Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Karina - From Daughter to Daughter-in-law

Rejected, neglected, starving and kept from others who loved her was Karina's fate after her abused and beaten mother died. "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Karina was the first Borblick foster child who did not come to them through the orphanage. She lived in an extremely dysfunctional family. Her father was a very wealthy businessman with two very wealthy business associates. They were very rich because the business they were in was very illegal and immoral. When Karina was about 11 years old, one of these two associates was killed. This death brought instability to Karina’s family. The father became a very abusive and cruel man to his wife and also to his child. His wife ended up in the hospital and there she died.

After Karina’s father lost his business partner, his money, his business and then his wife, he began to live only for himself. He totally neglected Karina and would leave her at home alone with no money, no food for weeks at a time. To survive, Karina did not go to school but went fishing instead. Sometimes she was able to sell her catch and buy other food. If not, she made fish stew.

She tried going from one relative to another and from one friend to another. They were compassionate for a day or two or a visit or two but eventually they would turn her away. Her grandparents on her mother’s side, at first, wanted to take Karina to live with them. But when she would go spend time with them, her father would come looking for her. He would beat on the door and the windows and yell at them as though they were the enemy and trying to take his daughter away from him. This frightened them very much. One night around 11pm, Karina came to her grandmother again. But this time her grandmother told her that she could not allow her to come into the house. Because of the scene her father had caused on previous occasions, the grandparents no longer wanted to risk having their granddaughter with them. This was a very, very sad realization for Karina.

The government would not have helped these grandparents even if they had had the courage to ask for help. Because the father had not been identified as unfit to parent and no social worker had been involved, he still had the legal right to control Karina’s life. So there appeared to be no solution to her problem. One hope was that the second business associate of her father, who had become a Christian, might be able to help. He took pity on her and from time to time he would care for her. But he was also afraid of what her father might do.

Eventually a friend of Sergey Borblick told him about this girl and her terrible circumstances. During a drive into the city one day, this friend offered to introduce him to Karina. Sergey agreed. Nobody in the Borblick family expected their husband/father to come home with a daughter that evening but that is exactly what Sergey did. When God touches the hearts of these two people, they are promptly obedient and Karina came to live with the family. Because they were getting very familiar with the bureaucratic system of becoming foster parents and knew exactly who would help them do the necessary paperwork, they began this lengthy process within the next few days.

Eventually, Karina’s father discovered where she was and came looking for her. At first, he came with a limp and a stick to help him walk explaining that he had been in a serious accident at his work and had been in the hospital for two weeks. He explained that this was why he was not at home when they took Karina and why he could not get in touch with her to explain what had happened to him. Sergey and Lena did not believe his story and Karina did not want to go with him. Then, he began acting the same way he had with Karina’s grandparents, banging on the door and windows, shouting and yelling, even going to the neighbors looking for support for his accusation that they, the Borblicks, were using these children to make money. The neighbors, however, knew Sergey and Lena very well and just laughed at his accusations. Finally, he gave up and angrily stomped off even forgetting to limp! He tried several more times but Karina always said, “No!” she did not want to go back to live with him. Eventually, he quit coming.

The first few months that Karina was with the Borblicks, she would have nightmares and wake up crying. Lena would rush into her and comfort her until she fell back to sleep. In the morning, there was no memory of these bad dreams. These were difficult months for Karina as far as her studies were concerned. Because she had missed so much school trying to just stay alive, she was well behind the other children in her class. So Lena worked very hard with her at home and on her homework. This continued through the first year of school. But the following year, all the hard work paid off and Karina finished the next school year with very good marks. She went on to graduate from high school as an honors student. She then graduated from technical school with practical marketing as her specialty. She completed that with excellence as well.

Then it was time for her to go to university. Karina was the first Borblick child that the Young Adult Orphan Discipling Ministry (YAODM) supported for her university studies. She attends a school in Donesk, about two hours drive from Mariupol, and has marketing as her major. She is able to attend as a correspondent student and only needs to actually go to the university once a semester for exams.

In due time, Karina and the Borblick’s only natural son, Prohar, fell in love and were married in June of 2009. Prohar, who is now 25, had been working and living independently in Mariupol while Karina was being raised in his family home. They are expecting the first Borblick grandchild in October, 2010. For this reason, Karina has taken a leave of absence from her university studies but plans to return next year to complete them. She and Prohar are living with Sergey and Lena while a house that Lena inherited from her step-father is being renovated for them.

This is certainly a Cinderella story and one that Sergey and Lena have been blessed to receive from the Lord. With so many of their foster children choosing to live a life independent of their leadership and parental guidance, this daughter who has become a daughter-in-law is truly a reward from God for all their obedience and sacrificial love.

Maxim - The Brilliant One!!

Locking himself away (sometimes in a dirty bathroom) from the world, hours at a time, was Maxim's solution for dealing with life. "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14.

Maxim was 10 years old when Lena first met him at the orphanage. The supervisors had talked to her about a new little boy that they were especially concerned about. Maxim was unusual because he was completely absorbed into himself. He did not communicate with anyone, not the staff and not the other children. In fact, the other children in the orphanage did not like Maxim and abused him for any reason. As a result, Maxim began to lock himself in the bathroom for hours at a time.

