They stole our hearts three years ago.
They stole our hearts.
We have tried to go back to the 'normal' that we were before we met them. But once our hearts were stolen, there is no returning.
When we came out of that village with Aaron in our arms three years ago we promised ourselves that we would do whatever we could to help the boys we left behind. We knew that they were Lost without us. Tucked away in a village out in the middle of nowhere. Not even the people in the village had ever stepped foot inside those gates.
God placed their stories and the burden of their situation on our hearts and made it clear that those boys mattered to Him. The 60 boys we saw sitting in their sheds each day. Staring at the walls. Moaning. Groaning. Bored out of their minds. The 40 and more boys who we knew were locked away in the forbidden laying down rooms. Laying there day after day after lonely day. Laying there waiting to die. Just waiting to die. They were our boys. Our Lost Boys.
We came home broken. Exhausted. Wanting to move on with our lives but those boys who had been lost to the world had stolen our hearts. There was no return. Through God's grace, we found a ministry team in that country who was willing to go in and minister to them. We wanted so much for them to be able to minister to all the boys. The 60 and the 40+. The boys in the sheds and the boys in the rooms. For three years we have given and have raised financial support to allow them to go and bring much needed supplies and gifts to the boys. It has not been easy. They have had to beg each time to be allowed in and many times they have been turned away. Sadly, they have only been allowed to minister but to just a few. 20 boys at the most. The best ones. The 'deserving' ones. Oh how our hearts have longed for more but we have been grateful for this little bit.
And God has been stirring and working and moving in hearts. Since we have been home THREE LOST BOYS have found families.
YES MY DEAR FRIENDS.... THAT IS HEATH... LOOK AT HIM... HE CAN WALK!!!
Since we have been home another Lost Boy has a Mama and a Papa coming soon. Soon.
Since we have been home... Four other boys now have a chance for a family. A chance to get out of the sheds.
They are listed on Reece's Rainbow and all four have NICE grants.
Since we have been home the institute has been blessed with much needed supplies, repairs.
Since we have been home the director has been lavished with prayers and love and acts of kindness from the ministry team and the families.
Since we have been home the caretakers and the boys and the director have been touched by God each time another person walks through those gates.
Since we have been home.
But since we have been home.... I have wanted to go back.
To go back and say thank you.
To go back and lavish love on the boys.
To go back and be their voice on the ground.
To go back so they can see that a child can thrive outside those gates.
The longing to go back has burned in my heart.
But we never thought the way would be made clear for that to happen.
It just seemed rather impossible...
But sometimes doors crack open.
When they do you just have to jump fast before they shut again.
Months ago a friend and I were chatting on-line. She was in process to adopt three children from a country that stole my heart three years ago. I was sharing with her my deep desire to go back. In the course of the conversation she shared with me that they had run out of options for finding someone to help her bring the three babes out. She was figuring she was going to have to do it alone but would much rather have had an extra set of hands.
You can imagine where that conversation led.
Oh I wanted to go help her. I wanted to help her with all my heart.
Rob and I talked and we both agreed that it was a worthy reason to cross the ocean. And we both also agreed that while I was there... I could possibly take a small side-trip to a certain city to meet a certain ministry team who has been ministering to our very precious Lost Boys whom we left behind.
I didn't think I would be able to actually visit the Lost Boys. But to meet the team. To encourage them. To see what they are doing. That was worth its weight in gold to me.
So I said yes.
We didn't want to fundraise. I ask for money for everyone else but did not want to fundraise for this trip.
We had money set aside if we needed it. We would fundraise for my friend and since she was working into her budget for a helper - well - with the money we had and what she raised - my trip should be covered.
But the money we set aside... we gave it away. A family in need adopting.... we couldn't say no. We have NO REGRETS. When we gave it away we knew we were risking my trip. But two children needed out. It was not an option to say no.
We were left with the fundraising efforts of our friend.
She didn't raise all that they needed much less raise enough to cover my help.
There was just no way.
By the end of September the door looked closed.
Financially it just wasn't going to happen.
But each time I tried to close that door... someone's toe would get stuck inside and it wouldn't fully shut.
We kept getting that tiny little whisper in our hearts to not close the door.
We went around and around.
Discussions that went nowhere.
At the end of October my friend and her husband crossed the ocean and began the process to meet her precious treasures....
I just about went nuts when she sent me these pictures and more...
Oh I wanted to go over so badly it was killing me!!
As we debated and prayed I contacted Alyona who leads the ministry team and shared with her that I would love to meet her and to visit some of her ministries and maybe.... maybe... but probably not possible... but maybe... I could go visit the Lost Boys????
Her response shocked me and sealed the trip in my heart.
Alyona believes that the director would welcome me with open arms.
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!
The desire of my heart is to go back.
Even if all I am able to do is visit the ministry team and thank them for lavishing love on our boys. That is a worthy enough reason to go back.
But if God opens the door to actually go to the institute then I am on that train!!
It is not set in stone.
There is still a possibility I will be turned away.
But God is whispering GO in our hearts and HE is opening the doors and we are stepping out in faith.
There is more I have to share.
Stories worth telling.
This trip is going to require a whole suitcase full of Kleenex.
Just know for now...
I'M GOING BACK!
If you have been a reader here for a long time, you already know my friend Julia. If you are new, you can read more about her HERE. In a nutshell, she is amazing, She and her husband adopted their son Aaron from Eastern Europe, and she has passionately fundraised for HUNDREDS of children with special needs since returning.
I want to help Julia return to Aaron's institution to visit The Lost Boys. She had the funds to go, but true to her generous nature, she gave them to an adoptive family.
One of my dear friends contacted me last week offering to help Julia, and she asked me to host a giveaway to help raise funds for her trip.
So we are giving away a brand new iPad to help send Julia back to visit her Lost Boys.
The rules are very simple. Go to Julia's blog and donate ten dollars or more for her trip to minister to The Lost Boys. (There is a donation box on her sidebar.) Come back here and leave a comment on this post letting me know that you donated. One winner will be drawn from the comment section just before Julia leaves the country - you can gain an extra entry by blogging about this giveaway and leaving the link in the comment section as well.
I can't tell you how much I love Julia and her heart for orphans....if I had the money to send her myself I would. She has blessed more people in a few years than most people bless in a lifetime. Please help me send my friend back to minister to the fatherless, to bring hope and love to The Lost Boys.