Monday, December 27, 2010

The Lord is My Helper

This is what I keep reminding myself..."The Lord is My Helper"..

Currently, I am sitting in the manager of Ethiopian Airlines' office here at the Dulles airport. Atleast I will now know him on a first name basis and have his cell phone number for any future teams that go out with VO! ;) Always have to look at the positive side of things and see God's providence in it all.

Basically, our flight which was scheduled at noon tomorrow (12/28) was originally on a 777 aircraft. They had issues with that carrier and had to "downgrade" to a 767, which means that it would take longer to fly to the Addis airport from Dulles, thus missing our 10:30 AM flight out of Addis to either Entebbe or Rwanda (which is where are two teams are headed), so the next flight out would not be until 10:30 PM that night, meaning we would not get in until midnight. So, our teams opted to stay an extra night in D.C. and fly out on the noon flight on the 29th instead. Ethiopian airlines is giving each person $200 cash and they are throwing in some first class tickets, so I think the team is happy.

We will just head straight to ministry on the 30th, jet lagged and all. I always know in situations like this that God has a plan.

Please continue to pray for favor for our team.... We need it! :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Best Gift There Is



Are you looking for peace in the midst of the hustle and bustle? Are you looking for peace in the midst of chaos? These slogans are all too familiar this time of year for different advertising companies as they push their sleep meds or new soft mattresses and the like.

I sit in a home that is quite dirty, compared to my usual attention to it's cleanliness. A home with lots of clutter due to gifts that need to be wrapped, pine needles that have fallen from the tree and many new wonderful Christmas cards we've recently received in the mail. All blessings, for sure! Even a home is a blessing, I know!

But this time of year has been especially chaotic for me. We are in the midst of paper chasing for our adoption and fundraising. Visiting Orphans is being so wonderfully blessed with new partnerships, with has brought changes and additions to our staff. I am also sending out three teams to Africa right after Christmas, the largest team of 25, I'm personally leading and will be gone for 14 days with them. Honestly, Christmas has become more of a duty and obligation lately than a joy to me. I can't imagine I'm the only one who has felt like this.

I am reminded of a wonderful saying that my good friend, Bethany Haley, just tweeted, "Should we learn to live more simply so that others can simply live?" My husband and i recently purchased new Android phones from Verizon. I resisted this for months...finally, with the trip for Uganda coming up, and my old blackberry acting up for the 10th time, we decided to "upgrade". So, I now have this fancy phone that vibrates when you touch it and can do more than I think my computer at work can do. I had this overwhelming feeling. But it was more like a resentment towards it.

I'm not that old. I'm not that young either. So I remember life before cell phones existed. And even a little bit before cable was in everyone's homes. There was so much more time to read, use your imagination and spend face to face, quality time with friends. And the best of it...there was QUIET time. If you had to drive from one place to another and you were alone, you could turn down the radio and just be quiet and reflect. I remember when I used to have to fight rush hour traffic in and out of Atlanta for work each day. I used to call that time "my church". I would listen to worship and sermons and just praise and worship God and just be quiet in prayer and reflection before Him.

There's such little time for this now. And it worries me. I was sick this past weekend. I will spare you the details. :) Sometimes I really love being sick. I honestly feel like God allows the flu and small illnesses to get us to be still. What I hate is that it may take that to make us stop doing so much, ignoring Him, the one we are living for.

Today, I had the day off. I had much "to do". Stocking stuffers to buy, cleaning the house and making up the beds for the guests, running to the bank, coffee with a wonderful friend, and even plans to get a massage. However, every time I tried to leave the home, I had this pull in my soul and spirit to just stay home. To be still. To spend an entire day with the man I love the most....Jesus Christ. I was softly reminded of Isa 48:17-18 and Isa 30: 15-18 and many others..

So, I changed back into my sweats, fixed my favorite cup of coffee and went to my favorite chair next to the fireplace, in the warm sunlight. I have exchanged busyness today for what is best, the richness of time in fellowship with my Heavenly Father and Bridegroom. It's out of this relationship that ministry is birthed anyway. Without Him we are truly nothing and have nothing to give.

Isn't this what Christmas is about anyway? Jesus Christ? I submit that maybe the best gift to give Him this year for his birthday is a relationship with Him. Not a decision, not just an act of faith, but an active and walking relationship with Him. I bet He would love to spend an entire day with each of you. Let's remember, that Jesus is the one who deserves a gift more than anyone else. Give Him your time, adoration and self this year. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We are Adopting! Let the Fundraising Begin!

So, here's the official announcement finally! Simon and I are excited to announce that we are adopting a little girl from Ethiopia! Let the FUNDRAISING begin!!!

First the details...
Our little girl has a name...she is what they call in the adoption world, "pre-identified". However, we've never met her. Basically, through a friend and former team member of Visiting Orphans, we were easily persuaded to try to start the adoption process for a little five year old girl from Ethiopia. This team member had fallen in love with her on a previous trip to Ethiopia. B_____ is I guess, in some ways, a street kid. I know that sounds awful, but I want you to know the awful truth. Right now, she is abandoned and lives on the street in Ethiopia. Through the kindness of many strangers, she is loved on as much as possible and now, she is in the process of getting her adoption paperwork started. Yet, at this time, she is still on the streets...

Our adoption is what you call "high risk" as she's not even in an orphanage, does not yet have a birth certificate, nor a certificate of abandonment. In a way, she is forgotten and unknown. But soon...she will not only be known, she will have the last name of Lawrence!!

Please keep B____ in your prayers for protection. Prayers that once her paperwork is completed she will be put in the right orphanage and that all the other hurdles that may come up, will be very small and almost obsolete in nature. We have to keep most details protected at this time, but soon, once her adoption papers are complete, we will tell you more!

If you would like to donate to our adoption, feel free to donate through the PayPal Donate button on this blog.

At this time, your donations are not tax deductible, but as soon as we complete our home study, we will work with a not for profit so that all donations are tax deductible at that time. However, if that is not important to you, we would greatly appreciate your donation now, as there are many small payments that we have to make during this "paper chasing" time of creating a dossier. You can send a check to 8669 Burkitt Place Dr., Nolensville, TN 37135. You can make it out to us or America World Adoption, whichever you prefer.

I cannot wait to have her home and we cannot wait to be parents!! We know she is hand picked by God in every way....

Thursday, December 02, 2010

CBS News Covers Project Hopeful

Visiting Orphans is so excited to partner with an amazing agency, Project Hopeful, for an Ethiopia and Uganda trip this coming April. Carolyn Twietmeyer, Founder and Director of this ministry is leading this team. Her family was just in this past week's People magazine and featured last night on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. You can watch the news clip below.
To join this trip, whose purpose is to bring more awareness to HIV/AIDS orphans, sign up here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Profile of a Winner

I wanted to introduce you all to the winner of our Mission Trip Giveaway, Anna Cardiel. Anna is a school bus driver in Tehachapi, California. She has been on 3 Visiting Orphans trips to China over the past years. She raised every cent of each trip through fundraising. Except this year she was unable.

This year she was not even able to afford to purchase the Pure Religion t-shirt so her mother purchased it just so she could be entered into the mission trip giveaway drawing!

