Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sowing and Reaping

Little children, let us love,
not in word or speech,
but in truth and action.

1 John 3:18

I love spending time with my family. We laugh a lot and genuinely enjoy each other's company. We're always looking for fun things to do that don't cost anything so we visit many of the state parks and nature trails in our area. This morning we headed south where we spent the morning gleaning oranges in a Clermont, Florida grove. It was a perfect day with blue skies and a cool breeze blowing. We loaded bucket after bucket of sweet ripe oranges from the trees.

It was a great opportunity for us to serve as a family. All of the fruit we gathered will be sent to local food banks to serve the poor and homeless in our area. The Society of St Andrew works with farmers and land owners across the United States to gather produce that would go to waste. Last night's family devotion came from the book of Ruth, Deuteronomy 24, and Leviticus 19 where God provides for the poor, the stranger, the widow, and the orphan by commanding land owners to leave a portion of their field unharvested for those in need. It was a tangible way for our family to serve those in need and live out the Biblical mandate to provide for others. Sam decided to represent his JROTC unit and wore his uniform in the fields. There were several families there including ones with very small children who ran around excitedly picking up fruit shaken from the trees as it rained down to the ground. I even bumped into a few of my high school students in the field! If you ever get the opportunity to glean we would encourage you to do it. It made for great memories.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sobering Numbers

There are 143 million orphans in the world.


Can you fathom that number? Take a moment and let this video put it in perspective.

Orphan Summit VI

God answers prayers!!! Out wonderful church is sending BOTH Robert and me as delegates to the conference in Minneapolis next month! I literally did the happy dance when we got the phone call. We are so overwhelmed at God's graciousness towards us. The breakout sessions are unbelievable and we're having a real problem narrowing down which sessions to sign up for. We'd love to know if anyone else in the blog world is planning on attending. Drop me a comment and let me know if you'll be there! We'd love to meet you!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Warm Hands, Warm Hearts

A missionary friend recently shared that many orphans are without proper coats and winter wear in Ukraine. She sent out a Valentine challenge last month asking individuals, Sunday school groups, churches, and families to create Valentine cards for the children and include a small donation to go towards purchasing warm wear. We were able to share this need at the mission conference we spoke at and a church member shared the need with her middle school students who created 100 handmade cards! We were overwhelmed by the selfless act of these students and the messages of love and encouragement they wrote in their cards. Kristina set about translating all 100 cards with great joy and we were able to mail the cards and $200 to Ukraine! How can you, your family, and your church be involved in glorifying God through orphan ministry? Need some ideas? Sign up for our newsletter or drop us a line. Get involved!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Long Overdue Update

Let me back up a little and tell what you what's been going on. Kristina and Robert arrived home safely at the end of January with lots of stories and pictures from their time with the orphans in Ukraine. It was a wonderful experience for both of them. They spent lots of time playing with kids, doing crafts, and just loving on the children. Kristina had the opportunity to meet with former caregivers and orphanage personnel to give her testimony of life with a family. We trust that those words will plant seeds that lead to change in perceptions concerning orphans and their potential. While there, she was interviewed by a film crew who are working on a documentary to be shown throughout Ukraine about orphans. It was an honor for her to be part of the project and we know God will use it to bring light to the good things that can happen as the result of adoption.

One of the things we were looking forward to was meeting the boys we are hoping to adopt. Unfortunately, Vitalik had been sent to a sanatorium for rest so they weren't able to meet him. But they did meet Sasha briefly while visiting his orphanage. He is tiny even for a seven year old.
There is some concern about how he is adjusting in his new orphanage. It is a rough environment and we would ask for your prayers for him at this time. Of course, that just spurs us on to get the paperwork rolling. We have spoken with the social worker who completed our home study for Kristina's adoption and she has agreed to do a new one for this adoption. We have the funds to cover that step and then we're back at square one financially. We trust that God will provide for this adoption as he did with Kristina's though. He is faithful and we look forward to watching Him work again!

Our fifteen year old twins Sam and Nate want to travel with us to Ukraine for this adoption and I am really hoping they are able to do that. They'll be a tremendous help wrangling two little boys throughout the process! They also want to see the orphanage situation in Ukraine and I am thrilled that God has made their hearts sensitive to serving in this way. To that end, they've started a little yard work business in our area to help raise money for the process. I'm guessing they'll need to raise a little over a thousand dollars each to cover their airfare and in country costs, so remember them in your prayers too. And if you're in Central Florida and need your grass mowed, your driveway pressure washed, your yard raked, or your gutters cleaned - let us know!

We were able to speak on orphan ministry at a missions conference recently and are so excited about sharing this mercy ministry with others. I am amazed at the clear commandments of God towards his people concerning caring for the orphan. The Bible is filled with instructions on how we are to minister to the least of these and we have found untold joy in following God's will in this area. We've recently started a newsletter to share news on orphans, the work of missionaries, and opportunities to practice this mercy ministry in your own life. If you're interested in receiving the newsletter by email, please add your email to the box in the top right corner of the blog.

I'm praying about attending Summit IV in Minneapolis at the end of April. There are so many great resources at this conference. If anyone out there is planning to go, please let me know!