The Journey Continues….Meet the Sloans!

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The night before Viktors left, Paula contacted me about Viktors.  I was crying too hard that night to have a conversation and promised her I would call the next day.  I had no idea this was a divine appointment.

After taking Viktors to the airport and recovering slightly, I called Paula to discuss Viktors.  God had laid Viktors on her heart in a big way, but as you will read, she thought it was the role of an advocate or to pray for our road to adoption.

For us to adopt Viktors would just make perfect sense.  Everything lined up it seemed.  We have 3 boys.  He fit right now.  We loved him.  He loved us.  There was one missing factor.  And it was a big one.  God wasn’t leading us down that road.  It didn’t make sense, but I’ve learned over the years that often God’s work seems to make little sense to our human brains that think we can fit the pieces so nicely together.

Over the course of the next several days, Paula and I spent a lot of time chatting on the phone or corresponding online as we sought God’s direction.  With complete assurance, and at the exact same time, he gave our family 100% confirmation that we were not to be Viktor’s forever family.  That we were to be his advocate, his voice.  We gave him love and spoke for him when he couldn’t speak for himself.  But He gave another family 100% confirmation that Viktors was theirs.  And He brought us together.

Within 5 days of Viktors leaving, the Lord confirmed so clearly to all involved what our roles would be.

If you have been praying for Viktors, please continue.  The journey continues!!

The Sloan family will host Viktors for 5 weeks this summer with the intent to adopt him.  He will have to return to Latvia after hosting, but hopefully not for long.  There are lots of obstacles to overcome, but God is big enough for all of them.  And if God didn’t allow obstacles, how would we see the miracles involved?

How can you impact Viktors?  Pray!  Pray for him.  Pray for the Sloans.  Pray Viktors heart would be open to the love they have for him already.  Pray they will bond easily.  Pray Viktors will say yes to adoption.  Pray for obstacles to be overcome with international adoption laws.  Pray God clears the path.  And pray for the funds to be raised.  The Sloans will be raising money to host as well as adopt.

Please read the following posts from the Sloans.  God couldn’t have selected a more perfect family to love this boy.  Paula is an  orphan advocate, mother of 3 (one of which is adopted), homeschooling mama, and a lover of the family.  Viktors is so blessed.  One day he will look back at the story of his life and be amazed.

http://www.supersloans.com/2013/01/where-he-leads-we-will-follow-part-1.html

http://www.supersloans.com/2013/01/where-he-leads-we-will-follow-part-2.html

Post Viktors

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If you are new to Barefoot Walks, I need to explain something.  Our family took a 4 week detour from our normal life so we could create moments, memories, and experiences for an orphan who would not normally  have such.  If you haven’t been on this journey with us, start here.  If you have been on this journey with us, thank you.

I will soon begin posting the normal material.  Posts aimed at inspiring a life of meaningful moments.  A life of creating memories that you keep forever.  And a life of creating experiences with the ones you love.

At the moment it is all becoming meshed together.  My desire to strengthen my own family bonds moved outside the realm of my own family.  God broke my heart for the ones who have no family bonds.  And for right now, I remain in a heartbroken state.  Waiting to see God’s miraculous and mysterious work.

My heart has been for the family for several years.  God has revealed a bigger picture to me through this experience.  He’s given me a heart for those without a family.

One thing I learned through this.  God must break our heart to inspire action for His people.  Without a broken heart, we are helpless to help those who truly need it.  My heart is crushed.  A little boy walked into our lives and I will never read about another orphan the same again.  I will never be the same again.  And I thank God for that.  I don’t ever want to be the same again.

Since Viktors left, we have cried buckets of tears.  I have thought I was ok then had a friend ask and I fall apart again.  The smallest things trigger this rush of emotion.  Where has this been stored my whole life?

Viktors is on my mind constantly.  There is rarely a moment that goes by I’m not thinking of him, praying for him.  I’ve seen God at work like never before over these past couple of days.

I connected with Viktors through Frype (which is like Facebook that a lot of these kids in Latvia use).  He sent me this message this morning and I fell into a complete puddle.

“I think of your family. Here in Latvia is not what you do. I love everything you do.”  At the end of his message was a love emoticon.

