Whew! The last few days have been quite the whirlwind, but I am thankful to have a minute to put my thoughts down. After the typical travel delays that put me hours behind and running through airports, I was a day late and two groups of missed children behind schedule. We’re lucky to have such amazing staff in our Latvia program who was still able to meet with these children to give them the opportunity that hosting brings.
This is my first trip with our Latvia hosting program, and what I’m learning is that traveling to Latvia is different than traveling to China. While there is less culture shock for me, I’m still meeting just as many kids as a single day in an orphanage in China…the biggest difference is that we’re driving all over the country to do it! From a meeting with a foster family to an orphan court and even to a dentist’s office to catch a foster family on the road – whatever it took to get just a few minutes with each kid, that’s what we did! Traveling is a small effort to make when it means a child has a chance to be involved in this hosting process.
For me, the experiences of the children in our China program and Latvia program are so different, but it all comes back to the same need. I’m more accustomed to seeing an immediate need in our China children, medical needs, physical needs, and the immediate lack of a family to care for the child. In Latvia, the needs aren’t so transparent. On the outside, many of these kids are doing so well, if a little small, but it is in their responses and their eyes that I can see the fear, pain, and hurt so many of these children have experienced. Many of these kids have tough hearts that have experienced heartbreak – too many adults have let them down too many times. I know it takes the right family to break down these walls, the right family not to give up, the right family to go through and understand some of the pain these kids have been through in order to give these kids the love they need.
Today I met two incredible boys who were thirteen and fifteen years old. They’re fantastic! We work so hard, especially for our boys, to find families. Older children and boys can be the toughest to find families for, but they are often the most amazing kids. Their caregivers say they are the best boys, and both of them know English. The oldest is an awesome student and the youngest is quite the athlete. They answered all of my questions the best they could in English, and when one was asked what he wanted to do when visiting America, do you know what he said? “Stay forever!”
Imagine being able to welcome a child into your life and give them the gift of a family, future, and a warm bed to sleep in at night. These two boys want to come back to America, and since they have been hosted before, they already know how wonderful it is to be with a family in the U.S. Sadly, most teenage boys are difficult to place, not because of anything they have or haven’t done, but because of their age. The year they were born is not a reason for them to be without a family or a chance at having a brighter future. Without host families, these kids are likely to end up living as part of the system, without a family, education, or anything that you or I have been blessed with.
I have been so privileged to meet these wonderful kiddos. We have the opportunity to do something great, and change the lives of these children in the best ways possible. But you have to ask yourself, will you be a part of something more this summer? Will you open your heart and love a child?
From the home office: contact us about getting involved in the orphan hosting program by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 512-323-9595. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of each child we meet!