Friday, November 29, 2013

I can only do so much

One of the down sides of ministry is that you have to accept that you can only do so much.  I mean like when 2 other women and I take a trip to Ukraine for 10 days, we simply cannot talk to every individual child in each orphanage that we visit.  I wish we could but it is simply impossible.

Having said that, however, I do believe that God places certain people before you whom he has planned that you touch.  God did that with Vova.  You see, I had visited the orphanage in Shotova twice.  I had hosted groups of children from there twice.  And I had never noticed Vova.  I met him briefly last summer when I visited the camp where he was spending the summer.  I knew that I wanted to host him because he was a friend of our son-to-be but we didn’t really talk or establish a repoire, he was just "there". 

Then one day in early October, I really noticed him.  My husband and I had gone to initiate the adoption of Lewis, Bella and Sam.  We were at Vova’s orphanage.  He was quiet, kept to himself;  he certainly did not talk to me.  And so I didn’t notice his smile.  Or his beautiful eyes.  Or his sense of humor.  But what I did notice one day was his feet.  It was cold.  Snowing.  And Vova was wearing flip flops.  With no socks.  And so I simply asked him, “If I buy you some shoes, will you wear them?  Its cold.”  Yes, he replied.

The next day I took him some shoes.  He quietly took them from me and said thank you.  And that was that.  Or so I thought.

The next day, I arrived at the orphanage to visit.  And a 14 year old boy ran, smiling and laughing, into my arms.  He told me hi and showed me his shoes.  He was dressed in blue jeans and a nice shirt instead of the shorts he had been wearing.  His eyes were no longer downcast and I noticed how beautiful they were.  Could this be Vova?  Suffice it to say, he was not the same child as the day before.

What had happened to Vova?  Here is what I think.  Somebody loved Vova.  He was not changed because he now had new shoes.  He wasn’t hoping for more stuff.  No, Vova suddenly knew that someone cared about him.  Someone cared that his feet were cold.  Someone took the time to notice.  Someone brought him shoes.  And so he opened the door of his heart and invited me to come in.     

After that, Vova became my constant companion at the orphanage.  We played battleship and he taught me the Russian words for hit and miss.  He hugged me when I arrived and held the door open for me. And he has been my constant companion since we arrived to complete our adoption.  I told him yesterday that he was such a good boy.  He said "no, I am not."  Yes, you are Vova.  Maybe no one has ever told you that.  But you are.  And you are beautiful.  Created in the image of a beautiful God.

There are so many other “Vovas” in the orphanage.  Children for whom no one has ever cared.  Children who have never heard, “you are such a good boy”.  Children whose expressions and downcast eyes simply reflect the shoes that they are wearing, or the lack thereof.

I cannot reach them all.  Grace to Ukraine cannot reach them all.  But we can reach Vova.  Grace to Ukraine will host Vova in Alabama in the summer of 2014.  He has a 16 year old sister who lives at another orphanage and I am going to try to bring her too.  They will hear the gospel.  They will learn many new and wonderful things about life.  And I want Vova and his sister to find a family.  I say over and over that adoption is not the point of Grace to Ukraine.  But I want Vova and his sister to find a family. 

The happiness I am relishing in at the moment, taking my kids away from the orphanage in 6 days, is infused with a deep sadness  for those that must be left behind.  There are others who have touched me deeply.  Some we have already hosted and who still have not been adopted.  Some we plan to host next summer.  I long for each of them to find families as well.  I will pray and ask God to rescue them as he rescued Lewis, Bella and Sam Davie.  It is overwhelming at times.  I start to cry but then I decide it is better to blog.  Better to visit.  Better to buy candy and shoes.   Anything but cry.  

I can only do so much.  But what I can do, I WILL.  Will you?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

So Very Close

It is National Adoption Awareness Month.  So I want to talk about adoption.  Specifically today about a 14 year old girl named Liza whom I have never met.  Here is her story, with names changed, because of the delicate situation:

Liza came to America once with another hosting program.  Her host family loved her.   The mom, Ann, said:, “she was the best kid I ever met. She's quiet, unassuming, she tends to stay close to the family when in party type circumstances, she's willing to bond; she really watches what you do and then anticipates your needs, she's great with little ones, idolizes teenagers, is kind, not selfish, likes poetry and mermaids;  she has learned quite a good bit of English in her desire to communicate with us, shows willingness to go to school and learn; can phonetically sound out our alphabet; she is willing to please and be happy, isn't into boys; she's bright, honest, intelligent, helps with chores, isn't a smart alek kind of kid.”

Sounds like a child a family would love to adopt right?  The host family thought so, too, and began the process to bring Liza home.  Their dossier was approved by the SDA in Ukraine and they traveled to Ukraine to adopt her.  They had a successful SDA appointment; they got their referral and traveled to her region and reunited with her. She has a brother who has already aged out and he wrote his consent to her being adopted.   All the paperwork in the region was accomplished and sent back to the SDA in Kyiv for approval before court.  The girl was ecstatic.  She wrote Ann: " thank u for saving me, can u believe the people who give me life do not care if I live or die".

But then the unthinkable happened.  The SDA said no.  The family was not allowed to go forward with the adoption.  This had nothing to do with Liza.  There was an issue with the family’s paperwork.   The assistant director was given the task of informing Liza why her new family would not be back.  Apparently she blamed Liza for it and now Liza is blaming herself.  Ann talked to Liza; she is depressed and is desperate to get out. 

The family’s initial reaction was not uncommon.  “Maybe someone will adopt her and bring her home to us.”  But they knew this was not the right thing to do.  Home now for several weeks, Ann said to me “We are all still standing here like someone died of a sudden heart attack.”  Yet, even in her pain, this mom knows what is best for this child:  “I would love it if another family adopted her; anything, just that she's out of there.  Its like she’s drowning.  I don’t care WHO saves her.”

And so I pose this question to you, reader:  Could you be the one called to save Liza?  Will you pray and ask God if he would want to use you to help bind up the wounds inflicted upon this 14 year old girl?  She was so close to being rescued.  So. Very.  Close.  I pray that she will get another chance.