"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
~James 1:27

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year in Review

I can hardly believe that today is the last day of 2011. It feels like just yesterday I was sitting down to reflect on 2010 and write down some goals for the coming year, and here I am at it again. Hmmm what did I accomplish over this last year? I certainly didn’t fulfill any of my New Year’s resolutions! The beginning of 2011 had me finishing up my last year of college. In March, I was able to go with the women’s basketball team to Iowa (a new state for me) for the national championships. That was a neat experience! On May 14th, I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Community Studies. It’s a great feeling to have 4 years of college behind me, but it also means that the real world begins. I have my whole life ahead of me, and I can do anything with it. It’s an amazing, but scary realization as I want to live life for God to the fullest realizing every dream in my heart. The world is at my fingertips!
Two thousand eleven saw me step out of my comfort zone as I held my very first Compassion Sunday at church in May. I was able to speak about the needs of children in poverty and what Compassion and sponsorship means to me. It was very exciting to see 10 children get sponsored that day! With the success of my Compassion Sunday behind me, I decided that I wanted to become a full blown Compassion advocate. I am passionate about children living in poverty, so it made perfect sense for me to spend time advocating for them and for Compassion’s program. My Compassion family also greatly expanded over 2011, going from 2 sponsored kids at the start of 2011 to 7 sponsored kids and 8 correspondence kids at the close. It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to be an impact on 5 boys and 10 girls living all over the world. I have children from Brazil to Haiti, the Philippines to Bolivia, the plains of Africa to the jungle of Ecuador. It is amazing to think that children all over the world know my name and I know theirs. Since becoming an advocate, I have shared the joy of sponsorship a couple more times and been excited to see my mom and sister both decide to sponsor a child. Cool, huh?
During July I was able to visit my sister, Cassie in Florida. It was wonderful to feel that overwhelming heat the minute you open the door and walk along the beach, watching the sunset. I got to spend my 22nd birthday, feeling like a kid again, at Disney World. I really believe it when they say that “dreams come true” there. In August, I journeyed back to Ecuador for the third time. This year we got to spend our time in the village of Borja. It was a much different experience than being in Pifo, but the need for Jesus Christ was exactly the same. I think that kids everywhere are the same. They all have a deep desire to be wanted, loved, and admired. They all have a God shaped whole inside. And I would give anything to bring God to those children. More and more, I am seeing my desire to start an orphanage grow. I don’t know where and I don’t know how, but the desire is there all the same.
Autumn and winter brought changes in the leaves and changes in my life. I lost my job at the daycare, but was able to help out my church by doing some work for the Communications team. I have also been able to be the fill in secretary at the Christian school for a couple of months. Getting to know those kids in the short time I have been there has been a special experience. I love the wide varieties of personalities and backgrounds that each child brings to the school. It is hard for me, not knowing what I will do for a job once my time at the school ends, but it has been worth every minute that I’ve been there.
Two thousand eleven has been a year full of ups and downs. There have been moments where I felt like the world I knew was falling down around my feet, and other moments where my heart was so full of joy that it ached. I’ve felt the rejection of people I love, and the love of people I’ve never even met.  I can’t go back and change anything that happened in 2011, and you know what; I probably wouldn’t change any of it if I could. All of it has had a purpose; all of it has been part of the journey God created specifically for me. Isn’t it hard to fathom that each of us has a specific journey, a specific purpose in life created just for us by our loving Creator. Not a one of us is exactly alike. I have no idea what 2012 will bring. I have a feeling that it will be a year of change, a year of many new experiences for me. Am I up for the challenge? You bet! I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Number 15

Meet Alexandra. Number 15.

