Our Winter Hosting Experience

Published by Christy Johnson on

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about time. It marches forward unrelentingly and often painfully. We experienced this over the last few days of having our little Margarita home with the family over winter hosting. Sometimes when I feel this way, I wish I could slow down time, to savor those moments all together as a family – once so normal, but increasingly precious as their numbers dwindle. But time goes on. Today we had to put our daughter back on the airplane to return to Ukraine after a month together. We won’t see her again in person until we are able to come to Ukraine and complete the adoption. As we look forward to that day, we now see the passing of time as a gift. Time still marches on with the same consistent tick-tock, and every day brings us nearer to seeing her again.

Opportunities for Connection

The past four weeks of winter hosting have been such a gift to our family. Since this past summer, we have been committed to adopting Margarita, but our communication with her has been limited and we had no way to measure the strength of the connections that she had formed with our family. Well, if there were any questions about connection, the past few weeks have settled those! It is clear that Margarita considers us her family and she jumped right back into life in our home as if she had never left. For me, it was a huge gift that Margarita fully accepted me as her “Mama” and she spent lots of time snuggled up on my lap on the rocking chair, just being held. God grew the love in my heart for Margarita immensely, and it is amazing what love can do. Behaviors that were irritating to me in summer become endearing, requests became a chance for me to meet her needs and continue forming connection, and the extra time that she required became a delight instead of a drudgery. ❤️

One of the biggest challenges of the summer was helping our oldest daughter navigate having a sister so close in age. I am so grateful to report that God has grown Ginger’s heart and filled her with love too! I saw so much of God’s grace working in her life as she patiently showed kindness to Margarita, loved and laughed and forgave and listened and played together with her! It is a beautiful thing to see our children walking in grace and obedience. This gives me so much confidence as we continue to move forward in the adoption process. 

Growing in Faith

Another special gift from this time is seeing Margarita’s faith in Jesus grow. God loves to be found of those who seek Him, and it was amazing how many times we saw Him directly answer Margarita’s prayers. Even though most of her requests were seemingly small, like looking for a lost item, every time she prayed the lost item showed up right away. She would come running to me and say, “Mama, I prayed… and look, Jesus helped me!” I see this as God showing her that He is trustworthy and glad to hear every request from His child. During this trip, Margarita also opened her heart to us and shared more of her story, including some of her bigger hopes and dreams, asking that we would pray. I am looking forward to seeing God’s answers to her simple faith-filled prayers!!

Together As A Family

Of course, the past four weeks were filled with activity and fun as well! We enjoyed lots of time with extended family over Christmas and family birthdays; Margarita loved the chance to connect with cousins and hold all the new babies. At home, Margarita tried her hand at both violin and piano, and it was sweet to see Ginger and Margarita figure out a piano duet to play together. As I look over the past four weeks of pictures, what stands out to me are those “normal” moments of family life – baking, reading stories, doing crafts, family worship, housework, even some school, all together. Isn’t that last word – together – what makes those things sweet? And each of those moments are etched into both our memories and Margarita’s, another gift as we wait for the time we are all reunited as a family forever.