Happy Thanksgiving (a day late)!
I had a witty post simmering in my brain all about the antics of yesterday. I have a photo diary of potatoes soaking in the bathtub, turkey in its brine on the covered balcony, cornbread for stuffing, and out-of-thisuniverse pumpkin pie vareniki that we created. But I just can’t go there today. It’ll have to wait.
I spent this morning at Romaniv Orphanage for boys and men, and I have so much more to share than turkey wit. I wish so badly that you could have come along with me. I know if you did you would never be the same. No one can be the same after spending time at Romaniv.
We first visited Romaniv in April of 2012. Jed and I, our eyes met as we looked over the room of boys, “Yes, this is what we were created for.”
In May we visited again, looking with different eyes, ones that were wise to the fact that soon these boys would become a part of normal life for us.
Today I returned for the first time since our move and I am wrecked.
These are not just boys in pictures. These are not just sad stories to gain your sympathy. These are Zhenya, Vitalik, Misha, Valera, and Sergei. These are little hands that hold mine and walk the halls and throw balls and build legos. These are little hands and big hands that hit themselves and each other for stimulation. These are faces that smile, and frown, and grimace, and bite; faces that are smooth like a baby and faces that are covered with the scars of self-abuse. These are eyes that light up, eyes that are clever and knowing- even when the mouth can’t speak, eyes that are blind, and eyes that are distant, almost unaware of the other humans around. These are not just another need that is unmet. These are not just another story to make you feel guilty for your wealth.
These are real boys. They are now a very real part of our life. These are “our” boys. And they are beautiful.
One boy, who is now a man is unable to walk, but there is no wheelchair for him. Day after day he lays in a small room in his bed while life passes him by. The caregivers want so much for that to NOT be his life, but what can they do?
As I sat at his bedside and rubbed his back, unable to speak to him in his language my heart broke and melted at the same time. My heart broke for him, that this is his reality, that when I return home to my Jed and my babies he will still be lying there alone. But my heart melted at the same time with the love of the Father. God sees and He knows. God has brought people to Romaniv for such a time as this. This boy, this man, he is not forgotten. God brought Nina, a volunteer for Mission to Ukraine, to his bedside to hold him like a Mommy and feed him a banana. God is on the move in Romaniv, and God is on the move on behalf of the orphans of Ukraine.
So, today I am thankful for the beautiful boys of Romaniv. I’m thankful for the opportunity to love them, hold them, play with them, and look them in the eye. I’m thankful for Nina, who has her own son with special needs at home, and faithfully visits Romaniv each week and is called “Mama” by many. I’m thankful that although the need looks outrageous, and the situations seems impossible, God has made promises and they WILL be fulfilled. These boys are not beyond His grasp, not too far from His reach. The one with the most scars from continually banging his head on the wall is not beyond hope. Each of these boys is known by the Father and He will have His way.
For these boys, and other boys and girls just like them, God asked us to move across the world and be His hands and feet. I’m so, very, very thankful for that. May God have His way in Romaniv and in the lives of the fatherless all across Ukraine. So be it!