Who Are My Neighbors?

Written by Sasha Stone , adopted at age 6 years from Russia                     Winner, Maryknoll Essay Contest

                 Imagine being confined to an institution surrounded by a ten-foot iron fence with a locked gate and soldiers with big guns guarding it. You have never been outside the gates so you know nothing of the world.  You have no family, no one to love you or care about you, very little food to eat, ragged clothing and shoes that don’t fit.  You are spanked with a carpet whipper, have your tongue snipped by scissors because you want to talk when it is time to sleep to help the loneliness go away.  The people that are hired to watch after you give you vodka to make you be quiet and stand you in a corner with a urine drenched sheet wrapped around your head and have other children laugh at you because you wet the bed. They only laugh because they are afraid of what will happen to them if they don’t.  You are called many ugly names but don’t really know what your real name is because all you have ever heard is Pavlov. You don’t know how old you are and have never celebrated a birthday.  You are told that you were left because you were bad and if you learn to behave yourself your parents might come to get you someday.  You watch children being burned with cigarettes and having their hands pressed onto hot light bulbs because they rock their head to go to sleep.  You have never heard of God or had anything that you could call yours.

Until I was six _ years old I lived in an orphanage in Siberia.  This was my life.  I was robbed of my identity, robbed of being a child, robbed of having a family, robbed of having a mother to love and hold me and robbed of the freedom to know God.  The caretakers would look in a different direction or walk away when they saw one of the other workers hurting children.  It was like see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil.  Nobody cared what happened.  I just wanted to die because I felt so beaten down. Then one day there was a Good Samaritan that came on a long journey from the other side of the world.  When she came upon me she felt compassion and love.  She hugged me and kissed me and wanted to heal all my wounds.  Although she didn’t know my language and I didn’t know her language, and our countries beliefs were very different, I knew that she was going to take care of me and that everything was going to be all right. We both felt afraid in this foreign country and she was unsure about just how she was going to get me out of there, she was convinced God had not directed her half way around the world to leave me. When I was afraid to sleep at night because I thought I would wet the bed and she wouldn’t like me, she would hold me tight in her lap and rock me to sleep.  She called me by my name, Sasha, and told me how old I was.  She gave me food and brought me new clothes that were nice and warm and mine.  She gave me shoes that were for a boy and that fit my feet.  She loved everything about me. All the things I had been punished for were the things she said made me so special.  She told me how sorry she was that I hadn’t been her baby and promised me she would be my forever mother and I would never have to be alone again..

My Good Samaritan brought me to America where I had a sister waiting for me. She taught me about God.  She sent me to catholic school so I could hear about Jesus every day. On the first birthday I celebrated in my new family and new country, I had seven parties to make up for all the birthdays I never got to celebrate.

My Good Samaritan has taught me love and compassion.  She has taught me to never look the other way when there is someone in need.  She has taught me to be like Christ and to recognize our neighbor as the next hurting person we meet, friend or not.  God reached out to me with His love and mercy in my hurting world.  Since then our family has adopted three more children.  Although my mom reminds us that we are not a material rich family our “inheritance” is secure and our hearts are filled with love, mercy and power. 

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