Saturday, January 20, 2007

Lil' Ones & The Lena Mystery

There have been a lot of issues Amy and I have been wrestling with since our return from Molodova, not all of them involving the trip, but one is the idea of "sponsoring" a child. CERI offers the opportunity to send regular donations to specific children which are used for their basic needs and the rest "banked," so that when they are forced out of the state-run orphanages/boarding schools they have funds to help them get an apartment, enroll in a trade "escape" from a future where their fates are all but predestined toward destruction.

It's not an easy decision. There are a lot of kids.

On one of our first days - maybe it was the first day - in Moldova we were taken to an orphanage for very young children. It was actually "nice," at least by Moldovan standards. The kids seemed well cared for, very loving, and the teachers seemed equally warm-hearted.

It was heartbreaking, make no mistake, but these children are being loved which was easy to determine because they were so willing to love us.

Sponsoring a child or two or nine, would involve kids from the orphanage where we spent most of our time. The scenario boils down to sponsoring a younger kid - which admittedly is less expensive - and hoping to build them a good nest egg for when they're turned out, or sponsoring an older child, about 3 times the price, who is in need now and will be out on the streets very soon.

We're exploring some different ideas and admittedly Amy and I are still looking at financial realities, which are numerous, while trying to listen to God.

I obviously bonded with some of the older boys, Amy bonded with some of the older girls...

Then there is the mystery of "Lena."

Lena was a little girl who showed up a day or two into our visits. She and Amy quickly made a connection. The truth is Amy would have stuffed her in a suitcase and taken her with us if we thought that was at all possible. For the record, physically "adopting" a child from Moldova is not an easy task, international adoptions were closed for several years, but have since re-opened on a "limited basis." Adopting is not really something I think we're suited least with the distance of time and space between us and those kids.

But Lena easily won our hearts.

As our time was running out in Moldova, Amy inquired about Lena with the orphanage director. The director was surprised we knew about her at all.

Lena doesn't live there.

Lena's sister is at the orphanage, but Lena is too young and will be coming there "next year." "Next year" is a phrase for which I want a better definition.

The odd thing is that Lena's sister was not at the orphanage when we were there, so the director was at a loss to explain Lena's presence.

Needless to say we didn't imagine her.

As were many of the girls, Lena was fascinated by Amy's earrings. Amy gave away all the earrings over our time of which went to Lena.

The next time we saw her, Lena had the earring pinned to her sweater.

Amy has more holes in her ears than I have in my head, but this particular earring was one of a pair and Amy long ago misplaced the other. It's an earring with an unmistakable message.

We have research to do, numbers to run, and apparently a mystery to solve...

How did Lena end up at the orphanage those days? Who brought her there? Why didn't the orphanage director know?

Or maybe we don't have a mystery to solve at all.

Maybe the answer is pinned to Lena's sweater and deep inside her eyes.

As always I suspect, mysteries such as this are resolved when we don't listen to God with our heads...

Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach...
- Proverbs 22:17