Sunday, July 13, 2008

Labor of Love

Saturday, July 12th, we had the privilege of witnessing a beautiful memorial in action. A typical American affair really. A lawn spread with tables and blankets, some emptier than others by the time we arrived. The Great American Yard Sale was in full swing, but this time with a beautiful twist. This was the Rachel King Memorial Fundraiser. Our teammates and friends, Vic and Judy Hendrickson, along with their children and grandchildren, have organized this fundraiser for the last five years, in honor of their granddaughter, Rachel, who died of cancer at the age of 11. The money they raise helps to provide for the needs of the foster kids at Grace Church’s children’s shelter in Odessa…our home church in Ukraine. In addition to the usual garage sale offerings, Rachel’s family sells hotdogs, Italian ices, cookies, cold drinks, mostly donated. With pleasure, we stuffed twenty dollar bills into the donation jar for our lunch there. Vic and Judy have four kids and a pile of grandkids. Every family member wears a home made t-shirt with Rachel’s picture…blond, blue-eyed, all smiles.
The story of the Rachel King Memorial Fundraiser is even more poignant. Nine year old Rachel, herself, came up with the idea of selling food at the annual citywide garage sale, and donating all the proceeds to the Grace Church Children’s Shelter. Her family jumped on board, and together, they raised $600 for the shelter that year. Shortly after this event, Rachel was diagnosed with cancer. She died the next year.
This year, Rachel’s family raised $7000+ for the kids in Odessa. We know these kids. They have become precious to us too these last two years in Odessa. Vita, who is starting nursing school…Vanya who performs in every church children’s choir performance…Ira who chats with us when we run into her on the way to school…Valek…who is learning to play the guitar… Dima who just completed auto mechanic school…Little Sasha and Dannig, my little English buddies…Bogdan, the most charismatic kid we know…Vera and Lyubava, tiny twins always smiling…
So, God is still honoring Rachel’s vision to touch kids. These were kids she knew about personally. Don’t ever underestimate God’s ability to enable a child to trust him with her own life and to use her to touch the world.

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