Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Playground for Kind Hearts Kids!!!!!!



The kids at "Kind Hearts" in Ethiopia will soon be getting brand-new playground equipment!!!! 

In January 2010, every child at Kind Hearts had been matched with a sponsor family, whose $34 monthly committment ensures that their sponsor child gets nutritious meals every day, as well as clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship.


But our goal for Kind Hearts is not only to provide basic needs for these kids. Instead of being a place to survive, we want the kids at Kind Hearts to thrive!! With that in mind, we are focusing on several capital projects to develop Kind Hearts so that the care-point becomes more self-sufficient and can serve even more children and add more grade levels.

One of our capital projects is playground equipment for the kids. A beat-up teeter-totter and a rickety swing-set (pictured above) are the only "toys" the Kind Hearts kids have - and they are shared between all 68 kids. Playground equpiment provides a much-needed place for a kid to just be a kid!

In May, one of our sponsor families, Alisa and Vince Martin, did a Mother's Day card fund-raiser that put us within $300 of our goal to purchase playground equipment for Kind Hearts.  Last week, another one of our sponsor families, Robin and Chris Wyatt, led a Vacation Bible School (VBS) fund-raiser for Kind Hearts, from their church, Bel-Ridge Baptist, in Belvedere, South Carolina. 

Robin wrote to me after the event, explaining, "We showed a few pictures of the Kind Hearts kids every night and talked about the different things the kids needed.  The kids at VBS were really touched.  The idea of two swings being shared between 68 kids really baffled them!  One little girl in the second grade was in tears later that night and she said "It is so sad those kids don't have shoes and don't have anything to play on."  Robin and Chris sponsor a little boy at Kind Hearts named Tesfaye, and the kids in South Carolina knew they were helping Tesfaye and his friends in Ethiopia.

At the end of the week - the VBS program at Bel-Ridge Baptist Church in Belvedere, South Carolina raised a total of $528.60 for the playground equipment at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia!!!!  That actually put us over our goal by a few hundred dollars, so perhaps the kids at Kind Hearts will even have a few extra swings!!!

What an amazing impact we are making, together, for the kids at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia!!!



This is a photo of the kids and directors of the VBS program at Bel-Ridge Baptist Church in Belvedere, SC.  The sign reads, "WE LOVE KIND HEARTS!".

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Made with love for "Kind Hearts" kids!
























A few months ago, I posted about the tattered and torn, and filthy clothes that the kids at Kind Hearts were wearing.  Literally, the clothes they were wearing, were the only clothes they owned. 

They didn't have "school clothes" and "church clothes" and "play clothes" and pajamas.  They had the dirty, stained, torn and stinky clothes that they wore every day - to school, to play and to sleep.

Of course, all that has changed since each of these kids has come to personally know the love and provision of a sponsor family.  Not only do the kids have new school uniforms that they wear with such pride - but one of the sponsor families (Mullins) made T-shirts for ALL of the kids (and staff) at Kind Hearts and sent them with one of the Children's Hopechest staff when they travelled to Ethiopia (click here to read the original post). 

When Ginia (from Children's Hopechest) handed out the T-shirts to the kids, she said that the teachers and the school director were able to find a shirt that fit them as well.  There was one t-shirt left over and it was given to the guard, and he held it like it was a cherished possession and explained that he had never been given anything like that before!

Our sponsor families are making a loving and lasting impression at Kind Hearts - not only for the kids, but for everyone that is associated with the school in Ethiopia!


This is the Mullins family as they screen-printed the T-Shirts for Kind Hearts.



Here are the kids and staff at Kind Hearts wearing their new T-shirts!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Creating Memories at our "Favorite Place"


A few final photos from Sanibel Island, Florida!









Dolphin rides from daddy.


Yes, the "grown-ups" enjoy it as much as the kids.






Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More ... from our "Favorite Place"


Just a few more photos from our favorite place, Sanibel Island, Florida.  All 10 of the cousins look forward to this trip all year long so they can have a week of uninterrupted time with each other!







Wesley watching Lincoln cast a net for bait fish.


Wesley wading in the tidal pools as the sun sets, looking for shells and crabs.


Wesley showing Maea the starfish he just found.




Grant showing Jayden the subtle techniques of fishing.


