Round One of Operation: LOVE is complete! Our first set of Valentines (the ones for Africa)have been sent! What a miracle! Both times we have done this project, I have thought, "This is a miracle!" It is quite an undertaking to get people to donate valentines. When they do, I think, "This is a miracle!" It is quite an undertaking to organize all of the valentines. When I see them organized, I think, "This is a miracle!" It is quite an undertaking to get them boxed up and to the post office. When I do, I think, "This is a miracle!" I never think I will have enough money to mail the valentines, and each time I somehow have just enough. When that happens, I think, "This is a miracle!" Yep, every single step of Operation: LOVE is a miracle. So, will we be doing Operation: Love next year? YOU BET! To witness that many miracles? Why would I choose NOT to see God's hand? In the story of the Brother of Jared, God lit the sixteen small stones (yes, this organization's namesake of sorts). The Brother of Jard did a LOT of work and in the end, after all of his hard work, there is a MIRACLE to bring all of his work to fruition. The Brother of Jared saw the finger of God. And I did, too.
Thank you to EVERYONE who donated! In this picture: The white envelopes have heart-shaped puzzles in them. (Thank you Annelise!). The ones in front have pictures of Christ with the children. (Thank you, Cindy, and her Young Women's group!) The red envelopes have a little valentine and a note to the young women working with the orphans. (These were three cards left over from last year's Operation: LOVE. Unfortunately, I was much less organized last year, as you may all recall, and now I don't remember who donated those cards last year. So, whoever you are, THANK YOU, and if you see this post, PLEASE leave a comment so I remember who donated these! THANK YOU, and I am SO SORRY!)
What did Sixteen Small Stones do to get ready to celebrate Valentine's Day?
We made VALENTINES!!!! We have enough Valentines to send to Africa, but didn't have all that we needed for China. So, we set to work!
This was an especially meaningful project for Taiger and me, as we know the very children who will be receiving these Valentines. I tried not to focus on that with Taiger, as I didn't want to "play favourites" with this project by seeming more excited to send Valentines to the kids we know in China than to the children in Africa, who are just as important and need love just as much. However, as we sat on the floor making Valentines, Taiger was especially quiet and deep in concentration as he was making his Valentine. I thought maybe he was making one to send to his cousins or maybe give to Uncle B (making Valentines isn't all work and no play, after all!). So, I asked him who he was making his Valentine for. His voice was full of love and was so gentile when he said, "I am making this for my one little friend in the orphanage. The one who used to play with my hair and walk with me." I almost burst in to tears. He not only remembers that special little boy, but loves him, and was making a Valentine especially for him. It made my heart break and made it soar at the same time. I am so proud of Taiger, and I am so in awe at how Christ-like he is. He loves unconditionally and is so accepting. That little boy at the orphanage just loved Taiger. Whenever Taiger would enter the room where that little boy was, that sweetheart would run over and grab hold of Taiger and not let go. Sometimes, the boy was a little rough (side effects of growing up in an institution, I suppose), and sometimes he even would accidentally hurt Taiger. But Taiger never raised his voice, never tried to get away from the little boy. Taiger was always gentile and understanding in return. I was constantly amazed at the patience and love Taiger showed to that little boy.
When we were at the orphanage, Taiger was always helpful and loving to the children. If a child was crying, Taiger would go comfort him. If a child was playing by himself, Taiger would go be his companion. He helped feed the children and care for the children with more patience and love than many adults would be able to. Seeing Taiger make that Valentine for that little boy reminded me of something Christ would do. He would not just make a bunch of Valentines and send them off. He would think of each specific child. Make each Valentine as beautiful and special as He could. He would personalize it and make it according to what they child would like. Taiger made this special Valentine just the way he thought that little boy would want it.
It was fun to make Valentines for the children, and I am so thankful to everyone who helped make them.
We have some Valentines that people have given us and we are still organizing them and getting them ready to send off! Stay tuned for more pictures!!
WE STILL NEED MORE VALENTINES! So, if you are still planning to send some, there is still time! We are accepting donations until March 1! Also, we are in GREAT NEED of funds to mail the Valentines. If you want to donate to help cover the cost of shipping, please let me know. THANK YOU, ALL! We hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day full of love! :)
There is so much to DO!
Okay, okay, there is a house to clean, laundry to wash, dishes to wash, homework (oh shoot! I have SOMETHING due today...what is it?!). But I am not talking about that. Yes, it is important to do those things, and I DO complete these tasks. Some women are "SUPER GALS"! They do all these things and MORE, and they are amazing! I want to be like you someday (BRYTTAN, just to name one!). However, right now, I have this little problem. I think of those things as things that need to be "done", not as things that need to be engaged in. I want to ENGAGE with Taiger. I don't want to ENGAGE with dishes!
