Sacrifice: To forfeit one thing for another considered to be of greater value.
What did we sacrifice to host Viktors? Mainly time. We forfeited time with our children. We forfeited time with each other. But it was for a greater cause. To show the love of Christ to an orphan.
Having Viktors here has definitely been a sacrifice.
Our hope was that a byproduct of this hosting would be an enlightenment for our children. That compassion would grow in their hearts. That they would become less self-centered and more others-centered. That they would realize how blessed they actually are. That they would have a desire to serve God and be aware of the needs surrounding them.
I believe the impact in their hearts is much greater than I ever imagined it could be. I could share so much, but here is just a little glimpse.
Day 22-Our best day to date. Viktors flowed through the day as if he had always been a member of this family. He knows our routines, he moves at our pace, things just clicked along.
He received a $20 gift card to Target, so we went shopping. I loved him having a taste of just how little $20 actually is. He bounced from aisle to aisle, his excitement uncontainable. Everything he saw he picked up and threw in the buggy, as if it were his last chance to have access to “things” again.
He didn’t need socks, but socks are important in an orphanage, so he threw in another pack (to go along with the other 6 packs he has received while here). He threw in a couple of shirts and a wallet. Putting my body in front of his I held up one of his shirts. Pointing to the $16.99, I told him that is almost all he had to spend. “What!” Hastily, he tossed the shirt aside. I picked up the socks and the wallet and showed him that those 2 items together were $20. He tossed them aside.
We moved to the sports section. He ran to the baseball bats and picked up one that cost $40. I explained it was twice as much as he had to spend. He found a t-ball bat for $10 and decided on that for the time being. Nike is his favorite brand. He spotted the Nike golf gloves and grabbed the one that said $10. I showed him that it came with one glove, so to get 2 would take all his $20. (This was good b/c he has pouted more about me not buying him Nike clothes than anything else since he’s been here). He put it all back and found a basketball for $14 and superhero mask on clearance for $5.
Done. I was exhausted and we were at Target forever, but he finally got a taste of what it’s like to have only a certain amount of money to spend. He honestly thinks we have unlimited cash.
The morning was devoted to Viktors. It was shopping for Viktors. It was translating for Viktors. It was explaining and teaching to Viktors. It was all about Viktors. And little Andrew just went along for the ride.
Remember back to Christmas we asked my mom to postpone her trip because we were so wiped out? Well, her box of gifts arrived today while the boys were in school. Viktors took it upon himself to organize the boxes and wanted to surprise the boys. He had neat piles set up and when the boys arrived home from school, he met them outside so we could cover their eyes and bring them in to open gifts.
Later in the evening, he wanted to surprise us all for dinner, so he sent us away while he prepared dinner completely on his own. He even set up the table. He made his specialty….fried eggs with hot dogs. The meal was complete with oranges on the side, and the table was set perfectly with napkins and silverware. He even had assigned seats for us. The pride on that boys face was priceless. The moment was taken to heart by my boys. They were astounded that he could cook and prepare dinner all on his own. They were impressed that he cooks for himself at his orphanage. They were saddened that he and his brother taught themselves to cook rather than having a mom teach them. It was one of the hundreds of moments we’ve had.
Until now he has talked so fondly of Latvia, his friends, his brothers, his life. As we were enjoying the dinner he prepared for us, I said, “I bet you are excited to go back to Latvia to see your friends.” He cast his eyes to his plate and muttered, “No.” After dinner, he was anxious about how all of his stuff would fit in his suitcase. He wanted me to get him a bigger suitcase. I explained this is the biggest we could get him according to the rules. To alleviate his anxiety I packed everything he owned as if he were leaving tonight. Just to show him it was going to be alright. That was the time I had allotted for the boys. It didn’t happen.
Time after time after time, I’ve taken away from the boys in order to give to Viktors. Because we only have 4 weeks. If he were here with us for good, it would be so different. But we have a window of time. So we are sacrificing. Minute by minute.
Finally, we get all tucked in. I thought back to the evening. From the moment they got home from school until bedtime, I had zero time with my 3 boys. Yet, none of them were acting out. They weren’t complaining. They are still so full of grace towards Viktors. They inspire me. Their grace inspires me.
A great day sadly ended in an upset moment with Viktors. As I tucked him in he asked me to take him shopping to buy sunglasses. (He has 2 pairs already). I told him no. Etc, Etc. We went through the same stuff we always do. We can’t buy everything we want. We have bought him so much. He should be grateful for what we’ve given. And on and on. (But for a child who has nothing, greed is at its ugliest. We can’t judge until we’ve been there. This is when grace is most needed).
Again my boys are put on the side as I enter into this dialogue through translation, which takes 5 times as long as it would if we spoke the same language. But they are listening.
“We love you. We simply love you. And we don’t show love by buying you things. Sunglasses, clothes, toys, none of that stuff makes us happy. You get it. It makes you happy for a short time. Then you want more stuff. You think it will make you happy. But it doesn’t. And you continue chasing what you think makes you happy. There is only one thing that can bring true joy.”
From across the room, Jacob whispers, “I know the answer to this one. And by the way, he can’t understand anything you are saying. But the answer is Jesus. Only Jesus brings true joy.”
“He can understand, Jacob. Zachary is anything possible?”
Zachary pipes in, “With God, anything is possible.”
“So if God wants him to understand my words, can it happen?”
Yes, it can. The impossible is possible with God.
I turned my attention back to Viktors. He held a glass cross in his hands that I had given him. It was swinging back and forth. His attention was on that glass cross. I reached for the cross and stopped it from swinging as I brought it up to his eyes. “This is love. This is joy.”
He turned away from me in his bed. I turned towards my boys and all 3 were watching the interaction. I could read Jacob’s mind just from looking into his eyes. They saw the time I invested this night. The entire night was given to Viktors. They understand why. They know I want Viktors to know Jesus. They know Viktors has 4 days left. They know they will have me back soon. They know he is going back to a life with no parents.
They just witnessed selfishness and greed played out right before their eyes. And it made them overly grateful. It was so ugly to see that they didn’t want to see it in their lives. We all do it. We all fight selfishness and greed. It looks different for each of us, but it’s there. In some form or another. But an orphan doesn’t use a filter like we do.
And so on this night, a child who has little went to bed upset because he wants more and doesn’t see what can truly fill him. 3 others went to bed who have so much and they became even more grateful for their Savior and their blessed lives. Their hearts are heavy for this orphan child.
Jacob summed it up tonight when he said, “I’m feeling that twang feeling about Viktors leaving. You know that twang feeling I’m talking about. It’s a sharp feeling that is several feelings at once that collide. Like sadness and madness at once. I’ve gotten used to him being here and it will be really weird when he’s gone.”
So we sacrificed our time. But we gained so much more than we ever imagined possible.