On Anna's first trip to Chaoyang, China in 2007, she was changed immensely. Anna had never been around special needs children and honestly in her words, "was a little afraid of them". She met this little toddler baby boy named Fu Jain who had microcephalus, which is the condition when a child's head is abnormally smaller than the rest of his body. The nannies at this SWI neglected this baby boy and he was never held and had never been out of his crib. Anna said that she truly felt the love of a mother for this baby boy and took him out of his crib for the first time and outside for the first time. She said her heart broke when she had to come back to the states and leave him and insisted that the nannies take him out of his crib and outside from now on.

She returned the next year to find him WALKING! The nannies had learned by Anna's example and had loved him now. The next year Anna was unable to return to visit with Fu Jain due to the swine flu, although she was determined to go on missions to China and went to Heng Feng, China instead.

This year though, she just did not see how it could be possible that she could return. She felt she had asked too many times for funds and her faith was just lacking. So, her precious mom believed for her and purchased her t-shirt just so she could be entered into the drawing and she WON! In fact, yesterday was Fu Jain's 5 year old birthday!!! The day she won this trip to see him again!!!!

Here is Anna's response to the announcement that she won:
So UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!! Hi I'm Anna Cardiel The winner of the Visiting
Orphans mission trip contest..YAY!!! I went to Chaoyang China 2007 on
my first mission trip never knowing what condition the orphans would be
in, special needs is not something I though I could handle. Because we
server such an awesome God Christ Jesus my heart became His and I fell
in love with the Children especially a little one, Jain. I could never
afford a trip so I did a fund raiser for that year and the next two
years. I was unable to go in 2010 due to my own finances and that was
such a heartbreak. Then this year Visiting Orphans comes up with this
contest (which NEVER in a million years did I think I would win) and at
the very last minute I entered the contest, which my mom paid for the
t-shirt, and here I sit writing a winners testimony!!!!!!!! THANK YOU
CHRIST JESUS!!!!!!! Oh thank you too Visiting Orphans for your small
part hee hee


Won't you be an Anna to an orphan this Summer?! You can join Anna in Chaoyang in 2011 by applying here!

You can see a photo of Anna here with her beloved Fu Jain in the SWI (social welfare institute, what China calls an orphanage) in Chaoyang.

And the Winner Is?!

Watch this video to find out who won our amazing Visiting Orphans Mission Trip drawing:

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Orphan Sunday Tomorrow

In honor of Orphan Sunday tomorrow, November 6th, please watch this video. It is why I fell in love with sending missions to orphans. It was the child after child in an orphanage that I met and fell in love with, only to have to leave behind due to governmental systems that are not "for" them or due to the fact that no family was stepping up to adopt them. I still remember the time I was at the Mother Theresa HIV orphanage in Addis and a little 4 year old boy was pushed into a gutter and split his head open. This time someone was there to pick him up and console him....that was me. But every other day, no one cared. No one came to rescue him. No one came to love him. No one came just to hold him when he fell....

Hope is Fading – Orphan Sunday from Allan Rosenow on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Ripple Effect..

Here's an awesome example of why I love what I do! Not only is it the millions of orphans who need us to come meet and love them, but it's TWO fold! It's the people who go on these trips to visit orphans who are changed forever. I fondly call it the Ripple Effect.

Mary Beth Lavin joined me on the first mission trip I ever led for VO in 2006! It was VO's first time sending a team to Ethiopia. From that trip, God ignited Mary Beth's heart (and obviously mine!) with a passion and she returned home with a another term I am fond of, a "holy frustration". A frustration from God..one that she would wrestle with until a year and a half ago when God's purpose for her life was made clear. Please watch this video to see how Mary Beth's not for profit, Formula One Life is saving orphaned babies lives all over the world!

You'll want to fast forward to about the 4th minute into the video...

Real Conversations - Formula One Life - RC04 from Real Conversations on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Why Do I Do What I Do


There are many days that I feel judged. Many days that I feel disliked. Many days that I feel misunderstood. Many days that I feel resisted. I know what's in my heart, but others don't. God does.

People may judge me and think that I am just trying to "grow" a company. They may think that it's all about me or Visiting Orphans. In fact at the end of the day I feel like there are many who truly are more against me than for me. And that makes me sad. I am not a woman made of armor. I am made of flesh and blood and words and judgements hurt.

What I do know is this. I know there are more than 143 million orphans in this world. I know that there are probably a lot less of God's people doing what James 1:27 tells them to do...to visit orphans in distress than this 143 million number. So, I have this burn...not just in my heart, but in my GUT! It's what I call a Heart Cry. It comes from the belly and wells up and compels me. My heart's cry is to see every orphan visited. Yes, I wish that every orphan could be adopted into a forever family and yes, I wish at the end of the day that there were no more orphans! But the reality is that there has been since the Old Testament times and most likely will be until Christ returns. So, what's my place, my lot, my purpose for this life I live until He returns?! My personal mission is to bring the hope of Christ to every orphan. For them to know that God sees them. That they are not forgotten. To find them in their hidden places. That they are found, adopted by their Abba Father and have a royal inheritance. To know that I personally do love them. That God has downloaded a love for them that is so strong that I can't possibly do anything else!

So when you see me "marketing" and campaigning some more for Visiting Orphans and our mission trips, it's this heart cry that fuels me. It may not be your heart cry and you may do thing differently, but this is all for God's glory. That's why we are here on earth to bring Him glory. May Visiting Orphans bring Him glory by increasing as the number of people choosing to GO and visit orphans in distress increases and the number of orphans not visited DECREASES.

Our Mission Trip Giveaway!

We have an exciting opportunity for you that we can't wait to share with you! The details are in this video!

Visiting Orphans Mission Trip Giveaway from Amanda Lawrence on Vimeo.



www.visitingorphans.org/tshirts

Monday, October 25, 2010

Want to Visit Orphans in Ethiopia this February for FREE?!

Kari Gibson, one of our team leader's extraordinaire is giving away two free mission trips to Ethiopia! Just purchase one of her awesome orphan advocate t-shirts and you will immediately be entered into her give away drawing. You can find out more here on her blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can't Sleep Because of Haiti




The last two nights have brought me little sleep and it's not because this is the hottest country I've ever visited, so hot that in fact, when you lay down at night, you need no bed covers and no clothes if you can help it!

My lack of sleep is due to the questions and concerns rolling around in my head after these last two days visiting Haiti. The main reason four of us descended onto Haiti for only one full day this week was to visit an orphanage with seriously some of the most precious children I've ever met. We sat with the landlord of the orphanage, the orphanage director, and the two powerful women that ran the orphanage. I want to tell you about this meeting and all that came out of it, but there is another orphanage visit that was "impromptu" which is the one that kept me awake last night praying and crying out to God..."How in the world can we help them?" as I fought against all kinds of feelings of being overwhelmed and feeling so small against needs that are so big.

We visited an orphanage called Well Being. This orphanage has about 25 orphans. They had a home, but the earthquake destroyed it. Thankfully no one was hurt in it though. However, since they now have no building to live in, they are living in a Unicef tent in the back yard of an amazing friend to the orphanage director. That's difficult, right? Just the fact that these orphans and director have no house...Now, imagine that this orphanage director has diabetes and in April, she stepped on a large nail, but due to her diabetes did not even feel it. She did the best she could to bandage it, but as she walked around in the Haitian dirt daily, caring for the orphans, her wound became infected and developed gangrene. So what did they do? I guess what they had to do, cut off her foot and calf. So, now she's an amputee and some how still has to care for the 25 orphans she was previously carrying for. She is fighting depression, despair and hopelessness.

