Time truly does fly when you're having fun.
Today I got up and took the metro downtown to meet my dear friend Dasha. You would all be so proud of me! I managed the metro all by myself without getting lost or getting too many strange looks. I'd like to think that since I left my big camera, Hawaiian shirt, and tall white socks with sandals at home that I didn't look too touristy and possibly blended in a bit...probably wishful thinking though. :)
Dasha and I had a grand old time. After spotting each other from across Independence Square and frolicking toward each other with giddy laughter and huge smiles we had made enough of a spectacle of ourselves for me to forget about blending in. Hehe
We got something tasty to drink and walked all around downtown, catching up and wishing Jed was with us. It's so amazing how God knits hearts together. It seriously felt like we'd only been missing each other for a week, not a year! I love friendships like that and am blessed to have many of them here. Thank you Jesus!
After my time with Dasha, Olya and I had a super special treat. We got to spend the afternoon with Marianna, an American missionary who's been living in Kiev with her husband for the past 11 years. I've been following Jim and Marianna's work for some time now and already had a strong suspicion that we would like each other. Not only is Marianna a lover of kiddos, and a big coffee fan, but she lives across the ocean from her grandbabies and I've read about her proud Grammy moments from afar. Since my in-laws live overseas as missionaries too, we've been on the receiving end of faraway "Grammy-Love". I had a feeling I would like Marianna and I was very right!
Every Friday, when she's able, Marianna visits a hospital right on the edge of Kiev. In that hospital there is a special room for some very special kids. It's a room for HIV positive children without parents present to take care of them. In Ukraine when a child is hospitalized it is the parents' responsibility to provide all non-medical care. They bring food and supplies from home and take care of their children 24/7. Where does that leave children who's parents aren't present, or aren't able to care for them? It leaves them alone.
Marianna visits the children, loves on them, and encourages the staff. She and Jim have helped make it possible to hire staff to be in that room all day until 5:00pm so the babies and children aren't left alone. They have a dream now to have staff present in the room 24 hours a day. It really is needed! No child should have to be in a hospital alone, with no one to soothe them when they cry or are scared. I love this work.
Today there was just one baby in the room. OMG. What a cutie!!! I'm not able to post pics so you'll just have to take my word for it. I'm not exaggerating on the cuteness. Picture curly black hair, chocolate skin, longest eyelashes known to man, and sweetest smile I've seen since I left my babies on Tuesday. Add squeezable thighs and big brown eyes and you have a recipe for perfection.
We passed baby girl around and I got the honor of feeding her a bottle. It was such a lovely afternoon. It was beautiful to hear about the hearts of the staff softening as they see the believers being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Every life has value, every life was created with purpose and destiny. Marianna's visits speak volumes to that truth. "You are such a loved baby!" she said to baby girl. Amen to that. Baby girl is precious and valuable, created with purpose and destiny. As is every child who spends months of their life in that room. As are the children in this city who lay down in cribs all day, every day.
Hearts softening, lives being valued, eyes being looked into, all glimpses of His Kingdom coming to earth. Beautiful, right?