Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Impacting Each Others Lives

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."


Kevin and Pam said...

Will your two children be going to camp too or will they be staying at the internat? It is heart breaking to see such sweet older kids without the hope of a family. I am sure you made a difference in their lives just by showing kindness to them.

Julia said...

THANK YOU FOR POSTING! I have no words! - We are leaving in 17 days for our own journey over there. Each story shared is an encouragement and a challenge to us! Thank you!

Donna said...

Thanks for sharing your heart!! We are praying them into homes with you!

Joan (Nana) said...

Thanks for sharing your journey there with these beautiful children. I know you want forget them nor will they forget you guys. Praying for everyone.

Carey and Norman said...

Another beautiful post. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to say goodbye to so many wonderful children. Thank you for sharing information about these wonderful girls who are waiting for their families. They sound so very sweet! If you have time to post while the kids are at camp, maybe you can explain to us at home how families can consider a particular child who is available for adoption in Ukraine. Maybe you can share information about agencies available too help with the process along with the average cost to adopt an older child in Ukraine. Just a thought :o)


russianfairytale (gmail)

Sheila and Jeff said...

Thank you for sharing. I am sitting here crying my eyes out! I will pray for these precious children.

Hevel said...

The hat you are thinking of is called a kipah. :)

I'd so love to go and adopt from Ukraine, alas, I'm not allowed to do so. We, as a family, do sponsor a Jewish orphanage and a secular orphanage program in Ukraine, with many of the kids in the latter orphanage being ethnic Hungarian. For every adoption we complete, we spend teh same amount of money to help those children who are staying behind. I know you, too have a heart for these children - and many other people, who read your blog here do, too, and I believe in the power of all these people to bring about a change in the lives of those children, who are not eligible for adoption or who do not have a family who can adopt them.

I'm really excited for the children whose lives you have touched!

Anonymous said...

I've been following your journey daily, Christine. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to start building relationships with these children. We continue to pray for you as you are the hands and feet of Jesus to these children, but also for the country of Ukraine that they would learn about the God who loves them.

living4him5 said...

Oh Christine, my heart is breaking right along with you. As we prepare to travel to China next month I can't help but think of how bittersweet it will be. We're adopting an older child and of course I want to to take them all home with me too. I am so happy to hear the the two girls you were taking pictures of were baptized. Praise the Lord!! Are all the children baptized?

Praying for all of you!!! Our your children going to camp too??

Amy <><

Diana said...

I remember well the last day we spent at our older son's internat. It was such a mixture of joy, knowing that my son was finally getting out of there, but my heart also broke in a million pieces for all the kids we left that had been wearing the same clothes every single day we saw them, so many of whom I would have loved to stuff in my suitcase and bring home, so many who were such great kids, some who'd even been such stinker rascals at first, but wiggled their way into our hearts and they knew it, so many really, really good kids who had so precious little hope for their futures.

We had brought pens and notebooks for all the boys and jewelry for the girls (earrings, bracelets, hair clips, etc). I have no idea who got what. When it came time to hand them out, we were mobbed by what seemed like hundreds of hungry hands just wanting SOMETHING to call their own. I will never forget Ivanca, though. She was a beautiful girl about to age out...and also the oldest of 8 siblings, all separated in different orphanages, all who were home when their father murdered their mother with an axe. She was always hanging around us. I made sure she got a special pair of earrings. She made sure not just to take them, but to model them for me as well. I will always treasure that picture of her wearing her hand made turquoise earrings, earrings that I had made, earrings that matched her ice blue eyes and were the first pretty thing she'd ever owned.

We, too, were there in the summer when all the kids left for their first camp ever. However, because they left on the very day we went to court and were heading to the other side of the country, our son didn't go to camp, but came to live with us permanently on that day, even though his adoption wasn't yet final.

HomeSchool Mommy said...

I've been reading your blogs for so long...and I check in several times/day just to see if you've posted something new. I never comment, though. And, I hate when other people don't comment on my facebook stuff when they see, I should know better. Anyway...I will do better on comments since you mentioned it.

I LOVE hearing about these kids and it breaks my heart. ...Not in a pity way...just in a 'I need to be there' kind of way.

Amy...who wanted 4. said...

My heart is aching for these kids.
Life is not fair.
I am at a loss for words as I type this with tears in my eyes.
Thanks for sharing their stories.

kitzkazventure said...

So beautiful Christine! I am sure your touch and your heart has blessed them so much. Your post reminded me of a quote I sent to another friend returning from a mission trip to her daughter's orphanage. She too talked of how she was changed and blessed...this is from a book by Larry Crabb called Connecting...

