Bethel and Mama Tara’s ~By Traci Cline

Today’s blog post comes from the heart of Traci Cline.  Traci serves on Reach Out Orphanage Ministries’ Board of Directors.  She has been a Board Member since 2013 and a leader in ROOM’s ministry for even longer.  Traci’s passion for children, relational ministry, adoption, missions and empowering orphanages shines through her writing about Mama Tara’s Miskito Orphanage in Puerto Lempira, Honduras, a children’s home demonstrating the tremendous miracles that are possible when God’s people come together.

Bethel and Mama Tara’s ~ By Traci Cline

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About seven years ago my Sunday School class (at Bethel United Methodist Church in Midland, North Carolina) started with an itch. An itch to become more giving, more aware, more outwardly focused. Many of us had been involved with missions growing up and were looking for a way to get plugged back in.

At that time I reached out to ROOM and asked if we could be connected to an orphanage. ROOM’s director decided to partner us with Mama Tara’s because it was the poorest orphanage she knew of. We as a group were excited to commit to $150 a month to provide fruits and vegetables for the kids.

For about a year we made our monthly payments and felt good about it. From time to time we got pictures of some really cute kids eating fruit and we would silently pat ourselves on the back. But, before long, that too seemed like not enough. A group of us decided to try and get a trip organized to visit these cute kids from the photos.

After a lot of planning, several bus rides, three planes and a lot of bumps later we landed on a dirt runway in Puerto Lempira, Honduras. That afternoon we walked to Mama Tara’s for the first time. I can’t begin to explain to you the impact of this trip. Yes, I have been on a handful of international mission trips. Yes, I fully enjoyed each of them; however, this time was different.  This time I had a connection with the kids. After going there and seeing first-hand how desperate their situation really was I no longer felt “good” about our $150 effort. I actually felt terribly guilty! I couldn’t believe an orphanage that I helped sponsor (i.e. I felt partially responsible for) was in that kind of condition. It was a gut-wrenching, emotional, beautiful week.

At the end of the week, we walked away knowing more than the names of those cute kids. We smelled the insides of the bedrooms. We saw the trash in the yard. We used their outhouse with no door. We saw the lack of safety. The beds were rickety. Their mattresses were lice-infested, urine-soaked, uncovered pieces of foam. We watched the chickens, cats and dogs walk on the table getting scraps left from dinner. We saw the dirty bucket kids drank brown water from when they needed to quench their thirst. We saw the lack of clothes and shoes. We saw the utter darkness. Even though the town sometimes had electricity, the power lines didn’t go out to Mama Tara’s. There was no electricity… it was DARK and, quite frankly, after the sun went down, it was scary. I left knowing we had to go back. I left knowing we had to do more. That was December of 2011. We are in the midst of planning Bethel UMC’s 9th trip back to Puerto Lempira.

To say that we have seen a difference at Mama Tara’s since 2011 is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong. We are NOT the only church sending teams. In fact, the U.S. military has even stepped in to help with some projects there. But now, I leave there knowing the kids are safe.

They have nice vinyl-covered mattresses with sheets and bedding.  (Pictured left: before, pictured right: presently.)

They have electricity and running water.  (Pictured left: before, pictured right: presently)

They have a security fence around the property keeping them safe at night.

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The yard is clean. The outhouse is gone. The chickens have a coop. We have gotten to be a part of all of these projects, funding quite a bit of them. While those things are great and make a world of difference I would say the best thing I’ve experienced is getting to know each of the kids by name. I know their names and they know mine. When we land on that dirt runway I know there are going to be lots of hugs and friendly faces gathered around the plane as we step off.

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“When we land on that dirt runway, I know there are going to be lots of hugs and friendly faces gathered around the plane when we step off.”

Is there more work to be done? You bet. When a single mom raises 25+ kids, there is always going to be work. Our next project is helping build a fence so they can have a garden and possibly livestock.

Even more exciting, Mama Tara’s is actually in a place now where we can plan outreach projects with the kids. Imagine that… The very kids who seemed so desperate are now in a position to give back to their community. They have sewn up their old backpacks when new ones have arrived and given them out to kids less fortunate. They have participated in feeding projects and housed medical clinics in their home while evangelizing to those who come. It’s beautiful to see. It’s empowering.  And shows that when we work together the possibilities are endless and that my friend, is exciting.

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A thank-you card sent to Bethel UMC from a child living at Mama Tara’s

Are you looking for a way to get involved? Would you like to be connected with an orphanage that needs your help? Would you like to know the names of some of the most precious vulnerable kids in the world? Contact ROOM’s current director, Amanda Stafford, at Amanda.Stafford@makeroom.org or by calling 704-773-1717.  To learn more about ROOM’s Orphanage Care work, and to make a donation to support these projects, please visit www.makeroom.org

While Reach Out Orphanage Ministries continues to proudly partner with Mama Tara’s Miskito Orphanage in Puerto Lempira, Honduras, this children’s home has actually outgrown most of our assistance!  ROOM provides continuing support through mission teams, produce and special gifts, but thanks to the tremendous support from groups like Bethel, Mama Tara’s operates independently, with their own Board of Directors and leadership team.  This independence is ROOM’s prayer for each orphanage we partner with!  To learn more about Mama Tara’s and the children who live there, and to make a donation directly to this children’s home, please visit:  http://www.mamatara.org/

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Strengthening Families Through LOVE~ Wendy Boyle

 

To learn more about Todd and Wendy’s ministry and ways that you can support them, please visit their website, Abba Padre International.