Ellea, Greta and Wesley playing with the bait fish.


Maea, Bella, Wesley and Jayden working on a puzzle in the shade.



There's nothing better than a "feeze pop", in the pool, on a hot day, hanging with your cousins.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our Favorite Place ... Other than Home!

Last week, we slipped away to our favorite place in the world (other than home), Sanibel Island, Florida!


We did a little bit of this ....


and a little bit of that ...


and we found some of these ...


and we floated on these ...


and we had coffee and ice cream here ...


and we played in the surf with these ...


and she's growing up before our very eyes ...



and so is she ...
(and she'll roll her eyes when she reads this ...)


and we treasured every minute with them (cousins)!!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

CARING FOR THE FATHERLESS!!

Today was Father's Day and for TWELVE more children at "Trees of Glory" care-point in Ethiopia - they now have the provision, prayers and love of a sponsor family!!!  These precious kids are fatherless - but they are loved by a father and mother half a world away!!

There are 84 children attending "Trees of Glory" care-point in Ethiopia.  Most of these kids are orphans and are living with a relative or neighbor that has taken them in, but is not able to provide for them. 

Many of the kids have been "sold" as indentured servants to local livestock owners, herding cattle night and day, for $12 per year.  TWELVE DOLLARS PER YEAR!!!!  With no opportunities for school, and barely enough food to survive.  Can you imagine being faced with this choice??  "Selling" one of the kids in your care, so that you can feed the others? 

The Ethiopian government has acutally intervened on behalf of the kids (they have rescued them from a life of grinding poverty and hopelessness) and are requiring the guardians to bring the children to the care-point - where they will be provided for through a sponsor program!

As of today - 46 of these kids have been matched with a sponsor family - but there are still 38 children that need a sponsor family.  Please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com if you are interested in sponsoring a child - rescuing them from a life of poverty,  and providing food, clothing, medical care, Christian discipleship and an EDUCATION!! 

You will be changing a child's life - and in the process, that child just might change yours!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Father's Day OR Just Another Day Without a Father?

Father's Day is fast approaching and my kids are busily making cards and talking about what to do for their daddy.  I can't help but contrast this with the lives my two sons were living just 18 months ago. 

Neither of my sons had ever known a daddy - and for Jayden (9) specifically, he had his heart set on a dad. 

The moment my husband and I walked through that gate at the orphanage in Ethiopia, Jayden took Jay's hand and never let go.  When his birth mother arrived to say good-bye one last time (she had relinquished him to an orphanage because she could not provide for him and they were literally starving), I expected tears and a heart-wrenching scene.  Of course I was putting my daughters in his shoes and imagining the heartbreak for me and for them.  Instead, Jayden sat on Jay's lap and wrapped his little arms around his neck, and there he sat while he conversed with his mother and said good-bye.  Never taking his arms from around my husband's neck.  He had found his daddy - and he wasn't letting go!

Jayden knew that his birth mother loved him, but he also knew that she could not protect him and could not provide for him.  He was living on the streets during the day while she worked to keep a tin shack roof over their heads - and he has the scars and the street stories to show for it.

I also can't help but think about the kids at "Kind Hearts" and "Trees of Glory" care-points in Ethiopia.  The majority of these kids don't have a daddy.  They don't have a father.  Many of them don't have a mother either. 

It's sad to think that orphans are actually classified as a single-orphan (meaning they have lost one parent) or a double-orphan (meaning they have lost both parents).  In Africa, when a child loses their father, they have lost the possibility for protection and provision.  Women oftentimes don't have the education or skills to work, and many times the deceased husband's family takes possession of land and the home, leaving the family homeless, and without provision or an inheritance.  With the death of a father ... comes the death of hope, opportunity, education, and a future.

As Father's Day approaches and all four of my kids are excitedly planning a fun day for their dad, the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory will have just another day without a dad.  Another day without the protection and provision of a father. 

Every child at Kind Hearts is sponsored - and for the first time in a long time, they have been able to rely on provision and love and prayer from their sponsor family.  Nothing can replace the love of a mother, and the provision and protection of a father, but sponsorship goes a long way for these kids.  What a burden they were shouldering - no hope for the future, and not knowing when the ache in their tummies would go away.  I look at recent pictures of the kids at Kind Hearts, and their faces have filled out and confident joy radiates in their eyes as they attend school every day with their friends.

