Greetings our dear friends and partners,

We pray that you stay healthy and strong in faith in the midst of what is going on in the world. We are doing well and all until yesterday we were very active going to orphanages, shelters, villages and taking kids out to church services, praying and reading psalm 91 together. And even today I am at the government office in another town helping one of the orphan girls with the paper work for getting a free flat.

The bordering countries have closed us in, but our schools are still open and we are having church services regularly. Please pray for us and the ministry and we will be praying for you! We do not know what holds the future, but we know Who holds it.

This particular newsletter I would like to dedicate to A Night to Shine 2020. It took me a little longer to write the update, as I was waiting for our video. It is too large to add to the letter, but you can watch the video here.

This year first time in Belarus our ministry in collaboration with our church held “Night to Shine”. It is the world famous ball for people with disabilities, “The Night Shine” was started by the Tim Tebow Foundation. ” This is a real celebration of kindness, beauty and love! All over the world, more than 200,000 volunteers, 115,000 people with special needs take part in it annually. It was an honor for us to be chosen as first Belarusian partner and, of course, a big responsibility to accomplish it.

More than 80 guests with special needs were invited. We had guests from 4 orphanages/institutions, from 2 social centers and some from homes. 15 guests were in wheelchairs, 15 deaf and mute ones, and about 50% were orphans. Each guest had a personal buddy, so totally we had about 130 volunteers helping with the ball.

There was a lot of work done before the event. I personally visited some new orphanages to meet the guests and made arrangements. My team and I found hairdressers and make up makers, drivers, outfits for most guests, photographers, purchased food, ordered limos, etc. Family home youth was very helpful. The boys were waiters at the ball, the girls helped to go out to many guests with the dressed for trying on before the party and helped with flower stations.

That evening, each guest got the opportunity to ride a limousine, walk along the red carpet to loud applause, and to feel like a real star.

The program of the event was very rich: a transformation in a beauty salon, a professional photo session, a gorgeous concert program with the famous Belarusian Christian singer Alexander Patlis. Exquisite banquet menu, Candy bar with drinks, flower station with boutonnieres, festive dessert, karaoke, dancing, coronation ceremony for every guest, word from the Pastor of the New Life church Vyacheslav Goncharenko and much more. Each guest received gifts.

The evening became a real celebration of emotions and happiness. First time ever for the guests to walk on the red carpet, to ride a limo, to feel loved and accepted. We were very thankful to see happy faces and to hear kinds words. Here are some of them:

Story of Zhenya, 21 years old, orphan, in a wheel chair

Zhenya doesn’t live with his family. When he was little he was abandoned and sent to the baby orphanage, a few years later he was moved to another orphanage for kids with special needs, where he spent all his school years.After graduation he was sent to the nursing home for the elderly and disabled. Zhenya goes to Christian summer camps and he is very open to God. Clever, kind, intelligent, friendly and outgoing that is what he is. Zhenya is very talented, he picks up music by ear and plays the keyboard, he sings and participates in local concerts. He also used to dance in a wheelchair. Here is what he says about the ball:

I was amazed! Being on a red carpet I felt that it was prepared for the special guest, but I am just a simple boy in a wheel chair. Then I was told by my volunteer that it was for me and that I was special! The food, the first time in the limo ride, singing, dancing even in my wheel chair was amazing! I loved it so very much!

Natalia, 43 years old

I am a special needs person for more than 20 years. My life became sad and gloomy after I was diagnosed. I was so happy to receive an invitation to Night to shine. I couldn’t even imagine that from the very first steps on red carpet I would fall into the atmosphere of love, care and acceptance.

All the people were shining with big smiles and great desire to do good things for each other. And Pastor’s prayer gave me faith and desire to go on in life and fight with my illness.And I know my life will be covered with God’s light from now on.And when I , as a grown up person was crowned, I couldn’t hold my tears! This day I will remember forever. It was the best day during the last year!!!

Olga and Irina

Olga, the mother of the honored guest Irina(30)

There was a celebration for everyone at this event. Giving out a part of one’s love to the neighbor, God multiplied joy in the hearts.

Thank you so much to all the organizers who made this evening incredible. My daughter was given a beautiful evening gown, a hairdresser made her hair, she got a beautiful corsage and a wonderful volunteer, who took care of her all evening. Red carpet was the best.

I hope you got a glimpse of that wonderful night, truly THE BEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR! It blesses my heart to look back at what we have done. Praise God and thank you for your prayers! And for us it is also the beginning of new outreaches to special needs people that we are already putting into our regular schedule.

Thank you for being a part of our ministry.

God bless you, stay healthy!

Yasha and Olga and our wonderful team of volunteers

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