My heart is full. Tonight, my grandparents took me to a fundraiser dinner for Hope House International, and it was the best night I've had in a long time. Let me tell you about Hope House. This amazing ministry seeks out Ukrainian families who want to adopt and then builds a home for them so they can have the resources to follow their calling. Since they started 18 years ago they have helped place over 700 kids and counting from Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, and Belarus into loving Christian homes. I was in tears most of the night, barely holding back ugly sobs as I fought the urge to whip out my phone and buy plane tickets to go back. My heart hurts for them so much. God renewed my passion for these kids tonight in an incredible way.
We heard from two of those children personally, one of whom is now married with two kids of her own, and another who is now starting college. And then there were multiple videos and pictures of others. We heard from the parents who went to the orphanage director and asked for the most ignored, neglected kids. There were parents who once they understood that God had adopted them, they felt called to also adopt in order to share His love. There were so many wonderful stories tonight that I can't share them all.
I got to meet so many people who were invested in Ukraine, including two native Ukrainians, one of whom currently lives in Siberia and didn’t speak English. I was able to speak to her a little in Russian and her daughter translated the rest. Being able to hear and speak Russian again was a dream! Update: I now have a new Ukrainian grandmother.
There were also paintings for sale by the children who’ve been rescued from orphanages; these kids have so much talent. My grandfather surprised me with a wonderful early birthday gift at the end of the night. This was my favorite painting, a girl in traditional Ukrainian clothes standing in Ukrainian countryside, painted by a 10-year old girl named Dasha. She was an orphan with no hope, and now she has a family and a future. Which really is the best birthday present because I know that 100% of the proceeds of that painting are going towards House of Hope ministry, helping bring kids home. It is now hanging over my bed with my other Ukrainian memorabilia to remind myself that I am going back.
I don't know sometimes how to explain my passion. It's been with me for so long, and I've been unable to actually start living it (although in my DTS I came pretty close) that sometimes it takes a back seat. (That math homework really takes my full brain capacity ya know.) But tonight I felt it again. There is a physical pain that compels me to action. I physically cannot sit still. I must act. I must DO something, ANYTHING, right then at that moment. Forget the planning, forget the money. I just want to go. If I didn't know that my degree would enable me to help get those kids OUT of the horrible situations that they are trapped in, I can guarantee you I would not be here right now. I would be in Ukraine, working in the orphanages. It's where I belong.
Do you want to know why I'm so passionate about orphans? This is a new statistic I heard tonight and it really struck a chord. Of the children that will stay in orphanages until they are 16-18 (depending on the orphanage and location), 70% will end up homeless, 20% will end up in prostitution, and 10% will commit suicide. If you add that up, that's 100%. 100% of children who age out of orphanages without a family have no hope. For children with special needs, 100% end up in an institution with no hope. This. is. not. okay. This is why I'm going back. This is why one of the Hope House International fathers compared adopting to a house fire. You either stand by and hope someone else will save them, or you rush straight into the fight to bring them out. You might think this seems like a drastic example, but it's really not. I've been to the orphanages. I've been to the institution.
I'm going back. I'm going back this summer to help at an orphan camp and visit the institution again. Will it hurt? Will it hurt to get attached to these kids that I may never see again? Yes. Is it worth it? 100% YES. I can't wait to go back this summer. But what I am looking forward to even more is the day I get to move to Ukraine permanently, so I work in the orphanages every day, bringing hope to these kids, and helping them reach their dreams.