Go Out and Grow Out

I love how it’s becoming popular to go out and travel the world. It is so amazing what you can discover apart from every day life, especially for young people who generally aren’t tied down by responsibilities. Travel gives you a chance to experience different cultures and grasp a new understanding of the world around you. It can be, and very often is, life-changing.

Clearly there’s enough push to travel and experience life outside of your own community that there is no need for me to blog about that. However, as much as travel becomes popular, missions seemingly doesn’t grow. That’s where my problem with modern-day culture lies. As great as I believe travel can be, missions is greater. It is so important to learn to be a servant, and it is one of the most, if not the most, life-changing experience you can have.

Too often I see friends and family go into college with so many expectations of what they want to study, and end up changing direction later in life, drowning in the student debts of something they will never use and never truly wanted. If I had my way, I’d make a gap year required before entering college. There are so many ministries out there – ministries of every religion, ministries of every type of work – that make possibilities endless no matter who you are, what you’re interested in, or where you live.

There is no doubt about it – a year on the mission field will change your life, and for the better. It can make or break your conception of what you’d like to study, as well as deliver you a security in what God has gifted you in and called you to in your life. Ministry does not just mean working in an orphanage. It doesn’t even need to be international! All you need to do is type “ministries in [your hometown here]” into google and countless opportunities will unfold before your eyes.

Even if you are 100% sure of what you want to do with your life, I still recommend coming to the mission field. Becoming a servant and being fully dependent financially, emotionally, and spiritually, on God prepares you better than any class or training program ever could. The miracles I have seen here, the dependence and deep relationship I have developed with My Father, the responsibility and maturity that’s grown inside me, is something irreplaceable and unexplainably transformational.

The time I’ve spent here in Honduras I’ve met many people, from those who’ve stay a few days to those who’ve stay for years. I can say with complete transparency that I have not meant even one that hasn’t been changed in some way or shape by their time on the mission field. Some are changed greatly and change the direction of their lives, while some just start tithing more or praying more. Some just learn about a new culture and never return, while some become moved and continue to return over and over again. The majority, however, are changed significantly in an indescribable way – a way they can’t shake, a way they can never lose. They become connected to the place and the people so deeply it pushes them to stay connected for the rest of their lives. 

Those who have known me most of my life can see the change in me. I’m not the person I used to be, and that’s not just because I live in a different country. One mission trip three and half years ago completely changed my life, my personality, my beliefs, and my view on the world. It wasn’t an overnight thing, but over time it shook my soul and awakened me to a life of peace, joy, and immense passion. To this day I am changing and transforming, and I am so grateful for it.

If there is no other advice I can give to – young people especially – anyone in general, it would be to get your butt down to the mission field and take a year to be a servant. You will not regret it.

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.”

– 1 Corinthians 7:17 (ESV)



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What $50 Can Do On the Mission Field

Missionaries and Non-profits are almost always in a state of constant fundraising. As soon as we start to get comfortable with the needs we’re fulfilling, a new problem arises. My good friend once stated this the best I’ve ever heard it: “[The mission field] is a place where serving others is like drinking water; you have no other option.” I touched on this subject a bit in one of my last blog posts – but now I’d like to elaborate exactly why fundraising is so important, and what even the smallest funds can do on the mission field.

So, without further ado, here’s what your $50 donation can do, solely based on things I and other ROOM missionaries have actually done with $50 on the mission field. Your $50 can:

  1. Supply fruits and veggies of an entire family of 10 (Hogar Santidad) for a month
  2. Supply gas for trips to Peña Blanca for either Johana (who goes there for Brigitte’s doctors appointments and to buy her medicine) and Wendy (who goes there for Deysi’s doctor visits)
  3. Buy diapers for two babies in the transition home for a month
  4. Pay for a hospital visit and medicine for a sick baby in the transition home
  5. Pay almost entirely for a month of electricity for a missionary family
  6. Feed entire community’s dinner for an evening
  7. One full month of cancer treatment at the cancer foundation in the public hospital of San Pedro
  8. Supply diapers, wipes, and formula for the special needs kids at Senderos for one week
  9. Buy 25 bibles for children in ROOM: India’s daycare program
  10. Pay a generous salary for a part-time staff at Bethel Daycare Center for one month (India)
  11. Supply check-ups and medicine for Bethel Children’s Home for one month (India)
  12. Supply fruit twice a week for a month for 70 children (India)
  13. Supply educational supplies for an entire school year for 5 children (India)
  14. Pay one of the Tia’s at Senderos an entire day’s wage
  15. Pay for formula for a baby in the transition home for two weeks.

And many more! 

Right now you have an amazing opportunity to put that $50 (or however much you are willing to give) to use! ROOM is having its annual ROOM 2 Come and See matching gift fundraiser. Every dollar donation is being matched up to $50,000. There is no worse feeling than seeing need and having no way to aid it. Please consider equipping our team down here in Honduras and out in India to do the best job we can.

