I returned this past week from our Orphan’s Promise sponsored camp in the village of Kalinenska…a remote part of southern Ukraine. This was our 4th summer heading back to work with this orphanage and the 54 kids currently living there.
The hardest part about going back every year is seeing that they are still there. I look at my pictures from the previous years and I see how the kids are growing and changing… and yet there they remain, isolated in a tiny village, waiting for the next group of guests to arrive…hoping for a change from the normal.
What amazes me each year about these kids is their memory. These are kids who struggle in school and have a hard time putting letters together and remembering one English word I teach them, and yet they remember details of previous years together as if the events happened only yesterday. They will recite which games we played in 2009, they recite song lyrics from two years ago, they will go into detail about films we showed them and they can even remember which day of the week we showed up on last year!
Honestly. it was mind blowing to hear the kind of details they remembered. After hosting dozens of OP summer camps I have a hard time separating them in my mind, and truthfully they can start to blur together. But not for these kids. They remember the specifics. The moments are engrained in their minds…. because for them these moments are significant. The monotonous routine is broken and they are given a break. The scenery stays the same perhaps, but the people who fill it are now different, smiling faces, faces offering hope.
I started thinking more about this because I realized that to our team the camp might just seem like a lot of work at times– Details to coordinate, games to organize, lessons to create. And then we wonder whether it makes a difference, if there is any lasting impact. Well, this year as I was hearing child after child rattle off details about previous camps I felt as if God was whispering to my heart….Yes, it does matter. Don’t let yourself think otherwise. This work is important.
So this year as we played silly games, taught the lessons, sang the songs and pointed them to the truth of Jesus I found comfort in knowing that even though they don’t always seem to pay attention…something here is sticking. When we leave and they go back to their normal, they will draw upon these precious memories and they will find comfort.
Ultimately I pray that it will be more than just the silly games they remember…. and they will be reminded that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them and is waiting for them with arms open wide.
So thank you for partnering with us to give lasting memories filled with HOPE to orphaned and vulnerable children. Your kindness is not forgotten.