He was cute as a button, with his sandy blond hair and freckles splashed across his face.  When he smiled, his eyes crinkled and his whole face came alive with joy! He was about 9 years old when he first caught our eye. Three years later, he burst into our lives and stole our hearts!

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John had always said “If we EVER get to host a child through ABRO*, I want to host Pascha – he’s just the cutest little boy!”

I smiled and nodded at John’s remark. My answer (in my mind, never out loud) was “No, way! He IS cute, but looks too much like Dennis the Menace!”

Our church partners with the American Belarusian Relief Organization (ABRO) to bring children into the United States for six weeks each summer. We teach them about Christ, and they have  six weeks of fresh air and food, not contaminated with radiation from Chernobyl. John and I had prayed for an opportunity to be a part of this program, but we knew we couldn’t host for the full six weeks. Eventually, the Lord opened the doors for us to co-host a child with another family. John and I would have this child for two of the six weeks. And we would be hosting…Dennis, oops, I mean Pascha!

Pascha and Horse

As empty nesters, we definitely stepped out of our comfort zone.  John’s kids were married, and I had never birthed a baby (mine or anyone else’s, thank you very much Miss Scarlett!).  Pascha’s former host families gave us the low down: he was very smart, inquisitive, and liked to tinker with things. A mechanic in the making. He loved to drive tractors back home in Belarus, HOWEVER, lock up anything you don’t want him to touch or drive (weed eaters, lawnmowers, tractors…). Oh, yeah, Dennis the Menace!

John picked Pascha up from the co-host family to bring him to our house. Driving out of the neighborhood, Pascha watched closely while John made a left-hand turn onto a busy street.

He immediately started pointing and trying to tell John something.

“You no, ah…you no, ah…”

“I no what, Pascha?”

“You no put on, ah….”

“What Pascha? I didn’t put on what?”

“NEVER MIND!”

“What, Pascha? Tell me!”

“You no…” pointing to turn signal, “You no dinka, dinka dinka!”

Only in the car three minutes, and already he was telling John how to drive!

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The next day, Pascha was riding his bike in the driveway. I heard a loud crash and ran to the door. Pascha was sprawled face down on the concrete, the bike on top of him!

I ran out the door yelling “PASCHA ARE YOU OK??”  I had to yell, not because he couldn’t hear, but because we spoke two different languages. I’m pretty sure he will understand me if I yell, right? You know how that works:

HELLO…MY NAME IS ELLEN…WHAT IS YOURS?

PASCHA, ARE YOU OK??

I heard his small voice from under the bike:

“Yes.” But…he didn’t move.

“Pascha, are you sure?”

“YES!” Still, no movement…

“PASCHA, ARE YOU OK?!?!?”

Suddenly, he jumped up, stood as tall as his 4 feet 10 inch body would allow, raised his arms and said, in his strongest voice:

“I’M FINE! See? I’M STANDING!”

That year, John and I stepped out of our boat named Comfort Zone, and walked on the waters of obedience.

Were we equipped to do this? No, not really. Did we do a nose dive into the concrete? Well, sometimes. But mostly, God flooded us with His grace, and provided for our every need! And see? We’re still standing!

2 Corinthians 9:8 (HCSB) And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.

*For more information on the ABRO program, and how your church can become involved, go to:

http://www.abro.org

If you are a member of Highland Baptist Church in New Iberia, LA, and want to host a child, contact the church office 337-365-5471

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