Teens in Action: Blueberry’s Bows

Blueberry_1

This post has been a long time in the waiting. Allie graciously agreed to write a guest post several months ago, and actually sent this to me soon after I arrived in Texas. Thank you, Allie, for your patience in waiting for me to get this up!

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Hello! I’m Allie and am so excited to be sharing how ‘Blueberry’s Bows’ first started. I am sixteen years old, have five awesome sisters, and am a daughter of the one true King!

In August of 2013, I sat there and stared at the computer screen. I look at her face. Her big brown eyes jumped out at me. She wasn’t smiling and deep down I could tell she was longing for a family. Longing to be loved and treasured. Longing for someone to know her name. This is my sister Rosie. Abandon at five days old with a severe heart defect, Rosie was sent to the nearest orphanage in Zhongshan City, China. There she spent the first five years of her life. She suffered from lack of oxygen and had no intervention for her heart. We saw her picture and knew she was meant to be ours. So we began the paper chase. For the next six months we prayed and prayed and prayed. Each day her heart continued to grow worse. Finally on February 24, 2014 Rosie was officially ours. It was such a beautiful day!

We arrived home on my parents’ anniversary and began our lives as a family of six. Rosie fit in wonderfully and it was as if she had always been here. Her joyful smile and contagious spirit filled our house with many days of fun. On April 25, 2014, Rosie underwent heart surgery. It was a complicated surgery and the next day she started having issues. Rosie was then put on ECHMO (Heart/Lung bypass machine). She spent the next month fighting for her life. But on May 21st, 2014 (the day after her sixth birthday) she gained her angel wings and took her last breath here on this earth. We weren’t there for her first breath and heartbeat but we were there for her last. She didn’t die an orphan, she died as a treasured sister and a daughter. She was so LOVED.

Blueberry_2

After Rosie became an angel, I knew I wanted to do something to help other orphans like her. The fire had been ignited. So I started a blog. It began as a way to document and share Rosie’s story, but it has blossomed into so much more than that! Then my older sister {Marie} and I got to thinking. While Rosie was so sick in the hospital, she never had clothes on. So Marie and I began to make bows for her hair. It was something simple that would make her look more girly and cute. We then knew what we could do, sell bows and donate the money to orphans. With the money we’ve made from Rosie’s celebration and other events, we’ve been able to sponsor a little girl at New Day Foster Home. It makes my heart happy to see another little girl with complex CHD actually get the care she needs. Marie and I have set up an Etsy shop. I invite you to check it out. Here are some pictures from the bows we currently have for sale. We named our shop Blueberry’s Bows because Rosie’s fingers were always so blue and a nurse nicknamed her ‘Blueberry’. This shop is to honor her legacy by supporting other orphans who are like her.

Blueberry_3

Because of Rosie, my eyes were opened to see the need of orphans around the world. I now have two more sisters who were also from Rosie’s orphanage. It’s been over a year since Rosie left this earth, but I feel like her legacy continues to grow. As I hear from people who are touched by Rosie, I know this is just the beginning of the story that God is writing. I don’t know all the chapters, but I know that it’s all going to work out for HIS glory. Thank you for taking the time to read our story. I invite you to check out our bows and share them with others.

Beep, Allie

Stoptofindtherosies.blogspot.com

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Teens in Action: Lizzie for Compassion

AngelMany thanks to Lizzie for writing this delightful guest post.

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I have heard “orphan” defined as a child who has lost one or both parents by death or abandonment.  Angel (name changed for privacy) is a young boy living in Indonesia.  He is an orphan, whose father abandoned him, his mom, and his little sister.  Angel’s heart hurts.  The pain of his father leaving has left his heart scarred.  He has had to grow up and be the “man” of the family and age seven.  His mom works hard, yet she cannot make enough money to survive.  Sometimes, she does not have enough money to pay rent.  Hopelessness weighs down on her, but her spirit is not crushed.  She trusts in Jesus.

