9 Ways You Can Help an Orphan

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If you are new to Barefoot Walks, I need to explain something.  The purpose of this blog is to share, inspire, and encourage each other to make the most of every opportunity we are given.  To create moments, experiences, and traditions with the ones we love.  To make a moment out of everything, especially the little things.  To make the most of this life we are given.

So why am I using Barefoot Walks to blog about orphan hosting?

Because our family wanted to move outside of our own family, outside of our own comfort zone, into a world we don’t know that God wants us to know.  We wanted to create these same moments and experiences for someone who doesn’t have the same opportunities as our own children.  We wanted to invest in the life of a child that no one was investing in.

If you are new here, please understand that what you are reading is the journey we are currently on to share  our life with another child.  Soon, he will be returning to Latvia and we will again be posting articles related to moments with your family to help you on your own journey.  For now we hope you are inspired through joining us on this adventure.  I pray your heart is moved to feel the needs of orphans and to reach out and help where you can.

If you are saying, “I could never do that,” that is ok!  You can help the cause of orphans without hosting one in your own home (though I highly recommend it).

9 ways you can support orphans:

  1. Donate to New Horizons for Children www.newhorizonsforchildren.  This is a very tangible way you can fulfill the call of our Father to help defend the cause of the orphan.  Many families are waiting to host but do not have the financial ability to do so.  Your donation could make their wish a reality.  New Horizons has numerous ways you can donate to their ministry and it is tax-deductible.  You can donate to the general fund, or if you feel led to donate for a particular child, you can donate scholarship money towards a particular orphan waiting to be hosted.  When potential families are viewing the photo gallery, they will see how much scholarship money has been donated to a particular child, which will make it so much easier for them to host.
  2.  Help a friend in the process of adoption. Come alongside them in their journey.  The adoption road is not an easy one.  There are numerous ways you can support a friend going through the adoption process.
  3. Provide a meal to a friend hosting an orphan or adopting.  I highly recommend setting up a meal schedule using www.takethemameal.com.  The meals that were provided to us by friends and families were one of the biggest blessings we received while hosting Viktors.  It allowed us to take one thing off our plate so we could have more time to spend together.  And it allowed someone else to bless us who really wanted to.
  4. Offer childcare to give hosting parents a break.  Offer to watch your friends children for even an hour so they can take a walk or grab a coffee.  My husband was the biggest blessing to me during this hosting period because he would be the one to step in and insist I leave for a few hours to spend time with friends or be by myself.  I always came back renewed and refreshed.
  5. Send a care package.  A care package is such a sweet show of love.  And inside that package is a great picture of the person who put it together.  The package is a thoughtful way to make them feel remembered and special.  My friend, Steph, did this for us and it was so fun to have a movie night with her special treats.  Our children loved setting up for our little “party” using fun plates and napkins.  The little things go a long way!
  6. Pray for orphans.  Pray by name for the ones you know.  I can’t stress this one enough.  Pray.  Simply pray.  This alone is the most important thing you can do for orphans.  I’m asking that you keep Viktors in your prayers especially when he returns to Latvia.  Pray by name for him asking God to work miracles in this boy’s life and bringing him into the perfect forever family for him.
  7. Advocate for them.  Share info with others.  Use all resources to get the word out.  You never know how God will use it.  You may not be in a position to host an orphan, but you can share the info with others.  Get the word out!
  8. Become informed.  Read up on the orphan problem worldwide.  Understand the challenges so that when you are able you will know exactly how God can use you.
  9. And of course, you can host an orphan.  It will change your life and your perspective.  More importantly, it will change their life as well.  You don’t have to be perfect, just willing.  God does the rest.

Sometimes the little things make all the difference in the world.  Our family and friends that came alongside us on this journey made it a blessing.  They eased our load just as the Lord calls us to do for one another.

In making a world change, it only requires a willing heart to say “yes” to God.  It only requires us to take a step forward in faith.  And it only takes us deciding to do one small thing.  God can turn our baby steps into mountains of change that can impact our world.  Don’t look at the orphan crisis and become overwhelmed feeling that the problem is too large to make a difference.  Just let God use you even if just to impact one person.  The impact on one person could cause a chain reaction.  You just never know until you try.

Intentions and Goals of Orphan Hosting

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The most common question and response we receive when sharing that we are hosting an orphan is this:  “What happens at the end of 4 weeks?  They just go home?”

