Not Your Typical Gift….
The Franklin family… Tim, Cindy, Katya and Alona
We (Waits family) met Cindy when she was a vet at Cold Springs Animal Hospital in Van Alstyne, TX. She took care of our cats, our schnauzer and our beloved mastiff. A few years later, we found out that Tim and Cindy attended church with Alex’s parents in Denison, Texas (an hour away!). God, in His amazing Providence, brought us together. The Franklins have been an amazing source of encouragement, support and love for our family the last 3 years. At the very same time, Tim and Cindy were working on all that God was doing in their little family… they were adding 2 beautiful young ladies to their family from a Ukrainian orphanage.
May their story touch your heart this Christmas, as it has deeply touched ours.
Here is the Franklin’s story in the words of Cindy, a very special mom:
We were blessed to have the opportunity to grow our family through the adoption of two precious sisters from an orphanage in Ukraine. We had the opportunity to host our girls in our home through an international orphan hosting program 3 times before their adoption was finalized. Our girls paperwork was not in order for them to be adopted (and would not be for almost two more years) so it was a tremendous blessing for our family to be able to be reunited, albeit briefly, by hosting them again for 5 weeks during the following summer, then again the next Christmas.
We were finally able to travel to Ukraine for their adoption in July of 2012. We stayed in Ukraine for 6 weeks to complete the adoption proceedings. During that time we were blessed to have the opportunity to minister to many of the children in the orphan camp. (Because it was summer, the children from several different orphanages were together at a summer camp.) These children hungered for attention and the love of Christ, and we were grateful that delays in our adoption proceedings gave us added opportunities to minister to them and their caregivers. During those delays we were absolutely certain that we were where God intended us to be, ministering to the children who were being “left behind”.
We brought our girls home in August, 2012, and we have had the pleasure and privilege of watching them grow and mature, both physically and spiritually. Within a few months, both girls had made professions of faith and accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. As they grew in their faith, amazing things happened. One day, only a few months after their adoption, we were at the fabric store and the clerk was cutting our order. The girls mentioned in casual conversation with us that they had previously lived in Ukraine. The clerk then asked us, “What made you decide to move to America?” Puzzled by her question, we thought that she must have misunderstood, so we told her, “Oh, only the children are from Ukraine, we are from Texas.” She said, “Yes, I know. I can tell.” Then she stopped cutting the fabric, turned to look Katya directly in the eyes and again asked, “Why did you decide to come to America? What was it that made you want to move here?” We were stammering, trying to decide how to answer the question, when little Katya (the younger child but the first to respond to God’s call on her life) looked her right in the eye. She said, “Well, it was like this. When I lived in Ukraine, I didn’t know Jesus. No one told me about Him. But then God sent my parents to come to Ukraine and adopt me and bring me to America. When I came to America, my parents told me about Jesus. Now I know Him and He lives in my heart. If I had never come to America, I would still not know about Jesus and would not know how to invite Him into my heart. That’s why I came to America. God brought me here so that I could learn about Jesus. Now I have to go and tell everyone else back in Ukraine about Jesus. Hey, do YOU know Jesus?…”
As the months passed, the girls continued to grow healthier, stronger, and more beautiful. And, they also have grown spiritually. One day, after discussing spiritual gifts, Alona, the older girl, came to us and told us that she thought that just maybe she might have the spiritual gift of giving, because it makes her heart feel good to do things for others. She may be right, because she has demonstrated this in several different ways over the past months. It was her idea to sponsor a child to attend Instituto Vida Abundante. When we asked her how she would raise the money, since she does not have a job (she is 11) she thought for a moment and then said, “I will bake pies and sell them!” (On facebook, Little Sweetie Pies) Of course, at the time that she made this statement, she had never baked a pie in her life, but we, as her parents, believe that this is the kind of heartfelt desire to serve God that should be encouraged and nurtured so that it can flourish and grow into what God ultimately intends for it to become. So, we taught her to bake pies. Ironically, she is not as skilled in the kitchen as her younger sister, so she requires close supervision, but she does the best that she can and it is very important to her.
Then, just today, she came to us and told us that for her next birthday she wants guests to bring donated items for Reach Out Honduras instead of gifts for her. (This shocked us because, coming from an orphanage, birthdays are huge events for these kids. They begin talking about their birthdays 6 months in advance. This will only be her second birthday to be celebrated, and we were very surprised that she showed enough maturity to make this choice.) Both of our girls are younger emotionally and mentally than their chronological age, because of their past experiences and the fact that they spent most of their childhood in an institution where they did not receive the mental stimulation that they needed for their minds to grow properly. They are catching up now, of course, but we have been astounded at how these little souls are so attuned to God, even as they are behind in so many other areas.
And here is a picture of Argelia, the young lady who will be blessed by the hearts of children who are orphans no longer.
This friends, is what Christmas is all about.