Today was huge. Today will stand out as one of the most memorable days of my life. That may sound dramatic, but it's so true! Today was a day when God brought us full circle- from beginnings, ideas, and hopes, to reality. Today I made a friend for life. Today God showed that He is the biggest and the strongest.
We met Alyona at her house at 8:00, drank some coffee, and hit the road. Slavik's brother drove Alyona, Jed, Mark (Alyona's almost 3-year old), and me to the town. Yesterday Slavik used money we had brought, given by all of you, to buy a trunk full of diapers and some soda. I am sooooooo sorry to say we forgot to take pictures of the gifts!!! :( We were so excited and emotional that it didn't occur to us till we had already left to go home that we hadn't taken pictures. Sorry! Slavik called the Director about 30 minutes before we arrived to say we were coming. Ha! While she said that was fine, we weren't sure if we would be allowed to see any boys. We hoped and prayed we would see them.
We had a great time in the car on the way. I love Alyona. I really love her so much. We connect. We "get" each other. I know if we lived near each other we would be good friends. It's not every day you meet a couple with your same heartbeat, dreaming the dreams we dream, doing the things we long to do. Alyona is my kind of gal and she and Slavik are quite the team. They are dreamers who get it done. I love that. Anyway, we laughed and chatted all the way there. It was fun.
I was fine, and then I saw the sign for the village. My word, my hands were sweating, my heart was beating so fast. It was crazy. We pulled into the gates of the orphanage and it was unreal. I don't really know how to describe all the feelings. We've been praying for this place, reading about this place, loving this place from afar for 18 months or so. Fundraising, dreaming, looking at pictures...now those pictures were reality! I saw the shed where the boys eat, the gazebo where I've seen pictures of visits, and the tulips. Oh Melanie, I had tears for you when I saw all the beautiful tulips. I told Jed "Look! Melanie's tulips!!!" They were lovely today my friend. :)
We parked the car and unloaded the diapers and the soda....while not taking pictures. Sorry again! We weren't able to take any pictures inside the orphanage. We didn't want to do anything to jeopardize our presence there. I pray I never forget the pictures in my mind. Alyona asked, and we were told we could visit with some of the boys!!!!! PRAISE GOD! They set up several benches in the courtyard near the eating sheds and the boys began to come. Oh the precious, beloved children of the Father. If only they knew how much they are treasured- not just by Him, but by so many of us from near and far away. I recognized many of the faces from photos of previous visits. Some faces I had never seen. They sat on the benches with shining eyes, clapping their hands with excitement. Then a couple other boys in wheelchairs were brought over. Oh my word, the cuteness was unbelievable!!!!! These boys are hidden jewels. One "boy", who is really a man, could hardly contain his excitement. He bounced up and down on the bench, laughing, eyes lit up with glee. I will never forget that face.
We greeted the boys and then sang a song with some motions. Most of the boys participated, some watched, some tried to get their hands to move in the right way but couldn't quite manage it. Oh, but they tried! One sweet little boy looked to be about 5 or 6 years old and was in a wheelchair. You could see he was paying very close attention. The wheels were definitely turning. He is a beautiful little boy. Alyona told them the story of Easter with some plastic eggs with little symbols inside of them. They ate it up. They couldn't get enough of the pats, hand-holding, squeezes. They loved Alyona and she is very good with them. I pray that God reaches beyond their natural understanding and draws each of them to Himself. They heard truth today and no one can take that away from them.
We only had about a half hour with the boys and then it was time for them to go to lunch. We were a little disappointed it was such a short time, but then we got a present we weren't expecting. Since we were outside and the boys were to eat outside in the shed we got to see all the mobile boys walk by. Many, many boys walked by us!!!! That may not seem like a big deal, but you should have seen Alyona's face light up. "Look at all these capable boys! So many of them I have never seen! This is so great!!!" We greeted them as they walked by. Some looked away, some clapped their hands with excitement of seeing strangers, some yelled "Privyet!!!" (hi) as loud as they could. Ha! It was awesome. It was so precious to see the older boys leading the little ones by the hand down the sidewalk. Men and boys together, all in need of love, all deserving of that and more. Next to the eating shed there is a building with a flight of stairs leading down. One young man with down syndrome who we had seen walking around doing chores carried a little one down the stairs to a wheelchair. Alyona pointed "Look at how they care for each other...such treasures."
Our visit was brief, but truly amazing. At the beginning of this week we thought we would not be able to go. Then we found out we would go, but still doubted we would see any boys. Then we not only got to see boys, but we got to spend some great time with some, and see MANY! God did a miracle. I will never discount that time. We truly believe that God is at work behind the scenes. God has put this remote place on so many people's radars. Why? So many people from so many parts of the world love these boys they have never met. Why? Slavik and Alyona are so persistent and determined to not let these boys be forgotten. Why? There is also much resistance to any help in that place. Why? I don't know the details, but I firmly and absolutely believe that God has a big plan in place. The enemy would love to keep those boys hidden forever, but God is not in agreement with that. He has brought them to light for a purpose. Again, why? Because they are His children. The gleam in their eyes makes His heart swell. He sees in each of them the man that He has created them to be. They are His precious creations and we believe He has a very big plan for them.
|Outside the gates...|
As we sat in the car outside the gates and Alyona prayed my heart swelled with faith in God. HE is doing it folks! He is bringing light into dark places. He set Slavik and Alyona loose on this place and they are not going to back down! They are fighters. I am so proud of them and so humbled by them. They are giving their lives for children all over this region. They have a map of their region in the entry hall of their house. The map is covered with little flags- one color for orphanages that have people ministering there, and one color for orphanages that are yet to be reached. Slavik and Alyona are the real deal.
I wish so much I could sit down with each of you and share face to face what we have experienced here. There is so much in our hearts, so much God is speaking, so much He is working in this place. I've said it before, and I'll keep on saying it: He WILL win the day.
Praise God for His victory today!!!
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.