This behavior troubled the supervisors immensely because they had already had three children commit suicide in this orphanage and they were afraid of another. Maxim was also physically very weak and although way beyond babyhood, still wet the bed. Another problem that faced Maxim, especially with his poor health, was that he was in a room where all the boys smoked cigarettes. Lena observed that when the kids she had taken from the orphanage behaved themselves and kept themselves in good relationship with her and others in the family, their beds were not wet. But when there was sin or secrets, the bed, of that particular child, would be wet. As soon as he or she would repent of the behavior the bed would be back to dry. So, this fact of bed wetting did not concern Lena.

But the lack of communication was a grave concern. Even at a Christian summer camp, Maxim had locked himself in a bathroom for more than 30 hours. He was obviously very troubled and this was a problem for the orphanage staff.

When Lena first saw him, she described a little boy, with snot all over his face and body and with an awful smell of urine emanating from his small frame. But when she began to talk to him (and for some unknown reason, he was willing to do this), she saw life in his eyes. Maxim was like her little Olga who just seemed to attract troubles to herself. Lena believed she could find something worthwhile in Maxim and he also became part of the Borblick family.

Although he was completely unaware about proper hygiene and taking care of himself, clothes, hair, smell, Lena eventually discovered, Maxim was extremely gifted in unique areas. Even though he had no formal or even casual learning in these unique areas, he was very skilled at doing them. Among these areas were chemistry, music ( self taught to play instruments) and art. At age 13, Maxim dreamed about learning the piano but, no school of music would take him even though he could play almost any musical instrument.

Lena would talk to Maxim for many hours on any subject as he wanted to share many ideas. He stopped being non-communicative in Lena’s care and with the Borblick family. Although extremely talented, Lena also discovered that Maxim was extraordinary in one other way – laziness. As with all of her children, Lena prayed about Maxim and received a revelation that this laziness would become a real snare for this boy. But he would not listen to her about overcoming this weakness in his character.

Maxim learned the Bible very quickly because he had such an agile mind. But he still had, Lena believed, some spiritual oppression or problem that she felt needed to be addressed. Neither the social workers nor the church would help her in this. They told her to deal with the spiritual warfare on her own. On the one hand they prohibited her from doing what she felt needed to be done, but were unwilling to offer any help. She was all alone in this except for her husband, Sergey. They now had two bed-wetters to deal with and no social, psychological or spiritual help for either boy.

Eventually Maxim finished school with good, but not outstanding, results. He was capable of much more, but even with every little effort, he received high enough marks. He was also baptized in the church. So, Lena saw good progress with Maxim.
It was time now for Maxim to enter the university. Lena begged him to stay in Mariupol so that she could take care of him. She knew he would not do this and would allow himself to become unkempt again. But, he would not listen to her. He entered the medical faculty at the university in Kharkov, a city some 500 kilometers from Mariupol. For the first year, Maxim managed alright. But at the end of that first year, he began to have problems living in the dormitory and began missing lectures. Finally, he left the university. He didn’t want to do the homework and he didn’t want to bathe.

Maxim fully understood that he was wrong, but he chose to live that way anyway. After he left the university, he went into the army and did his mandatory service. Because of army rules and structure, he did what was needed and completed his one year. Lena again suggested that he return to university but enter the field of criminalistics. He liked this idea and seemed enthused by a new direction. He went to Kharkov again, but never enrolled in the university. Instead, he found a job in an art studio carving wood, which he was very, very good at. This studio made custom furniture and decorations so it paid enough for Maxim to live.

In the last year and a half, Lena has not heard from Maxim. Yet, this is another success for her in raising a child with numerous problems so that he could finish school and become a useful adult. Although it has not turned out completely as Lena and Sergey would have desired, they know that they have been obedient to God and done what He has asked them to do in this young life. They pray for Maxim, as they have with Sergey and Yuri before him, that he will one day restore the relationship with them and return to Jesus as Lord of his life.

My personal comments/opinions: Although Maxim never had any kind of psychological assessment, I believe, with my training as a Marriage Family Therapist, that Maxim probably has some form of autism or similar psychological illness. Perhaps it is caused from some level of spiritual oppression, as Lena believes, and perhaps it is due to some form of early brain trauma that neither the orphanage or Lena was aware of. Even though autism is becoming a more frequent childhood diagnosis, there is still very little known as to its cause and even successful treatment is unique to the child and his or her particular level of impairment. Praises be to God that He equipped Lena to be as effective with Maxim as she was. May God protect him and keep him safe.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Olga - The first GIRL!

Ugly, unkempt, stupid, disaster-finder. This is how Olga would have described herself before she met Lena Borblick. "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you." John 14:18

Olga began her life in the orphanage at a very early age. At 2 years old, her youngest sister died because her mother did not take care of her. When social workers came to the home, Olga was lying in a child’s bed with no bed clothes and cock roaches crawling all over her. She was quickly taken from the home and placed in the orphanage. Both the mother and the grandmother were alcoholics and parental rights were removed. Minimal contact has been maintained by the mother and grandmother Olga since was removed from her their care.

Olga was at the same orphanage where Lena had taken both Sergey and Yuri into her home. In her visits there, Lena had established a connection with young Olga. But she was a child who was full of defeat and a continual liar. One day when Lena was visiting the orphanage, Olga asked her, “Don’t you like girls? Why do you take only boys?” Being moved by this, Lena began to spend time with Olga. But it was difficult because Olga was a very unattractive child. She never took care of herself, like combing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she had ears that stuck out on each side of her head. Her teeth were unhealthy and uneven.

