Sharing CHRISTmas with Children in Honduras ~Kellie Weed

This week’s ROOM contributor is Kellie Weed. Kellie serves as a Honduran Missionary along with her family. They have been on the mission field for almost a full year now. This year has brought many experiences of learning how to serve the community better. In this week’s blog, Kellie shares what she has learned about the simple ways we can bring joy to the children we serve and empowers all of us to get involved.

 

I remember many times at Christmas browsing the store isles to fill a gift box for a child overseas. After reading the “suggested gifts” list I would wonder what in the world is a kid going to do with marbles? Or, really a comb? I have 20 of those, surely they would rather have some cute hair bows instead. Even, can’t they just go to the store and get some soap, it’s kind of big and will take up so much room that could be used for something they would enjoy more. Have you ever wondered that? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

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More than once I’ve been to a processing center, where packages are inspected and boxed for shipping. I’ve heard powerful stories of children who received these gifts and some of the life-changing experiences that have come from simple marbles, combs and soaps. I’ve prayed over gifts for children I will never meet. I have given gifts with a genuine heart in hopes to make a difference but never have I understood the value of those gifts until I witnessed, first-hand, the children receiving them.

It wasn’t until I knew the names of children who value those marbles like gold and spend hours passing the time with a few balls and a dirt circle. It wasn’t until I was able to see the face of happiness on a young girl with combed hair that’s no longer matted. It wasn’t until I walked down the dirt road with the child who has no socks or shoes. It wasn’t until I saw the child bathing in the dirty river, but was excited to be washing with soap. The children we (ROOM) serves every day, are these children.

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Last December I had the privilege to see the joy filled faces of children who received a brand new gift for Christmas. Children who see Christmas Day as just another day; children who don’t have parents to share in the excitement of the holidays. Yet, because someone thousands of miles away thought that they were important and worthy enough to use their time and resources to purchase a gift, they were overcome with joy, excitement and pride because, in that moment, they mattered.

One of the most important parts of sharing these gifts with the children we serve is that it also opens the door for us to share about the meaning of Christmas. The gift itself is life-changing because it provides items they could never dream of owning. It gives hope that someone cares about them. It gives confidence because they are now clean or wearing a new shirt. And it brings happiness to faces that have seen tragedy, loss and pain. But the greatest hope that those gifts bring is the hope of Jesus Christ. The hope that the trials of this earth are only temporary. The hope that there is a Great Comforter, Healer and Miracle-Maker. Many of these children don’t know Jesus and through delivering simple Christmas gifts, the door is open to share of the reason why we celebrate. Jesus.

This December, we will again have the opportunity to share that hope with children in Honduras. We are so grateful for Revive 31 small group (pictured below) that said yes to bringing the hope of Jesus through Christmas gifts to our friends at CRECER (read more about them here) for a second year! In addition to sharing Christmas with CRECER, we want to share with the children from Iglesia Restauracion who live in the bordos (learn more about that here) community. For many of these 75 children, it will be the first Christmas gift they have ever received!

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75 is a lot of kids and there is no way we can take on this task alone, but with your help we can make it happen! We are looking for 6 churches, small groups, classes, youth groups, etc to sponsor 12 or so children this Christmas. Along with delivering the gifts, we will share fresh fruits and the hope found in Jesus. If you would like to be a part of making this happen, contact Honduras Country Director, Cassie Murray at kyleandcassie@makeroom.org today.
Do you want to take it a step further? Do you want to share the love of Christ first-hand? It doesn’t take someone with special talents or gifts; it only takes a willing heart. If you are interested in visiting Honduras and being a part of what God is doing here, we would love to talk more with you about opportunities to do so.  Email Cassie at the above address, or check out our website.

To make a financial contribution to support the children ROOM serves during the 2016 holidays and beyond, please visit our giving page.

 

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Make ROOM 4 Change~ by Johana Doblado

Today’s blog contributor is Johana Doblado, director of ROOM’s Scarlet Project in Honduras. Almost 3 years ago Johana made the life-changing decision to come on board with ROOM. As a self-described “safe” girl, linking arms with ROOM meant a life of embracing what she feared most: Change. Our ministry is focused on meeting the unchanging needs of the most vulnerable in the midst of ever-changing physical, political, and emotional climates. Read more to learn how the Lord prepared Johana for embracing the fearless attitude toward Change necessary for working in ministry.

