UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Love. Truth. Action.
2012 Winter Mission Team Returns Home
"By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."
1 John 3:16-18
This year’s Winter Mission Team consisted of His Grace Bishop Daniel, spiritual father of the Winter Mission Team; Very Rev. Fr. John Haluszczak of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh, PA; Rev. Fr. Victor and Pani-matka Ivanka Wronsky of New York, NY; Deacon Vasyl and Dobrodijka Ilona Dovgan of the Three Holy Hierarchs Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary Chapel in South Bound Brook, NJ and Patrick Scannell of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Johnson City, NY.
Over the ten-day period the Team worked in the orphanage with the children, sponsoring a St. Nicholas concert; Puppet show presented by Puppet Academic State Theater of Kirovohrad Region, as well assisting with the physical rehabilitation exercises, etc. In addition to the time spent with children of the orphanage, the Team delivered 13 suitcases of humanitarian aid for the orphanage, which arrived as a gift from about a dozen of parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in response to the orphanage's request. Pani Tatiana Ivanivna Valko, director of Znamianka orphanage expressed her gratitude to the Team and the faithful of the Church for their continued prayers and support.
Throughout the trip Bishop Daniel led the Team in daily reflections about their ministry with children of Znamianka orphanage, stating: “Remember, God must become an activity in our consciousness… Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around – for a closer relationship with Christ… Very often we forget that “everyone smiles in the same language…”
The Mission Team was excited because it clearly saw how the work of the Lord is being done through the efforts and generous donations of the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
Patrick Scannell, a student of the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine reflected upon the trip, “This week was everything I wanted in a trip: drawing closer to Christ, each other and our neighbors. The work was definitely challenging and at times emotionally wrenching. The opportunity to experience daily prayers with the children of the orphanages and to serve God with people I grew to love and admire made this a special holy week before Nativity of our Lord… The people that we met, staff and administration of the orphanage as well as the children, were so welcoming and full of God's love… They appreciated the mere fact that we came to help, even though it was only for a short time… We are saturated by our modern day communication with news about the poor and people needing help,” he said, “so that it often becomes just static in the background of our lives. When you see the orphans face to face that all changes. The mission trip has been one of the best spiritual experiences imaginable… I wanted this experience of seeing first-hand for myself! Now I can tell the stories of kindness and the hospitality, the beauty of not just the children of Ukrainian orphanages, but the amazing six others who were my travel companions. I am challenged to live move simply and always to keep the needs of my neighbor in my mind and in prayer...”
The Mission team returned to their homes late Friday evening. Each missionary, touched by the experience of ten days in Ukraine, was changed - many forever. The Team members encouraged each other to get involved in helping others in their local parishes, communities. Each missionary when commenting on their just completed trip used the word ‘incredible.’ All seven Mission Team members were sad to leave the children of the orphanage – “…we will never forget you and we will pray for you. We hope we were instruments of peace to the children. You certainly were to all of us. God Bless all of you…”
Please, note that the College Age Mission trip to Ukrainian Orphanages will travel to Ukraine on 30 May – 16 June, 2013. Application deadline – January 13, 2013! For more information, click here>