In addition, bad things always happened to Olga. If a brick were to fall from a roof, Olga would find a way to be hit by it. She was a magnet that attracted every type of problem. Lena really struggled to find something positive in her. Eventually, she found that Olga greatly desired to be trusted. She was also fond of working with younger children and was very hard working. In this photo, she is watching 3 year old Masha play.

When Olga was 11 years old, Lena took her home to live with the family, Lena soon discovered that even with Olga’s positive features, there were problems. For example, though she loved working with younger children, her goal was to control and manipulate them. She would notice them doing wrong things, point those things out, and then tell them to keep it a secret from Mom (Lena). In this way, she had a means to control them when she wanted to use it.

Although Olga was a hard worker and would gladly volunteer for various tasks, she would not do a thorough job and sometimes would even cause problems for others with her lack of thoroughness. An example was when she would wash the floor but leave it unclean and very slippery causing others to fall. One worker at the orphanage, who liked Olga a great deal and even interceded for her to be taken home by Lena, was a victim of Olga’s sloppy and slippery floor washing. As a result, she fell down a flight of stairs and injured her back very severely. Another example was when Lena asked Olga to get something from the cellar. She obediently did this task, but left the ladder exposed which created a serious danger with the younger children around.

Lena continued trying to find something positive that Olga could do and be successful with. Within a short period of time, Olga began to know more about keeping the house than Lena did and Lena began using her in this way. Olga was a big help with the younger children who came to live in Lena's home. Eventually she began taking Olga with her when she visited the various government offices she needed to frequent regarding the foster children she was caring for in her home. Olga was quite helpful because she was a good example of a child who had been helped and was showing good signs of becoming a useful person because of it.

Her academic abilities were very, very poor. It was so bad, that while in the orphanage, they had wanted to put her into a mental institution for the educationally handicapped. Twice she had to repeat the previous school year and still knew very little at the age of 11. She was around the 2nd form (equivalent to 3rd grade) in her learning to that point. Before taking her home, Lena had told her that one of the reasons she could not take her was because her academics were so poor. Olga responded to that in a very positive manner by learning ALL of the times tables, 2 through 9, in a matter of 2 weeks. This determination convinced Lena that this girl was teachable and could learn what ever was needed.

As a result, Lena had a very serious talk with Olga and told her that she would end up in an asylum if she did not become motivated to learn. Olga again responded in hope and was willing to have Lena spend long hours with her doing home schooling as well as attending regular school. After some time, Olga brought home excellent marks. Then it happened again and still again. At one point Lena asked Olga if she understood that she was not stupid. Olga answered that she, indeed, did not see herself as stupid any longer. So then Lena offered her a choice. She told Olga that it was up to her as to how she wanted people to see her, stupid or not. She used Jesus as the example of someone who made a decision as to how He wanted people to see Him. At that point, she asked Olga to make a choice as to how she wanted to learn, as a normal person in school, or as a handicapped person. Olga made the decision to learn at school like a normal child and Lena no longer had to worry about her.

When the issue of education had been closed, another had to be dealt with. Olga, as mentioned previously, had a bad habit of wanting to control people. Although she was only 12 years old, she controlled everyone, children and adults, by knowing their secrets. She even attempted to do this with Lena.

Each day, the family would have one hour of Bible study and each child would do their own study in a different corner of the house. Olga did not like to do this daily task and would often try to avoid it. This particular day, she asked to go upstairs to Lena’s sewing room to do her study. After a short time, Lena heard a terrible scream from upstairs. She froze and at that moment, the Holy Spirit revealed to her exactly what had taken place. When the rest of the family heard this scream they all rushed to help Olga, even the father, Sergey. Olga was in the hallway with a very pale face, fear in her eyes, and blood dripping down her leg. Everyone was in shock wanting to know what had happened to her. Nobody knew what to do. So Lena approached her and instead of talking in soft, comforting soothing tones, Lena confronted her asking, “How dare you do this!” Olga immediately tried to blame Lena saying that she did not take care of things and that was why she had gotten hurt. Lena, who was confident in what the Holy Spirit had shown her, said, “No, it was not me.” She asked Olga, “Do you want to hear the real story?” Olga foolishly said, “Yes, I do.” Lena said, “You were in my sewing room, not reading the Bible as you were told to do. Instead you began to look through my things and found a razor blade. You were afraid to cut your leg with a whole blade, so you broke it into two parts. You were still afraid, so you broke it, still smaller, into two more parts. Then you took that tiny piece of blade and made the cut on your leg. But not very deep and little blood came out. So then you began to squeeze and shake your leg to make the blood flow more freely and then you began to scream.” Olga was in shock. The other kids were too. One of the younger girls tried to side with Olga and asked Lena why she was so angry. She tried to argue that Olga could have accidentally cut herself. Lena responded to her, “My dear daughter, I would give you $10 if you could do this (accidentally cut yourself with this tiny blade).” So Olga learned that day that Lena could not be controlled by her, although several more attempts were made to do so. Eventually, with much time and prayer on Lena’s part, and explaining to Olga each time it would happen how she herself had to take responsibility for her actions, change began to happen. Lena made a big effort to direct Olga’s ability to lead and direct into right actions and directions. For a certain period of time, the control issues at home stopped.

