You’re the Key… Unlock a Lost Heart

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147 million orphans in the world. Each one with a story, a soul, a heart.

After even just a short period of rejection and abandonment, one begins to fade.  Emotions are dulled, personality fades, heart becomes lost.  Alone, without a parent or mentor, orphaned children are destined for a life of struggle in anonymity.

And yet, there is hope!

You have the power to unlock a lost heart.  The key-love, extended with your  willingness to reach out for a lost heart.

love is the key

When you love an orphan, it unlocks their lost heart.  Emotions, personalities, and dreams come to life.

The transformation of orphans who have been hosted by a loving family for just 5 weeks is unmistakable. There is a noticeable difference in their countenance that was not there the day they arrived in the US. Children’s dull eyes begin to sparkle.  There is confidence, there is hope, there is the capacity to love and be loved.

There are 140 lost orphans waiting to be chosen for NHFC’s Summer 2013 host program.  Will you use the key you have to unlock their heart that’s been lost for far too long?

See waiting children here

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Guest Post–What Christmas Means to Me

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Today, I have my very first guest post!  This post is from Katie, one of my fellow NHFC volunteers.  This post she wrote a few weeks ago was very insightful and inspiring.  I have thought of Christmas in a whole new way since reading it.  Enjoy!

Everyone who knows me tends to associate me with Christmas. I get random texts that usually go something like this… “I saw a blow up snowman at Lowes today and thought of you.” Or “I found Christmas cookie cutters at a yard sale and thought of you.” Or “You’d be so proud of me. I bought a Christmas present for someone, and it’s still only August.” It’s common knowledge that I adore Christmas and celebrate it year round. My iPhone has a Christmas countdown app on the main screen, so I will ALWAYS know how many days are left (crucial information). I listen to my Christmas music from January to December. I watch The Nativity Story in August. I sing “Oh Christmas Tree” in the shower. I leave several pieces of Christmas decor up in my house year round, simply because I can’t bear to put it away. My family believes I may have issues… I believe they may be right. But it’s ok… I’ve made my peace with it and embrace who I am :-)

The question is WHY do I love it so much? Most people get exhausted just thinking about Christmas and all the stress it brings (the shopping, the social schedule, the twisted lights, the excessive commercialism, and all sorts of other things that stress people out during the season). They wonder how a celebration of Joy, Hope, and Peace so quickly turns into stress, heartburn, and depression.

Christmas evokes powerful emotion from me for reasons that may come as an interesting surprise to some. When the enemy convinced Adam and Eve to turn away from God in the Garden of Eden, perfection shattered, and we were separated from God. The enemy danced in victory and caused all manner of carnage and destruction on earth and in the lives of all the people that God created and loves. But just at the right moment in time, Jesus came into the world in the most unlikely and shocking way to bring man back to God and bridge the gap. The element of surprise. A swift and decisive “checkmate” out of nowhere. A landed invasion. Nobody expected it. Certainly not the enemy. Christmas is a celebration of that amazing piece of history that shifted the course of humanity and offered hope where there was none before.

Decisive surprise victories draw visceral responses from us. When James Bond looks as though he has lost and suddenly delivers a surprise blow out of nowhere and walks off calmly into the distance as the enemy is seen stunned and plummeting to his doom, we fist pump the sky from our theater seats. When a chess player appears to have lost but suddenly moves a key piece into a decisive checkmate and cracks a slight smile knowing what he was doing all along, we get thrilled. When a football team calls a “Statue Of Liberty” trick play and wins the game to the shock of their opponent and the entire stadium of fans, we throw our bowl of chips in the air and excessively celebrate in our living rooms (Shout out to Boise State fans). When Frodo finally destroys the one ring and Sauron’s freaky eyeball goes wide with shock and utter surprise as his tower crumbles and topples in defeat, we rejoice. When a poker player lays down a surprise royal flush and laughs as a Mount Everest sized pile of chips moves from the opponent to him, we laugh along with him. These are all things that evoke wild delight, cheering, and hysteria out of us. They are things that make us leap out of our chair and scream “YESSS!!!!!!” (Or if you’re a calm, rational individual very unlike myself, you remain in your chair and clap in a dignified poised manner).

