4 Years of September 5th

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September 5th is a momentous day in our journey with Sasha. This year marks our 4th September with Sasha in our lives.  I can’t help but reflect back on them today, especially in light of the phone call I had with him on this September 5th!

September 2010

It was the middle of September when Sasha’s boarding school was first visited by New Horizons for Children.  

His original biography read- Original photos from Sept 2010 interview

Sasha, 14 year old boy who has lived 8 years in an orphanage for ‘delayed children’ (yet shows absolutely no signs of delays.) VERY engaged with our team, interested & made great effort to learn English.  Caring, considerate of others, especially children who were severely delayed.  Likes swimming, making wood furniture.  Does best in Language Arts and wants to be a builder.  Friendly, nice to everyone in Original photos from Sept 2010 interviewour “English class” we held while kids waited [to be interviewed]. His one wish would be for others to be healthy.  He helps ‘calm the crazy kids’ per his social worker, has patience.  Gave each team member a great hug, said he’d love to travel to America & find a special family. Not common to find a teen boy so trusting and interactive with our team! He helped one of our team members learn Ukrainian, sat right beside her almost the entire time.

So, during that month, Sasha’s world virtually changed.  A team came to him, reached out to the children where he was, and gave him a second chance at life… before we even knew him! 

October 25, 2010 we officially chose Sasha to be our host child, and the rest is history!

Click here to read the first blog about our hosting experience

September 5th 2011

This date in 2011 is one of the biggest days in our journey with Sasha so far. 

August 31 – September 15 I got to travel with the NHFC team to do interviews at 12 different orphanages all over Ukraine.  My how things had changed in 1 year, from just learning about hosting to being a part of the international interview team! 

I went to Ukraine not knowing if I would be able to see Sasha, but hoping that I really really would!  My parents had just decided that they wanted to adopt Sasha, as long as he would agree to it.  If I was part of the team that visited his boarding school, our facilitator said I could be the one to ask him if he would like to be adopted. Wow.

Just a few days into the trip, I found out that our team was actually going to his boarding school.  It was such an awesome opportunity to make a surprise visit and get to see him at his ‘home’.  He had no idea I was coming and no idea what we were there to discuss!  He was so happy to see me and said a huge “Yes!” when we talked about adoption.  It was hard to leave after seeing him for just a few hours, but it was great knowing that this was the first day for him to be part of our forever family!

Click here to read the full blog post about this day

September 5th 2012

A lot happened over the next 12 months.  I had weekly phone calls with Sasha and loved hearing how much he loved our family and wanted to be home.  God provided all the money for the adoption and my parents traveled in June to bring him home.  By that time, Sasha’s mind had been changed and he no longer wanted to be adopted.

September came and we had not directly contacted Sasha.  September was the first time I tried to reach out to him again to remind him of our love, regardless of his decision to choose other things over our family. 

This time, I sent a package and card to Sasha with the interview team that was to visit his boarding school again… and they happened to visit on September 5th again!

5 Sept 2012One of my dearest friends was on the interview trip this time and was able to personally deliver our gifts to Sasha.  She said Sasha was right there when the team arrived at their school. She gave him his bag and while the other kids were ripping through their candy, Sasha sat and looked at the photos we sent to him. One of him with both my parents, one with him and my mom, and one of him with my dad… all when they were there to adopt him. She said he just sat and looked through those photos kind of somber with his head down.

We still do not know exactly how Sasha felt at that time, but this was still a momentous day.  It was the first day since he had coldly rejected the family, that he actually heard from us that we still love him. 

Click here to read my blog post about this time

September 5th 2013

Wish I had a photo from this day to add to the timeline!

I got to talk with Sasha for the first time today since he’s been in trade school!  He answered right away and almost immediately asked me when I would be in Ukraine.  It breaks my heart that I just saw him in July and he’s ready for me to come back.   He was in his dorm room that he shares with 2 other guys …a big change from sharing a room with 10 for most of his life. He has 8 classes a day with the weekends off. He says he’s eating well and gotten his stipend for the month. In the course of our conversation I was both blessed and confused to learn 2 new things about him – he has been working this summer and he is learning how to drive.  I really wish my Russian was better so I could fully understand what he was trying to tell me!

There was so much more I wish we could have discussed. At the very least, on this significant day, I was able to check in on him as he is starting this new chapter of his life.  He knows that despite the ups and downs of the past, we are all on his side, lifting him up, and doing our best to keep him included in our family, no matter the distance. 

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Destination Ukraine–What will you be doing?–video

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“What will you be doing there?” is the question I answer almost every time I tell someone I’m going on a mission trip to Ukraine.  The short answer – we will be working with New Hope Center, a Christian ministry to graduated orphans in the region where Sasha is from.  We will be doing construction on one of the group homes where their Trade School students live.  The realistic answer – none of us will know until we get there. Winking smile

I’m so excited to be partnering with this ministry that I started praying for… before I even knew it existed.  It’s so awesome to have learned about this ministry that God has been developing for years before I even knew about this region. 