Olga graduated from 9th form (high school) as a normal student and with good academics. She also graduated from technical school and enrolled in a university in another city (Kharkhiv) to become a social worker. Now Olga is 22 years old, serious and choosing the standards and values that she will live by. She has two more years before she completes her degree program. Unfortunately, the changes Lena was able to help Olga make in the family are now coming back to Olga as ways of coping in her new environment. Lena has, in conversation with other students, learned that Olga is once again using her controlling strategies and causing problems among her friends. Lena, of course, continues to pray for Olga to make these changes permanent in her life through her relationship with Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two Crystal Vases - A Borblick Analogy

Although this short diversion does not directly involve the Borblick children, it is a warm example of how Lena trusts and depends upon the Lord she loves. It is also an analogy as to how God can take something damaged, ruined beyond use, and replace it with something brand new; similar to how damaged orphans (or any person for that matter) can be changed from an “old (or ruined) man” into a “new (restored) man” through God’s wonderful grace and mercy.

Lena had been given two crystal vases. Normally, Lena would not give much value to worldly things, but these two vases were special mementos. The first had been given to her by her father. The second had good memories of when her children were young.

The second vase was broken when Lena put lilac flowers into it. In Ukraine, it is known that hot water will make these blooms last longer. Lena had already put a small amount of cold water into the vase, but when she poured in the very hot water, the vase shattered. She was very sad about that, but she still had the other crystal vase which was her father’s gift. Vase #2 gone!

That vase was stored in the room where Yuri (the second orphan boy) was living. At night, he began to use this vase as a urinal. It began to smell terrible. One day, Sergey took the vase and smashed it because he felt it was beyond rescuing. Lena tried to argue with him but he would not listen. Vase #1 gone!

Several days later, an acquaintance of Lena’s came by their home. She brought with her a vase, identical to the one destroyed by the hot water. She explained to Lena that she did not understand why she had bought this vase because she did not need it. So, she offered to give it to Lena. Vase #2 restored!

A few days later, Lena’s mother also was out shopping and found a duplicate of the vase her father had given her years before. Because her mother recognized the vase, she bought it and gave it to Lena also. Vase #1 restored!

Lena says that this was God’s joke to her, because it is an example of how God works with us. The children Lena brings into their home are often like one of these vases, damaged, broken, smashed. But through God’s love, they are able to be restored.

Yuri, One Who Could Not Change (no photo available)

Imagine you are 14 (Prohor, the natural son) and realize that your parents are good godly people who want to give another young person, not as blessed by God as yourself, a chance for a good home and a successful life. You have accepted this fact and even enjoy having a brother (Sergey) to spend time with. Now they have decided to do it again! When will it be enough, for heaven’s sake?

Yuri was not a blessed child. He was born of a mother who had six children by several different fathers. Obviously, she did not provide Yuri with the type of family and upbringing that would give him a stable home life. As a result, Yuri would leave home from time to time and live on the streets. At the age of 9, his mother, at age 56, took him to the local orphanage and told them that she could not discipline him. This is a common story in Ukraine and they willingly took him. He never knew his father. Yuri eventually found his way back to the streets.

But he wasn’t as lucky or as smart as Sergey and was picked up by the police and placed in an Isolator. The Isolator is used to temporarily “house” street children to determine if they have any infectious diseases or if they have extreme behavior problems. Life in the Isolator is very difficult. The kids are treated for lice and other organisms, given very little to do and are angry and frustrated due to their imprisonment. Fights break out, discipline is tough and the staff is harsh, out of necessity. After two weeks in the Isolator, the children are placed in various local orphanages based upon age and other special needs.

The Borblicks were not planning on taking any additional children at this point in time because it had not yet been a year and they were still adjusting to Sergey and his extensive needs. But the orphanage director had a different plan. It was the end of the year and the staff of the government orphanage wanted its end-of-year reports to look good. They had one problem child left and it was Yuri. Yuri had been brought into the Isolator because he had been caught stealing, so it was a matter of getting his documents in order for the court and then on to prison. But the staff, in the Isolator, was unusually concerned for Yuri because he was a handsome boy and they were certain he would be subjected to sexual abuse if he was placed in a prison facility. So, in the interest of having their reports look good, getting Yuri off their hands and not sending him directly to prison, they concocted guardianship documents for Lena and Sergey Borblick. They then called Lena to congratulate her on her new addition to her family and asked when she would like to come and pick him up.

Lena actually did not have a problem taking Yuri, but she explained to the orphanage director that her husband did not have a permanent job and the law would not allow them to have another child. The director said, “Oh, don’t worry about that.” And thus Yuri became their next foster child. This was an important lesson for Lena. She learned from this experience that even government rules can be changed, if it is in the best interest of the people who have the power to change them.

From the beginning, Lena felt a huge evil presence in Yuri. She prayed to God for love and acceptance towards this boy, regardless of these feelings. God gave her the love and care for Yuri. But Yuri was not sincere or honest with her and began to steal food from the kitchen just because he wanted to take something, not because he was hungry. As they did with Sergey, they took him to church and he began to learn from the Bible that such behavior was not acceptable to God and others. Unfortunately, this behavior did not change. Lena could tell when Yuri was responding rightly to her love and care for him. When he was honest and not hiding anything from her, he would stop wetting the bed at night. But as soon as there was some sin or secret behavior, the bed would once again be wet. Lena’s understanding of God’s spiritual law of authority, for her as a parent, is this: once she has legal authority over the child, God gives her the spiritual authority to bind, break and prohibit the sin that binds him or her. But there is also one condition: the child must want this change and must be sincere and honest in dealing with her and with God.