I thought I would share info from New Horizon’s website that would answer these questions.

www.newhorizonsforchildren.org :

“Orphans usually feel left out, left behind and unworthy. Their self esteem is many times so low because they have been labeled in their home city by peers as “orphans”. After coming on our program for 4-5 weeks over Christmas holidays or during the summer months, most children learn as much English as they would typically learn in 4-5 semesters if taught at home in their school. This gives the children pride in themselves and helps boost their self esteem tremendously!

Receiving unconditional love and nurturing and being treated as a member of their host family who will usually maintain contact even after the child returns home to their orphanage. This gives them hope. Learning that they do have a Father, the same Father in Heaven that we all have…who loves us dearly and is always with us and lets them know they are never alone.”

Isn’t it cruel to bring these kids here, show them the land of plenty and then send them back?
The kids that we bring are coming on a visit, or exchange type program. Many orphanages close during the holidays and over summer so all kids must go somewhere. They go other places like Italy, Spain, Holland, other camps in their own countries (former Soviet training camps for kids) and some go to local foster families as well. We are one of the “options” as far as the kids are told, and they are selected to come on our program after being interviewed and after we talk to their caregivers about behavior, school efforts etc. So, everyone goes out of the orphanage for the summer and in our case, we are a 5 week program, so they come here and usually return to a camp type place in their home country or start out at one and come to us from the camp. In Latvia, children are mostly in foster families as they are trying to close traditional orphanages, but the foster families are not able to care for them beyond the monthly low stipend and in many cases, they don’t have indoor plumbing and are very rural with little access to anything for the children to do outside of school or off the farm (most are on farms).

Our program shows children what it’s like to be fully and unconditionally loved in a Christian family. It is an experience that many would never have in their lives. Even in the foster families, the foster parents are “workers” and do not treat orphans as their own children. They do this due to culture, poverty and also to keep up some wall as they know they cannot provide for a permanent situation even if they so desired. In addition to the ministry aspects of the program, the kids come and gain a new language. Most learn as much English in 4-5 weeks here as they would in a good English class in their schools over 4-5 years. Latvia is a part of the European Union as well and in that, residents are able to move and work in other EU countries. But Latvian is a language that no other country speaks or uses, and English is a very common language in all. So, that alone, would be a good “tool” to give kids now to help them later. However, many of the children who come are also eligible for adoption and after being hosted, about 65% of the eligible children are adopted into a forever and unconditional loving Christian family. Besides participating in a program like ours, they have literally 0-1% chance of ever being considered for adoption through a traditional process. Latvia doesn’t place children under about age 9 as available for adoption unless they have medical issues or are part of sibling sets. And, most families who consider to adopt would not just send a dossier (family adoption package) to Latvia asking for a preteen or teenager sight unseen. So, this does offer them a lot of possibilities beyond just a visit to a nice family in America. Also, most children who are older and have aged out for adoption who come, are learning enough English they can be considered to return on a student visa, which Latvia allows if we find sponsors.

Most families who host do not intend to adopt the child they bring. Most consider it as helping a poor orphan child and being sacrificial towards that child. However, in the end, many families do decide they want to adopt or they have friends through church, neighbors etc who meet the child and decide to adopt. Nearly all families say they went into it to bless a child and come out of it feeling like they received the blessing. On the other side, when I talk to children after they have been fully adopted and live in The US, none of them state they felt like they were being ripped out of a glorious land and placed into poverty. It was a trip to remember and they returned “home”. When they were offered adoption later, since we don’t speak of it on the host program, they were in most cases, shocked and it took a great deal of thinking to consider it real and accept it.

So, in the end, if a child who comes on the program has even 10% chance of being helped through one of these purposes, where they had 0% if they didn’t come; should we decide not to do this, or to do this for them as much as possible? And, that 10% is in reality, much greater for each child who participates…more like 99% gain something important from the program whether it’s Salvation, family, language or love.

Lastly, it is interesting to consider that the kids don’t have such the expected “trauma” after having to go back as one would assume. In fact, I have traveled with some of the groups all the way back home and each program I travel with them through security to the plane after we depart parents at the airport in Atlanta. The kids look at this as a vacation. Once they separate from their 4-5 week family, they refocus on friends after we get through security and find familiarity in them. “They are going home”. It is told to them and explained as such and being their “homes” are in Latvia and Ukraine, they don’t expect to stay forever. The things that we see as extreme poverty and necessary things we have to have in life to live… just aren’t seen that way when it’s what you know and come to accept as “life and home”. We are “Disney World” and no one expects to live at Disney World. In fact, there are some kids who go back, are offered adoption and say no. For Americans, we view it as necessary things we need and they see it as waste and extreme, greed and ugly wealth at times. After traveling myself twice a year, to where they live, I tend to feel their viewpoint at times too.  Not having running water in a house doesn’t mean it isn’t a comfortable home that provides attention and a sense of belonging. Safety and security of the “known” is there and that is number one on what humans need in order to consider what things are important. I suppose, considering where they were prior to the orphanages, streets and foster families, which is something none of us has had to see or endure, where they are now is a welcome version of “home”…just not what you and I would think of or ever consider as sufficient to be home. Consider the show Little House on the Prairie? They had little and felt like they had everything. These kids are similar, except they don’t have the “family” and that’s what we aim to offer them.

