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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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!


Reflections from Ukraine–Awesome Kids, Divine Appointments, & A New Brother!


12,000 miles flying roundtrip
14 days
3,000 kilometers driving
12 orphanages
TONS of unforgettable kids
154 orphans in need of host families!


That’s the trip by the numbers… now let me tell you about it in words!  The trip was incredible and I am so blessed to have been a part of the team.  One week prior to our arrival, half of the team spent a week in Latvia; there they did the same crazy amount of travel and found 116 kids for hosting – that makes 270 total! 

Awesome Kids
For us, pretty much everyday was a new city, a new orphanage, a new apartment or hotel room, and another long day of driving.  At each orphanage we would first meet with the directors or other administrators and tell them about the program, often get a tour of the orphanage campus, be treated to some tea and snacks or a meal, and then spend time interviewing the kids that the orphanage thought we should consider for Christmas hosting.  The children or siblings talked with 3 team members – an interviewer, a writer, and an interpreter, and before or after their interview, they would spend time with the other team members in some kind of group activity. 

I got to be there for 9 of the orphanage visits, and I must say that every visit was different.  They ranged from a small, poor orphanage in the country where the kids seemed to be lacking the care they needed all the way to an orphanage that doubled as a college-prep institution that all of the team wanted to send their own kids to!  It was so fun to meet the kids and learn about their stories. 

There were many children that I fell in love with after spending some time with them or learning about their stories – you can see their faces down the right side of this page.  Something special about each of them struck a chord with me and I am going to do all that I can to advocate for them to find host homes for this Christmas.  From today until the deadline to sign-up (November 1st) I will feature a post about each of them, with extra pictures and stories and updates on when they do find host families! Please begin praying for these kids now!

Divine Appointments
On the very last day of interviews, we met with a pastor and his wife who work in orphanages in a new region that NHFC has not hosted from before.  It seemed great to make a connection to some new places, but little did we know, that God was about to grow it into something much bigger.

One of our team members, Nicole, and her husband have recently been led to wanting to start long-term ministry in Ukraine to orphans, specifically in summer camps and transition homes for those who age-out of the orphanage.  Over lunch, we learned that Pastor Viktor and his wife recently had to make cutbacks in their ministry due to the financial hardship they have endured since his wife Tanya is being treated for an inoperable brain tumor.  God has given them big dreams to reach orphans in their region, but they seemed to be facing even bigger obstacles.  He shared that if they were unable to give their bank the money they owed in 2 days, their church and home were going to be taken from them. 

He took us to see the property and it was beautiful!  It gave me goosebumps to see how seamlessly it fit with Nicole’s vision for her own ministry.  The land was a little less than 2 acres with a small church building and a separate building for living quarters.  There was still lots of space to keep building – along with the blueprints and permits already in place for a new building!  To top it all of, the land borders a beautiful little lake.  Honestly, we could not have dreamed up a more perfect fit. 

By the time we left for the airport the following day, lots of faith and obedience to follow through some open doors, Pastor’s Viktor and Tanya’s burdens have been lifted.  Contributions from some great saints has allowed them to keep their land and church from being taken by the bank.  And we are now praying that Nicole and her husband along with some other couples will be able to partner with this Ukrainian couple in continuing to grow their ministry to orphans. 

Please pray for this precious couple!  …for Tanya’s healing, financial provision, direction in working with local orphanages, and God’s incredible providence to continue in their lives!

 Pastor Viktor & Tanya (2nd & 3rd from left) with 4 of us from the team

I’m Gonna Have A New Brother!!!
Ok, I know the title totally gives this one away, but I gotta share the details!

The still small voice of the Holy Spirit started to speak to my family after Sasha, the then 14 year old boy our family hosted for Christmas, was hosted by a different family this summer.  After some long talks, written letters, and prayers… my parents started to consider adopting him.  The final step of confirmation they needed to go ahead with it was to make sure that Sasha wanted it… and that just so happens to be something that the New Horizons team covers on the interview trip!  Who would have guessed a year ago that I would be headed to Ukraine on this awesome mission and get to be there in person ask Sasha if he would like to be a part of my family???

