Twelve-year-old Kamil (name changed for his protection) wore an expression that was odd for a boy leaving the hospital. His face should have been happy. He was going home after having tubes put in his ears.
The tubes would have relieved much of the intense inner ear pain the boy had experienced. He should be smiling.
But Kamil's face was more sad than anything else.
Why Was Kamil Sad to Leave the Hospital?
Kamil hasn't shared with anyone why his face was sad, but it's reasonable to postulate that the answer lies in the home Kamil was returning to.
ITMI's Jim la Rose in Poland shares Kamil's story:
As many of you already know, serving the kids at a dom dziecka (children’s home) has been an on-going ministry since my very first year in Poland. Many of my focused relationships have been with kids I’ve met at the dom dziecka.
Last spring, I believe I sensed a nudge from the Lord to explore a deeper relationship with a 12-year-old dom dziecka boy named Kamil.
Kamil was about 4 years old when he and his older sister were first placed in a dom dziecka. He lived at that dom dziecka for about four years, and then spent two years in a foster home.
After the foster care ended, both kids began living at the dom dziecka that I volunteer at.
Although Kamil had been at this dom dziecka for more than a year, he and I had not spent any special relational time together other than a bit of extra focus during the English homework sessions.
And since I was already quite invested in a few other relationships, I initially had some hesitations about pursuing another major commitment
But after seeking more specific guidance in prayer, it seemed the Lord truly was moving me in this direction. So, I began making efforts to develop an individual relationship with Kamil. Kamil responded positively to this.
I made Kamil my special helper whenever the dom dziecka kids and I walked downtown to get ice cream or French fries. Kamil often ordered for the whole group. Then I handed him the money to pay the tab.
Jim made Kamil his special helper during his weekly trip to the hamburger stand in Poznan with kids from the dom dziecka.
Kamil really likes everything related to cars and driving. In response to this, I allowed him (and only him) to sit in my car, giving him the opportunity to go through the motions of driving (even though the car was parked with the engine off).
In July, I spent a week working with a group of Dutch teenagers, helping them provide a day-camp experience for the dom dziecka kids. Kamil and I spent quite a bit of focused time together during that week. This helped build a much stronger foundation for our relationship.
I had also committed to be the English teacher at an 11-day Christian summer camp for Kamil’s age group, so I asked the dom dziecka personnel if I could sponsor Kamil to participate in this camp with me.
They said yes, giving me the position of helping Kamil prepare both materially and relationally. As we spent more and more time together, our relationship began to grow, and by the time camp ended, Kamil and I had truly solidified a connection with each other.
By the time camp ended, Kamil and I had truly solidified a connection with each other.
Earlier in the summer, I applied to the Polish courts asking permission to host Kamil in my home for seven days in August. While we were still at camp, the court granted this request.
So, four days after camp ended, I drove back down to the dom dziecka to pick up Kamil. This was the first time that Kamil and I had opportunity to do things outside of the dom dziecka, and it turned out to be a very good week for both of us.
An important element missing in most dom dziecka kids’ lives is anything that a whole family would do together…… such as a family vacation.
Knowing this, I purposed to make Kamil’s week with me as much like an actual family vacation for him as possible. We didn’t have the option to go on an out-of-town trip, but there were plenty of special things that we could do right here in Poznan.
Jim La Rose spending focused time with Kamil.
The very first thing we did was go grocery shopping. Kamil got to pick out whatever he wanted for that week’s menu.
He chose quite a few things that he wouldn’t normally have at the dom dziecka, things like: kiwis, corn-on-the-cob, pre-packaged lasagna, Lay’s potato chips, watermelon, different breakfast meats, soup packets, Asian egg rolls, strawberries, cordon-blue patties, ice cream, and cheeseburgers.
As mentioned in a previous newsletter, the first rule in my home for visiting teenage boys is “Never Be Hungry.” Kamil embraced this rule almost immediately. He ate freely and often, with cold cereal/milk and hamburgers being two of his favorite snacks.
Kamil put ketchup on almost everything. He also ate a lot of fruit, as well as a monitored supply of chips and sweets.
Another favorite was using my kitchen blender to make milkshakes. Kamil flavored the milkshakes by adding strawberries, kiwis, bananas, and blueberries.
We don’t have Sloppy Joe mix in Poland, but awhile back some friends sent some packets to me. Using one of these packets, Kamil got to taste Sloppy Joes for the first time. He liked them.