Orphan Hosting: Adopted by the Father

This had to be shared.  If you have wondered why orphan hosting is so important.  This is just one reason.  And it’s an eternal one.  Not everyone can adopt.  But we can introduce orphans to the Father to be adopted.

http://www.newhorizonsforchildren.org/son-of-the-king/

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Son of the King

January 4, 2013 By  Leave a Comment

One of our winter host families shared a story with us yesterday and we just had to share it here as well! The Bohannon family in Georgia is hosting a teenage boy named Igor from Ukraine. Here’s their story:

Igor is the fourth boy we’ve hosted through New Horizons for Children and I can truthfully say that each hosting experience has brought it’s own element of uniqueness and individuality.  Last Christmas we were blessed with an unexpected Latvian angel at the last minute who became very ill within 24 hours of arriving, then another little Ukrainian angel arrived a week later (which was precisely when my husband was attacked with the same illness that our first boy became sick with… fun fun…) so needless to say, nothing went as planned but I was surely taught a lesson in faith and trust.  Then we hosted again over the summer.  Thankfully there was no physical sickness among the family, just a little boy that arrived extremely guarded, hurt, afraid and shy. After a few days he started to speak to us and we began our adventure in full force!  Fast forward, leaving out a tremendous amount of details brings us to this Christmas. ..

The weeks prior to Igor’s arrival were very busy and brought a few questions and confusion upon my husband and myself.  Without going into to specifics, I found myself questioning why and if we were the best fit for this boy that would soon be joining our family for the holiday season.  Ready or not, he arrived and I quickly realized he was the happiest child I’ve ever seen in my life.  He adjusted with little trouble (albeit he is bit more of a night owl than we are, but after a couple of weeks he has at least learned to retrieve to his room by 10:00). The nighttime rowdiness came to a head a few days after New Years with a refusal to go to bed and then sleeping until after noon the next day. Needless to say we had a long heart to heart about family, family rules and what that means, obedience, and consequences of disobedience. He was very receptive and looking back, I think this was his little way of testing the boundaries, which I will gladly take over tantrums and anger! I told him that he was not allowed a movie in bed the following night, and he must be in bed when Papa says so. No running, being loud, scaring people or animals or anything else once we say so. He wasn’t thrilled, but agreed.

When evening came around the house was actually rather peaceful! No scaring, no wrestling, no racing…. I tucked him into bed and showed Igor a new stuffed animal that was sent to us from the New Horizons office, donated by a hosting family’s church! This animal is called a Wildlife Story Teller (http://wildlifestorytellers.com/) .  It comes with a MP3 player, preloaded with bible stories in their native language.  I cannot explain the look of comfort and relief on his face to hear his language! I left him with the stories and said goodnight.  The next morning I went to wake him and he practically jumped out of bed. I could tell he was a bit troubled and was very serious about what he was trying to tell me.  He was pointing at the storyteller, and then upward saying “Jesus, Jesus!” Then he asked for a pen and paper.  He started writing and writing. Then he would get up and knock on the bedroom door, then knock on his own chest.  I quickly realized he was telling me that Jesus was knocking on the door of his heart! I started to panic a little because there was so much I wanted to say, but I had to make it simple so the translator would get it right! I even started messaging one of my fellow New Horizons Volunteers, needing moral support J  I continued to tell Igor how much Jesus loves him and that he will NEVER leave him.  He was very serious and receptive to everything I was telling him.  We talked for over 2 hours. I told him that Jesus is king, so that makes him a prince. He smiled and said “Yes, and you, Papa, Colby and Dasha my seesters and brothers!”  Wow! This kid gets it. He accepted Jesus by being in a little bit of “trouble” from excessive night time rowdiness, therefore leading to listening to bible stories!  I am amazed, humbled, and in awe of my Jesus. I am reminded that all we have to do is be available. We do not need to know all the details of our future. I was reminded that God does not NEED us. He CHOOSES us!  Thank you Jesus, for the opportunity to be USED by YOU!

