For as long as I can remember, every summer, my family and relatives on my dad’s side go camping. We rent some old cabins next to each other and spend the week just being together. I mean, we all live next to each other and see each other on a weekly basis, but this is purely spending quality time together, singing by the fire, swimming and playing games.
And every year I take this time for granted.  This year was probably the most emotional trip for me.
I’ll start with a little back-story.

My parents came to America in 1990 following my grandparents, aunts, uncles and their children who had come the year before. The USSR had just broken apart and my dad’s family took the opportunity to leave the country. After a long process of staying in Italy and/or Austria (my sister was actually born in Italy for this reason) they finally made it.
Over the next few years my mom’s side of the family almost all eventually moved here as well.

In 2001 my dad went on a two week missions trip to Belarus. A trip that would change our lives. It’s not as dramatic as it sounds, but our way of life changed a bit as my dad went on these trips first once a year for two weeks then to three times a year and for seven weeks in the summer. He started our church mission called “Hand in Hand” in 2002 to get our youth involved as well. In case you’re wondering what they do there, they have a few different teams of people that spend 3 weeks of their summers working with orphans. They bring crafts and toys and sports. But most important of all they bring love and the message of  hope. In the winter a group also goes for 3 weeks and drives around the country of Belarus and visits as many orphanages as they can and bring presents and love to the children.
I have been on three summer trips myself and my life has never been the same. It made me realize how I have so much to be grateful for…
Also, in the last decade our relatives have adopted 10 kids from Belarus and Ukraine into our family. This October it will be two years since my parents adopted my brother Alex and sister Victoria. Life has never been better or as hectic!
There is also a program that allows people to take kids from the orphanage in Ukraine for seven weeks in the summer. My parents did this for two years with a little boy named Bogdan, and he was the reason they started the adoption process. Unfortunately, for reasons out of our control, we could not adopt him. He is still very much a part of our family and we hope to bring him back to our family someday, if only for the summer.

I know I don’t make a lot of sense when I write but bear with me…

Aaaaall this brings me back to our summer camping trip and a little girl named Kira.  She is eight years old and has climbed her way into our hearts with her skinny, little, muscular body. Through a series of events, my older sister was able to take Kira for 7 weeks this summer. My sister lives in another state but we were still able to hang out with each other when she came to visit.
And of course she came along camping.  There we watched Kira enjoy her time fishing, swinging, singing and just being the little girl she was. She loved to jump on her “dad” and “mom”  as she called my sister and her husband, and paint her nails with 13 different colors and layers. She loved to play with my little baby and wanted to hold her all the time. Kira was loved by us. And I know she felt it and loved us back. My sister and her husband were the best father and mother figures to her. They showered her with love and pizza-because she loved pizza.

And then Saturday came. And it was time for Kira to fly home to Ukraine.
I have never heard a cry so heart-breaking. She cried so long and hard. And we cried with her. How can you look at an innocent child who has done nothing to deserve such an injustice and tell her, “it’s ok. Everything will be fine.” When you know she will have to go back to an orphanage where nobody cares about her.  Where she doesn’t really have a future. Where no one will hold her when she cries. No one will tuck her in at night with a song and a kiss. No one will even teach her her ABCs.
*What* can you say?
As a christian I believe God has a plan for us all. I don’t know what He has in store for Kira. Or my sister. Or me for that matter. I don’t have the answers. Sometimes I don’t even have anything encouraging to say. But I believe that God will always be with her and He will hold her and comfort her when the days are tough. And it doesn’t mean Kira or any other child is loved any less than someone with a family. God loves us and we make the choice to come to Him. No matter our circumstance.
This song keeps running through my head:

Who here among us has not been broken
Who here among us is without guilt or pain
So oft’ abandoned by our transgressions
If such a thing as grace exists
Then grace was made for lives like this

There are no strangers
There are no outcasts
There are no orphans of God
So many fallen, but hallelujah
There are no orphans of God

Come ye unwanted and find affection
Come all ye weary, come and lay down your head
Come ye unworthy, you are my brother
If such a thing as grace exists
Then grace was made for lives like this

O blessed Father, look down upon us
We are Your children, we need Your love
We run before Your throne of mercy
And seek Your face to rise above


We aren’t orphans when we believe and become His children. He is our hope.

So I remind myself everyday to count my blessings. To be grateful. That I don’t deserve what I already have.

And that I should love a little more and show grace. Because I was showed great love and mercy.



10 thoughts on “KIRA

  1. It’s 2 AM I decided to read your blog. Alyona told me to read it earlier. Praise The Lord we have so much. Such a Shame how often we take for granted what we have. I’m laying here tears in my eyes remembering all those winter and summer trips. Mars I love you so much and so happy you guys had the opportunity to take Kira 🙂 :* and show her love and love of Jesus.

  2. So touching… It’s hard to accept some things, but she went back and maybe one day she will return, for now all anyone can do is pray for her. It’s upsetting how much children have to suffer because of their parents; and then we wonder why these teens are so rebellious and stuck up. Obviously because they learned to stand up for themselves and to trust nobody. Oh if only there was a way to help them all….

  3. What a beautiful little girl. Loved seeing Maria post photos of her all the time. Slava Bogu. Your blog brings everyone to tears :,)

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