We awoke early for devotions, an awesome breakfast prepared by our hosts and a spirit-filled learning opportunity with Pastor Peter from Gaba Community Church. It seems the Lord is continuing to impress upon each of our team members the burden of how we can empower the believers here to continue the ministry at Mercy Orphanage long after the “westerners” are gone. There are so many immediate needs of the children such as basic medical care, food on a daily basis and safety that need to be addressed – not to mention the long term needs. While our hearts were broken yesterday (Day 1) we were also immensely blessed to be led in worship by the children. YES, by the starving, malnourished, sick, orphaned children who, with the voices of angels, were praising the name of the living God as if they had every amenity and luxury one could afford and not a care in the world. As I sat there and held a boy (burning with fever, who had fallen asleep in my arms), I wept with a broken heart for these who have no earthly parents to comfort them and I wept with humbled joy in the presence of our Heavenly Father who has not forsaken them.
Enter Day 2…We arrived back at Mercy eager to play with, love on and feed the children. We were immediately greeted with smiles and laughter from the children we met on Monday as well as many more that had traveled from the neighborhood to see the “Myzunga’s” (White people)
These greetings brought smiles to our faces and joy to our hearts. These were washed away quickly, not from the heavy rain that had begun to fall but from the revelation of the evil these children encounter on a daily basis. Ministry did happen at Mercy today. Not as we had planned with each member of the team performing a function in VBS, then moving on to the next activity of play. Ministry happened with the Lord spreading this team throughout the Home to minister to the broken children who fear the dark and the horrors that come in the night…to the sick children needing immediate medical attention…to the house “Aunties” who have also been forsaken by the world and to all the innocent children there who have no earthly hope in their despair…but continued to Hope in our mighty God who delivers and saves! Ministry did happen, but not as we had planned. It was as God planned.
The day at Mercy ended with heavy hearts; our heavy hearts broken for the suffering of the Orphans and Widows at Mercy. And yet, we also gave praise to the living God who, as Sarah’s daughter so beautifully said, “connected all the dots” long before calling us here. He continues to work His good and perfect purpose for His children. And through the obedience of a motley crew of nine Americans from all walks of life, we are striving to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Praise, glory and honor to You, oh God!
Written by Lisa Loos
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Finally after all the preparation and hard work, our team made it to our destination: Uganda. Despite travel fatigue and jet lag, we are so thankful that God not only protected us, but also all our baggage. God is good.
Our hosts’ Patrick and Sarah kindly greeted us with warm hearts at the airport and brought us to what we would call a top-notch guest house. After a long night of unpacking and then re-packing all the shoes, VBS supplies, and medical supplies we needed for Mercy Orphanage, we all crawled into our mosquito net sheltered beds and got as much rest as possible for our first day of VBS.
The next morning when we were driving toward Mercy, we prayed to God to prepare us for whatever we were about to see. We realized very quickly when we arrived at the orphanage, that God didn’t want us to be “prepared”, but He wanted our hearts to be broken by seeing the rawness of His suffering children. Our hearts broke immediately, for the tiny children with torn clothes and sad eyes, and in other ways we were not expecting.
We were able to wash their feet, place new shoes on their feet, and serve them a meal of rice, beans, and mango juice. The nurse on our team, Lisa, was able to give medical attention to many of the children, by removing jiggers from their feet, treating scraped legs and knees, as well as some other superficial injuries. It was so humbling and yet so fulfilling to give our all today in carrying out God’s Word in helping the needy and orphaned. Because aren’t we all really needy and orphaned until our Lord provided for us? We are all one in Christ and remembering that really levels the playing field.
Worship and our creation story poster seemed to liven the kids up. They ended up later dancing for us and leading us in worship. They thanked us for coming and told us that God had answered our prayers through us being there. They then asked us all to share our testimonies. It was beautiful watching the body of Christ work through two different cultures.
After a great day of serving, we were blessed to have a wonderful feast cooked for us at the guest house. The ladies that had prepared our meal had also cleaned our rooms for us, to our surprise.