Everything in me wishes I could tell this boy that he will one day have what we have here.  With his very own forever family  I know he will.  Because the God I serve is faithful and just.  He will do this.  I have had several families contact me about adopting him.  And so many people are praying for him right now.

If we don’t hurt, how can we know the God of Comfort?  I know the God of Comfort right now.

 

He’s Gone

 

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We said goodbye.  The pain was excruciating for me.  I can’t remember a time in my life I have cried harder or longer.  I cried for days leading up to his departure.  The thought of possibly never seeing this beautiful child again felt more than my heart could bear.  Would I wonder every day what he was doing?  Is he standing strong against temptations.  Is he being protected from bullies.  Is he OK??

I feel a mama’s love for this boy who isn’t even mine.  That God allowed me to mother and minister to him is one of the greatest joys I’ve experienced.  I was able to witness life flowing through this child.  I watched as his body physically grew while he was receiving love and nourishment.  The clothes he came with just didn’t fit when he left.  He grew an inch while he was with us.  He probably gained about 7 pounds.

Departure day was a solemn day.  We tried our best to paste on fake smiles and present ourselves optimistically.  But anyone who knows me, knows I just can’t fake it.  He knew I didn’t want to let him go.

I opened the door to his room.  This would be the last time I could walk in and see that sleeping boy in that bed.  I wouldn’t get to say “Labrite” to him again.

With a smile on my face, I started turning on lights, “Good morning, sleepy heads.  Time to get up.”

He opened his eyes, gave me that sweet smile I adore, and said, “Me no go Latvia.”

I just smiled back.  I know he doesn’t want to go back.  “Your brothers will be so happy to see you again.  You are going to have so much fun.”  He just shook his head.  Latvia just isn’t America.  We are so blessed here.

We all began getting ready and doing final round ups.  No one had much of an appetite.  For the first time since he had been with us, he didn’t want to eat.  He smiled, but it wasn’t his happy smile.  It was his coping smile.

Thinking McDonald’s would bring some cheer, we stopped on our way to the airport.  When we finally arrived at the airport, we waited for 2 painful hours.  He never left our side to rejoin the other children.  He just stayed with us.  Quietly.  Several times he said, “Me no go Latvia.”

When they gave us the final goodbye message, I thought I was going to be sick.  I squeezed him with everything I had and never wanted to let go.  All of the sudden, he appeared so little to me.  He was a little, little boy.  This child traveling to the other side of the world to a life as an orphan.  No one to tuck him in.  No one to heal his “ouchies”.  No one to say “Mom watch!”

Getting through security took awhile.  We stayed until we could no longer see him.  Several times he looked through the crowd to find us. And when he met our eyes, he smiled and waved back.  He witnessed me crying these uncontrollable sobs.  Crying like I’ve never cried in public before.  And just like that he was gone.

The crying never eased up the car ride home.  But at least I was crying with no regrets.  4 weeks we invested in his life.  We gave him experiences he wouldn’t have had.  We gave him hope.  We gave him love.  We showed him Jesus.  We provided for his needs.  We loved him.  And that is more than he would have had in Latvia for those 4 weeks.  We did what we had hoped to do.  We just had no idea we would love him the way we did.  Or that it would rip our hearts out to see him leave.

If I could share my heart with Viktors, this is what I would say.

Watching you leave, saying goodbye to you, was one of the most painful moments of my life.  When you left, a piece of my heart left with you.  And a piece of yours was left with me.  

You are a good boy.  A very good boy.  You have a heart that desires to do what is right.  You are positive and filled with joy despite your circumstances.  You love life and it radiates through you.  

We hosted you so that we could bless you.  But you are the one who blessed us.  You impacted our lives in ways we never imagined.  

Who will jump out of dark corners and scare me when I’m not expecting it?  Who will get my mail everyday?  Who will close the garage for me?  Who will point out every single Mustang we pass on the road?  Who will plow through a bushel of bananas a day?   Who will tell me they love me in Latvian and Russian?  