She reminds Angel that “Daddy Jesus” will always love him and be with him.  She is an active member of her local church and encourages her children to read the Bible.  Her life is not easy, far from it!  She has to search for work and make tough decisions.  A few months ago, she decided to move to a different town in hopes that she would find a better job there.  Sometimes, I imagine, she cries out to God and wonders why her husband left, why she can’t pay rent, why she works so hard for so little return.  Yet, she tries to be strong for her children and trust God’s plan and timing.

Angel respects his mom and even admires her.  He loves her and wants her to be happy.  Angel is also a Compassion sponsored child.  His local church partners with Compassion to help meet his physical needs (through medical check-ups and education), socioemotional needs, and spiritual needs.  In fact, through Compassion and his local church, he not only participates in Bible studies, but also receives character education.  Angel is learning to be a man of God even though he is young.  He is being encouraged to not run away from difficult situations and to look to Jesus for strength in those times.

Angel writes me letter because I am his correspondent sponsor through Compassion (someone sponsors him financially and asked Compassion to find someone else to write him, which ended up being me.).  He tells me about his struggles, joys, hopes, and dreams.  I write him letters, too, and encourage him that his Heavenly Father will never leave him.  Although I am just a teen, I am able to encourage an orphan.

Venu
As others have said, we are too young to adopt or foster a child.  But each of us can do something.  Maybe you can encourage an orphan through letter writing or even sponsor a child through Compassion…..like Venu.  Venu will be five years old in five days on May 16.  Because his parents died, he lives with his grandparents.  They work as day laborers when work is available.  But, their income is not steady, and they often do not have enough money to meet their needs.  Compassion partners with a local church in Venu’s community in Bangalore, India, to provide him with a safe place to play, learn, and grow.  I do not know Venu’s story.  You can learn his story, will you?

Sponsoring Venu is a $38 a month commitment, which is just over $1 a day.  If you would be interested in sponsor Venu or getting to know more about him, please e-mail me at lizzie4compassion@gmail.com  Or, to see other orphans in need of a sponsor through Compassion, please visit compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/child-search-results.htm?cboOrphan=Yes

Being a correspondent sponsor is a commitment to write to the child at least three times a year.  To request a correspondent child, go to compassion.com and contact them via phone or e-mail.  Be sure to be specific in your request if you would like to write to an orphan; otherwise, you will be assigned a random child.

Teens In Action: Earrings for Life

Earrings for Life

This ministry first came to my attention through a post on The Rebelution. As I was brainstorming ways of making Teens in Action posts more regular here on TIO, Brooke’s ministry popped to mind, and I messaged her on Facebook. This post is the result. Hope you enjoy what she has to say. Don’t forget to check out the earrings!

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When I was asked to write this blog post, the first thought that came into my head was “Me? What? Why? I’m not an author, surely I can’t blog!” But as I continued to think about what I wanted to write, I was reminded-that’s just it. God does not call the equipped, but equips the called! So, here’s a little bit about when God called me.

I am only sixteen now, but when I was eleven, I started making earrings. Because I was (and still am!) a little entrepreneur, I immediately thought of the basic idea to sell these hand-made earrings and give the money to my local crisis pregnancy center, which helps young women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. I began by selling a couple of pairs to my family—it was not much, but it was something, and I praised God for each dollar raised. After promoting my ministry, which I named Earrings for Life, through my church, I was able to raise about $100 in the first year, and I remember being absolutely thrilled!! And that was just the beginning….

To be honest, I would have never been able to dream about all of the things God has done through me. Fast forward almost five years from that day I started selling earrings, and I am still blown away. So far, God has used me to raise over $3,000 just by selling earrings for $5 per pair! I have gotten the amazing opportunity to speak at small meetings, large gatherings, and churches. Gratefully, I have been featured on a website where over seven thousand readers were able to learn about Earrings for Life! AND now I am being asked to write blogs, which is pretty crazy and so humbling!

I chose to raise money for crisis pregnancy centers because it is an organization that is very close to my heart. Young women and couples choosing to kill their children just because it was not their plan hurts me. These sweet little children had so much promise and future…but their mother decided to do what was most convenient for her. The awesome thing about the centers I donate to is that not only do they come alongside young mothers-to-be and encourage them to save their children’s life, but they also provide counseling, parenting classes, and financial aid.

