Our First Introduction

Published by Matthew Johnson on

After we realized the door was closed, it seemed like the summer opened up for us. Christy and I discussed plans for camping as a family, with the hope of a short road-trip as well. But a little more than a week after we watched the deadline pass for summer hosting, God brought an opportunity that was clearly from His hand.

My brother and his wife came to our home on a Friday evening with a handful of other friends to watch the simulcast of this year’s Secret Church event. Before everything started, my brother pulled me aside and mentioned that he had heard from the hosting organization and that somehow, one of the Ukrainian orphanages had offered a few additional children for hosting at the last minute. I immediately wanted to know more – but all he had received were the photos of two girls, 12 and 7 years old. He told me, “We think the younger girl would be a better fit for your family.” When he showed me the picture, I saw a tiny little redhead with a slightly crooked smile.

An Unexpected Opportunity

I honestly didn’t know what to think. For the past few weeks, my mind had been wrapped up in the thought of parenting a teenager over the summer… and now this?? But when Christy saw the picture, she melted. “Awww! Matthew, we have to host her!” The next morning, Christy and I talked and prayed about it, and we felt that this decision was something completely different than what we had wrestled with the week earlier while agonizing over the remaining children available for hosting. Clearly, God was giving us another opportunity, and it wasn’t something we had contrived on our own. We only had a photo and an age… and yet we were ready to say “Yes”.

I called the man from the hosting organization again. He told me that the girl was very new to the orphanage, so the hosting team hadn’t been able to interview her when they were in Ukraine. All they knew was that she was seven years old, her name was Margarita, and she liked to dance. Because we already had completed our paperwork and paid all the hosting fees, they could transfer our file to this new child – but it was past the deadline so we had to decide that day. It was a decision that meant saying no to a long-shot hope that the COVID restrictions would change so we could host our original child, but Christy and I both felt that this was the right thing to do. Before we got off the phone, I told him to go ahead and make the change. We were happy to host Margarita.

Back to Hosting

And, just like that, our summer plans were now focused back onto hosting an orphan; this time not a teenager who was older than all of our children, but instead a little redhead who fit — age-wise — right in the middle of our five kiddos. We excitedly texted friends and family to let them know we were able to host a child after all! Christy got back this reply from a friend in our church:

We’re so excited for your big adventure! Your church family is definitely on board to support you guys!

As we started to prepare and had more time to process what had just happened, it became more and more clear that God had chosen this little one and was placing her into our family for the summer. I had prayed so often months earlier that God would do a work in our family that was clearly only His doing – where we couldn’t take the credit… now we were seeing the answer to that prayer.