Vanya sat on the end of the bed looking subdued. A crowd of mainly strangers were piling into the bedroom he shared with his mother and 3 siblings, one of whom was only a few months old.
Despite the understandable fear of such an intrusion none of them were going to turn away these strangers for they had been welcomed in with some members of the local church. Team Hope have been working with Yuri and the Church of Christ Saviour for nearly 15 years. This year they shipped 17,000 shoe boxes to Transnistria, each one a welcome passport into the heart of a child.
Vanya opened his box and began to loosen up a little. He gave a wow when he saw a picture from the child in Ireland that had put the box together. The best present though was the sunglasses. He put them on and was slow to take them off. He looked cool. And he smiled.
I had heard something of his story before we entered the hovel he called home. His father was an abusive alcoholic who had caused his mother to miscarry. My heart went out to any son of such a man even before I went in.
After handing him the shoe-box I dropped to the floor beside him. I so wanted him to know that the picture his dad had given him of what God was like was so false. But what could I do in such a short time? I prayed and played with him a bit, looked into his eyes and encouraged him with unintelligible words.
There was a nod as we were about to leave as if he had understood something.
I hope he will continue to understand that God his Father loves Him into eternity. There is much hope that he will: Team Hope’s partners in Transnistria are exceptional people. They have a fervent love that carries them throughout the country bringing hope and love wherever they go. Despite their own poverty they are overflowing with joy and abundant giving.
I went out into the car and took a while to process my emotions. And yes I wept.