Lavasatha’s Legacy

One of my favorite passages of the Bible is from Proverbs,  “A man plans his steps, but the Lord directs his path.” As I look back almost 21 years ago, I can see God using a little boy to direct my path in a way I could never have foreseen…..A program on television touched the hearts of my wife and me. Carolyn phoned, and we volunteered to sponsor a child. Told we could select a boy or girl from different countries, we decided to leave it up to the Lord and World Vision to make the choice for us…..Soon we received a photo and succinct description. “Lavasatha was an unfortunate child of sorrow and deprivation. When he was quite small, his mother died, and his father went away…” Our hearts went out to the handsome young boy who now lived with his elderly grandmother. We prayed for Lavasatha at our family devotions with our two young daughters, wrote him letters and sent in our sponsorship funds…..His first letter was heartwarming, “It was a pleasant surprise given by our Lord to have you as my sponsors. I thank the Lord for all His blessings and grace.”….We wanted to send more but were limited because of World Vision’s rules. So we sent him a comb. You could probably find one like it in any parking lot, abandoned by someone in a land of plenty. Lavasatha wrote back that he prayed for us each time he combed his hair. He told us he had no sisters but was always thinking of his sponsor sisters, Sarah and Hannah, and praying for them and his mother, Carolyn. When we shared that we were trying to have more children he said he was praying that God would give us a child, “like me.” He ended one letter, “Please convey my prayers and wishes to my sisters, and especially to my daddy, Mr. Paul…..We wanted more children but were stopped by infertility. A friend from Wyoming tried to help us set up a private adoption, but the Minnesota child servies agency stopped it. An emotional roller coaster ride ended with us losing a baby girl. Carolyn and I began to talk about foreign adoption. The Lord knows what He is doing. We had new friends who had adopted through Holt International. We contacted Holt and found out that they would help us adopt a child from India…..The trials we went through were all worthwhile because in the end, we were presented with an eleven month old baby girl from the orphanage in Pune, India. Her Indian name is Manjiri, which means garland of flowers. We named her Rebekah…..Lavasatha shared the excitement of our news, “I thank you for having taken me as your son in your family. And I also thank God for you having taken a sister from Pune in India as a daughter.” But the letter was tempered with sadness. Lavasatha’s father had died one month before. He asked us to pray for his peace of mind…..We prayed but were concerned about what else we could do for him. We made phone calls and sent letters. We found out he had an aptitude for carpentry. We came up with some extra money, a small amount to us, but a fortune in India. Soon we received a letter with encouraging news, “Your sponsored son, Lavasatha, has joined Carpentry Training Course. He will be trained in carpentry, doormat making, rope making and lathe work.”The money paid for tuition, school materials and daily bus rides to school. We were thankful we were able to help……The carpentry school lasted a little over a year, and we wanted to do more. We sent $50, which was 2000 rupees. Lavasatha wrote, “I have spent the amount as follows: I bought seven goats, tools for carpentry work, goat insurance and photos. I will be ever grateful and thankful to you for the kind help. I strongly assure you that I will work hard and increase the income of my family.” In the photos he sent, a confident looking boy with his goats and tools, looks proudly at us…..Lavasatha would soon be too old for the sponsorship program. He acknowledge the last gift we sent in a special letter. The 2,500 rupees wasn’t much as the final gift I could give to my son. But I had no idea. Lavasatha wrote, “I have constructed a house by the help of this. My family is now living in that new house.” We knew he lived with his grandmother and were glad he was able to take care of her as she had taken him in when his mother died…..One of the last letters we received from Lavasatha tells us he is proud to be our son. He wishes joy and happiness for our three daughters and writes, “I am very happy to know that Rebekah is from India. And I am happy to be her Indian brother.”….We have not heard from Lavasatha since. He was quite the boy, our Lavasatha. We still pray for him and his family. And we are thankful to have been a part of his life. He left his stamp on us, too…..Because of Lavasatha we have Rebekah and also, Benjamin, our son, adopted through Holt from the same orphanage in Pune. We adopted Benjamin soon after we moved to North Dakota where we were building a house and I was working a new job. Money was tight, but we wanted to adopt one more time. We called Holt and found out about a two year old boy in Pune whose father had died. His mother had contracted tubercolosis, was gravely ill and not expected to live. She gave up legal rights hoping that her son, Santosh, would have a chance at a better life…..Somehow, when we needed the money for Santosh’s adoption, we had it. Carolyn’s work as a realtor provided just the right amount of money at just the right time. After a long wait, we were at the airport holding a three year old boy who had flown halfway around the world to be with his new family, like his older sister.We named him Benjamin. He not only had new parents, but also three adoring sisters. We stopped at a fast food restaurant on the way home. Soon Benjamin was on top of the table throwing cups and napkins. I carried my new son outside and attempted to scold him. He responded by kissing me on the cheek.Lavasatha’s legacy in our family is the new life he brought us. He opened our hearts to adopt from India. And he opened ur hearts to the many, many children in the world who are alone, heartbroken and in need of someone to care.Published in Holt International Families