Thursday, April 9, 2009

Faith to Sight

The Lighthouse Project kids returned to Russia Sunday from Chicago. So much wonderful has happened, I struggle both deciding where to start and how to artfully craft the news into one coherent post. Currently, it seems plausible every child could return permanently, should they consent. Five children have families with definitive intentions to adopt; the other five have families at least seriously considering them. After nine go-rounds, this is my first trip to end with every child having adoption prospects.

Denis L. has more than a prospect; he has a family. The boy who asked his orphanage director daily when he could return to America to find his family had his faith turned to sight late last week. (Michigan, Meet Denis 2/27/09) In mid-February Heather called me because she’d heard I was concerned about Russian people. She surprised me by requesting prayer for a Russian friend of hers, rather than asking about Lighthouse. When I launched into my Lighthouse spiel anyway, she asked to ride along when I drove across town to pick up Russian Bibles for VBS. Two days before the kids’ arrival, my mom was hospitalized, so someone else got the Bibles instead. I sent Heather an e-mail apology. Her reply was gracious, and she confessed a heavy heart for Denis. The trip unfolded without leads for him, so late in the week I contacted her again, asking her to come meet him. Her family agreed more eagerly than I expected, falling in love in short order. By Saturday, they knew they were Denis’s family and they promised to match his persistence by asking daily, “When does Denis get to come home to his family in America?” Adopted at age sixteen herself, Heather’s ache to pass the gift of a family to another child has been heartwarming, to say the least.

The trip’s first Saturday brought an end thirteen-year-old Lisa prayed for almost six years would happen sometime. (Cheering, 3/5/09) Adopted from Russia years ago by a Michigan family who discovered impossibly late that she had a younger sister named Lima in a different orphanage, Lisa and Lima met once in Russia, to say goodbye. At home in Michigan, Lisa settled in but couldn’t forget the sibling she’d left behind. Faithfully praying, Lisa tirelessly informed everyone she met that her biological sister was waiting in Russia for her family to find her. Those prayers finally got an emphatic affirmative when an Oklahoma family heard Lima’s story and traveled to host her in March. While Lima’s path has been a circuitous one, it wound last week through Grand Rapids, where Lisa and Lima had the reunion Lisa always knew in her heart would happen. Trying to make up for lost time, the girls enjoyed a sleepover, a pizza party, picking out curtain fabric for Lima’s new room, and having their mom and mom-to-be, who both love to sew, make matching dresses.

Nine-year-old Denis E. had a churchful of prayer warriors behind him as he sought his parents. Learning he loved farm animals, his hosts’ friend made a “prayer blanket” out of chicken-themed fabric, bringing it to church with numerous untied strings dangling. Congregants willing to pray for Denis throughout the week each tied a string, finishing the blanket in less than one-half hour. As Denis charmed everyone at the evening program with his infectious smile and darling carrot poem recitation, I knew the church’s prayers would be answered. They were: Denis will be the first child of a mom and dad who promptly began missing him as soon as he left.

Fourteen-year-old Nikolai, on his final trip, found a family desirous of adopting him, though huge financial challenges loom. (Smile, Nikolai! 3/30/09) The night after they met him, he pointed to the chairs where they sat during the meeting and implored his host parents, “Mama? Papa?” Still paying off two previous adoptions, the might-be family needs very significant financial assistance to make Nikolai their son. Given the difficulty I had finding families to even speak with about Nikolai, I find myself believing that God, who led me to a family who wants to parent him, can lead me to another who wants to provide the means.

Jesus commended the faith of little children; several had theirs turned to sight in Michigan last week. I’m older, but still trusting for Nikolai. I was not alone in my prayers for him; may our mutual faith, weak as it is, turn to sight.