When we follow in God’s will, He promises to bless back. And across the world in Uganda He has, beyond our wildest dreams.
Day One in Uganda written by Malinda Hayes
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Our Uganda Short Term Mission Team departs from Charlotte today for a week of ministry to orphans. Please pray for their safety, health, ministry and their families they are leaving behind. We are excited about the way God has brought this team together and look forward to hearing how God uses them to reclaim hope for these precious children! Be sure to subscribe to this blog to receive updates as they come - or check back often! Thank you for partnering with this team through prayer support.
Friday, September 25, 2009
This is Doug and Beth. That sweet little girl in the middle is Li Yan. Doug and Beth have been praying and hoping for a child for years. They have worked hard, prayed, hoped, worked harder and prayed more and hoped and worked even harder and prayed even more and hoped. Waiting for them on the other side of the world was Li Yan. She didn’t know it yet. Doug and Beth didn’t know it. But God did. And through His providence and care, He united this forever family. Here is their story, from Beth: “Caroline’s Promise got involved with our adoption journey about a year after we got started with the entire process. Three-plus years later, we are still connected. Lisa has just recommended a wonderful book, The Connected Child, to help us as we bond with our new daughter.
God has been faithful to us throughout this process, which has now just begun in many ways upon our return from China. We couldn’t be more grateful to Caroline’s Promise. Without their support and the help of many others, our dream of parenthood would have remained only a dream. Of course the work has been difficult. We have been stretched it seems, to the limit in all directions. But for us, to be able to have a healthy six-year old girl running around the house makes it more than worth all of the sacrifices.
Most people don’t realize all that folks have to go through to adopt internationally. We got so tired of people asking “Why does this take so long?”, or “When do you expect to go to China?” Again, our dream has been to have the opportunity to bring up a young girl in a loving, Christian home and share God’s love with her and give her a life that she would otherwise never have. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. We are grateful for the gift of this reality. Thank you Caroline’s Promise for your part in making our dreams come true.”
Thursday, September 24, 2009
We have exciting news! Over the past few months, the Caroline’s Promise Cause Page on Facebook has seen explosive growth! We are thrilled to see so many people interested in making a difference in the lives of orphans. We want to take advantage of this momentum and see just how many new friends will join the Caroline's Promise cause. And, we want to reward YOU for helping to spread the word.
Between today and October 1, 2009, we are holding a contest to see who can recruit the most friends to join the CP cause. The person with the most recruits will win a $25 gift card to Walmart and a Caroline's Promise T-Shirt!
Here's how to invite your friends and get credit. First, go to the Caroline Promise cause page at http://www.causes.com/carolinesp... . Under the Caroline’s Promise Logo, click "Invite". Then, select the friends you'd like to ask to join the cause.
We'll monitor who invites the most people between now and October 1st and announce the winner on October 2nd. You have less than 2 weeks, so start inviting your friends today!
Thank you for your joining Caroline's Promise as we Reclaim Hope for Orphans.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Each time we begin planning our mission trips we never quite know what our ministries will be. They sort of "evolve" based on our team members' gifts and passions. Our 2009 trips to Guatemala were no different! We knew that one of our teams would visit a Compassion Project that we have worked with for three years. We love this group of kids who are sponsored by Compassion International. We partner with the local church in Solola who hosts this group two days a week. The kids receive tutoring, Bible study, counseling, a great meal and lots of love! I've always been impressed with the church members who go above and beyond what is required by Compassion International. In fact, the ministry leaders are kids who themselves were sponsored by Compassion. Now they are giving back to kids with backgrounds like their own.
When we visit with the children, we try to take something that they can use and we make sure they know that the gift is given on behalf of the local church. It reminds the kids that the church is a safe place and that they are loved. Long after our teams have gone, the kids can always turn to the local church.
