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Go Maria!!

She did it! We’re celebrating!! Maria just raised $100 for her Compassion International friend Konada. Back when I babysat, I kept all my money, but not Maria, she is so much cooler. She has such a heart to serve people and came up with being a mother’s helper. She babysat for many of our friends children, I asked her if it was hard work, “It was so fun!” she said. One boy cried when she left, she hugged him, “Bye buddy, I’ll see you soon!” at his level.

The average annual income in India is $3,500 so I told her what a huge blessing this $100 will be to Konada and her family, in ways we would never understand. We explained that the heart of a parent is to be able to provide for their kids, but many simply can’t despite everything, which is why Compassion is so powerful. Why her hours and time she gave would change that family’s life. We are so proud of Maria and her kind, strong heart. She said, “I learned in church we need to take care of other people and the poor, and I want to meet Konada one day!”

That day was the exact deadline to get the money in for the birthday gift, there were times Andrew and I just wanted to give her the remainder when time was running out, but we kept praying with her and she earned every single dollar, her last job yesterday, all herself at $3 an hour. She’s so happy, feels so good, so empowered.


We love you Maria and Konada!

//In everything I’ve done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.’// Acts 20.35 


I told Maria to keep her eye out, that when we are selfless, God will bless us; we’ll feel real peace, or joy, sometimes he will bring sweet opportunities or forever lessons for us in the form of wisdom.  And that night, Maria and I received an email from a special blog reader, “I want to match Maria’s amount earned, I can send it right now.”

Maria and I flipped out!!  When we donated to Konada, I had Maria press the button, and we saw that our other two Compassion kids had birthdays even SOONER, both in September (I didn’t know because I had NEVER given any of them money prior to Maria’s effort, don’t judge 😉 )  THEN, Maria was able to give $50 to each of our other two children!!! $50 each!!!!  Finley had wide eyes, “You gave money to MY BOY!!?!?  THANK YOU!!!”  The boys love their Temsgen.  This week Elijah collected a handful of books, “I need to send these to Temsgen ’cause he might not have any books…”

I told Maria that 3 families are hugely blessed because so chose to move, to act, to get up off her seat and DO.  That time has passed, we could never get it back, and her investment was powerful.  And she knows.  She knows what it is like to have nothing, and she knows the power to change that for someone else, or three.

Maria, when I grew up I want to be more like you, k?

Thank you to each person who hired her, and to our special friend who matched her earnings!

Maria wants to share this:  “If you have never given extra money to your Compassion kids before, try it.  Log in, if you don’t know your password, they can email you it, then try sending them like, $10.  It will help them.  You can pick birthday gift, child gift or family gift.   Thank you!”

(Why was she looking at me when she said, “If you have never…”  I feel judged…just kidding, now I know how easy and amazing it is)


After we donated, I told Maria we could celebrate by going to the library and watching her favorite movie, The Sound of Music.  We only got through the first 20 minutes before bedtime, but they LOVED IT!  The hills are alive!

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An Orphan away from an Orphanage: Hosting Jamie

Our friends the Pattons hosted Jamie* this summer.  They had never done anything like this, but each time we saw them, we saw them living their regular lives, but with a girl who fit in so well, and felt so loved by them.  Here is their story:


We initially signed up to host a girl in the spring of 2014. We had heard recent sermons about shaking up our lives and us American Christians being too comfortable and complacent. We felt called, especially after hearing about some of the experiences of others, to just take a chance and for one summer help one orphan.  Life was going well for us, we had finally started to have some breakthroughs in our marriage, and felt like we were at a pretty healthy point, which took us a few years. And we had twin boys who were at a very independent age and who were very easy. So life was good, maybe too good. Something was missing, maybe we were just bored.

The girl we initially picked out through New Horizons For Children was unable to come for the summer 2014 because of the Russian invasion. We met another mom who was hosting a girl through Guglielmo’s Hope at a NHFC training. Her girl was also unable to come for unrelated reasons but she still had time to find another child. So she scrambled and was able to host Jamie that summer and we got to meet them when they visited San Diego for a few days. She was shy and reserved and focused on getting her bike out of her mom’s SUV instead of making eye contact with me. But she smiled a little and connected with me over the next couple days by pointing out things around our property that I hadn’t noticed, like a bug collection my dad left, or a butterfly that she caught, or the numerous squirrels that she trapped and begged to keep as pets.