 I wasn’t planning on having a number 15.
 When I lost Betty back in June, I couldn’t sponsor another child. None of the children where Betty, so I just held off on sponsoring another one. I knew that if God wanted me to sponsor another child He would point him or her out to me. But month after month went by and I never found her. I figured it was for the best that I only had 14 children. That that was what God wanted, and it’s easier to write and provide for 14 rather than 15.
 And then I saw Alexandra. Her darling face, her bare feet, and her ragged, worn clothes captivated me. And then I read that she had 12 siblings and her father worked as a farmer making about $10 a month. $10 a month! That is less than $1 per child each month. You can’t provide for a family that big on such a small amount of money. And with the parents in survival mode, how can they show the love and care to Alexandra that she needs.
 Her reflective brown eyes stared into mine, and I knew. I knew, but I didn’t want to admit it. Something inside of me didn’t want to sponsor another child, didn’t want to give up another $38 a month. I already give up so much for my children, why should I have to give up even more. Why would God ask me to sponsor another child when I don’t even have a permanent job? But another part of me was absolutely, completely head-over-heels in love with this child. I had to have this child in my life. But what if I couldn’t keep up the payments? What if, what if, what if? Back and forth, I went in my mind.
 Really it all came down to faith. Could I truly trust God to provide the money to sponsor Alexandra?
 Then one day she was gone. Alexandra (along with 90% of the Ecuador kids) was nowhere to be found on the website. That moment sealed it for me. My heart sank to my knees as if a piece of my heart was gone forever. Alexandra, the little girl who needed me so much, was gone. I had let her go, when deep down I knew God wanted me to sponsor her. But God brought her back to me. He wasn’t going to let me get away without her.
For some reason I may never know, God wants Alexandra, a 6 year old little girl living in the jungle of Ecuador, in my life. I may never know in this lifetime why God wanted me to sponsor her, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. I can’t take my extra $38 a month to Heaven with me, but maybe because I sponsored her, Alexandra will be in Heaven.
 When I saw those beautiful brown eyes back on the website it suddenly became clear. If God was asking me to sponsor Alexandra, than He would provide enough money each month. God has a plan, and I’m learning to trust Him more and more with every circumstance. Alexandra is my faith child. And it is amazing what a deep love can well up in one’s heart for a child you’ve never met, never seen their smile, and never heard their laugh. It has to be God! What else could it possibly be? And you know what; I’ll probably be blessed so much more than Alexandra is because I stepped out in faith for her. I can try to be a blessing in her life, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that she WILL be a blessing in my life!
I urge you to a look at Compassion International’s website today. Maybe you’ll find a piece of your heart there or your next step of faith. I know I did.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Good Things Come In Big White Envelopes

Who would have guessed it?
Would you have expected a letter in this envelope? I surely did not. But the letter wasn't even the best part

This was:

A photo of Mariela's family JUST BECAUSE! She has a beautiful family and I'm excited to have a rare glimpse into her life.

Great Day :D

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mail Call: Philippines

The letter drought is over! Well I guess I can’t really call it a drought when it’s only been a week and a half. But even that feels like forever without any news from one of my kiddos.

I got the sweetest letter from 6 year old Gil Jr today.

 I love the fact that his mother writes the letters for him because I am learning so much about him. He is such a great kid, and I just love his sweet mother. She is so happy that Gil has a sponsor and she is always so appreciative. Gil’s letter was a reciprocal letter written on September 16.
Dear Hilary Hopkins,
First of all, Me and Gil would like to ask if how are you together with your family. With Regards to Gil we had go to swimming his last birthday (he turned 6 on August 27th) together with our cousins because we are here in seashore and regarding to his studies now he can able to read. His grade in Math subject was good. You know what Ma’am Hilary, Gil was seeing the pictures that you had sent to us. It is nice place that you went in Florida most especially this picture of Mickey and Minnie. This is his first time to see a picture like this. Ma’am Hilary, Gil was asking if when were you go in our place? So that he can see you in person. Ma’am Hilary include our family in your prayers. Every night we also include you in our prayers that you will have good health, you will be safe in any danger with His divine protection. Until here to our next letters.
Love, Ludivina Otadoy- Gil’s mother

I think that Ludivina might be one of the sweetest ladies I know. She seems so involved with her son, and being a part of the Compassion project. I don’t know if Gil comes from a Christian family, so I’m praying that through this relationship they will come to know Christ as their savior!
I wish that I could write Gil back and tell him that I’m jumping on the next plane to the Philippines. If only it was that simple. But, the Philippines is the next country on my agenda after my trip to Bolivia in April. Maybe a trip to see Gil isn’t completely out of the question! Hope you got a letter as great as mine this week!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sponsor a Child from Ecuador!

Compassion is having another bloggers trip!You can check it out here!  This time they are going to Ecuador from November 8-12. Five different bloggers will be getting an in depth look at Compassion's work in Ecuador, and will meet many of the children that Compassion serves there. Since Ecuador is close to my heart, I'm really looking forward to learning more about Compassion's work there. The Compassion website has added 751 Ecuadorian kids in hopes that the bloggers will be able to help find sponsors for these kids while on this trip. I know that I'm going to have to stay away from the website or I might end up with 15 more kids :D. Many of them have already started pulling my heart strings.

Lamar is a sweet orphan who lives with her grandmother and 6 other children.

Andrea's father is in prison.

Little Melanie has the same birthday as me.

Antonio has to be one of the cutest 5 year olds ever!

Alvaro lives in the jungles of Ecuador where they live on $10 a month.

Sara goes to the same child center that my Carolay does. I wonder if they are friends?

Six year old Tepa doesn't have any shoes like many of the kids at her center.

