Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Waiting for Wings

I didn't even remember this photo, or realize how perfect it was for Perry, until after he was gone.
This post first appeared on my new blog, Too Special. 
Perry tells the story "Beautiful Rooster" at the opening
ceremony for the "Ambassador of Hope" program.
At first glance, he seemed to have so much going against him that he could have been forgiven for feeling defeated; instead, Perry, 10, smiled easily and stayed positive despite the cerebral palsy which put him in a wheelchair, and left him in an orphanage. Nearly three years removed from my last trip to Moscow with the Russian Orphan Lighthouse Project, I'd come 5,000 miles further east as an "Ambassador of Hope" to meet him in Beijing.
China runs on ritual; accordingly, our orphanage-sponsored visit commenced with opening ceremonies. Most of the kids bounced around the room before the start, but Perry and three other children in wheelchairs sat quietly. They seemed practiced in patience, as if waiting like afterthoughts was their birthright.
Later, Perry performed to a little song about gratitude making life worthwhile. Quick with thanks for every kindness, he lived those lyrics. But equally, he seized thoughtful opportunities to give. He made me a bracelet, intent on stringing each bead in exacting order; carried my bag in his lap as I pushed his wheelchair; and eagerly shared his candy with his friend and me.

Perry, front and second from right, with others kids from his
orphanage, ready to sign a song. The video of their
performance is below.
Our second day together, we went to the Beijing Zoo. Our group―an army of Chinese orphans with various special needs, Americans visitors, and orphanage chaperones―was conspicuous, and drew endless curious stares. Yet few people seemed to notice Perry when he sought room to see the animals, and too often he was kept at a distance. Once, by pointing urgently to a pacing lion, he "asked" me to move him closer. As I pushed him toward the other children who'd gathered, a caretaker stopped us for a photo. Perry smiled cooperatively until the lady finished; when she was done, she waved us on, so he missed getting near the lion. But he stayed smiley. He enjoyed the elephants and monkeys, and posed by the zoo's pride, their giant pandas. But he was enthralled with the peacock, whose tail was beauty itself. And those wings! Even in a Chinese zoo, the peacock seemed free.
Perry must have been unusually sheltered. Everyday occurrences―things most people might never notice―appeared new to him, awe-inducing experiences to be soaked up and savored. It rained one morning as we were leaving the hotel. As I pushed him toward the bus, he looked up, mouth wide in wonder, and joyfully outstretched his arms as if receiving a gift. A well-intentioned caretaker rushed an umbrella over him. Though she meant well, her kindness seemed misspent. Someone knowledgeable said later that his orphanage kept its kids close, and guessed that, prior to our visit, Perry had never once left its grounds in the three or so years he'd been there.
I'd under-appreciated the Americans with Disabilities Act until I spent time in China with a child in a wheelchair. Public toilets are generally squatties, ramps infrequent, and doorways
Perry, with the panda far in the background
narrow. Everywhere we turned, we were forced to navigate barriers thoughtlessly erected by a culture which preferred that disabled people stay invisible. Thursday afternoon, we ate pizza at a restaurant whose only restrooms were on the second floor. There was no elevator, and Perry's caretakers couldn't carry him up the steps. Without other options, they gave him an empty water bottle to use in a corner. The dehumanizing indignities I saw him endure repeatedly―wearing a weary smile―broke my heart. I confided in another traveler how Perry's ceaseless degradation troubled me. Surely he was used to it, she replied, supposing I'd be comforted at a humiliation so commonplace it had rendered him numb.
Perry's intelligence was evident, even with the language barrier, so it shocked me to learn he'd never gone to school. A Chinese lady on staff with an American adoption agency told me that since public schools seldom have facilities for students with special needs, they often receive no education. So Perry, who had a knack for reproducing designs he saw on paper, and told me that our president was Obama, could read only a few Mandarin characters, a deficiency not many Chinese seemed to find remarkable.
Even small things, like tasting samples in a grocery store, were
new and special to Perry.
In China, orphans become unadoptable on their 14th birthdays. If Perry did not find a family, the same lady said, he would leave the orphanage soon after for an adult institution, which he would stay forever. People much older than he would live there, too, and potential for abuse would be rampant. At best, he might learn a handcraft to do day in, day out. He'd have no education, no future, no chance at self-betterment, no hope for escape. Hidden from sight, he'd be far from the collective mind of a society scarcely bothered by niceties like wheelchair accessibility or education for the disabled. It was already awful; then she froze me with the words "human farm."
Our last evening together, I interviewed him, wondering if his optimism was genuine, or if he had some premonition of what the Chinese lady had prophesied. We asked a question, standard for orphans I'd advocated for: what career would he pursue? But as soon as we asked, I felt so cruel. It was grievously apparent he'd never been encouraged to believe in a
Perry smiled almost all the time.
future for himself at all. How could he fathom an answer? He could not even fathom the question.
For all his cheeriness, this endearing boy finally teared up when asked if he wanted a family. He told me he'd "try [his] best to be in a family," and that he hoped to warm the hearts of the parents who might adopt him. He sighed deeply when I asked what he would do to change the world. Eventually he said he'd help his parents, but added he never dreamed he could change the world. Having been assured beforehand by the agency that nothing was off-limits, I asked the question that exposed his soul: what was life like in a wheelchair? Looking down, he softly shared his fondest wish: to be active himself, and to have wings to fly.
Perry is everything wonderful that orphan blurbs tritely bandy about: kind-hearted, intelligent, helpful, smiley. But those descriptors shed little light on a soul who has consciously made the best of a situation so heartrending―so beneath his abilities―because it is the only choice he sees. So he smiles through gut-wrenching indignities; through lack of education; and through marginalization by a culture which assumes he has little to live for, and nothing to offer. He can keep the smiles coming, until he mentions the family he yearns for. And those wings!
Is there a family with wings to spare? Perry aches to fly. 
Perry's file is currently on China's shared list, meaning that interested families may adopt him through any Hague-accredited agency they wish. World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP, www.wacap.org), an agency we have worked with and loved for three of our adoptions, offers a $4,000 grant for Perry's adoption, based on funds availability, to families meeting income eligibility requirements. A $5,000 grant toward Perry's adoption is being offered by a church, good friends of Too Special, L.L.C., to be disbursed shortly before travel. The church grant is offered to Christian families only, and requires a simple application and approval process. Altogether, up to $9,000 in grants are available for Perry's adoption to families meeting eligibility requirements. For more information on Perry, or to learn about the grants available for this specific child, please contact Becky De Nooy at (616) 245-3216.
Videos of Perry

