"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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mail Call: Bolivia

After 2 and a half weeks with no letters, my letter drought has ended! In the last couple days I have received 9 letters….yup 9 letters! I received some wonderful letters from 7 of my kiddos, but I would like to highlight the beautiful letters that I received from Bolivia, the place that has captured my heart. I received a sweet letter from my Rosa about our time together in Bolivia, and a birthday gift thank you letter and PICTURE from adorable little Kevin along with a form letter about his Christian learning. I will start with Rosa’s letter:

Dear Friend Hilary Hopkins,
I greet you from the heart. I am always thinking about you. I love you so much and I miss you. Thank you for your letter and the photos you sent me. The time when you came to Bolivia was beautiful and unique. The name of my doll is Katherine and I keep the school bag you gave me, I love it. I remember many things about the zoo and that we saw turtles, monkeys, and I want to know, what animal did you like? I encourage your friends to sponsor children from Bolivia, that is an excellent idea. To answer your question, when I see Jesus in heaven, I would say: I love you and I am very happy because you sent a sponsor for me. You are so important to me and my family. It is winter season here and it is very cold. What’s the weather like in your country? I am happy because I will be on break at school, so I will have many things to write you.
I say goodbye with love, Rosa

Yup, I loved the monkeys the best...you, Rosa, were the biggest monkey!

Now, sweet Kevin’s thank you letter for his birthday gift…I am so excited because it was written the day after his birthday. This is the first time that I have actually gotten a birthday gift to a child in a timely manner! 

Dear Friend Hilary Hopkins,
We greet you with a hug and blessings. I am Kevin’s tutor and I’m writing on his behalf. Kevin is happy to receive the birthday gift you sent him. He bought a jacket, a cotton shirt, and a set of superhero action figures that he wanted so much and that’s why he thanks you very much and he made you this drawing with all his dedication. In these last days he was on winter vacations and he went to visit his grandma and he helps to take care of the cows, sheep, donkeys, and chickens; he thinks this is fun and amusing. Kevin says goodbye with a big kiss.
Sister Kathy (tutor)

Aaah, can this kid get any cuter??

Kevin’s other letter was a form letter, but his tutor, Kathy, was sweet enough to write a nice note on the back. Here is my very favorite line:

He liked to see your picture, and he says that you were beautiful when he saw you in April.

Heart melts….

Such a sweet boy!

I just love my sweet kids. It never ceases to amaze me how much I love these kids. I think that I love them more every single letter!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Don't You Ever Grow Up

Happy 11th Birthday, to my Rodrigo! 11! Wow, that sounds so much older than 10. It's hard for me to believe that you weren't even 9 years old when I started to sponsor you. You, Rodrigo, are what started it all! You are so special to me, Rodrigo, and I am so proud of the young man that you are becoming!

Happy Birthday, Rodrigo! I love you to Brazil and back!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Won't You Stay This Little

Happy 9th Birthday to my sweet Mariela! I cannot believe that you are 9 years old today. It feels like just yesterday I saw a picture of your sweet 7 year old face for the first time. And now you are 9!

Happy Birthday, Mariela! I love you all the way to the Dominican Republic and back!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Oh How He Loves Me

Dear God,

I don’t talk to you nearly enough. And when I do it is usually about me. Make ME feel better, tell ME what to do, give ME what I want, please. I’m learning (trying) to just sit and listen to what you might have to say to me for the day. I’m learning to turn the focus back onto you instead of me. Easier said than done, but it is my desire. I want to die to myself, and live for you, even if I don’t act like I want that most of the time. Again, I’m working on that. I’m also working on being more thankful. I don’t tell you nearly enough how thankful I am for your love and for the blessings that you have poured into my life. I have so many things to be thankful for- my family, my friends, free education, a bed to sleep in at night, a dorm room all to myself, etc. I could name things that I am blessed with for hours, but I won’t put you through that. I know that you already know, because the only reason I have them is because of you.

