Thursday, December 20, 2012

THIS is What Hope Looks Like ...

She shyly approached, looking tentatively from one adult to another. Her hands were buried in her skirt, where she tried to hide her nervousness by bunching the dirty fabric in her fists. I knelt down to look into her eyes and gently asked, "Simesh Manoo?" (What is your name?). With barely a whisper, she told me her name and we scanned down my list to find her care-package that had been sent by her sponsor family. 

Months before our trip to Ethiopia, to work with the kids at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts care-points, I had invited each sponsor family (for 375 children) to send me a care-package that we would personally deliver to their sponsor child. I suggested items like a shirt, chapstick, toothbrush, pencils, soap, and granola bars, along with the most important items - a letter and photos. Packages started arriving in droves at my door, and I marvelled at the care and attention that went into each package and the special gifts that had been picked out for a child on the other side of the world.

Sponsor families emailed me explaining how they had spent hours, some with tears in their eyes and in their throats, as they pondered and wondered and hoped and prayed that this special child would know how much they were loved and how each and every item was picked just for them with such care and thought. How do you fit LOVE into a small package??

On "care-package day" we set up 3 "stations" with room for one child, one translator, and one of our volunteers at each station. We were able to spend time with each and every child - going through each gift in the care-package, reading the letter, and looking at photos. The kids were delighted with their gifts - for the new kids, it was the first time they had received a brand new shirt, or brand new pencils, or brand new anything.

When the letter was being read, I watched as each child became still and motionless, and absorbed every word of love and encouragement meant just for them. But the best part was when the pictures emerged from the bag. Each child soaked in the faces of their sponsor family, examining every detail and sealing them into their hearts. We watched later as the children would reach into their bags to look at the photos again and again.

There was something noticeably different about the kids. It was obvious that the kids were healthier and more energetic. Nutritious food had filled in the hollow spots in their bodies and provided energy to play and run, and learn in school. Food and clean water had allowed their immune systems to better fight against illnesses and sickness. But there was more ...  

It was HOPE. Laughter filled the schoolyard. The little boys had swagger and the little girls had confidence. The children were gushing with affection. Hugs and kisses were distributed freely. Confidence and self-esteem enabled them to look directly into our eyes, with big smiles and big hearts, ready to receive our love and affection. So this is what HOPE looks like!! Feeding a hungry child fills the stomach, but love and prayer fills the heart. And these kids have hope overflowing in their hearts.

We still have new children at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory who are waiting for a sponsor family.  If you are interested in sponsorsing a child, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com. ($34 per month provides nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship for one child.)  We have 96 new children and only about 30 of the kids are still in need of a sponsor family!

I'd like to show you what HOPE looks like ... These are some of the HOPE-FILLED kids that attend Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia (our Children's HopeChest care-point) ...

Teklewold's first profile photo (above). 
Below, Teklewold receiving his care-package from his sponsor family (Bass Family)!
 
 
 
Adamu's first profile photo (above).
Below, Adamu receiving his care-package from his sponsor family (Burton Family)!

 
 
Meseret's first profile photo (above).
Below, Meseret receiving her care-package from her sponsor family (Anderson Family)!

 
 
Chala's first profile photo (above).
Below, Chala receiving his care-package from his sponsor family (Lezak Family)!

 
 
Mentesenote's first profile photo (above).
Below, Mentesenote receiving his care-package from his sponsor family (Primeaux Family)!

 
 
Daniel's first profile photo (above).
Below, Daniel receiving his care-package from his sponsor family (Graham Family)!

 
 
Shambe's first profile photo (above).
Below, Shambe receiving his care-package from his sponsor family (Cornell Family)!

 
 
Adanu's first profile photo (above).
Below, Adanu receiving her care-package from her sponsor family (Holland Family)!
 
 
 
Asrat's first profile photo (above).
Below, Asrat receiving his care-package from his sponsor family (McCumbee Family)!

 
 
Kuri's first profile photo (above).
Below, Kuri receiving her care-package from her sponsor family (Olson Family)!
 
 
 
Kube's first profile photo (above).
Below, Kube receiving her care-package from her sponsor family (Boyd Family)!



Mita's first profile photo (above).
Below, Mita receiving her care-package from her sponsor family (Keeler Family)!
 
 

Our 2012 Volunteer Team

1 comment:

Jessica said...

LOVE these before and after pictures. I remember seeing our Meseret's picture from your visit after we first started sponsoring her. I couldn't believe how good she looked compared to her profile picture. These children have blossomed so beautifully over the past few years--love is making a difference!!!

Jessica