But the little girl that has taken the biggest chunk out of my heart is Alexandra. She goes to the same center as Tepa and Alvaro, and at least 10 other kids I have found on the website (I haven't looked at all the kids). Alexandra has a darling little face, and she makes me smile yet breaks my heart all at once. Her tattered little outfit with her belly sticking out, makes me want to wrap her up in a great big hug, and tell her how beautiful she is.

Proceed to our secure online form
All of these beautiful children need someone who will show them God's love, and tell them that they matter. Can you sponsor one of them today?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Missing Ecuador :(

I'm missing Ecuador today.....

Coloring on the porch

Elijah and I racing :D

Grace and I with the girls!

Baby Dylan

Moises and I.....my favorite little guy

John and I

Game time at VBS

Me with Pedro, Hanny, Dana, and baby Eliana

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grace Finds Hope

I'm so excited about starting the Isaiah Challenge! The Isaiah Challenge is Compassion's new campaign based on Isaiah 58. With the challenge you could pick your favorite cause- Grace Finds Hope- child sponsorship, Bite Back- maleria intervention, and Water of Life- water purification system. I am passionate about child sponsorship, and I love people get passionate about children in poverty, and seeing that excitement about a first letter, so I chose Grace Finds Hope for my cause. I am hoping to find sponsors for 8 children by April. I pray that I can do it!

Compassion has an amazing new video called Grace Finds Hope that goes with the campaign. It shows the reasons that we have for not sponsoring a child. It is a great video, and you'd better have a box of tissues ready :).

I hope this challenges you to sponsor a child! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

First Attempt at Fiction

Fall doesn’t only bring with it colorful leaves, brisk weather, and a new school year, but also a new youth group year! I hadn’t been able to help over the summer because of my job so I was happy to get back into the routine and hang out with the teenagers. We have had a small group thus far, averaging at 5 a week, but it is a good group, and I’m loving the girls that come. A couple of the girls are aspiring writers and they’ve been sharing their work with me. The girls have inspired me to try my hand at writing some fiction, and last week they challenged me to write a Scottish romance. I don’t know why, we just thought Scotland sounded like a great setting for a romantic novel. So here’s my first attempt at fiction:
Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Scotland, there lived a young girl by the name of Rose. Rose came from a family of 7 children and she was the oldest daughter. She had 2 older brothers- Timothy (age 18) and Henry (age 17), 3 younger sisters- Emily (age 12), Mary (age 9), and Catherine (age 7), and the newest member of the family- baby Alexander.
At the young age of 15, Rose had suddenly become a mother to her younger sisters and brother, something that had never crossed her mind. When their mother, Elizabeth, became pregnant 6 and a half years after Catherine’s birth, the family rejoiced at this unexpected surprise. Rose was especially excited to have a baby in the house again, as she loved children and prayed someday for God to bring her a man to marry and children to love. But the excitement at the birth of Alexander quickly turned to tragic sorrow as their mother slowly faded away from the loss of blood during childbirth. And just like that, Rose was a mother. At the news of his wife’s death, Rose’s father, Nathaniel, sunk into a deep depression not even having the strength to look at his newborn son.
Rose loved Alexander, but some days were hard, as she thought how her mother would be here if she had never conceived Alexander. She never voiced such thoughts to any of her siblings as they were struggling with the death of their mother, and Rose knew she had to be strong for them. Sometimes she wished she wasn’t the oldest daughter, so someone else could take all this responsibility. Some days all she wanted was for someone to take care of her. Timothy and Henry couldn’t because they were off at war, fighting to protect their country from the troops from Northern Ireland who had come to take over the land. Neither of them had yet to see their baby brother. Rose just hoped that the letter she had sent with news of their mother’s death had reached them by now. How awful it would be for them to come home not even realizing that she was gone.
The only solace Rose had at times was the knowing that her mother was safely in Heaven with the Savior she loved so dearly. Maybe she was even dancing with Jesus the way she had taught all of her children to dance. Oh how Elizabeth had loved dancing with Rose’s father. That thought made Rose smile just a bit, but it was never a smile that fully reached her eyes. She was forever grateful that her mother had taught them of Jesus and brought her and her siblings to church from the time they could walk and talk. Her father had never cared much for religion as he saw it as a crutch that he did not need. The only times, Rose ever saw her parents fight was every Sunday morning as Elizabeth begged Nathaniel to go with her to church. But he never would, he was just too stubborn. Timothy and Henry had fallen away from church as young men because they believed that if their father did not need God than of course they did not either. But Rose clung to her faith, and even now she whispered a quick prayer to God to take care of her brothers and her father. Oh how she wished that her father knew Jesus in this time of sorrow. What else could possibly bring him out of the despair he kept falling further and further into as the days went on? She prayed that Timmy and Henry wouldn’t be angry at God for letting their mother go, that this wouldn’t pull them farther away from God.
This is just an introduction…..I haven’t even gotten to the romance yet, but with their encouragement I’m going to keep on a writing! It’s actually kind of fun. And I’m excited to see where the story leads me.
Liz and Kristina critiquing my writing :)
Happy Writing!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mail Call- Bangladesh