Why Becoming a Foster Parent is the Best Thing You Could Do For Your Biological Children

Clearly, everyone knows where I stand on fostering – but, do you know why? My whole story with Lizzi has come about because of the way I was raised as a child. My parents made the choice to be foster parents when I was starting kindergarten. I was the last of four girls at the time. My mother was originally the one who wanted to foster, being brought up into a family that fostered as well. My parents made the choice to foster, and in my mind, it was the greatest decision they could’ve made in relation to our family’s well-being.

There’s often a lot of doubt and fear with parents considering fostering, in concerns to the biological children. There’s fear of the biological children becoming too attached to the foster children, and thus bringing heartbreak when the foster child leaves. There’s also fear that the preoccupation of the foster child will create jealousy and drive a wedge between the relationship of the parents and biological children. Not to mention the fear of the foster child hurting the biological children. While there are many more fears that could be listed up here, I would like to focus on those three most common fears.

Since I was so young when they began fostering, I cannot remember a time without foster children in our family. It has become something so normal and ingrained in my being, it’s hard for me to remember that it’s not quite the most common upbringing. I cannot stress enough how big of a blessing it has been on my life to grow up in a family that fosters. Quite possibly the biggest blessing of fostering was gaining my brother – but we’ll get to that later.

First, the fear of becoming too attached to the foster children. This part was probably the easiest for me out of the rest of my family considering my age, however losing ANY brother of sister at ANY age is saddening. My mother did a great job of preparing my heart, stressing that all of this was temporary care, and we would eventually have to let go. More than anything else I can remember the good times. Watching some good ol’ Veggietales with Bobby* and his sister Beth*, playing in the sprinkler with Keisha*, riding bikes around the block with Donald*, and going on family visits with Cash (my brother) and his siblings. While there were meltdowns and rough nights, the only thing that comes to my mind when I think of it all are these beautiful memories of smiles and laughter.

I can’t remember when the children left. I don’t know why, but the goodbyes just didn’t stick. I remember meeting the children, I remember playing and helping out with them, but I don’t remember their goodbyes. The one who probably remembers all of the goodbyes would be my mother, because she’s the one that it hurt the most. In my experience now with Lizzi and Brianna, I can see the same thing coming true as when I was a child – it doesn’t affect Lizzi nearly as much as it affects me to say goodbye to foster children. In summary, the attachments I’ve made with the foster children in my family were nothing but good attachments that haven’t even truly ended. I still care for them, and I still love them as my brothers and sisters, even if we’ve gone different paths. The pain of saying goodbye had no power over the immense happiness they brought when they were with us.

Next, my favorite fear: the fear that the preoccupation of the foster child will create jealousy and drive a wedge between the relationship of the parents and biological children. Why is this my favorite? Because, honestly, it’s the silliest thing I have ever heard. Fostering brought my family closer than we had ever and would ever be. Fostering was and is an entire family ordeal. As much as you may believe this a job just for the parents, it isn’t. Every single one of our foster children was my brother or sister, even for just a few days. I was so young, yet I cared deeply for them and did everything in my little six-year-old body to help out. One of my older sisters in particular was basically a second mom to the children. It was just as exciting and emotional for us as it was for my parents. This experience of a being foster family is so unique that its something we can really only relate to and bond over with each other. Foster care is so much more inclusive than exclusive.

Lastly, the fear of the foster child hurting the biological children. Alright guys, I’ll give you this one. This can be a scary thing. Since my family mostly fostered babies and toddlers, we didn’t really have to deal with much on this subject. Safety precautions are important. Setting up cameras to protect your family as well as your foster children is a great idea suggested by one of the foster moms that I know. There are many different families that have blogged advice, as well as many guides you can find on taking precautions. Although – from my experiences, I will say no matter the hurt, I would never take back the experiences my family gave me by becoming a foster and adoptive family.

Becoming a foster family is the most beautiful heartbreak you and your children could ever experience. It gives you and your family an empathy and understanding of the pain foster children experience. It provides cultural and racial diversity (I’m looking at you, white foster families trying to manage African-American hair). Your children will champion the rights and protection of other children, and become foster care advocates in the process. It gives you and your children an outlook on the real world, a world outside of comfort, a world outside of heartbreak, a world outside of the bubble most of us grow up in, and prepares you and, your children especially, for every type of person you/they could encounter in the future.

Foster care can also lead to one of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed on this earth – adoption. Such was the case for the second foster child my family ever received: Cash, my wonderful little brother. Adoption is an exact reflection of God’s love for us. An initial heartbreak, an event that shouldn’t have happened, separates the child from his/her family, and is consequentially countered by redemption through love, mercy, and a new start. Foster care is not the solution to abandonment and abuse, adoption is. However, with the long procedures and limited adoptive families, foster care is a necessary and extremely helpful step. I am so grateful my brother came into our lives and stayed. There is no different love I have for him than any of my other family members, which is a common misconception when it comes to adoption.

If none of this has moved you in any way to foster, then at least take God’s word for it.

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.” James 1:27 (NIV)

There is nothing I am more thankful for than being a part of a family that fosters. There was no greater gift nor any greater lesson than the experience I gained from it. Thank you so much, mom and dad, for the immense blessing you’ve bestowed on me.

myfamily

My incredible family at my oldest sister’s wedding

*names changed to protect the privacy of the foster children