Tag Archives: poverty

The Sweetest Christmas Story- part 4

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.

That’s all.

But there were so many children to care for –

the needs were great

they could do so little.

An orange.

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




Shining Moments

I can still see his big, brown eyes looking up at me.

Mischief written all over them.



Full of adventure and life.

Years ago I had this young boy in my first grade class.


    many years later

    I am thinking of him.

A few days ago I was pushing my cart in the local food store

   when I noticed a woman a few feet ahead.

Her pace was slow;

   her shoulders were stooped.

As I reached for a can of corn

  She turned around and looked at me.

I glanced at her without recognition

   but she walked towards me.

“You’re Miss Brani, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” I said wondering who the woman was.

I noted her sad eyes and grey streaked hair.

“You remember me?”

I scanned quickly my memory disks from years back

  but nothing rang a bell.

I shook my head a little saying, “Please help me.”
“I’m Willie’s mom.”

As soon as she said it I remembered her standing by my door

   waiting to pick up her six year old son from school.

We’d exchange smiles day after day.

“Oh, how is he?”

It’s been many years since I have seen my boys and girls.

They will always be my boys and girls no matter how long.

“He’s had a hard time.

     Heart attack


     Now unable to work.”
My heart twisted as I heard of the pain that this sweet boy

   has experienced.

“But we are doing fine,” his mother went on.

“I’m so glad that you noticed me,” I told her.

“Please tell him that I asked about him.

    Tell him that I am praying for him

    He always was so special to me.”

She nodded and eventually went on down the aisle.

Since then my heart has turned to my boy so many times.

Life has been hard for him.

It’s been difficult for so many, hasn’t it?

Sometimes I wonder why many have such a difficult time

while others seem to go on in comparative  ease.

But this unexpected encounter made my day.

A shining moment. I heard about my boy.

No accident to it.

My heart longs to do something;

    to step into the need of this family

      bringing hope and encouragement.

And I will. Yes, in the days to come I know I will.

Side by side they pass us

   as we shop

      and work

        and worship.

But all too often our eyes do not see.

    Our hearts don’t know the hidden pain

       and the heavy burden.

Open my eyes, Lord.

Open them so that I can know what You already know.

Light the way for me as I wade into the pain

        and poverty.

Carrying your message of peace and hope.

“Glory to God in the highest,

      and on earth peace, good will toward men,”  Luke 2:14

Always singing His song of victory.