Archived Project Reports by Olga Kopilova

October 2020 - Project Update by Olga Kopilova

"Rejoice always. In everything give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18a) What a wonderful commandment the Lord has given us – to rejoice with grateful hearts in everything, to rejoice in the fact that He is our God and we are His people. I believe joy comes with a grateful heart, a heart that remembers the goodness of the Lord and recounts His marvellous deeds. A joyful heart is the will of God for His children, and we can see it very clearly in the scriptures. As we entered the fall feasts of the Lord in September, we entered a time of rejoicing, a time of remembrance of wandering in the dessert and entrance into the Promised Land.

Unlike any other year, this year we couldn’t celebrate Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year, or the Feast of the Booths, Sukkot, together with our precious holocaust survivors, as Israel entered a three-week complete lockdown because of COVID-19. Nevertheless, we were able to make many phone calls, and even had a Zoom meeting to celebrate Rosh HaShana together with active members of the Association of the Ghetto and Concentration Camps Survivors. What a wonderful time we had, filled with laughter and many warm greetings. We even ate apples dipped in honey, representing a sweet year ahead. Where there is joy, there is hope. It was wonderful to see how people’s spirits were lifted up, eyes brightened and how joy victoriously defeated loneliness and hopelessness.

We also had some wonderful visits before the lockdown, when we witnessed the incredible power of joy and thankfulness in the lives of the holocaust survivors, the power that keeps them alive and inspires all those around. Tamar turned 92 in March. Being an Auschwitz survivor, she lost her entire family in the Holocaust. Newly married, she and her husband Gad came to Israel in the early 1950s and helped to build the country through many challenges and losses. Only three years ago Tamar’s house burned to the ground, depriving them of many precious possessions. The house was rebuilt, but Gad never moved into it – he passed away shortly after the fire. We never saw Tamar in despair or tears, but just the opposite. She chooses to live and is thankful for every good or bad day. The earthly treasures seem of no real value to her; she appreciates them when she has them, but doesn’t mourn when they are gone.

Tamar is a mystery even to her children, who admire her ability to smile and rejoice daily. Our last visit with Tamar was just a few days after she had a heavy fall on the hard floor. She was in pain and couldn’t walk, but still so excited that we came all the way from Jerusalem to see her! There was truly no limit to her joy and happiness. She appreciated the attention and fellowship more than the gifts we brought. She never stopped smiling. What a joy it was for us to visit Tamar again. Yes, we did rejoice together!

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

As a team here, we want to say THANK YOU for helping us to reach out to the Precious Holocaust Survivors in the sunset years of their lives. We are grateful for the opportunity to lighten their desire to live and to bring joy and hope into their lonely hearts. THANK YOU for making it possible for us to rejoice with His precious people. May the Lord fill your hearts with His joy and hope during this uneasy season. Let us rejoice in Him together.

September 2020 - Project Update by Olga Kopilova
 

Perhaps no one likes waiting very much, especially when it is for something we long for most but don’t know when we will actually have that longing fulfilled. Expectation is a bit different. We have to wait, yes, but we know when that special something will be fulfilled, and the expectation fills us with excitement and joy. For instance, did you ever count down the days to see somebody you love so much, or for your upcoming holiday trip?  We often see the strong uplifting power of ‘Looking Forward To,’ in the lives of our dear Holocaust Survivors - the expectation of the birth of a new great grandchild, family visit or phone call, or a birthday celebration with friends. These all increase their motivation to live and to not give up.

In the past months, since COVID-19 invaded daily routines with restrictions, and often fear, our visits became more urgent than ever before. Many elderly people find themselves isolated and with no fellowship. Every phone call, every card and every visit is appreciated greatly.