God, I love the fact that many of my blessings have names. You have blessed me unconditionally with the love of my Compassion children. So I want to take the time to thank you for each and every one of those beautiful children who have come into my life. What a privilege it is for me to have them in my life. 

Thank you for Rodrigo, and the way that He has encouraged me to stay close to you. You use him to show me the wonders of sponsoring a child. 

Thank you for Babita, my best friend. Her love is so beautiful and unconditional- a little glimpse of what yours is like.

Thank you for Rosa. It is amazing to me how you brought us together. We are so alike yet so different. Thank you for blessing our relationship, and letting me meet her.

Thank you for Winner. She has lost so much in her young life, yet she chooses to give what she has- her love- away to someone as unworthy as me. 

Thank you for Hillary, and the way that he makes me laugh. I don’t know why you put him in my life, but thank you for that. 

Thank you for Giberline. She opened my heart to Haiti just like you wanted her to. She has had a part in who I am today.

Thank you for Alexandra, and the way that she has given me a heart for a part of Ecuador that I have never visited. I feel like I have known her my entire life.

Thank you for Omelisa, and the things she has taught me. She has taught me to give even if I get nothing in return. It is not about me. 

Thank you for Kevin and his entire family. It was a blessing for me to hug them and share your love with them if only for a minute. 

Thank you for Cecilia, and for letting her choose me. Me, of all the people she could have chosen. I have never felt such love as when she jumped into my arms. 

Thank you for Lucela and her sassy smile. Thank you that I got to see her smile in person, that I got to hug her and hold her. I will never forget those moments. 

Thank you for Niurka. That beautiful girl has a place in my heart already, and I barely know her. It is all because of you.

Thank you for Yulissa, and the way that you have weaved our stories together. I never will tell the story of my life again without Yulissa being in it.

Just listing the names of my sponsored children and the way you have blessed me because of them sends chills down my spine and brings tears to my eyes. Then there are Mariela, Olibris, Carolay, Gil Jr, Neha, Asha, Carolyne, Sargo, and Babu. Lord, how can I thank you for giving me this opportunity to make an impact in your kingdom. You don’t need my help, but you let me help you anyway. And I love you for that. Thank you, thank you, thank you for using me just as I am. Thank you for continuing to change me into the woman that you want me to be, even when I don’t listen. Even when my heart isn’t in it. But you love me anyway, and I, I love you.

Love Always, Hilary

Sunday, September 9, 2012

10,000 Reasons for My Heart to Sing

We sang the song "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman today at church and it got me thinking of all the reasons I have to thank God everyday. But somehow I tend to spend more of my days complaining than being grateful. 10,000 reasons is a great song, and if you haven't heard you've got to! Click here to listen to it. I have so many things to be thankful for today and every day, and here are just a few....

I have had the most amazing last 3 years!!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Another Ecuadorian Adventure

If you have known me for very long, then you know that my heart lies in Ecuador. I remember the moment when I knew that I had to go to Ecuador. It was a Sunday night, and one of the ladies from my church was sharing about her recent trip mission’s trip to Ecuador. Being that I love missions and I had always dreamed of going on a mission’s trip, I was excited for the presentation. Then came the slide show. The very first picture that popped up was the sweetest picture of an adorable Ecuadorian baby. That was it. I had to go to Ecuador. I knew.  I learned over to my mom and whispered, “I have to go to Ecuador.” I had no idea then that it would actually happen. I would actually go to Ecuador. Not too many months later, one of the members of our mission’s committee approached me and asked if I would be interested in going to Ecuador if they could arrange a trip. Yes, yes, a million times yes. Without a doubt, yes! Can I go now?  And that is how I found myself in Ecuador for a week each, the summers of 2009, 2010, and 2011. 

Ecuador 2009

The minute I stepped off that plane for the first time, I was overwhelmed with a love for that country. The scenery was amazing, the people were so friendly, and the children, oh the children, they were beautiful. They blessed me with their smiles and hugs and nonstop, Spanish talk, most of which I could not understand. I cried when we left. But I was ready. Ready to return next year and the next, and as many times as I could return. As many times as God would bless me with that opportunity. 