One of our team members suggested that we take fleece blankets this year. It was a great idea considering these kids are often the poorest of the poor. It gets really cold at night in this part of Guatemala. At one of our meetings a team member said, "Wouldn't it be cool if we could get all of the blankets embroidered, saying "Jesus Loves Me?" I'll be honest with you. This seemed like just one more thing for me to do. I was hesitant and skeptical. But I have learned to let team members go with their ideas. So we put a little blurb in our ENEWS - asking if someone would be willing and able to embroider 250 blankets.
I really thought that no one would respond. I was shocked! Within five minutes of the ENEWS being sent, we had responses! In the end three local businesses and individuals stepped up and were more than happy to take on the task!
Our time with these kids is always extra special. They usually give more to us than we do to them. They loved the blankets! It was a perfect gift for them. But I think the important part was the embroidery on the blankets; a reminder of how much God loves them. It was a reminder to me as well - that God cares about the details.
We want to thank the following individuals and businesses who made this project possible! We pray that God will continue to bless your families and your businesses!
Ashley Moore - www.sleekbabychic.com Greensboro, NC
Diane Mars - Designs N' Stiches - Greensboro, NC
Pam Watkins - Madison, NC
Monday, September 14, 2009
My first trip with Caroline’s Promise was in the summer of 2007. Lisa and David Holbrook approached me and offered the opportunity to stay at Eagle’s Nest, an orphanage in the mountains of Guatemala. I prayed about it for a while and decided God wanted me on that trip. Before the trip I was a young Christian who recently had rededicated my life to Christ and honestly, I was scared about what God might have planned for me and what He might do in my life. I went to Guatemala that year spiritually scared and lukewarm. But thanks to God, I came back with my eyes opened wide with a realization of what I really need in life and how good God is. At the end of the trip we all sat in a circle and discussed what we felt God had taught us on the trip. As for my response, I am a very blessed young man! I have more than I will ever need and God has blessed my life beyond what I deserve. God showed me that I am lucky to have a job, fortunate to attend college, fortunate that I have Christian parents that care enough to teach me responsibility, and a realization that no matter how hard life gets, and no matter what this world throws at me, my God is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. His love is perfect and will never ever fail me. I saw children that literally had nothing; no family to go home to and nobody to love them. It broke my heart. I learned to simply trust in God and know that know matter what, he will never leave me nor forsake me.
Another thing that I took away from my first trip with Caroline’s Promise was the idea of somehow helping out at least one child in Guatemala. I felt God laying it on my heart to sponsor a child who has far less than me and less opportunities in life. With my new outlook on life, what God taught me on the trip and the eye opening experiences I got to witness in Guatemala, I began doing some research on how I could sponsor a child. A few weeks after our return home, weeks of praying and researching, I was led to the perfect match; a little boy in Guatemala who loves sports and toy cars.
On my second trip to Guatemala two years later, I was excited about going back to Eagle’s nest. And then I found out I would have the opportunity to meet the little boy I sponsor and I was ecstatic! I found out before we left for the trip that I could go and buy Samuel some school supplies and little toys. I went out and loaded this little dude up! I got him a cool little ninja turtle book bag with tons of school supplies, candy, toys, a soccer ball, toy cars, and much more. I really can’t explain how I felt when I first got to shake his little hand. His big toe was sticking out of one of his shoes and his nose was running from a cold he had. Me and my fiancé sat him down and got him to where he was comfortable with us and I gave him his “gift bag”. It was actually overwhelming to him. I realized that little Samuel wasn’t used to having even one pencil given to him and when I gave him fifty he looked a little overwhelmed. When I saw this little boy’s face light up, I did everything in my power to not cry. I don’t care how tough you think you are, when God has given you the ability to put a smile on a little kid’s face that hasn’t been shown love, and you are able to see that smile, you are going to get emotional. But once he got done looking at all his gifts he, my fiancé, and I went off to play some soccer with his new ball. We had a blast together and I could have stayed in that moment for the rest of my life.
