Renars and Ralfs – Boys That Steal Your Heart

I wanted to write about two boys that I have had the pleasure of spending a little bit of time with recently. Their names are Renars (he’s 12) and Ralfs (he’s 8). They are brothers from an orphanage in Latvia and they were hosted by a family that I know over the Christmas/New Year break. They are going back to school soon, so they leave on Wednesday which is why I wanted to write about them before I forget the good details and smiles.

I have always had it in my heart to adopt. My family has too, in fact. Except for my Dad. He doesn’t want to take it on because he isn’t sure if he could handle it. My Mom has always wanted to adopt two brothers. It’s been over 7 years that she’s had that desire and nothing seemed to be opening up. Then, the Lord worked miracles to bring these boys over from Latvia to have a home for Christmas and New Year’s.

When I met these boys for the first time, I fell in love with them. They weren’t going to be staying with us over the holidays, but I still got to see them at church and some social functions. I have always wanted a younger brother and now right before my eyes, here are two that need a home! It’s so hard to tell your heart to calm down because you might not end up with them. I still can’t help it. I want to cry every time I see them because my heart wants them to be a part of our family so badly.

We had the family that was hosting Renars and Ralfs over yesterday for dinner and that will be the last time that I see them until the summer. And that is only if they are able to be hosted by the same family in the summer.

Renars and Ralfs don’t learn English in Latvia, but they understand everything you say now and they are speaking a lot more than when they came. Renars wanted to see my room yesterday and when he did, he climbed onto my double bed and laid back and said, “Ohhh.” I asked him if he liked it and he said, “Big bed! Ah.” He pretended to be sleeping.

Soon, he started looking at my stuffed animals. I have one that is a dog, but it’s also a purse. You can unhook the purse strap and make it a leash. He picked it up and was petting it and Renars started looking at the collar. There’s a metal circle that’s meant to be a sort of tag and it says “Puppy at <3”. He grabbed it and looked at me and said, “Ooo I like.”

“You like it?” I asked him. He nodded his head looking at it with big eyes. My sister Anna had given him a chain necklace with a small padlock on it that she made and he loved that and so I said, “Well maybe I can take it off and it will fit on your chain.”

So I did, and he told me I was strong for taking it off of the metal loop and putting it on his chain. Once it was on,  Renars said, “Oh! One, now two!” I wanted to cry because I was so glad he was happy and liked it. I was also surprised at myself for giving the metal tag away because it was one of my most prized possessions. I didn’t even think twice about it.

My brother had bought me the dog for my 10th birthday and we named it Guinea Pig because he thought that’s what it looked like. I’ve treasured it ever since, but even more so since he was killed almost 5 years ago. It’s one of the last gifts I have from him. I knew that Jordan would’ve wanted Renars to have the metal tag if he liked it that much and I figured what better way to show I care about these boys than to give them my prized possessions? Renars really did like it. I didn’t end up telling anyone what I had done. I figure only I will know and whoever reads this.

Ralfs is the sweetest too. I have a bunch of plastic animals and when Renars had seen them he instantly grabbed the white tiger mom and the white tiger cub and said, “Oo I like!” Knowing that I had just given him the tag, I think he picked up that whenever he says he likes something, I might give it to him. He said, “I have?” I told him, “Sure Renars, you can have 1 or 2 if you like.” He kept grabbing on to the tigers and made his choice without having to look at the other animals. Ralfs saw and started trying to pick one, but he couldn’t make up his mind. So he kept talking with Renars in Latvian to have him help make a choice. Ralfs picked up two dogs and three puppies and Renars said, “No, two Ralfs.”

So he kept trying to pick and he finally settled on a mommy seal and a baby seal. He kept caressing them and he would make the mommy kiss the baby. I kept thinking about how they are probably desperate for loving parents. I was hoping maybe having little animals like that might give them something happy to think about when they get back to Latvia. I hope they take care of the animals and enjoy them, because out of all of my animals I had collected, those were my favorites. All I can say about that is that I like Renars’ and Ralfs’ taste. 🙂

To sum up, I love Renars and Ralfs and I just need prayer to be okay with the fact that my family probably won’t end up having them because the other family wants to adopt them and my Dad is still not on board with adoption. These boys, whether I ever see them again or not, are the most precious things to ever cross paths with me and I won’t ever forget them. I’ll always love them like they were my siblings, even if they never get to be.

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Churches and Bell Towers

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Because of a friend’s delight at finding red church doors, and because of a Christmas project for said friend that ensued shortly after, I have a fleeting obsession with the beauty of “religious” churches. Now, I forget the name of this church and the denomination that it is, but I really feel that it is a shame that all the grand churches are the ones  where people are stuffy and religiously repetitious.

