Monday, October 28, 2013

Going Home

About to lay my head down for the last time in Ukraine.  At least for October!  We will be back the week of November 25th for court.  What a way to celebrate Thanksgiving!  So many good things have transpired the last few days that I wanted to share them while they are fresh on my mind.

Each night, Natalya, Laci and I gathered to pray for the kids who had just moved from Shotova to Severodonestk.  Each morning we would arrive at the orphanage and hear how God was answering our prayers.  From Sasha:  The rules will not be so hard.  We can handle this.  From Dima:  The rules are for our good and we will get a good education.  From Zhenya:  Everything is good.  I like it here.  Zhenya is the boy who had been living with his family who was trying to run away the day of the move. I am grateful to all who have been praying for this transition.

Sunday we were able to have sabrinya with some of the kids.  Sabrinya is Russian for gathering and is what we, at Grace to Ukraine, call our bible study time.  I was able to share the gospel and remind the kids why we are here: because of Christ.  I admired their attentiveness and rejoiced in being allowed this opportunity.

I was able to spend a lot of extra time the last 4 days with our new son, and the oldest of the three, Alosha.  We needed this time together.  Today, he was my translator!  Not sure how well it went, but we survived!  He is a good boy and, at 17, very much desires to be taught what he knows he has missed.  I was happy to be with him the first time he ever ice skated, just as I had been with Lena and Sasha.  Happy to see his child-like joy in learning a new skill.  Happy to take him a second time "because it is extreme and I love extreme."

I am thankful for the little ways each day that God has allowed me to parent the children.  This may sound strange to some, but even the fact that they ask me for permission to go and smoke is a big step.  They know that they are going to have to stop smoking when they leave Ukraine but until that time, we have chosen not to fight the battle.  It is sweet to me when the other boys, not my kids, come up to me and ask if they can go smoke.  They used to try and hide the fact; lie and say they were going to the bathroom; or just disappear.  So when a child seeks permission for something he is used to doing without permission, I am thankful.  Even more so, if the moment is inappropriate, I am thankful that they submit to my "no" and wait.

I am thankful that I got to sit next to Lena and hold her hand as she apologized to the Director for some inappropriate behavior.  Happy for the opportunity to model conflict resolution.  Happy to whisper in her ear:  "I will always love you.  No matter what." Even as other voices were condemning her and telling her no one would want her if she continued that behavior.  We prayed one night that God would send a teacher more understanding of Lena.  The next day we met a teacher who recognized that the behavior from the previous day was the result of fear and anger.  Lena told us how this teacher prayed over her and we later learned that she prays with the children daily.

It has been hard to be away from my other children for 4 weeks.  I miss Vitalik, Vicka, Roman and Alexandra.  I am happy Jay was here for most of the time but now I miss him, too.  But even though I miss them, it is good to know that they are warm and safe and well taken care of.  I do not have to worry about them.  Its harder, though, when you have to leave one or more of your children in an orphanage.  I never imagined that I would finally get to Ukraine, only to return to Alabama with out them.  I will miss "Mom, можно?" (Can I have this?)  I will miss Lena's arm in mine as we walk.  And walk. And walk.  I will miss the akroshka ordered by Alosha at EVERY meal.  I will miss random hugs. Kisses on the cheek.  Thumb wars.  And brushing hair out of Sasha's eyes.  But what rends my  heart into is to think of 139 children with no home to go to; no mom to tuck them in; no dad to play ball with; nothing but an institution.  I will take home 3 of these children and will have only scratched the surface.  I am going home.  But my heart will always long to embrace the orphaned children of Ukraine.

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