In James 1:27, it says the following:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

To me, living out this verse means to come alongside unborn children that have no one to fight for their lives and say to their mothers that these children are worth it. They are alive and deserve to live long lives!

Thank you so much to Leah, for allowing me to write for her awesome blog! If you would like to help support Earrings for Life, the most important thing you can do is pray for the ministry! Also, please check out the Facebook page–Earrings for Life—if you are interested in either contacting me or buying earrings. In addition, you can email me at earringsforlife@gmail.com. Thank you so much, and God bless!

~Brooke Graham

Sometimes when we don’t feel we have much to offer, we don’t do anything. But story after story shows that God can take our little and multiply it beyond anything we imagined. Can you think of some Bible stories where God took something small and turned it into something big? Share your thoughts and encouragements for Brooke below!

Praying for a Heart

Praying

Enjoy this guest post from Carolina Gwartney. 🙂

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Sharon was born on January 1, 1997 in Uganda, and I was born the next day, January 2, 1997 in Singapore (my parents were missionaries there).  About a year later, my family moved back to America where I lived until I was eleven-years-old. In 2008, my family moved to Good Shepherd’s Fold Children’s and Babies’ Home in Uganda.   My eyes have been opened to a whole new world.

There are many medically fragile kids at GSF whom I have watched fight for their lives.  I have watched God help countless kids win their earthly battles.  And I have come to know that the six kids (and many other people in the village whom we know) who lost their earthly battles are living victoriously now in heaven.  I’ve stood in disbelief as I learn that a friend in the village has had untreated epilepsy for about fourteen years.  I have listened with feelings of sadness and defeat to stories of a teenage mother whose husband just died, and she can’t care for her children. It feels overwhelming at times, but in six years I’ve learned a lot. Yes, my eyes have been opened to much suffering, but more importantly, I’ve been reminded over and over that in the end, God is victorious. I’ve learned the power of one person following God’s lead and choosing to focus on just one person or one cause. God put on my heart that Sharon was one of the ‘ones’ I should intercede for.

Sharon_3When she was about a year old, she got sick – very sick.  She had strep throat and because her family is very poor, they didn’t take her to the hospital until it was too late.  Sharon had developed heart problems. While I was learning about the suffering in the world, Sharon was experiencing it first hand.  When she was sixteen, her heart got worse, and she was taken to the government hospital because her family had no choice.  They left the hospital with bad news and a big debt.  With the condition of her heart, Sharon would have to go to India for heart surgery.  Since her family could never afford that, Sharon has had to make the three-hour journey every month to get medicine to help.  She enjoys making mats and sells them to pay for her journey.  However, she has a hard time selling them and must sell six every month in order to pay for her transport and medicine.

In August, Sharon’s baby sister was put on GSF’s feeding program to keep malnourished families together and in December, my mom heard her sing at the program’s Christmas party.  After finding out that she had heart problems, she asked for a report on her.  When I heard Sharon’s story and that her birthday was the day before mine, I knew I had to fight for this one. On Thursday I finally got to meet Sharon.  Even though I had previously only seen her picture, the first thing I noticed is that she has lost a lot of weight.  The government hospital has also told her that she can no longer go to school because her ‘heart is tooweak’. Sharon’s situation has become urgent and we need to get her to India for surgery as soon as possible. Would you please consider joining me in helping Sharon get to India? Here are some ways you can help.

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•       Give – While not everyone can give, you can also help raise money. You could hold a bake sale, or offer to shovel snow out of people’s driveways and donate the money you raise to Sharon’s heart project. You could also mention it to your church or school and ask them if they would be willing to share (or let you share) Sharon’s story with
the youth group, Sunday school classes, individual school classes or the whole church or school group and ask people to give.  The goal is to raise $10,000 to pay her debt at the government hospital and send her to India for surgery.  We have raised about $1,500 so far.  To give, click this link, click on ‘Gwartney family’, and make sure to put in the comments (or note to seller), ‘Sharon’s heart project’. 100% of your donation will go to Sharon’s fund.  If any extra is collected, it will be used for medical projects for other people in our community.  If anything should happen to Sharon before her heart surgery, any remaining funds will also be used for other medical projects in our community.

