Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Christmas for 115 Left Behind

The Empty Playground.
There are things I saw there I will never fully understand. I knew while we were at Sveta's orphanage God was telling us we were there for more than fulfilling our adoption of Sveta.
There were children literally everywhere. Children of all ages up to about age 5, babies, toddlers, children like Sveta, longing for attention.
They would cling to our hands, begging to be shown any amount of love.
There was a playground - the one above, with swings, a slide, sandboxes, teeter totter, and merry go rounds.
Do you how many times I saw children playing there the three weeks we were there?
Unless it was another adoptive family or volunteers who had brought the children out to play.

Maybe it was just our experience but I never saw children like Sveta's friend above playing outside unless she was with one of the weekly volunteers. The day the photo above was taken she was so excited by the toys we had for Sveta. Sveta was more than willing to share her bubbles, a $1etch a sketch type toy, coloring books and cookies with her friend.

Small things, simple things that brought so much joy.

Oh, we saw children outside - every day.
But they were being pushed in large strollers or walking in circles around the orphanage.
Sometimes the nannies would stop under a tree for about 45 minutes.
The children would remain in the stroller.
Sitting, staring into space.
Staring at Eli and I with Sveta, on that big playground.
I always wondered why?
Maybe there were too many children and not enough workers.
Honestly, I don't know. I know the children are cared for and clean.
There has to be order and structure.
The empty playground was just a glimpse into the workings of an orphanage.

We watched as Sveta's face would light up over the tiniest thing - things we take for granted. Like bouncing a ball, blowing bubbles, coloring, playdough.


We watched as her face lit up one morning when a nanny tried to put a new pair of shiny red shoes on her feet because her sandals were so threadbare they were no longer keeping her foot inside. Oh how she smiled when she saw those shiny red shoes. Excitement danced in her eyes as the nanny began placing them on her foot.

They were too small.

There was nothing else for Sveta to put on.
We put the sandals back on her little feet as disappointment shadowed her face, but she never shed a tear.
Internally I promised myself Sveta would never, ever be without a beautiful pair of shoes that fit.

It would be easy to just put all this in the back of my mind, to focus on life here at home with Sveta.

But there are 115 other children, just like Sveta,  left in the baby house in Nikolaev, Ukraine.

This Christmas we want to send each one of them a wrapped gift box filled with things that will bring a smile to their faces.

In conjunction with Circle of Hope, a charity located in Huntsville, Alabama, we are working to bring Christmas to the children of baby house 19 in Nikolaev. Local orphanage volunteers will be delivering the gifts to the children for their Christmas which is January 7th.

This is an easy thing to do and we are begging asking for your help!

 Here's Different Ways You Can Help:

1.Create your own Christmas box, decorated if you wish (instructions below) We ask you keep your contents between $5 -$20.
 2.You may donate items which we will then assemble into Christmas boxes
3. Consider a small monetary donation using the chip in button located on the sidebar. All donations over $25 are tax deductible. You can also mail your donation to Circle of Hope, P.O. Box 4921, Huntsville, AL 35815. Include your name/address if you would like to use donation for tax purposes.
Monetary donations will be used to purchase toys, clothing, gift wrapping and to cover shipping costs.

3) SPREAD the WORD!! Grab the button, blog it, facebook it! The blog http://www.operationchristmasinnikolaev.blogspot/ has been created just for this project! Spread it around!

4)Follow along to watch as the children get their Christmas gifts! We are hoping to post pictures of the children receiving their gifts.

Due to shipping time, all items will need to be ready for shipping on November 7th .

 In order to meet that deadline, we need your donated gift box or items by October 30th, for packaging and shipping to Ukraine. If you are out of state or not in the Huntsville, Alabama area please ship your boxes/donated items to the following address: Huddle House 1802 Main Street East  Hartselle, AL  35640

If you are in the Huntsville, Alabama area please email me for drop off information! (click on the contact tab above)

Instructions for shoe boxes:
Decorate a women’s shoe box with the following suggested items, label “boy” or “girl” on outside of box and rubberband box closed. Please do not use a large "boot" box.
Socks – white (girls box), black (boys box)
Underwear (girls or boys or all white for either)
Children's sunglasses,  hats appropriate for warm weather or cold weather (boys or girls)
Small toys – ideas include: barbies, Lego's, puzzles, crayons, action figures, dolls with clothing, hot wheels cars
Children’s gloves
Hair bows/barrettes (girls boxes)
New clothing (inexpensive) all sizes up to age 5
*Please do not include nail polish or candy

Mostly, we ask you to pray for the children. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what it is He would like you to do to help. You may feel compelled to help an adoptive family in process or help children in another orphanage. We ask for your prayers over this Christmas project, we must raise money to cover shipping costs as well as compile 115 gift boxes.

From the words of David Platt "We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. Before you see their faces. It's easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes."

Eli and I have seen them, held them, held their hands, looked into their eyes. Seen the joy they get from the smallest things. We can't give every one of them a home, but this year we are hoping to bring them a smile, wrapped in a simple box.
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18