Ecuador 2011

This year, 2012, is the first year that I won’t step foot in Ecuador since 2009. I miss that place. I miss it so bad. I would return right now if I could. I may not be able to be in Ecuador this year, but I do have the opportunity in March 2013, to go to Ecuador with Compassion International! When I saw that trip posted, my heart started racing. I could go home to Ecuador! I could breathe in that Ecuadorian air and hold its children once again. This trip will be much like the trip I took with Compassion to Bolivia. We will be visiting different Compassion centers in and around the city of Quito, playing with kids, visiting homes, hoping to be a blessing to the people we meet, but ultimately knowing that they will be even more of a blessing to us. Oh and yes, I will be meeting the Ecuadorian girls that I sponsor and correspond with.  But I cannot do this alone. This trip costs $2900. This covers the flight from Miami to Quito, lodging, food, in country travel, tips, and translators and guides. I need this money by November 13th. That’s right, I only have a little over 2 months to raise this money. I don’t know how I am going to do it, but I know that God can make this happen if it is His will for me. (Oh how I pray it is!) Please pray for me as I prepare for this trip! I am excited, but nervous. I am ready to return home to Ecuador. If you are interested in financially contributing to this trip, I would be ever so grateful. You can leave me a message.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me sharing about this awesome opportunity I have! 

My Girls:


And if you are interested in sponsoring your own Ecuadorian child, you can check out the adorable Compassion children here!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It All Started with a Boy in Brazil

I have been sitting here today thinking about my Compassion kids. It is hard for me to believe that 2 years ago at this time I had just begun sponsoring Rodrigo. I hadn’t even received a first letter from him yet. I knew nothing about this little boy, but I was already in love with him. He was already a part of my family.

The little boy that stole my heart 2 years ago

What if I had chosen not to pick up a packet that Compassion Sunday? What if I hadn’t listened to that still small voice that said I could make a difference for a child in poverty? My life would not be the same. I wouldn’t have 22 beautiful children that I write to and encourage and who have blessed my life immeasurably. My life wouldn’t be making an impact in Brazil, Uganda, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Togo, Kenya, Haiti, Ecuador, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. I wouldn’t run to mailbox every day hoping for a cream colored envelope. I wouldn’t have the passion for missions that I have today. I wouldn’t have gone to Bolivia. And I wouldn’t have gone to Haiti. My life would not be complete, nor would there be as much joy in it. I would not have the life I know now if I had not stopped and looked at the Compassion packets that Sunday night. I cannot imagine life without my 22 little (or should I say big) blessings. 

Have you ever thought about sponsoring a child? Maybe you have wanted to make a difference somehow, but you weren’t sure where to even begin. Maybe you are afraid that your measly $38 a month isn’t going to make a difference, so why bother. Well believe me when I say it does make a difference. You can change the story for one boy or girl today by sponsoring a child with Compassion International! If you are interested in sponsoring a child, click here or click on the Compassion banner on the side to check out some of the many faces of real children who are living in poverty. Even if you are not in the place to sponsor a child right now, maybe you could just go to the site and pray over those children. Pray for them specifically by name. Pray that they are healthy and safe. Pray that they know the love of Christ, and that they will grow strong in Him. Pray that their sponsor finds them soon.  Maybe you could even choose one child to be your prayer child. Pray for that child throughout the day. Post about them on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Tell your friends about them. Here is my prayer child for the week :

Proceed to our secure online form

Christian is a 9 year old boy living in the Philippines. He has been waiting for a sponsor for 187 days. He lives with his mother. His father is in prison. Christian loves soccer, basketball, and playing with cars. Please pray that Christian finds his perfect sponsor soon. If you are interested in sponsoring him, you can click on his photo or click here

Is this your time? Are you ready to start the journey of a lifetime? All it takes is one simple step- saying yes to a child in poverty. Be the change today!