This was our day to visit Hope 4 the Hopeless. Lauren and Lincoln had talked about this place so much. They fell in love with the kids here and have been busy raising awareness and getting them sponsors over the past month.
They, themselves, have almost reached their goal of getting 50 kids sponsored!
This organization takes street children into a shelter and works with them like no other. They pump the word of God into them, give them their self worth back and literally transform them. They pull the "street" out of them and show them their purpose and worth.
Once the kids are on their feet and doing good they transition them back into their families with support. If they don't have family then they send them to their orphanage in the country which is an awesome compound that they are working hard on.
What Lauren kept telling me was how incredibly sweet these children are. She had said that you can see God shining through them. When we showed up to meet them that totally proved to be true.
Ryan had signed up to sponsor a child, himself, and that child was there waiting on him when he got there. They created an instant bond.
Many of our other team members had seen Lauren's posts looking for sponsors from the previous team and signed up to sponsor. They all got to meet their sponsored child. It was awesome to personally show these children that someone in their life loves them and will be there for them!
Lauren's leadership skills, and how she has been organizing everything are really growing. Everyone there really loves her, especially the kids!
We wanted to bless the kids in the shelter with a really good meal which consists of slaughtering a sheep. Sheep is a real delicacy in Ethiopia and shows them they are having a special meal. There are several who braved it out by watching the slaughter, and Coco even gave it a try. As normal as this is to Ethiopians, I have to admit it is quite gross to Americans. Just look at their faces, Ha! Don't miss Todd in the background, haha!
This is always a first for Americans. You don't see this everyday.
Deborah and I posed for a picture! No we didn't touch the thing :-)
Libby enjoyed spending time with her sponsored child.
We all have our emotional moment while in Ethiopia. I surely wasn't expecting this one but it came in like a wave!
We were in the back office when the director started telling us of one of the young girls in the shelter who they found on the street when she was 12, curled up in a ball, just after she had been beaten and raped brutally. She wasn't even responsive. They brought her in and spent months getting her to trust and open up. They said she cried everyday. Slowly, through the love of Jesus, they brought her around and showed her that she was loved and gave her her self worth back. He showed us a picture of her the night they brought her in and it immediately took me back to when I was sixteen and had the same thing happen to me. I felt like I was looking at myself as I stared at her picture with bruises and cuts on her face, swollen eyes from crying and a look of fear that no one can understand unless you have been through it.
This girl today has a smile that will melt your heart. Sweetness runs over from this child like a river. It is truly unbelievable! After hearing her story, and then seeing her today, I saw her transformation through her healing from the Lord and I thought of my own healing and how God transformed my life to turn it into passion for helping others. I felt led to tell her my story and show her that she is not alone, even from someone all the way across the world, in what they consider to be the most blessed of countries. I grabbed Bisrat and had him translate for me. We sat down and she just beamed with the biggest grin, not having any idea of what I was about to talk to her about.
I simply told her that "You are not alone. What happened to you, happened to me. God used that to give me passion to help others in need and He has great and wonderful plans for you in your life. You are a beautiful girl and God loves you very much and so do I. "
She sat there for a minute as I watched that big smile turn into a look of memories for her, that I know too well. She turned her head and looked down and then buried her face in her hands and broke into tears.
I just held her as we both had a good cry.
This young girl is an overcomer through the love of God working mightily in her life! She is sixteen now, the age I was when I was abducted and raped. I feel in a way that I was holding a version of myself as a young girl, having come through it and telling her it is going to be ok.
It was very emotional but so powerful seeing what God can do to heal when we live in this fallen world. He will do whatever it takes to show us how to overcome, even if it means bringing two people together from all the way across the world.
This young girl is an absolute jewel!
God has big plans for her.
I'm so thankful that God crossed our paths.
She is so thankful for everything.
She gave Sarah a HUGE hug and kiss after Sarah gave her some new clothes.
Kelly C loved meeting her sponsored little girl.
We all sat and listened as Lincoln and Lauren, along with the director explained how their whole program works. The leaders here really love and appreciate all the help Lincoln and Lauren have been giving them.
Ryan's sponsored child listed in his profile that he wanted to be an engineer so Ryan brought him this building set which he absolutely loved!!
Everyone enjoyed hanging with the kids and playing with them.
Before we headed out to the country to go see their orphanage we passed out soccer uniforms to the shelter boys. The boys who were already living in the orphanage already had jerseys, but when the shelter boys showed up to play soccer with them they didn't have anything....well, the do now!
Big thanks to the Brentwood Soccer Club for donating these uniforms. They are actually Lauren's warm ups from her past travel team.
These boys were so excited!! They just cheered when we pulled them all out for them.
We drove out to the country and they all got out to play soccer with the others, so proud!
The kids at the orphanage greeted us with the same sweetness as the shelter kids. To look at these kids and know that they were all pulled from the streets and restored and now are living a life with a destiny is truly amazing!
Our team struck up a soccer game with the kids there. We have some good soccer players on our team. They all laugh and call Hugo the "Hulk".
We all stood and cheered the teams. It was a great game!!
Everyone ended up a little muddy in the end but that means it was a great game. Sarah showed them all how it's done.
It was time to leave so everyone snuck in a few more pictures and hugs with the kids they bonded with.
We all loved these kids! We will not for get them or our day with them.
Please visit the Hope4hopeless website for more information about their program and sponsoring a child. What an amazing day we had with these kids!!