Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: Give Them Hope

Meet Mayc. He's 4 years old and lives in Peru. Actually, he just celebrated his 4th birthday two days ago. Mayc is fortunate to live with both his parents but unfortunately, they're not always able to financially provide for their family. Mayc is lucky to have the opportunity to go to the Compassion Center to learn about Jesus. This means that he may give his Heavenly savior and spend eternity in heaven where there will be no poverty, not tears, no fear and no sickness.

Mayc loves playing with his toy cars and drawing pictures for his family and friends. And Mayc has been waiting 320 days for a sponsor.

Please SPONSOR him and give him hope.

Meet Alondra. First of all, she is so adorable and so precious (just look at that smile!). She's 4 years old and lives in Nicaragua. Alondra lives at home with her mother and sibling and loves to play with dolls and play house. She is lucky to have the opportunity to go to the Compassion center where she hears about Jesus and his love for her and that beautiful smile. So, whenever she feels sad or scared, she can turn to her Savior not lose her hope.

Alondra has been waiting 351 days for a sponsor.

Please SPONSOR her and give her hope.

And if you're not able to sponsor either of these precious children, please pray for them. Ask God to keep them safe, provided for and loved by their parents and teachers.

If by the time you click on the links to sponsor either Mayc or Alondra and they're unavailable, don't let that stop you from giving hope to a child in need. There are thousands of children on who are waiting too with stories similar to the ones that I just told you about. Give them hope.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: An Exciting Update!

For those of you who follow my Facebook page, you'll know that I recently got an updated picture of Ali! He's turning into such a handsome little guy. In about three months, he'll be 10 years old!! And next month, I'll have been sponsoring him for a year now.

Not only was his picture updated but so was his family information and his interests. It seems as though his mom finally has a job (which is an answer to prayer!) as a cleaner. Ali is into marbles and group activities now.

Both my mom and I noticed how skinny he looks in both pictures. That concerns me a little bit. His birthday is coming and I'm considering how much I should send to him. Usually I send about $20 but I want to do what I can for him and his family. I'll be praying about that in the next few days. I'll also be praying for his family and their safety and health. I'm in the process of sending a birthday gift to Ali and a small gift to his mom with someone traveling to Honduras in October. He will always be close to my heart.

I just got a letter from Fadi yesterday. She's in great health and is a very happy little girl. My favorite part of the letter was:

"At the project she feels very happy and she has learned the importance of washing her hands before she eats and brushing her teeth. . .What Fadi likes most about Honduras is the geography because thank God there are no volcanoes here."

I love, love, love the three pictures that I have received from her and am excited to send something to her in the next month (thanks to a fellow sponsor who was willing to bring something directly to her in Honduras).

She just turned 8 years old and is into reading and listening to music. I need to ask her what her favorite song is! And although her parents are back together under the same roof, Fadi's mom doesn't have a job. I will be praying that she is still able to provide for her 4 children.

I haven't heard anything from Lucy in a while and hope that she's doing ok. However, I did just hear today that her favorite subject in school is Drawing! Her birthday is in about two months and she'll be turning 8. I have been praying that she is still drawing closer to God and doing her best in school.

Tell me about your own sponsored kids below in the comments or if you've written something on your blog, send me the link! I love hearing about other sponsored kids!

Check out last week's "Sponsorship Saturday" post:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: Don't Turn Away

I posted this on my Facebook page a few days ago but wanted to share it on here as well. I found it on The Rebelution. You can read it if you click on this link (These Are Real Children. They Need Your Help. Don’t Turn Away.) where it will include pictures and comments and links to other awesome pages or you can just read it here on my blog. I did not change anything (except for omitting the pictures):

"When I was a kid, I never wanted to be a ballerina or a princess. I have always had a heart for missions. When I was five years old, my parents sponsored a little girl in Guatemala so she could go through school, have food to survive, have clothing, and learn about Jesus.