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

From Russia to China...With Love

Thirteen precious orphans, plus one child who traveled
with us, on our November 2010 Lighthouse Project
trip to Moscow. Six of these children were adopted
by our families. But one of these souls was never
able to join his waiting family due to the 2012 tensions
between the United States and Russia. Russia has
not since reopened to American adoption.
(Photo by David LaRocque)
I expected to stay with it forever. The Russian Orphan Lighthouse Project had been my life for six years, though I'd volunteered for longer. It stoked a passion for Russia, brought me there 14 times, gifted me a son and a daughter, and allowed me to find adoptive families for 80 older orphans. Any list of the joys I found with Lighthouse would include some of my life's most fulfilling moments.
Love of Russia could not blind me to its idiosyncracies, though. Russia never stopped feeling untamed, like a roller coaster just barely skimming its tracks. The country was touchy about everything adoption-related, yet I never imagined our program would end as it did, crushing a million tender dreams in the process.

A cruel tit-fot-tat closed Russia to American adoptive families at the end of 2012. Aiming to punish the United States for the Magnitsky Act―a piece of legislation wholly unrelated to adoption―the Russian government devastated hundreds of orphans who had adoptive families working to bring them home. Eighteen of those children―all older, two HIV-positive, and two sibling foursomes―were headed to Lighthouse families, moms- and dads-in-waiting who had met and already adored them. It killed us to leave them behind, especially since it seemed so unlikely that they'd be adopted by Russians. In time, some of our kids did find Russian families, so at least they'd be loved. But to the best of our knowledge, few of our lost kids were so blessed.
Dear Artem almost made it home to the
family who would have changed his future.
Every child left behind broke my heart, but
none like Artem. He was such a gentle,
innocent victim of a political situation he
would never even understand.
(Photo by David LaRocque)

