"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, 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.