THAT is what Christmas means to me. And just as we throw our Superbowl parties, celebrate victories, and gleefully call up all our friends the moment a new Bond movie comes out, Christmas is a massive celebration to me. Sure, snowmen and reindeer have nothing to do with Jesus birth, but hey…. showering confetti and giant foam #1 gloves have nothing to do with the game of football either. It’s just all part of the ecstatic celebration. I do it in fun and as part of the joy of the victory and the ramifications of that victory.

I listen to The Nativity Story soundtrack a lot while I’m working in my home office, and by the time I get to “Is There A Place for Us” (otherwise known as Ring Christmas Bells. Track 17 if you care), as Jesus is just about to enter the world and change EVERYTHING, I’m usually up out of my office chair looking something like this…

REVERSE THE CURSE, BABY!!!!!

That’s what Christmas means to me. “The Lord your God… turned the curse into a blessing for you, because THE LORD YOUR GOD LOVES YOU!!” -Deut. 23:5

He wrote Himself into our story and became human and reversed the curse on humanity and gave us hope and life! The ultimate hero!

So what am I going to do to celebrate this Christmas?? Well, I’m going to host an orphan through New Horizons for Children and celebrate my absolutely favorite holiday by giving hope and joy to a child who has lived far too long without it. I am going to share the JOY and give it out freely instead of confining it within myself. I’m going to bring clothes, food, and HOPE to those in my local community who have none. You can tell me I’m overboard and to calm down, but you can’t stop the wellspring of victory celebration from spilling out of my heart and my smile. You can’t wipe the smile off the face of a fan whose team just won the Superbowl… and you can’t wipe the joy off my face either.

This Christmas, I encourage you to find what God created you to do and go do it with JOY in celebration and revelry that we are NO LONGER without hope! Perhaps you can join me in opening your home to an orphan and shower them with the true meaning of Christmas. Most of them have never even heard of this extraordinary love the Father has lavished on us!

70 days till Christmas…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night…

If you would like to read more from Katie, you can visit her blog here – http://summer4anastasia.wordpress.com/

Paula’s Bracelet–Advocating for the Teen Girls in Eastern Europe

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Prayers have been covering the NHFC Facebook page this week.  Many for our long list of orphans who are still waiting for host families and many for my partner volunteer Paula.  She’s been in the hospital for the past 7 days with serious medical problems.  It has been incredible to see all the overwhelming support and prayers coming from all over the US and the world on her behalf.

PhotoGrid_1351359019208Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit her in the hospital.  She was in a lot of pain still.  It seems like the doctors are doing what they can to help bring her back to health and fix the ailments. 

While I was there, the nurse came in to check her vitals.  As she asked Paula to raise her arm to check her blood pressure, I noticed a little beaded bracelet. 

She has been wearing this bracelet ever since she returned from this fall’s NHFC interview trip.  While she was in Ukraine, one of the girls she met gave it to her.  Paula told me that she was committed to keeping it on and praying for her to find a host family. 

When she returned from the trip, she told me about the orphanage this girl lived.  She said she loved all the children there, they were great kids, very talented, and beautiful.  She said she had never seen so many beautiful children in one orphanage before.  But at the same time, she was concerned.

Those beautiful girls live in a part of the world where human trafficking is a huge industry, especially sex trafficking.  Knowing the statistics and the stories, Paula just knew that that these beautiful girls at this orphanage would be prime targets for traffickers when they would age out of the orphanage in a few years… if they were not already targeted. 

Paula met these girls, and couldn’t help but dwell on the future that lay before them.  Leaving the orphanage with no family connections, little education, no skills to help them make a living.  If a person was to approach them with great ‘opportunities’ to give them a job as a nanny or working in a restaurant, who would provide great pay and a place for them to live… how could they resist?  (Click here for a horrific report on this reality for so many older orphan girls in this part of the world.)

And that is why we are advocating and praying for these girls.  That is why Paula has kept wearing this bracelet for all these weeks.  To give these girls a chance, a hope at a safe and secure future. 

There are still 5 older girls from this specific orphanage that Paula felt so drawn to advocate for who need to be hosted for this Christmas.  Older Girls Waiting For Host FamiliesThe opportunity to spend the winter with a loving host family could change their lives, and surely their futures.  They could be encouraged and build self-confidence with the love of a family.  Host parents could guide her in safe ways to pursue an education or a trade after graduating from the orphanage.  A family could help connect her with local ministries to help her to live for Christ and trust in Him to provide for her future.  She could find a forever family in the US that will love her and raise her to live in Biblical truth and hold on to God’s promises for her.

