Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How Judah Changed a Life

You will Fall in Love with this Child – Guaranteed!

Compassion  sent me this video today about a little boy named Judah. The name of the link won't tell you much but I guarantee that if you click on the link, watch the video and let God speak to you, this little boy might just change your life, and the life of someone else.

Sponsor a Child and Save a Life.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: When I Get Really Afraid...

Since it's been about a month since I last wrote my special kiddos, I went online to write them last night. I've already written to them about Easter so I decided to focus my letter on something else.

Fadi and Ali are from Honduras and in the areas that they live in, gangs, drugs and violence are prevalent. It's not uncommon for girls living in extreme poverty to go into prostitution or for boys to join gangs. I fear for their safety and pray that God would protect them. Lucy lives in Ghana with relatives. I'm sure that her situation is very similar to Fadi's as she also lives in extreme poverty.

I wonder if they're afraid to walk to school everyday or if noises in the night make them cry. So, in my letter, I chose to focus on what they should do when they're afraid.

At the end of each of their letters, I wrote:

If you ever have any worries or prayer requests, please tell me so that I can pray for you. And you never have to be worried or afraid because God is always with you. We should both memorize this verse so that when we're afraid, we can say it and ask God for help. Psalm 56:3-4 says "When I get really afraid, I will trust you. I’m proud to praise God; in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?" A long time ago, King David prayed this to God when he was captured by the Philistines. God rescued him and kept him safe. God loves you too and will keep you safe.

What did you write about in your last letter to your sponsored child? Let me know below!

Want to sponsor a child? Click HERE to choose a special boy or girl.

Check out my last "Sponsorship Saturday" post:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Senior Trip

I've finally found the time to write about my Senior Trip!

The trip went from Sunday, March 22nd to March 31st. On the first day, we only drove to Fada (a small town in Burkina Faso) and spent the night. After a delicious dinner of spaghetti and salad, this is how some of the senior guys entertained themselves:

The following morning, we drove to Benin and went to see some pretty awesome waterfalls. I had been there before but the last time, I'd almost had an encounter with a snake! 

After the waterfalls, we spent the night in a hotel and continued on to Grand Popo the following morning. I think we were on the road for about 10 hours that day. It started out fun and exciting but as the hours went on and the potholes in the road got worse, we all grew tired with each other.

When we FINALLY reached our hotel in Grand Popo, it was after dark and we were all exhausted. We had a delicious supper of sea food and then went to bed with the ocean lulling us to sleep.
Here are some pictures of the hotel where my class stayed: 

We basically spent every morning at the ocean swimming and getting smacked in the face by waves. Some days, we ate at the hotel and other days, we went out. The best meal that we ever had was when we went to see sea turtles though. The man in charge of the turtles took us on a boat ride to the ocean where we swam some more and collected shells:

For lunch that day, we had shrimp with rice and an onion sauce. Word of advice - don't try eating the shrimp brains. They're pretty disgusting, in my opinion:

Also, every night, we watched Harry Potter because some of the class hadn't seen it before.

For me, the highlight of the trip was at the end when we had a huge bonfire (complete with s'mores and delicious food) and then spent time praying for each other. I've only got a few more weeks of school left so it's been nice getting to know my class better before we part ways! 

*Pictures taken by me and by Jessica Neff

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: Introducing...

It's been a pretty busy last couple of weeks for me with school and my Senior trip (a post to be coming this week!) but I will try my best to continue with my weekly "Sponsorship Saturdays".

I mentioned a while back that for my birthday, my mom decided to co-sponsor a child. Well, after weeks of corresponding with Compassion International, she is finally a correspondent sponsor!

And without further ado, I'd like to introduce you guys to Jaqueline!

Jaqueline is 8 years old and lives in Brazil with her mom. Originally, my mom wanted to co-sponsor a girl from West Africa but none were available. I really do pray that the two of them will be blessed.

If you'd like to become a correspondent sponsor, please email Compassion International to be added to their waiting list. You can also let them know if you want a child from a specific country or with a specific age.

