Friday I will leave my infant daughter for the first time in her life. I don’t count the few nights she stayed at the hospital with other family members while I raced home to sleep for a few hours before racing back. This time we will be separated for 9 days. It isn’t because she is ill this time—thanks to God’s grace, she is now perfectly healthy and happy. I am not crazy (although some members of my family might question that statement). I could not love my daughter any more than I do. But I also love a group of very special kids whom I’ve never met.
I began writing to children in Slobodskoy six years ago. For the first several years, it was a completely one-sided venture. I had to believe the kids got my letters and somehow heard my prayers. The first time I received a letter, I cried. Vlad had drawn a picture of a squirrel at the end, because I had mentioned in one of my letters that I liked them. It was like God was speaking directly to me through a little boy I had never met.
Every time a team made the trip to see our amazing kids, I hoped it would be the right time for me. Every time it wasn’t. I was in school. I was ill. I was pregnant. This time felt different. Our daughter wasn’t quite well when this trip was announced. We prayed long and hard, and decided to make the commitment anyway, trusting that God would make everything work.
And He has. Our baby couldn’t be healthier. Both grandmothers will be here to care for her while I am gone. My husband will be able to continue to work and will have a clean home and good food waiting when he returns each evening. I don’t have to resume my studies until after we return. Our dogs will even get their walks. Honestly, my family will probably be better managed than when I am here!
Although I am still nervous about leaving my baby, I can hardly wait to see the children who await me on the other side of the world. I feel almost like I did last summer, waiting to meet my daughter for the first time. I knew she was there, I knew I loved her, I knew the barest bits about her personality (even then she had definite ideas about her space), and I was so excited to meet her. In the case of Vlad, I have been writing him and praying for him for four years now. I have watched the face in the twice-yearly pictures change from a little boy to a young man. I feel like I know him, but I’ve never actually met him. I hope when I finally get to see him he will allow me to give him a hug. He’s a teenager now, so I tell myself not to get too hopeful on this point. It doesn’t matter, really. I will be there, and he will know I think he is important enough to travel across the globe to see him before he graduates. I hope it will help him to know he is loved, hugs or no.