Day 17: Tell Me More

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Using translator the other day, I asked Viktors, “Tell me something I don’t know about you”.

“I can tell you nothing.”  That is what translated anyway.

The last few days he has dropped more and more nuggets of info.  He’s comfortable now.  My boys (up to this point in their little lives) tell me everything.  Usually at bedtime.  Always in private when no one else is listening.  And usually with the instruction to keep it between us.  Viktors has opened up with little bits of info when we’ve been alone.

He has 2 brothers, they are 15 and 17.  One is in his orphanage with him.  One is tall and skinny, the other is shorter with big muscles.  He speaks of them often.

He rides dirt bikes.  And boxes!  He saw me put my retainer in and told me he has one too.  Then he said, “I…wear…that…”  and he motioned boxing moves.  I tried to not look shocked as I asked, “You do this…”  and I pretended to box him.  “Yes,” he gave me his crooked smile.  I think he likes being mysterious.   Just to clarify that he wasn’t telling me he was a fighter, I took it one step further.  “Do you do this?”  And I kicked the pretend person on the ground.  “No, mom, no.”  His crooked smile still on his face, he motioned putting on his head pads and boxing gloves.

Here’s the kicker, no pun intended.  I put them to bed, and I was explaining that the Latvian audio bible we got him was solar-powered.  He said, “Hey mom…this…Russian.”

“What?  That is speaking in Russian?  Can you understand it?”

He said, “Yes, I Russian.  I speak Russian and Latvian.”

“Remember the other day I said tell me something I wouldn’t know?  That would have been a good thing to tell me!”

He laughed.

“So when you are talking on the phone to your director at your orphanage, what are you speaking?”

“Russian”

“When you are speaking to your chaperone, what are you speaking?”

“Russian”

“Do you speak better Russian or Latvian?”

Emphatically, “Russian…Latvian umm so-so”  Ha!  And here I bought him a Latvian bible, Latvian audio bible and have been using Latvian translator apps!

“Were you born in Russia or Latvia?”

“Russia”

“You are crazy.  Very crazy.”  His smile never left his face.

Dad entered the room carrying his iPad  using Russian translator audio to speak in Russian, “I didn’t know you could speak Russian.” Viktors just smiled.  Then dad typed (and it spoke) “Stop eating all my food.”  (It’s a running joke between Steve and Viktors because the boy eats so incredibly much!)  And he laughed more.

There is much to this little boy.  Sometimes I’m dying to know all there is to know.  Sometimes I’m thankful I know nothing.  All I know is what I see in this house.  And it’s probably best that way.

Day 13: Autostereogram Moments

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(autostereogram image by John Hsu)

According to Wikipedia “An autostereogram is a single-image stereogram (SIS), designed to create the visual illusion of a three-dimensional (3D) scene within the human brain from an external two-dimensional image. In order to perceive 3D shapes in these autostereograms, one must overcome the normally automatic coordination between accommodation (focus) and vergence (angle of ones eyes)….. A hidden 3D scene emerges when the image is viewed with the correct vergence.”

Some of our days look like one of these images.  When viewed from afar, it appears to be a picture consisting of a bunch of tiny dots, a big mess of something that you can’t quite figure out.  Chaos.

There is something captivating about an autostereogram.  You know that within the picture, another picture is hidden.  It is so hidden that when viewing it without  really looking, you will overlook the bigger picture completely.  However, when you pause, when you focus, when you concentrate, you see it.  You see it so very clearly.  In fact, it will jump right out at you, and you will wonder how you didn’t see it immediately to begin with.

In order to see the beauty of the moments we are sharing with Viktors, we must overcome the “normally automatic coordination” between our focus.  We must shift our focus.

You cannot watch our moments and use the focus you are used to using.  If you do, you will miss the beauty of the moment.  The beauty of this picture.

If you adjust your focus and change your angle, you will see the beauty that is emerging.  It’s a beauty that can easily be overlooked.

I’ll admit we had some extremely rough days.  Days where Steve and I lost our focus.  We were staring at the 2 dimensional image using the wrong focus and nothing but a jumble of mess was jumping out at us.  For the sake of Viktors’ privacy I won’t divulge the details, but they were mild compared to what they could be.  Honestly, they were mild considering this boy is an orphan living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe.  His bad moments could be drastically worse.  But this is a child who is waiting to emerge.  The beauty in him is so close to the surface and each day we see a little bit more of what’s inside him ready to come out.

