My days were spent visiting my soon to be adopted little girl,
sipping hot tea in the big conference room and playing simple games with her.
At first she was very shy and kept her beautiful eyes with those long eyelashes lowered.
But gradually she began to meet my eyes for just a second
before looking down again at what she was doing.
A dish of hard candy was on the table and from time to time
I offered her little bits of sweets.
This went on for a few days – morning and afternoon.
At the same time halfway around the world
my oldest daughter was counting the days.
waiting for me to fly home on Christmas eve.
What do you do for Christmas? I asked the orphanage workers.
I knew their Christmas was in early January and I wondered how they celebrated in the orphanage.
The kind workers shook their head and mentioned one word. Orange.
An orange? I asked.
Carefully they explained that each child got one orange. That was their Christmas gift.
It was and still is hard for me to imagine getting one orange for Christmas.
But there were so many children to care for –
the needs were great
they could do so little.
And then my thoughts move forward to that day
when my tiny little dimpled darling
came into the big conference room
tightly holding an orange in her small hands.
She walked over to where I was sitting.
I stooped toward her knowing that this was her Christmas gift.
Her only Christmas gift.
She tightened her grip on that orange
clearly showing me that she was not about to share it. No way.
Halfway around the world we celebrate with toys and food a-plenty.
My heart longed to do more,
to give more
to share of all that I had with all the children in that orphanage.
That day at the end of our visit
Jenny walked with the orphanage worker to the big gray door
still gripping her orange in her hands.
Little did she know that in a few weeks I would be coming back
to take her home
to her forever family. And ten thousand oranges.
Yes, I see oranges with new eyes these days,
They seem almost insignificant here
but in many places around the world
they represent plenty and abundance.
In a world that struggles with poverty, disease and extreme hardships
it often takes so little
to make a big difference.
Thoughts of those orphans holding their oranges
cause my heart to ache with sorrow.
Lord, open our eyes.
Help us to see what You see.
Teach us to love. And to give.
Soon I would be leaving Kostroma to fly home to the States.
But this image would stay with me