Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An Early Alarm, the Visit and Boys

When setting an alarm to wake up, please check to make sure the clock is on the right time.  I need to wake up at 7:30AM but I am wide awake at 4AM.

The clock is on my Ukrainian phone that I purchased a year ago on the adoption trip.  It came in so handy while working through the adoption process, it has returned twice with families adopting since we came home with Karina and will be returning next month with a family adopting.  I am glad that the phone can be used to bless others.
It did not feel like a blessing when I realized I woke up four hours too early... but we will see how God uses the time.

At my last post we had not visited the orphanages yet... we have since visited the orphans twice; met with orphanage leadership; hopefully encouraged a runaway orphan; made plans to partner with and support a Christian Ukrainian non-profit ministry that is doing the orphan ministry we want to promote (we have observed and followed this ministry for over a year now and one of the goals of this trip was to finalize the partnership - more details later);

spent time with people that used to care for our former orphans (This was such an encouraging time for the supervisors and for Karina and Kristina.  The supervisors were able to see how much the girls had grown, that they were doing well, loved where God had placed them and they were overwhelmed by the thanksgiving of the girls.  Both Kristina and Karina thanked them for caring for them while they were orphans and the supervisors were blessed to know that their labors had not been in vain.); and planned out the details of running a camp for orphans to be held in Ukraine during the last two weeks of July 2010.
We are putting the team together now.  Let me know if you will be joining us.

The Visit

Upon arrival to the orphanage we stopped at the iron gate to take a picture.  The last picture I took at that gate was the day Karina left the orphanage with all of her worldly possessions:  her new parents, the clothes she was wearing and a purse that contained a Bible and a few items.  This time the girls entered the gate as children with families, as United States citizens, as believers in God, with bags full of gifts and with a mission to minister to children that are in the situation that they were once in.

Entering the orphanage we met with some leaders.  They looked upon the girls and us in amazement.  It seemed as if they had never seen children who had once been orphans for so long return to thank them for caring for them and let them know how well they were doing.  The comments and questions for the girls and parents kept coming...
"What is life like for you now?"
"Are you doing well?"
"What adjustments have you had to make?"
"You smile so much and you look so happy.  Why?"
"Do you like your families?"
"What problems have you had?"
"I see that they are taking care of you... they have not hurt you... they have not eaten you... you do not seem to be mistreated."  Seriously, folks... this was one of the responses of seeing the girls.

They seemed very happy to see the girls.  We let them know that one of the reasons we came was so that the girls could thank them.  I hope to instill within all of my children a thankful heart.  Even when circumstances seem bad, God's incomprehensible plan, his good plan, is being unfolded and we must thank him for the grace he sheds upon us, the people he uses to care for us, teach us, correct us and make us more like Christ.  So we thanked these people for what they do and for the care they gave the girls.  They seemed grateful... so grateful that I wondered how often they hear thank you from the lips of a former orphan.

We walked down the hall and the kids began to gather around us...
"What are you doing?  How are you doing?  Why are you here?"
Everywhere the girls go there is a crowd of children around them staring at them, asking questions and listening with amazement at what the girls have to tell them.


I love my boys.  God has blessed me with four incredible boys.  Harrison, Isaac, Noah and Baby you are four of the greatest blessings in my life.  I love you.  I love spending time with you.  I love bringing you on business trips, lunches, hunting trips.  I love tickling you and tackling you.  I love playing football with you.  I love watching you play and swing and work and serve and help and just be boys.  I love when you ask me to look at what you have done or watch you do something brave or just listen to what you have to say.  I love receiving your gifts and your pictures to hang on the walls of my office.  I love your personalities.  I love everything about you.

There are boys that do not have what you have.  There are boys that no father loves because there is no father or the father cares nothing for his child.  One of the things that makes me mourn is the loss of parents that do not want their children.  They miss so much.  Children are a blessing and to the extent that we do not minister to children (our own or others) we miss so much of the blessing God has in store for us.
My boys... I thank you again for your sacrifice in letting us be apart for a while to spend time with boys that have no daddy.

One of the first boys at the orphanage that recognized me flung his arms around my neck, I lifted him into the air and spun him around.  The boys crave male companionship.  They crave a manly example.  They crave another man teaching them what it is to be a man.  They crave teaching, time, protection... even correction.

Many of the boys and I have talked, thrown the football, been silly together and wrestled... how they love to wrestle.  They will give me a few minutes to take a break but not too long.  If I turn my attention to something else, they are quick to remind me we need to wrestle again.  One, two, three, four boys at a time would jump on me and try to bring me to the ground.  Over the year that it has been since last wrestling with these boys, some have grown stronger and some have grown weaker.  Some are more outgoing and some are more hurt, scared and quiet.

All of them want to know... is someone coming for me.
The comments from them are the same as they were a year ago...
"I am a good boy.  If I had a family I would be good."
"I pray every day for a mom and a dad."
"My birthday is coming.  I am almost too old to be adopted.  I do not know what is going to happen."

For my own children birthdays are great celebrations, wonderful milestones, a testimony of grace.
For an orphan a birthday is a reminder of the coming day when they will be sent to the streets...
A birthday brings them one year closer to a life of almost no hope...
A year closer to becoming a criminal...
A year closer to becoming a prostitute...
A year closer to living in the cold... searching trash cans for food, having hardly any skills to hold a job, a year closer to likely death.
It is hard to smile when talking about your birthday as an orphan.  It is not a day of gifts (I have posted before about Karina's comment about gifts:  "From whom, daddy?").  It is a day that marks the passage of time toward the streets.

So much more to say... I have a little while that I could sleep...
to be continued...  thanks for your prayers... thanks for your support.


  1. It's fun to see the pictures. Especially enjoyed the picture with Nataliya. I hadn't seen her since she took Maternity leave. She was Sergey's favorite teacher there. Blessings to you!

  2. Loved the pictures, I see Edic in there :) - If you see him again, tell him his picture is up in my house and we pray for him regularly. Artom and Katia too. Thanks for the post! Praying for you guys!

  3. Thank you for sharing this with us! I know it must be hard to be with the children again and have them expressing their desire for a family. I pray the Lord continues to bless you all on your trip and the children you visit, too.

  4. Praying, brother. Awesome yet heartbreaking. Awesome the hope Karina can now share.Very joyous!

  5. What a blessing to see the sweet boys of 7th class. It's good to know they have had a visit from someone who loves them. How are Vladick, Edich, Jenya, Yuri and Marat? Thank you for all you have done and the message of hope you bring. With love in Christ, Tanya (mother of Andrei)

  6. It's so awesome seeing all "my" boys in the pictures!! Of course, I know they aren't mine but I love them so much. Big Andre looks like he's loving wrestling with you and Marat has grown taller even since last summer. Please tell all these boys hi from Bill and Pam. We love them so much. We sat together and read your blog and Bill had tears in his eyes as he saw the boys. A while back, Michelle had sent an e-mail out letting people know how badly Andre wanted to be adopted. A friend mine at San Antonio Christian School (where we work) was very very interested but found out she and her husband were too old. : ( How sad because they would have given him so much love. I know there are families out there for these chilren. They deserve to be loved and accepted.
    I saw a facebook status today that said:
    "Adopting one child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will change."