Change.

This is a word I have had ample experience with over the last 8 years.

Change has always brought with it a myriad of feelings and emotions, and for what I consider “normal folks,” change is a synonym of instability, confusion, a sense of urgency, a state of survival, and, more often than, not: fear.

I had always considered myself someone who lived her life always playing it safe; I was always trying to be the “good girl” so I wouldn’t get a whooping like my sister before me; always doing the right thing because of fear of repercussions; always looking both ways before crossing the streets; and, if I made mistakes, I dealt with the consequences as best I knew how and tried my hardest never to make that mistake again. I lived a close-to-perfect life, not really letting a pesky thing like change come in and mess with my life. I never rocked the boat, if possible, because I’ve got the boat firmly where I want it. This was the gist behind how I lived my life.

Then 2008 happened and everything I had ever known kind of flew out the window.

That was the year I lost my mother. I became an instant pseudo-mom figure to my 14 year-old sister, and took on the role as Helper and Fixer as much as I could. This was the first real change of my life, and it was a doozy. In the years to come, I left my church of 29 years and shortly after that I quit my job of 9 years–all because of one unavoidable life issue: change. So to say I wasn’t a fan of change is a complete understatement; I was terrified of it. And all of a sudden, that’s all my life seemed to be: an unending stream of changes and my struggling to keep afloat.

During this time, one question kept coming to mind: “Why?”

I kept telling myself not to question the Lord and that somewhere down the road I would see “the why” and it would all make sense. I have gotten answers for some things.  For others, well, I’m still waiting.

One of the biggest changes was quitting my job of nine years. I remember distinctly praying the day after I quit and saying to the Lord, “Well, You better have a plan because I certainly don’t, and I need a job soon. I won’t be picky; I just want a job that will be meaningful and have purpose.”

Not too much to ask, right?

The day after that I got a call about a possible job with this organization called ROOM. Talk about answer to prayer…and pretty prompt too!

The next three years have been such a blur: It will be 3 years in February that I took my job with Reach Out Orphanage Ministries. Some days it feels like I have been with ROOM forever and some days it seems like my first day was just yesterday.

One would think, now that I had a job, things would settle down and I would finally have what a person like me longs for: stability, a boat that doesn’t rock, and the absence of fear. Sorry to burst your bubble, but any of my fellow partners in life and work (Cassie and the rest of the Murray clan, Kacey, Bekah, Kaylie, Anita, Amanda and the Weeds) can attest to the fact that this is not the case. Change has been a big part of our life and more often than not, part of our daily life.

This is where I started to see the ‘why’ of everything. I had to learn many things about myself and the Lord and trust and faith. I had to come to grips with the fact that I might never know why my mom was taken from me when I still needed her so much, but I have learned that, even in that loss, the Lord was molding me and shaping me for something even bigger than I  know and, more importantly, KNOWING that the Lord never left my side.

You see, through change we grow, through change we are molded and broken. Change brings pain sometimes but it paves the way for something better, for something new and improved. For so long I was stuck with the vision of “stability and comfort” but the Lord’s vision looked beyond the today and into the tomorrow where He wants to lead us. His perfect will isn’t always our vision of stable and comfy.

Looking back now, I realize that every big and small shift in my life has been preparing me to take on the Lords vision, and change is a part of it. As we started preparations for the end of the year at work, ROOM leadership asked me to consider what my vision for Reach Out Orphanage Ministries in 2017 was and my answer was simple: CHANGE.

My vision for ROOM is to be better than 2016 or 2015, to expand the mission that the Lord has put upon us but with one less thing holding us back…FEAR. The Lord has been with us so far and I believe that the Lord is still with us and will continue to be with us because He has walked us through change and has taught us that if we are with Him, no change is too big or too scary.

Today as I worshipped at my church’s service and I pondered what the message behind my blog would be, and a song started that is one of my all-time favorites. The lyrics made me start crying as I realized that I no longer fear change as I did 8 years ago. Jesus is my Cornerstone and where I am weak, He is made strong. Now I don’t know about you but this makes me pretty excited about what’s to come. I don’t know exactly what it looks like but I know this: GOD DOES. And we are blessed to be part of this ever-changing journey with Our Father.