If you'd like to sponsor a child, please click HERE

Check out my last "Sponsorship Saturday" post:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: The Blessing of Letters

I spent the evening reading all my letters from Fadi, Ali and Lucy. But this time, it was different from every other time I have read them.

I pictured Fadi's mom sitting in  her house at her table with Fadi bouncing excitedly beside her. The only light that she has is from a small candle. My most recent letter is open beside her and she does her best not to spill wax on the paper. Fadi dictates to her as she writes and the two of them slowly answer my questions. At the end of the letter while Fadi is gathering up her crayons to draw me a picture, her mom adds something special at the end. She thanks me for loving her daughter so much and for praying for their family.

I picture Ali at the Compassion center with his tutor as she helps him write his letters. Of course, she's the one actually writing it but Ali is dictating as he colors a picture for me. After the letter has been written, she tucks it safely under her arm and gives Ali my letter to take home. He looks closely at my handwriting and at the stickers that I give him.

I picture Lucy sitting with her tutor as she reads my letters. The tutor then hands Lucy a new piece of paper to draw me a picture.

I've never really stepped back and thought about what my letters mean to my sponsored kids. I am blessed to know that both Fadi and Ali are loved very much at home (I'm not sure how much love Lucy gets because I have only received one letter from here). Fadi's mom writes the letters which I absolutely love. They become more personal because she knows her daughter so well.

I LOVE writing Fadi, Ali and Lucy and I love receiving their letters. I don't get much mail out here but their letters are probably the best out of everything.

Want to sponsor a child? Click HERE to choose a special boy or girl. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Senior Testimony

Well, my Senioritis has kicked in and is now in full swing! 3rd quarter has pretty much ended and my class is preparing for our Senior Trip to a neighboring country. I've had my Senior pictures taken (I've included a few of them in this post), been accepted to my colleges (JBU and Dordt!) and today I gave my testimony. Actually, that's what I wanted to share with all of you in this post.

I've been at Sahel (my school) since Kindergarten and since about then, I've been listening to the seniors each year give their testimony. Each time, I have been challenged by their statements and faith. I've also been excited in having God work in my life. What I didn't realize at the time was he's been working in my life since Day 1.

As an MK, I've had to say goodbye a lot. Most MKs move around a lot but I have only switched houses. I've been in Niger since I was two and the biggest move I've made is home assignments to the U.S. every couple of years. Instead of being the one to leave and travel around, I was the only being left behind. Now, while most kids would consider this lucky (and in many ways it really is), I ended feeling alone most of the time. I never really said proper goodbyes, was (and still am) terrible at keeping in touch, and felt like I didn't have anyone to talk to. On top of that, I ended up with trust issues.

MKs (and TCKs) have two extremes when it comes to making new friends. One extreme is spilling out everything about yourself the first time you meet someone new. This happens because we don't know when we're going to see each other again so we feel that it's better to let them know everything about ourselves. The other extreme is not getting too close or deep with anyone and not building any relationships. I think I was (and still am) more in the middle.

From all of this, I ended feeling left out and alone.

When I was 2 or 3, I asked Jesus to be my savior. I wasn't completely sure how to apply it all but God was still evident in my life. When God gets a hold of a life, he's always there somewhere whether you realize it or not. When I was 7, I asked him into my life again. And again when I was 11. What I now realize was that I was more determined to have a place in heaven than to have a special relationship with Christ.

Along with trying to secure my place in heaven, I also felt disconnected from my family. I am adopted and
have grown up in a Caucasian family. But even though I am African by blood, I do not know my African culture or language. And even though I am American by passport and family, I do not know my American culture very well. Thirdly, even though I am African AND American, I am not African American. They have their own history and culture and I do not fit into that.

Because of my interesting background, I sometimes pulled myself away from my family and neglected to see the blessings that God had so perfectly placed in my life. I felt alone, left behind and very different.

