Build a Bridge of Love to China and Help Bring Ileigh Home to her Forever Family


Please imagine with me for a few moments,  because I want to share a story that happened over 17 years ago in Northern China.  You are a train driver in China. You’ve just made a stop, and all of the passengers have unloaded.  As you’re about to exit the train for a break, you hear a baby softly crying.   You turn around, but no one is in sight,  and the cries are growing louder.  You slowly move down the aisle, as your eyes quickly scan left and right, left and right,  looking for the baby.  There, on the last row, is a baby, bundled up and all alone!   You check to see if there is a note tucked inside the “bundle”, but find none. Your heart sinks, as you see the baby boy is so young because his umbilical cord has not fully healed.  You immediately pick him up and hurry out the door, calling out frantically “baby boy found, baby boy found!”  But the crowd just glances back and continues to move in the direction they were going, because after all, this happens every single day in China.  A child is born in China, whether wanted or unwanted, and the parents choose whether or not to keep the child or abandon them.

“Baby boy, umbilical cord attached, found on hard seat train…taken to police in Dalian….. brought to orphanage… parents not found.”.    That was part of the file we received when we first met our son,  Guo Tai, four months before we went to China to adopt him.   I only put the pieces of this story  together in my mind, as I tried to imagine such a short description of an abandonment.  How could “China” describe in just a few sentences, what a baby experienced with such a great loss?!     As all of you who know our family and our son, Tim, the story didn’t end on that train seat!  Praise God!  Because God, in his Sovereignty started to work, first in my heart  and then Duane’s heart…..5 years later.  And 17 years later, after the “stranger” picked up that beautiful baby boy off that cold hard train seat, crying in a moment of utter despair, feeling the  abandonment of the only  mother he knew,  God is allowing that boy to tell others his story.  This summer, in Poland, Tim was able to share how God brought him into His Forever Family, as you see in the photo below. He also shared his story in New Orleans on a mission trip.

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Now I want to share another story, because another child is waiting to come home to her Forever Family.   Over two years ago, when I was in Jason’s Deli in Gainesville, my friend, Tammie, who I had known most of my life,  happened to be there with her children. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so I sat down and had lunch with her and her 3 girls.  Over lunch, she shared with me amazing stories of how  God had been nudging her, rather strongly, that she would one day have an Asian daughter.  She said to me,   “it sounds crazy, but God has clearly spoken things to me about Ella’s adoption (she had adopted her through foster care), and now this adoption.” And I replied “No, it doesn’t. He talks to you because you are listening.”  I could only say that, because God spoke things to me with Tim’s adoption, and in other areas of my life. That day we became sort of kindred spirits, because we both could understand what it means when God tells you His plan is for you to add a child through adoption.   Now, please meet Tammie’s new daughter, Ileigh.  Isn’t she beautiful?!

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Ileigh has been waiting 6 years for her Forever Family to come and get her and bring her home!  Everything has been approved, and all that is needed to bring her home is the financial resources, $20,000.00     That’s why I share her story with you.  Tim has shared with Tammie what it’s like to live without a family for 7 years in China, waiting on us to come get him.   And now that Tim knows about the financial need, he did something about it, he donated his own money to bring Ileigh home.  He wanted me to share this with you….because he knows first hand, what it is like to wait on a family, 7 years, and he wants to do what he can to bring her home to the Wright Family.  So, I ask you to pray for Ileigh to come home soon, and I also ask you to consider what you can give to make that happen.  In Tim’s story I shared how that I imagined the train driver yelling “baby boy found, baby boy found”!, and the crowd glancing back to see a helpless baby, alone, and then moving forward to go about their routine.   Ileigh’s forever family has been found!  But, they need all of us to help bring her home.   Please do more than glance here at beautiful Ileigh, and move on.   Please pray and please give, if God asks you to give.  I am praying that her family can travel on November 17, in time for her to be home for Christmas. That will not happen without the funds needed.  I want to share with Tim that God is bringing her home for Christmas!  Here is the link of her Adoption Page, and the information to give, is there.  Thank you for praying and considering.

