Thursday, August 9, 2012

The 'far away orphanage'...

Today is...Thursday. I had to think for just a minute about what day of the week this is. I can not believe it is already more than a week since we left home. we went to the 'far away orphanage' in a village an hour and a half away. I have been there before and taught in their school room. That school room is now being used to house some of the boys who live there. Any of you who know me well, know that I have a soft spot in my heart for boys. We have two sons, 4 grand sons (1 special grandaughter), and have fostered two boys over the years. I loved raising boys and have had a houseful of boys share our lives over the school years of our sons... All of this said to let you know this orphanage has a special place in my heart. They only cater, if you can call it that, to boys. There is a wide age span since all of the boys there are mentally challenged to varying degrees. The youngest we saw this time were about 5 - 6 years old, the oldest were grown men older than I am. The range in physical age is large, the range in mental age not so much. Early this morning Rita came up to our flat and helped us gather all the goodies that we would be taking with us. Sasha, a driver, was downstairs waiting on us. The weather was windy and cool. I finished hanging my laundry on the balcony, and Sharon threw in a load of her own. We had all the nectarines put back in the bags, and the IKEA bag was stuffed full of waffle cookies of multi flavors. I guess we were ready for our day. We drove the hour and a half out to a rather large village, like a small West Texas town. Maybe a couple of thousand residents, I am not sure. The town is on the banks of the beautiful Dneper River. As we drove into the town it reminded me of a much smaller version of Odessa, TX from my childhood memories. Quiet, people walking on the streets, not too busy, not too quiet. We turned down a lane and began to see smaller houses with bigger areas of land (for gardens) and lots of trees. As we approached the Home, we could see a long, white fence made of stucco like material. There was a large open gate to the entrance. As we approached we could see shirtless boys walking on the grounds picking fruit from trees on the property. Their faces lit up as they recognized a car was turning in to their home. Rita says that when they recognize Luba, the lady who goes to see them all the time, they yell out "Believers are coming, believers are coming". What a joy to know that they know about believers. As we got out of the car they recognized Sasha, our driver, and Rita. They came running from all over their campus. They were so excited to see visitors. Rita brought pictures from the last visit with Steve Carter, from Bentonville, AR. I wish you could have seen their faces to see pitures of themselves! They ran over and almost knocked her down to find themselves! The ones that had not had pictures taken were SO disappointed not to find a picture of them. Being young men with such disabilities, there was a range of different reactions to us being there. From ear to ear grins to their hands and arms flapping in excitement! You could tell they were happy to see us. When we pulled out camera's...well the paparazzi from Hollywood have never been sought out like we were. You would have thought it was the red carpet at the Oscars! "Me-ah" (me) and point to the camera. There were so many picture combinations I hope we can keep up with who gets what picture! - I have to tell you...Miss Jackie was not the hit of the day. In fact not many of them wanted to have a picture with me...or Miss Sharon...or Rita! You guessed it...Bennett was the man of the hour!! They all wanted a picture with him. In groups of two or three, or all by themselves! In fact some of them wanted multiple pictures of him. They flocked around him and wanted to be near him...some of them wanted to hold his hand and walk by him. He was a trooper...he smiled thru 'millions' of pictures and let them almost walk on top of him without a trace of complaint! It was NOT in his comfort zone at all, but he didn't let it bother him at all. We got the grand tour of the facility. They have a large garden with two greenhouses. One they grow food in, the other is a drying facility. The apple trees surrounding the building provide lots of fruit that needs to be dried for winter. They also have one dog and one cat which they all share. We brought nectarines and packages of cookies which we had to disperse to all of them. We made the rounds of the different sleeping areas where they were asked to come and sit and get their cookie. The fruit was long gone by now! We brought packages enough for 70 kids...there are 133 boys there. We were able to split the cookies up so every one got at least one cookie. We did decide that next week we will bring enough for all 133 kids! As we were taking pictures, the boys pressed in hard surrounding us...speaking as fast as they could in Russian. Sharing one interpreter between us, it was difficult to get everything translated. But one word we heard over and over was "Mama". They called us Mama and wanted us to come with them. "Mama, dees-ooh-dah", mama come over here! They began to explain to us about their mama's, and how they talk to them on the phone, and how they visit them, etc. Rita explained most of that was just wishful thinking on their part. It broke our hearts to hear them and see their little faces. One little one said 'mama' and mimiced a kiss. I bent down and he gave me the gentlest kiss...I wished for just a moment that I WAS his mama. After all the food was given away, and the soft toy that one young wanted was given to him, it was time to leave. We had to take last minute pictures with the kids in front of Sasha's car, and then we were off for the return 'home'. Sharon had held it together the whole time, much like Karye Withrow did in 1998 when she went with me. When we got in the car, it just got to her...the sad situation, the condition the boys lived in, the ones that called us mama...and she cried in the car. Not in front of them...she sucked it up Karye, just like YOU did so long ago. It gave me reason to pause. I asked her if she thought I was hard hearted because I didn't cry. She said that she did not, because I couldn't keep coming and have such sorrow overcome me. Then Rita brought up the fact that the boys were truly HAPPY to see us, they were not aware of the bad situation they were in, and we gave them joy when we came to see them... It made me feel a little bit better, although it was a VERY little bit. The faces of those boys...the appreciation the staff showed us...THAT is why we come to Ukraine and bear such sorrow. Jesus said 'let the little children come to me'...he didn't mention anything about only those with no we also say...'let the little children come to us, and see Jesus thru us. Thank you to every one who donated money and items for us to give away. YOU made/make a difference every time!!

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