“My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus name. Christ alone; Cornerstone; Weak made strong, in the Savior’s love; Through the storm, He is Lord Lord of all.”

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To all those who read this: Thank you for joining us on this path so far and I hope you will keep joining us and partnering with us because great things are to come. We love you all very much and we thank the Lord daily for your support!

To learn more about how Reach Out Orphanage Ministries empowers children and communities, please visit our website.  

To read more from Johanna, check out Unexpected Blessings~ Johanna Doblado.  To learn more about Johanna, check out: ROOM’s Wonder Women: Johanna Doblado and Brittany Bethel

To make a donation to support the great plans our God has for ROOM in 2017, please visit ROOM’s 10th Anniversary Fundraising Page.  

Happy 10th Birthday, Reach Out Orphanage Ministries! ~Amanda Stafford

This week’s ROOM contributor is our Executive Director, Amanda Stafford. Amanda serves ROOM tirelessly through managing and maintaining all of our responsibilities at home and abroad. In addition to staying on top of ROOM’s paperwork and documentation, Amanda has maintained a commitment to stay on the pulse of ROOM’s work by visiting the areas ROOM serves. It is through this first-hand knowledge of the lives most affected by ROOM’s programs paired with classroom and work place experience that makes Amanda an incredible gift to our ministry. In this post Amanda kicks off our celebration of ROOM’s tenth birthday! We are so grateful for everyone who has made this birthday celebration a possibility!

Happy 10th Birthday, Reach Out Orphanage Ministries!

Amanda Stafford

ROOM has been serving orphaned children from 2006 to 2016.  Over the years, ROOM has grown and expanded programs beyond orphanage walls to include orphan prevention programs and family placement solution programs.  We’ve expanded to include a firm presence in India as well as Honduras.  We’ve served children in over one hundred orphanages in Honduras, India, Costa Rica and Nepal.  Although many things have changed, our commitment to sharing the love of Christ with children and communities remains constant.

This milestone calls for a tremendous celebration!

As a special Birthday request, we are asking the ROOM family to GIVE TEN.  Ten ways to GIVE TEN are detailed below.  With your support, we will be able to serve more children in need during the Christmas 2016 season and beyond!

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Ten ways to GIVE ROOM TEN

One:  GIVE TEN minutes of prayer

Prayer is the most meaningful way to come alongside ROOM’s ministry.  You might consider praying intentionally for children served in Honduras and India for ten minutes today.  Alternatively, you could add these special children, ROOM team members, and our ministry as a whole, to your prayer list over the next ten days, ten weeks, or long-term.

Two:  GIVE a financial commitment in any increment of TEN

Financial donations at any level provide life-changing services and care for children struggling with abandonment and extreme poverty.  Making a donation in any increment of ten… $10, $20, $50, $100, $510, $1,000, $10,000… is the best way to get items like fresh produce, supplemental protein, shoes, educational materials and so much more into the hands of children in developing nations.  Visit our donation page for more information and to make a gift today.

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Thanks, Troy, for literally GIVING TEN (dollars)!

 

Three:  GIVE TEN hours of community service

ROOM needs your time.  There are many volunteer opportunities to work directly with children in Honduras and India (see #9, below), but we have a big need for stateside volunteers as well.  If you live near the Concord, North Carolina area you can volunteer in the ROOM office to help with education and outreach efforts, office tasks, special projects and more.  We also have some virtual volunteer opportunities to get involved administratively, regardless of your home address.  For information about Stateside volunteer work, please email Amanda.Stafford@makeroom.org.  You can organize a drive (see #6, below) to collect loose change or special needs items.  The Sugar Project focuses on empowering kids in the United States to make a difference for kids who lack basic needs.  Visit our Sugar Project webpage for more information and more opportunities.

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Thanks, Erin, for all your volunteer work yesterday.  You are a huge help!

You might also consider volunteering for another agency serving children who have been abandoned or who are at-risk for abandonment.  While most foster care programs in the U.S. have few, if any, volunteer opportunities, you might consider getting involved with an orphan prevention agency in your own community.  Some examples include:  domestic violence shelters, afterschool programs for kids who are at-risk, programs providing support and resources for young mothers, women’s medical clinics providing resources and support during unplanned pregnancies, GED and ESL programs for low-income families, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Big Brothers-Big Sisters and countless others.

