Viktors is Back


The emotions ran high last week.  Much higher than I anticipated.  The day was approaching for Viktors to meet the family that would become his forever family.

If you are lost, let me catch you up.  Our family hosted an 11-year-old orphan from Latvia over Christmas.  His name is Viktors.  He stole my heart before I ever laid my eyes on him.  We poured our hearts into him for 4 weeks, and when he returned to Latvia in January 2013, a part of my heart returned with him forever.  I loved him like my own.

I was asked how we could do that.  Weren’t we worried about the hurt when he went back to the orphanage?  Worried we were not.  Full of faith we were.  Jesus hung on a cross for me.  Thank God he didn’t let his fear of pain stand in the way of fulfilling God’s plan.  Our decision to host an orphan  was confirmed by God 100 times over, time and time again.

Our 4 weeks were filled with joy, sorrow, trials, and triumphs.  Small victories and big victories.  Exhaustion and elation.  Deep pain that left holes just the right size for God to pour in comfort and peace that can only come from Him.

And through God’s mercy, grace, and loving-kindness, He brought the family that will one day adopt Viktors to contact me the night before he was to depart.  Within one week of Viktors returning to Latvia, this family had received confirmation that they were to be His forever family.

And so the story of Viktors didn’t end when he returned to Latvia.  It was only the beginning.

A boy forgotten in the eyes of the world has not been forgotten by God.

In the wee hours of a June morning, he arrived again.  His 3rd trip to America with New Horizons for Children.  Lord willing, this will be his last hosting.

And this new mama to him.  Well.  It’s hard to articulate.  She’s something else.  This mama who has loved him for 6 months while waiting for him.  This mama who knows he is one of hers.  This mama who must fight the insecurities that creep in wondering if he will love her like he loved his past 2 host moms (and he will no doubt).  Would you believe she brought a picture of me to the airport and showed him when she introduced him to my sister, who happened to be at the same airport picking up her host daughter.  What a picture of selflessness.  What a picture of true love.  A desire to comfort her soon to be son.  By showing him my picture, she was bringing familiarity to him.  Comfort when he was nervous and uncertain.  Oh how he will love this mama, who thinks of others before herself.

She gets it.  She gets him.  She sees the hurt buried deep inside his heart.

Eagerly, I’m checking Facebook to see what she has posted.  What they are doing.  What they are experiencing.  Questions run through my head constantly.  Are they bonding?  Is he pouting?  Does she see what I saw in him?  Yet I know.  I know.  I know the answers.  Because I know the One who orchestrated this entire scenario.  I know the One who chose the players to play the parts.  I know that it will all work out according to His good purposes.  So we trust.

As if she knows how I must be feeling, she calls.  She calls to tell me everything is going just fine.  She loves him.  They all love him.

This hosting season, I watch from the sidelines the families in the trenches.  I’m following the stories of the families.  I’m cheering on their successes.  I’m grieving in their disappointments.  And I’m praising God that He has brought forward so many families willing to open their hearts and homes to children in desperate need of some love.

Viktors and Marina- 2 Latvian Orphans


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When Paula Sloan and I first began discussing Viktors, we didn’t know what their role would be in Viktors’ journey.  Would it be as advocate, adoption, to come alongside us, etc.  Little by little, the Lord revealed the path, which was for the Sloans to adopt this young boy.  During the early conversations, I asked Paula what must have seemed like the oddest question.  It went something like this, “Is your husband silly and goofy?”  When I read her response, I could almost hear her laughing.  Please visit her blog to hear the answer.

Why did I ask Paula that question?  Well, did you watch that little video clip?  Do you remember the post of Viktors dancing in the car?  Did I mention he loved calling Steve animal names?  He is silly.  Very silly.  A silly family would be perfect for him.  Please read Paula’s post on her silly husband.  You are sure to get a good chuckle!

This post from Paula is a must read.  I promise you won’t regret the 2 minutes it will take!!

The Sloans are raising money to host Viktors this summer then will be raising money for his adoption.  If you feel led to help them, you can contribute at


And a new journey is beginning.  With an 11 year old orphan named Marina.  Marina is super shy and has only been in the state system for a little over a month.  When I perused the photo listing from New Horizons For Children, my eyes were drawn to her bio for some reason.  Similar to the draw to Viktors.

Initially, I asked Steve if we were supposed to host her.  He must have thought I was crazy.  I’m not healed from Viktors yet.  I just started as a volunteer coordinator with NHFC.  I am committed to supporting the Sloans through their journey.  It’s too much at one time.  With gentle love, Steve reminded me of all I was dealing with right now and encouraged me to focus on healing, focus on helping families hosting orphans this summer, and focus on supporting the Sloans.

I just knew that the Lord put Marina on my heart for a reason though.  Just like he did with Viktors.  In complete jest, I sent a text to my sister that simply said “Hey I found a little orphan girl available for hosting.  You guys want to host her?”

I expected a response like, “I wish we could but…..”

Instead, I got this “Let me talk to Larry and the family”  Not much longer after that I received this “Where do we start with the hosting.  The family wants the girl you picked out for us.”

I sat in complete astonishment.  Not that my sister would do this.  Because that isn’t surprising.  My sister has a heart for God and a heart for helping others.  But I was astonished at God.  Again.  I pray I never cease to be amazed at His miraculous works.

So my heart is bursting with anticipation and excitement over the journeys of 2 families this summer.  The Sloans with Viktors.  And the Pattersons with Marina.  2 11-year-old Latvian orphans in desperate need of love and family.  2 amazing families willing to open their hearts and homes.   My heart aches at the thought of what their hearts will feel in a few months.  But so very worth every ounce of pain.  Because the pain we feel is for a purpose.  It is pain with a purpose.

If you would like to support the Patterson’s in their drive to raise money to host Marina, you can do so here

All donations are tax-deductible.  Your donations are fulfilling the call of the Lord to care for orphans and widows.  Most families that host cannot fund the hosting on their own.  They rely on the generosity and compassion of others who are able to contribute.

Most importantly, pray for these families.  Pray for the Pattersons and Sloans.  Pray for Marina and Viktors.  Your prayers are coveted!

Intentions and Goals of Orphan Hosting


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. :

“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.