I tried to call Sasha once before the trip to let him know that I would be coming, but I couldn’t get ahold of him.  I was kind of happy to leave it that way… so then I would really get to experience his honest reaction when he first sees me!

We visited his boarding school on Monday Sept 5th … I was filled with a mix of emotions. I was excited, nervous, and almost felt like I was in the middle of a dream.  We pulled up to 2 huge, plain, old brick buildings that were surrounded by gardens and enclosed with a small gate.  As we pulled in, I saw someone in one of the gardens who was wearing the hoodie that our grandma gave Sasha for Christmas.  I knew right away that it wasn’t him, but it was a big hint that I was getting closer to him!!!

They ended up taking us to ‘set up shop’ in one of the classrooms and when the door was opened, I saw a very familiar face!  Sasha saw me in the doorway and had a look of shock and confusion on his face – we were both surprised!  They were in the middle of a lesson and none of us budged for a while.  LeAnn said, “You’re the big sister! Go over there and embarrass your brother!” so I went over to him with a big smile and we hugged.

  His inital reaction! ...after the confusion and surprise! 

It was so great to be reunited with him!  He was all smiles and asked where my family was and if they were working.  (Funny that he remembered that one of the reasons we couldn’t rehost him this summer was because everyone had to work.)   We hung out in the yard of the orphanage for a while with some of his friends.  He asked me if he could come back with our family for this winter. Oh my I could hardly contain myself!!!! Smile I told him that we would get to talk about it with the interpreter a little later.  He said this is to teach their dogs tricks... I thought it would be fun to climb on anyways.

Interviews with new kids finally wrapped up and the team met with some of the kids who had just been hosted this summer.  Now it was my turn to talk to Sasha.  I expected our facilitator to do most of the talking, but when we sat down with her, she had me do the talking. I had no idea what to say!!  It was short and sweet and when he was asked if he would like to be a part of our family, he said “Yes!” (more like a speechless nod) with a huge smile across his face.  It was such a great moment and I am so blessed to have been a part of it!He said Yes!

Our goodbye came very quickly, I was not ready to leave.  I would have much rather stayed with Sasha or snuck him in the van with me… but that wasn’t really an option.  He walked me to the van, and as we walked, I told him in Russian “The next time I see you will be in America… and it will be forever!” 

Our goodbye walking to the van

… and now I can’t wait for that day.

Consider Hosting!
You, yes you.  I can totally see you having your own story of hosting very soon.  There are over 200 kids waiting to be matched with loving host families for this Christmas.  Could it be you that they are waiting for?

You do not need to be considering adoption in order to host an orphan.  Actually, you’re in luck, because New Horizons isn’t an adoption agency it’s a HOST only organization… adoption is just an added outside benefit. Winking smile 

It takes all kinds of families to make a host program successful. Here’s the wide variety of host families we are looking for:

  • Interest to adopt – many host kids are available for adoption
  • Last chance – these kids need families who are ‘paper ready’ if the adoption process does not get started before hosting, the kids will lose their chance at getting adopted because of their age
  • Sibling groups – for those brave parents who are willing to invite 2, 3, 4, or even 5 siblings into their home!
  • Host only – kids who are not available for adoption because of their age or other circumstance but could still greatly benefit from the experience
  • Special needs – this time around we have several kids who need special families to individually care for them in a way that orphanage workers cannot
  • Medical mission – there are several kids who are in great need of medical attention for their teeth or eyes, hosting could make a lifelong difference for them
  • Scholarship sponsors – you may not be able to host, but you could help sponsor a child, this is a great help to encourage families who would love to host but may need some help raising the funds

Please check out the NHFC photolisting to see these available children and begin praying that their host family finds them.  There are many “Sashas” out there waiting!

Sign up to see photolisting!

Thank you so much for your prayers!
I don’t know where we would have been without them!

Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
Luke 9:48

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