Tuesday afternoon I anxiously went to the post office to look for some cream colored envelopes. It is always so hard on holidays when the post office isn’t open. I hate to miss a day of eagerly checking the mail. It is funny how the highlight of my day has become my post office runs. I practically skip to the mailbox in hopes of hearing from one of my kiddos. Some days it is a fruitful trip, while other days I wished I’d just stayed home. I usually get letters on Mondays, so since Monday was a holiday, I had pretty high hopes for Tuesdays run.
Peeking into the mailbox, a huge grin covered my face as my hopes were granted. A thick cream colored envelope. I tried to guess who the letter might be from, but knowing my kids, it could be anyone. Carefully opening the envelope revealed a letter from Sargo written in August. And not just one letter, but two stapled together. Yes! Sargo is my newest correspondence child from Bangladesh. I had only gotten a first form letter from him previously so I was excited to learn more about this adorable 6 year old, plus I’m absolutely in love with the beautiful Bengali writing. Here is what sweet Sargo had to say in his letters:
Dear Sponsor Hilary Hopkins, Love and greetings to you from Sargo. He is glad to get you. He wished your brother. He loves to swim. He can swim. There is a pond beside their house. He has cousin siblings. He loves you and God very much. His 2nd term exam has been finished. He learns many thing about Jesus at project and goes to school regularly. He will get one month holiday from school for Ramadan. So he is glad. He gives thank you for your photos. You may stay well.
Dear Sponsor Hilary Hopkins, Love and greetings to you from Sargo. They all are well. He gives thank you for your letter. Now it is rainy season here. Now the river, marsh, pond etc have been filled up with water. Now the water lily and kadamba have bloom. They are two brothers. They have no sisters. He loves to play football and badminton. He likes swim and study. He is glad to get you and gives thanks to God. There is a lake in their district. What are your favourite color and food? He loves you.
So now I know a little more about Sargo. He loves to swim, he’s glad to get me as a sponsor, but he wished he got my brother. Isn’t that too funny? I’m definitely praying for Sargo as he is from a Muslim family. I pray that he can know the love of our savior. Wow, I love this kid! Have you heard from your sponsored child recently?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I give up...I'm not strong enough

I know I’m not strong enough
To be everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough

Those lyrics have been running through my head over and over again today. I finally feel like some plans for the next step in my life are coming together. I can finally feel some direction from God. And I’m excited. Wicked excited, but scared at the same time. I know that I’m not strong enough to do it alone. I’m probably not even strong enough to do it with 5 of my best friends. So I’m giving up.
 No, I’m not giving up on all my dreams and my passions and the exciting things that God has for my future. I would never give up on that. I couldn’t give up on that. What I’m giving up on is trying to do it myself. I am giving up on trying to achieve my dreams by myself. I am giving up control.
 I don’t know about you, but I like to be in control of things. When I am the one in control I feel like things will turn out better. I never liked group projects. I didn’t like letting someone else do something that I was going to get a grade on. I wasn’t in control of how much time, effort, or enthusiasm that person would put into their part of the project. It was stressful giving up control when I felt like I could do it better myself.
I think that is my problem when it comes to giving up control to God. It is pride. I may not say this out loud or really even think it in my head, but I act like I could do it better myself. That is ultimately what we are saying to God when we try to take control of our life instead of letting God in the driver’s seat.
But from now on, I’m giving up. It’s easier said than done, and I know that it will be a daily struggle to give up control to God. But I have to. My life will never go anywhere if I try to control it myself. And truly I’m not strong enough to be in control of my life when God has such amazing, BIG plans for my life. I would just mess them up if I tried to do it alone. So I’m giving up!

Monday, October 10, 2011

OCC is Back!