•       Share – You can share this story or the original post from my blog on any social media sites you have or your own blog.  You can also be watching for updates on my blog, caralinag.blogspot.com.

•       Pray – You can pray that we will be able to raise the money quickly – Sharon’s need for surgery is getting urgent!  Please also pray for her heart to stay stable until she can get the surgery.

Carolina emailed me yesterday letting me know that someone is working on designing a t-shirt as a fundraiser and working on securing a matching grant. I’ll post an update on that as soon as we have the links. 😉

Valentine Card Challenge

make one cards, for one child, change one life

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Crista Moriah at Uniquely Fashioned for His Glory. Some of you may already know about her challenge from her blog or her post on The Rebelution. As a commenter on The Rebelution said, this challenge is a brilliant way to turn one’s focus away from self and channel it into service this Valentines day. But, instead of continuing to talk about it myself, I’ll let you read what Crista has to say.

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Jesus broke my heart into so many tiny pieces when I learned of the imprisoned children of Uganda.  I read over my dad’s shoulder the story of how a ministry Sixty Feet was born to serve these orphans and bring them restoration and hope in Jesus’ name.  My life has never been the same since.

He captured me with a love that mirrored His.  It was fearless, bold, dreamed big, and knew no boundaries.  It was willing to do anything to be a voice, to defend these kids, taking the stance of an advocate.

You might say I fell in love with a country, a people even while they stretched oceans apart from me.  Jesus was my Matchmaker, pairing me up with who I needed.  Only He could arrange something so perfect.

A few weeks ago, He leaned in close.  Whispering a whimsical, beautiful idea gently to my heart: Cards.  Bright, hope filled messages that would serve to spread His love to the world.  To orphans.

On my first trip to Uganda, cards brightened the day of many lives in the prisons.  I knew how much they would mean to these orphans.  It made me realize just how tender, how compassionate is the heart of our God.  The Father to the fatherless, Helper of the orphan reaching down with a simple way to tell them “I love you.” My heart thrills at the thought.

That’s what brought about this Valentine Card Challenge: 1,400 Cards by Feb. 14th.

 There are approximately 200 children in each prison and 7 prisons exist in Uganda.  That means in order for every child to receive a card, we need 1,400.

Please be the balm of healing to these broken hearts.  Share God’s love letting it spill out of your hearts and onto the pages of just one card, for one child, to change one life. We are called to do this. God calls anyone who considers the helpless blessed.

This is my Valentine Card Challenge to you.

Will you take it, for one?

Here’s what to do:

1. Make a simple card(s) with the John 3:16 verse written out, and “God loves you” or in Lugandan you could put “Jesu Okwagala”; sign your name. Please have your brothers & sisters make one, your friends, parents, family, people at your church.  Anyone can help participate to meet our goal.

2.Write “Valentine Card Challenge” on the back of the envelope. (If you have a lot of cards, just send it in a large envelope or box. )

Address & send to the ministry SixtyFeet:

Sixty Feet Inc.
2451 Cumberland Parkway
Suite 3526
Atlanta, Georgia 30339

3. In order to keep a tally, please comment on this post or under “Contact Me” telling how many cards you sent in.

Also, please feel free to share this on your own blog, through email, Pinterest, whatever you like.

That’s it!  Three simple steps that can change the world with God’s love.  All it takes is ordinary people willing to do what He asks of them to make an extraordinary difference in the lives around them and across the globe.

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So, what do you think? Will you send a card (or two … or three … or more)? Let me know if you do!

Kang’s Heart of Hope

Kang's Heart of HopeLast month, a post on my friend Marli’s blog caught my attention. She shared a post about Timothy, a little boy in China who has both Downs Syndrome and a heart defect. Marli’s post linked through to the original post, written by Hannah “Jiejie,” a young woman who knows and loves Timothy. After reading the post, I contacted Hannah to see if she’d like to post about Timothy here on TIO. She replied that Timothy had received the full funding for his heart surgery, but she would love to post about another little boy. Here’s that post.

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I was chatting with my parents via Skype when my mom told me, “There’s a new little boy at the orphanage. He seems to have a heart defect.”

