Saturday, September 30, 2006

Home for Christmas

"For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' - Matthew 25:35-40

Sorry. I know I haven't posted in awhile. Its been an interesting month since Kristina returned to Ukraine. We have been blessed to send and receive two letters thanks to the Frontier Horizon workers and missionary Lela Steel. Kristina is upbeat and reflective in her letters. It sounds like her newly pierced ears started to get infected because she confessed that she took them out because they were hurting. I asked her if there was anything she needed so that I could try and get it to her. Her response? "Leslie, I need to be in your family." Sigh.

Please pray for the group traveling to Ukraine in 6 days. Although I had wanted so badly to go and be part of that ministry and see Kristina again, I am at peace that God did not open that door. We are looking forward with great hope to the Christmas holiday. We are planning on bringing her here if everything falls into place. She will only be able to stay for two weeks, but it will be worth every minute.

The Christmas hosting program is an unbelievable opportunity to bless a child who will not know the joy that comes with the holiday season here in the States. Beyond the presents and extravagant decorations, the comfort of food and family is a blessing that many of us take for granted. It sounds like a radical request, but would you take a complete stranger into your home and treat him or her like family this Christmas? Would you let him know the joy of decorating a tree, attending service at your church, opening presents on Christmas morning, Christmas carols, holiday lights, and your own family's traditions? I know that God's people have generous hearts, particularly during the holidays. You may already be planning to feed a needy family in the community or provide gifts for the less fortunate through any one of a number of programs. But what if you could see and feel the impact of ministering to Christ first hand? I promise that you have never experienced joy until you minister to the fatherless. Frontier Horizon is already gathering information on boys and girls that are available to travel for Christmas and there are pictures available. I'm not asking you to adopt a child. I'm not asking you sponser a child for the rest of your life. I'm asking you to change the life of one child for 14 days. If this is something you have room in your heart for, God will work out the details. He's just looking for willing hearts. Write me, call me, post to me here if you want more information. As God's people, this is what we have been called to.

A couple was walking on the beach, taking in the ocean air and a beautiful cloudless day when they came upon a stretch of beach that was just littered with literally thousands of starfish that had washed up on the beach during a storm the night before. They couldn't believe how many were lying helplessly on the beach starting to dryout and die in the sun. As they walked, they ran into a little boy who was picking up starfish, one by one, and tossing them back into the ocean. They stopped and asked him what he was doing.

"Rescuing starfish." He replied.

"There are thousands of them," they said, "you can't possibly save them all. You’re not going to make any difference."

Undaunted, he picked up another starfish and tossed it into the ocean.

"I made a difference to that one," he said.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Missing You

A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God sets the lonely in families. - Psalms 68:5-6a

I think of you all the time and find myself saying things to my classes about you. I reflect with them on the lessons I have learned because of you. I hung your drawing from The Hundred Dresses by my desk.

We had a cold front move through today and I thought of you. I know it must be getting colder in Ukraine. I wish now that I would have ordered a warm jacket for you and packed that in the suitcases. I remember you telling me how much your hands ached from the cold after shoveling snow each day. I should have thought to send mittens.

I wonder if you are eating enough. We are collecting children's vitamins at school for Dr. Waldheim's mission trip to India next month. I know how much you need vitamins and nutrients because of your lacking diet. I think of what a little thing it is to buy bananas at the store. I remember you sitting at the kitchen table savoring a glass of cold milk even 10 weeks later.

I ache to hold you and kiss you on the head again. I pray that someone will do that for you tonight before you go to bed. I wish I could travel with the other families next month to see you and spend time together. But I know God's plans are perfect and so I will wait for you. One day you will know just how much you are loved. One day you will know that you are a priceless, and valued, and wanted. One day you will know that you are our daughter and we are your family.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Listening to Tom

Meet Tom; he's a guy who gets it. He preached an amazing message yesterday, one I think will change the way you look at things. Here's his blog, but you can hear what he has to say by clicking here. God is allowing the scales to fall from my eyes through this experience. Come with me.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Desire to Spend

If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
-Isaiah 58:10-11

I knew that the lack of communication would be difficult once she returned to Ukraine. We wonder about how she is and what she's feeling. I fall back on a text message I received from Ulyses the day I took her to the airport, "We can trust that God loves her more than we do." There is peace in knowing that truth. Yesterday we received an e-mail from one of the Frontier Horizon workers with a translated letter from Kristina. She makes it clear how much she misses and loves us. She speaks of the things that she enjoyed while living with us in the States. And surprisingly, she doesn't mention the trip to Busch Gardens, new clothes, or the abundance of food. She reflects on how much she liked our walks and how much she liked school (yeah, school!). She remembers the people who were so kind to her. She remembers all of you.

Frontier Horizon, the organization I originally traveled to Ukraine with, is going back in early October and I want to go with them. Not only to see Kristina, but also to help facilitate the expansion of the hosting program to outlying orphanages. I believe in this ministry and I have seen first hand the difference they are making in the lives of the fatherless. Is it possible to be a part time missionary??? My heart seems so linked to the work that is going on there. But now that we are pursuing the adoption of Kristina, we must watch our finances and work towards raising the money necessary to bring her here permanently. Thank you for continuing to pray for this child and for our family. We have great hope watching and waiting for what God will do.

Monday, September 04, 2006

On the Same Page

It's strange around our house. I was folding clothes and found a pair of Kristina's pajama pants that were forgotten in the packing process. It was just a reminder that she's not here anymore. I stood in Hannah's doorway and watched Joshua sleep last night. Yeah, Hannah moved out of her room the day after Kristina left. She asked Josh to trade rooms with her. I figured it was only temporary. So Josh is sleeping alone in Hannah's big bed and Sis is sleeping on the pull out in the boys' room. I'm letting the kids adjust in the way that they need. It makes me wonder how Kristina is adjusting. I wonder if she is cherishing her memories or blocking them out to cope with the differences.

Robert cooked breakfast for all of us yesterday morning before church. "Its a sign!" he called from the kitchen. "What's a sign?" I said. "There were seven sausages in the package. That's a sign," he said with a big smile as he stirred the eggs. Of course he meant it in a funny way, but it was confirmation that Robert and I are in agreement with all of this.

Samuel was rummaging through a box in my room earlier today. "What are you looking for?" I asked. "I need something to keep my money in," he said without looking up at me. "What money?" I said. "The money I earn for Ridgecrest summer camp . . . and for Kristina," he said still not looking up. It's an unspoken understanding in our house. She will be coming back, some way, some how.