New Hope Center’s trade school just finished it’s very first year of educating and training orphans for a practical career in dairy farming.  One thing that I don’t think we have emphasized enough when sharing about our trip is that this is the very first trade school of its kind in Ukraine.  It is the only accredited non-government trade school in the whole country.  This is huge.  It’s a huge miracle that they have received all the approvals and favor from government officials which makes everything possible… because there are innumerable barriers – foreseen and unforeseen – that could have prevented this from happening.

I think this video is the best way to get a glimpse at what we will be doing.  It’s awesome to see the land we will be exploring, the buildings we will be visiting, the people we will be working with, and the orphans who will be touched by our work! 

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! My dad and I leave TODAY and will arrive in Ukraine tomorrow afternoon! Stay tuned for more updates! 

Why Give?

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We have been supported by so many great partners along this journey already!  Lately I have been thinking back to my first post about this trip – Fear of Fundraising.  I had so many fears about why this should not work out… but it has in so many ways! 

I’ve been so blessed by everyone’s willingness to partner with our mission.  It’s so great to get a donation, but in the last few weeks I asked some people what specifically prompted them to give. The answers have been so encouraging to me… just to see how each person’s generosity came from a different place in their heart. 

WhyGive01

WhyGive03

 

WhyGive02

WhyGive04

This is just a little glimpse at the heart behind some of our supporters! We still have several hundred dollars that need to be raised by June 5th! Will you join these friends in helping us get to Ukraine?

You can give easily and securely online –http://fnd.us/c/5W3p3

…and feel free to comment explaining why you give. =)

 

Destination: Ukraine!

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Missions FlierYep! You read that right! I am headed to Ukraine!!! 

Ever since my parents left Ukraine last June, they have been in touch with a missionary who is in the same region as our Sasha.  My dad has gotten very involved with helping them with their mission of reaching the orphans in that part of Ukraine. Missions Flier3 The team of ministers there now not only visit the orphans in the orphanages, they also help adopting families traveling to the region, have a Christian church that is growing quickly, and a trade school for the older orphans. They are doing awesome things and God is blessing their ministry and giving them incredible favor with the children, orphanage directors, and even government officials!

My dad has been very involved in helping the ministry.  For  months now he has been planning to go over there this summer to help remodel a home for orphans who have aged-out of the orphanage.  I have been unsure about my summer plans up to this point, but God made it clear to me this week that he has given me this opportunity just at the right time

Only 10 months ago, my parents left Ukraine without the 16 year old son they had traveled there to adopt and bring home.  My dad & I meeting S for the first time - Dec 2010When they returned, we all wondered what would happen with Sasha alone in Ukraine.  Within a couple months, the missionaries opened their home for the first group of aged-out orphans… an answer to our prayers.  A transition/trade school can literally make the life or death difference for kids when they graduate from the orphanage.  And not just any kids… our Sasha and the friends who have become his family as he has grown up in the orphanage. 

This year has been Sasha’s last year living in the orphanage.  In June, he will graduate, and on August 31st he will be out on his own.  It is our prayer that God will bring him to this trade school.  A place where he can be safe, fed, educated, prepared well for adulthood, mentored by godly men, and learn more about Christ.  

To me, this trip is not just about visiting Ukraine and helping build a building.  It is about investing in lives… prayerfully the life of my long-distance brother. 

There are still spots open on the team! Wherever you are, you can join us!  See the info below. 

Info Sheet

Please be praying for my dad and I
as we prepare for an exciting journey! 
More updates coming soon on how you can help!

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:18 (NIV)

 

Everyday Things–St. Pat’s Day-Orphans Don’t Need Luck…

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St. Patrick was a man of God.  He devoted himself to the work of God and made an ageless impact on a nation. 

The details of his ministry have sort of been lost in history, but one thing is clear, luck was not part of it… and orphans can’t depend on luck either.  

Some would say luck has not been on the side of the orphan, others might say they have become orphans because of the fallen world. 

God sees all that has happened and the difficulty they go through.  Yet their only hope is found in Him.  And believers who will be the hands and feet of Jesus to reach out to them and make them orphans no more. 

We must continue to believe that someday their stories will change, and get out and do something to make their ‘luck’ change. We must constantly pray for them and believe that He will not let them down!

But you know all about it—
the contempt, the abuse.
I dare to believe that the luckless
will get lucky someday in you.
You won’t let them down:
orphans won’t be orphans forever.
Psalm 10:14 (The Message) 

Use What God Has Given to You–Orphan Care

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Caring for orphans takes a lot of work.  It can be costly, difficult, risky, and makes you vulnerable.  So many people think that it is too hard, that they have nothing to offer, or that orphan care is just meant for a  small group of brave and crazy individuals.  I believed that to an extent, but after recently reading the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25, I have come to think about orphan care a little differently.

Parable of the Talents – Traditional version in the ESV
Parable of the Talents – Modern paraphrase in The Message 

Here’s a little breakdown of reflections on what I read in the Scriptures:

God gives us talents
God gives each of us gifts, talents, something that he intends for us to use.  He gives them to us for a reason, so that we can use them to multiply his purposes and his Kingdom.  They are not meant to be selfishly hoarded or even kept safe.  It can be risky, but He trusts us with his blessings and resources and we need to trust him to multiply them for his glory.

According to our abilities
God gives us gifts according to our abilities.  This is not an issue of fairness, it’s a matter of what God knows we are able to handle.  He is gracious and takes each person at their own pace.  It may be difficult to look at others and compare ourselves to those who seem to have more resources, more talents, or more money. But we need to trust God and accept that he has a reason.

Those with more, made more
Those servants who were given many talents, they were able to multiply them and make even  more.  It’s just like the principle of sowing and reaping… you need to plant the seed to be able to reap.  When you use the talents, they will be multiplied. 

The master was pleased
God is so pleased when we are faithful with what he has given us.  He is pleased when we trust him, and I believe he honors it by allowing it to multiply. 

The master entrusted them with more
When God sees our faith, he will give us the chance to do even more.  It could be more opportunities, more resources, more faith… whatever he gave will be multiplied.  And he did so with joy.  He will trust us with more work to be done, more gains to be made for his glory.

The one with the least hid it
The scripture says that the servant who was given the least was afraid.  Who knows what exactly he was afraid of, but he was afraid enough to not do anything with the single talent he was given.  Was he afraid he would lose it? Afraid he would disappoint the master? Afraid he couldn’t do as much as the others?  Afraid his one talent wasn’t good enough?  Afraid others would see him as inferior because he only had one talent? 
I think many of us can relate to the fears of this servant.  We second-guess ourselves and question if God really wants us to use what seems to be insignificant.  We may lie to ourselves and think that God already has more than enough and can do without our little talent.  So we hide it, keep it away from the world, don’t use it for God’s kingdom… out of fear.

The master called him wicked & slothful
This is where it gets serious.  The master did not gently correct, forgive, or patronize the servant who didn’t use his talent.  He was harsh.  He was real.  The servant was rebuked.  How many times to we pass by opportunities to use our talents and think that God will not notice?  He sees it all.  I surely don’t want God looking down on me calling me ‘wicked and slothful’. 

The master insisted he should have done something
God gives us talents to use them.  No matter how small or seemingly insignificant, he wants us to use them.  He entrusts us with them and will give us opportunities to use them.  Even if it wasn’t as big or extravagant or prosperous as the others, I believe God would be pleased with the littlest use of our talents.

The master sent him away & into the darkness
The servant who did nothing and hid his talent was not given another chance.  He had one opportunity and when it was gone, he was no longer working for the master.  What if we looked at our opportunities, resources, and talents in this way… if we did not use them then they would be gone?  And then we would live in purposeless darkness for the rest of our days? 

When I read this Scripture, I remember that orphan care is a command of scripture and every believer has some God-given talent they can use for the defense of the orphan.

Like the last servant, we may be tempted to think that what we have is not enough, we may be afraid it won’t compare to what others can do, we may hope that God won’t notice our inaction.  But he does. 

He is trusting you with what he has given you.  And the promise that goes along with this parable is so encouraging… when we are faithful with the small things, he will give us even more. We may start out with not much to offer, but with faith and action, He will come to entrust you with much more!

Where do I start?

Start with what God has given you &
use it to fulfill God’s command to care for the fatherless!
(Click the underlined links below to use what God’s given you now!)

If God has given you a Facebook profilelike NHFC’s page to support our ministry.

If God has given you a desire to shop onlineuse our link before making your next Amazon.com purchase.

If God has given you the opportunity to browse the internet often… sign up to support NHFC every time you do a web search through GoodSearch.com.

If God has given you faithpray for a waiting orphan to be hosted.

If God has given you faith-filled friendsask them to pray for an orphan who touches your heart.

If God has given you a church, Bible study, Sunday School classshare with them about our ministry.

If God has given you some extra money in your budgetdonate towards a waiting child’s scholarship.

If God has given you time to praypray for our ministry.

If God has given you room for one more in your family this summerfind out how you can host an orphan!

 

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. 
You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.
Enter into the joy of your master.’

Matthew 25:21 & 23 (ESV)

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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