The home that is caring for them has well water. the well is just this huge 30 foot hole, with no walls around it. They have to lift a bucket of water to bring up the water. They said that many of the children are getting sick and they fear it's the water and that once one child almost fell in. I almost fell in just standing and looking over it! Thankfully "Feed the Poor" is giving them enough beans and rice every two months to feed them. However, all their other needs are not being met...and they are asking me, little ole' me, to please buy the field next door so they can some how have a house one day! There were so many other needs I'm not mentioning.

But this is what is keeping me up at night. I laid awake wondering and asking God, "Who can provide a prosthetic leg for this orphanage director and how can we fit her with it?!" Only GOD can provide this divine connection. I've seen and heard about stories where He's done this and I know He is not a respecter of persons, so what He did for one amputee, I have to believe He WILL do for another one.

Visiting Orphans teams can help bring supplies, build a wall around their well, and bring love to meet their basic immediate needs, but that's where we look to churches to partner with orphanages like these. VO is only the connector. We have no other funds to help in cases like these. We can't do it without the churches...Do you know a church which might want to "adopt" this orphanage?

This was the chapter of the Word that kept swirling around in my head as I thought about all of this..
James 1: 22-24
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:27 to visit and care for orphans follows directly after. So, how can I see what I have seen and know that the Word of God says to care for the orphans and walk away and not do anything?! I am now responsible....But I know God has not only called me, but the whole body of Christ. So, I will walk confidently in the fact, that God finishes what He starts. He will not forsake this orphanage director. He will some how connect us with the right person to fit her with a prosthetic and maybe, hopefully, move on the leadership of a church to help for their long term needs and to give them a home.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Wanna Win a Trip to Ethiopia with Visiting Orphans

Our friend and team leader extraordinaire, Kari Gibson is having a great give-away on her team traveling with Visiting Orphans to Ethiopia in February. See the details on her blog here. Check out her video below as well:

1 Missions Trip to Ethiopia!!!!!!! from Kari Gibson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

God - A Deadbeat Dad?!

I attended the Together for Adoption conference this past weekend in Austin. I love orphan care conferences...Well, most of the time.

I compare them to mission trips...at first you are timid, yet excited to go. Then, you get there, you become emotionally overwhelmed, but you always return home more fired up to help end this orphan crisis then when you arrived!

I met many people I have only met through Facebook or email and got to network for the sake of the orphan like you would not believe! The first day for me was very emotional and heavy as each presenter and break out session brought me back to the center of the heart of why I am doing what I'm doing. They reminded me with overwhelming statistics and thankfully, God's word. But they also provided solutions, ideas and equipping.

One speaker was from Colorado and started the Project 127 movement which helped get about 400 orphaned children in America into Christian foster homes and out of the "system". He was by far my favorite.

Here was an awesome revelation he shared with us:

If God is the Father to the fatherless, then there must be a mother to the fatherless. Who then is the mother to the fatherless? Well, that would be the Bride of Christ, the Church. So, God also must be a Husband. He is OUR Husband. As His bride, when we doubt that He'll provide for His children, the orphans, we essentially call Him a "Deadbeat Dad"! Can you imagine calling God, our Husband, a "Deadbeat Dad"?! Yet, we do it every time we start an adoption or sign up for a mission trip to visit orphans and start doubting that He will provide the finances we need!

This was SO convicting to me.

Simon and I are getting ready to start our adoption process!!! YAY! And even though I've been in orphan care and adoption for years, when it hit home, literally, both of us began to doubt but Simon, as the husband and provider really struggled at first.

See, Simon works at the Dave Ramsey office. As you may know, Dave Ramsey believes in 3 months worth of a salary being saved for an "emergency". Although this is very wise, it seems to lack faith and a dependence on God, in my opinion. I believe there are always exceptions to this "rule". Also, once I had a couple visit me when I was working at an adoption agency and they told me that they had been saving up 3 months of their emergency fund according to this plan. However, they now wanted to adopt and didn't know if they should take this "emergency" fund to do so.
My response was, "Is 147 million orphans not an emergency? Is your wife's longing for a child not more important that an "emergency" fund?" I realize this is a controversial subject and many people who travel on our trips are diligently trying to get out of debt, as are we! But I think there is a balance between faith and fear when it comes to fundraising for the care of an orphan.

Simon's fear was that we may have to dip into our emergency fund (which I have to tell you is NO where near 3 months salary) if we get close to the completion of our adoption and don't have the last few dollars needed to bring our child home. But isn't that an emergency? Gwen Oatsvall of 147 Million Orphans stated it beautifully when she said, 'we like to view it as a ransom". If your child is being held captive by an enemy, would you do everything you could to find the money to pay their ransom?! Or would you hold tightly to all your savings and allow them to languish in the paws of the enemy?!" NO! You would sell absolutely everything you had, you would lose it all for this child to be home in your loving arms. It's what Christ did for us, isn't it?! He laid down His life, lost it ALL, paying our ransom, so we could be adopted into His Kingdom and be free from the claws of the evil one who held us captive in sin and death.

With this reminder, let's walk out in faith, believing that God HAS called us through James 1:27 to VISIT (care for) orphans in their distress. He's not a deadbeat dad. He's a faithful Husband to His bride and Father to the children He has called us to. We can believe that He will provide.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sumer's Story


One reason I love sending out orphan awareness mission teams is what I call "the ripple effect". The impact that a mission trip can have one one person is incredible. The spiritual vibrations that reverberate from that person's experience on their trip to those around them in their family and community, cause so many others to become involved.

Here is one such story. My husband, Simon, led a mission team to Uganda and Ethiopia last holiday season for Visiting Orphans. As led by the Spirit, they ended up on Christmas day in Ethiopia at the city dump called Korah. (you can read about this day on one of my previous blog entries here.) A young woman and mother named Sumer Yates, from suburban metro Nashville was a part of this team who visit the children living and working in the dump. From that one trip, she now lives in Ethiopia with her three small blonde boys and husband running a ministry called Project 61. Her entire church body at Thompson Station Church has been rocked and they have all fell in love with Ethiopia and their people and this church is now a shiny example of what God said when He called His people to care for orphans.

So, here is her story, written by the one and only, Sumer Yates!:

I stood on my balcony last night, and smelled the African air. Since moving to Ethiopia in June, life has been very busy. I had grown used to the smell and forgotten how very much I love it. The smell reminded of what brought me here in the first place.
Looking back, I realize that my journey really began over 20 years ago. In 1989 my parents were both killed in a plane crash, leaving my brother and I as orphans. Although we were never wanting for food and shelter like so many orphans in the world, I do understand the inner hurt that comes along with losing the two people in the world who love you best.

This inner hurt is like a wound that never completely heals, and the major events of life rip away the scab. For me, having my own children made me miss my mother in a way that I never had before. I was so angry with God for taking her away from me, He knew that I would need her help, that I would have questions only she could answer. He is a Father to the fatherless, but I needed a mother. It was during this time that God began to speak plainly to me, not in the audible sense, but more in a straightforward manner. It was a time of maturing where He no longer coddled, but gently started to shove me along. “My Grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness.” That was the only answer I ever got, until one day He opened my eyes to His provision. I realized that not all churches are like mine, and not all new moms are literally surrounded by so many people in the same life phase. I did not have a mother to ask questions, but I had more friends with answers than I could ever need. God met my need, not in the way I wanted or expected, but He met it just the same and I am humbled and grateful for His provision.

