1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
They told me she was 12. And that she would probably be tiny.
They told me her name was Anastasia, or Nastia.
They told me she didn’t speak English.
They told me she may not be familiar with indoor plumbing.
One thing they DIDN’T tell me: that I would fall head over heels in love with this child from Belarus. I love her like she is my own child!
Meeting her for the first time, she looked like a 20-year-old fashion model! Not the tiny little girl I was expecting. She looked scared. Who wouldn’t? She was a twelve year old child, and had traveled half way around the world to stay with people she had never met.
She slept in the backseat on the two hour drive home. When we pulled in the driveway at midnight, it was dark, it was out in the middle of nowhere, and she had to trust that we were kind, and not killers! I imagine she was terrified!
Inside, we took her bag to her room. I showed her the bathroom and asked if she needed help. She knew indoor plumbing, and was excited to have a hot shower after the long trip. I said a silent prayer of thanks that I wouldn’t have to “potty train” her!
We had many prolonged silences during the first couple of days. I would try to talk with Nastia, and she would shrug her shoulders. One day, happily splashing in our neighbor’s pool, I managed to convey to her that I wanted to learn her Russian language. Once Nastia understood this, she began teaching me.
She cupped her hands, filled them with water and said “Voda.” She made me repeat the word. It was truly a Helen Keller moment! Next was pool – “basseyn”, pronounced similar to our word “basin”. Hey, I think I can get this: voda=water, basseyn=pool or basin! Bring on more Russian, sister! I can learn it!
Then came the words with the rolling R’s: Lar-r-r-r-r-r-r-rushka (frog) and R-r-r-r-r-r-ryba (fish). I am originally from Mississippi, and we DO NOT roll our R’s. There is just no need for that nonsense, you know?
Anastasia was a relentless task master and repeatedly made me pronounce the rolling R words. And I couldn’t! She tried and tried to get this Mississippi gal to speak proper Russian, to no avail. Finally, she gave up on me!
That evening, John pulled up a restaurant website, and asked Anastasia if she like pizza.
A smile lit her face! “Da!”
I asked, “Nastia, what is the Russian word for pizza.”
“Pizza”, she replied.
“No, teach me your word for pizza!”
“No, Nastia, teach me the RUSSIAN WORD FOR PIZ-ZA.” I enunciated very slowly, in a very LOUD VOICE, so she would understand me.
She looked at me, held my gaze, and very slowly, in a very LOUD VOICE, she said “PIZ-ZA!”
Some things just don’t need translating! Like the love we have for Nastia.
Hugs tug hearts, and smiles go miles to show Christ’s love.
Anastasia sensed – with our hugs and smiles – that we genuinely cared for and loved her. With language as a barrier, we had to SHOW her the love of Christ.
Have you had an opportunity to show the love of Christ? If so, drop me a comment! I would love to hear from you!
“There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.” ― Helen Keller, Light in my Darkness
*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
What a great opportunity? What kind of a program was this? Did she stay with you long?
The children come in for 6 weeks each summer via the ABRO (American Belarussian Relief Organization) at our church. We co-hosted with another family. Two weeks for us. But we hosted Nastia for a total of 6 years! It’s an awesome program, like a mission trip in reverse!
Thanks for stopping by! Praying I’ll meet you in July? 🙂
Oh, Ellen – how wonderful! Nastia is beautiful and I’m certain part of that beauty comes from the love you gave/give her – what a special, blessed opportunity to impact the life of another in the name of Christ. So inspiring, thank you for sharing!
Thank you! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, it was wonderful being able to host Nastia. She blessed us beyond measure!
Well said, love is a universal language and needs no translating.
Thank you! Thanks for stopping by!