You know, I‘ve never raised a child. But I figured I could take care of a 12 year old boy from a country half way around the world, who didn’t speak or understand much English. Really, how hard could it be?
In anticipation of hosting Pascha, I grocery shopped with him in mind. Fruit – these kids from Belarus eat TONS of fruit. Chips – I had heard Pascha liked chips. Salami for sandwiches – what Eastern European kid won’t eat salami, right? Don’t they eat sausage/salami stuff?
Things went great the first weekend with me, John and Pascha. We all got along, John and Pascha hung out like Tim the Tool Man and Al. Then Monday rolled around, and John went back to work.
I did “Mom” stuff like laundry, while Pascha rode his bike and watched TV. He gladly came to the table for lunch, and looked at his sandwich, chips and milk. I had heard from other ABRO host families that these children never turn their noses up at food. They are always so appreciative of what foods are served. They eat everything placed before them.
Pascha and I sat to eat our feast. I tried making small talk, but his English was limited. We pantomimed a lot! After a few minutes, I realized Pascha was drinking an inordinate amount of milk. I refilled his glass, like a good mom. I sensed something was wrong when he would eat a bite of sandwich, and then take two or three gulps of milk.
“Pascha, is your sandwich ok?”
“Yes, ‘sokay.” Bite, gulp, gulp, gulp.
“Is there something wrong with it?”
He pulled the sandwich apart and pointed at the peppercorns in the salami. Fanning his mouth, he said “Is VERY HOT!”
“Pascha, you don’t have to eat it, if it burns your mouth.”
“No, ‘sokay, I take them out.” He smiled, plucked the peppercorns out, and began eating . These kids NEVER waste food. Pascha was determined to salvage his lunch.
Suddenly, he dropped the sandwich, picked up his milk, and drained the glass. I looked at him quizzically, and he opened the bread to reveal part of one rogue peppercorn! His mouth was on fire once again!
When he finally finished his lunch, even after all the drama, he graciously thanked me:
“Sank you, Mizz Ellen. Sank you!” My heart melted! He didn’t realize it, but he was the perfect example of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances!”
A few days later, the three of us decided to take our 4×4 ATV out for a spin in the sugarcane fields. We usually lock the house for this, so I asked John,
“Honey, do you have the house keys?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Are you sure? I’m closing the door now…”
“Got ‘em, positive!”
We rode around for about 30 minutes. Pascha loved it, but wanted John to go faster. I decided it was time to let the boys go wild, so I had John drop me at the house. He dug in his pockets for the house keys.
“JOHN, I know you have the keys! You SAID you had them! Stop joking!”
“Uh, I’m not joking. I don’t have them!”
Pascha, who was observing closely, figured out from the tome of our voices, what was going on.
“Ah, Mizz Ellen – back door?”
“No, Pascha, I locked that one,too!”
He looked at me, and slowly, sadly shook his head. After a long pause, with a twinkle in his eyes, he said,
“GOOD JOB, Mizz Ellen!!!”
As a Christian, I long to hear those words “Well, done, good and faithful servant!”…I just never imagined I would hear them this side of heaven, from a Belarusian child!
I don’t know why John and I ever doubted if we should host Pascha. It was so very evident that God chose him as our ABRO child – he was independent, could take care of himself and didn’t need “mothering”. He was perfect for our empty nest! Pascha had a difficult life, caring for his younger siblings. Both his parents were alcoholics, and Pascha was the “adult” of the family. Those weeks spent in Louisiana were about the only time he had to just be a kid. John and I are happy and blessed to have been a small part of his life!
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
*For more information on the ABRO program, and how your church can become involved, go to:
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