Teenage guests are usually asked to help with daily chores when visiting me. One way Kamil did this was by mowing the lawn. Getting to use a lawnmower with a gas-powered engine actually made this chore more fun for him than work.
We also made a trip to the dom dziecka while Kamil was with me. Kamil helped prepare the care packages for the other dom dziecka residents. Kamil and I both especially appreciated that he got to go back home with me after the dom dziecka visit.
Kamil helps prepare care packages for Jim's visit to the dom dziecka where Kamil lives.
Because Kamil is quite athletic, we focused much of our time on physically active pursuits, which at times pushed the limits of my grandpa-aged body.
Kamil really likes basketball, so we bought a new basketball for him. Using a badly sagging rim that was already attached to an outside wall of my home, Kamil and I spent hours playing H-O-R-S-E, and a game Kamil called 1-2-3-Go, which was his house-rules version of one-on-one.
We also bought a day pass to a local trampoline park. Kamil was quick to show off his ability to do front flips into a foam-filled pit. Jacek, a friend who works there, came in an hour early to spend some extra focused time with Kamil, including helping Kamil work at standing on his head.
Of everything we did, Kamil’s favorite activity, by far, was the go-karts. Surprisingly, he wasn’t sure he even wanted to try at first, but with a little coaxing, he gave it a shot.
Of everything we did, Kamil’s favorite activity, by far, was the go-karts.
Suffice it to say, he was instantly hooked. We went there often. One worker developed a soft heart for Kamil, which led to him voluntarily giving Kamil twice as much time on the track than what we paid for.
As you can probably tell, Kamil has found his way into my heart. He has since spent two additional weekends at my place, with plans to make one or two visits a month our regular pattern.
I’m also in the process of applying to the Polish courts to grant us “Friend Family” status, which would make arranging visits much easier and faster.
Kamil does not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus.
Please pray for this.
With plans for regular visits, I’m trusting there will many open doors for me to share the message of God’s love and plan of salvation with Kuba.
Calculating the Impact
It would be difficult to calculate the impact of something like this in the life of a child who had been in the care of the state since age 4.
Simple things many families take for granted - like the experience of requesting a new food to try at the grocery store and getting to try it - are treats.
And having an adult to devotes focused time and attention to you for weeks at a time? Impossible to quantify how this may have changed the course of this young man's life!
This is Jim's ministry.
He has become a trustworthy adult figure - an unofficial "grandpa" - for many kids who have a crushing void of adults they can trust.
The Lord continues using Jim to demonstrate His great fatherly love and care for the vulnerable and marginalized.
I Want to Help...but How?
How can you deepen Jim's impact in the lives of the children at the dom dziecka?
Here are two possibilities:
1 - Care Packages
Jim puts together care packages for kids at the dom dziecka weekly. Additional funds would allow him to bolster the contents or include more recipients.
If you want to participate in this, click the button below and include "care packages" in the comments.
2 - Provide a Pizza Party
In the past, supporters have given a lump sum, allowing Jim to provide the kids at dom dziecka with the rare treat of a pizza party with a simple fun activity.
The children took great joy in this rare treat.
This would be a fairly low-cost way to have a deep impact on the lives of a group of children severely lacking in hope.
3 - Clothing Fund
The Polish state does an adequate job of keeping the kids clothed and their basic needs met.
But Jim and ITMI believe that what these kids most need to experience is that the Lord sees them as a good dad would see them.
A good father provides the basics for his children, but once in awhile, he also blesses them with good things that bring them joy because it brings him joy to see his children enjoying a good thing he has given them.
Our heavenly Father is no different.
For some of the children living at the dom dziecka in Poznan, Poland, they have never experienced a parent who is able to and enjoys giving them good things. Some have never worn something that makes them feel good about how they look.
It may never have been demonstrated to them that they are worth spending money on or receiving something nice.
Jim would love the option to give some of the children he works with the emotional blessing of a nice, possibly name brand, quality item of clothing or pair of shoes when the need arises or the Spirit leads.
If you'd like to partner with Jim in this, click on the button below, then add "Clothing" to the comment box.
4 - Monthly Support
Jim is able to live in Poland and bless the children he ministers to out of his own budget through the generous support of God's people. He has never been fully supported, so he has supplemented his income by teaching English lessons to kids in local families.
To enhance his ministry, Jim is planning to step back from teaching English for one year and to focus on becoming more proficient in the Polish language. After that, he will continue to study Polish but is hopeful he will be able to resume teaching English lessons.
Jim could use some additional monthly support for one year while he focuses on learning one of the most difficult languages on the planet.