For my 7th grade year, my family returned to the States. I had my first year of public school and LOVED it. I felt like I could be myself because no one had any expectations and assumptions coming from my family, faith or past. I had a small group of friends and I was happy most of the time. And sometime during that year, I began to reach out to God for the first time in my life. Praying became a HUGE part of my life. I began praying for my friends, family and people in influential positions (like Justin Bieber, Obama...you name it).  I mean, it sounds like a no brainer but I began to realize that God would never leave me, no matter what. 

As I began my relationship with Christ, the losses and pain that I had endured earlier in my life didn't hurt as much. I mean, I still have bad days and terrible days but the difference is that I don't try to let it affect me in a negative way.

Overtime, God began to tell me to act on my faith and relationship with him. I began to reach out to those around me who had gone through similar circumstances. I found myself befriending guys and girls both online and in person who felt insecure or alone (click HERE to read about how I've helped girls dealing with suicide).

God also placed sponsorship in my heart. Last year, I sponsored Fadi and now I have two more special little kids. I've used my blog, my twitter, my Facebook and my voice to encourage others to sponsor as well.

And in college, I hope to study either Early Childhood Education or Special Education so that I can help even more people - especially little kids that are neglected, abused or forgotten (and later, this will hopefully lead to me adopting some special little kids too!).

My future is still very uncertain but I know that whatever takes place, God will be right there beside me. He cares about the hurting, feeling misunderstood or alone and he wants us to reach out to him. I reach out through PRAYER, reading my Bible, going to youth group and church, doing devotions and being around Christian friends. I invest in others through prayer and witnessing.

So, in conclusion, please know that God is ALWAYS there for you and he really does care. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sponsorship Saturday: Praying for Their Futures

Alright, this is going to be a little bit of an update but I will do the best that I can to keep it centered around SPONSORSHIP SATURDAY.

Last weekend, I was in Alambare for the second time this school year and I had a blast. I won't go into too much detail (if you'd like to read more about it, go to my blog's Facebook Page) but I spent a lot more time showing love to all the little boys and girls. I don't know how many hugs, kisses and tickles they get from their parents or relatives so I did my best to fill up their heart with love. I'm thanking God for my big hands and long fingers because the bigger your hand is, the more little kid hands you can hold. They all fight for your hand and will become extremely jealous of those who are closest to you. Sometimes, I was holding three little hands at once!

I also led a devotion for our team on the Saturday night and focused on Wess Stafford's "Just A Minute" book (you can read my blog post on it HERE) and how we only have a few moments to impact a child's life forever. It is up to us to choose to positively impact or negatively impact. I also challenged the team to pray for every little kid that God brought into their path. Whenever I was holding a little girl or boy in my lap, I always made sure to pray for them and for their future. Many of the children would probably never leave their village because of money and resources. I pray that God will use them to be lights in their community.

As for pranks, there were only four high school girls (including me) that went on this trip but we still decided to prank the guys. We all got up at 5am, sneaked over to the tent, and collapsed it. Unfortunately, it did not go down all the way so around 7am (when they were just waking up), we collapsed the whole thing again. It was hilarious and they were not very happy about the whole thing but they never got us back. Too bad.

Moving on to my sponsored children - I try to pray for different aspects of my sponsored children's lives. The biggest topic that I bring to God is their future and safety. In almost every country in the world, especially the poorer ones, girls fall victim of rape and prostitution. It's an even bigger deal in Honduras and many husbands leave their wives when life gets tough (both Fadi and Ali do not live with their fathers but still keep in touch with them).

For my two girls (Fadi and Lucy), I ask God to teach them not to be afraid in their communities and to remember that he is always there with them. I also pray that they would not feel that in order to provide for their families (in the future obviously), they will not give away their bodies for money.

For my strong little man (Ali), I ask God to teach him to love and respect women, treating them like sisters. I do not want him to grow up abusing his position as the man of the family. I hope that he will have a godly character and treat his family the way God treats us.

How often do you pray for your sponsored children and what do you pray for?

If you'd like to impact the life of a child, please sponsor a child HERE.