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)

Last Day of Summer Postcards

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This is the way we live–Orphanage Life–video

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It has been a difficult week for me.  Our family’s adoption process seems to be dragging on at a snail’s pace.  It’s been 173 days since I last saw Sasha and 408 since he’s last been with our whole family.  I want him home as soon as possible.

For the past couple of weeks, some friends of our family have beenHe always manages to have a smile on his face! visiting Sasha’s orphanage.  We are so blessed that they have gotten to spend a lot of time with him.  They’ve gotten to remind him how much we love him and give him many hugs from us.

They’ve also given us special insight into his life at the boarding school.  We will never know what it’s really like, but the observations and experiences they have shared with us have been very eye-opening.  This is not a cheery, fun summer camp that lasts all year round that we wish it could be.

Our boy has begun to remove himself from his life at the orphanage.  He’s ready to move on and be with us.  This is not an easy thing to do, since this is the only family he has ever known.  There is opposition, challenges, people who flat out don’t like it and don’t want the adoptions to happen.  Sasha misses us and wants to be home with us so badly. He is so strong to have made it this far.  Please say a prayer for him that he can keep holding on.

Below is a video clip from the movie “Italianetz”. It shows a very realistic snapshot of life in an orphanage, specifically the chain of command.  Kolyan, the teen in the black cutoff shirt, rules the orphanage.  The clip opens with another teen turning in the goods he has acquired on a stealing spree.  Next, in comes Ira, another orphan girl who turns in her money from a recent prostituting job.  Finally, in comes Vanya, a young boy who is getting adopted, who turns in the candy that was given to him by the Italian family who was adopting him.  All the teens could do as they please, sitting around smoking, drinking, without any adult supervision.  Everyone in the home – boy, girl, young, and old – had to  obey Kolyan’s demands.  They had to pledge their authority to him, or there was a high price to pay.

This is the sad reality for countless orphanages across Eastern Europe, and very likely around the world.

Clip from the Russian film “The Italian”

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows
—this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families…
Psalm 68:5-6a (NLT)

The Americans are here!–Orphanage Visits–video


Life in an orphanage can be very lonely.  You are surrounded by dozens, possibly hundreds of other kids, but that doesn’t always take the loneliness away.   Orphans need interaction, attention, love from positive role models… and those can be hard to come by.  There may be a caretaker who is responsible for many children, possibly part-time; or older orphans who may be a positive presence but have their own struggles to worry about; or there may be mentors in the community who visit on occasion.  Regardless, most of them are starving for attention.

When visitors come, it’s an exciting day.  Who are they?  Where are they from? What did they bring? Why are they here? There’s so many thoughts that could be going around in their heads.  Some will swarm the visitors, not afraid to go in for a hug or ask for some candy.  Others will cautiously stand by, wondering and watching.

Visitors who come with a smile and a hug, and maybe even a snack, game, gift or a special word to share are a ray of sunshine in an orphan’s dark days.   The memories that can be made and the love that can be shared in that short time can last long beyond the time of departure.

Fall '11 interview team getting ready to go into Sasha's orphanageThroughout this week and for the next couple of weeks, the New Horizons for Children interview team will be visiting orphans in Latvia and Ukraine.  These 5 lovely ladies will be visiting orphanages and foster homes to give gifts (many from host families) and to interview children for the upcoming summer 2012 host program.

Please pray for these needs as the team travels:

  1. Please pray that God goes before them and opens doors.  That he may grant favor and bless all of our efforts for the hosting program, and most importantly, for the children.
  2. Please pray that everyone makes it to their destinations safely.
  3. Please pray for each of the foster parents and orphanage directors that the team meets.  They are given the great duty to care for many precious orphans.  Pray that NHFC will be able to be encouragers and partners with them, to work together for the good of the most children in their care possible.
  4. Please pray that the team has positive interactions with and are Jesus to each of the orphans they meet.  May they bring a special time of joy and fun to their homes.  May they share love with them, even if just for a short time.
  5. Please pray for each of the previous host children, to whom the team will deliver gifts from their host families.  May they remember that they are not forgotten and are very loved.  And for those who are going to be offered adoption, may each of those children have clarity of thought and wisdom to be able to answer to that offer.
  6. Please pray for all of the children, previous and new, who will be interviewed and selected to possibly be hosted for the summer program.  May God give the team wisdom and discernment to decide which of the children are prepared for the program.  It can mean unmatchable life-change for each of the ones who are chosen.


Looking at the visitors from his window
Below is a video clip that reminds me so much of when the interview team visits an orphanage.  So blessed, are the ones who are chosen!




Clip from the Russian movie “The Italian”



Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 1:27 (ESV)


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