When you think of orphans and orphanages, maybe the first thing that pops into your mind is a row of cribs filled with babies. This is an accurate picture. But when I think of orphans I see another image; the two, three and four year-olds who are abandoned. These are the children who have known a family, and who have been loved and treasured by their parents, but when the medical needs became too much, or when the heart defect was diagnosed and a life-saving surgery quoted at way more than the family could ever expect to borrow from relatives, hope was abandoned and the children left alone at the orphanage gate.

This is Kang’s story. I know nothing of his birth parents. I know little about why he was abandoned, but I can guess.

Kang is almost three. His lips are blue, his fingertips are blue, he is weak and he is small. He has little strength to do anything. Kang has a very complicated heart defect. I can only image that his parents took him to many doctors and most of them probably said that there was nothing that they could do – only big hospitals in the city have the expertise to do a surgery that would repair Kang’s heart. Maybe they took him to one of the bigger hospitals in the city? Maybe the hospital gave them an estimation of what the surgery would cost. They must have cried-ugly that night as they watched their little boy sleep peacefully without a clue that his parents were about to make a decision that would change his life and his story forever.

Kang_1 Kang was abandoned just a few months ago. He is almost three, y’all, almost three. Think about your own two year-olds. Are they aware that they have a mommy and a daddy? Do they understand that you are there to take care of them and meet their needs? They do! And so imagine what Kang’s little heart must have done when he woke up and found himself away from the family he had known and surrounded by the chaos that is a toddler room in an orphanage. Busy nannies scrambling to meet the needs of dozens of children… crying children who just want to be held… fighting children who have learned how to get their own way… quiet children who know that no one will come.

And so Kang’s broken heart that couldn’t provide his body with the oxygen it needed, broke again.

We worked with the orphanage and they were able to get him taken in to the local hospital for some tests. The doctor said that surgery was necessary, but impossible. We took the results to some of the excellent cardiology hospitals in Beijing, and the surgeons said that surgery could be done. They suggested that they could repair his heart with one major operation, and that it would cost $20,000.

Taking a deep breath we stepped back… wow. That’s a lot of money. We looked at some other hospitals and applied for a government grant. The government rejected Kang’s application, saying that it was too late, he should have had surgery years ago and that there was no hope.

I don’t know about you, but the thing that gets me riled up the most is when somebody says that there is no hope. I think that the hairs on the back of my neck visibly stand on end. And so when the government rejected Kang’s application and refused to fund his surgery because they said he, “has no hope,” I decided that we have to do something.

Yes, it’s true, Kang’s surgery is complex and there is a chance that he will not survive. But do we have the right to make this decision? Do we have the right to choose not to give Kang his only hope of survival? Where do we place our trust?

Kang’s surgery will cost between $16,000 and $20,000 USD. This is a lot of money, but not if we stand together, a little here and a little there. It will add up. Are you willing to take the risk, to give Kang hope? His life is worth it.

Kang_2 (1)

Kang is currently being cared for by Little Flower Project’s baby home in Beijing. His fundraising page is here.

Will you stand with me?

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I hope you didn’t mind the slightly-longer-than-usual post today! If you have time an inclination, I’d really recommend checking out Hannah’s blog, Loving Dangerously. It’s a lot of fun to read through.

If you have any questions for Hannah (or me, of course!) please leave a comment. Comments are always awesome! 😉

Adoption: An Insiders Look

Adoption An Insider's View

Today’s feature is a guest post from Spencer Rothfuss. Hope you enjoy! 😉

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Adoption. When Leah first asked me to do a guest post on TIO about adoption I wasn’t sure what I’d write about. There are many facets to adoption that would each take volumes to cover; everything from the legal requirements of adoption to attachment and bonding with the child you adopt. I guess I’ll start by telling about my experiences with adoption. My family first got involved in adoption in October of 2009. We submitted our application to a local adoption agency for a domestic infant adoption program that was predicted to take 9-12 months; similar to a normal biological pregnancy.