With the help of the family, Yuri got a good education and graduated from technical school. He got a good job at the local steel mill with Lena’s help. When he was 18, with a profession and a good paying job, Lena and Sergey asked him to leave their home and move into the dormitory provided by his employer. Lena probably never would have selected this boy from the orphanage because of the negative, evil feelings she felt when near him. Lena had a premonition that he would do something terrible, like commit murder. Yet, even with this fear, she allowed him to live with her family for 3 years and prayed continually for him.

For these reasons, Lena and Sergey had finally asked him to leave. When he left, he did not take all of the things he had packed in one trip. Two duffel bags remained. The other children, being curious, got into these bags and found items belonging to the family. Lena saw that even though she loved Yuri and tried giving him what he would need to change his evil behavior, it was not enough. Yuri would not make the choice to change his life. Eventually, he did kill a woman and is now serving time in prison. Yuri had a dark side that was unable to be changed even with the love of a family and the presence of God. Lena and Sergey continue to pray for Yuri and hope that one day he will make a choice for God and his life will be changed forever. Lena has one other understanding of her spiritual authority from God: as soon as a child says I am big enough and I can live my own life, her spiritual authority over that child is over.

Prohor, Natural Born Son

What would it be like to be praying for a brother (or even a sister) to come into your family and then finding out your prayers were being answered but it isn't a baby? He is 14, just like you? This is the situation that confronted Prohor, the natural son of Lena and Sergey. Fortunately for the parents and for the son, there was instant love and affection between the two boys.

Prohor had grown up with parents who became believers when he was still a small child, so he learned to experience miracles, as his mother had, in his early life. As a young boy, Prohor was very active and successful in sports. He became interested in oriental boxing. Lena and Sergey were not happy about this interest and knew it was not acceptable to the church because it involved violence and meditation, ie. Eastern religion. So, they told Prohor that they did not approve of this sport. But they had no alternatives to propose to him. They asked the pastor of the church to talk with him. The pastor did speak with the boy and advised the parents to NOT prohibit him from participating in this sport, but to pray for him and for God to show him another way.

Because of his success in this sport, he was invited to Hungary for a competition. Simultaneously, Prohor began to have a serious liver ailment. He had been jaundiced at birth, so there was some predisposition to this very serious problem. Lena took him to a specialist for ultra sound and analysis. The diagnosis was horrendous and very serious. The doctor knew about a particular treatment for this illness but regretted that it was very expensive. He advised that this treatment would take 2 years to work and that they should then come back to him after this period of time. Of course, they could not afford this expensive treatment so the next step was to see their regular pediatrician for other treatment options. This doctor was in shock when she saw the results from the analysis and diagnosis. She wanted to give Lena both a modern treatment and an old wives healing alternative. She began to dictate this remedy (the old wives option) to Lena but Lena began to realize that she already knew another treatment and told this to the doctor. Lena was not specific with the doctor as to this treatment, but she had decided she needed to pray.

Several days later when Prohor was having a particularly bad attack, Lena asked him if he believed in God and that God could heal him. Prohor said yes to both questions and began to sincerely pray that God would heal him. During his prayer, he felt that something had left him as a vapor up to heaven. Lena believes that on that day he was completely healed.

Lena and Sergey now were willing to let him go to the competition in Hungary. But, they would need the doctor’s release in order to have that happen. They went back to the specialist who had given them the diagnosis. They told him what had happened. Immediately, he asked if they had used the expensive remedy that he had previously suggested. But it had only been a couple of weeks, so even the doctor was questioning how this could possibly be true. Lena insisted that Prohor was no longer ill. So the doctor had him lie on the table and proceeded to do another ultra sound. In the process, he stopped in astonishment and began talking to himself, questioning whether this was the same boy or what could have possibly happened in such a short time.

Lena said that they had been praying. The doctor then said, “Of course, you should have told me this in the beginning." He had no problems with the fact that this boy could have been healed through prayer and readily gave the release papers to Lena.

Now they needed a second release from the pediatrician. This doctor, of course, was also astonished. But when Lena said that she had used her own medical treatment – prayer – she wanted Lena to dictate to her the exact words that she had used. She obviously did not understand how prayer works. But, she also gave the release papers to Lena.

Prohor did go to Hungary for the competition. However, while there, he saw how corrupt and unjust the system of judging and organization actually was. As a result, he, by his own choice, decided to quit. Lena and Sergey were not really surprised by his decision since they had taken the Pastor’s advice and could see God’s hand in this whole matter.

(There will be more about Prohor in subsequent chapters of The Borblick Story).

Sergey, First Orphan Son

What would it be like to be 14 years old and already know that you are a loser? The people who were supposed to love you and take care of you, Mom and Dad, didn’t and couldn’t. Although in this case the mom was well educated, she rejected her own family and married a man who was continually in trouble with the law. Their life together was a misery for both of them. He, after several attempts, hung himself. She out of guilt and grief became an alcoholic and eventually died. Their child became a victim of the street. Of course, this can happen to children anywhere in the world, even in affluent countries like America. But what happens to a child who is not in a country that can provide adequate social services for it’s poor and hungry? What happens to a child who has become an orphan simply because his parents were too selfish and self-centered to recognize their responsibility toward him and who had no one else who cared?

