Thursday, December 22, 2011

Meet Ivan

Meet Ivan

A number of years ago, God placed "the orphan" so heavily on my heart I could scarcely think of little else.  I read amazing stories of adoption, read blogs concerning orphans, prayed for and helped friends financially who were in the process of adoption and humbly asked God to make adoption a reality in our family.

I meditated on James 1:27

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

At that time, it was estimated that there were 143 million orphans worldwide. There is no way one cannot be astounded by such a number.  (See the rice post if you want to have a visual of 143 million).  I read a couple days ago the number is now hovering around 163 million!!

My heart aches for ALL these children who do not have a family to call their own.

The prayer became, "Lord, use us to reach the orphan."  Making a difference to one or a few of them is what each of is called to do.

Over the years we've met, hosted, sponsored and cared for orphans as God continues to bring them into our lives.

Our first encounter was with a group from Childcare Worldwide in 2006.  If you're not familiar with Childcare Worldwide, definitely check them out.  They're listed with a 5-Star rating from Ministry

Childcare Worldwide formed the Ugandan Orphan's Choir to "bring a message of hope to American audiences through the traditional rhythmic dances and songs of Africa."

Back in September of 2006 our church scheduled to have the choir perform.  To defray costs, the choir asks churches to host the chaperones and kids.  I literally JUMPED at the opportunity when our pastor asked for volunteering homes.

After the church service, I walked up to him as a line of other interested families was forming.  I quickly let him know I sensed they were SUPPOSED to be at our home.

He agreed.

All five boys and the male chaperone to the choir were placed with us for a 2-3 day stay.

We cleaned,  readied our home, and welcomed the boys with open arms.

Little did I know, 2 days with these kids ROCKED my world.  My heart's desire to live out James 1:27 was fueled.

These boys arrived with nothing but a backpack, but they exuded JOY like I'd never seen before.  All of them had lost one or both of their parents to the AIDS epidemic. They were delivered from near disaster and placed in a Children's Village where they now received housing, food, clothing, character development and an education.

Prior to being rescued by Childcare, some of these young children (under 13) are found caring for their younger siblings because their parents have died.  Some of these children bury their own parents.  Some are left in the care of older grandparents who do not have the means nor the strength to care for them.  It's heartbreaking!

Childcare Worldwide steps in and offers these children hope for a better future.

One of these boys in particular found a place in our hearts.  His name is Ivan.  We were able to spend Christmas 2006 with Ivan and another boy from the choir, Alex. Both boys are dear to us.

Christmas 2006

With Alex

With Ivan

Alex helped me roll out lefse while the other boys played.  Sadly, we have not heard from Alex since his stay with us.

Alex: "This Chapati?"  Me: "No, this is lefse.  Another flatbread."

Although my husband has not received a heart for adoption as I have, when he met Ivan he said, "He would fit in our family."  Ivan's photo is on a shelf in our family room with other family photos.  We will forever think of him as a special member of our family.

This is the photo we received last year from Ivan.
He has GROWN so much!

Adoption of the kids from the choir is not an option, and adoption from Uganda is difficult to say the least, but we've been blessed to have the opportunity to stay in contact with Ivan and hopefully one day we will meet him again.

We've never learned much about Ivan and his life prior to coming to Childcare. What we do know is he has a genuinely kind disposition and became instant friends with our oldest son.

We got a letter from Ivan this week.  Ivan's now 16 years old and loves to play soccer.  He's doing very well in school.  Childcare Worldwide's goal is to have the children receive quality education and training in a profession so they may not just survive, but succeed!  I think Ivan will break out of the cycle of poverty and succeed in whatever he chooses!

If you feel a tug at your heart when you see kids like Ivan, do something about it. Visit Childcare Worldwide's website.  You never know when you'll get to meet your sponsored child.  We were able to meet our sponsored child, Caleb last year.  That's another story and another post.

Have a blessed day!

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