God’s word says that if and when you reach out to those in need, he will bless you. Blessing you may not mean giving you a job making $500,000/year, but maybe simply an overwhelming spirit of joy. During that moment, when I got to show the love of Christ to Samuel, I was blessed. I will never forget the image of Samuel hugging my fiancé as tight as he could right before we had to leave him. This little boy longed for love and affection. I thank God that he gave me the opportunity to meet the coolest kid on the planet and for laying it on my heart to support him, love him, and reach out to him. $30/month seems like nothing to me now.
My experiences with Caroline’s Promise were both fun and entertaining, but more importantly, the trips enabled me to do God’s work and show the love of Christ to the less fortunate. Deuteronomy 14:28-29 says “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do”. My life has been full of blessings since I made my decision to sponsor little Samuel. My eyes have been opened to what really matters in life and my faith in Jesus Christ has become stronger. God’s love is perfect. He will never fail you and He keeps His promises.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
We were deeply saddened this week to learn that our little friend Kenia had passed away. Three years ago our short term team, especially our son Kendall, were touched by her little life. Kenia was an orphan from Guatemala with so many physical needs. But there was something so special about her. Kendall was drawn to her immediately and year after year he would spend so much of his time there, loving on her. It's been a journey; praying for Kenia, asking God "why?" and trying to make a difference in her little life.
Last year Kenia was removed from her children's home by the government and taken to another orphanage. No one seemed to know where she was. At night Kendall would talk about how scared Kenia must be - alone, unable to see, in an unfamiliar place.
That's when God led me to these verses in Zephaniah 3:17:
"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
I could just envision God quieting Kenia with His love. Rejoicing over her. Singing her to sleep.
He knew her name. He knew where she was. And He loved her. Now she's whole and being held by her Father tonight.
It's often hard to invest in the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children. But it's worth it. Even when we can't solve all their problems. Our prayers and our love matter.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Did you know that Caroline’s Promise has several Giving Circles? On our website we define “Giving Circles” as “groups of individuals who come together at an established time, for a specific purpose, with an end result being that somehow the ministry of Caroline’s Promise benefits. “Giving Circles” rally together for a greater purpose in mind…in essence to “pay it forward”.”
One Giving Circle, The Art of Giving, focuses on representing Caroline’s Promise at area festivals and community events. This group, led by Jennifer Barnes, makes their own crafts as well as sell some fair trade items that have been purchased in Uganda and Guatemala. They meet every few months to discuss the needs of Caroline’s Promise and how they can promote our ministry.
We asked Jennifer if she would tell us about her story and how she became involved with Caroline’s Promise.
My journey with Caroline’s Promise started at the first Caroline’s Promise banquet five years ago. I did not know anything about Caroline’s Promise at the time. Lisa had asked my Sunday school teacher if she had anyone that would want to help at the banquet. I said I would, since I love to help people. The night of the banquet, my heart was touched and I have been volunteering with them ever since.
I am not an adoptive mother. But you do not have to be an adoptive family to work with Caroline’s Promise. The joy year after year of seeing the children and the grant recipients is great. I have yet to do a missions trip with them, but knowing that the things that I do here are helping those children, and the joy it brings to them, warms my heart. I thank God for bringing Caroline’s Promise into my life. It is wonderful to work with them and I am so excited about the new Giving Circle I am involved with: The Art of Giving.
If you would like to join Jennifer in her Giving Circle, you may contact her directly at email@example.com Or, if you are interested in starting your own Giving Circle, go to our website and follow the link to Giving Circles at www.carolinespromise.net. As Jennifer’s story points out, you do not have to be an adoptive family to make a difference. The power of one person sharing their time and talents makes a difference. How about you?
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Doug and Jennifer Barrow, a couple in Kernersville, NC are hosting an adoption fundraiser on Saturday, September in Harmon Park (Kernersville) from 12:00 noon till 7:00pm. There will be food, music, games, prizes inflatables, face painting, craft sale and more! All proceeds will benefit Doug and Jennifer’s adoption of a baby from Nepal. If you are in the area, come out and have some fun! While you are there, give what you can to help bring Doug and Jennifer’s baby home to her forever family.