This holiday season, airports across the country will host heartwarming homecomings of loved ones. Family members who have been flung far and wide, military personnel returning from deployment, friends who live hundreds of miles away. … All these people will step off their flights and into someone’s waiting arms.This December, two girls – Sindija, 6, and Liene, 5 – deplaned and were warmly greeted by a couple who could pass as their parents. To the casual onlooker, it might have appeared to be a family reunion. But these girls had never met Maureen and Kenneth Purcell, the man and woman standing before them. Sindija and Liene are orphans from Latvia, and the Purcells are serving as their host family for the next month. They hope to help the girls understand the meaning of Christmas by providing them with an experience that makes them feel valued and special. The Purcells, who live in Mooresville, first heard of the opportunity when a representative of the Project One Forty Three program spoke at their church, Life Fellowship. The program, named for the 143 million children in orphanages and foster care around the world, places children from Latvia and Ukraine in host homes across the country. Maureen immediately felt the program was something she was called to do. She grew up in a large family: six biological kids, and her parents cared for two additional children off and on for 14 years before state custody was granted. “The Lord has placed orphans on my heart since I was very young and when this opportunity came through our church, I felt it was something I would love to do,” she said. Her husband agreed, on one (joking) condition: the house get cleaned beforehand. The Purcells look forward to dinners together, playing games, bedtime rituals. Sindija and Liene will also meet some of the couples’ extended family during the holidays. Though they anticipate some translation issues – the girls do not speak English – there is a chaperone who has travelled from Latvia who can be called upon when difficulties arise. There’s another person they can call on for help: Lisa Kroemer, director of the Latvian Hosting Program, who also lives in Mooresville. Kroemer has professional experience, and personal experience, as well: Her family has hosted a child. “When a child who comes has so little, but comes with so much love, joy and kindness they want to share – it’s humbling,” said Kroemer. When they leave, they are different from then when they arrived. “They just blossom during their time here.” The experience changes not just the children, but the adults and families who care for them. “It just becomes very personal,” Kroemer said. “It changes so many people and helps the family see beyond their world.”
Friday, Dec. 21, 2012
Mooresville family reaches out to Latvian orphans
2 Latvian children will spend holidays with Purcells through outreach program
Maureen and Kenneth Purcell greet Sindija, left and Liene at the airport. COURTESY OF AMANDA KORPI
More information Learn more: Project One Forty Three conducts four- to five-week summer and winter host programs for orphans age 6 and up. For information, visit www.projectonefortythree.com.