The team did a fund-raiser before the trip and raised enough funds to provide shoes for ALL of the kids at Kind Hearts CarePoint. The kids were measured for shoes before the team arrived, and the shoes were delivered just in time for the team to give them to each child with their care-package.
Here is an update from Joey about their trip!
Almost seven totes full of care packages from around the US made their journey from Kansas City, Missouri all the way to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week. Lovingly packed bags full of goodies, candies, toys and love notes for sponsor children were all waiting for the day to be opened up and shared. What a privilege to be able to do just that last week!
If you’ve never had the opportunity to personally share a care package with a child at Kind Hearts or Trees of Glory, PLEASE consider doing it at least once in your life! It truly is a moment you will never forget. Traveling that far to love on children who long to just hold your hand, sing songs with you, dance and listen to a note from a land far away is priceless.
The kids knew that morning that something special was coming. They had been measured for new shoes a few weeks before, and as we piled the new shiny shoes...one pair on top of another...they could hardly contain their excitement. Then, when we started piling the care packages out of the toes...again, one of top of another...they knew today was going to be an extra special day!
The caregivers and teachers had the children sit under a large tree in the shade as they were called, one by one, to the shoe table/care package area. They patiently waited in line as a volunteer in our group and a translator read their sponsor note to them, then went through their goodie bag with them.
I can’t tell you how many times one of our volunteers would start to read a note, then begin to cry. Just reading out loud to these children how much they were loved, over and over again, was sweetly overwhelming and moving. Many times a child would point to the picture with an excited look and tell the translator, “They know me!” or “I remember them!” They loved having a special moment all to themselves with their package.
This was no 20-30 minute feat. It took HOURS...almost four to be exact. And every time I looked over at the quiet group sitting under the large shade tree, patiently waiting their turn for a new pair of shoes and to see if they had a care package, it was enough to bring tears to my eyes. They would have probably waited all day for that moment. In fact, I know they would have. These packages mean more to them than I can ever explain in words to you. Your words that say “You are special...you are loved...we are praying for you...JESUS LOVES YOU!” are words they might never hear from anyone else.
Thank you to all who sent a care package. We did have some children not receive a personal package, but through extra items sent through different families, each child received something! I encourage you--next time there is an opportunity to send something personal to your child, PLEASE do it! It is a highlight that can’t be put into words, both for the volunteer and the child.
Joey Austin with her sponsor child, Hyder.
Our team was truly blessed that day, both at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory. Both experiences were almost identical...children waiting in line, glancing at their packages in earnest excitement and wonder...waiting patiently for their turn with a volunteer and translator. Christmas morning came in March to these precious African children. What a joy for us to be the “hands and feet of Jesus” to deliver them!