Please join us in continuing to advocate for these girls and find them host families.  The last day to sign up to host for most children will be November 1st, only 5 days away.  And please continue to pray for Paula, she is still in the hospital and battling a lot of pain. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

116–Each One Matters

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116.

One hundred sixteen.

Just think about that number for a minute.  Think about ‘Hundreds Day’ when elementary school students need to collect 100 of one item to bring to school that day.  To celebrate the 100th day of school… and to teach them how big 100 really is.  To us, it kind of sounds like a little, but when you have to sit and count out that many items, it starts to seem like a lot, like you will never reach that point when you finally get to say “…98, 99, 100!!!”

When I say 116, I’m not thinking of counting buttons, Legos, or Teddy Grahams… I’m thinking about souls.  One hundred sixteen souls, children, orphans.  116 children without parents.  Each with their own stories, hardships, losses.  116 names, faces, and special spirits that need love.

116 is the number of host families NHFC still needs for this Christmas.  We have 116 awesome kids who are still waiting to be chosen by a family who will love them, bless them, build them up this Christmas. 

On the other side of that 116 is another number 88.  88 families who have joined our cause.  Together they have committed to love and cherish a total of 118 orphans.  They have said they are going to give what they have been given and share it with these children this Christmas. 

Would you consider joining our cause, the cause to fight for these orphans? Will you do it for just 1 out of the 116 who are still waiting? 

I wish I had enough time and space to tell you about all the awesome children who are still waiting to be chosen. 

Each One MattersAndrey who is nearly too old for the orphanage, but he is committed to his education.
Beautiful Anastasija who deals with a poor self-image because of scars from her past.
Sasha who is not afraid to stand up for the younger orphans who are bullied.
Nikolajs who speaks with a strong stutter, but it disappears when he shares his incredible singing voice.
Deniss and Lena, brother & sister, who are talented ballroom dancers.
Markuss, who is a kind and gentle boy who gets bullied often.
Viktor who would love a new Bible after his old one was stolen.
Sweet Irina who dreams of a good family with a mom and a dad.

…and that is only 8 of them. There are 108 more out there who are just as loveable and in need of someone to love them!

What can you do to help?

116 waiting children.  Each one with a name, a face, arms to be hugged, a heart to be loved, a soul to be fed. Each one matters.

God places the lonely in families
Psalm 68:6a (NLT)

Still needing host families for Christmas 2012!

 

13 Days of Prayer

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Join our public event on FacebookI’d like to invite you to join in New Horizons For Children’s 13 Days of Prayer! 

Beginning on Sunday April 22nd until May 4th – summer hosting deadline – you are invited to join us in prayer for this summer’s orphan hosting program! We will focus on something different each day.

4/22 – Host Families-to-be
4/23 – Non-Scholarshiped Children
4/24 – Sibling Groups
4/25 – Host Only
4/26 – Current Host Families
4/27 – Scholarships
4/28 – Chaperones
4/29 – Newsletter
4/30 – Travel
5/1 – Hosted Children
5/2 – Scholarshiped Children
5/3 – Back-Up Families
5/4 – All Remaining Children

We are believing God for great things as we unite in prayer!

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless…
Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16b (NIV)

Guest Post–“Vacation?” The story behind orphanage visits

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It’s been a couple weeks since the NHFC missions team has returned from their trip to Latvia and Ukraine to interview orphans for the Summer 2012 host program.  I want to thank you for praying for them, their trip was very cold but safe and successful!

One of my regional volunteer partners was a part of the missions trip for the first time.  She wrote very eloquently and candidly about the trip and I am sharing her words in a guest post for this week:

Vacation?
Since returning home from my trip, I’ve had a lot of people ask me how it went.
I’ve found some of their phrasing a little strange.

It may not really be indicative of anything, but I’ve found it interesting nonetheless.
“Did you have fun?” and “Did you have a good time?” are the ones I find the most thought provoking.

Maybe that’s just what people ask when they know you’ve been away…. maybe that’s just what they think they’re supposed to say…. or what they ask when they think they’re expected to comment, but don’t really care about the answer.
Maybe I’m being completely unreasonable and  reading WAY too much into the words people use and need to instead, be glad they asked and thankful for the opportunity to share about New Horizons. (Yeah, that’s probably it.)

