We travel to Ukraine to do serious work.
But spend five minutes with us and you will figure out that we plan to laugh and have fun in the process.
The Bible does not decouple a Christian’s mission on earth with laughter and mirth. In fact, the two intertwine. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Job 8:21 reminds us that God will “fill your mouth laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy.” Psalms 126:2 states, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.'”
So when we have fun, consider it scriptural. 🙂
In the midst of all the intense preparations for Ukraine, we may sometimes forget that, on most days, we will be ministering to children. And children do not readily respond to long sermons and eighteenth-century choral arrangements. They need upbeat stimulation — colors, shapes, movements, music, and action.
Children of Ukraine, meet Joe Swaney and Vanessa Carey, captains of the company of clowns, cut-ups, and comedians coming your way.
Vanessa brings a high-energy optimism to everything she does, all for the children, of course — singing, acting, arts and crafts, and, yes, balloon animals. Just days before departure, she is hard at work on learning the Russian words for “woof,” “roar,” “meow,” and “oink.”
Joe Swaney is like our own Professor Harold Hill from The Music Man, except Joe has scruples. He is not a con man who will skip town with all the cash. Or at least we hope and pray. Instead, Joe, himself an accomplished thespian and entertainer, is a master motivator, convincing many of us to let loose our inner actor. For instance, how in the world he ever convinced Mark Blankenship, our director, and Chris Jenkins, his assistant, to preview our bee costumes, I’ll never know. (For photographic evidence, see this previous blog post!)
Vanessa and Joe together will be directing the drama team that will present at the orphanages we visit… and it promises to be absolutely wonderful!
But that is one of only several terrific activities we have planned when we interact with these children — sports and recreation, arts and crafts, face painting, photography, and, of course, singing and dancing. Stay tuned to the blog each day to hear about exactly what we did and, hopefully, how doors were opened and lives were touched.
Our goal is to meet these kids wherever they are in life, and do our best to give them a dose of two things — the good medicine of a cheerful heart mentioned in Proverbs 17, and the love of Christ reflected through us.