Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Does Love Look Like? The First Story

Have you ever asked your “what does love really look like?” I don’t’ know if I ever had before this week, but we have now. During the weeks and months ahead I want to answer that compelling question with stories from the lives of incredible people living in this beautiful, but desperate place.

What Does Love Look Like? It Looks Like Tonya and her family

For an extended period of time, Tonya lovingly cared for her ailing mother. A few months ago, her mother died. Shortly after her mother’s death, Tonya began to notice something that she hadn’t really realized before. There were grandmothers and grandfathers, just like her mother….well, not exactly. Unlike her mother who experienced the concern and care of family, these precious elderly were homeless. Often tossed to the streets by their own children, they were discarded as no longer valuable.
Tonya, her husband and children spend many long hours at the new home for the elderly. In fact, Tonya rarely leaves.

With her eyes opened, her heart deeply touched, she and her family decided to do something about the growing problem of the homeless elderly people of Kyrgyzstan. Tonya and her husband went to the local authorities and were given a building to use free of charge. This building, discarded, just like the population it would soon house, was cold, dark, broken…in much need of repair. However, the shelter of a cold building is better than no shelter on the street.

Tonya began locating elderly folks in need of care. She started with two...then three…and is now up to eight residents. We asked her how many she can manage. She said the building could house sixty, but she has no beds. Tonya and her family at this point are managing the daily function of the home by almost by themselves. She never leaves. She sleeps on folding chairs in the large room between the men’s and women’s rooms. She and her family have given their lives to these precious hopeless and helpless people. As they have given, others are seeing the need.
Care for the elderly is a family affair as this 14 year old works in the kitchen....which is a sink and one two burner hot plate.

Something beautiful has happened in this small village as the people in the village are aware of what Tonya and her family are doing. Many people are coming alongside to help. Even the orphanage children are planning some ways to help.

Tonya showed us this week exactly what love looks like. Love sees value in every person, no matter the age, circumstance or the ability to return in-kind. Love gives unconditionally and compassionately…it risks everything one has in order to care for those without hope. Love is the true walking out of James 1:27 - Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight… that is what love looks like!

David and Tonya stand next to a bed purchased with funds sent by our friends in America. We hope to be able to contribute toward the purchase of more beds in the future.

John Wright and a babybuska....a Russian grandmother.

Ruby listens to a grandmother - even when one doesn't understand, pain and sadness have a universal language.

"No one ever comes to see me," this grandmother told us. We all hope to spend more time here in the future, praying for them and ministering to their physical needs.


LAMb International said...

Your story is so real and it IS such a demonstration of what love really is! You are touching lives daily! Stay on the journey!

Good Night,
The J's

Elizabeth Bergeron said...

All I can say is "AMEN".