Three healthy kids later, a great marriage, a large circle of great friends, a job I love, a nice house, and a husband with job security, I was content. I was enjoying my abundant life. Until one night at a Beth Moore Bible study, she began to talk about Esther and about the fact that Esther was an orphan. Beth was relentless on the gravity of her circumstances, saying repeatedly “can you imagine what it would be like to lose not one but both of your parents?” I was a mess by the end, and once again angry with God. “Why would You beat me over the head with that hurt in a room full of people, some who know my story and some who do not? What was that all about?” That was my reminder that God is more concerned with my character than my comfort, and He was about to call me from contentment to a Holy discontent with the plight of orphans around the world.
A few months later I was sitting in my quiet time chair feeling discontented and knowing that I was supposed to do something, but not sure what that something was supposed to be. I was frustrated, and said “God, I have put my yes on the table, I have told You that we are ready to do whatever You want us to do, but You have not given me any directions.” He replied, “Really? Because you are sitting in something really big and in the way.” We had always discounted the idea of selling our house, because we had such a great mortgage. We bought at a good time and had a low interest rate, we could not rent anything cheaper…at least not in this country. We began to make plans to put our house on the market, with really no idea why.

Around that same time, I began to read Katie Davis’s blog about her life in Uganda, and a friend found us a trip to Africa to visit Amazima Ministries. The trip was through Visiting Orphans and it was set for Uganda and Ethiopia. For me, I had absolutely no desire to go to Ethiopia, but it was the only trip offered that included meeting Katie. Corey and I both knew that I would come home with some direction for us about our next step, and I was sure it would be found in Uganda.

I loved Uganda. It is a beautiful country with beautiful children who have dark chocolate skin that fit with my idea of Africa. I wanted God to call us to Uganda, but while I was there I did not feel the way I expected to feel. I did not have any strong pulls or any overwhelming sense of purpose. I felt heartbroken, and sad for all of the children we visited. I was also worried that I had someone completely missed God’s leading in my life and the life of my family. I cried when I got on the plane to head to Ethiopia, I wanted to stay in Uganda, but really had no idea what type of ministry I would even do there.

Surprisingly though, on Christmas Day in Ethiopia I fell in love. I had not wanted to go to Ethiopia, and of all the stops on our itinerary, the trash dump was the one I dreaded most. And yet, standing in the trash dump, I knew I was right where God wanted me to be. I knew that I had found our place. I did not feel heartbroken or sad, I felt hopeful, and I knew that God was telling me “this is it.” Together, we can help them. Together, we can change their lives. In Ethiopia I saw God’s vision for this people so clearly, and I immediately thought of so many ways to minister to these people. I saw immeasurable needs while in Africa, but only one calling for my life.

In the trash dump, there are fires burning and ash covers everything including the children. After leaving, God reminded me that in Isaiah 61 he says that he will bring beauty from the ashes. Those verses go on to say “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for the display of His splendor.” That is my vision for these children who spend most of their time in the trash dump, and for the 100,000 plus people living in the adjacent community, that their lives would glorify God. That they would be a testament to his promise that He will not leave us as orphans, and that this generation would be a planting of the Lord.

Since visiting the trash dump that day, my life has been a whirlwind of activity and preparation. It has been God relentlessly calling us to go all the way. When I try to pull back, He pushes harder. God has been very plain with me that this was our crossroads. This is where as a family we decide what our story will be. We can choose to lay it all down, put it all on the line, and follow where He has called; or we could stay and choose what is easier, and what seemed to make more sense. I knew that God would never stop loving me, no matter what I chose; but I also knew that my time on this earth is short and opportunities like this do not come around very often. I pray that it is all for the display of His splendor- Sumer Yates 9/10/10
(with permission from Kari Gibson's blog.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why We Go to China in Pictures...











The following photos are from an amazing photographer, Mallory Krieger, who traveled with Visiting Orphans to work in an SWI (orphanage) in Chaoyang, China. I always think that photos speak loudly enough for us as to why we need to go and love on these children. These photos especially grip me because my two nieces are adopted from China and I adore them so much. You can't help but think about what their lives would have been like if my sister and her husband had not followed God's leading to adopt.

I do hope these photos break your heart..enough for you to make the decision to go....We have a team scheduled to go to China next Summer from July 23rd to August 3rd if you'd like to join us....

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

For the Skeptics...

I received this email this morning from Pastor Isaac who runs the Canaan's Children Orphanage in Uganda. Occasionally I will receive a few skeptics about our ministry and why we visit orphans. Maybe this will help crush any doubts and future skeptics:

My sister Amanda allow me to share with you and your husband Simon as you together mobilize teams to come in Uganda and Ethiopia it is my desire and prayers for most of the people in USA to know the IMPORTANCE of visiting Orphanage homes.

First of all it is Biblical, we see God pledging to be the father to the fatherless and there is no any other way how God can fulfill that task unless some one stands in the gap,so when ever teams comes to visit Orphans and show them love, kindness, compassion,sharing with them the word of God like Bible clubs, singing together,playing together, that is how God can become a father to the fatherless.

Actually that is how those Children can prove the sweetness of their Father God the Almighty like as you have been doing.Psalms 68:5,James 1:26-27.

I always see the teams coming with gifts or surprises,really that is great and wonderful allow me to let you know that when ever we give the children the gifts that the teams bring the children become so much excited and because of so much joy the Children start to cry and when you ask them they say that they have never thought that there are people who can love them as to that extent. Ecclesiastes 11:1.Mathew 25:34-46.

It is also very important people who can come as a team to visit the orphanage ,when ever they come by the time they go back after the lives of the children have been changed and also when their lives of the children are not the same.You know my sister those children are coming from different situations,the back grounds of those Children are horrible and so when the teams come and they touch on them,comfort them that is when they will prove the Father hood of God.

Lastly let me take this opportunity to let you know that ever since we got to know one another and you started visiting us in Canaan we have never been the same , our hope and trust in the Lord has grown.When ever teams come it leaves our children healed and blessed spiritually and physically and the entire home is blessed because different people among the team are used by God in different ways so as a result the entire Orphanage home is blessed.

Thank you so much for the great work that you are doing ,and the work that you have done for us and the work that you are still to do for Orphanages until Jesus comes back.

We shall keep praying with you,for God to enable you and give you good health and his provision to each and every one who would like to come and visit Orphans because it is not by might nor by power but by His grace and spirit.

On behalf of all the children of Canaan and every one else we love you so much and thank you.

Pastor Isaac.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

81 Year Old Woman Starts Orphanage

I just have to post this article I just found! For those of you who think you are too old, too tired, too busy, too anything to GO, just read this! Proof that God is never finished with us. This woman was never able to have children, yet by age 81, she ended up with 300 orphans under her care!

Monday, August 23, 2010

What a Great Way to Wake Up!

Our Uganda teams stay at Canaan's Children Home orphanage in Jinja, Uganda. This is how they get to wake up every morning! Won't you come and be a part of our Holiday December trip to visit these orphans?! Let's pour out the love we have received over our Christmas holidays onto these children who do not have the families we have. I promise in every way that you will not be disappointed! We are currently accepting applications.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Wonderful Adoption Story!!!