Operation Christmas Child time is here again! This is one of my favorite things about Christmas. I love knowing that a little girl or boy somewhere in this big world is going to be excitedly looking through the box that I put together especially for them. They will know that someone out there cares enough about them to send them a box full of wonderful things. They will know that they matter. Best of all they get to learn about Jesus Christ through this program. All of the shoeboxes that are given to the children have a storybook about Jesus Christ inside in their language. Every child gets to hear the good news about Jesus while receiving a special gift just for them. I don’t know if all of you have made a Christmas shoe box before, so if you haven’t let me tell you how it works!
1.       Shoe Box- First, you need to get a shoebox or a plastic container that is about the size of a standard shoebox. I usually like to get the plastic container because I figure that the family can use the plastic container for other things.
2.       Boy or Girl- Next, you have to decide whether you want to make a box for a boy or girl, and what age group. The age groups are 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14. I like to make one box for a girl and one box for a boy. All of the age groups are fun to buy for.
3.       Fill with Gifts- Now comes the fun part, filling the box with things that a child in the age category you picked would like. I love going shopping for my box and wondering about who that little girl or boy is, what their name is, and what they like to do. In every box I like to include a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and a washcloth. And also school supplies like pencils, pens, and paper. Then fill the rest up with some fun stuff like cars and balls for boys or dolls and toy jewelry for girls. Whatever you put in they will love it! Oh, and don’t forget to add a special note for that child and your address. They might even write you back!
4.       Include $7 donation- With every shoebox that you prepare, it is helpful if you include $7 to help with shipping and program costs. If you can’t include $7 that is ok, but if you can than do it. A really cool feature that they added a couple years ago was that if you pay your donation online than they will eventually email you and tell your where your box ended up. Isn’t that neat? One year my box went to Central Asia, and another year Zimbabwe.
5.       Drop Off- Now that your box is done you can drop it off at a collection center near you. The national collection week this year is November 14-21. To find out where the collection sites are you can check out online at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ. My church, Machias Valley Baptist Church is a drop off site. If there isn’t a drop off site near you than you can send your box to: Samaritan’s Purse, 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, NC 28607.
This is such an awesome ministry and it is a great thing to include in your family traditions at Christmas because you get to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to a child living in poverty. What could be better than that? I want to share with you a sweet letter that I got a couple years ago from a little girl in Zimbabwe who received my Christmas box.
Dear Hilary: I am 10 years old. It’s my pleasure to have received a Christmas present from you. I enjoyed it so much, may God bless you richly. There were many items that included teddy bear, crayons, pens, beads, crown, Colgate to mention only a few because the list is endless. It was funny considering that you are my first pen-pal to send me such wonderful things. I almost forgot my jaws almost were dislocated as I enjoyed your everlasting chewing gums and sweets. What about sending me another wonderful present like this. I am sorry because the space on this paper was little but I am hoping that you enjoyed my letter. It’s painful to say goodbye but we have to part ways. Remember it’s always good in the eyes of the Lord to share some wonderful moments with each other. It have been a pleasure to be in your company and full credit is given to you.
Cheers: yours Lwandlelwenkosi Mkhwananzi
Now that makes it all worth it! I hope this has encouraged you to make your own Operation Christmas Child shoebox. You never know what a difference you could be making in the life of a child.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

They're Why

Many people wonder why I would want to sponsor children. Why I would want to spend so much of my finances on someone I don’t know. So much of my time thinking about and praying for children I may never meet. They’re why. Rather than tell you, you have to read for yourself.
“I wait excited for your letters and pictures. Stay with God.” -Rodrigo, age 9, Brazil
“Babita says she loves you, and that her family members love you so much.” –Babita, age 4, Uganda
“I have you always in my heart and in my thoughts.” –Rosa, age 11, Bolivia
“Without knowing you personally, I love you very much, and I feel like you are part of my family.” –Rosa, age 11, Bolivia
“I want to thank you for being my special friend and keep me.” –Mariela, age 8, Dominican Republic
“I am so happy to be sponsored. May the Lord bless you.” –Winner, age 5, Togo
“I give glory to God for your life. Thanks for your prayers and your love for me.” –Winner, age 5, Togo
“Hillary says he loves you and appreciate your help and sponsorship.” –Hillary, age 4, Kenya
“Joy invades my heart every time I am thinking of you to write to you.” –Olibris, age 17, Haiti
“Carolay likes for you to call her “my beautiful Carolay”.” –Carolay, age 7, Ecuador
“It makes us happy to receive your beautiful letters and to know how your life is because it makes happy our hearts.” –Carolay, age 7, Ecuador and Gisela (her tutor)
“I’m so thankful that you sponsored Gil. By now his father is already dead and I can’t afford to send my children in school.” –Ludivina, mother of Gil, age 6, Philippines
“Maam Hilary, Gil is very thankful that you are his sponsor. Thankful too for the school supplies and uniforms he received.” – Ludivina, mother of Gil, age 6, Philippines
“Neha likes attending the center as she learns and grows up well in the knowledge of Jesus.” –Neha, age 13, India
“Thank you for your love. I love you.” –Asha, age 11, India
That is why I choose to sponsor children. These kids are finally realizing that they matter. Not only to God, but to a 22 year old white girl living in the USA. What could be more rewarding than that? What else could I be doing to further the kingdom of God that could so easily bring tears of joy, tears of sorrow, and such laughter at the adorable little things that these kids want me to know? They are learning what love feels like and how to love in return, they are learning about Jesus, and they may even be going to school for the first time! They are so thankful for having a sponsor because they are seeing the change in their life and that is so exciting to me! Right before my eyes, letter by letter, I am seeing these children grow, mature, and find a deep love for Jesus. And that my friends, is why Compassion is such a huge passion of mine!
If you would like to sponsor a child too, and absolutely change their world for the better, I have 13 little darlings, ages 4 to 11 that I’m looking for sponsors for. Please let me know if you want to be a shining light in the life of a child! You may not be able to change the world, but you can changed the world for one child.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Super-Terrific Saturday

What makes for a super-terrific Saturday?
Asha in the beautiful white dress she got for her birthday!
Enough said!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Are you the answer?