This child at his core is a good, good child.  He is a good boy.  He is honest, so very honest. Even when I give him things that are mine, he won’t take them.  When he saw me chewing gum at the skating rink, he asked me to spit it out when he saw the sign that read “No chewing gum.”

My 3D  moment for the day came twice today when I saw the image within the image emerge.

I imagine in a orphanage there is very little alone play where a child just uses his imagination and directs play for himself.  I imagine they have freedom within their rigorous schedule, but likely spend it playing with other kids.  Viktors always wants someone to play with him.  We entertain him a lot, the boys keep him busy or we go on outings.

He and I had a moment of correction where I had to explain why what he was doing was wrong behavior.  Honestly, it wasn’t anything bad, it is just he has never been corrected in this area.  When he feels he has done something wrong, he typically retreats to a hiding place.  A place he can feel safe in what he feels is an unsafe world.  When I correct him, he casts his eyes down immediately, withdraws into himself slightly, and seems to try to shut me out either by covering his ears or by pretending not to listen.

“Viktors,” I softly spoke as I gently lifted his chin.  “Please look in my eyes.  I need you to see my face so you can understand my words.”  I needed him to see the softness of my eyes in case he couldn’t understand the words I spoke to him.

His eyes darted up and down.  They would meet mine, then meet the floor, back and forth again and again.  “Please, keep looking at my eyes. I am not mad at you.  Look at my face.  I’m not this,” I said showing him an angry face with arms crossed.  I smiled and continued, “I corrected you because I love you.  If I didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t correct you.”  He just shook his head.  I don’t know if he shook his head because he didn’t understand or he didn’t believe.  Either way, I hugged him and said I loved him and walked away.

For the first time, he went to our toy closet and got out cars and sat and played by himself for 30 minutes.  I have tried to get him to sit and play by himself for 2 weeks.  He finally did it!  I loved listening to him in there using his imagination with those cars.  Even though I knew he was upset, I was overjoyed that he was playing in an unstructured environment without us directing the play!    For me it was a 3D moment!

Then a few minutes later he joined me at the table.  He was back.  His pouting has now almost disappeared.  It surfaces periodically, but it is so incredibly short-lived compared to only 2 short weeks ago.  This boy has made amazing progress in 13 days.

Our 2nd 3D moment of the day came when he asked for something he knew would be an automatic “No”.  He asks anyway, he asks for things all the time.  But even that is lessening.  When I said no to him, he started to begin begging, which has been typical.  He will say, “Please, please, please” over and over again.  I spoke with him about this and asked him to stop begging that when I said no, I meant no, and I expect him to stop asking at that point.  When I gave him the “no” he said, “Pl…” and he stopped himself!  He stopped himself.  Let me repeat…he stopped himself.  And he gave me that sly 1/2 smile and walked out of room saying, “Ok.”

That was a 3D moment in my book.  Self control.  He’s getting it.

To do this orphan hosting thing, our focus has to be completely unconventional.  Every single second we have to pray that God gives us compassion, grace, and mercy.  And He does.

We are entering week 3.  The week that according to training is to be our best week yet.  The week that the testing has ended and our bonds are there.  Trust has been earned and love is evident.  So far Viktors has behaved exactly like they said he would in training.  And he is responding even better than I hoped.

“A hidden 3D scene emerges when the image is viewed with the correct vergence.”  Vergence…the angle of one’s eyes.  A hidden child emerges when we view him with the correct vergence, the correct angle of our eyes.   An angle that comes from compassion, patience, understanding, and love.

Day 10: The little victories

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One of the most difficult aspects of hosting Viktors is the language barrier.  We have trained our own children to obey, simply obey first, ask questions after you’ve obeyed.  Now, they don’t always do this, but they know that is the expectation.  Well, Viktors hasn’t been trained to simply obey.  Yet, he wants to.  He wants approval, just as we all do, and sometimes for children they best feel that sense of approval when they have obeyed.

At times Viktors will amaze me by following my instructions with no complaining.  At other times, I become frustrated in trying to convince him to follow our orders.  But what it all boils down to is that he wants to understand why.  In his orphanage, he likely understands why he is asked to do certain things.  And if he doesn’t understand, he can communicate to ask why.  Here he doesn’t have enough English to express his thoughts to me.