However, my family’s process was unusually, well, dramatic. Our adoption agency went bankrupt and we were moved to a new one a short time after we began and the process stretched on. Finally, in December of 2011, two years later, we received the call; we were matched. The baby we were matched with was a boy and was scheduled to be born by C-Section in about a month; mid-January. Mom and Dad met the birth parents. We were talking about details like his name, his room in our house, and then God decided that the time was now. Just two weeks after we had heard of this precious little boy, and four days after Mom and Dad had met the birth parents, we were at the hospital and Michael Joseph was born on New Year’s Eve, 2011. We spent four days in the hospital and were visited by an average of five grandparents from both families each day. God miraculously provided for us in many ways. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard, truly it was. But if God wants something to happen, and Oh does he want adoption to happen, it will happen and he will be able to accomplish it.

Adoption is truly the full realization and ultimate end result of a pro-life mentality. And just as Jesus came to give life and life in all its fullness, so our enemy is bent on bringing death and removing the beautiful symbol of our adoption into Christ’s family. As Russell D. Moore says in Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches:

“But adoption is contested… The Scriptures tell us there are unseen beings in the air around us who would rather we not think about what it means to be who we are in Christ. These rulers of the age would rather we ignore both the eternal reality and the earthly icon of it. They would rather we find our identity, our inheritance, and our mission according…to what the Bible calls “the flesh” – rather than according to the veiled rhythms of the Spirit of life. That’s why adoption isn’t charity it’s war.”

When we set out to adopt we defy the powers ruling over our fallen world. We roll back the clock to before the fall and bring a little slice of that intimate perfection with God back into our day.

Michael lived and grew with us for about a year and half before we decided we wanted more. We wanted more of this picture of God’s love in our lives, more children in our family. In August of 2013 we started our second adoption process. This time through Lifeline, based out of Alabama, to do an international adoption from China. We were matched with Lucy Joy Haiyan “Sparrow” Rothfuss in January (for those who know about this process, we are now LID and are hoping to get our LOA by the end of September). Lord willing we (or at least some of our family) will travel around October and spend two weeks in country. We are absolutely ecstatic. To stay up to date on our process, please visit our family blog.

Adoption is really a marvelous thing. It has been a great experience for our whole family. Adoption has really changed me. In a good way. It has really given me an appreciation and awareness of something I had only passing knowledge of before. And I got a new brother out of the deal so it was a double win. One of the greatest ways you can contribute to the cause of adoption if you can’t adopt yourself is by doing awareness like this blog. Spreading the word about children who need to be adopted really can make a difference.

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A Note From Leah: Learn how you can support the Ruthfuss’ adoption of Lucy Joy Haiyan by visiting their Puzzle Project.

Teens In Action: Everlasting Hope

Elisabeth

Elisabeth

Today, I’m excited to welcome Elisabeth Sullivan to TIO. I discovered her project through a comment she left on The Rebelution. When I emailed her to ask for a guest post, it turned out that she already followed TIO. And she agreed to write a guest post. Her project is fantastic! Just goes to show that young people can make a difference with a bit of ingenuity. I love how Elisabeth took an idea she saw somewhere else and modified it to make her own unique, effective project. And, even better, there’s a bunch of ways you can help her with it. Enjoy her article. 🙂

What we’re doing:

Everlasting Hope is a group that crochets hats to raise money for the Master’s Home, an orphanage being built in Uyo, Nigeria by MCCF International. (For right now, 50% of the profit we make goes to the Master’s Home.) Our goal is to raise at least $1000. We post different hats and crocheted projects we are working on. We also have an online store called Hope Eternal Enterprises (HEE) where have most of the hats we make that we are selling. HEE got 38 views 3 days after it was published and Everlasting Hope has gotten over 560 page views! We were really excited. 🙂

Polar Bear Hat

Polar Bear Hat

In December, I gave all the profit I made to the orphanage in honor of Christmas; a week after I sent it to the orphanage, I looked in my wallet for money to buy bunny food (you would not believe how much food my rabbit eats!) and it was empty except for a $5 bill. I now owed my mom $42 for bunny food and yarn. I questioned whether I should have put that much of my money into it and I prayed to God for financial help. A couple of days later, I got an order for over 15 hats! I thanked God with all of my heart. That was a kind of sign to me that God was blessing what I was doing.