There is something else on my mind lately (always). Something kind of bugging me, actually. You know when you have something REALLY important to do (not like homework, that is not at all important... HA! That was a joke!) and it almost WEIGHS on you? Something someone is COUNTING on you to accomplish? I feel that lately. I feel that responsibility. The only problem is, I don't really know what it is I am supposed to do! Frustrating, right? I know! The problem is, I feel like if I look inside myself, I will know what it is I am supposed to do. I know what it is about. ORPHANS. It makes sense it is weighing on me. I mean, God Himself has commanded us to care for the orphan. I read someone's blog the other day and they were saying how people always tell her, "If GOD asked me to adopt, I would". She was saying how aggravated she is with people who say that because God, for one, doesn't have to tell us the obvious! And for two, God HAS asked all of us to adopt! It is like saying, "If God asked me to go to church, I would." GIVE ME A BREAK! He has commanded us to keep the Sabbath day holy! What more do you want?! Lightening to strike YOUR house to make it more personal?! I feel the same way about caring for orphans. God has said that PURE religion is to care for the orphaned and widowed. God has asked us to care for the orphan. Does He really need to come right out and say MY name? No. I know what He wants.
Okay, enough with THAT little rant. Anyway, so I know I am supposed to care for orphans...but HOW?! That is where I am right now. I cannot adopt because I don't have the money to pass a home-study. I am working on that. It is my goal! In the meantime, what more should I be doing to follow God's word? There is so much to DO, while I sit here wondering what to do! There are children on the street DYING while I ask myself, "Hmmmm...what should I do?" GET UP AND FEED THE MASSES, for goodness sake! It isn't rocket science! But it kind of is. For me. Where do I go? How do I get there? What do I do, really? Set up a food program? Open a foster home? I look at Katie Davis (Amazima Ministries) and Renee Bach (Serving His Children). They had NO IDEA what they were going to do! They just felt God's call to GO TO AFRICA, and they went. They had no plan. They didn't know what they would be doing there. They just obeyed God and WENT!
I see people doing that all the time when it comes to serving orphans. My parents knew they were supposed to adopt, so they jumped! They didn't ask, "How will we pay for it? Where are we supposed to adopt from?" They just obeyed when God called. People do it all the time. Why can't I? Do I lack the faith that GOD will come forward and set my path? Do I think that I will follow His call somewhere and He will walk away and leave me in some country with no direction? I guess so. I worry I will get to, say, China. And just stand there and not know what to do. After 5 months, I will turn around and come home, confused about why I ever left and wondering if I had REALLY heard God's voice asking me to go.
The comfort is, if I am answering His call to serve orphans, it is enough. Even if I fail, I have tried to do what God asked.
I always think of the scripture, "I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you." God is with the orphan. He is already there, loving them, comforting them. But He needs us to be His hands and feet. To bring the food He will provide. To bring the clothes He will provide. To build the shelters He will provide. He will provide the money, the time, the patience, the food, the shelter. His Grace is sufficient. All I have to do is ACT!
So, what am I going to do?
I am a half hour late leaving Utah for Idaho, so this is going to be quick! There is someone leaving from America to go to Africa and visit Gabi (Racham Ministries). Gabi had told me if I would mail the Valentines to her address in Africa she would make sure all of the various homes got the valentines for their kids. Well, now that this girl is going to Africa, we can save money on shipping and mail the valentines to this girl in America and she will bring the valentines with her to Gabi in Africa (OH MY GOSH! Does that explanation even make any sense?!)
So, if you have Valentines to send to AFRICA, PLEASE try and have them to Sixteen Small Stones BY February 20! I know, I know...that doesn't leave much time. And if you really can't get them here before then, we will just pay to ship them to Africa. But let's TRY to get all of the Africa Valentines in time to send with this sweet girl.
THANK YOU, ALL!
(If you are planning to send Valentines for CHINA, the deadline is still MARCH 1st.)
WONDERFUL NEWS! We only need one HUNDRED valentines to send to China, NOT one THOUSAND!
Okay, so even though this news is such a relief, I had a hard time feeling "happy" about it. I wanted to pray and thank God that we only had to provide one hundred valentines, but it didn't feel right. I wanted valentines to be provided, I did NOT want to "get out of the work". I feel like when a little kid is whining about cleaning their room and their Mom says in a soft voice, "Okay, don't do it. _I_ will." You feel even WORSE! You don't want THEM to have to do it! I feel like there are so many orphans (an estimated 140 million, actually) and giving out 1000 valentines was a big deal! It was a way to reach out to so many and show them that they are loved.
At the same time, I also have a different take on this situation. There are big orphanages in China that many people know about, from which many children are adopted. Foreigners set up foster homes for the children in these orphanages, and when a child needs a surgery, the foreigners have the connections needed to obtain financial aid to cover surgery costs. On the other hand, Hainan is a small island in the middle of Nowhere-South-China-Sea. The orphanage is not fancy and they don't receive much help. They don't have a bunch of fancy equipment or a bunch of financial sponsors covering the cost of the children's food, daily life and medical needs.
But GOD knows them, and Jesus knows them, just as much as they know the children in the larger institutions. And He will leave the ninety and nine to go find the one.