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I feel that churches are slighted these days. They are gorgeous shells of exteriors and they may have nothing spiritual or Christ-centered on the inside. Just like you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, you can’t judge a church by the steeple. The most humble of churches might have the most presence of the Lord and the grandest of churches may have little or no presence of Holy Spirit. The church of Christ isn’t a grand building or a small building. My house can be a church if they presence of God and fellow believers are there. As Jesus said, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there will I be also.” (paraphrased)

Since this recent interest in stately churches, I might do a photo series on churches. If I do decide to, I will post it on my Instagram account. Feel free to check it out sometime. 🙂

Missions – Near and Far

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My mind today has been everywhere from Italian to college homework to a cleanse that I am on for 17 days and how much I want a bagel with cream cheese when it’s all over. But, after all this scattered thinking, the Lord settled my mind on one thing – mission work. Recently, I have been completely inspired by Amy Carmichael, Catherine Booth, and Elisabeth Elliot. If you don’t know who these women are, they are very influential, whole-hearted servants of the Lord. Look up their biographies if you get the chance – truly life-changing.

So as I have been thinking about these women for the past few weeks, Jesus impressed on my mind even clearer today that He has something for me in missions. I have this new-found desire to seek the Lord like these women. Completely and fully, surrendering everything to Him and letting Him lead. Each of the aforementioned women gave up something huge in order to do what God told them to do. Amy Carmichael gave up her lifestyle and her hometown, uprooting everything to go to Africa and minister to the women and children there. Elisabeth Elliot gave up her fleshly desire to be hateful when her husband was murdered by a native tribe in Auca. Catherine Booth gave up any time she might have to herself and any temptation to complain when her health was continuing to deteriorate in order to serve the Lord by serving fellow women and helping to start the Salvation Army.

In my own life, I find that I don’t usually sacrifice a lot. I have a good life with a lot of blessings that most people don’t have. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for me, but I know that something big is coming soon. He’s calling me to serve Him and live a surrendered life like these women. Knowing the Jesus knows about me and knows what I will do in life for Him, gives me the inspiration to keep on doing things like college, violin, cleanses, and Italian. By continuing to do the little things, God will be preparing my heart for the bigger things He has in store for me.

Luke 19:17 “And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.”

Everyone’s an Entrepreneur

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Today, more and more people seem to be gravitating towards starting businesses of their own. Their is something captivating and exciting about being in charge of doing something that you love and making a livelihood out of it. I have been wanting to have my own business for a while. I finally got a bank account and such in the past couple of days and have since started my own business. It’s an exciting rush to be able to say that you might have a chance at doing what you love and making profit from it.

Recently I have been getting into photography and I decided to open a shop on Etsy and see if any of photography will sell. I’m looking forward to what the future holds and what sort of new entrepreneurial experiences await for me. If you’d like to check my business out, it’s called “BookendPhotography” on etsy.com. I’ll put the link below. Tell me what you think; I need feedback!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BookendPhotography

Thursday Volunteer Work

Working at St. Andrew’s Village has been such a great experience. Even though I still have a few Thursday’s left, I am still thinking about how sad I will be when I leave. Today I had a good time with Jean. I also discovered that one of my favorite residents (remember that lady that said I was teasing her because she wasn’t young and pretty? Yes that one) has the exact same birthday as me! I was so thrilled that I almost cried with joy. She is so sweet and we have such a good friendship going between us. She said that she was so glad that I told her that we had the same birthdays and that it changed her whole attitude for the day. She will be turning 93 and I will be turning 18. Even though I’m not allowed to give her anything as a volunteer, I think I will come in as a visitor and give her flowers and a card for her birthday. She doesn’t get many visitors I don’t think and I really appreciate her friendship. Everyone deserves a card on their birthday (and flowers of course). Both she and I were beaming the whole time that she was in the salon.

In the Thursday’s that I’ve been working at St. Andrew’s, I’ve come to really love each of the residents. I love my birthday sharer and our special friendship, I love the sugary spitfire and her Mexican sandals, I love the teacher who’s always worried she’ll be late for school, I love the quiet ones, the loud ones, my goodness I even love the “I’ll-punch-you-in-the-nose!” ones. They all have a special place in my heart. I am going to keep coming back to visit with them and I might even come back on days that I can to volunteer. I’ve enjoyed it so much. It’s really been a molding experience for me. Even though I know I could never work there because I would get too attached to the residents and have to see them all pass away, I almost wish I could so that I could spend a lot of time with them before they do. I know at least that I’ll keep up friendships with the people that I’ve made friends with. I won’t be throwing away any of my good friends.