What inspired me:

Flower Hat

Flower Hat

The book Do Hard Things is what inspired me to get moving and do some hard things for God. I wasn’t sure what I should do exactly until I looked at their website and saw a project that Elaini Garfield was doing to raise money for orphans in India. She styled one dress 100 different ways over a period of 100 days, blogging about it along the way. She raised more then $10k more than they initially hoped for, so now she is continuing the blog indefinitely to raise awareness. That gave me an idea: instead of styling one dress a different way every day for 100 days, I could crochet one hat a day for 100 days in different styles and sizes to raise money for the Master’s Home. My dad convinced me to change it closer to 50 days at least for the beginning so I changed it to 56 days (8 weeks). My goal was to raise $1000 in those 56 days. I made a blog for it called Everlasting Hope, where I post different projects I’ve made lately and other stuff like that. I was going to start on February 1, but since then, I have been absolutely flooded with orders for all kinds of hats so the 8 Week Challenge was on hold for awhile. LORD willing, I will begin on March 30. 🙂

God has definitely blessed us in this work; we’ve been absolutely flooded with orders for Minion hats, frog hats, flower hats, and more. It’s been really awesome seeing God work His will through us. I never dreamed it would grow as big as it is now.

How you can help:

If you would like to help, you can:
Pray – We need all the prayers we can get!
Donate – You can donate online on the MCCF International website
Buy some of our hats – We’ve got all kinds of cute hats we’re making! They are all $10, no matter what size or style you get
Spread the word – Tell other people you know about Everlasting Hope.
Join us! – If you know how to knit or crochet, you can make things and sell them too! My little sister is going to make 1 headband a day for 56 days along with me.

Have any questions for Elisabeth? What talents has God given you that you could use to help orphans?

Teens In Action: Project 27

Kitanda ProjectHello everyone! I’m back with another teen who is making a difference in the lives of orphans. (If you missed last week’s Teens In Action post,  go over and read Blankets of Love at some point.) Abby found TIO through The Rebelution and shot me an email to say she liked the website and blog. She also mentioned a ministry she and some girls for her school run. I found her story inspiring, and I hope you will too. Here’s Abby.

“Religion is 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

After studying Romans 12, a call to a transformed and sanctified life, my peers and I were challenged to respond to the call of James 1:27. Praying for an open door through which we could serve, the Lord directed us to Agape Children’s Ministry. We knew missionaries who were stationed in Kenya, Africa with Agape Children’s Ministry. The focus of the home to is rescue street boys and girls from the homelessness and wondering of street life in Kisumu, Kenya (www.agapechildren.org), and present the gospel to the children. We began supporting this ministry through a program labeled the Kitanda Project, as Kitanda is bed in Swahili. Through this project, we raised monthly donations in order that a child would be supported safely in a ‘bed’, which included not only a place to lay his head, but also all other physical, educational, and health needs.

We all were excited to get to work for the needy and orphaned! Through car washes, bake sales, and jewelry sales we raised more than the amount of money we needed. God taught us how to serve others, sacrifice time, and pray for the needs of the unredeemed. Captivated by the mercy and grace of our Savior, we were awed by His abundant blessing on our Project. Continuously money poured in, and we were able to support the ministry far beyond our commitment. As I reflect on the goodness of our God through this learning process I can’t help but become overly excited because of the Lord we serve! God used little middle school girls with hardly a clue about fundraising and commitments to bring about His plan for the orphaned.

Isaiah 1:16-17 says: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” We have learned that caring for the orphaned, the widowed, and the unredeemed is really a call for cleanliness on behalf of the believer’s life and heart. Once we have made our hearts right before the Lord, then we are able to serve, pray for, and become involved with orphans and missions. Our prayer is that on this road to answer the call of James 1:27 and Isaiah 1:16-17, we first prepare our hearts before our Holy Father.

As we continue the legacy of the Kitanda Project, we have taken on a new name, Project 27, based off of James 1:27 and the call for cleanliness in the last 27 books of Isaiah. We would be blessed if you lift us up in prayer as we pray for wisdom and guidance on how to live righteously and serve others.