We brainstormed ideas, then participated in nationwide family-agency-U.S. State Department conference calls which happened frequently at first, then slowed until hope died altogether. It would not have helped our Russian kids, but eventually we began looking to other countries for work. I traveled to Ukraine, and was on the verge of going to another country. Nothing materialized. And though my heart never moved on, my life finally had to.
On my trips to Russia, I'd never actively looked for children to adopt myself, though my eyes were incessantly open. During those years, three kids endeared themselves to me so much that I would have adopted any of them had I been able to arm twist my husband. But as much as his no's grieved me, I realized that the Lighthouse Project was all-consuming, and that by not adopting one orphan, I stayed able to serve many. Then it all dried up anyway, not by my will, but seemingly by Vladimir Putin's.
In September 2013, when expectations for Russia were running on fumes, my friend showed me a photo of a young Chinese girl. Even with unwanted free time on my hands, I still wasn't looking to adopt, hoping Russia might reopen. Further, the child was blind, which terrified me. So I did all I could: just prayed that the Lord would call a family. In mercy He answered―by calling me. After a maddeningly tortured path, Eliana joined our family in February 2015, through a process so circuitous that its ultimate success scuttled any doubt that she was meant to be ours.
Randy and I meeting Eliana for the first time

Ironically, while battling for Elaina's adoption, I still greatly feared bringing home a blind child. Several parents encouraged me, claiming that their blind children were children first, and that blindness was the least remarkable part of who they were. I hardly dared believe it, but soldiered on out of duty. After her homecoming, though, I became the staunchest of believers; Eliana swiftly and gracefully compelled me to view her as only my daughter. Home ten months now, she has greatly exceeded my most optimistic expectations; her joy, positivity, sweetness, intelligence, and 20/20 heart vision define her so much more accurately than "blind" ever could. Every day since she's been home I've felt thrilled by the gift she is. So much that we are adopting again―another blind girl from China.
Eliana loves to help, and is entirely capable.
As Eliana flourished, my soul began aching for orphans with special needs like hers. Nine weeks ago, the friend who'd showed me my little one forwarded information about a trip to China quite similar to the Lighthouse Project trips I'd run in Russia. With two intensely personal connections to China through my daughters, I already loved the country, so my desire to travel was kindled. My Eliana had opened my eyes to children with special needs, and now I yearned to help them move from orphanages to families. At the beginning of November, I arrived in Beijing to meet Perry, ten, a winsome boy who would make advocacy for him easy once I got home. After our time together, I spent the last days of my trip at a foster home for visually impaired children. Blind children are among the most difficult to place; if only potential adoptive families knew what I know now!

A photo I took as I left my Russian kids' orphanage
on my first trip to Russia, back in 2005. It became
theme photo for this blog. It poignantly embodied
the need I saw in there, and motivated my work until
the country closed to adoption. I drew immense
inspiration from these faces, and I pray that some
joy has come to their lives.
Thus, my Lighthouse Project chapter of life is over. Like closing a spell-binding book of endless surprises, I deeply regret its too-soon ending. But I'll forever treasure the profound joy it brought me in those few years; a billionaire with ten thousand lifetimes would be less blessed. The Lighthouse Project―which was really only about the kids we helped―and those at the end who we couldn't―has already begun shaping a new work in China.

From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear families, children, supporters, and readers―friends!―for sharing with me this amazing Russian story. As I say goodbye to Russia, I invite you to come meet China's unloved, but lovable, orphans with special needs. I'll be introducing them on a new blog, Too Special. I'd be honored if you subscribed. There are more kids we can love and help together, and that journey is just beginning.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Most Incredible Trade-in

Flowers from my co-workers
on my last day at the clinic
He was striding across the parking lot when I recognized him through the restaurant window.  Nearly 10 years removed from veterinary practice, I had not seen my former employer in a crow’s age. My kids, having heard umpteen clinic yarns, clamored to meet him. (After all, I’d lionized the man as my salvation during innumerable obese dog spays; their tissues often hemorrhaged profusely, plunging me into panic until Dr. Smiley would swoop to the rescue.) Dr. Smiley knew I was working with orphans, and asked amiably about my recent trip to Russia. 

As I left I scanned for his car, spotting his initials on the vanity plate of a high-end black Mercedes. He’d always owned upscale automobiles, but this was several trades up from when I’d left the clinic. Though I’d never cared much about cars, the rest of the day I revisited my decision to leave my veterinary career. The statement made by Dr. Smiley’s latest wheels seemed to mock my choice, inciting unwholesome longing for what might have been.

The Stratus, the only new car we ever owned,
right before the new owners drove it away
A few years after I’d graduated, Dr. Smiley’d kept me late one evening to ask me to buy into the clinic. Honored, but by then keenly aware that veterinary medicine was not my calling, I determined that one misstep in becoming a veterinarian did not oblige me to make another in practicing long-term. I thanked him, but declined.