Faridatou Zombra
I wonder if she is praying for a sponsor?
A beautiful little girl from Burkina Faso with a scared expression on her face
I would be terrified too if my mom had died and my dad sent me to live with my aunt and uncle
Do her 3 cousins treat her like a sister or an outsider?
Every little girl needs a mother who can pass on the wisdom of the ages to her, but this 8 year old lost her mama too soon
How could this African sweetie have waited 7 months for a sponsor, and still be waiting?
In an area with prevalent AIDS, Faridatou could use a sponsor more than ever
Are you the answer to this little girl’s prayer?

If you are interested in sponsoring this little girl, please let me know, and I will help you fill out the paperwork and send you her information!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Every 5 Seconds

I have been reading the book "The Hole in our Gospel" by Richard Stearns, and this stastic struck me like a lightning bolt!
Every 5 seconds a child dies from hunger. Just another horrifying statistic in a long line of horrifying statistics. Every 5 seconds a child, with a face, with a name, is gone. And no one even cares. It is so easy to walk away from the statistics. They are just numbers. We might feel sad for a moment and then go on with our daily lives. But every 5 seconds, somewhere in this world there is a mother crying because her precious baby is gone too soon. In the time it takes you to read this blog, I don’t know maybe 20, 30 kids will be dead. Just like that, their lives are over. While I was watching NCIS, 720 children died. While I was laughing at Abby’s antics, 720 tiny graves were dug. Seven hundred and twenty mothers will go to bed tonight knowing that their little boy or girl is gone. Knowing that they will never grow up to fulfill their dreams. All that God given potential, gifts, and talents are gone. And that is only in the 1 hour that I watched NCIS.  An hour later, 720 more children died, and then 720 more, and then 720 more, and on and on it goes. Yet we feel nothing. This doesn’t break our heart. We have become numb to the sorrow and tragedy of all those lost lives a world away. I bet God’s heart breaks. He knew each of those children’s names, what talents and gifts they had, what they could have brought to this world. He even knew how many hairs were on their little heads. I wonder what breaks his heart more. These little lives being snuffed out or the fact that we, his followers, are doing nothing about it. When we truly let this sink in, that so many little lives are being lost day after day, children without a future, it becomes overwhelming. I wonder what their names were. Did a little one named Hilary lose their life today? What did they look like? No wonder we walk away from the statistics. It’s a whole lot easier to live our comfy lives when we aren’t thinking about the children who died today all over the globe. As it finally registers in my brain, I want to run. So much tragedy, so much sorrow, so much death, what can I do about it? How can I do my part to stop this suffering? I don’t know yet, but I have to do something. I can’t keep living with my back turned away from them. I can’t keep living for myself when every 5 seconds a child dies from hunger.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Five Children Waiting for You...

I want to share 5 Bolivian children with you. Five children growing up in devastating poverty. Five children without the hope of Jesus Christ. Meet Deylan, Esthiven, Carlos, Divar, and Erik. Five 6 and 7 year olds waiting for someone like you to take a leap of faith and show them that they matter to Jesus Christ. Jesus has called us to “speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” (Proverbs 31:8)  By sponsoring one of these children, you can do just that. Children are vulnerable and they cannot speak up for themselves. They have no say in the situations in their lives. They don’t get to make any decisions. They need someone to speak up for them, and it is our job to do that. Let me tell you a little more about each of the precious children that I have the privilege of advocating for. 

Deylan is an adorable 6 year old girl who lives on the plains of La Paz, Bolivia and loves playing with dolls. Deylan lives with her mother who is sometimes employed as a market seller where she makes $76 a month. What must it be like for little Deylan without a father to provide for her and a mother who has to work all the time in his place. I can’t imagine how lonely she must feel. Are you the one that God has chosen to teach her about His love?

Esthiven is a sweet 6 year old boy who lives in Oruro, Bolivia with his mom, dad, and 1 sibling. His father makes his living as a seller in the market while his mother is a stay at home mom. Esthiven is from an indigenous group that speaks Quechua. Esthiven lives a life mired in poverty. Who knows if his parents even tell him that they love him? Esthiven needs someone in his life that will tell him those 3 simple words that can reignite the flame of hope in his heart. Those 3 words every child needs to hear- I love you.