I have gained a lot of skills over the time I’ve been working at St. Andrew’s. I’ve learned to be more patient, compassionate, understanding, and I’ve mastered the art of playing along with the people who are slipping a little bit so as to make them feel like I really get them and want to help them. I’ve learned how to do stretches from a chair, pass out coffee (with ice cubes), print out recipes for residents, organize books, put rollers in hair, take rollers out of hair, take hair out of rollers (although I must say that was my least favorite), push a wheelchair without it ramming into the wall, clean and organize the salon, and sit with the residents while their hair dries. I know I learned even more than that.

I know that I will come away from St. Andrew’s with more leadership qualities than when I started, and I will hopefully be a leader who takes advantage of compassion, understanding, wisdom, and ingenuity that is at my disposal if only I am teachable. The Lord really grew me throughout these Thursday’s and I know that everything I’ve seen, done, and learned here will stick with me forever and be a constant reminder to be a humble servant for Christ’s name.

Thursday Volunteer Work

Today at the salon, we had two perms to do. That was enough for me to call it “Perm Day”. When you have two perms that each take about two hours to do, it passes the time pretty quickly. First, we wash their hair. Then, we put the paper and perm rollers in their hair. Next, we spray on this cold perm solution which is almost always met with, “Oh Jean! It’s cold…” Then comes the bag atop the head and the sitting for 20 minutes. After that, the bag comes off and a neutralizer solution goes on (which we warm up) that keeps the curl in. Next they sit for 7 minutes and then we take out the rollers, wash their hair, put it in rollers to set it, and stick them under the dryer for 30 minutes. After that, we brush the curls into a nice style, spray it with hairspray and send them on their way.

Today I learned that perm solution reeks. It stinks something awful. I can’t imagine sitting there for 20 minutes with that chemical concoction wreaking havoc on my hair. Plus, mine is so long that they would have to piggy back it. That means more rollers, more solution and thus, more stink. At any rate though, it does turn out nice. I didn’t learn anything deeply meaningful about myself today, but if I ever need a perm, I will know how to administer one.

The only problem I faced today was the washing of hair that belonged to people in wheelchairs. Let me tell you that somebody needs to invent something the keeps the water from running everywhere (and I literally mean everywhere). We might as well not use a cape. It just runs off the cape and onto the floor. Or, if we use a bucket, it runs off the cape and halfway in the bucket and onto the floor. There has got to be a better system than wash the hair, ruin the floor, and clean the floor, repeat. I’m not saying I know what the solution is – I’ve thought about it and I’ve come up empty every time – I’m just saying it needs to be fixed.

Even though I didn’t come up with a solution to the problem today, I hope that this will prepare me to identify and solve problems with efficiency in the future whenever I am in my own leadership situation and something goes awry.

Thursday Volunteer Work

Today in St. Andrew’s Village hair salon, I was doing a lot of the same things that I always do. I worked with Jean (who is slowly becoming more and more of a good friend to me), take people back and forth, and hand and remove rollers for people’s hair. One thing that happened today that didn’t happen any other day was the meeting of a new person. She is definitely one of my favorite residents. She is a good 6 inches shorter than me but looks like she can hold her own. She’s 96 and living there with only a little bit of help. She doesn’t even have a walker! When I went to get her today, I had to walk a good, steady pace to keep up with her. She carries herself like the whole world is in front of her and she’s ready to grab it. Her face lights up when she sees people, as if she can see what beautiful creations they are. She has a heart as gold as the rings she wears around her neck and a smile that lights up her eyes and makes them start to disappear. She’s so small that when she sits in the salon chair, she swings her little Mexican sandal-clad feet back and forth like a child waiting for the greatest news in the world. Needless to say, I want her to be my adoptive grandmother.

I learned today that I really, really enjoy spending time with elderly people. They are so sweet (most of them anyway) and they give the best hugs. It’s funny how when people get older, their hearing starts to go and so does their sight. But, they listen better than anyone and perceive things the way they should be seen. I suppose that it’s the wisdom increasing with every year that goes by that does it. I pray that I am constantly softened to the Holy Spirit and become a sponge that soaks up God’s wisdom and compassion so that I can be like some of these ladies in St. Andrew’s.

One piece of new knowledge that I gained today would be that you should never judge a person by their size. Great things come in the smallest of packages. Again, I wasn’t met with any problems today or difficulties. However, I did learn some more leadership skills. My leadership will be more effective in the future because of the interaction I had today with the sugary spitfire I met. I’ve decided that I want to be as sweet a person and as strong a person (inside and out) as the sugary spitfire. She’s sweet, funny, compassionate, and kind. When you treat a person with such attributes, even if not right away, only good can come of it.