A NEW ADDITION TO THE YOUNG FAMILY!
One of our Visiting Orphans board members has just adopted a 13 year old boy from China. It's such a neat story. Read Christine's post about it here: http://orphanresponse.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/forever-faithful/

The Young Family just sent an email out and their son is now home with them! Praise the Lord. Here's the email announcement:

His name is Wenke Li Young and he is 13 years old. We adopted him from Siping China. This is the orphanage we visit each summer, and it has been a pleasure getting to know this sweet boy. We are so proud to now call him our son. He is adjusting well to American life, although everything is new to him.
I hope you get to meet our son, he really is something special. To read his story, please check out our blog: orphanresponse.com, the post “forever faithful”.
Blessings from our family to yours,
Tracy, Christine, Zach, Ben, Lilli, Wenke

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Glimpse of Heaven

Children dancing and playing the drums is TOTALLY acceptable and encouraged in Uganda! Remember, these are orphaned children loving, praising and worshipping the Lord! We could learn a thing or two from them. I LOVE church in Africa! I think it's very similar to what heaven will look like. :)

This is a video from our last team's time at My Father's House and Royal Hope Academy orphanage.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Common Denominator

I heard a news report yesterday on one of the Christian Broadcast stations that because of the downturn in our economy that more of the church body is choosing NOT to go on mission trips. I would like to refute this!
I can contest as the Executive Director of Visiting Orphans that this is simply not true! Our agency is sending out four times the number of short term missionaries in the year 2010 than any previous year. Yes, there may a few other factors to take into this growth, but the growth would not happen if God's children simply were not choosing to put their faith in God and visit orphans all over this world.

I personally believe that this larger unemployment rate is opening up more energy and time in peoples lives to go on trips and serve. It's also causing people to be more desperate and question what try doing with their lives and time, wondering what their purpose is. They are realizing what life is all about and it's not about material things, but serving others. Then, they go and visit Haiti or China or Africa and return with a new sense of destiny and perspective on what's truly important in life.

But it's also the folks who still have their careers and full time jobs who are choosing to GO. The church is truly becoming more compassionate and aware and BRAVE! They want LIFE. They don't want to be lulled to sleep anymore by their consumeristic culture. And last but not least they are putting more faith in Gods finances and not their own to get them to the mission field. Where is that bigger faith coming from? Maybe it's coming out of truly wanting to experience God and take Him at His word...Maybe people are wanting to seek more Truth and think they can find it on the other side of the world...I don't know. That's a good poll for us to take. I do know this, there is one simple common factor, they all just want to go and love orphans. They are "getting it" as we say at VO. Some how awareness is spreading and Gods people are listening and hearing and responding.

So I refute that false news report! Wonder where they are getting their information...truly now from us....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Mission Trip's Impact







Here is a letter one of our recent Africa team members sent to his friends and family explaining his experience in Africa:
Friends and Family

I am finally back stateside after a life changing trip to Africa. I willingly went on the trip to create change in myself, and in my life and boy o' boy, did it ever! I wish I could accurately articulate every fiber in my heart and mind that is different, but I know for a fact I'm not quite there yet.

The trip, as most of you know, was spent between two different countries, Uganda and Ethiopia. The two nations could not have been more different on some fronts, and could not have been closer on others.

The sites and sounds of Uganda were full of rolling grass covered hills, dark clay roads, mud made homes, and children yelling "Muzungu!" Which translates to 'white person,' a term of endearment there (or at least that's what they said). We saw over 700 children in 6 days! We actually lived in a home, that houses over a 115 kids, which was one of the most impactful parts of the trip. Seeing the same children every day, building bonds and relationships was amazing!

Ethiopia was a much more urban environment as we spent most of our time in the capital, Addis Ababa. This part of the trip was different for me, as it meant I was able to see Ashlie, my best friend, and her new baby boy, Easton. I can admit feelings of selfishness in Ethiopia, as most of the time I only wanted to hold my first nephew and comfort my best friend.

At this point, I'm not going to write about the dark past of the children, or the terrible conditions most of them live in, mostly because I don't have the words yet. There is a weight on my heart now that I have never felt before, and as I figure out to position and reuse that weight, I'm want to mention the hope and joy that filled the children's faces. It was mind blowing, that these children despite having every reason in the would to be filled with hate and despair they chose HOPE and JOY!

Think we could learn something from them? I think so.

To those who were able to help make the trip possible, I sifting through thousands of pictures to create a personalized thank for each of you.

I have included just a few pictures from the trip...Again, there is so much more to see, but this will work for now.

Love,

Kevin

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Welcome to the Heart of Africa

Here's a great short video from our last team who went to Uganda. Our teams work with Royal Academy and My Father's House in Kampala. Here the children are welcoming our team as this was the first team to visit them! I LOVE how excited the children are. They are singing, "Welcome to all our visitors. Welcome to the heart of Africa!" The heart of Africa certainly are these children b/c they are the heart of God. And as their orphanage director, Rebecca Sorrenson said, " As I scan this line of children, I just see stories of children who come from backgrounds of polygamy, islam, rhasta, witchcraft. Children who have been abused, neglected, raped... NOW LOVED! treasured, saved, Praising sweet Jesus, adopted into a worldwide family with the King of Kings as their Father! What an awesome orphanage director! She knows the truth of the Spirit of Adoption and these children are learning about the love of their Abba Father. You can visit this orphanage and many others on our December/January trip to Uganda. You can find out more and sign up here.

All Over the World

Posted by Alicia

It's amazing to see our teams touching so many continents at one time. We currently have a team in Honduras ministering to the orphans there. You can follow their journeys here and here

We also have a team in Ghana, Africa. VO's sweet Autumn is with this team. It is her first trip to Africa and I can't wait to hear if she loves this place as much as I do. She is updating her blog as well.

And then we have a team that leaves for Uganda on Saturday.

Join us in praying that God reveals Himself in a mighty way to the people of Honduras, Ghana and Uganda. It's exciting to see so many people going and serving in the name of Jesus.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Most Amazing Vision I Have Ever Read About...

I do not know the man that wrote this but I received it today. All I know is that I know the feeling that Chad writes about...about seeing the church playing in the river and seeing the lonely Christ all alone working in the fields and being in between him and the church. Hearing the cries of those who have not been helped or heard the good news of salvation. Please read this and share it. We need to respond...we need to take up our cross and be those that are helping Christ in the fields of the fatherless....

It is long, but it's worth every minute you give to read it...

Chad Taylor:
A Panoramic Vision of THE Harvest
I have had this repeated vision over and over the last 22 years since I was saved. I saw impressions of it when I walked across America in 1990 with only a sleeping bag and a "Jesus Saves" sign blazed across my backpack in neon red. I saw the vision while walking the streets of this nation's largest cities long after midnight.

It engraved itself in my consciousness as I preached on the streets of Seattle at the age of 18 with only the homeless and the gutter as my congregation. I have seen the same vision while ministering in the sultry south on the mean streets of Atlanta where racism and religion still prevail. Over and over the past 22 years this panoramic vision of "the harvest" has left its enduring mark on my soul, and finally I am to make it plain. Make it plain so that those that read it can run—run into this field the Bible calls, "The Harvest."