Carlos is another little 6 year old boy from Oruro, Bolivia. Carlos lives with his mother and father and his 5 siblings. The first thing I noticed about Carlos is that it looks like his sweater is too small. It must be hard for his sometimes employed father to provide everything that his 6 children need on $90 a month. It is hard to provide for 1 child on $90 a month let alone 6. It would change Carlos’ life to have a sponsor who loved him and helped provide the things that his family cannot provide for him. 

Divar is a 7 year old little man with a serious expression. Divar lives in a smaller neighborhood in Southern Oruro, Bolivia with his mother, father, and 2 siblings. When Divar’s father has work, he makes about $54 a month. That breaks my heart because I make that much in one day. The low wages in Divar’s neighborhood could be the reason for the common malnutrition. Divar, who loves playing with cars, is just like any other 7 year old boy except he may never have the opportunity to fulfill his potential. Can you help him reach his dreams and tell him about Jesus?

Erik is also a 7 year old boy from the same neighborhood in Oruro, Bolivia as Divar. Perhaps these little boys are friends. Erik has 3 siblings and he lives with his mother and father. Erik’s father is sometimes employed and he probably works as a street vendor like so many of the others in this neighborhood. Like many little boys in Bolivia, Erik helps out his family be running errands. With the stark poverty that Erik is growing up in, he will have to grow up very fast. Bringing Erik the hope of Jesus is exactly what this little guy needs. You could be the one to carry this hope to him. 

I have the privilege of advocating for these children for the month of September. If any of you are interested in sponsoring one of these beautiful children of Bolivia or if you have any questions about the ministry of Compassion International just let me know! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Winning Mail Day

Yesterday was a great mail day for me! I opened up my mailbox to find 2 of those famous cream colored envelopes.

Who would have thought that the sight of a cream colored envelope could make someone squeal and then promptly go into the happy dance? And this was a happy dance times two. Since my post office is in town, I always try to make it home before tearing into those envelopes so that I can settle in and savor every word that one of my precious kids has written just for me. But that day I just couldn’t wait. The thought of a 15 minute drive home was too much to bear so I dove right in to those letters.  The first letter was a reciprocal letter from 5 year old Winner in Togo. Out of all of my kids she writes me the most letters. I think she writes me more than I write her. Since sponsoring her in February, I have gotten 14 letters from her. God bless the tutor that helps her write all those letters! 

Winner's Artwork

This letter was in reply to a letter I had written her about the women’s soccer world cup. Winner is a girly-girly in her pretty dresses, but she also loves to kick around a soccer ball. She tells me “It is a delight to read your letter. I like the information about soccer. I don’t watch it, but I am glad to learn it from you.” She goes on to tell me about Nigeria, the African team that was playing in the world cup, and where it is in context with Togo. She always asks for prayer at the end of her letters.
Some of Winner's many letters!
   Finished with this precious letter, I tore into the next cream colored envelope. It was another letter from Winner. But I knew something was different about this one. This letter was on green paper. I hadn’t had a green letter yet.  The blue paper signifies a first letter, the purple is for reciprocal letters, and the brown was for regular letters, but what could green mean? To my great surprise and delight it was a Thank You letter. And attached to it was a picture of Winner and the things she had bought with the $20 gift I sent her!
Winner's thank you letter and gift photo

This is my first “extra” photo of any of my children.
Winner with her goodies!

I am so excited to see how she is growing and to see that bright smile on her face! She writes in her letter “I am so glad to receive your general gift. I have got 2 pairs of shoes, a sack of rice of 5kgs and 4 meters of loincloth. I am so glad of the gift.” It is amazing how far our small gifts can go in a country a world away from ours. Sharing in the life of a child living in a third world country has changed my perspective so much. Could you take that step of faith and sponsor a child through Compassion International as well?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Next Big Adventure

