I must start out by saying, “Many blessings to all of you who have taken the time to comment. It has been such an encouragement to keep posting even when Internet is excruciatingly slow. Though I don’t have time to respond to all of the comments like I would like to, I am keeping them in the back of my mind and plan to answer all of them when we are back home. Thank you for all the birthday blessings for John—I read him many of the comments and he felt the love.”
We knew this day was coming. Today was the last day we got to spend with the kids since they are heading off to camp tomorrow. The camp is much further away and we are already paying $40 a day for the drive to the orphanage so it would be even more to drive out to the camp everyday. Still, we plan on splurging in a couple days and driving up to the camp for hopefully, the whole day because all the kids are so worth it.
We began with our routine of seeing Nastya and Pasha first thing and they were very excited with the glow sticks we brought them. Such a commonplace thing in America-- but here--- to these children--- they might as well have been bars of gold. I know we haven’t had court yet, but still I already call them—my children--- well my children shared their glow sticks with their friends. It warmed my heart. I think they truly understand what it means to the other children to get a little enjoyment out of our visit to the Internat as well, even though we are not adopting them.
We did a couple of other things which I will share in an "extra" evening post because I want to get to the heart of this one.
We all went outside and spent time with the children. Today many of the girls stayed close by me because I brought nail polish and toiletries. The older girls blessed me in ways I will never forget. Being so close to them today changed my ideas about older teenage girls in Internats-- and they will forever have a special place in my heart. It was a privilege to paint each of their nails yet they acted like it was a privilege having their nails painted by me. Phooey—little do they know how much joy they brought me. My heart was brimming with a mixture of joy and sadness as I held each of their hands in mine and painted each of their tattered, scraggly, dirty, worn, bitten to the quick nails. A few of them even had infected cuticles dabbed with green medicine. I felt bad for even noticing--- a part of me knows they are beautiful children of God and another part of me wanted to wash their hands and give them some Mama love---- oh how they each could use some Mama love. It was quite windy as we painted nails so of course the polish became lumpy and their nails looked like a mess, yet to them—they felt beautiful as I kept telling them, “Ochen Craseeva.”
This post is so hard for me to write but I feel that these children’s stories need to be told—so that it may change the hearts of others. These children do not belong here in this Internat- they belong in families like yours and mine. Anyway, most of them wearing the clothes I first met them in four days ago, I felt unworthy to be wearing fresh clean clothes with freshly washed hair and clean feet. Why should I have all of these luxuries when they have none? What did I do to deserve so much? What did they do to deserve so little?
I watched as an older girl who at first was very standoffish with me, tried to impress me by doing another girls hair. Impress me, she did, as she French braided the girls hair round and round around her head like a Jewish round hat that lays flat on boys’ heads. It was really beautiful and she beamed with pride that she could show me something I had never seen before. At one point she bent over and I could not help looking at her bra. The wires were both sticking way out of each side poking her and yet for this moment—she was happy…. content. Little did this girl know the example she was to me-- not the other way around.
Luda, the girl that at first would have nothing to do with having her picture taken--- showed me even more of her true personality today-- and what a joy that was.! She not only was extremely helpful in painting all of the younger girls’ nails but she then asked me to follow her and two of her best friends somewhere. I had no idea where I was going but I felt honored that they would invite me to go with them. As we walked through a beautiful field with fruit trees they pointed out a pack of empty cigarettes and shook their heads in disgust. I agreed and was secretly so proud of them for choosing not to smoke. They went over to the “perfect” tree where they wanted me to take “senior” like pictures of them. This was so much fun. At first they would not smile showing their teeth but after I told them how much prettier their smile was when they showed teeth they began showing them proudly. And you wouldn’t believe how much fun they were having. And I would snap their picture when they were laughing and smiling their biggest and happiest smiles and when I showed them their picture they agreed that they looked beautiful. After a while, they insisted that I get a nice picture of myself and they took great care of my camera while they snapped photos of me. At one point I adjusted my shirt so my bra strap wouldn't show and each of them quickly checked their own bra straps.
Let me tell you--- these girls are so easily influenced and my prayer is that even though this time is so short in the grand scheme of their whole life, I hope that I made a difference to them—because I know they made a difference to me. They showed me their crosses from when they were baptized and told me how they love God. This makes me very thankful to hear of their salvation and yet I know they are starving for His Word. How I wish there wasn’t the language barrier because I would have shared so many things about God’s love and grace for them. If only….
Like always—the four hours flew by and before I knew it we were saying good-bye. I gave away the toiletries and nail polish and I went into my purse and found some extra ponytails to give to Luba who I will never ever forget. After giving Nastya and Pasha a few extra pieces of gum, I secretly gave the rest to Luba along with more ponytails as I squeezed them into her hand. She quickly looked in her hand and whispered, “Spaciba.” We both smiled.
It took all of me to keep from crying.
As I climbed into the car, the kids were having Caleb autograph the backs of their hands. It was painful for us to say goodbye.
Such a dangerous thing to spend time with the children. Of course it is a blessing beyond anything I have ever experienced and yet come time I have to leave—the void I fill in my heart is one that can never be filled until I get to see their faces again.
And yes Karyn, I gave big hugs to as many children as I could. I also had our facilitator share this with the kids, "You are all such amazing, respectful, wonderful kids. You have made the Reed's visit one they will never forget. They thank you for being so welcoming. They also want you to know that if they could, they would not hesitate to bring each and every one of you back to their home because they think you are all so terrific. Have fun at camp."
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