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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
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.