"When two people connect...something is poured out of one and into the other that has the power to heal the soul of its deepest wounds and restore it to health. The one who receives, experiences the joy of being healed.....the one who gives, knows the even greater joy of being used to heal. Something good is in the heart of each of God's children that is more powerful than everything bad. It is there waiting to be released...but it rarely happens...."

It is so sad to think of all of them there that just need to know that they are loved and cherished...praying for comfort and patience for you all as you wait to see them again. :)

Lyndi said...

You don't see it, but in reading your post, I see it...even through the language barrier, you DID show them the love of God. You groomed them, you loved them, you made them all feel worthy of love and attention. You made "the least of these" feel like gold. THAT is what it's all about. You accomplished that WITH a language barrier. THAT is a testimony of your character!

Carol G said...

It is so sad to read about these children, and your writing style makes me feel as if I'm there, too. Doubly sad, but you are getting the word out very eloquently, and I think that is so important. I have prayed that many other people will read of your experiences with these children and come and take some, preferably all of them, home.

Are These Kids All Yours? said...

Tears flowing.....knowing that sooo many need homes. So many beautiful children just need a chance to live with a mom and dad! PRAYING for more people to step forward to answer this AMAZING JOURNEY!

Gin said...

Hi Christine. I have been reading your blogs for a long time now and I just wanted to let you know that I have been really touched by this post. I'd like to send you a private e-mail about a project I've come out to send nice Christmas / bithdays packages to the kids you talk about form the Internat and I'd love to share the idea with you and see if you'd like setting it up with me. I can't find your private e-mail address so could you please drop me a line at patriciaconesa at Thanks!

Mellimaus said...

This post was so touching; I can't imagine not having a family. You have blessed them so much. :)

m&msmommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
m&msmommy said...

I've followed "Smiles and Trials" for quite some time now, but I don't know that I've ever commented, however, after reading this post I had to! :) What a beautiful picture I had in my head as I read your words, heartbreaking, but beautiful. Heartbreaking for those children who will never get a forever family, but wonderful that I'm sure their lives were touched FOREVER by you and your family. Although they may never see you again, I'm sure you made such an impact on them. As I have two of my own children I can't even imagine either of them growing up, well in to their teenage years without a mommy and/or daddy to love them! I wish I could adopt all of those children! :) Thank you for showing me a completely selfless heart. It's wonderful to know that there is still goodness in this world.

Love and prayers,
Christian Gomez

soontobemomof9 said...

oh Christine.... it just is so sad.

When we started adopting 4 years ago, I was set on very young children. It is amazing how that has changed, and my heart beats just as strongly for the older ones too. Not for someone else to adopt, but for us!

Such strength these young ladies show! I am humbled!

newmom2 said...

I need a box of Kleenex... as I read your post I want to get the paperwork and adopt Luba and Luda..but I know in my heart that I cannot. I know my I struggle with one and have two. I am amazed at how blessed the children seem and the appreciation for as you put it.. so little. Keep up the strenth, you are an amazing family

Cassc said...

Well I'm glad that you held back tear because I certainly cannot! I've been reading your blogs for quite a while now, it's such a joy to have read about Rachel joining your family and now seeing her act as an ambassador to A and P. Your most recent posts really have been incredibly powerful I echo Carey and Norma's sentiments and I hope that you will share more information on the "hows" of this process!

Tina in CT said...

What a touching post you wrote from your heart. I was misty reading it. We have so much and others have so little. Not fair.

I am sure you and your family brought a lot of joy and happiness to the children.

Michelle said...

God is bigger than any language barrier.

if you feel so strongly about these girls, and you ask God to help you impact their lives for Him, He will not let you down.

perhaps once you're home you can write out letters to them & have them translated. i bet they'd love to get mail & it would mean the world to them to know that you haven't forgotten them & genuinely care. i'm sure people have been kind to them before, but it's unlikely any have taken the time or effort to continue wanting to reach them.

- michelle

Kelli said...

May all the children be blessed with families soon. Thanks for sharing

Expat Mom said...

I read the next post before this one and just seeing the photos of those three girls made me wonder what their lives hold. They are beautiful young ladies, but have a touch of sadness and I can't imagine how hard it has to be for them to see the younger kids adopted out while they wait to just leave the orphanage. :(

Lea said...

Christine, I am crying. My heart aches for all of these children.
I pray that you have inspired many to adopt older children from the Ukraine.Thank you so much for your heartfelt post.
Lea Ann

Laura said...

oh, my....tears galore! You spoke from the heart, Christine, and touched many of us.

Just know prayers are being said for the kids that each one of them finds the joy in their lives that they are so deserving of. They were blessed to have you there ~ sounds like the time was priceless!