Our precious daughter with the Buick
We bought our only new car after I’d worked a year, but the 1996 Dodge Stratus was an early casualty in the sell-off to fund our Guatemalan adoption. An older Buick its replacement, selling the Stratus began a downward spiral in transportation. Borderline respectable but socially painful, the Buick announced the derailment of our upward ascent just as it had begun.

It was serendipitous that when driving the Buick I couldn’t foresee how much further we’d sink into the vehicular abyss. After our first adoption, I slashed my hours at the clinic. Shortly before our second daughter’s arrival from China, I quit completely, overjoyed to escape the unrelenting pressure of medicine.  It was a decision I never once regretted.

This car earned its nickname, "Smoky," by belching
black clouds every time we left a stop sign.

It would be a lengthy digression were I to chronicle each car which rolled into and out of our lives, but one, a $300 Prizm, warrants note. We drove that old jalopy countless miles as it grew progressively louder, stinkier, and rustier. When the trunk lock rusted out, we joked we had a keyless entry. Mortifying me at every bump, the trunk lid would bounce, banging as it slammed down. Our daughters would giggle at the commotion, blessedly ignorant of the spectacle our jaunts created.

My husband on the Prizm's better side
Ironically, the entire epoch so injurious to my pride started with our first adoption, and
ended with our last. Bringing home siblings from Russia finally provided the excuse to retire the Prizm. After driving the car four years without a single breakdown, we sold it for $350, a $50 profit, and bought a newer minivan. While any van blunted the image I preferred to project, it was decent, and our new kids escaped the ignominy which had shadowed our
transportation in the past.

Next, we pinballed through a series of vans, all of them refreshingly nondescript and lacking the “personality” of the Prizm.  And while I’d occasionally admire the neighbor’s Mercedes, I never felt I’d left anything on the table until that day at the restaurant when I saw Dr. Smiley’s latest ride.

Our first summer with all four kids and a van
Well into that evening, I silently rued leaving a good job for a glorified volunteer position with the Russian Orphan Lighthouse Project. By now I would have my own Mercedes—silver— instead of sharing a van with Randy. What had I been thinking? Wallowing in the morass of self-pity, I styled myself a martyr who’d made a harebrained mistake.
Until God called to mind Angelina.

Then Igor.

And Masha. And Inna. And Katya. And Ivan and Irina.

And Nadia, Nikolai, Nastya, and Alexandra.

And Sasha, Eduard, Daria, Lima, Liza, and more than 70 other erstwhile orphans now home, cherished by families, because I’d loosed the shackles of a life-sucking career. As faces and stories of those I’d helped, and those I yearned to, paraded through my mind, I froze in stunned astonishment.

In Moscow in 2011 with Angelina, the child dearest
to my heart of all the kids I helped
I hadn’t been given a fair trade!  

For by merely forfeiting the chance to drive a snazzy car, I’d gained the infinitely superior chance to save a child’s life.

So for my paltry token, God allowed me to make the most incredible trade-in of all.
On Sunday, as I was putting the finishing touches on this piece, a call came from Angelina; in her sweet English she wished me a happy Mother's Day, then updated me on her life in her new home. Right before we hung up, she added, "Becky, thank you family!" and put a million exclamation points on this post. Short of the homemade cards my own kids gave me, this was the best gift I could have imagined. To make a difference in any life, and especially this one...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Still Golden

Vasily, without a gift, at his orphanage in
October 2009, the last time I'd seen him
An insistent rain pelts us, and windy blasts imperil my umbrella. Irina, our translator, offered to meet Vasily in the parking lot herself, but years of prayers for him torpedoed my patience, and I adamantly refused to wait for him another second. Russian sidewalks are seldom level, and much of the way I slosh through puddles too big to dodge.

The last time we met was three years ago, as Vasily stood forlornly in his orphanage’s office empty-handed, shrinking as the other boys, all with waiting families, clutched care packages (Solid Gold, 12/1/09). Though I liked him well then, he’s nearly fourteen now, and been languishing longer than any other orphan on our roster. Even securing a host has been impossible, once prospective families hear of his orphanage’s dismal reputation and my not having seen him in ages (Russian Orphanage Life, Scene Two, 3/22/12). Vasily’s only hope is to travel on our trip so I can update my opinion.  Either I’ll drop my caveat, or him.