Young Sergey was one of the “unwanteds” of the world and the first young orphan boy that the Lena and husband Sergey decided to take into their family. They already had one son, Prohor (more about him in the next post), who was about the same age as Sergey. Once they determined he should be their son, Lena boldly went to the orphanage to ask permission to become his guardian. This was not a normal action for Ukrainians, even Christian Ukrainians, at this time. It was 6 years, 2004, before the government would establish a nation-wide program encouraging families and providing financial support for those who were willing to take orphans into their homes. A similar program was established for those wanting to adopt Ukrainian orphans. Lena and Sergey’s actions were prompted only from their devotion to God to do what His Word was commanding them to do, “Take care of widows and orphans.” (James 1:27)

Sergey had only been in the orphanage a few weeks, but already he had found a friend who was a model of good behavior and did well in school. Sergey, on the other hand, was and did the opposite. Sergey was sitting with his new friend when Lena came to talk with him. He thought, naturally, that she was interested in talking with his friend, not him. You see, Sergey had already determined that he was unworthy of an adult stranger’s time and conversation. He expected all adults to treat him badly. He did not expect to be called by name and when she explained that she wanted to take him home he did not believe her. He simply could not comprehend that it was true and that someone actually wanted him. She had to explain the situation to him several times before he understood.

Within a few days, the orphanage staff prepared the necessary papers and Lena and Sergey (father) became his guardians. He had an instant friendship with their one and only natural son, Prohor. But there were problems. Sergey began to reveal his secrets to them. First he confessed that he smoked and had for several years. He was addicted to nicotine and continued to smoke secretly, in the Borblick’s home, when he could. But that was not all. He was also addicted to alcohol and had a capacity to drink a great deal. He spent time every day thinking about how he would be able to get alcohol. But that was not all. Sergey had also, at his young age of 14, been introduced to sex and he liked that too. Lena and Sergey anticipated that bringing this boy into their family was going to be challenging. Now they were beginning to see the scope of that challenge.

Eventually, they also learned why Sergey had ended up in the orphanage. His parents were still living, but he was not living with them as their child. His father had left the family before he was even born, eventually committing suicide. His mother tried valiantly to raise him on her own, but she eventually turned to drugs and alcohol (she also died very young) and he was left to fend for himself. So, he made his life on the streets. He and his “street” friends made a practice of stealing and used the money they accumulated to purchase narcotics. He was also on the road to becoming addicted to drugs as well. His friends had been caught in the latest escapade, but miraculously, Sergey had escaped. In order to avoid getting turned in by his “buddies” and going to jail along with them, he went to the local orphanage and asked them to take him in. They willingly did this. Sergey already figured out that if he was in the orphanage, the staff would not want any bad publicity reflecting on them. So the chance of them turning him over to the police was very slim. Handing himself over to the orphanage was an escape for Sergey but not because he hoped to find reform there. In fact, he hoped to escape from there eventually too.

Lena and Sergey (father), after realizing who and what they had invited into their home, began to find ways to help him. They took him to church and the church members came alongside to encourage them and befriend Sergey. They began praying with him and for him as part of their family. In just a few years time, Sergey was able to finish the 9th form (equivalent to junior year of high school) at school, graduate, and enroll in the very prestigious Navy Lyceum. This school is very difficult to enter and has a very tough entrance examination. But, somehow, with the support and hope of a loving family, Sergey was successful. Through this education, he was able to graduate as a professional sailor and secure a job on a merchant ship.

Unfortunately, this was also Sergey’s spiritual decline. He began to make good money and take care of himself independently. He stopped going to church and became independent of his new parents and the government. Now, he has no close relationship with the family and is often out to sea for 6 months at a time. Lena and Sergey (father) are grieved about this. Although Sergey (son) was accepted by the family, the church, and even the youth group in the church, it was hard for him to refuse the lure of the world (no different, really, from some Christian teens in America). And, at least for now, Lena and Sergey are happy that he is not homeless, not in prison and not jobless. These would all have been Sergey’s future if the Borblicks had not been led by God to help this young boy. They feel that one day he will return to them and to his faith in God.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Borblick Family Story - Chapter 1

I’m back!!!! And I can already see that I am going to have to make some changes in the title of my blog. Who woulda thought that I would resume writing from California rather than Kyiv??
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After living as a missionary in Ukraine for the past 7 years, the move back has not been easy for me. Each day I spend time with the Lord asking what His Plan is for me now. I know that He has His reasons for bringing me back to live in America and that I must be patient to wait for His leading. One thing he has already shown me is that I am to resume writing here.

My first task is to bring you the story of the Borblick family. This is the foster care family that I met about six years ago when the Lord directed me to begin the new Young Adult Orphan Discipling Ministry (YAODM) in Mariupol. At that time, I was so amazed and blessed by hearing their story that I told them I wanted to help. I committed to helping their older children, who remained in the Mariupol area, to go on for higher education. YAODM has been financially supporting three of these young adults over the last 3 years in various institutes and universities in the Donesk region of Ukraine where Mariupol is located.