Vision of the Field
I saw a field going on endlessly as far as the eyes could see. It reminded me of the gravity of Abraham's vision in Genesis when God said, "Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward Heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them" (Genesis 15:5). That's how boundless this harvest field was. It stretched on in every direction, until it left you dizzy with the sheer magnitude of it all.

As I continued to look down the endless rows of wheat, I saw as it were a figure far off in the distance, working. The heat waves coming from the hard-packed ground made it difficult to see, so I stepped into the field to look closer. I glanced down at the furrows and rows and I noticed much of the ground was hard-packed and fallow, yet other smaller parts were dark with fertile soil and tilled. Large sections of the field that I could see from my vantage point were unharvested, and the ground showed signs of neglect—fallow, hard and dry.

I continued to walk toward the figure that I had first noticed deep in the field. I heard a peculiar sound as if it were coming from all directions. Like a distant whine or a baby crying? I stopped to listen more closely. I heard it more audibly now as I paused—it was a mournful cry, like someone weeping. As I listened more intently, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, "It's the cry of the harvest; a forgotten, abandoned harvest—like a baby left discarded from its mother!"

I could clearly hear the mourning and crying from this wide harvest field as if it was crying out to be redeemed, accepted and received. I was shaken and my heart broke as I heard the pitiful cry of the harvest all around me. The words of Job sounded like a crashing cymbal in my spirit, "O earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest!" (Job
16:18). This harvest of disquieted souls refused to be discounted, and their plaintive cry came before me.

Vision of the River
I continued walking and the cry from the harvest seemed to wane; it appeared that the figure in the field was now even farther away. As I continued to walk down the rows which were mostly dry and cracked, unexpectedly I caught the scent of water. I abruptly turned toward the breeze that carried the smell of fresh water wafting through the air and I began to run toward it. I pushed through row after row of heavy-laden stocks of wheat bent over and bowing low to the ground. I sprung right through one more row, and there it was—the river.
I was taken aback in this series of endless rows of grain and then, abruptly, this gurgling river. Before I could run and leap into the cold water, drinking from its welcoming shore, I looked at what was before me and I was still. In the river and along its sides were hundreds if not thousands of men, women and children jumping, swimming and laughing.

I yelled from where I was near the edge of the harvest field only a few dozen yards away, but they could not hear me. The people were deaf to my cries as if I was not even present. Didn't they see the figure working in the distance all alone? Didn't they hear the despairing cry coming from the very field that was all around them? Didn't they see the massive field that was left unattended and forgotten? Couldn't they see me just a stone's throw away, waving my hands and shouting? Some were even gazing intently into the river as if they were hypnotized by its ebb and tide. It was uncanny.

A Sudden Anguish Swept Over Me at a Revelation of the Immense Labor Left Undone
The river was so intoxicating and appealing, it took a great deal of effort not to be drawn closer by its strong allure and promise of refreshing. I was about to step in closer when the sound of crying and mourning grew louder. The cry of the harvest pierced my heart again and I turned back toward the field. I saw the lonely figure in the now-setting horizon and was determined to forge ahead.

I looked back one more time at the crowds and the river. I was amazed that they were somehow completely unaware of the vast expanse of field that surrounded them on both sides. The persistent cry of the harvest could not reach their ears; either because of the festivities or a mystery that I did not understand. I tried shouting again and pointing toward the figure alone in the field, but no one even glanced at me or heard.

A sudden anguish swept over me at a revelation of the immense labor left undone as the field stretched out for endless miles around me. Solomon, in his equally endless wisdom wrote, "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under Heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). I knew beyond any doubt at this moment it was time to labor. The fields were ready. They were ripe.

I called to mind another Scripture that leapt from the pages of the Bible, "Whoever gathers in the summer is a wise son. Whoever sleeps at harvest time brings shame..." (Proverbs 10:5). Lord, never let me be put to shame!

Vision of the Headstone
I finally turned my back on the river and took in the rich harvest anew before me. Jesus' exhortation to His early disciples in Matthew 9:37-38 was now in striking clarity as I gazed out at the field, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." I asked myself that very moment, "Lord, did I forget to pray?"

I began to walk doggedly toward the lonely figure, at times stopping because of the heat. Then unexpectedly, I stumbled upon what seemed like a stone or some kind of marker off ahead in the dirt. It looked like a carved stone or rock, apparently there for some inherent purpose. I noticed bouquets of flowers, all kinds of memorabilia and small personal items scattered around. As I drew up closer I knew what it was—a grave marker like in a cemetery, and clearly inscribed on it were the words, "The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

I was aghast. Below this agonizing inscription I saw specific years of the calendar etched in its stone: 1610, 1689, 1705, 1790, 1830, 1875, 1920, 1945, 1970, 1989, 2000 and so forth. Other dates were recorded below but were worn and illegible. I knew what they were—times and seasons, dates and generations where a great cycle of harvest had come upon the earth and had not been seized; a kairos moment that had come and gone.

One More Date Was Carved in the Headstone: 2020
At the very top of the marker was one more number as if it had just been cut into the stone—2020. I was cognizant in that moment that through the years of 2000 to 2020 was another divine cycle or season for the harvest of souls in the earth. We are in the middle of that cycle now in 2010. 2020 was a divine mile-marker in the world's history and also a great signpost for Heaven as well. I dropped to my knees right there in the field and cried aloud, praying, "Lord, send out laborers! Lord, here am I. Send me!"

Flowers and trinkets adorned the headstone as if generation after generation had paid homage to times past, rather than seizing the moments that they had then. Historic opportunities had come to win the world to Christ but had passed them by. I was melancholy and sad as I watched this memorial stone fade behind me while I continued to walk deeper into the field.

What I saw next was unforgettable: The headstone was now only a memory when out of the heat-waves and swaying wheat I saw an angel and a woman.

Vision of the Angel and the Woman
The woman was dressed in what appeared to be Biblical-era clothing and was gleaning in the field behind what was clearly an angel. Her faded lavender dress was laden with wheat as she filled a large basket beside her. A red sash was around her waist. I knew exactly who it was—Ruth! The Ruth I had been recently reading about and ministering from in the Bible. That vivid illustration in God's Word where Ruth followed the reapers in Boaz's field was right there before me. I remembered the Scripture in Ruth that stated, "And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers" (Ruth 2:3).

It was such a sight to see the angel a few yards ahead of her with a scythe cutting the wheat in bushels. They both worked in tandem, reaping the wheat seamlessly in a synchronized motion as if it was rehearsed. I stared in awe at this amazing sight and I knew it was prophetic; a divine message played out in this drama unfolding before me. Then the words of Jesus in Matthew added one more stroke to this masterpiece I was beholding, "The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels" (Matthew 13:39).

Ruth is a picture of an end-time Church following the Kingdom of God into the fields of nations, preparing the way of the Lord. A time was now upon us that we would work with the angels of Heaven invisibly in the immense field that lies before this present generation. Heaven and earth would work in unprecedented unison to see it reaped.

I remembered in Jewish tradition that on every Pentecost the book of Ruth is read. On Pentecost in the Upper Room when they were waiting on the promise of the Holy Spirit's power that would take them around the world, the story of Ruth was repeated. As I stood in this vision, I saw it too. We are the Bride that would find her Boaz, her Christ, in the threshing floor of nations. That's where the lovers of God would truly be found. I prayed that He would find me there, too—in the field.

