It has been a tough news month. And by that I mean too much of the tough stuff! Some events to make one rely on God and ponder eternity…

Even when I went to the doctor for a prenatal visit a few weeks ago, the lady next to me in the waiting area had “Oncology” stamped on her papers. While I was worrying about getting weighed and measured, others were thinking about life and death. A poster on the wall read “Give Life” and listed some alternatives to abortion, and crisis hotlines.

Meanwhile, a few emails came in from friends in different places whose family members had received sobering medical diagnoses. And we are sent to our knees.

Three years ago now, I wrote a post about orphanage contacts and how when I see friends from the orphanage I’m never really sure whether God is showing me that the door is still open, or just giving me one last chance to kind of wrap up that chapter.

The post in question featured an interesting spontaneous encounter with a former orphanage director named Yuri, who was working when my two sisters were adopted…as well as during the period when we met many of the other kids at summer camp and then followed up with them during subsequent visits to the orphanage.

So 3 years ago I ran into him outside my apartment building and got one of those famous bear hugs. And then just a week ago I heard that he had passed away.

As far as I could tell, Yuri was quite involved in charity work right up to the end, though he was also very ill. I got the impression of him as a very busy, active person, yet astute at the same time. Whenever he asked about my sisters, I knew that he had the right background information and context. It seemed that he was pretty on top of what individual kids were like. And I know that he tried to give the orphans some “real” childhood experiences. For example, one of the eulogies talked about him owning a summer house and plot out in the country where the kids would go to fish and build campfires and learn some other outdoor skills.

So although it may not have been goodbye to the orphanage, that time that I saw him was indeed the last. And the kids that grew up with him as their director certainly lost a sort of father or grandfather figure.

I also want to call attention to the other orphanage, featured in this post. I chose this older post to go along with something I learned recently. While the orphanage’s previous director, Lidia, had been killed in the bus crash (though not the director at the time), I called there recently to talk about humanitarian aid, and was told that their CURRENT director is ill and not expected to recover. Interestingly, the woman currently acting as director is someone I DO know well, so I was able to connect even with all the changes that have taken place in the orphanage over the past few years.

So in the space of just a few hours, I was plunged back into the needs of the orphanages and the voids left in both cases by the loss of prominent figures. Seemingly unrelated events, yet massive and life-changing for those affected.