Monday, October 31, 2011

last night as a family of four

Joe came in the office to tell me that he was about to start reading bedtime books to the kids and to come join them all in a few minutes for bedtime prayers- this was our last night as a family of four. Interrupted from typing up every detail of Thomas & Catherine's needs for the next 18 days while they are left here in the states, I stopped in mid sentence, looked up and saw the look on my dear husband's face that says, " Life will never be the same."

Joe's parents are picking up the kids tomorrow afternoon and keeping them for a while. My babies.... their smells, bedhead, sweet snuggles..... I'm already missing them.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Orphan Statistics

I just wanted to share these statistics as a reminder… A reminder to pray. A reminder to give. A reminder to advocate.

God loves every soul – equally and passionately — and grieves for each situation individually more than my finite mind can understand.

It is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide (recent UNICEF report.)

The current population of the United States is just a little over 300 million… to give you an idea of the enormity of the numbers… (The current population of Russia is 141 million)

Every day 5,760 more children become orphans

2,102,400 more children become orphans every year in Africa alone

Every 15 seconds, another child in Africa becomes an AIDS orphan

There are an estimated 14 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa (a number higher than the total of every under-eighteen year old in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Ireland combined)

This figure is estimated to reach 18 million orphans in Africa alone by 2010 (only two and a half years away)

8 out of 10 children orphaned by AIDS lives in sub-saharan Africa

Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…

Each year 14, 505, 000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen

Each day 38,493 orphans age out

Every 2.2 seconds another orphan ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home

In Russia and the Ukraine, studies have shown that 10% – 15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age eighteen

These studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become hardened criminals

Another Russian study reported that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years…

It can be difficult to allow ourselves to really think about these statistics and what they represent. Its easy to respond numbly and see the statistics in terms of thousands or millions… but when we allow ourselves to become personally involved and risk the heart-grief that follows awareness, they become more than mere statistics… they become real children with real hearts that ache for their parents and real bodies that hunger for care. Every single child that makes up the thousands or millions is a precious child, just like our sweet Matthew.

I pray that my own heart will continue to be stirred and my resolve strengthened to speak out for those that have no voice. These precious children need advocates. They need men and women willing to make a difference… willing to stand in the gap and act on their behalf.

May our hearts grow softer and our voices rise louder…

“Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Deliver the weak and needy from the hand of the wicked.” Ps 82:3-4

(Sources: Human Rights Watch: “Abandoned to the State: Cruelty and Neglect in Russian Orphanages” November 1998 ; ; ; UNICEF’s Childhood Under Threat: the State of the World’s Children, 2005 ; )

Monday, October 10, 2011

La Represa 10/2011

La Represa, Dominican Republic. This was my third trip here. Joe and I went last February 2011 for a medical mission trip and also in January 2010 following the Haiti earthquake.
The children here are not orphans. In fact, they are so well loved by their parents and entire community- possibly beyond anything I have experienced in the U.S. Only a decade ago, 30% of children passed away before the age of 10 due to disease and malnourishment. Now, this would be a rarity and I am so thankful that God’s hand has literally come down from heaven upon this community.
Let me show you….

This is where we stayed. It's an old vacation home with sketchy (at best) sewage pipes, running water, electricity, etc...)

Growing everywhere…. Limes, oranges, bananas, coconut, coffee, rice, cacao, okra, grapefruit, avocado, starfruit and yuca.

Roaming everywhere…. chickens, roosters, donkeys and pigs.

… and massive spiders. (shown spread out on an 8x10 sheet of paper for size reference)

Reach, reach in
With the hand that heals all our suffering
Conquer all that is not of You
Bring Your spirit through
As we fill these walls with Your praise... ~ Watermark

Kids Club- Fruits of the Sprit

Jesus, come and walk the halls of this house
Tread this place and turn it inside out
With Your mercy...
Jesus, teach us the prayers that open these doors
Until Your light floods in and illuminates these floors
And let Your truth be on our steps and in these rooms
Jesus invade... ~ Watermark

Thank you Lord for friendships.

The little hand-clapping games I played as a child came in so handy to break through language barriers. Love is a language we all understand.

So is silliness!

These children joyfully cross the river twice each day to come and go from school.

The coolness of the water on your legs against the heat of the bright sun is breathtaking.

Father God, guide these tiny steps to walk in your way! Provide for her every need. May she know You as her Savior!

May they stand strong for You!

Keep their minds sharp and equip them with the ability to learn, work and provide for their families.

Remind them that they have friends in Christ who love them.

Father God, please teach her the value you have given to her life, her body, her innocence. Protect her as she grows up.

Black sand beaches

To my sweet sisters, I will see you again soon!