Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Orphanage Visits: Let Me Sow Hope

Children outside an orphanage we work at
There are two questions every single Lighthouse Project adoptive family asks me before traveling to Russia: When will we get our child, and will we be allowed to see the orphanage? Almost as primal as the ache to hold their new son or daughter in their arms is the desire to understand where that child has come from.

Next to meeting my own two kids, the highlight of my first-ever trip to Russia was visiting the orphanage where they lived. Words, even photos, are powerless to convey the frigid hopelessness that pervaded that warehouse of children's souls. Seeing the kids swarm around our car when we arrived, the rows of toddler beds filled with tiny figures sleeping as a caretaker stood watch, my daughter's tear-stained face as she sat at her desk in the orphanage school, and the kids who watched out a cafeteria window as we departed were haunting. The need there defied description, so seeing it personally was life-changing, and intensely motivational.

My son-to-be dejectedly shows us his bed
in the orphanage right before we left him at
the end of our first trip to Russia.

Since our group trips to Russia began nearly three years ago, I've prayed we could use orphanage visits to show our American travelers where our kids are from, and the bleakness of their existence. I dreamed of the joy every participant would experience as they brightened those sad lives with humanitarian aid like bikes, books, and toys. I knew our visiting families could make a difference, and that they'd want to, if only they could see what I'd seen.

Kids standing at attention in an orphanage

Finally, we have that precious opportunity. This July 9-16, in addition to spending time visiting with and comforting adoptable children as in all trips past, we'll take some time to tour the orphanages they've come from, and to leave behind a little cheer. My heart leaps as I imagine what we can do together, and how even a little of our abundance and blessing could transform the lives of orphans.

        Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
        Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
        Where there is injury, pardon.
        Where there is doubt, faith.
        Where there is despair, hope.
        Where there is darkness, light.
        Where there is sadness, joy.

        O Divine Master,
        grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
        to be understood, as to understand;
        to be loved, as to love.
        For it is in giving that we receive,
        It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
        and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


        (Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)

You shouldn't miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience; there's still time to sign up! For more information, call me at (616) 245-3216. I'd be tickled to hear from you, and thrilled to have you join the rest of the group and me!

Click here to Tweet about visiting Russian orphanages!