Four:  GIVE up something for TEN days

In a Lenten spirit, sacrificing something for ten days is a great way to honor ten years of ministry because it is a physical reminder that we are so, overwhelmingly blessed with abundance.  You might consider giving up that daily latte for a donation equation that looks like:  $4 x 10 days = $40 donation, which can provide servings of fresh fruit for an entire orphanage for up to two months!  Or, forgo watching TV or Netflix in the evenings to spend time praying, volunteering or learning more about the social, political and faith issues surrounding orphan care in developing nations.

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Thank you, coffee-lover, for making this special sacrifice for our kids!

Five:  GIVE a recurring financial gift over the next TEN months

A recurring gift commitment means pledging to give a specific amount of money monthly, such as giving $20 on the 15th of each month from October 2016 to July 2017.  Consistent support like this helps ROOM staff and missionaries effectively plan and budget our children’s programming and activities.  It also helps keep donors closely connected to our monthly activities because you’ll be curious to see what special blessings your support makes possible.  You can make a recurring donation through our website.

Six:  GIVE needed items by organizing a collecTEN drive

You can organize a collection drive of needed items such as over-the-counter medicines, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hygiene items and Christmas gifts.  Send me an email at Amanda.Stafford@makeroom.org for details about ROOM’s biggest in-kind gift needs, and how we might be able to ship these items internationally.  I can also help provide things like fact sheets and flyers to help make your collection drive a big success.

Seven:  GIVE ofTEN support to adoptive and foster parents

If we hope to help create a world where all children grow up in loving, family homes we must invest in both prevention and solution programs.  Solution programs include foster care and adoption.  Adopting and fostering are terrific opportunities to consider when planning your own family.  These parents face many unique opportunities, challenges and struggles.  They also receive many special, unique blessings.  In honor of ROOM’s tenth anniversary, please consider providing special support to these parents and prospective parents.  This might mean babysitting, making a financial gift to cover adoption costs, helping them meet a specific physical need in their home, or simply listening and providing extra encouragement and support to these moms, dads and caregivers.

If you have more time to invest, you may also consider going through the training process to provide respite care for foster parents in your community; or, becoming a foster parent yourself.  Contact the Children’s Services division in your county for more information.

Eight:  GIVE your voice by sharing ROOM’s ministry with TEN people

Education, awareness and advocacy are among this ministry’s top needs.  If you are able to tell ten people about ROOM’s ministry and the special children we serve, you will decrease the ignorance and stigma surrounding child abandonment.  By sharing stories about how ROOM ministers, you are also sharing a tremendous testimony of Jesus Christ and His overwhelming love for all of us.  Consider speaking to your friends and family one-on-one, or during your small group, Bible study or Sunday School class.  For more information about what ROOM does, be sure to visit our website and facebook page.

Nine:  Give TEN days with TEN of your people by coming on a ROOM Mission Trip

You are cordially invited to come to Honduras, learn about our programs and serve ROOM’s kids in-person.  Right now, Cassie Murray is planning and organizing mission trip opportunities throughout 2017 and she would love to talk to you about sending a group from your church, your family, your friends, or connecting you to an existing group.  Opportunities for service trips (mission teams) and learning trips (vision teams) are available.  Email Cassie at kyleandcassie@makeroom.org for more information.

Ten:  Give the orphan crisis your atTENtion and your heart

The biggest, most meaningful way you can support ROOM’s ministry is by becoming an advocate for the children we serve.  Children in developing nations who are struggling with abandonment are among our world’s most vulnerable people.  They are quiet; unheard; invisible.  You can be their voice.  By advocating for these kids across all areas we are bringing awareness and social justice to children who are have experienced immeasurable loss through no fault of their own.

There are countless ways to get involved with ROOM’s ministry and with orphan care ministry, both globally and locally, across countless spheres of influence.  These ten examples are just the beginning.  How will you use your unique gifts make a difference? 

To learn more about ROOM’s ministry, visit our website.  To learn more about ROOM’s tenth anniversary GIVE TEN campaign visit our razoo page.  Thank you so much for celebrating this milestone with us!