Home. …such a simple word, I often overlook its deep meaning.  A building with four walls and a doorbell does not make a home.   Home is a building but so much more.  Home is the people you have there, the safety, the permanency.  No matter what happens, you know there’s always a place you can go, and that’s home.

Many times we think of orphans as homeless, and some of them may be, but many of them do have a home. Many of them find temporary homes in orphanages, shelters, or foster homes.  The realization that orphans do have a place to call home came to me in a special way when I spent time with orphans in Estonia last summer.  

We had just spent 1 week with the kids at a summer camp (they were there a total of 4 weeks) and were packing up at camp to head to their orphanage for another week.   I was kind of surprised to see the kids excited to leave camp.  I can still hear one of the boys, Sergey, joyfully saying, “Мы едем домой!” (Mwi yedem domoĭ ! / We are going home!)  I wondered, Could he really be that excited to go home to a place Sergey's roomwhere he lives with 30 other kids? What kind of home is that? But that was Sergey’s home, and he loves it there.  He was so excited to be home and show me his room.     When our team found out we needed an extra room to stay in, SergeySergey & I on our last night at his home insisted that I stayed in his room.  He quickly arranged the furniture, made the bed with fresh sheets, hooked up a TV and VCR, and swept the floor before proudly presenting it to me.  This boy who was so excited to come home to the orphanage, selflessly gave up his room – the only thing he can call his own – for me.  What an incredible honor it was to be in his home. 

Hosting Sasha for Christmas, gave me another perspective of the meaning of home.  My family and I chose him and invited him into our family so that he could have the experience of being in a home with a loving family.  Our home was made up of the immaterial things – comfort, peace, memories, hope, security, love – as well as the material – a strong permanent house, safety, special belongings.  I believe both the tangible and intangible reality of a home is important… especially for an orphan who is unlikely to find any consistent or enduring home throughout their life, without a forever family.  I can recall several times when we were out around town and Sasha said to me, "Джэнэлл, домой хочу.” (Dzjhenell, domoĭ hochu. / Jenelle, I want to go home.)  He just wanted to go home, to our home.  God had worked in us and our prayers to help Sasha know that he had a special new place to call home. Our last Sunday at home with Sasha

Father of orphans, champion of widows,
         is God in his holy house.
   God makes homes for the homeless,
leads prisoners to freedom…
Psalm 68:5-6 (The Message)