     This summer, we had to chance to host Jamie ourselves.  We had the opportunity to take her to a white water rafting camp as I am a leader for the junior high youth group at our church, a once in a life time opportunity for any child, especially a child who lives in an orphanage. She went straight from the airport and drove with us for six hours until we got there. She knew no one that well but trooped along and participated in everything and never complained. It was humbling, how her life could be so hard back home and to come out here and not be able to speak the language (especially when we were at camp because I had no Google translate due to no cell reception), and it was like she didn’t want to be a burden. It was numbing…how easy she was.  My favorite moments of her were when she was lost in unbridled joy. 

       She was fearless. She jumped off the highest rocks, and went over the biggest rapids completely unfazed. She came home and attempted surfing every time we went to the beach, snorkeled with the sharks, went on the fastest rides at Disneyland, got everything she could out of this experience. We had moments when we just laid in bed, her, Jeremy, and me, and watched YouTube videos and laughed hysterically together. We were warned not to have too much planned, and it really was in those quiet moments at home, that we bonded so much, like you wouldn’t expect.

        I feel like we’re in this holding pattern. As if life should have gone back to normal but it didn’t. How this girl became part of our family, fit in eerily well, and left and now life is boring again. I am answering these questions in her room. It reminds me that one night she was missing for a while and came and got me. She asked me to come to her room and had a suspicious smirk on her face. I walked in and she had taken a few glow sticks, broken them open, and splattered them all over her room. My initial response was shock and annoyance that it was covering the silk duvet I just had dry cleaned, along with her cute vintage couch and everything else, but I hid my reaction when I saw the excitement on her face. I just walked in and stopped thinking about all the things that didn’t matter, and instead marveled at how beautiful it really was. The floor, the ceiling, the walls… everywhere you looked was glowing as if I was back in a NY summer with infinite fireflies or…or in some crazy magical fairy garden. It was incredible. Thinking about that moment makes me cry for the first time since she left. These orphans are the perfect reminder of what is really important in life, and she left such an impact on us, I really don’t see how we gave her anywhere near what she gave us, especially me.  It was the best summer of my life.





Jamie with Yana who was adopted earlier this year at a church party, feeling free and silly–which is big for Eastern Europeans


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When Ethiopians Met Us

The other morning at Legoland, we heard some Russians, “привет” we said. They nodded and did a “Russian smile” which is mostly kind eyes and a head nod, but totally nice. THEN some Ethiopians met US.

The father saw Poppy and ran over to us, and in the same manner of humility we saw while in Ethiopia, he laid down on his stomach at the edge of the pool at her feet to greet her, “Beautiful girl, hello beautiful girl!!!! Oh hello sweet girl!!!” His warmth and humility reminding us of our friends, and every stranger back in Ethiopia. He waved his family over, overflowing with joy of his land, of Poppy’s land, and his smiling children and gorgeous (of course) wife came over, grinning, eager to meet us.
His smile was electric and he kissed Poppy on both hands while she looked away in her Princess way she did with the people in Ethiopia, but grinning, knowing she’s loved. “Salam!” we told them, we were so happy to see them and talked for a long, long time. We told them we were in Addis (pronounced ‘add-ees’) and how much we love Ethiopia. He put his hands together and bowed a little bit, “God bless you for what you have done for this little girl, she is so beautiful, so happy. She is a princess, you will see. When you come to Las Vegas (Where they live), come find us, we will welcome you!!” he said with his stadium light teeth and smile, his outstretched arms to us and our children, our boys grinning back and watching him in awe. As we all waved and walked away, I told Maria, “Maria, that’s how everyone is in Ethiopia.”
“NO WAY!!!!” she looked at me smiling.
“We should go there!!”
“We should,” I agreed.
My kids looked at Poppy smiling her smile, as if they see why her spirit glows as it does, like it all clicked into place.

That just made my whole day. What a blessing, what an inspiration.