Dear Friends and Family,
For a couple of reasons it has been five weeks since I’ve posted a new blog. First, I wanted to keep Saulet in the front of everyone for a bit – and I now have potentially good news to share! A friend of mine in Portland, Oregon has made some initial contacts. One surgeon has said he would donate his time; however, the hospital where he works doesn’t do international surgeries. The surgeon gave my friend the name of another local hospital that does. Next week she will be checking to see if that hospital could help. She also has a friend from the Ukraine who is helping to find a host family for Saulet. We still need help with transportation and other details but at least things are moving in the right direction. I am praying for all the right doors to open.
A second reason I haven’t posted is that we’ve been super busy here. And, on top of it all, I’ve been battling a cold and flu. Not fun! No matter where you live.
There are so many things to share but I wanted to let you know about two visits we made to a camp where the children from Ulan spend their summer.
The first visit to Ulan came when a high school group from Muncie was here on a short term work trip and we loaded up two cars and headed out to the camp to spend an afternoon with the children. We swam in the nearby river and then the teens held a carnival for the children. I was touched and amazed to see this group of high school kids give of their hearts and time. What an inspiration!
The picture below is from 2006 and the young man was one of those I worked with that summer. He was quite a challenge and expressed such anger and hurt that my heart just broke for him. Before it was time to leave that August he informed me he would not cry when I left. I said that was fine and that I would continue to love him even after I was gone. I also said I wanted him to grow into a good Kazakh man. The day I finally left he kept his distance. Then, right as I was getting into my vehicle to leave, he came rushing up to me and embrassed me with a bear hug crying. Over and over he said, “Mama, I love you!” I usually don’t like to cry in front of the children and I like goodbyes to be sweet and short, but I couldn’t hold my tears in and we stood there with tears running down both our faces. I finally peeled him off telling him I loved him and knew that he would grow into a good Kazakh man. He remained in my heart along with all the other children, encouraging me to keep stepping forward on faith as I prepared to make the move from Virginia to Kazakhstan.
Below is this same young man. I had not been able to see him since that first visit. When he saw me this time, he ran up to me with a big smile and engulfed me in a big hug telling me how much he has missed me and how happy he was to see me. He had heard I had now returned to live in Kazakhstan. He couldn’t believe that I would leave home to come here. I told him it was because of the love that has been placed in my heart for him and all the children of Kazakhstan. I told him I didn’t forget him or the others and now am here for good. I am so thankful for the call on my life and for the chance to touch the hearts of children who feel forgotten and abandon. He followed me around that day, sometimes holding my hand and other times just standing close by as I interacted with other children and holding my camera or what ever else he could for me. What a great gift I have been given!
We left that day as the sun was setting and above is the image I captured. Such beauty! This land is full of contrasts and contradictions – great beauty set against the harsh reality of great heartache and pain. The shot below was one I see so many times a day and still love – a little burrow pulling the cart with whatever needs to be hauled.
The Kid Connection Team later went back to celebrate birthdays with the children who were celebrating birthdays that month. This is always a fun time for the children. We bring them cupcakes, snacks and juice and have a time to play some games before eating. Then we give out gifts for each child. As you can see, the children greatly enjoy our time together.
As I walk to work in the mornings, I couldn’t help but smile as I pass school children, stray dogs and other things I am recognizing as part of the local landscape. I smile because I am really here in the land that captured my heart in 2000. There are many things that are hard about living here but the great joy, peace and contentment I feel knowing I am exactly where I am suppose to be far out weighs any discomfort or hardship.
Thank you each, dear friends, for your support. You have no idea how each note of encouragement touches my heart. I have been truly blessed with dear friends and family.