I find myself counting my kids and feeling like one is missing.  Because you are missing.  We miss you terribly.  Every time we turn around we are reminded of you.  The first time the boys went outside to play, it wasn’t the same with you not out there.  They came in missing you, wanting you back, wishing they had spent more time with you while you were here.  

You are loved, Viktors.  You are dearly loved.  God has a wonderful plan for your life.  We are trusting in His perfect timing.  So just wait on God.  He will deliver you.  He will never leave you.  He will never forsake you.  You are His child.  

When you close your eyes at night, I hope you can feel my arms around your shoulders.  I hope you can feel my kiss on your cheek.  I hope you can hear my voice telling I love you and to sleep well.  And when you wake up in the morning, I hope you can feel me rubbing your back, whispering labrite.  I hope when you see a cross, you remember the love of Jesus  we shared with you.  I hope each day you reflect on the memories we created together and they bring you warmth and comfort.  

We love you.  And we will pray for you every single day for the rest of our lives.  

 

 

Photo Slideshow Viktors 2012

Tomorrow morning is the day we say goodbye to our orphan host son, Viktors. I have no adequate words for this post.

We love this boy.  Simple as that.  My prayer is that God uses the time we had with Viktors as a stepping stone to a blessed life.

Thank you for taking this journey with us.  Thank you for your encouragement to us.  Thank you for your prayers for us.  We are humbled and blessed!

I’ve posted 2 viewing options for this video.  It is the same video, so no need to watch both.

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[youtube=http://youtu.be/gja3_uGwCOY]

 

Viktors dancing

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Since this journey has caused my readers so many tears, I thought it fitting to share this video.

Viktors loves to dance. His preference is rap. Since he doesn’t know the difference, I usually put on Christian rap for him. However in my car the only option is contemporary Christian. He’s learned to move to it just fine I’d say.

This is how they do it in Eastern Europe.

P.S.  Hear the impatient 4 year old chirping in the background?  He wanted his turn quickly.  I was driving down our street at a snails pace while videoing 🙂

Enjoy!  Really do hope this brings a chuckle to you.  Tomorrow’s post I can’t promise will do the same!

Before and After

Here is the night Viktors arrived to us….and after 3 weeks.  Amazing what time, love, and nourishment can do!

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Adopted by God

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We have a new brother in Christ.  His name is Viktors.

Each day really has gotten better than the one before.  I’d rather it be miserable prior to him leaving.  Then maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to put him on that plane.

I asked how he was feeling about returning to Latvia.  “Mom, whats feelings?”

I used facial expressions to show him different emotions.

“Ahh.  Me sad.”

I was hoping he was going to tell me he was excited.  That would surely make it a little easier to send him back. But he is sad.  I can relate.

Last week I asked if he would like to take a gift back to the director of his orphanage.  He said yes and knew exactly what he wanted to get her.  Earrings.  Diamond earrings.  That wasn’t in the budget but some nice Target earrings were.  He didn’t like the Target earrings, but in 30 seconds he picked out  a set of beautiful bracelets.  I loved watching him shop for his director.  You could tell he knew her well and wanted to please her.  When we got home he looked through my gifts bags and was very selective in which one would work.  It was the one with hearts.  Very girly.

Viktors had the little pouting fest over wanting me to buy sunglasses, which I said no to because he has 2 pairs already.  A wise friend suggested that maybe he was really wanting them for his brother.  So today I said, “Hey would you like to buy your brothers a gift from America.”

He sat straight up in his seat, “Yes!!!”

“What would you like to buy them?”

“Vadim, goggles.”

He hadn’t been pouting because he wanted more sunglasses.  He wanted them for his brother.  So we spent the morning shopping for his brothers and his best friend.  I asked him before we went to the store what he intended to buy.  I really wanted to go in with a plan.  He didn’t hesitate, “Vadim, goggles.  Robert, sweatpants.  Alexsys, soccer ball.”

For as long as I live I will never forget the look of satisfaction on his face over his gift purchases.  The joy it brought that sweet boy to buy treasured gifts for the people who are most important to him was one of the more heartwarming moments we’ve experienced with him.

We spent the afternoon packing.  He has been very anxious about packing.  Each item I put in his suitcase he would tell me a name.  He has planned out who all he is giving his stuff to.  He’s not even planning to keep it all.  So many items he would say their name then say, “They will love it this.”  I love how his English comes out.

