In December we traveled to Ukraine for our adoption and had the opportunity to visit the kids that came to Colorado last summer. As we traveled the 12 hours by plane and 12 hours by train to meet them, I thought about them traveling this same path to Colorado last summer and the excitement they must have felt to go on such a big trip. When we arrived at their internat, Natasha (last year’s chaperone) rounded up all of the kids to come and meet us. One by one they came in and ran into our arms, and it was such a treat to see them again. We were able to visit the many times over the next several weeks.
On our first visit, Ilona ran off to her room and came back with an envelope and asked me to give it to Grandma Judy. Judy has been writing to Ilona since they visited Colorado last summer, and we were able to witness firsthand the positive influence of a pen pal. At almost every visit Ilona would show us something Grandma Judy had sent her, a letter, a book, jeans, a stuffed animal. One time she had our facilitator translate a letter Grandma Judy had sent her. Ilona handed me a picture she made almost every visit and asked us to give them to her Grandma. By sending letters and small tokens, Grandma Judy is showering Ilona with unconditional love, and we could see the affect it had on Ilona. Oftentimes being a pen pal is a one-sided relationship as the kids are usually not able to write back, but after seeing the joy the letters and gifts bring to these kids, we know it is a worthy endeavor. We are looking for pen pals for this year’s camp kids, so contact us if you would like to participate.
Here is a short update on each of the kids from last summer: