Wednesday, March 31, 2010

China, here I come

I think I have figured out how to email myself at blogger which will update my blog and also update to facebook at the same time. So this is sort of my little test to see if it works. If this works, it'll be fabulous. 
I leave for China on Sunday so... stay tuned for updates. I cannot wait to meet the kids, experience a new culture and get to know the team that is going. I'm so blessed to have a job where I get to go around the world and love on kids. I'm not a mother but... I get to be a mom to kids around the world. What an honor and privilege. 

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Here I am Lord - send me!

I returned from my first Visiting Orphans trip Wednesday, March 10 very late in the evening. Myself and 9 others spent 8 days in Costa Rica. It was the first time VO had gone to Costa Rica and thanks to the help of an in-country guide named Brian Benson at Infinite Forest, a fabulous bus driver named Bellisario who navigated on the crazy bumpy roads and kept us safe and an amazing team of people from Nashville – it went incredibly smooth. Brian was amazing – so energetic and had every detail covered. Since it was my first time leading a team – he made my job so easy. What a huge blessing. Plus the kids really loved him and it was great to have an additional guy on our orphanage visits since there were so many boys at the orphanages. I know this trip impacted Brian as it was his first time planning a trip that involved orphanages. And I definitely know it impacted all of us. Each person on our team was a Godsend. It was so neat to see how the Lord so perfectly orchestrated this group. Everyone added something wonderful and unique. Each team member was a joy to be around and an honor to serve alongside. To see them interact with the kids was so wonderful – what loving hearts they each have. It was an amazing time. And the kids… wow – I fell in love with them. Each one of them is a gift – a precious beautiful creation – I saw God in each one of them. And I will never be the same. I left a piece of my heart in Costa Rica with them.

I feel personally impacted by this trip in a huge way. So much so that I literally bawled my eyes out last night. I came back Wed night and went to work the next morning and of course, was playing catch up for 2 days on all the emails I’d missed. Last night was the first free time I had. I ended up hanging out with my amazing friends from church and we ended up worshiping together for almost 2 hours. It was so much what I needed and the Lord so ministered to my heart as I cried out to him in worship. I just let it all out – all the emotions I’d been holding in for the past few days. It’s emotional to go and fall in love with children and then have to leave them. A huge part of me wanted to stay and take care of and love them. They so desperately need that love. They deserve that kind of love. And it’s so much a part of me to want to give that to them. It broke my heart to see all these children without loving parents to care for them. Many of them have parents still living but they have abandoned them. Others had gotten the kids taken away for neglect or issues with drugs. The little boy I got the most attached to – 2 year old Ariel – him and his 4 older siblings have been taken away from their mom multiple times. We were told that the last time someone had called police because they were home alone. I don’t know for how long – whether it was hours or days – but I cannot imagine leaving children to fend for themselves like that. Especially with a 2 year old in the house. I could tell by the way these kids interacted that they are used to taking care of themselves and being on their own. I know it breaks Gods heart that His children are not being cared for the way they need to be. And it breaks mine. That Christian song that says, “break my heart for what breaks yours…” became fully alive for me on this trip. My heart still feels burdened, broken, like part of it has been ripped out. And you know what – as much as it hurts and is hard and brings me to tears – I want to feel that way because if I get so numb to the injustice in the world that I no longer feel this way – that would be unthinkable. I want God to break my heart because it’s in that pain that he reminds me why I do this and he deepens the desire and passion within me to do more, to make a difference, to change lives. It also reminds me that God has put adoption on my heart. Sometimes I feel impatient that I’m not in the place yet where I can do that. But I am reminded that His promises are true and I know He put that desire in me and when the time is right – He will fulfill it. But in the meantime, I get the honor and privilege to go and be His hands and feet and love on kids all around the world. That’s a desire He put in my heart several years ago and it is amazing to me how He has orchestrated every detail for me to get to this place. Even down to what could have been a bad thing – losing my job last October. I am in awe at how faithfully He has provided during the in-between time and how I now am working for Visiting Orphans doing the thing I am most passionate about in the world – loving on children. How amazing is our God! I’m getting all teary just writing about it. And you know, I know how much God loves me and I definitely know how much He loves these children. He loves them even more than I do and so in theses times of feeling broken at having gone and loved and having to leave – I know that He has them and He loves them. And I will keep praying for them to have loving families and that no matter what – they will fully experience the awesome love of our creator.

In Costa Rica, on the last day we spent at each of the two orphanages near Limon, we gathered all the kids together and told them about Jesus using an awesome tool called an Evangicube (great for kids btw). Our amazing translator Susana did a wonderful job telling the story in Spanish. It was so much better to have her do it rather than one of us and then have to pause for translation. Plus she added so much to what we had shared with her that we’d like to tell them. She called them each out by name and told them by name that Jesus loved them. She asked questions and kept their attention. She even made them laugh by asking them questions about Jesus’ life here on earth. She said things like “did Jesus kill people?” and all the kids laughed and shouted out “no”. They knew enough about Jesus to know that He is kind and loving and that the things she was asking were absurd. It was so neat to seem them engaged like that. I loved seeing how hungry they were for even more of this good news. Several of the boys were really interested and asked a lot of questions and gave a lot of answers to her questions. We had her tell them that the reason we came all this way was to tell them about Jesus and even though we had to go, we would still be praying for them. We told them that they could pray to Jesus anytime and He would always listen. And that He was their father in heaven who would never leave them. One of the girls on our team shared a personal story about how her dad had left when she was a kid and that someone had told her about Jesus and that changed her life. Several of the kids came up to her and the translator afterwards and asked more questions about that – they were definitely listening and very interested - I really feel like the Lord had wanted her to share that story because so many of them are experiencing that same kind of abandonment by their parents.

It is hard to leave and come home after a trip like this. But there are kids around the world that need the love we can give and the message we bring – the good news that Jesus is their father in heaven who will NEVER leave or forsake them. And through us – they can get a glimpse into the love of the father. And what a huge responsibility and privilege it is to be that representative for the most-high King!!! I’m not qualified for this job and I don’t have a long list of experience but I’m willing to go – and that’s really all the Lord asks. So I say “Here I am Lord – send me.” What about you? Where is He calling you? And will you be willing to go? I hope you will because it’s in that willingness that you get outside your comfort zone and you truly experience God in a way you could have never imagined. Your life will be changed forever. You can never be the same. But don’t worry – you won’t want to be.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I left my heart behind today

Today was wonderful and hard at the same time. We had a great time playing with the kids at Coco's orphanage. They really warmed up to us even moreso today since they had gotten to know us a bit more. We painted faces, did puffy paints on t-shirts, the guys played soccer with some of the older kids and I got to stack blocks with little Ariel - the little boy I wrote about yesterday. He was so much more comfortable and less shy today than he was at the beach yesterday. I think because it was his third time seeing us. I did get to pick him up and wipe the paint off his hands and help feed him some jello. He was having a hard time scooping it out himself cause it was pretty liquidy. It was so cute to interact with him - he's so precious. He walks around a lot with his hands in his mouth and he seems kind of scared in general. I really think based on how he acts and his next oldest sibling acts - there's probably a good chance that there has been some violence in their life. It just breaks my heart to think of the things these kids have been through. Please be praying for all of them that wonderful, loving parents would adopt them. Ariel is 2 and has 4 siblings. There were a handful of other kids there too. One with MS, another who is blind, a baby, a 17 year old and several kids in the 6-9 year old range. Ariel's older brother Antonio was not there the first day we came but he was there yesterday at the beach. Our translator was telling the kids about Jesus today and he was so attentive and interested. He was sitting on the top of the couch and I was standing behind him. I put my hand on his back and didn't know how he would respond. He wrapped his arms around me and put his head on my chest. It was so precious and I just saw how much he so desperately wanted that love. It was so hard to leave them. Every single one of us was crying. Whew - so emotional yet we go into this knowing we'll experience some of this. The Lord indeed breaks our hearts for what breaks His. And we go to share Him with the kids. He is a father to the fatherless. I pray that they heard that message I pray that will stay with them long after we leave. Tomorrow we are going to have our last day at the other orphanage Villas Del Mar. We'll surely have a great time but again - it will be heartbreaking to leave. I just pray we leave the message of Christ when we go and that the kids will fully understand that His love for them is why we came.