Then he took his book light out of his bag and extended his hand towards me, “This one.  You.”

“No, you will love having this in Latvia.  Please keep it.”

“No.  For you.  I love it you.”

Then he took his stuffed tiger out that I gave him.  The one that holds his audio bible player.  “This one you.”

“No way.  I will not keep that.  I bought that for you.  Please take it.”

“No.  Me no Latvia.  You have it.  I love it you.”

When I come home after leaving him at the airport, I do not want to see that tiger.  I will hide it in my closet before he leaves because it will simply make me too sad.

We continued through the evening.  Dinner followed by the boys doing dinner clean up and chores.  I never asked Viktors to do anything.  But he jumped right in with the boys.  He took out the trash, wiped the table, swept the floor and without being asked went upstairs and got ready for bed.

Story time before bed is usually me sitting on the floor with Zachary in my lap for one story and Andrew for another.  Tonight I sat down on the floor, Zachary sat in my lap, and I began to read.  Viktors asked Zachary if he could sit in my lap.  Like only Zachary could do, he hopped right up, and said, “Sure you can!”  And that big 11-year-old boy sat in my lap.  He leaned his body back like a little child and listened to a story he couldn’t understand.  While he listened he traced the veins in my hand like he would do in church.

When the story ended, I wanted to give Zachary an extra story since he gave up lap time.  I picked up his new Jesus Storybook Bible Grandma gave him for Christmas.  Zachary requested I find the story of Jonah, but like always, Viktors wanted his way first and grabbed the Bible.  I whispered to Zachary, “I will read Jonah to you.  I promise.”

Viktors flipped through the Bible and saw the story of the birth of Jesus.  Since he was here for Christmas he has seen a lot of baby Jesus.  Everything he has seen of Jesus has been a baby in a manger.  I wanted him to know Jesus was more than a baby in a manger.  So I flipped a couple of pages forward and showed him Jesus nailed to a cross.  I flipped between the 2 pages.  “That is Jesus.  And that is Jesus.”

He looked at me confused.

“Jesus died on the cross because he loves you.”

Viktors pointed to himself with raised eyebrows. “Me?”

“Yes, you.  He loves you.”

“And you?  And Zachary.  And Jacob.  And everybody?”  he asked.

“Yes.  He loves everybody.  And He wants us to live with Him forever in Heaven.”

He smiled a smile that said he understood what I said.

Using translator, I said, “Jesus lived a perfect life and died for our sins.”  Translator limits the number of characters so I had to break up what I said to him in segments.

He asked, “Why did they kill him?”

In that moment I didn’t know how to respond.  I knew how I would respond if I were speaking to someone who could understand perfect English.  But translator is unreliable and doesn’t let you go too deep in conversations.  So I looked at the boys and asked them how they would answer that question.  They gave very complex and long answers, so I went with my own.  It went something like this.

“Do you know what sin is?”

He looked very confused.  I remembered him using the phrase “shame on you” and being quite surprised that he knew that phrase and proper context. So Jacob and I acted out a skit of Jacob punching me (I’m dealing with boys here…).  I responded “shame on you Jacob”.   I then used the “shame on you” to explain sin.  We followed that up with explaining that Jesus died to take the punishment for our sin so that we wouldn’t have to.  And that because of that when we have a relationship with him, we will get to live with him forever in Heaven.

Viktors never lost interest.  He was hanging on every word.  So I typed, “Do you want me to tell you how to do that?”

“Yes, Mom!” he said.

So I typed that he could place his faith in Jesus and invite him into his heart.  I asked if he wanted to do that.

“Yes!”

“Do you want me to pray for you?”

“Yes, mom!”

So we prayed.  I don’t know how much he understands.  I don’t know if this was a true salvation experience.  Only the Lord knows that.  I will never stop praying for him, I know that.

We were all a bit shocked.  Zachary asked, “So he’s a christian now?”  To which I said, “Yep.”  Later I sat with Jacob and explained that only the Lord knows the heart and level of understanding a person has.  Our job is to keep on praying.  We will not stop praying for his salvation.