Approximately 45 days of waiting and praying for this orphan boy to enter our lives.
Giving birth to a child gives way to an immediate love. Love is there in an instant. The moment they enter your lives.
It seems odd to say we love a child we don’t really even know yet. One we didn’t birth, one we have only for a short while. 4 weeks to be exact.
I guess that is just what God does when He brings someone into your life and you pray for them. You just love them.
Now I get it.
We wanted to host him to show him the love of Christ. Unconditional love. In order to show that, it must be sincere. We must feel it. And God answered that prayer. He placed in our hearts a love for this child. This child we don’t know. This child we don’t have any idea of his background.
I couldn’t rest all day. I was a little too edgy, a little too snappy. Nervous energy needed a way out of my body. As the time approached for us to head to the airport, we were all feeling it. Zachary told us his heart was beating out of his chest. Andrew talked about how excited he was. Jacob was concerned about what he must be feeling at that moment. Steve was doing everything he could to keep us all even.
2 hours of waiting at the airport. When they announced that the plane landed, I felt my heart begin to pick up the pace. My legs needed to move, my palms were sweaty. I no longer could have a conversation with anyone. I wanted to see this boy. I wanted to hug him so tightly.
We made our way to the escalator they would come down. My little boys were bouncing around trying to be the first to spot him. On the way to the airport I asked if they would recognize him. “Oh yes!” Zachary shouted. “You know, Zachary, he won’t be wearing a purple life vest.” Long pause. “I know that.” He didn’t know that 🙂
Jacob was holding the welcome sign. Andrew was holding the gift bag. Steve had camera poised and ready. Jacob spotted the red shirts, “Here they come!”
All the kids found their host families and we didn’t see Viktors. We saw a boy who looked similar, but it wasn’t him. Then we saw 2 little boys standing to the back alone. His face is thinner than his picture, and he wore a hood on his head. But when I got up close, I knew.
One of the coordinators asked his name. “Viktor,” he replied with a shy smile. I grabbed his shoulders so I could look him in the eyes and said, “Hi Viktor. We are so glad to have you here.” My arms enveloped his thin body. And I squeezed. His arms never lifted from their side. They told us in training they wouldn’t know how to hug back. They are never hugged. Steve reached in and hugged him. Viktor’s arms never left their side. The boys each took a turn hugging him. His arms never left his side. We had warned the boys of this.
My heart was overwhelmed. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hold him tightly. And I didn’t want to think about where he was coming from. Because it’s just painful.
The rest of the time in the airport, I couldn’t keep my arm off of him. I just kept thinking he was scared to death and needed a reassuring arm on his back. We quickly discovered he speaks almost no English. But his smile. It’s a shy smile. It’s a precious smile. And my Andrew knew just how to pull it out of him.
Andrew was trying to sword fight him after knowing him for 10 minutes. “He’s not talking. Why is Viktor not talking?” He repeated this over and over again.
10 minutes into the drive home, Viktor was sound asleep in the car. When we walked him into the house, I watched as his eyes tried to take it all in. He wanted to see it all, but he was exhausted, so I led him straight upstairs.
With massive hand-talking and exaggerated expressions, I showed him his choices of sleeping with my 3 boys in their room or the guest room alone. He didn’t hesitate as he pointed to the boys’ room. With my hand on his back, I gently guided him to the bathroom, tore the tags off brand new pajamas and placed them in his arms. “Come get me when you are dressed.” It took him quite awhile. He finally reappeared and I pointed to the top bunk. “This good with you?” I asked showing him the thumbs up sign. His head bobbed up and down as he climbed the ladder.
He climbed into the bed and began tucking himself in like he would do every night. But I could see an expression in his eyes that showed he was looking forward to me tucking him in. I tucked him in like he was my own. His new soft blanket up to his chin, I leaned down and kissed his cheek, looked into his eyes and said, “I love you.” He looked me square in the eyes and smiled the most heartwarming smile.
A simple act of tucking a child in bed. An act I and my boys take for granted every single night. What did that feel like to an orphan? A child who belongs to no one?
And right now, I’m too wired to sleep, which is why I’m writing. I don’t know what tomorrow will look like. But for tonight the picture was beautiful. I watched my boys love a little boy who needs to feel loved. I watched an 11-year-old orphan smile at us, chuckle at my 4-year-old, and let us love on him. And I felt my heart grow 3 sizes bigger.