Our Boys: All of Our Boys

This is our first post in a series on the Boys Orphanage we visit every Friday.    We are so blessed to help Mission to Ukraine, knowing that the work they have done over the years has made it possible for us to lend a hand.  These first four months are the beginning to what we hope is a long partnership with Mission to Ukraine (MTU).  Check out all their great work here.

"Come on in!  We are ready to play."

"Come on in!  We are ready to play."

It’s Friday morning at 9:17.  Christina, our translator and team member, and I rush out the door, toast in hand, to join the MTU staff who are headed to Romaniv. 

We all congregate at the van, deciding who will sit where.  The ride to Romaniv can be a bit “bumpy”, so the sickies get to sit in front. 

The van is loaded with craft and teaching supplies for the group from MTU who will teach the higher functioning boys.  The trunk holds a big box of bananas, a special weekly treat for all the boys.  In my bag I have one simple tool: a newly purchased speaker loaded with music. 

Some of the boys in the Isolation Room LOVE music.  When we come they expect music, and for one boy, Misha, I’m confident that 2 hours of music each week is the highlight of his life. 

Sergie, an awesome volunteer from another town brings his accordion to Romaniv, but sometimes he’s not there, so we want to make sure we have music, just in case. 

The van pulls out from MTU, loaded with a chattering, cheerful bunch.  Spirits are high.  The boys have been quarantined for a couple weeks and finally everyone is healthy.  We’re happy to be back in a routine with our loves. I don’t understand much of the conversation, but I’m happy to listen, straining my ears and wracking my brain for familiar words among the chats. 

As we get closer to Romaniv, Christina and I talk over our “plan of attack” with Nina, one of the outstanding volunteer who has volunteered with these boys for the last 5 years.

Nina pours every drop of love she can into each of these boys.

Nina has several children of her own, and one of them has significant disabilities.  Our boys are personal to her, and she is determined to give them all the love she can every time she is with them. 

I wish you could see Nina in action. 

She is pure joy and love. 

We discuss what we have planned for the boys this morning and fine tune our ideas.  We are trying to implement a routine for our weekly visits. 

Our boys are at all different levels of abilities- physical and cognitive, yet we know they will thrive in routine.  We want them to rise to the occasion.  We want to see what they are capable of.  Baby steps, maybe, but extremely significant steps for these boys. 

They need someone to champion for them. 

They need someone to be intentional for them. 

We pull up to the gates of the institution and meet another van with several volunteers from an other town.  Everyone helps unload, and we’re off! 

Sergei laments that he forgot his accordion and we sigh with relief over our precious speaker.  Ha!  As we take our first steps down the long sidewalk toward the buildings where the boys live we hear yells, hoots and hollers. 

We’ve been spotted! 

The highlight of their week has arrived.  It’s Friday!  Faces peer out of every window, some of the older boys come outside to shake hands and show us their latest finds, a baby toy phone, a coin, a baby food jar full of buttons.  They display their most treasured possessions with ultimate pride as we ooh and aah to the extreme, our hearts bursting with love. 

Nina, Christina, two Sergei’s and I head over to the small Isolation building that houses our boys.  Our boys can’t get to the windows so they don’t yet know that we’ve arrived. 

We walk in and the wave of noises and smells wash over us.  There are the normal smells of Romaniv with a hint of bleach this week, a reminder that the boys have been sick.  I can hear the various boys and their squeaks, shrieks and cries. 

There is overwhelming stink, and overwhelming noise, yet my heart is at home. 

In that moment there is no other place I’d rather be. 

Only God. 

When He puts a vision and a dream in your heart He gives you everything you need to fulfill it- plus a hefty dose of joy in the journey. 

                                                      Kim Johnson,  Co-Founder and chief mom at Wide Awake Int.

                                                      Kim Johnson,

Co-Founder and chief mom at Wide Awake Int.

Stay tuned this week, as we share more about our Fridays in Ukraine.