Now, I believe, it is time to tell you their story so that you, too, can be blessed and encouraged by a family that has done what God has asked and directed them to do. In order to take on this awesome task, He has given them spiritual discernment, the power of prayer and healing, and abiding love for children who are not biologically theirs. This is an amazing story. Because they have only one natural son and at least 13 to 16 additional children (depends on how many they will take into their home this year), this story will come in chapters. Chapter 1 is how Lena and Sergey, the mom and dad, first met and began living the vision God had given Lena as a child.

The Borblick Family Story – Chapter 1 - Lena and Sergey
Lena Borblick had pneumonia several times by the time she was 5 years old. Hers was a very complicated illness and the fifth time she was sick she almost died. From a very young age she understood dying. During this last illness, she had a clear vision of a rose colored ribbon moving, she saw the end of this ribbon and then complete darkness. Suddenly, she saw that the two ends of the ribbon were twisted together to form a rose. At this point, she returned from death back to life and she realized that she had been given another opportunity to live. No one had ever taught her about God, but somehow she knew that it was He who was giving her this second chance and she wanted to know the truth about this God.
Under the Soviet Union, Protestant churches were prohibited. Only the Russian Orthodox church was allowed to exist and under strict observance from the government. Bibles were few or non existent. The only way that Lena felt she could find the truth was by talking to people who claimed to have some spiritual truth. Usually these people were practicing some form of occult spiritism. Each time she tried to talk with one of them, she was sent away and told to never come back. Perhaps she had already been touched by God in some way and was a threat to those in the occult world.
At the age of 20, Lena was living in St. Petersburg with her sister. Both girls were beginning to live as independent young adults. She had a fiancé, an older man, and was living with him part of the time. By Soviet standards, this was a very good match for Lena. This man had an apartment in St. Petersburg and was a Captain in the department of highway police. He made a good salary and extra money from the corrupt way the government functioned. Lena told this man that she did not love him, but he loved her and wanted to marry her anyway.
In December of that year, she came to Mariupol, where her parents lived, to visit them. On New Year’s Eve, she went to a restaurant with some friends to celebrate. There, they met some very tough men who were members of a gang. Sergey, God’s choice for a husband for Lena, was also a member of this gang. Lena must have been very beautiful, because two of these men were instantly in love with her. One of them was even there with his fiancĂ©e and told her to cancel the wedding because he wanted to marry Lena, right then! But Lena was interested in Sergey and eventually they began to date. But Sergey’s buddies were jealous of this relationship and tried very hard to convince Lena that Sergey was a bad person. One of the tricks they tried was to hire prostitutes to hang on Sergey and kiss him when Lena was around. Sergey was oblivious that his “friends” were doing the hiring and why they were doing it. But, the Lord’s plan prevailed and soon, they were married. The year was 1985.
After Lena and Sergey were married, someone gave her mother a small New Testament. Her mother gave the small book to Lena. But she did not begin reading it right away. Lena had been working with another woman by the name of Vallya, who knew of her interest in finding the truth about God. She told her about a woman with great wisdom and wanted Lena to meet her. Lena said that she would like to talk to this woman and went to see her. She told this woman, up front, what had happened to her in the past when she would try to seek information on spiritual things. This woman said that Lena is spiritually gifted and that all those spiritual mentors were afraid of rivalry and competition from her. She told Lena that if she really wanted and needed spiritual advice she should come and ask her questions any time. Lena was very glad she finally had a mentor who was willing to help her learn about God.
About the same time, however, Lena began to read her small New Testament and another full size Bible that she had been given. In her reading of the Old Testament, Lena discovered what God says about mediums and spiritists. She was shocked and wanted very much to share this with this woman who had agreed to be her mentor. The woman often had people come to see her and they paid money for her wisdom and insight. But Lena was certain that this woman was just ignorant of the truth that Lena had found in her Bible. So, she rushed over to tell her what she had read about how God was seeing what she was doing. When she came into the woman’s home, there was already someone there. But Lena rushed in anyway and began to share what she had learned. One look at the woman’s face was all that Lena needed. She saw her face covered with large red pimples. The woman was unable to utter a word. At that point, Lena realized just how powerful was this tiny black book that it would cause this wise woman to become completely mute. She decided to believe the book and stopped visiting the woman.
Lena and her friend Vallya, began attending a local charismatic church. But this church was noisy and it was not a positive experience. So, in 1992, they began attending the Renewal Church in Mariupol. Renewal had a pastor who had come to know Christ at an early age, even though he also was a child of the Soviet Union. Pastor Yuri’s mom was a KGB agent. One day, in her apartment building, she heard a man crying and grieving outside in the corridor. She opened her door to see what was going on and saw the man loudly crying out to God and going into his apartment. She followed him and saw him get down on his knees and pray. As a loyal agent, she had every reason to report this man to her superiors. Instead, she went back into her own apartment and got down on her own knees and called out to God asking for the same peace and comfort she had seen in the face of this man. God answered her. She immediately tore up her KGB card, began seeking God and teaching her children to do the same even though these actions had dire consequences for her entire family. This pastor understood what Vallya and Lena were yearning to know. Soon both Lena and Vallya had repented and received Jesus into their hearts.
