Addicted to Ink

Thursday, August 31, 2006

At the window

On a cool spring morning, our bus of a dozen or so Malone College students and several translators pulled through the gate of Yolichka, a Ukrainian orphanage for children aged newborn to three.

As is our custom while visiting orphanages, the majority of the group stayed outside near the van while two students, two leaders, and a translator went to greet the orphanage directors and present them with gifts for themselves and the children.

As we stretched our legs, eager to play with toddlers and hold babies and shower them with gifts and hugs and attention, one student, Ian, noticed a little boy eagerly staring out the window at the van full of people. Ian walked over to the window and rapped on it, startling the child just a bit, but the little one soon smiled and rapped on the window in return.

The two played at opposite sides of the window: Ian making silly faces, the child mimicking him. The tyke was sick, so wouldn't be allowed outside to play with the students and his peers, but after a few minutes he was laughing so hard he could barely stand.

The two were making a connection. At a window. Giving each other glimpses into lives neither had ever seen before.

The child was looking into the eyes of a godly young man (a rare commodity in Ukraine) who loves Jesus with all of his heart, who will and has followed and served Jesus anywhere - by caring for his brothers and sisters in the United States, in Sweden, in Ukraine, in God-only-knows-where-is-next. And because of that love, Ian freely loves others and enjoys making the solemn laugh. The child was seeing love and laughter and acceptance.

Ian, by American standards, was looking through a pane back in time of nearly a hundred years, leaning against the sill of a building that appeared to be centuries old. He was gazing into the eyes of a child who had been rejected by his parents, who was abandoned before he ever learned his own name. Ian was seeing a child who, unless God intervenes, will grow up in poverty and danger and darkness.

But God's mercy is great and He wants our mercy to be great, too. "Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD'S commandments and His statutes... .So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing" (Deuteronomy 10: 12-18).

These days, there is a term called the "10/40 window" which describes a region of the world that contains the largest population of non-Christians. The area extends from 10 degrees to 40 degrees North of the equator, and stretches from North Africa across to China, and includes such countries as India and Turkey and Afghanistan. Crimea, Simferopol, is in the southern part of Ukraine, separated from Turkey by the Black Sea.

As Dan Cammack noted in his article "A Window of Opportunity," if you are a 21st century American missionary, you will likely end up in the "10/40 window" or Eastern Europe. I, too, believe that God is calling Christians - from all parts of the globe - to that area of the world.

Three of the participants (new graduates) of our Ukraine service-learning team stayed in Crimea while the rest of us returned to America. They are there for sure for a year, and longer if the Lord directs. They are working with Ukrainians who love Jesus and have committed their lives to making a difference for the Kingdom - and have specific ministries for orphans.

During our service-learning trip in June, most of our time was spent ministering to older children and teenagers. But each year, we visit Yolichka, to see where these children began their lives, to try to gain understanding of what their lives have been like.

Our visit that day lasted several hours - we toured the institution where we were introduced to toddlers with AIDS, we blew soap bubbles through wands with toddlers in the playground, we pushed kids in swings and took their pictures and gave them hugs and prayed God's blessings and promises over them.

And when we went back to the van, the little boy was still waiting at the window, watching for Ian.

This is a piece I wrote for Barclay Press (see link at right)... what do you think? Too sentimental? Too preachy? Too depressing? Will it work without the photos if they are unable to use them? Feedback/suggestions are greatly appreciated!


Blogger Andrew said...

I really liked your piece- it was well written and moving. I would be interested in more adoption information for possible future interest.

9:19 PM  
Blogger amber said...

Thanks :0) Very much!

This is the agency my friends adopted through...

but there are many, many agencies.

Hopefully, Ukraine will be open for adoption again very soon.

And if anyone ever wants to adopt from/visit the part of Ukraine I was in, I can hook you up with the most wonderful translators... :0)

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww! That's so sad...and beautiful.

I love you.

any pictures of your trip here? I'd like to see some if ya'll get the chance. I miss you.

9:04 AM  
Blogger dawn said...

Amber, this is wonderful! I am so in awe of your writing talents. This is a wonderful article. Sentimental? Yes. Preachy? No. But it made me want to do something to help these little children. And I see now that not only did God use you on the mission trip, but that God is still using you to make a difference in the lives of these children.

Now I just need to learn to NOT read your blog while I'm on lunch break at work... this made me all teary eyed. But I'm glad I read it.

2:05 PM  

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