messy or reveal my true sinful, selfish heart, has kept me somewhat protected throughout the years. Without realizing it, I was handicapped! One of my disablities has been fear. Fears have kept me from stepping outside myself and experiencing all that God has wanted to teach me. Over the last six weeks my family and I have begun to get a taste of the joy we have been missing. As I've watched my children smother Misha with more love than he could possibly know how to assimilate, I have realized that he has been more of a blessing to us than we could ever be to him.
All the things that I have ever tried to teach my children about love and compassion have suddenly been placed into an arena where they can thrive. It has given me great pleasure as I have watched each child joyfully sacrifice and show their unconditional love to this new brother. Selfishness that I have tried for years to remove from certain children's hearts, has incredibily begun to evaporate, due to their joyful willingness to serve Misha. None of these attributes have been forced , but mysteriously began developing as God worked on each child's heart while they became first-hand witnesses to a life that has been less fortunate.
Recently, Misha told us that as soon as he was born his mother looked at his twisted and deformed body and said, "Oh, he's scary, I don't want him." This was just the beginning of the rejection he has received in his first fifteen years of life. How deep the heartache of his rejection goes can only be revealed in time. Fortunately, in spite of all the hardships he has suffered, he shows no signs of bitterness. As we have watched and observed him, we have noticed that he is very aware of his limitations, yet, he doesn't complain or say things that indicate he feels sorry for himself. This has put us all to shame as we remember all the silly things we have grumbled about in the past. God is truly using Misha to show our family how to have thankful hearts.
My children have verbally sought to help Misha see that the outside of our bodies is only a shell. I have heard them tell him that it is what's in our hearts that matters most. People can have perfect shells, but be very broken on the inside. This is repeatably revealed in all the Hollywood actors and actresses who are on drugs, lead miserable lives, or commit suicide. Our society thrives on outward perfection, yet the heart across our nation has become bitter and cold. Only Christ can cleanse our hearts and make us pure. I'm so thankful that God gave us the courage to take that first step outside our comfort zone. Life can be dangerously messy outside these zones; as we are daily reminded. However, now that I have lived on both sides, I can honestly say that what I thought was safe, was nothing more than an artificial sense of control over my life. I have come to realize what a foolish protection that was. Psalms 4:8 says, "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makes me dwell in safety." God wants to free us from all our fears, pride and selfishness and fill us with courage, mercy and love. He wants us to learn to depend on Him for our nurture and protection. I can't began to convey all the blessings we would have missed out on if we hadn't been willing to open our hearts, roll up our sleeves and get a little messy by serving this tremendous young man.
Are you comfortable? I encourage you to put your trust in the Lord and step outside!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Treasures of Gold


Watch Treasures of Gold in Family Videos and Faith Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Misha's "Surgeon"

My daughter, Stephanie, posted the following video on her blog:

Misha's sense of humor has kept our family laughing since the day he arrived!
Yesterday, during one of the times he felt intense pain, he was holding his bear dressed in the surgeon clothes the hospital gave him. Between pains, Misha pointed at his bear and said, "Doctor, my operation!". He then proceeded to jokingly break the "doctor's" legs.

We got him to re-enact for the camera...


video

"My legs, you! Spanky, spanky!"

As you can see, he wasn't too happy at that moment with the doctor that performed his amputation! Misha, Misha!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Touching Base

For close to a week now, I've had very little time to be on the computer. I'm so thankful to my daughters for keeping everyone up to date about Misha's surgery. During our hospital stay, many people encouraged me to go home for an occassional rest. Even though I appreciated their concern, I felt that I needed to demonstrate my steadfastness to this young boy who has only known abandonment through his life.

Hannah, Misha and Stephanie

Misha is now at home and doing very well. His pain is kept to a minimum and he's back to cracking jokes with us all. I love how he makes jokes even in his distress. To give you an example of his humor; The second night after Misha's surgery, Philip, Stephanie, Hannah and I were all sitting with him and talking. Since his amutation, there is a good two foot clearance from the foot of his bed. Hannah got a little tired of standing so she very carefully sat down on the end of the bed. Misha immediately raised his head and said, "Ouch, feet! Hannah, you sit on feet!" terrified that she had somehow hurt him she stood up and then smiling he replied, "Joke, Joke!" And persuaded her to sit back down.

Holding a bag of candy he received as a gift

The amazing thing about Misha is even during this horribly painful time for him, he still found something to joke about. His quick wit keeps all of us on our toes.

My initial goal was to document each day in Misha's life, so that we could watch the progress he made along the way. I've come to realize that my expectations were unrealistic. At present, I'm nursing him around the clock with pain medication to be given every four hours and tylenol in between. Normally, I would blog after everyone is in bed but these days I'm trying to sleep whenever there is a free moment.

Asleep on our couch

I hope to get back on top of things soon. I've received so many wonderful blessings and know that it has been because of all of your prayers. I can't wait to share all that God has been teaching me. Thank you for your patience.

Olga: A Perfect Rose for Misha

There have been so many people who have jumped on board in helping us care for Misha. It would be impossible for me to mention all of you by name, but every part that each person has played has been very important in encouraging us to press forward. God has sent many blessings to reveal His control over the entire situation.

On Monday morning, Misha and I sat in the hospital admission area waiting for all the pre-surgery physicals he would undergo that day. I longed to be able to talk with him and calm all the fears that must be running through his head. Without being able to really communicate with him, I was limited to just hold him and tell him that I loved him. This was becoming continually insufficient.