Galina spends her days in her lounge, in front of the TV and a little table on which she has her most important documents, including a copy of the book of Psalms. The book, from the looks of it, was well read. It takes Galina a huge effort and a long time to get up from her soft big chair and start walking, so it took her five minutes to overcome three meters to open a door to us. The way back was also long, but she was happy and very excited! While we were talking, she reached out for the Psalms and pulled a stack of papers out of it – those were all the birthday cards and pictures we took together over the years, with scriptures included! “I read these daily! They mean so much to me!” said Galina with a big smile. We are so glad Galina finds encouragement in the precious Word of God.
Maya and Pinchas hardly ever leave their apartment, and rely on their caregiver for all their necessities.
Their children and grandchildren live all around Israel, and don’t have cars, and restrictions made it really hard for them to visit. Maya had some peaches to share with me, and while we were talking about fruits, she briefly mentioned that her favorite one is watermelon, but she only had it once this summer, and that one was not good. About 20 minutes after the visit I rang the doorbell of their apartment again, this time with a huge watermelon in my hands. Maya’s reaction was priceless and the biggest gift for us. It definitely made her day, and we were happy to be a part of it. She called me the next day to say that that was one of the best watermelons she ever had.
We also were grateful for the opportunity to visit our friends in the kibbutz Mavkiim. On our first trip there we found out that Yaakov was just out of the hospital and his right leg was amputated, which made him even less mobile. There is only one air conditioner in his lounge, which was not enough in the heat of an Israeli summer. Again, the Lord so lead us, and we were in the right place and at the right time – to find the need and to meet it. A few days later we came back with a portable cooler, which would be sufficient to cool Yaakov’s room and to keep him comfortable.

We are very grateful for all your prayers and financial support to Forsake Them Not project. Thank you so much for your obedience and faithfulness in giving, through which we are able to meet the needs of His special possessions, the Holocaust Survivors, who need love and attention as never before. Thank you for standing with us, standing with Israel, standing with His people in this time of such uncertainty.

 

“Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.” (Psalm 62:1-2)

August 2020 - Project Update by Olga Kopilova

Have you ever felt lonely? Loneliness is a prison of the heart. The COVID-19 pandemic has only added to the feelings of isolation, and has become torturous for some. Loneliness, though isolating by nature, never comes to the heart alone. It has its faithful companions like depression, anxiety, pesky thoughts and bad memories.

As a team here, we feel the urgency to reach out to our precious friends, the holocaust survivors, to bring the light and love of God into their daily routines, even more so these days. Any expression of attention brings release and a feeling of new life. A phone call, a visit, a card of encouragement with scripture, and even a birthday card reminds them that they are not so alone after all.

“The birthday card you sent me with the words of prayer in it brought the presence of God into my day and my life. It is what we really need today.” Those are the words of the Holocaust Survivor, who called me few days ago to express her gratitude for the card we sent her. The prayer included was Psalm 139. We continue to pray that the Word of God would draw the weary hearts of His people to Himself.

Another lady also called to tell us how emotional she was when she read the words of her Birthday card, words that so deeply spoke to her heart, and made her feel so loved and cared for. It is also encouraging for us when we hear such testimonies. This gives us hope that loneliness can be defeated.  

We were grateful for the opportunity to make some visits, despite the current pandemic, in order to deliver gifts and to listen to people's hearts. We also see the change in the dynamic and character of the time spent together; our visits have brought even more depth, honesty, trust, warmth and love.

 For instance, Arkady is usually very quiet, and his wife Ludmila does all of the talking. On our last visit, however, Arkady couldn’t keep it inside any longer; he needed to speak. Isolation had brought back memories that he thought had passed away long ago. In the beginning of the lockdown, somebody rang the doorbell of their apartment. When Arkady opened the door, he found a big box with food in it. Suddenly tears flooded his eyes; he couldn’t stop crying and Ludmila got really concerned. Memories of another late night doorbell in 1976 overwhelmed him. Back then he wondered who could be such a late visitor. Arkady, when looking to see who it might be, had seen a well-dressed lady. No, he did not recognise her. She was an image from the past he possibly couldn’t remember. When he was a little boy during the war a lady from the SS police station in the Ghetto in Ukraine, almost every day for two years, brought the tiny poor Arkady a slice of dark bread – a treasure, that sustained him and made it possible for him to survive. Later he found out that she was a spy for the Red Army, and after completing her task she went back to Latvia.
*Over 32 years later, in 1976, she found Arkady and drove hundreds of kilometers to see him. She needed to know that that boy survived and was doing well in life. He was indeed. Their visit only lasted 20 minutes, but Arkady will never forget the kindness of her heart. It was also a great comfort for Arkady to know, when he saw the food parcel, that there are still people today who are ready to help those in need. And what speaks louder than bread to a hungry little boy, that still lives in that elderly man’s heart? Four hours spent together with that wonderful couple was a huge gift and joy for both us and them.

We so greatly appreciate your faithful support and prayers, as we seek to bring comfort and love that shatter the power of loneliness to the precious Survivors of the Holocaust during this challenging time. THANK YOU!

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Selah.

Our God is the God of salvation; and to God the Lord belong escapes from death.” (Psalm 68:19-20)