When I was eight, I got a letter from the organization, showing pictures of more children who needed sponsored. I sobbed and sobbed while looking at their faces, realizing those were REAL people who were hungry and who didn’t know Jesus.
My mom would tell me, “Julianne, you can do something about it” and that’s exactly what I did. I created a group with fifteen of my friends and we sold cookies, candy, candles, and pictures that we drew. We spoke at our church, and went around town getting loose change for children who needed sponsored.
Most people may think, “Awww, that’s so sweet. A bunch of 8 and 9 year olds trying to help a few kids get sponsored.” But that’s just the beginning of the story for me. I sponsored a child of my own the day before I started my first job. I created a group on Facebook to raise awareness of poverty around the globe, raised countless amounts of money for organizations like Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade,Compassion International30 Hour Famine, and Speed the Light. And most importantly, I got to go on my first missions trip last year to Zambia, Africa.
Who knew that ten short days in Africa could flip my life upside down? I could rattle off lots of statistics that would break your heart, but love is not about numbers. Love is about real people.
Vice is a 7 year old girl. She and her three year old brother Nathan followed me the entire time I was in Zambia. I became in love with both of them. They could not stop holding my hands, playing with my hair, or sitting on my lap.
The very last day I was with Vice, I helped her make a craft out of a brown paper bag. At the end of the day Vice sat next to me and ripped up the brown paper bag and began to eat it to ease the hunger that burned in her stomach. The thing is, Vice is real person. She is my friend. And she is God’s child.
Lauren is a 3 year old girl. She is an orphan because her parents died of AIDS. Lauren and I played with a Frisbee together. I could tell she was sick, but most of the children I saw were sick. I watched her chase after this Frisbee for a good five minutes. Then suddenly she started coughing, and coughing, and coughing. Then she leaned over and threw up all this white stuff.
I knew that her running was not a good idea if she was sick like that, so I sat Lauren on my lap. As she fell asleep in my arms I realized she had an extremely high temperature. I asked a team member who went with me to Zambia what was wrong with this little girl. He told me that Lauren had worms which could be prevented for $1.25.
That’s how much I spend on a candy bar! I knew my life had to drastically change to help people like Lauren. Because Lauren is real person. She is my friend. And she is God’s child.
Lubona is a 73 year old woman. She had 5 children who all died in a car accident. She not only had grief from the loss of all five of her children, she also had to take in her 18 grandchildren the same day.
Lubona could barely survive before, and now she has more 18 mouths to feed. In order to feed all her grandchildren she has to rotate their meals — giving six of her grandchildren breakfast, six of them food at lunch, and six of them food at dinner. Lubona and her grandchildren are real people. They are my friends. And they are God’s children.
As Americans, when it comes to missions and the poor it’s so much “out of sight and out of mind,” that we don’t really think much about it. We may think a little bit about it when a missionary from another country comes to our church, but do we really do much more than throw a few loose dollars in the offering plate for them? I mean, let’s be honest, most of us go and spend more on lunch after church than giving to the missionary that just stood in our pulpits.
Jesus says that if we love Him, we are to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to visit and care for the sick.
I think one of the hardest things for me when I came back to America was when I looked online at pictures of all the children who needed to be sponsored. I saw the children I had held and I had played with. I saw that they needed sponsored. I realized they really are REAL people.
When you look at a picture of a child who needs sponsored or a video of a starving child, they aren’t just videos or pictures. They are REAL. They are the faces of Jesus. And they are hungry and naked and sick and they are asking us today: Will you feed me? Will you clothe me? Will you take care of me?
I will say yes. And I am asking you to help me.
I am asking, will you help your church support your missions program?
There are millions of people all across the world in desperate need. What are you going to do about it?
Are you going to sit back and enjoy your comfortable American lifestyle where you never think about where your next meal is coming from? Or are you going to see the face of Jesus in people who are desperate for help?
Are you going to ignore the problems in the world because they are so overwhelming or are you going to offer hope to the hopeless? God may not be calling you to feed and clothe the entire world, but you can feed and clothe ONE of His children. So what are you going to do about it today?
Will you answer His call?"
~ written by Julianne Fortney

Check out the last "Sponsorship Saturday" post:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Day Camp Week #2

I've almost finished up my second week managing the Summer Day Camp at one of the schools here in Niamey. While the work can be tough (especially with 10 of the kids only speaking French and me not being able to speak any!) and  the kids a little too energetic, it's been a great experience so far and a lot of fun.

