Vova’s first birthday party

“If I give all I possess to the poor… but have not love, I gain nothing” (I Corinthians)

Advocating with a doctor, renovating a home, tutoring for college exams, or other kinds of help have the most healing power when love is their source. Our staff aren’t checking off a list of good works or flaunting their charity. Orphanage graduates need genuine compassion, hearts open to their joys and distress – the “reparative mentoring” we talk about in our Core Values. That’s why the fun, purely relational events are so important, including birthdays.

When Vova was three, his dad killed his mom and went to prison. Vova was taken to an orphanage. When he was six, another family took custody of him, and the mother of that family died recently.

In healthy families, birthdays can be an affirmation of personhood, a tangible reminder that you’re loved. Your friends and family say, “I’m glad you were born!” But until last month, no one ever celebrated Vova’s birthday. No one told him, “You’re unique, you’re somebody, you matter.”

So we wanted to make Vova’s 18th birthday special. Staff member Vasiliy took him out in a rowboat, where he learned how to row for the first time. He also tried sushi – a big treat!

Learning to row

Vova really enjoyed his birthday. But deep healing requires loving care over many months and years. Vova needs to be enfolded in our loving community – which includes you! Thank you for bringing your prayers, donations, and volunteer efforts to this healing work.

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Last Bell Ministries

Loving and restoring orphanage graduates toward life and community.


PO Box 30671
Indianapolis, IN 46230