August 31st.  Last day of summer for orphans and all in Eastern Europe.  It is not only the last hurrah of the season of fun, but also the last day of care for many orphans who are aging out of the orphanage and will soon be on their own. 

I’ve known about this day for a couple years, and blogged about it two years ago ( Last Day of Summer, First Day on My Own ) but it takes on completely new meaning for me this year knowing that our Sasha is one of those kids this week.

Since my dad and I left Ukraine, I have called Sasha a couple times to see how he is doing.  I knew he was leaving earlier in the week, so I got to call him a few days ago to hear about his plans for when he moves out…

He said his group had just returned from summer camp to their boarding school. He would only be there 2 days before packing up and moving out for the last time. When I asked if it was a good or bad thing that’s moving out he just said "I don’t know" and sounded pretty nervous. He didn’t know where he is living or when his classes will start. All he is taking with him is a duffel bag and a backpack… can you imagine moving into your college dorm and that’s all you have to bring with you??? I told him I know he will be OK and I am praying for him, to which he replied he is praying for us too. Oh how I wished I was with him…

By now, he has already left the boarding school and is moved into his new “home”.  I still cannot wrap my mind around the fact that he and all these other kids really have no place to call home now.  No one is going to keep their bed for them to return to.  It’s now occupied by the next class of orphans.   They’re not going to go back to the boarding school on their long weekends, during school breaks, to celebrate their birthdays, or to participate in family holidays.  They may have distant relatives who have been in and out of their lives throughout their childhood, but those distant connections do not make a place to call home.  And our Sasha is one of these boys…

I haven’t gotten to talk with him yet to find out how things are going.  I will wait until after he has a few days of classes at the trade school so I can get the full scoop.

And today I sit with many questions and many prayers….
Does he feel like he’s been well prepared for this transition?  Is he confident?  Is he afraid he might fail? Will he reach out for help when he needs it?  Will he stick by his friends so they can support each other?  Does he fear they may eventually leave him?  Will he be able to afford everything he needs?  How will he cope when times get hard?  Does he hope to connect with any distant relatives?  Will he do his best in classes?  What is he hoping and dreaming for in this next year?

I do not pray that Sasha is happy.  I pray that he grows.  He experiences victory.  Learns.  Improves the lives of others.  Lives with passion.  Dreams. Cares. Is faithful.  Works diligently.  Makes a difference. Is real.  Moves forward.  Is humble.  Is responsible.  Loves his enemies.  Gives. Does not fear.  Remembers. Forgives.  Prays.  Knows and loves God.

I know he is in the palm of God’s hand.  He loves Sasha the most and knows him the most.  God has been with him all of his life and is not about to abandon him now.  I pray that Sasha will not be overcome with darkness, but God will lead him to shine a light in the darkness.  I pray he knows God’s peace, joy, and victory every day.

This song reminds me that this is not the end for S, it’s just the beginning
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