Then Olga arrived. Olga was born in Russia and came to America when she was nine years old. She speaks several languages and works for a company that supplies interpretors to hospitals, jails, courtrooms etc... yet, she has given of her free time to sacrifically help Misha.

Misha and Olga as we enjoyed a meal from Chick-fil-a



I immediately knew Misha and I were going to really like her. She spoke to him so lovingly and I later found out that she is the mother of six children herself. As I watched her communicate with Misha, I began praising God for His careful provision for our needs. Had I been in charge of finding an interpretor that would fit our personalities so perfectly, I would not have known where to began my search. I've been reminded that God knows our every need, even before we do; He also has the perfect provision for those needs.

Olga reading card to Misha

Misha has grown to love and trust Olga and even now that we are home he begs for her to come to our house. When I asked Olga if I could create a post about her, she begged that I not build her up as something special; she didn't want to take the attention away from Misha. May it suffice to say that as God walked through His glorious garden, He picked a perfect rose for Misha.



Thank you Olga!!! You are very loved and appreciated!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some Fun and an Update

While I was visiting this past week, I took a few videos that might give you a little glimpse into the personality of this precious young man we've come to love so deeply.

video

Sorry about the darkness of this video! But we thought you might like to see Misha communicating with the family through Google Translator. We pull up a Russian keyboard on the browser so that he can type in Russian, and he can then translate that Russian to English through the Google Translator. Talk about handy!!

The next video showcases Misha's amazing ability to peg people's little quirks, personalities, and phrases as soon as he meets them. Everybody gets a kick out of seeing him perfectly imitate each of us!

video

Misha's spirits are higher today, and this afternoon they were able to aleviate his pain some. (The epidural they had given him wasn't completely numbing his legs, and he had spots of extreme pain.) When I talked to mom a little bit ago, she said that a few hours ago Misha was rating his pain as an 8 out of 10. As of an hour ago, he said the pain had come down to a 2.

Please continue to pray for Misha's recovery from surgery, and courage in facing the challenges of the next few months.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Surgery Update

Misha came out of surgery around noon, and the doctors said that the procedure went very well. They are hopeful that he will be able to come home soon, provided he begins to heal quickly.

Misha was very disoriented and distressed when he woke up, and the loss of his legs combined with the pain seems to be taking a toll on him emotionally. Please pray that God will comfort Misha, and give him strength and courage. We also need prayer for wisdom for ourselves; that we will know best how to comfort Misha while he's hurting, both emotionally and physically.

Praise be to God for bringing Misha safely through surgery! We have faith that He will heal Misha, inside and out.

Misha's Surgery

My daughter, Stephanie, has posted an update on Misha and his surgery. I am copying the post here for your convenience. To view the original post click here. I will have one of my daughters keep you informed throughout the day with updates on Misha's surgery and recovery as we get more information.


Having just kissed and prayed over Misha, we are now sitting anxiously in the waiting room…the next few hours of his surgery will seem an eternity!
Why did evil win over good in the garden of Eden? That is a question I’ve found myself asking continually as we’ve been at the hospital preparing for his surgery. Even though death has been conquered by our Lord, we must still face the consequences of living in a fallen world.
My dear brother, Misha, is now experiencing a heavy dose of the evil in this world. Because he was born with this disease, it is necessary to have a double amputation in order for him to have improved mobility.
When it was first decided that our family was to foster Misha during his surgery, I didn’t feel very sympathetic towards the operation that would take place. In my mind, it seemed so distant and in-personal; I didn’t fully comprehend all that would be involved. But since Misha’s arrival on September 24, I have grown to love him in a way I never anticipated. He is now truly my brother, and I cannot imagine life without him completing our family!
Because he has become my brother, I am experiencing an overwhelming fear, anxiety, and doubt; there is a sympathy and compassion you feel towards a family-member that is hurting, which allows you to taste a little of what their experiencing.

Yesterday had an early start for dad, mom, Misha and me. After being admitted into the hospital, the day started with many visits with doctors and nurses. Misha and I were able to break away between visits and sneak in some PS2, (Spider-man won most of the time!).
The conclusion of visits came with the last visit to the prosthetics department. In the midst of the conversation, Misha caught my eye and began to make different facial expressions. Our attention spiraled downward as we exchanged expressions back and forth to try to make the other smile. Every time he flashed a smile at me, the room would light up!
This continued for a while until the prostheticist pulled out the samples of what Misha was trading his legs for. I could see a cloud pass over his face and the light faded. We left the room and I could feel a heaviness of understanding at everything he must be meditating on. It had been a full day of information about the pain, hardships, and procedures that would stand in his future, and it seemed as if the cost was greater than the rewards.
Once we walked out of the room, mom and I gathered around him to offer our support. In my butchered Russian I told Misha everything was going to be okay. He began to fight back tears, and after moments of fighting he hung his head in despair and began to weep. We gathered him in our arms and grieved with him; knowing that though the surgery is necessary, and will improve his life, it was needful for him to grieve over the loss of his legs. The amount of change the surgery will bring into his life must be daunting for him. After a few hours of sweet fellowship Misha’s spirits lifted. Though he was incredibly nervous going into surgery, he no longer seemed depressed about his situation.


Misha has no knowledge of a Sovereign God. If I were facing this surgery; I would have security about what would happen to me if all went wrong and I died, I would know that whatever the outcome it was God’s will and He would work everything to His good and for His glory.
Please pray that God will reveal Himself to Misha through this. Pray that He will comfort him with a peace that surpasses his understanding.
This is such a wonderful reminder to all of us how despairing life would be without the promise and comfort of our God!