For the record, I DID have fun, and I DID have a good time…. but this wasn’t a vacation.
This wasn’t a trip to the Bahamas.

On this trip I visited orphanages that smelled like 3 week old boiled cabbage and unwashed bodies.
I slept in a hotel that smelled like dead, decaying rats complete with faded leopard print sheets and bed bugs.
I met children who, upon turning 16, will “graduate” from their orphanage with little chance of living past their next birthday.
I spent a week in a van that didn’t have any heat in the 2nd and 3rd rows, in a country that was experiencing record breaking cold.
I met children under the age of 12, who had already started smoking.
I wore the same jeans for 6 days in a row and washed my socks and underwear in the sink.
I met girls, who upon “graduating”, will turn to prostitution as a way to stay alive.
I tried squid flavored potato chips. And yes, they are as NASTY as they sound.
I played UNO with kids who have NEVER known the love of a mother.
I met an orphanage director who didn’t want anything to do with our program because there was a chance “her” kids might be adopted.
I showered in bathrooms that smelled like a sewer.
I met children who had been abandoned by a parent because they were seen as an inconvenience.

But I also met a boy in Latvia who had such a great sense of humor, I nearly wet my pants from laughing.
I met orphanage directors who loved their kids and were eager to hear about New Horizons.
I met kids who practically begged to come to America.
I got to surprise Mareks with my visit to Riga. (It took nearly 10 minutes on the phone to convince him that I was actually there.)
I met an orphanage director who is actively pursuing educational/job training opportunities for his “graduates.”
I visited orphanages that had medical and nutritional personnel on staff…. a speech therapist… an area for physical therapy… laptops… exercise equipment.
I met a brother/sister duo who were so personable and quite frankly, blew me away…. I wanted to hide them in my suitcase and smuggle them home.
I saw AMAZING artwork, needlework, paper crafting, beadwork, woodwork, sewing projects– all done by the kids we were interviewing.
I got to see parts of the world that I never would have seen otherwise.
I met a boy with spina bifida and other medical issues, who’s very life may depend on him being adopted.
I tried Borsch… and I liked it!
I spoke with kids who wanted to know about me, and my life, and life in America.
I met a girl who intervened for another who was being picked on, standing up to a “popular girl” at her orphanage.
I met a boy who wanted to “friend me” on Facebook.
I met children who wanted to be teachers…. an engineer…. an architect…. a doctor…. a dancer….
I met kids who were proud of their accomplishments.
I drank enough tea in which I could sink the Titanic.
I played games with kids who wanted to hold my hand– even though they didn’t know me.
I spoke with 16 year olds who are too old to be adopted- and they know it— and it breaks my heart.
I met kids who when hypothetically given 3 wishes… time and time again, their 1st wish was to have a family.

No, this wasn’t a vacation.

But it beats Disney any day.

 

You may visit the original post on her blog here! http://backyard-blessings.blogspot.com/2012/02/vacation.html

CONTEST!–Your Careful Eye Could Help Care for an Orphan!

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Yes, you read that right! I’m about to debut my first blog contest!  No tricks or gimmicks here, I just thought it would be something to try.  Plus it’s nothing too serious… I hope you try to participate just for the fun of it!

Details –

Something recently changed on my blog. If you think you know what it is, then that enters you in a chance to win the prize.

Prize –

Ready for it??? You get to choose which of the remaining kids on my featured available children (see right) I will give a scholarship to!  They are all very deserving and I wish I could give one to all of them… so you will get to help me choose!

How to enter –

Reply to this post by writing in the “Leave a Reply” text box below.  And write:

  1. What you think has changed recently on my blog.
  2. The name of 1 of the 6 remaining children/siblings you would like me to help with a scholarship. 
    (You can see the full list here at the original post – link)

Feel free to guess for the fun of it, I’d love to see what your votes would be!

90% of available orphans and sibling groups who are featured on the New Horizons for Children hosting list who have scholarships end up being hosted! This is one of the easiest ways to contribute to helping an orphan discover the love of a family.

Visit NewHorizonsForChildren.org to find out more about how to scholarship a waiting child.

Happy voting!!! Open-mouthed smile

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