Vision of the Clouds
Abruptly and without warning, a dark cloud came down blackening the air with strange smells and acrid smoke. I was nearly blinded, my eyes watering as this strange cloud descended. It took all of my senses not to give into a sudden feeling of drowsiness; my eyes grew heavy and I could barely walk. I was like a drunken man weaving back and forth in between the rows of wheat, staggering. Voices came from somewhere in the smoke; it sounded strangely like music, and then at other times it was incoherent. I was disoriented and confused, and I desperately tried to find my way out of the cloud.

As this disturbing experience continued, a specific Scripture arrested me, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41).

I fell to my knees as this terrible smoke swirled around me, and I began to pray loudly, "Lord, here am I, send me! Lord, lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil!" As I continued praying, a breeze which transformed into a gust of wind began to blow and the cloud retreated. I knew this wind was the "Ruach HaKodesh" or the Spirit of God. This was the same wind that brought the dead bones to life in Ezekiel and the same wind that blew through the Upper Room and sent them outward to the uttermost parts of the world. It was that same Spirit which was clearing the dark smoke from the air, now giving me a clear vision of the harvest field again and the lone figure in the distance. I had my senses back.

As I looked out again at the endless rows of wheat, I saw similar dark little clouds appearing, swirling. These clouds were distractions and mirages that caused many to withdraw or to simply freeze and do nothing. I recalled another Scripture as I stood where the cloud had once been only seconds ago, and I prayed it out loud, "(God) hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son!" (Colossians 1:13).

Vision of the Saints
I continued to walk now with more resolve and I began to see large patches of field already reaped in sheaves. Every hundred yards or so I would come upon another swathe of harvest that was thoroughly cut down and laying in perfect piles of sheaves bound tightly in bundles. I marveled at the harvested portions of field and wondered out loud who could have done it. I looked more closely and I saw memorial markers or capstones near the middle of these cleared out areas. I walked up to one in particular in a very large and wide harvested area, and it read simply, "Corrie Ten Boom."

I walked on further and I read another capstone in a cleared area nearby, and it read, "William and Catherine Booth." Each area of field had a small memorial to the Christian that had harvested so diligently in it. Most of the names I had never heard of before. Others I had only heard or read before in books and memoirs such as, "Jim Elliot," "Hudson Taylor," and "D.L. Moody."

I continued to walk, observing each harvested area, and finally I stopped to pray in another clearing. I prayed out loud, "Lord, let there be a small memory of my work on this earth as well. Whether it is to be read by others or not, let my short life mean something even as these others before me have." I remembered the prayer of David and I said it out loud: "Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is." (Psalm 39:4)

Vision of the Lonely Christ
I stubbornly left this last patch of harvested wheat, not wanting to depart, somehow thinking that one of these great harvesters would step out of the field to meet me. No one did. I was once again drawn to the lonely sentinel that worked in the field ahead. As I focused on the personage again, it didn't seem as far as it was before. I could now make out the face and appearance. It was Jesus. He was sweating and dirty, working vigorously and tirelessly. He looked up at me and wiped the sweat from His brow, and said, "So, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

He had such a sad look on His face, yet I knew He was happy to see me. I had pressed on and not been deterred even by the glorious things I had glimpsed—the river, the saints before me, the angels and the woman that harvested. I had pressed into the field even beyond the frightening cloud that had tried to stop me. He spoke again, "Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light" (Ephesians 5:14). I was awake.

I knew this was a prophetic panorama of the great harvest of humanity that Jesus had spoken of in the Bible. It was also a stark revelation of the utter lack of laborers despite over 2,000 years of enterprise. Now after all that I had seen in this vision, nothing could compare to the lonely anguished look on Jesus' face as He invited me into "the fellowship of His suffering." I remembered in the garden of Gethsemane He had asked His disciples to pray with Him in that, His darkest hour. Now, He is not only requesting us to pray with Him but to work with Him in the harvest fields of the world—the colossal expanse of human life where the more than half of earth's populations has never even heard of or extolled the name of Jesus Christ.
As this vision was ending, Jesus stopped toiling for a moment and looked back at me with a look of kindness. He handed me His threshing instrument and said almost in a whisper, "Ask of Me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession" (Psalm 2:8).
I bowed down greatly.

Chad Taylor
Consuming Fire Ministries
Email: info@consumingfire.com

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Letter from Ugandan Orphanage Director


One of the wonderful aspects of my job as Executive Director is that I get to receive the thank you letters of praise from orphanage directors our teams partner with all over the world. Here is a recent letter from Pastor Samuel of the Tumain Children's Home in Pallisa, Uganda. Our June team traveled to work with his orphanage, his church and some community children's clubs. Very few Americans travel and stay in Pallisa, so this was a great blessing to all who were involved.

Peace, Joy and Grace be unto you, I bring greeting from Pallisa family and thanking God for making it possible for us to host the V.O team also in Pallisa, what a blessing from God.

We are so grateful for what you all guyz did to bless our Children with sports equipments, Clothes, shoes, Children’s crafts, teachings and your big hugs that you gave us may the Lord increase you daily.

Results: During your stay here we have recorded now 6 People that received Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior in our Church, some did when Chris preached on Sunday and other during the week, to my surprise, we received one guy who prayed Volley with the V.O team and he was pulled by their Character so on Sunday he came to Church and said he want to change his Characters too.

Children Clubs: Our 3 clubs that the V.O team worked with where so blessed and we have seen a very big growth in our attendance for the last one week. Now they know that there other people somewhere in the world who care and love them and also that Jesus is not only for blacks but for all.

Women’s Ministry: We where so blessed to have Mum Barbra on the Team and Tamara and some one else that I have forgotten the name, their stories healed many women’s hearts, knowing that they are not alone who go through what their going through. “When the old Muzungu told us her story I felt like rising up again, knowing that I am not the only one” said the lady on the Sunday service.

Children’s Home: The V, O team blessed us so much with food, beddings and games. We have food that can last for 5 months now; this was a very big wave off to my worries of how they are going to feed. They will be able to have balanced food and gain their health so that by the time we send them back to their parents/ relatives they are very ok.

Vote of Thanks: On behalf of the Ministry here in Pallisa I would like once again to appreciate the June 2010 V.O team for leaving your comfort zones and come down here in Africa to work with us. Our countries in Africa deffer in there Challenges but you are able to come in and help us.

I thank everyone who support the June team with any kind of support, you did not support them but the Children.

We love you so much and please know that you left a maker in our heart. We will pray for you and you pray for us.

Pray for the Aug Team that will be here soon.

Please Pass it to another.

Pastor Samuel

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ordinary Hero


At Visiting Orphans we have wonderful opportunities as a parachurch organization to partner with other not for profits. Our heart in doing this is so that a ministry or not for profit agency can focus on the vision God has for them while we focus on what God has called us to which is sending out the Body of Christ to visit orphans in distress.

