The Story Behind the Photo of the Little Girl

 By now we hope that you've check out our new website! 
We would love to share the story behind the photo of the little girl on the home page.

Her name is Raisa.  In December of 2010 our team met Raisa and her 5 siblings.  They had recently moved into the area near Iglesia Adonai after their parents' marriage dissolved.  The older brother, Max who was 13 at the time had been bringing them to church.  We had the privilege of visiting their home that week and learned that the older children had to take turns caring for the younger kids while their mom worked.  When Keila and Carlos went to school their older brothers, Max & Alex took care of the two little ones.  In the afternoon they switched and Keila and Carlos cared for them while the older kids went to school.  We walked to the rooftop of their home and I naiivly asked, "Do you play up here?"  I'll never forget Keila's response.  She looked confused and then said "We don't have time to play."  So little HOPE in her sweet eyes.

Their mom, Claudia  was doing her best to provide for her family.  We met her on New Years' Eve that year when she attended church for the first time.  Understandably she was a little cautious about us.  Why would a bunch of gringos be hanging out with her kids?  I remember the look on her face as she sat in the church service that night.  I remember how awkward she looked and I thought about how hard her life must be.  What did she HOPE for?  I watched her kids, caring for one another.  Keila, who was 8 at the time - caring for Raisa who was such an unhappy child.

Delmi asked if we could find a sponsor right away for the Keila and Carlos who were old enough to attend Casita Adonai.  I returned home, asking God to provide and He did.  Within two weeks they had sponsors and began their studies at Casita Adonai.  Over the past two years I've watched Keila and Carlos grow and come alive.  They're smart, loving, and caring.  And I've watched their older brothers get involved in youth ministry and outreach.  HOPE began to grow!


Last spring I asked God to help connect me to  Claudia.  I had seen her over the years and she was always so appreciative and made sure to tell me to thank the kids' sponsors.  But I wanted to be her friend.  I was drawn to her but the connection just was not there.  One afternoon Pastor Carlos offered her a ride into the city so that she could take a 12 hour bus ride to her hometown and check on her mother who was sick.  I sat in the back seat of the truck with a team member on one side and Claudia  on the other.  She looked at me, pointed to my shirt and said in Spanish "Do you know that your shirt is on inside out?"  We both burst into laughter!  Just the connection we needed.  And God had so creatively provided!

It felt like we were instant friends from that point on.  She began taking the sewing classes through our Threads of Promise program and I was blessed to see her graduate and receive her sewing machine this past summer. I saw HOPE in her smile as she stood proudly with her kids.   In October I witnessed more growth, not just in the kids but in Claudia .  At the 6th grade graduation the teachers recognized one parent from each class for helping them throughout the year.  Claudia was one of them - standing proudly on that stage.  I learned that she is consistently offering to help at church or the school and that she has bonded with the women in her sewing class. Now she is giving HOPE to others.

During the Sunday morning worship service I glanced over and saw the most incredible site -  Claudia on the back row, arms lifted high, eyes closed, tears streaming down her face - worshipping her Jesus.  It took my breath and Jesus whispered to me "This is why you are here."  Later that day as we shared a seat on a bus I talked to her about music and she said "I can walk into church with so many worries and very little HOPE but when I start worshiping Jesus it all goes away."  We got off the bus in Gerona, a little community where Iglesia Adonai is planting a church and Claudia jumped in to help wherever she could.  When she saw kids being awkward about singing and dancing she encouraged them.  And her kids were there - ministering beside her.  The next day she presented me with bags that she made and wanted to give to
me to sell for construction of the new school.  I was speechless. 

Over the past 2 years her daughter,  Raisa has stood at a distance from me.  The first time we met she screamed every time she saw me.  I have that affect on kids at times!  This past summer she stopped crying and let me give her my peanut butter sandwich.  This past October she decided she liked me and would run to me each time she saw me, screaming, "Liiiiiiiiiisaaaaaa".  When I look at that
picture of Raisa on our website that Hannah took 3 years ago - and then I look at the picture of her on  my cell phone, I can hardly believe it's the same child.  The difference?  HOPE.  The hope that only Jesus can give.

That's what Caroline's Promise is about.  "Reclaiming Hope Around the World."  Not just for kids like Raisa - but for their mamas, their daddies, churches, communities, countries.  It's a privilege to take the HOPE of Jesus to others.

You are a part of Reclaiming HOPE when you pray, give, volunteer, and go.  Thank you.  Without you, families like Claudia's would be hopeless.