When Sergey saw Lena reading her Bible regularly and attending church, he was jealous. Sergey, although he was not a Christian, did believe in the existence of God. Lena encouraged Sergey to begin reading the Bible. She also gave him a book by Derek Prince, Cursing and Blessing, and asked him to read just the introduction. So, after several requests, Sergey finally agreed. But Sergey did not stop with the introduction; he spent all night reading, meditating and praying. He came to her in the morning a changed man. He saw that this book was talking about his own life. He repented and received Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Sergey had been the brains of the gang he was in and was responsible for working out the schemes and plans for how and what they were going to steal. They specialized in non-ferrous metals and sold them on the black market. Sergey saw that he needed to stop his gang membership and the illegal business that they were in. But, the gang had a different idea. They wanted Sergey to pay a large sum of money so that they would leave him alone. Sergey did not have that much money. So, the gang proceeded to take everything that Sergey and Lena had including their money, their house, their car, their furniture and their clothing. Everything!!
By this time, Sergey and Lena already had a young baby boy. So, they moved into an old army barracks that had rats running through it, no running water, no indoor plumbing at all and was falling apart. Because of who they were as people, Lena and Sergey began to clean the place up and make changes to the environment. Lena prayed regularly and others who were living there saw that she was different from most people they had known. The people there came to love Lena and Sergey because he worked hard to clean it up and she planted flowers, vegetables and trees. Together they made it into a lovely place.
Sergey was now listening to God. He believed that God was telling them to go to their old house and begin praying outside the front gate. They were both somewhat afraid, but they were obedient. They stood outside the front gate crying and praying and calling out to God. Within the next few days, one of the gang members approached Sergey at his new work. He was afraid that the gang wanted something more from him. But instead, they asked Sergey if he wanted to move back into the house they had taken from him. It seems that the boss of the gang had decided to leave the gang too, but only because he had other plans. The gang was angry with him and wanted to get revenge. He had made some renovations to the house and was still living there with his wife and children. The gang members showed up at Sergey and Lena’s barracks home with a truck. They loaded all their stuff into the truck and drove them to the old house.
They went inside and grabbed the boss, put him in a car and drove away with him. Sergey with Lena, went inside and there was a huge dog who bared his fangs at Sergey. Sergey simply said “don’t” to the dog and the dog obeyed him. At the same moment, Sergey noticed the documents (ownership papers) to the house lying on a table. He picked them up and saw that his name had never been removed as the official owner of the house. As Sergey was looking at the documents, the boss’ wife appeared and started screaming at both of them, threatening to have them thrown out of the house.
Sergey noticed that in her hand were the keys to the house and the front gate. As he watched, the keys magically flew from her hand and landed at his feet. He bent over, picked them up and said, “thanks.” At that point, the wife, in a rage, took some of her things and left the house. Neither she nor her husband ever came back. The boss was arrested by the police, but set free after just a few days.
Lena, from childhood, had a dream to have a big house with many stray dogs and cats that had no home. As an older child, she realized that this was a foolish dream and changed it to want to help the elderly. She saw one older woman begging on the street and felt moved to help her. But then, she saw this same elderly woman screaming at her husband and realized that maybe this, too, was a foolish dream. It was then, that her dream changed to become a home for orphan children. As a child she remembers praying to God about this but then forgot about this dream when she became an adult.
Some years later, Lena saw some orphan children at the Renewal Church, which was reaching out to orphans at this point, and remembered her dream. Sergey was very opposed to even a second natural child of their own. He had already told Lena that he would not stay with her if she insisted on another child. One day in 1998, they were at the home of some church members who had opened their home to some orphans from the government orphanage. The administrators of the orphanage allowed these children to visit them on Sunday afternoons for Bible study at their home. Lena and Sergey were there to help with some remodeling that was being done to the house. Lena noticed a new boy that afternoon by the name of Sergey and found that she loved this boy as if he were her own son. The woman of the house came to Lena and started giving her information about this boy and Lena had not even asked for it; such as his age, why he was in the orphanage, where his family members were, etc. Lena found herself praying about this boy and asking for an opportunity to point him out to her husband Sergey.
Unbeknownst to Lena, Sergey was also having some feelings towards this boy. Lena very timidly approached Sergey and asked him if he had noticed young Sergey who was new there that day. Sergey, unexpectedly said to her, “He is our son, take him.” She could not believe her ears and asked him several times what he meant by what he had said. Sergey finally yelled at her and then she knew he really meant it. Later that night, Lena and Sergey were on their way home, having finished working in the home where they had seen the orphan boy. She talked to him about all the reasons why this would be a bad idea to take this young boy into their home. She wanted to show Sergey how difficult it would be. But, Sergey was already convinced that it was right. At the very moment that both of them came to a clear decision to take the boy into their home, Lena was shoved to the ground by an invisible person or force. She was injured in her back and her ankle. Crying and still sitting on the ground, Lena was proclaiming that she would still go to church, would still believe in Jesus regardless of what evil force was trying to dissuade her.
Sergey and Lena talked all night. The next day they went to church and talked to Pastor Yuri about it. He was very negative because they were new Christians and Sergey had come from a criminal background. Yuri told him that he was the wrong person to be caring for an orphan. But before they left Sergey asked Pastor Yuri, “Is it right to adopt orphans?” Yuri answered, “Yes.” That was all they needed to go ahead with their plans and start the paperwork. This decision to bring orphans into their home and treat them as part of their family was unprecedented in Ukraine in 1998 for the most part. The government supported children in orphanages, not in private homes. But in 2004, six years after Sergey and Lena began their “family type living” for orphans, the government was proposing and funding the very same plan.