I have completely recovered from my mission’s trip to Ecuador, but I wish I was still there. Going to Ecuador for a third time was such a blessing. I was able to see familiar sights and faces as well as meet the wonderful people of Borja. I can’t wait to return to Ecuador again. But now that my time in Ecuador has passed, I have started working towards my next adventure. A Compassion International sponsor tour to Bolivia in April. Bolivia is a country that has been heavy on my heart for a while now. When I started sponsoring with Compassion International, I knew that I wanted to sponsor a child in Bolivia. Last January I started sponsoring 11 year old Rosa. It broke my heart to see those sad eyes and such a somber expression especially knowing that she didn’t have a father in her life. Rosa is a beautiful girl with a heart full of love just waiting for someone to share it with. She loves to help her mother out at home, play soccer with her brothers, and play dolls with her cousins. She is so thankful to have a sponsor and she freely shares her love. This girl is so close to my heart! So last month when I saw on the Compassion website that they are having a trip to Bolivia in April, I knew that I was meant to be on that trip. While in Bolivia, I will get to see some of the different areas that Compassion works in and learn more about the programs they offer while sharing God’s love with the children of Bolivia. But the highlight of the trip for me will be meeting Rosa. Finally seeing her face to face and hopefully seeing her smile. Telling her in person that God loves her and that she is beautiful. I can’t wait to see the land of Bolivia and my beautiful Rosa.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sorry that I didn’t post this blog last night. I have been feeling ill so I didn’t get around to it. Yesterday was our last day of VBS! It is hard to believe how fast this week has gone by. I don’t think any of us are ready to leave in 2 days. It is going to be so hard leaving the adorable kids and the beautiful people of Ecuador. For the last day of VBS we took all the kids (about 60) to their local swimming hole. They loved it so much! We brought water balloons for them and their goal was to get as many of the adults wet as possible. When they ran out of the water balloons they resorted to filling water bottles and chip bags and pouring them over our heads and down our backs. I think that everybody ended up being more wet than planned! I didn’t planned on getting wet at all, but I came back completely drenched because I got pushed in!

Waiting for the bus to pick us up

The bus we took to the swimming hole

Ready to get in the water

Loving the water!

Drying off :D
Today the rest of the group went to visit 2 waterfalls including the largest waterfall in Ecuador. I’m still not feeling up to par so I stayed behind with Diana and Kevin. I’m sure that everyone is having a great time, and I can’t wait to hear all about it so that I can tell you guys.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This Week is Zipping By!

Sorry that I didn’t get to post a blog yesterday. The power was out in Borja for much of the day so I wasn’t able to get on the internet. VBS has gone well for the last 2 days!

Singing at VBS!

Working on crafts
We were able to pass out the toothbrushes and toothpaste that Cami and Grace collected at school and the kids really enjoyed their goody bags. Yesterday we were able to go to the local watering hole. The water was really cold and Tracy, Cami, and Grace where the only ones brave enough to actually go swimming. There were also some swings their too.

The brave ones swimming in the cold water!

Cami and Grace enjoying themselves

Swinging by the water hole
We are still loving play games in the park with the kids. When we are done with VBS, we go out to the park and many of the kids from VBS come out to play with us some more. They are so fun to be around!

Playing basketball in the park

Our soccer buddies- Brandon and Carlitos

These adorable kids in the park were fixing their bike
 Tonight we were able to go to a local restaurant and check out the good food there. It was a neat experience ordering off the Spanish menu. Please pray for the team as some of us have started getting sick over the last couple of days. Please pray for our strength and good health so that we can finish out the week strong. We're loving Ecuador!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

True Ecuadorian Experiences

The second day of VBS went great, but before I tell you about that I want to share with you about Elijah, Brie, Kaylah, and I’s evening last night. We had a true Ecuadorian experience that we could never have in the US or Canada. When we got back to our hotel last night, we decided to get ice cream and eat it outside in front of the hotel. While we were sitting out there 3 little boys- Israel, Brandon, and Carlitos- started playing soccer by themselves in the middle of the street. Now mind you this is 9 o’clock at night, and these kids are all under the age of 10. By themselves. In the road. So we decided to join them! What an awesome experience it was playing street soccer with those kids at night. Who knows if their parents knew where they were or what they were doing. Either way this is not something you would see back home. It was a true Ecuadorian experience for us.
For our second day of VBS we had about the same amount of kids as we did the first day.

Listening to the Bible story

Tracy with the kids

The VBS crew!
For crafts the kids colored visors and put stickers on it and the girls braided crowns out of ribbons.

Coloring visors

Braiding crowns
During game time we played different races with basketballs.

Tossing the basketball back and forth

Getting ready to all shoot the basketball
After VBS we went to a little restaurant where the ladies there will be cooking us lunch all week long. We got to try soup with chicken feet and chicken hearts in it. Not many of the group were adventurous enough to eat the feet!

Kaylah with her chicken heart and foot
 We had a pretty big rainstorm in the afternoon, so that was a great time for us to relax and work on crafts for the next day. I don’t think any of us want to tie shoes again anytime soon. (We had to tie shoes on paper people for tomorrow’s craft.) Tonight we are watching the movie “The End of the Spear”. It is a true story about missionaries to the Waodani people in the jungles of Ecuador. It is an amazing story!
I would also like to ask you to pray for a young man named Santiago who lives her in Ecuador. He is the brother of Nelly and Pedro who we have known for the last 2 years in Pifo. On Friday he was in a car accident, and right now he is in a coma. Anything could happen, but things have started looking up so that is very positive. Also continue praying for us as we minister to the children of Borja this week.