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A Moment of Joy
We will never forget Bogdan’s joyful little face and welled-up eyes on Christmas Eve at the Zmiev Orphanage. A priceless reflection of the goodness of God, joy and gratitude.
In December 2014, our missions team spent a week at a Ukrainian orphanage with children who did not have relatives to pick them up for the holiday.
As soon as we arrived, our team was quickly captivated with Bogdan’s charm, wit and comedic acts. For a 10-year-old who experienced abandonment, he impressed us with his joyful personality, and his desire to communicate using his basic English.
The week soon went by as we enjoyed getting to know the boys and girls and planning an unforgettable Christmas eve for them. Our vision was to lavish them with a delightfully hearty meal, a fun theatre act, and a surprise Christmas gift.
As the night drew near, the Ukrainian and Canadian Ministry Teams closed the evening with an epic dramatized Christmas story. We put a bow to the event by bringing each child a gift consisting of a bag full of edible sweets, and practical items such as shampoo, deodorant, comb, hair gel, etc. For us who live in abundance, these are everyday essentials to have. For kids who live in an orphanage, these were gold, not to mention the assortment of sweets.
Our little friend Bogdan received, embraced and opened his gift bag with great thankfulness. It was hard to miss his teary eyes. Soon after, we noticed him walking around the big living room while reaching inside the bag for treats. To our surprise, he went to each Canadian missionary with the joyful intention to gift back a candy or two. Deeply touched, we told him, “Bogdan, that is a gift for YOU”. Yet his heart won us over and we couldn’t refuse after his insistence.
Moved to tears, one of our missionaries stepped away to reflect on what she saw in Bogdan. How can this boy, with a low chance of being adopted, respond with such joy when receiving a gift that we would deem so insignificant? Bogdan had experienced a glimpse of God’s goodness, filling his heart with love. He received and gave joy despite his awareness of his own circumstance. He eventually tasted every sweet until it was gone, but I can assure you, Bogdan will never forget the goodness of God that night.
Mother Teresa once said, “the best way to show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.”
“Changing our circumstances will not increase our joy but focusing on the goodness of God will allow us to break out in joy”, as Pastor Dave said. Neither Bogdan nor our team could change his difficult circumstance. Yet at that moment, he couldn’t help himself but break out in joy when he experienced the goodness of God for a short while.
Joy comes when we experience the goodness of God in the midst of circumstances. The Psalmist reminds us that believing in His goodness and presence is the antidote of despair.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. – Psalm 27:13 NAU
Believe expectantly for God’s goodness and look for His gift of joy in the smallest of things…even if it comes in the shape of a bag of candies!