At the car, a gust grabs my umbrella and whips its metal into the finish of the vehicle. The driver is annoyed, but my chagrin vanishes as the passenger door opens. Vasily is in the back seat, flashing a broad smile of remembrance at me. To the marrow of my bones I sense he knows I am still trying to help him.

Vasily gets a gift after
our group discussion.
Vasily joins us mid-trip; despite a four-hour drive one-way to get here, his orphanage only allows him a few hours with us. Arriving just in time for our group discussion, he tells us he likes his orphanage, especially his friends. It’s poignantly ironic when he dreams of being a “rescue ranger [saving] all the people who need it,” since he himself still awaits rescue. After the session, when I announce swimming time, he laments dejectedly he has no suit.  He brightens and thanks me profusely when he sees I brought him one.

Click below to Tweet, and help Vasily find his family.

In the pool, he interacts well with John, a host dad swimming with the kids. While we watch them, a social worker the orphanage sent along says he has difficulty learning, and just finished sixth grade. His biological mother drinks, taking so little interest in him that one year ago, when last she saw him, Vasily didn’t recognize her.  Understandably, he prizes promise-keepers, but gets angry when people lie. Opining she cannot find anything negative to say against him, the social worker labels him shy, a good boy who is “very often hungry.” With grand approval she adds he doesn’t smoke, noting most kids at her orphanage do. She says he once visited America with the Lighthouse Project, and longs to return if he can find a good family (Rolla, 7/11/09).

Vasily was so thankful I'd brought
him a swimsuit.
After swimming, it is already time for him to leave. Though it’s too early for dinner, the cafeteria serves him alone before his long ride.  He’s had nothing since this morning, and the driver won’t stop on the way back. As he inhales his meal, he tells me about a lady he stays with during vacations. She’s widowed and lonely, so wants a child at her house. He exudes his feeling of vicarious ownership as he effuses, “In the house is a shower,” as though it’s a rare amenity. He grins when I commend his effort in his interview.

Before he departs, I decide Vasily would enjoy seeing kids from his orphanage who have new lives in America. After the slide show of beaming ex-orphans, I thank the chaperone for sending these children, and helping to make their families complete. Expecting a reciprocated pleasantry, I am blindsided when she says only, “Awful things are shown on the TV.” Caught off guard, it takes me a moment to respond. Finally I reply that the bad stories she’s heard, while reprehensible, represent a minute fraction of adoptive families, and that Americans are rightly indignant when hearing of such abuse. I tell her I treasure my Russian children, as do our families theirs, and that devotion and sacrifice for children is the overwhelming norm for adoptive parents.

Vasily, nearly 14 now, in July 2012;
still golden after all these years
I walk with Vasily out to the parking lot. I say goodbye to him in Russian, then Irina translates the rest of my well-wishes. He smiles, then hugs me tightly before he climbs into the car. I wave until he is out of sight, then walk back in wonder, incredulous that three extra years in his orphanage have not dimmed his openness and sweet demeanor. He was solid gold the first time I met him.

And he’s still golden now.


Click here to Tweet, and let others know Vasily still needs a family!

Interested families may visit Vasily as part of our November 9-16, 2012, Lighthouse Project trip to Russia. You'll travel with our fun group of friendly Americans, and let your compassion make a difference for the orphans you'll meet. Interested? It's not too late! Call Becky at (616) 245-3216 to join us! Don't miss your chance to change the world for a Russian orphan in need.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Mustard Seed for Tonya

Karina at home, now 18
A true-blue friend of our program asked recently about Tonya, a girl her daughter Karina recalled from her orphanage days.  In the years since Karina had been home, she’d thought about Tonya many times, dreamed about her even, left behind at an orphanage Karina knew too well.  Karina thought Tonya had been on a previous Lighthouse Project trip to America, though I doubted that, since I could recall no child by the name she offered.

Two days shy of her 15th birthday, official word arrived that Tonya was still orphaned, and waiting.  While I held out little hope of an eleventh-hour match, I wouldn’t say no to our friend.  As Karina and her mom started praying and sharing, imploring fellow church members to cry to the Lord for Tonya, I began to wonder if a family might yet find her.

