Wednesday, I pulled her little suitcase out of the garage, brushed off the dust that gathered while memories formed in our home, tears shed and laughter, so much laughter flew. And singing, mostly singing.
“Wait!” she said from her bike, “I no go Pil-a-peens! I like Am-air-ika!”
“I know,” I told her, “When you go I will be like, WAHHH!” as I showed her big, funny crying so she would start laughing, which she did, and I resumed dragging it in.
When Maria first came home from Russia, she was a size small or medium, and has grown to an L, then just before J came, a size XL in girls.
I pulled out most of Maria’s closet. All sizes M and L went into the heap on the ground in the girl’s room.
I love donating to orphanages, they are so well used, fresh clothes prized and loved by the kids, can be shared between many children for years.
Scientifically, rolling each piece of clothing allows for the maximum to fit in a small space. “And this!” I showed her as I held up the next piece of clothing going into her bag, as her eyes lit up, “WOW!! FOR ME!?!?”
Something God has taught me through my life, is to give as much as you can in the opportunity at hand. We can always replenish our needs, there’s always another birthday around the corner, but the moments are fleeting, opportunities that won’t come again to give. This was our chance to bless J as she traveled home, to bless all the children in her orphanage.
So we tried to fit an entire new wardrobe of Christmas clothes, shoes and Maria’s newly too small clothes into her bag. Even though it was sad to be preparing for J’s departure, this felt good, exciting to both she and I.
Then we opened the HUGE box of dental care donations from San Marcos Family dental. It was pretty amazing…so we decided to give her one of our suitcases and just pay the extra, whatever it would be. “We could always buy another suitcase for ourselves if we need to one day.”
SOMEHOW we fit all the dental care amazing things into the extra suitcase. I loved packing these. Flying over the ocean and landing in an orphanage in Philippines, I know that they will be put to good use by caring staff. If we were sending this to other places we have been, I wouldn’t be too sure it wouldn’t be sold, or sit unused in a corner, while children suffer.
We have a new respect for the Philippines and how they care for their orphans. I see some happy teeth in the future for one cool orphanage.
Once we were in the car, home streching further behind us, the cool air whizzing outside the windows, moonlight shining in, it started to catch up to me, her sweet voice singing to us from the backseat of our old civic. We were blasting the Frozen soundtrack on loop because J assured us it wouldn’t be in the Philippines. Luckily Andrew and I like it too, as she belted out the words. “For the first time in Forever, I could be noticed by someone…”
We parked and loaded up her back pack (Sent from someone who reads here, and it was perfect, thank you!) with snacks, toys and pillows, and printed Frozen lyrics. As I picked out just her right toys, just her right snacks, I thought, who would take care of her? But she was spritely, we matched her, she was about to board a long flight.
As we approached, we saw the other two families with their host kids. Rose was curled up with her host mama, wouldn’t let go, they both cried. She made me cry she was crying so hard. She didn’t want to get on the plane, wanted to stay with her host family. (Pray for them, if you can, they are the best family)
We prayed together, J was looking around the airport, animated and interested. We held her hand, took her to the bathroom, chatted with Tina the chaperone. We tried to keep things light, her spirits high.
“It’s time,” they told us, and we let go of her hand, as she looked at us from over her shoulder. She, Tina and the other two children slowly rose up the escalator, 3 hands waving ferociously, smiling light heartedly, except Rose.
They each peered over at their host families, waving, until they were out of sight.
Five minutes later, Eric Estrada went up the same escalator, very proud of himself, posing the entire way up. He had great hair, I had to hand it to him.
Rose’s family hugged each other, as we talked to the New Horizon’s coordinator, who is great. She hugged us and thanked us for doing great with the kids, before we walked back to our car, without our filipinos.
Some people ask how we are doing since she left just a couple days ago.
We are OK. It may seem funny to say, but Andrew and I have been to many orphanages around the world, we know it’s part of life, part of our world. How many times do we wish we could have taken any of them home for us, for even a day, given them a good meal, prayed with them, taken them to a doctor, fixed their hurting teeth, taken them to North Coast Church, sent them home packed to the brim with donations. We were able to do that for one, our sweet J, and we are on a high from the experience of it all, we feel good knowing that her life now is better than it was. Ours is, too. If we were sending her back to say, Russia, we would be heartbroken, anxious, burdened, but not only does she live in a ‘good’ orphanage, she also has a family coming for her, and aunt. She knows more bible verses and songs than all my kids combined–whoops, and awesome. Although we initially thought it strange a family member would take interest in her now, a coordinator at New Horizons said it may have been because she was hosted, all of a sudden she was more on the radar–hey, whatever it takes.
Serving orphans by doing what you are already doing–we like it. And her legacy lives on in our family:
It was she who inspired us to pick up the phone and get the kids in gymnastics. The boys went Thursday, it was amazing.
From an OT standpoint, it was ideal for Elijah.
Maria had an hour and a half lesson Saturday. She was a bit nervous, as expected.
She stood with the other girls as the teacher asked them to stretch out their arms and she put pressure on them. Maria’s bowed like a sail in the wind, “Don’t you feel your arms? Strong arms,” the teacher told her. Maria tried again, maybe it was the first time she thought about feeling her arms, and this time she did it.
Andrew and I watcher her doing push ups, pull ups, flips over a bar. And she was good at it. Her stance seemed more confident, as I thanked J in my heart.
“I loved it…”
Thank you J. You are already, quite a life changer.
We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.
We miss our sweet J. We wonder how she is doing, but mostly, we hope she goes far in her life. That she knows, deep down, how loved she is, and that that knowledge will transform her life, her choices, her ability to love others.
“You must know that you are worth much to me whether you accomplish anything or not. Even if you are rejected in the world’s eyes, you are valuable to me.” S.O.
I hope that she knows how wicked smart she is, and allows herself every opportunity, passionately pursues the dreams in her heart, no holding back.
I hope we remember life is short, and that each of us would use the time we have for good, before the seasons are over. Small seasons, to just say, “Yes,” before the holidays are packed, or a new year begins.
“Even though human life may be the most precious thing on earth, we always behave as if there were something of higher value than human life.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry