Category Archives: Volunteers

Orphan Sunday│CAFO Interview

I love it when I have the privilege to interview another company that is passionate about orphans, especially when it is a huge movement making a difference around the world.  The Christian Alliance for Orphans is the company behind “Orphan Sunday!”  Orphan Sunday is a DAY that allows all of us to come together and speak about the needs of children throughout the world…a special Sunday dedicated to trying to change their futures and letting their voice be heard.  I love what CAFO is doing and how adoption builds a team…those advocating, those adopting, those giving, those caring & altogether these people change the world and a life.  I love what Sandra said in this interview, “Not every family is called to adopt and not every orphan is adoptable, but we are all called to care for orphans.”  This can mean going on an orphan missions trip through Bring Me Hope next summer, volunteering in local foster care group or using your talents to raise funds for a family adopting…the possibilities are endless!  Reading this has me thinking of what my next role is in the world of orphans and I hope is also motivates you to think of ways you change a life as well!

The roots of Orphan Sunday and where it all began:

The seeds of Orphan Sunday come especially as a gift from the Church in Africa. While attending a church service in Zambia, an American visitor was struck by the pastor’s passionate call to care for orphans in the local community, which had been ravaged by AIDS and poverty. Members of the church faced deep need themselves. But as the service ended, one after another stepped forward with money, food and other goods-some even taking off their own shoes and placing them in the offering for orphans. The visitor, Gary Schneider, was so impacted that he began to help Zambian leaders coordinate Orphan Sunday efforts across Zambia. These efforts spread to the U.S. in 2003 with help from Every Orphan’s Hope and other organizations. (Orphan Sunday is licensed to the Christian Alliance for Orphans as a registered trademark of Every Orphan’s Hope). The Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) honors the church in Zambia for the gift of Orphan Sunday. We pray the church all over the world may be as faithful as our Zambian brothers and sisters to reflect God’s heart for the orphan, both near and far. To view the history of Orphan Sunday, we invite you to watch “Zambia’s Gift to World”

What have you found is the best way to get people involved in orphan care? 

Orphan Sunday, is a perfect time to stand for the orphan. Christians are a people called to defend the fatherless…to care for the child that has no family…to visit orphans in their distress. Each Orphan Sunday event is locally-led. Sermons and small groups, concerts and prayer gatherings, shared meals and youth activities—each rousing believers with God’s call to care for the orphan, and what we can do in response. From many sources, one voice. Each November, thousands of events will echo across America and around the globe, all sharing a single goal: that God’s great love for the orphan will echo in our lives as well. Orphan Sunday is your opportunity to rouse church, community and friends to God’s call to care for the orphan.

orphan, mission trips, orphan trips, summer camp, China, BMH, kids, bring me hope

How can people who have no desire to adopt be involved in orphan care?

Not every family is called to adopt and not every orphan is adoptable, but we are all called to care for orphans. There are lots of ways folks can get involved from the littlest Sunday School kid to the most senior of senior citizens! Prayer, child sponsorship, food/clothing drives, short-term missions trips, volunteering at foster care group homes, doing adoption fundraisers, the opportunities are endless!

bring me hope volunteer

Do you see a need to invest in the lives of orphans after they “age-out” or once they turn 18? 

There is absolutely a need to invest in the lives of orphans after they age-out. As older orphans and foster children age out of care the trends are heart breaking: homelessness, substance abuse, trafficking, crime and incarceration await many who lack adequate support networks. We believe that the Church is called to step into that gap, opening doors to promising futures for these children through holistic life transition programs including: Life Skills Training, Spiritual Care and Mentoring, Transitional Housing, Career development, and Lifelong Church and Community Support Networks. The Aging Out Initiative works to identify and share successful models from CAFO member organizations that show how the Church can help create healthy life transitions for those aging out of international orphan care and U.S. foster care. Go to christianalliancefororphans.org to learn more about our Aging Out Initiative.

What’s the greatest way to assist those who are adopting?

The Church can wrap around adopting families in many ways. Adoptive families need prayer and financial support during the adoption process. Churches can establish adoption funds to assist their families and even organize fundraisers. Supporting families when their child/children arrives home by bringing meals, diapers, clothing, etc. are all ways to bless an adoptive family. In churches where there are several foster and adoptive families the development of a support group can be an integral part of a church’s orphan ministry.

orphan, mission trips, orphan trips, summer camp, China, BMH, kids, bring me hope

Give us a peek behind the curtain of the emotional journey that someone who is adopting goes through.

I can share from my personal experience as my husband and I have adopted 4 siblings from Ukraine. Any adoption – international or domestic – is a walk of faith with many ups and downs. It’s emotionally draining, physically exhausting, and long – and that’s before the child/children come home! After we completed a dossier aka “mountains of paperwork,” submitting it to the Ukrainian government, and getting approved to adopt in late 2005, Ukraine closed down their adoption program for 9 months to reorganize it. During that long wait, the documents in our dossier expired and we had to re-do the entire file. We finally traveled to Ukraine in late 2006. I was in-country for 6 weeks completing our adoption (my husband returned home to work and our biological children after 4 weeks). Traveling for an international adoption is different for each country. For Ukraine we only needed to make 1 trip and opted to remain there until we could leave with our kids. Being away from home so long was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but as I look back on that part of the journey, I cherish those memories. Once the child/children are home – the adventure really begins. Every family is different, every child is different, and every adoption journey is unique to each family. There will be difficulties before, during and after the child comes home. It is an emotional journey for every member of the family, therefore it is crucial that families have good support systems and access to post-adoption resources.

orphan, mission trips, orphan trips, summer camp, China, BMH, kids, bring me hope

Do you ever see adoption “burn-out”? People who have a desire, but aren’t familiar with the process and wind up getting discouraged to the point of quitting?

If so, how do you assist these people? Yes, I’ve seen adoption burn-out. The adoption journey can have many ups and downs and heartbreaking turns. If adoptive parents are not properly prepared and equally committed to the adoption things can unravel quickly. I’ve seen adoptive parents travel all the way to Ukraine and not be on the same page, nor were they adequately prepared by their agency. After 2 weeks in country and a difficult process they were not equipped for, the family returned home without a child and never attempted to adopt again. When a prospective adoptive family is committed to the adoption, well prepared, and trusting God for the outcome then burn-out doesn’t win. Recently I spoke with a pastor who shared that he and his wife finally brought home a new-born baby boy after 4 failed adoption attempts. First they were weeks away from traveling to Russia in late 2012 when Russia closed it’s adoption program closing the door to the little girl they’d hoped to bring home. The family then switched to domestic adoption where they came close to being picked by 2 different birth moms only to not get chosen. The 4th try brought them just hours away from a child. They had plane tickets in hand to fly to another state when their lawyer discovered the agency they were adopting through was not licensed to operate in their state of residence, closing the door to that child forever. I asked the pastor why, after so much heartbreak, would they continue to try to adopt. His answer, “There is a war for children and we need to fight.” This family knew God had called them to adopt, so they walked by faith and now hold their newborn son in their arms. Adoption, whether international or domestic is not for the faint of heart, but it is worth it! It’s crucial for families to partner with a reputable adoption or foster care agency as they navigate through a grueling process. For a list of agencies that meet our high standards of excellence visit our website at christianalliancefororphans.org

Thank you Sandra for allowing me to interview you!  You are changing the world!  If you haven’t done anything yet, you still have time to get together some materials and get your church involved in Orphan Sunday this weekend, November 2nd.

Sandra Flach is the Media Coordinator for Orphan Sunday.  She is a Mom of 3 biological children and 5 adopted (1 domestic & 4 international) from up-state New York.  She’s also the Executive Director of Justice for Orphans at justicefororphansny.org.

For the Kids,

Caitlyn B & the Bring Me Hope Team

9 Things People Traveling to China Should Know

We all know the horror stories people tell you when flying to another country for the first time.  With those things flooding our minds, we sometimes get a knot in our stomach as we jump on the plane…only our imagination to accompany us for the next however many hours.  

9thingsyoushouldknowaboutchinacomic

This has been the experience of countless people, as they head on a plane marked with the country name CHINA!  I myself had heard the horror stories of the culture shock that was awaiting me.  But like anytime you hop on a plane and fly around the world…there are going to be people living a life that is foreign to us…but that is definitely part of the adventure and what makes traveling around the world glorious.
And now without further ado…9 things people traveling to China should know!
 
#1 The first is one of the most important!  Invest in your trip ahead of time.  Read – Prepare – Pray.  Especially, if you are going on a missions trip or working closely alongside the natives and orphans…you don’t want to just show up and hope for the best.  You need to be prepared for both a culture and spiritual shock.  Find scriptures that will carry you through each day and have them there to meditate on.  Find a prayer partner that will keep you accountable on your trip.  Prepare to be part of the culture…learn about their culture/traditions & learn some Chinese (even if they are simple phrases and compliments for your Chinese friends). Having this basis for your trip, will help you dive deeper into building new relationships with the people and learning to LOVE China!  It’s not like the West… and that’s okay!  In a world of increasing globalization and homogeneity, it’s refreshing to visit a place that is so foreign.  Exciting new sights, sounds and smells will greet you at every turn. Keep an adventurous mindset and you’ll experience the trip of a lifetime!
 
#2 While driving, remember you’re not in Kansas anymore. In many places there are driving rules and regulations…in China, well they are more like suggestions. Believe me, it feels like the old video game Frogger and will be an experience can both terrify & excite you…giving you a road trip/drive you will never forget!

#3 Being stared at is to be expected and not considered rude but normal and very common in the Chinese culture.
 
#4 If you are going to be working with orphans, or kids in general…learn the song “Xi Yang Yang (Pleasant Goat)”. It’ll get you places with the little kids. It’s their jam. Not to mention that grown ups will be impressed that you know it.

#5 Squatty potties. Just the thought of them can make a person cringe. Sure, sometimes they’re gross and stinky but so are some American public bathrooms too. The trick to the squatty, is to pack a travel pack of Kleenex in your purse, backpack or pocket and then to go to the very last couple of stalls. It’s a secret but most of the potties in the back are the handicap ones and those are American style potties. And if you’re a germ-a-phobe, then you’re already packing gallons of antibacterial wipes and sanitizer, so you’re set to go.
 
#6 Shopping spree. Buy your favorite snacks before you leave.  Snacks in China are not the same as America.  Bring something along to curb hunger and keep you energized.  Having said this…I love CHINESE snacks, so be open to finding a new favorite to bring home with you!
 
#7 Whether you’re adopting or volunteering or just being a tourist, tour the orphanage and give as many hugs and kisses as you possibly can. Step out of your comfort zone and find a way to love those who need to know that they are loved. From an adoption standpoint this statement is somewhat controversial, but these trips are never about us and always about the children. These kids want, need, DESERVE to know that they’re loved!
This is a snippet from the experience one of our friends had while visiting an orphanage:
“Last year, I toured our daughter’s orphanage and saw a beautiful young girl who was so sweet and clearly played a role in my daughter’s life. I took pictures of the two of them together, hugged her, immediately fell in love with her, and as soon as I was back at the hotel, e-mailed our agency and begged them to find her file. This sweet, beautiful girl has been deemed unadoptable though and will never know the love of a family. I’ve been given permission to write to this sweet girl and every letter, she tells me that she doesn’t understand why someone like me would care about an orphan like her. I love because God loved me first. If I could bring this little girl home and into my family, I would. Show love!”
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#8 Practice your best sorority squat pose, duck face & learn a couple of Chinese words/phrases because chances are pretty darn good that you’ll be approached to be in a picture that will later float around on Chinese QQ. Have fun with it and take it all in stride. You can also take it to the next level and swap pictures…take a picture with them if they agree to take a “silly picture” with you!
 
#9 Last but not least, the food is remarkable! Try it! Break out of your comfort zone and give it a whirl! You never know what you will discover and crave for the rest of your life…or until you return to China. Oh, and while on this last point…please, please, please LEARN how to use chopsticks. It will be a lifesaver and make eating way more fun!9thingsyourshouldknowaboutchina-foodpicture
 
For the Kids,
Caitlyn & The Bring Me Hope Team

Former Camper & Orphan returns as a Volunteer

We always stand amazed when we have former campers come back to Bring Me Hope as volunteers.  They have a first hand experience to truly understand our campers and impact their lives.  This year (2014), we have three former campers back with us.  Eden, who was adopted and flew back to join our team…Tim, who came back as a translator…and todays feature Mier, one of our camps Chinese helpers.

Mier, joined our Beijing & Zhengzhou camps 2007-2009.  He is now 18 years old and we are beyond blessed to see his life impact the future.  Below is a short letter he wrote for us:

“First of all, I really want to say thank you to my sponsor whom I even don’t know. Because of you I can go back to Bring Me Hope summer camp.  I had a lot great experience in this week, even though it’s only 5 days. Loving and taking care of each other is a new lesson for me this summer.

This summer also reminds me of the camps I joined before, like 2007.  Time flies! Can’t believe it has been 7 years. Bring Me Hope summer camp makes a great difference on my life, I’ve learned a lot from all the friends I met in Bring Me Hope summer camp.

However, this time is so different, since I’m 18 years old now. I came to camp as a helper instead of child. One night, Queenah Jie jie and S. Jie jie asked me to help their three boys take shower. At beginning, I was not pleased to do that. Maybe I thought I was still a kid who need help always, but later I realized I’m a helper now.  After that, I started to help others. And then I realized I can do more than I thought. I’m so happy I can help people now. Especially, I experienced being a volunteer at camp.

Anyway, this is a special summer for me ! I’m so thankful for all the people who helped me before and who are helping me now. Thanks Bring Me Hope and all the Gege jiejie!”

We want to thank everyone who has financially sponsored our past and present campers.  YOU are changing lives and impacting futures!

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For The Kids!

Caitlyn & Bring Me Hope Team

Night Walk Thank You & Live Stream

Last week’s Night Walk fundraiser was an incredible success!  With 166 people walking in 26 locations, there were people supporting orphans in China all over the world!  During the walk, we hosted a live stream of two of our locations in China.  It was so fun to see the excitement on each of their faces!  Some of the kids featured have been coming to camp for five years and are anxious to return!

On behalf of the kids, THANK YOU!

NWThankYou

Forever Families

Fu Xia is a sweet, ten year old girl that Bring Me Hope staff and volunteers at the Yantai location had the privilege to meet and grow to love. Fu Xia’s special need is dwarfishness; and, she loves to sing, dance and play just like every other child. She lit up the room with her sweet smile and loving personality. But the resounding echo, the one we hear for every child, is that she needs a family.
Our hope is that through camp and raising awareness about the orphan crisis, forever families would be led to the precious children that we have the privilege of working with.
The victorious news for Fu Xia is that she now has a forever family and will be going to live with them soon! More than that, her parents have also decided to adopt a little boy! They hope to be able to bring the two kiddos to their forever homes together, but with that come a heap of expenses. The biggest barrier between this family and their newest additions is money, that is where you come in! Depending on where you feel led to give, the Parker family would so appreciate donations to help bring their kids home.

Heartsent Adoptions, Inc. China Waiting Child Fees
-HAI Program fee (part 1) $2,750
-HAI Program fee (part 2) $2750
-Beijing Service Fee $500
-I-800A Approval $2,850
-Visa Processing Fee $380
-Post-Adoption Service Fee (part 1) $1,800
-LSC $2,180
-China Travel Coordination Fee $2,000
-Article 5 Submission $2,000

In-Country Travel Expenses
-Orphanage Donation Fee $5,500
-China Notary Fee $550
-Registration Fee $325
-Application Fee in Province $95
-China Passport Fee for Child $110
-Flight from Province to Guangzhou for 3-4 people $1,000
-Incidental Fees: medical, photos, etc. $100

Heartsent Adoptions, Inc.
140 Brookwood Rd.
#100
Orinda, CA 94563

The vision of Bring Me Hope:
“To convince orphans of their incredible worth and value, and to inspire volunteers to use their influence, skills, and resources to help orphans”
What a joy it is to serve the children for the one who loves us. We must never forget that we can cover these kids in love and trust that there is a greater love than even that, one that we cannot in and of ourselves give to them, one that only the Father can provide. We can trust him with their forever families.
So many more orphans are in need of forever families, and we want to do everything possible to bridge that gap, from the families to their kids.
Rally Day through Bring Me Hope is coming up December 1, 2012. This is the FIRST EVER Rally day in which the volunteers and staff will join efforts in their own cities, states, and countries, and raise awareness for the orphan, for their buddy or buddies froom camp. The goal is that our voice might be loud enough to be heard.
That resounding echo does not go away when we leave camp. It gets more intense. Living here knowing that our kids still don’t have families is heart breaking. This is our chance to really do something. Please continue looking at our facebook page, website, and twitter. Videos for several of these children will be posted on www.defendfoundation.org

Night Walk News!

Night Walk is coming up on May 18, 2012.  That’s just a few weeks away!  We can’t wait to show our support of these kids during this awesome opportunity.  If you haven’t yet heard of Night Walk, keep reading to find out more!

Want to skip the reading and sign up now??  Head over to the Night Walk sign-up page!

This year, our Night Walk and camp theme is “Love Like an Ocean”.  For many of the volunteers who have spent time with the orphans in China, for many of the families who have adopted these beautiful children and for many hearts that long to bring these kids love and hope… an ocean separates us.  But love, deep like the ocean, binds us to them.  We love them through the love He has given us… and He gives us a love that surpasses knowledge (Eph 3:18).

Essentially what Night Walk does is it gives us another opportunity to show this “love like an ocean.”  We have the opportunity to tangibly help these children who we love.  We have the opportunity to share the kids’ stories with our friends, family, and sometimes complete strangers as we walk.   At the beginning of the walk, we even get a chance to be on a call with some of the kids we are directly helping with the Night Walk.  What a cool opportunity to be a part of something so huge!  Be sure to share about it with your family and friends and let’s have thousands of people across the globe together for one cause!

For more info and to sign up, CLICK HERE! Sign up by Friday, May 4, 2012 and get an awesome official Night Walk t-shirt to sport for the Walk!

One hour.  $30.  The opportunity to change lives forever.  Bring Me Hope Night Walk 2012.

Hope Renewed

A few months ago, we published a blog post from Rob Molloy, a volunteer at 2011 BMH Summer Camp in Xi’an, China.

Jacob, Rob’s orphan buddy from camp, touched Rob’s life in an extraordinary way.  When Rob returned home from camp, he did everything in his power to help find Jacob a forever family.

We are so thankful for Rob and allowing the father to work through him… because now, Jacob will soon be Ian Straight as his family makes the trek to China in early May to bring him home.

The whole story about Ian’s adoption is pretty amazing!  Check out Ian’s forever family’s blog at http://myshelbybaby.blogspot.com/2011/10/ians-story-finale.html for the whole story (and more to come as they bring him home!).

Ian has a forever family!

Continued Hope for BMH Campers

It’s been six weeks since the last Bring Me Hope camp ended in China.  As we all settle back into our normal routines, it can be easy to forget the little ones we’ve left behind.  That’s why it’s so inspiring to hear about volunteers who have decided to intentionally advocate for their children after camp.

Rob Malloy, a student from Ireland, was a volunteer at the Xi’an camp this year.  Since coming home in August, he has made it his goal to find a family for his buddy, Lei Xiao Feng (Jacob).  With the help of BMH staffer, Kristen Chase, he put together an article (featured here ), YouTube video, and an email asking if anyone would be willing to adopt Jacob.  The response has been incredible! We are confident Jacob will soon have a forever family.

Volunteers and BMH friends, would you take a moment to ask The Father what you can do to help the kids?  It may be writing them a letter, supporting their orphanage, finding an adoptive family, praying for them…  We trust He will show you the way if you ask.  Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do for the children!  He does amazing work through His people!

Rob and Jacob

November Newsletter from the Hedden Family- also an opportunity to give shoes to needy children this Christmas!

Xiao Hu and YaYa
We had another opportunity to have two of the orphans from the De Xing School spend a day with our family. As brother and sister, Xiao Hu (Little Tiger), and his sister YaYa entered our home with wide eyes, we were amazed at what unfolded before us. After showing them around the house and giving YaYa a bath (Xiao Hu would have nothing to do with a bath), we let them sort of gravitate towards whatever they wanted to do. It’s hard to know exactly what will hold their interest ahead of time. We have a tendency to think that they might not have a natural sense of “play” because they don’t have toys and play in general isn’t encouraged in their culture. But we were pleasantly surprised as we watched and played with them. Xiao Hu went immediately to the trucks, blocks, and cars to play with the boy stuff; while YaYa sought out Natalie’s little dollies. Xiao Hu played rough, loud, and hard, while YaYa gently and lovingly dressed, “fed”, and coddled the babies,making sure each had a blanket and pillow, as though she was really their mommy. It’s amazing how these two little ones with no real direction, guidance or nurturing, already have an innate sense of what their roles are. We were so pleased to see that in the midst of an obvious lack of parental affection, YaYa especially has a God-given capacity to show love and affection to others. Her bright little eyes sparkled as she played with those babies, while her brother “conquered” our house with a vibrance that only God could have put inside of him. Our hope is that as we model appropriate love, affection, and play, they will grow into loving, caring mommies and daddies themselves!

32 Feet
This Christmas we would like to provide the orphans at the school with new shoes. While spending time with them, we’ve noticed that every single one of them is wearing shoes that are old, broken, and worn down to the last string. Our plan is to take them to a nearby shoe store where we have already bargained a discounted price and buy them each a brand new pair. The cost is about $7.50 per pair, and there are about 16 kids to buy for. If you’d like to pitch in on the “32 Feet” project, you can send your gifts to the address below and mark your checks “32 Feet”.

To support our work financially, you can give with a check, Visa, Mastercard, or via Bill Pay. Please make checks payable to
Bring Me Hope and send them to:
Bring Me Hope
P.O. Box 164
Big Lake, MN 55309

Quote from former volunteer

This is a quote from a former volunteer about the last day of camp.
“Saying goodbye to the girls that day was the hardest day of my life…and I’ve buried two husbands.”
One week of camp can change lives. Not yours alone, but each child and translator that comes. Come be a part of the change that is going on each summer in China. When we give of ourselves it will never be in vain.