Getting the job and signing the contract was probably the most difficult of this job (so far) with trying to work out the pay, the hours and my responsibilities. I am the one and only teacher for all 13 kids (soon to be about 20) which has been very hard but I am thankful for the older kids who have stepped up and helped me a bit. There are also a few staff members who've been around to translate and manage the kids. Every day, I find myself asking God for help and every day, he answers my prayers and I come home with satisfaction for the day.

Although I am not used to being the only one in charge of so many kids for almost a full day, I've really, really enjoyed all the freedom of organizing the day and all the activities. We've been starting the mornings with crafts and toys inside the classroom and then we move outside for a few hours of sports. After lunch and a little (or a lot!) of TV watching, the kids head back outside until their drivers and parents come to pick them up.

Every time I'm having a hard day and am feeling overwhelmed, my mom will remind me that this will be good experience for later in life. And she's right. Whether I decide to become a teacher or work at a day care or nanny, this experience is going to help me out so much. I've also learned a lot just by going online and looking up fun crafts and activities to do with the kids. Just this evening, my mom and I made two big bottles of bubbles for the kids to use tomorrow. We'll also be painting but I'm not sure how that will go.

Prayer would be extremely appreciated for me right now as I am struggling to manage so many kids, communicate in the little French that I know, wake up early and discipline the kids. The ages range from 5 to 12 years old.

But, please, also pray that God would use me to witness to the children as the majority of them are not Christians and probably know next to nothing about Jesus.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: It's NOT About You

Well, it's been a while since I've updated my blog, let alone post any Sponsorship Saturday posts! I've been busy with graduation (happened last Thursday!) and my new job.

Anyway, I realized something.

None of my friends here sponsor and I wonder if it's because it takes up a lot of time, money, energy, prayer and stationary. Sponsoring children is no easy job. It really does take a lot of time and you'd better have the money to support him or her each month. Speaking from experience, I've really hated having to balance my money so that I can pay the $76 a month. And it takes a lot of time and effort to write out three (or six) letters a month and draw pictures. But when I really stop complaining and step back to look at the whole picture, I come to a realization: Sponsorship is NOT about me!

I've written about this before but I need it to sink in for myself. Sponsorship . . . isn't about me. 

Sponsorship is about the three little kids who barely eat every night and have never owned their own iPod or even their own bicycle. It's about sharing Jesus with Ali when his sister has been in a bad accident, with Fadi when she misses her daddy and Lucy when she longs for a better future. And it's about looking at the three little pictures that sit beside my bed and praying that each would have hope in knowing that their identities are not in their poverty.  They should not be poor in spirit.

I don't sponsor to make myself feel like I'm doing good in the world. I don't sponsor because it looks cool. I sponsor because God has laid it on my heart. And if you feel that God has done the same for you, instantly obey him. Don't put it off until you feel right about it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: 6 Reasons Why Teens Should Sponsor

Before I even began sponsoring Fadi, I did quite a bit of research to convince myself and my parents that I was ready to support a child. While searching on, I came across this article called Five Reasons Why Sponsorship Is Great For Teens. It was written by a junior in high school sharing what she had learned from sponsorship.

So I decided to post my own list of how I've been changed by sponsoring Fadi (and now Ali and Lucy!).

1. I'm changing the world

A lot of teens wonder how they can make an impact before they are legally an adult and out of high school. Well, sponsorship does that and it does it in a huge way. With $38 a month, I am releasing a child from poverty. All three of my sponsored children live without at least one of their parents who are barely able to feed them. With the money that I provide each month they receive meals, medical checkups, clothes and schooling. 