Having heard the girl’s name only as a nickname for Tatyana, I was surprised to discover when her documents arrived that Tonya’s real name was Antonina.  Nothing at all in her background inspired confidence, but as I shared her story with our friend, she remained unfazed.  Karina was “storming the gates of Heaven,” she assured, as if finding a family was as easy as praying with sufficient faith.
Tonya, 15
A week later I revisited Tonya’s documents, staring at her name and pondering its rarity.  After years of work with Russian kids, my only previous encounter with the name Antonina was when an eight-year-old traveled to Michigan in 2006, back when our program still brought children to America.  Mulling this, I calculated: A girl eight then could be a teenager 15 in late 2012.  Finally a question gripped me.  Could Karina’s friend have languished since the 2006 trip? Tonya’s current photo, grainy and stern, provided few clues, as despite having coordinated that long-ago program, I’d hardly even seen the young Antonina.

Ages ago, our director Hope had asked me to coordinate that Michigan trip.  Desperately committed as I was to the Lighthouse Project, the idea was ridiculous, as we expected any day the call for court in Russia to adopt our own kids.  Hope never takes no easily, though, and she badgered me until I acquiesced just to silence her.  I did my duty, finding host families for the kids, but as I’d feared, the children arrived and departed the U.S. during the 26 days we stayed in Russia.  I might never have seen the Lighthouse children at all but for our last morning in Moscow, while at the airport waiting to fly home we saw the kids returning from America.  Waving to them through the glass, in that scant moment I glimpsed Antonina.
Antonina, 8
During our just-home blur of adjustment, I heard little about the trip which had transpired in my absence, except that Antonina was among those who’d found no family. Never having met her, forgetting her was painless enough; while she crossed my mind occasionally, she never prompted action.  Finally, I moved on.
And on. And on, until six years passed.

Tweet below to help Tonya find her family!
Karina, too, had been home awhile before she felt God’s gentle nudge to tell her mom about the girl she’d met when they were both young enough to be in the baby house together. Karina, three years older, left the baby house first, but their paths kept merging as they were shuffled around to various orphanages.  When Karina returned from her own Lighthouse Project trip in 2008 with a Bible, she pored over its pages, reading its words of life aloud to Tonya, who sometimes asked questions. But once Karina was adopted, thoughts of Tonya ceased for two full years.

Now on the phone Karina was stressing to me the urgency, sensing Tonya’s danger. “The orphanage is not a safe place,” she insisted, adding Tonya has no family with whom to build a relationship, and does not know the Lord. She opined with great certitude that Tonya’s new parents would “love her very much,” as that had been her experience with her own adoptive family.

Love's new photo of Tonya,
 taken in mid-September
Moved by Karina’s entreaties, a couple decided to join our upcoming November trip to meet Tonya. But the next morning bore crushing news that after umpteen years in an orphanage, Tonya had been snatched for foster care the previous day.  Sixteenth birthdays mark the beginning of a downward spiral for most kids in foster care: government checks stop arriving for foster families, the families stop “caring,” and children become ineligible for international adoption. When I called my friend, devastated, she shrugged the news off, since she’d warned Karina numerous times to expect trials throughout the process. Calling this only the first of several obstacles the Lord would eventually remove, she urged me to persevere and expect Tonya’s release from foster care before the trip.

The next few weeks were punctuated with the downs and ups our friend predicted. Tonya’s hosts changed their minds and decided not to travel in November.  Then our Russian coordinator Love visited the region, finding the girl in the orphanage, not foster care.  Better photos secured, Love returned bubbling with the news that Karina’s Tonya was our Antonina from Michigan 2006. Having suffered in a wretched orphanage, courting a sordid future had not our program's dearest friend intervened, Tonya retained hope of a family.  

Karina, exulting in her new life, heart brimming with compassion, wrestles mightily in prayer for Tonya’s welfare and soul.  “God wants her here for a reason,” she told me earnestly. “Other people are praying about her. I think it will go well.” Thus believing, Karina shamed me with her grand vision of Tonya yet reveling in the love of new parents.
Tonya, Antonina that is, has been alone forever. Time dwindles dangerously, but an erstwhile orphan clinging to faith the size of a mustard seed prays in steadfast expectation that this mountain will move a smidgeon.
Move just enough to let her oldest friend be as blessed as she has been.
He [Jesus] said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20, English Standard Version)

Click here to Tweet, and help Tonya find her family while she still has time!

You can visit Tonya in Russia November 9-16, 2012, with our welcoming group of American travelers. She would love a chance at a family! Is God calling you? Call Becky! You can reach her at (616) 245-3216. Time is of the essence.