There are 84 orphaned children at "Trees of Glory" care-point.  31 of the kids have been matched with a sponsor family, but 53 kids are still waiting ... and hoping.  As Father's Day approaches - would you consider sponsoring a child?  Would you consider being the provider and protector these children so desperately need?


Daniel (7) and his sister Abebech (7) are single orphans.  Their father has died and they live with their widowed mother with a total of 6 children in the home. 
UPDATE:  Daniel has just been matched with a sponsor family!

This is Abebech (7), Daniel's sister.
UPDATE:  Abebech now has a sponsor family!


Abenet (8) and his brother, Abey (7) are double orphans.  Both of their parents have died
and they are living with an uncle who is not able to provide for them.
UPDATE:  Abenet now has a sponsor family!


This is Abey (7), Abenet's brother.
UPDATE:  Abey has just been matched with a sponsor family!

Please email me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com to start your sponsorship.  Sponsorship is $34 per month and provides food, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship.  Your letters provide HOPE, demonstrating love and concern and teaching them their value and worth!  For these kids, $34 per month makes all the difference in the world!  For you and me - if we truly put it in perspective, $34 can be spent at Target in about 5 minutes flat!

Don't wait for another day or another time.  For these kids, NOW is the perfect time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Are they brothers?



Coming from Ethiopia, where water is so scarce and valuable, our boys LOVE to play in the sprinkler!  After running and jumping, and shrieking and giggling whenever the icy cold spray hits them full in the face, they are tired and ready to lay in the shade in the backyard.  It's in quiet moments like this, when I sometimes stop and marvel at the amazing change in their lives - and the incredible blessing they have been to our family.

18 months ago, our sons were living in an orphanage in Ethiopia, waiting for us to arrive and bring them home.  They were alone in the world, and we were wanting to adopt two kids into our family.  They came from very different situations, but somehow ended up in the same orphanage, and from there, they were referred to the same family.  That family was us.

We are often asked if they are brothers .... and I always answer, "Yes - they are now!"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Children needing a sponsor family ...

I wanted to introduce a few more of the children that are attending "Trees of Glory" care-point in Ethiopia.  Many of these kids are orphans, and are living with a relative or neighbor that can barely provide for them.  Many of the guardians have had to make the difficult decision to "sell" a child as an indentured servant to local livestock owners, to work as a herder, night and day.  It may be the only choice they have so that other children in their home can be fed. 

At "Trees of Glory" the government has actually intervened on behalf of the kids, and is requiring the guardian or family member to bring the child to the care-point so that basic necessities (food, clothing, medical care) can be provided.  Children's Hopechest has partnered with this care-point to provide those basic necessities, along with education and Christian discipleship, through a child sponsor program.

Each one of the kids pictured below is still waiting to be matched with a sponsor family.  Please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com if you are interested in committing to $34 per month and making a life long impact for one child.  Not only will you provide for their basic needs, education and discipleship, but you can email letters and build a long-term relationship. 

I will be in Ethiopia in November to personally meet each and every one of these kids, and I can deliver a letter and photos from each sponsor family.  30 of the kids at "Trees of Glory" have already been matched with a sponsor, but we have 54 kids still waiting.  Please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com

 

Elias is 5 and lives with a guardian, with 4 children in the home. 
He is hopeful for a sponsor family.
UPDATE:  Elias has been matched with a sponsor family!


Samuel is 6 and has lost both of his parents.  He is living with his grandmother with
a total of 4 children in the home.  He needs a sponsor family.
UPDATE:  Samuel has been matched with a sponsor family!


Getu is 7 and is living with his grandmother.  He is hoping for a sponsor family.
UPDATE:  Getu now has a sponsor family!


Meseret is 8 and lives with her widowed mother.  She needs a sponsor family.


Daniel is 7 and his sister is pictured below.  They live with their widowed mother with a total of 6 children living in the home.  Daniel and his sister are hoping for a sponsor family.
UPDATE:  Daniel now has a sponsor family!



Abebech is 7 and her brother is pictured above.  They live with their widowed mother and are hopeful for a sponsor family!
UPDATE:  Abebech now has a sponsor family!