2. I'm growing closer to God
Compassion International encourages sponsors to pray for their sponsored children because prayers are very powerful. Almost every night, I ask God to bless my kiddos and keep them safe and healthy. The more that I pray, the more I learn to trust God. As much as I want the best for Fadi, Ali and Lucy, there is little that I can do when we're on opposite sides of the planet. That is why I'm grateful for prayer. I can place my worries in Christ's hands and know that he will take care of my kids. I have learned more about trust. I have also learned to read my Bible more as I search for special verses for my kids and learn to enjoy the Gospel. 

3. I'm impacting a life
Unless you're a sponsor, you will not understand the feeling of knowing that a little boy or girl on the other side of the world surrounded by hopeless poverty is kneeling by their bed and praying for you. And in turn, I am able to pray for them and let them know how special they are to me. I send at least one letter to each of my kids every month and include stickers and pictures that I've drawn. In every letter, I tell Fadi that I love her, Ali that he is special and Lucy that she is as beautiful as a butterfly. And I know that because of what God is doing through me and my sponsorship, my kids will never forget me or stop loving me. That's an AMAZING feeling!

4. My worldview is growing
For me, I have grown up in a third world country my whole life so I have seen poverty up close ever since I was little. Now that I sponsor three children who have also grown up in poverty (but actually live in it), I am able to relate to them and imagine what their lives must be like. 

However, for other teens who have grown up in western countries where poverty may not be as real to them, sponsorship opens their eyes to other worlds and realities. This can be extremely powerful as their worldviews expand and they learn to walk in another's shoes.

5. I'm learning selflessness
Because I financially sponsor two kids, I pay $76 a month. Now, for an MK living overseas where I am not able to get a job at McDonalds, I have to babysit quite a bit to provide for Fadi and Ali. However, since sponsoring, I haven't regretted giving up my money to help my kids. This is how God is using me right now to serve him and I love it. What better way could I spend my money? Not on iTunes, new clothes or anything else. 

6. I know what I want to do with my life
This may only be true for me but before sponsoring, I knew that I wanted to be involved with kids for the rest of my life. But I wasn't sure if I wanted to become a teacher or something else. In one of Fadi's letters, she told me that she wanted to become a teacher and that's when I felt like God was telling me to give teaching a try. Since then, I have found that I have a passion for teaching little kids and am now fully pursuing Early Childhood Education in the future.

I am so happy that God put sponsorship into my life because it is definitely one of the best things that I've invested my money, time, thoughts and prayers into. I love Ali, Lucy and Fadi like little brothers and sisters. They are special to me. And I know that because of my efforts and me obeying God, their lives will never be the same. 


Check out last week's "Sponsorship Saturday" post:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Deep Conditioning Experiment

As you know, this blog is basically just a bit of everything so I've decided to post a little more about my hair.

When I was little, my mom struggled a lot when it came to taking care of my African hair. No one was really able to teach her (or me) the right ways to care for it or what products would keep it healthy. For most of the time, I kept it braided or chemically relaxed, slowly damaging my hair.

Last year, we had two African American teachers come and teach at Sahel and they showed me how to care my hair and see how beautiful it was natural.

This is what my hair looks like when I comb it all out. If it's wet, it gets really curly (tiny ringlets).

After running out of conditioner (and not being able to buy my usual stuff here in Niger), I looked online and learned how to make my own. I got this recipe HERE.

To make this deep conditioner you need:

  •  1 large overripe banana (I just used a frozen one and thawed it out a little bit)
  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable glycerin
  • 2 tbsp of pure honey
Then you stick it in a blender until it's a smooth liquid. Mine turned out like this:

Mind you, the smell is terrible. I'm very happy that I ate dinner before deep conditioning because I could not take the smell.

I then wet my hair with warm water, dried it and applied all of the conditioner. I probably could have used half of it but because this is my first time trying it, I wanted to experiment. 

Here's what it looked liked afterwards (with the conditioner). I ended up with a lot of gorgeous curls!

After letting in sit for a little more than 45 minutes with a shower cap, I rinsed my hair with cold water and towel dried it. Now, I've got banana-smelling hair with a lot of beautiful curls! I decided not to post a picture because it looks exactly like the one above. 

I'm curious: are any of my readers African or African American? How do you take care of your hair? Comment below!