I am so very thankful for the work, time, and effort Leah has put into this site! What a blessing it was when I came upon her website and her mission and heart for orphans. We don’t know how blessed we are to have the resources God has made available to us. Let us respond to God’s call of righteous, clean living! There are plenty of opportunities to serve; thank you Leah for organizing this precious mission and devoting your life to God’s call for the orphans.  

I also asked Abby how people can donate to Project 27, and this is what she said.

Thanks for your encouragement! The best way to donate to our project is to send a check, since we do not have an online account as of right now. Checks can be made out to Southside Christian School (my school where we have Project 27) with “kitanda project” in the memo line ( we have not yet changed the name officially). They can be sent to 2028 Orton Rd.

It’s so encouraging to me to hear stories like Abby’s and see that teens who care can make a difference. And I hope reading what other’s are doing will give you ideas for how you can take action as well. Have any thoughts or comments? Want to ask Abby a question?

Teens In Action: Blankets of Love

Uruguay1Cathy Vollenweider contacted me a while back to share about her ministry to orphans in Uruguay and wondered if it might be something of interest to share on TIO.  I was so excited to hear about her heart for Uruguay and to learn about her ministry. Her story is perfect for TIO. Stay tuned to learn about another teen’s ministry to orphans next week. And now, here’s Cat.

God has given me compassion for children in one of the smallest and most secular countries in South America: Uruguay.  In Uruguay, many children are abandoned, abused, and unwanted.  Uruguay’s crumbling family unit and hurting children are related to issues such as legal prostitution and nearly impossible adoption, leaving a huge percentage of innocent Uruguayan little ones living in orphanages and hungry for love.

In spite of the darkness that pervades, God is bringing about a glorious change through His people there.  An example of such is the Stallings family.  They moved to Uruguay from Colorado specifically to love and mentor Uruguayan orphans (go to http://www.fieldsofthefatherless.org to see more about their mission).

I am coming alongside the Stallings’s to help these little children know that they are loved, through prayer and through a project called Bracelets4Blankets.  The Lord, by His generous grace, is using this project of selling friendship bracelets to raise money so that the Stallings’s can give winter blankets to the orphans that they have relationships with.

Uruguay is in the southern hemisphere, so their winters go from June to August.  Time is limited to complete this project!  Bracelets are $5 each.  All donations will go to the Stallings’s ministry, who will use it to give blankets to the orphans.

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To read more about my passion for Uruguay: either keep reading, or follow this link to my blog (both posts are different).  If you would like to give $5 to help keep these orphans warm this winter, follow this link. After donating, click the yellow button that says “Return to the Bracelet Project” (or something like that) to be redirected to a blog page containing an order form, where you can tell me your preferences for the bracelet (or follow this link to go directly to the project’s page – it explains in more detail how the donation/ordering process works).

Uruguay3So, why do I have a passion for Uruguay, specifically?  I really have a hard time with this question, and it is something that I have wrestled with myself.  I have asked, “why? Why does my heart ache for those in a far away country that I had not heard of before?”  And I’m still not sure of the answer, but I do know that the passion He has given me is real.

The Lord simply put a passion for Uruguay on my heart.  In February of 2013, I had been praying intensely about the direction in which God wanted my life to go.  During a conversation with my older brother, he wondered out loud why mission trips to Uruguay are unheard of, and as we began searching for the answer to this question, the people of this little country captured my heart.

I have never been to Uruguay; merely a year ago I had only vaguely heard of it.  Yet I have a compassion and broken heart for the people of Uruguay like I have for nothing else.  The only way I can explain it is that this is a God-given passion.

Sometimes, the hurt that I have for Uruguay seems unbearable, and sometimes I feel like giving up.  Those times, I hold onto what Christ did for me, and I remember that my life is “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3), and that my fingers are His anyway.  How could I stop them from doing the work He has given me?  So I make bracelets.  Please join me in this work – I know that united we can accomplish anything, and I believe that God will do something amazing beyond imagination.

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Does anyone have questions or comments for Cat? Were you inspired by the story of a fellow teenager doing what she can to make a difference in the lives of children? Thank you, Cat, for the article!