Wednesday, April 9, 2014

School Supplies for Kind Hearts Kids

I smile as I see a message in my inbox from Ethiopia and click on the images to see the smiling faces of the kids at Kind Hearts! 

School supplies are always in high demand at Kind Hearts school because the kids take their education so seriously - and school supplies are an expense that is hard to justify for families who are struggling to feed themselves.  When volunteer teams travel to Ethiopia, this is always something at the top of the list that the kids appreciate.

Recently, Kind Hearts was able to provide each child with new school supplies provided by their sponsor families (through monthly sponsor funds).  Each child received 5 exercise/notebooks along with pencils and pens.  Here are a few photos as the kids received their supplies ...

Kind Hearts sponsor families - THANK YOU for your ongoing love, support and encouragement for these kids!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pressing Love into Each Child (Ethiopia)

As the suitcases are pulled from the vans and laid out on the tables, the kids start buzzing with excitement.  This is the day we sit with each child and a translator, give them one-on-one attention, unwrap the care-package sent by their sponsor family, and pour over each photo and letter. 

They let the words wash over them ... "We love you!" ... "We think about you all the time." ... "We are praying for you." ... "You are smart, you are beautiful, you are so very precious to us." ...     And they soak the words in.  Smiling shyly, swinging their feet, and grinning from ear to ear.  Their eyes are glued to the photos of their family in America.

And even though the packages are filled with special gifts picked just for them, things they need like a new shirt, underwear, socks, and soap and a few things like pencils, chapstick and a doll or matchbox car ... their focus is on the letter and the photos.

One of the things I appreciate so much about our HopeChest staff and our volunteers and translators, is how they use this one-on-one time to touch and hug and love the kids.  To press into them through touch and eye contact how precious and valuable they are to us and to God.

I will never forget being told by one of the kids at Kind Hearts, who scavenged in garbage for things to eat and things to sell. "I ate garbage, I walked in garbage. I was garbage.... but I'm not garbage any more." And I could look into his eyes, with tears welling up in my own and say ... "Oh you are most definitely NOT garbage."

And it wasn't just empty words. Through the provision of his sponsor family who loved him enough to provide for him ... and through the daily encouragement and love of the staff and teachers at the CarePoint and Children's HopeChest ... he knew. Knew it in his heart ... he was not garbage.

The photos below are from Kind Hearts CarePoint, as the kids received their packages. 

Pictures of family ...

Letting the words from the letters sink into their hearts ...

Knowing the importance of a touch and a hug ...


And then there's this little peanut, Kidist.  Her sponsor family waited for over a year to see her beautiful smile, as every picture before this has been of a sad and scared little girl.  She was the very last child in line to get her package, and she waited so patiently for the 200 kids ahead of her.  Her eyes were lit up as she watched the other kids get their packages and she genuinely smiled for each of them as she waited.

And then finally it was her turn ... to hop up into the chair and see her family's smiling faces and hear their words of love and encouragement, and she hugged their picture to herself and she grinned and grinned and grinned.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Their Voices ... (Ethiopia!)

While we spend time with the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory CarePoints, we are working closely with them in their classrooms.  Investing in their educations and investing in each child (it gives us the opportunity to spend time with each child, letting them know how precious and valuable and worthwhile they are!)  Janine Kruger was one of our volunteers this year, and her background is in teaching and youth minstry.  Below, Janine shares her experiences with the kids in November ...

From Janine:

I can hear their voices in song, greeting us to their school as our bus slowly pulled into Trees of Glory on the dry, crunching gravel. Anticipation of all sorts filled my mind and heart. Will they like us? Will they want to talk with us? What will I say? How will I communicate? I have no idea what they were saying while they were singing, but I could hear them singing. 

I stuck my head out of the bus window so I could see them and immediately my eyes filled with tears. Huge smiles were plastered to their faces as they “yell sang” for us. We were finally here. We were at Trees of Glory, the first of the two care points we had traveled hours and hours to visit. We were here to love, to teach, to listen, to smile, to share, to hug, to kiss, to hold hands, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I hear their voices sing. 

Later, as we taught in the classrooms, I can hear their voices talk of their troubles when I asked the question, “What problems and issues do you have here in this life?” Soft, quiet voices muttering answers to themselves. Knowing full well that they have a multitude of troubles, I waited for the first hand to rise to give an answer. 

“When my dad died.” My mind whirled at this answer, knowing that it would come, but unable to be prepared for it nonetheless. 

“Car accidents.” Yes, that is a real and true fear of the children attending Kind Hearts School, children who live just outside a city populated by 5 million people; a city that has zero traffic laws. 

“Being attacked by animals at night.” What a horrible thing for a child to worry about. 

“Economy problems.” What 8 year old has to worry about such a thing?! 

“Sickness.” Of course, which child has not had to deal with some sort of major illness in themselves or a close family member. I can hear their voices talk of their troubles. 


 I can hear their voices as we ask our class if they would sing a song for us at the end of a long teaching day. Their voices, somewhat quiet at first, gradually growing louder and louder as they gained confidence and momentum. Seeing our faces filled with joy and excitement, they sang, oh did they sing! 

Their teacher, one of our translators, started pulling children from the desks to come and join in the song and dance at the front of the room. The children sang loud and danced with such passion and happiness. I didn’t know what they were saying, but I danced along with them. Later I was told that it was a song about how good the Lord is. The way they sang and danced held both chaos and energy and yet it was organized and peaceful all at the same time. They sang and beat drums and smiled and held hands and we all danced together. I can hear their voices sing out loud. 


It's a long video clip, but even a few minutes will make you smile ...

And after ten days with these kids, I can hear their voices as they said “goooodbye!” The time had come to leave this place that I had quickly fallen in love with. 

I had fallen in love with the rolling hills off in the distance. I had fallen in love with the sight of the trees native to Africa . 

I had fallen in love with the paint colors on the buildings. I had fallen in love with the innovation and determination that the staff at TOG has to deeply love and care for the “orphan and the widow.” 

I had fallen in love with the beautiful faces of the 200 children whom we were privileged to meet, to love, to attend to.

I had fallen in love with seeing just how huge our world is, but just how intimate the Father’s love is for each and every one of His children. 

I had fallen in love and now my heart was breaking as we, for the last time on our trip, drove away on that dry, crunching gravel. I can hear their voices say “Goodbye…”