My prayer for today is that God allows me to focus on the little moments of victories rather than focusing on the frustrating moments.  Would He stop me right in the middle of a moment and open my eyes to what He brought about.  A victory.  A small step.  And that is what we are seeing with Viktors.  Small steps.  Baby steps.

Isn’t that how lasting change usually occurs though?  One small step at a time?  Why should we expect this child who has always gotten his way by pouting to change that behavior overnight?  So, God, change me!  Change me while you are changing him.  Let me focus on your good works in this child rather than look with a critical eye at everything that needs changing.  Let me focus on those little victories.

So here are a few little victories.

  1. In the beginning, he might ask for chips.  “No, Viktors, dinner is in a few minutes, you can’t have chips right now.”  “Please, mom, please, please, please.”  I would stay the course, but would get worn down from an 11-year-old begging and not simply taking my word as the final word.  Now, there is less begging, he is accepting our words easier.  He may not like them and we may get a sigh, a shoulder shrug, or a roll of the eyes, but the begging has reduced by about 80%.  That’s a victory!
  2. Being told no has drastically decreased.  He still says no, but it is less.  This is a victory.  A breakthrough occurred when Steve was trying to sneak away with Zachary for a little 15 minute alone time for the 2 of them on Christmas Day.  He wouldn’t listen to Steve and Steve asked him to come inside to see me.  Viktors typed on the translator that he thought dad was angry.  Victory!  He described an expression of feeling and we had a chance to discuss through the translator that Steve wasn’t angry but we expect him to obey when we ask him to do something.  He seemed to understand and the evening went much smoother.  Victory!
  3. The first time I told him about Jesus, he furrowed and raised his eyebrows while repeating “Jesus?”  We bought him a Latvian children’s bible for Christmas.  Last night he went to bed with zero complaining, curled up with his new book light and new bible.  My heart warmed as I watched him reading about Jesus in his bed wondering if he knew anything at all about Jesus.  Victory…seeds are being planted in his young heart!  Today he and I spent the morning running errands, he picked up a musical snow globe of the manger scene and asked me to buy it for him.  “Yes, I will buy this for you.  That is Jesus.”  He looked up at me and repeated, “Jesus?”  “Yes, Jesus.  And Jesus loves you.”  He did his shy 1/2 smile while shaking his head the way he does when he gets embarrassed.  Victory!  We are having opportunities to talk about Jesus with this child.

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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were hard days for us.  The holiday combined with house guests coming and going, constant food prep and cleaning, left us feeling simply beat.  My dad and Francine saw us at our most exhausted state as of yet.  However, each of them played a role in helping to refocus our minds.  Francine was able to smile at Viktors no matter what he was doing.  She gave me such a visual image of truly showing him unconditional love.  And as my dad was leaving he said, “I’d be on the translator all the time with him telling him how I feel and really talking to take it to another level.”  That is what gave Steve the idea to communicate his feelings to Viktors about obeying.

Then I called my sweet mom and said, “Would your feelings be hurt if I asked you to postpone coming up here because we are exhausted and overwhelmed right now.”  With zero hesitation and with nothing but sincerity, she said, “Not at all.  I know you are tired and we will gladly hold off visiting and will do Christmas with you all in a few weeks.”

That is love.  No thought of self, only thoughts for the one you love, doing what is best for them not yourself.  And that kind of love is inspiring.

Day 7: A Week Really?

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The fastest week.  The most exhausting week.  The most emotionally draining week.  The most joy-filled week.  A roller coaster of a week.

Has it really been 7 days already?  Was it really this time last week that we were giddy with excitement, barely able to contain ourselves, as we waited to get to know this child we had been praying for.

Was it really only 1 week ago that we hugged him for the first time?
This experience has drawn our family closer together.  Intentional times are being created in an effort to love this child, yet it is benefitting our entire family.  We are more connected with each other than ever before.

We chose to host an orphan so that we could bless a child in need.  Yet he is blessing us.  Through our interactions with him, we are seeing so far beyond ourselves.

But this hosting.  It’s harder than we ever imagined.  Not because of Viktors, but because a hurt child simply won’t and can’t respond logically the way you think he should.  This is not for the faint of heart.  It is hard.  Very hard.  But beautiful, so very, very beautiful.

We struggle moment by moment questioning if we are doing this right.  Are we doing it the way he needs it done.  At the end of the day we rest in knowing that we might not be doing it right, but it must be better than what he gets typically.  And he is covered in prayer right now.  And prayer changes everything.

Merry Christmas.  I wish you a beautiful Christmas with your families!  Create moments that won’t get discarded to the trash on the 26th!