One such ministry we partner with is a local Nashville not for profit called Ordinary Hero. They do awesome things for orphans all over the world...partnering with international adoption agencies to highlight waiting children in other countries in the hopes that the right family will find them and finally adopt them and bring them home. They also help foster children locally and impoverished families, even helping most recently with victims of the flood here in Nashville. Kelly Putty, the Executive Director and Founder has so much on her hands right now, as you can imagine, so it was with joy that we had this opportunity to serve her and her agency in sending out an incredible team to Ethiopia.
She has written a very comprehensible blog and she's a professional photographer so you will love her recaps and images. You can follow along here. I am thoroughly enjoying her blog personally!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Visiting Orphans Video Release!

We are excited to release Visiting Orphans' first official video! We hope that it inspires and motivates you to GO and visit the orphan in distress. Please share this video with anyone who is doubting that God has called us to fulfill this commandment in James 1:27. Let's get the word out!
Be sure to turn the music player off at the bottom right hand corner of the blog and then to view the video in full screen mode, click on the symbol with 4 arrows....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

We Must Be in Heaven!


I received an email this morning entitled "We Must Be in Heaven!" from our July Africa team leader, Kari Gibson. Here was the letter and a photo I received of the team. What an encouragement to hear good news from a distant land!

Dear Amanda,

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me the great honor and priviledge of leading this remarkable team to Africa. I truly have no words to express to you the AMAZING TEAM I am with. I have truly never watched a team come together and bond and love and serve one another. I have been blown away!!!!!!!!! They have gone over and beyond what I have ever watched a team minister to children. Its God breathed. They are taking their gifts, talents and passions and pouring them all over the children at every project we have visited. I have watched the team unite and come together for a real purpose. We wept (ugly cry) at My Father's House and school celebration. We are overwhelmed with the reality of what it means to simply love orphans. There has been an outpouring of everything you would have wanted the team to do for children.

YOU WILL LOVE REBECCA!!! What she planned for our team was so remarkable, I really can't even describe it to you. The celebration was unlike anything I have ever seen in my life or ever will experience. I can't wait to show you photos and the videos.

You will need to make the stop at My Father's House/school, Return Ministries and living at Caanan's Home a fixed agenda year after year. I could spend years here with these 3 ministries and still never tap into the miracles I have witnessed in only 2 short days.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for the remarkable job you have done for our team. Every single moment has been a blessing. My life has changed forever serving with Visiting Orphans!!!!

BTW- the team may not get on the plane on Aug. 1st We just might try and stay here forever:))) What's even more crazy... we haven't even been to Ethiopia and my heart is sooo full to the brim. WOW the rest will just be overflow.

Pastor Isaac is organizing our time at King Fisher Lodge and the nile boat ride. We cant wait!!!

Ohhh yayyy and I get to meet Katie Davis, my hero in 24 hours. Pinch me!

Love you,

Kari

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beloved Amazima & Katie Davis

Do you know how much I love the ministry of Amazima?!

The first time I ever met Katie Davis or heard her stories of the girls she adopted and the children she helped feed I woke up in the middle of the night, just SOBBING! I knew this cry wasn't a normal cry but one that was a heart cry. I knew with this cry that God wanted me to some how be involved with what she was doing over there. But would she also feel this way? Would this incredible young lady want to partner with our mission sending agency to send help? Did she even need or want our help? Would she trust us and believe our heart was completely for her and this ministry? All I knew that I could do was just ask....

Thankfully God had truly set this up and Visiting Orphans gets to send the most wonderful people of God to help bring donations, feed and teach these amazing children about the love of their Abba Father. Won't you come and be a part of this with us?! We have a trip this December to Uganda and many more in 2011. All scheduled perfectly with Amazima so that we can serve and lead a vacation bible school for the children in both her program and in the Karamajong tribe. All I can say is "thank you God for allowing us to even be a minute part of what Katie is doing there." Thank you for her example of sacrifice, abandonment and inspiration. You can read more about Katie and the Amazima ministry on her blog at http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com.

I am so thankful to be a part of this...

(to hear the video you will need to stop the music on the music player below right.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our June Ethiopia and Uganda Team


Our June Ethiopia and Uganda team just arrived home last weekend. As soon as they arrived home, we sent out one team to Ethiopia and another back to both Ethiopia and Uganda. So we are busy this Summer with back to back trips to Africa!

Here is a picture of that fearless June team. I love the diversity in the Visiting Orphans teams...all denominations and ages represented! From the teenager to those who would normally be enjoying their retirement. More pictures to come!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Costa Rica Team 2 - a "goofy" adventure:)

You know it's a busy season for Visiting Orphans when 3 blogs from 3 different teams are posted on our blog all in one day:)

Our second team to Costa Rica is well underway. One of our team members, Kim Stanley, is blogging at: http://www.goingnotknowing.blogspot.com/. She and her son Caleb were supposed to be on the first team but passport issues prevented them from joining that team. After a week of re-arranging flights, going to New Orleans to get passports the same day and lots of additional costs all with very positive attitudes that were an amazing testimony of their faith and trust the God had a plan, they made it and are now with the second team in Costa Rica loving on the kids at 2 orphanages there. This is from her blog:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day One ~ Villa's







We woke to a beautiful morning today. After devotional and an excellent breakfast, we hit the road to visit Villa's. It took us several hours ride some interesting roads. Many of the roads have holes from so much rainfall and there is not always a lot of room to go around them. We also crossed many one lane bridges. From what I can tell, the vehicle that gets there first and "honks" the horn has the right of way. We are blessed with an excellent driver and guide. I wish you could see all of the luggage they had packed on top of the bus the first day. Caleb said we looked like a scene from "The Goofy Movie" and I tend to agree!

We spent the afternoon at Villa's with the children there. Since a group had been there the week before, it made our transition much easier. They recongnized Kim W from that group and were soooo excited to see her! After a wonderful lunch prepared by the tias, we got to know the kids. We had bubbles blowing, bag painting, picture frame making, and stickers going everywhere!!! But it was fun and a great way to break the ice and get to love on the children.

On Thursday, we will take the children to the beach to play in the water and the sand! This is very much a treat for them and the tias and I am so glad that our guides were able to work this out. In just a few hours, with very limited Spanish, I learned something very interesting. Love is the same in any language, laughter is the same, joy is the same, happiness is the same, and many other emotions are the same that we saw today. Isn't God an awesome God? This has been a very humbling experience for many of us. These children are God's children also!!!

Meeting needs in China


Visiting Orphans has a team in Chen Zhou, China. 14 year old Elyssa Mapple on the team is blogging. You can read her blog at: http://www.visitingorphanschenzhou.blogspot.com/

Here is a small segment from her blog:

We ended up being able to buy the orphanage a big air conditioner, and a TV. I think they were very happy and thankful that we were able to get them something they needed. Okay, so back on track, at 2:45 we went to the orphanage for the last time (on this trip) :) and played with the babies for about an hour. We went downstairs afterwards and they decorated the foam visors with stick on foam stickers that we brought. They loved decorating them. Susan also got some of her pictures developed so that the older kids could have a picture of themselves in their foam picture frame that they made the other day. We put all of the frames in a collage sort of thing on their wall so they can always see them. We also brought face paint and we painted most of their faces. Katie's secret talent is face painting, haha, she was really good. Some of us also brought them glow stick bracelets that they wore and thought they were the coolest things ever! Sadly, we were told that it was 5 and that we needed to say our goodbyes and take our last group picture out by the orphanage. It was so hard saying goodbye to all of the precious ones that we have come to love; however, we all hoped that if we are fortunate to come back again that most of them will be gone to live with a family.