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Update From Our Ukraine Interview Team

Regional coordinator Marty Shoup is part of our interview team in Ukraine, below she shares a little about their trip so far and a few of the kids they have met!

We’re about halfway through the Ukraine interview trip, and well, there’s a bit of frustration with the way things have gone so far. We haven’t gotten to meet many kids, which is unfortunate. Some of it is an issue of timing, some of it is because of lousy weather, and some of it is because we’ve had to spend some time repairing a damaged relationship with an orphanage director. As a result of that damaged relationship, we missed out on an opportunity to visit a new orphanage in that region. So- we’ve spent a lot of time traveling but not a lot of time interviewing.  However, of those we HAVE met, most we really like. And we know The Lord is going to do wonderful things in their lives.

For those who have heard us talk about interview trips, you know that flexibility is the name of the game. Pre-conceived notions really do have to be left on the side of the road in a pile of wet, slushy snow- otherwise you miss so much.

We’re currently in a HUGE apartment in Kiev. We got to take showers (YAY), do laundry (DOUBLE YAY) and eat a meal that was not prepared at a convenience store (TRIPLE YAY!)  We’ll be here until late afternoon and then take an overnight train to Lugansk region where we’ll be interviewing at 4 new orphanages. The team will split up as the 1 orphanage is a ways off and the other three are clustered together a bit.

I’d always thought of train travel as kind of romantic…. think of the old movies with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, or even Bing Crosby. It always looked like so much fun! Well dressed people, doing nice things, going nice places, having nice conversations in a nice dining car, with room to spread out, room to relax…. Ummmmm- NO.

Though an overnight train in Ukraine IS a convenient and (somewhat) comfortable way to travel, there is nothing remotely romantic about it. I daresay even my marginally germaphobic friends would have an apoplexy if they traveled on any one of the trains we’ve been on. 🙂

As I sit here and think of the kids we’ve met so far, my mind stops on Mikal- a host only boy who did poorly on hosting last summer but has begged for another chance. He’s made some changes in his life and has weathered some tough breaks. He has seen first hand the desperation that can come with post orphanage life as his older (aged out) brother committed suicide just a couple of months ago. It brought Mikal LOW and rocked him to his very core, but I think he’s come out a more mature young man. And one, we hope, more prepared to LEARN from a trip to America. He realizes he’s too old for adoption and that a student visa from Ukraine is not an option; but he is now quite vocal with the younger kids- telling them to really look at their options and see what their future has in store for them. Mikal SEES his future, and he’s trying to help others avoid it.

I think of Anya, a lively and affectionate 14 year old who is described by her caregivers as a “little mother.” She opened up to us about her past and some of the things she had to do to survive before coming to her boarding school. She is a group favorite and I think she’ll bless the socks off the lucky family who gets to host her.

I think of Misha, a talkative 10 year old with a killer smile and a personality to go with it. He was so very comfortable with us and in himself that he sang us a song and said that if he had 100 grivna ($13 US dollars), that he’s buy an airplane and fly far far away for holiday.

I think of brothers Tolya and Ivan… whom we’ve interviewed before but a family has never chosen them. Good brothers, who like each other and get along. Brothers who would very much like to see America- together.

As we’re working on bios today, we’re praying over each child and the family that The Lord already has for them. We pray for open heart, open minds, and open wallets when it comes to fundraising.  We pray for guidance in choosing which children to offer for hosting. We pray for our coordinators back home who are already fielding calls and working off the pre-app with families who want to learn more about New Horizons. We pray for our continued safely as we travel crater filled roads and for the sanity of our dear driver Alex and translators Tonya and Valerie.  We pray for acceptance and excitement for the orphanage directors new to our program and those we can form a positive and mutually beneficial hosting relationship with them.

And most of all, we pray that all we do, we do for God’s glory. Not that we say, “look what we did”…. but “Look what HE did.”




Dr. Sherri McClurg

Dr. Sherri McClurg serves as the CEO and oversees operations. Sherri has a doctorate in clinical psychology and worked for many years with youth who have experienced trauma. She has a private practice and also serves with Maxwell Leadership on the President’s Advisory Council.


  1. thank you for sharing about the work you doing. Many prayers are being lifted on your behalf.

  2. Our ladies group at church prayed specifically for you all today, as our family has been doing. Interestingly, we prayed specifically for those open wallets. “Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” We love you all and are grateful for what you are doing!

  3. I pray you trip improves and that many kids get the opportunity to interview. I am hopeful you get to the orphanage where Vitaliy is and that you can give him a hug for us. Thank you for the update.

  4. Greetings from Canada,
    I was wondering if orphan visit stretch over to Canada here.
    I think your program is a fabulous way to share the
    love of God with children.
    I am definitely interested!
    Grace and Peace,

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