To support the work of ROOM’s Transition Home Ministry please consider making a donation through our Razoo site or by sending a check to Reach Out Orphanage Ministries,  PO Box 5882, Concord, NC 28027

 

 

Surrendering Perspective ~ by Kellie Weed

This week’s blog contributor is Kellie Weed. Kellie and her husband, Joey, are ROOM Missionaries serving in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  The Weeds have been instrumental in continuing and building ROOM’s orphanage care and orphan prevention programs.  Since joining the mission field six months ago, they have helped re-energize and refocus ROOM’s ministry; however, as Kellie writes in this blog, the energy they have poured out sometimes leaves them in need of being filled.  Kellie’s transparency in sharing her experiences, the frustrating and the meaningful, is a great reminder that our missionaries are real people in need of daily encouragement and spiritual renewal.

I sat down yesterday and wrote out 4 blogs, but deleted them all.

Do I want to share my heart? Do I want to be transparent? Do I want others to see things through my eyes?

Absolutely, yes.

One blog started with “I’m drowning.” Another started with “what do you do when you don’t know what to do.” I could go on and on with what my perspective has been. But that’s just it, it’s been my perspective, not Christ’s.

So I’ll start with the super transparent part.

Yesterday I found out I had lice (Yes, lice. Yes, it’s gross. Yes it’s a reality of loving on children who have it way too often; and, no, it’s not going to lessen the amount of hugs I give).

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I was pretty consumed in my own world, a little frustrated that I had lice to begin with and I had little patience, so I decided to go to the “Barbaria.” I could have treated it at home, but selfishly I wanted it gone and now. When I opened the door, worship music was blaring throughout the shop (apparently my barber likes really loud music). In my time of selfishness, God was present. I entered into what I can only explain as one of the strangest divine appointments and time of worship.

For 2 hours, while he treated my hair, we worshiped together. Several times he even stopped and stretched his arms high to praise the King of Kings. It was exactly what my heart needed; a change in perspective. I needed to turn the focus from my problems to God’s plan.

So, with this new perspective, I am going to share some of the awesome ways God has provided just what I’ve needed as I am going through my first season of celebrations as a Honduran missionary, far away from my loved ones.

Growing up in my family, birthdays have always been kind of a big deal. My sister recently celebrated her birthday (I won’t mention what number) and I didn’t realize how much it would impact me to not be there to do our annual birthday-shopping-day. When the day came, the thought of calling her brought tears and sadness. Instead, I choose to message her, because in my own strength that’s all I could do. I didn’t put things together until after, but the day of her birthday, an awesome community of women here had planned a birthday party for another missionary. I spent the afternoon laughing, growing and celebrating with amazing women. The birthday party wasn’t for me, but God knew what I needed that day and I celebrated my sister’s birthday 1,500 miles away from her.

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I’m not a fan of greeting card holidays; however, Mother’s Day is special and should be celebrated because without my mom I would not be who I am today. She has spent her years pouring into me, instilling values in me, praying over me and teaching me what the Proverbs 31 woman should look like. I am grateful for her in every way. So how do you celebrate your mother?  You give back to the world what she instilled in you; you serve and you love. We had the opportunity to spend the day at Iglesia Restauracion Familiar, the church in the bordos of San Pedro where ROOM has been partnering with to empower families. (You can read more about ROOM’s efforts in the bordos here https://reachoutorphanageministries.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/claires-story-by-kellie-weed/.) We played games with the children, laughed with moms who are too-often burdened with the troubles of living in poverty. We served lunch and watched families fellowship together. It was beautiful.

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Last August, airline ticket prices dropped and we chose the day we would finally move to Honduras. With the prices low, it was more cost effective to book a round trip with the return flight to the States lining up with the date that our visas would expire (when we need to leave the country, such as visiting the U.S., before renewing our visas again). I counted days and booked the flights. We’re now at almost 180 days from arriving in Honduras and very soon I get to celebrate 60 years of life with dad. God knew last August that I would need time with family, that my heart would be weary and He planned before I even thought to plan.

I trust God to provide for us financially; to keep us safe and to give us direction in our next steps; but, what I’ve come to realize, is this: The same God who created the Heavens and the Earth is looking at little ol’ me. He cares about the little things. He knows my heart, He knows my fears and He knows my desires. Psalm 139 says “He knows my every thought even before I speak it—that God formed me in my mother’s womb and knows what each of my days hold.” He knew that yesterday I would have lice and freak out, but in my self-consumedness (yes, I know it’s not a word) He had a plan.  Today, I am choosing to focus on all the ways God provides for me in the small. He’s provided healing, He’s provided peace, He’s provided direction and He’s provided strength. No matter what situation you are going through, God sees both the big and small and He cares!

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And don’t worry mom, the barber assured me the lice are gone!

To help refresh Joey and Kellie and keep their work through ROOM continuing, consider donating to their family’s support here or mail a check to Reach Out Orphanage Ministries, PO Box 5882, Concord, NC 28027 with “Weed Family” in the memo line.