Ileigh’s Story and Support Page is at Adopt Together, Wright Family.  Click on the link below to help make a way to bring Ileigh home!

https://adopttogether.org/families/?fundraiser=4babygirls

 

 

 

 

 

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Tim’s Upcoming Mission Trip to Poland


Hello Friends and Family,  Tim is excited about his upcoming Mission Trip to Poland in July.  Please read his letter to you, which is below. Thank you! Darlene

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Dear Friends and Family,

In about 6 weeks, I will be packing my bags, and head out to board a plane to fly to my first international mission trip! I am so excited to be joining other members of my church, Trinity Baptist, Keystone Heights, as we serve along side of The Franks, who are missionaries in Ilwa, Poland.

In the summer of 2015, a team from my church traveled to Poland, and returned to share about all the things that God had done that week in the family camp. That night sitting in the pew, during the presentation, I felt the Lord tugging at my heart that maybe I should go to Poland, but I wasn’t certain if I should really follow through with it. The next summer, another team from Trinity returned to Poland and came back again with more stories and excitement from their week with the families who attended the camp. Again, I felt an even stronger presence of God that He wanted me to go. Later, I shared with some friends that I would like to go the following year with the team.

So, now as 2017 rolled in, I felt I was definitely going to make the commitment to go! I told my parents I wanted to go, and after seeking God in prayer, He still affirmed to me to go, and my parents gave me their permission and blessing on the trip.

Our Trinity team of four, is partnering with other churches here in the US, and meeting in Poland to serve with the Franks, who were former members of my church, before God called them to Poland to serve Him there. The Family Camp is from July 7-16. This camp is reaching out to families who do not have a church home or seldom attend a church. Most likely I will be helping with recreation for each family member, from youngest to oldest.

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Please pray for me and our team as we travel to Poland and serve the families during this special time that they can share together. Please also pray that God will open my eyes to His plan for me in Poland while I am there. The photos I’m sharing with you are from last summer’s Trinity Poland Mission Trip. Soon, I will be there too!

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The total cost of this trip is $3.000.00 All the donations that are given to my account at Trinity Baptist Church will help me with travel and room and board while I am there as well as the Polish families’ cost to attend the camp. If you wish to partner with me as well as helping the families with their cost of the camp, I would greatly appreciate it. But please pray about it first, and do not feel pressured to give. I am also available to “work” for my trip cost. If you need yard work or household cleaning, I can help you when I am not working at Lake Swan Camp. Contact my mom on Face Book or desccc@yahoo.com  May God bless each one of you, and thank you for taking the time to read about my mission trip!

To make a donation you can visit Trinity Baptist Church web page http://www.trinitybc.org  or here is the direct link:

https://www.acionlinegiving.com/547

Select this fund:   Poland 2017

 Under: Special Intentions: (enter) Tim Searle Poland

If you send a check, please put Poland Trip on Memo line, and my name on a separate sheet of paper in the envelope.  

 In Christian Love,

Tim Searle

Jeremiah 29:11

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Prayer, It Changes Me


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 Recently, our daughter traveled to Punjab, India for a week-long mission trip. While there, she stayed with the host family in a village home. Her days were filled with traveling from village to village and from house- to- house, mostly praying for the people who welcomed her with warm hearts and open arms. She will never forget the love and hospitality she received from these beautiful people. One lady washed her feet. In addition to praying, she also shared Bible stories because many of the people in the house churches there, could not read, and depended on  story telling.   Her evenings were filled with visiting families who “slaved” at the brick kilns.  There, her team hosted Compassion Kit Parties with gifts of hygiene items and small necessities for the workers.  More Bible stories and testimonies were shared as well as some singing and music. At the end of the week, her 5 member team, had reached almost 1,000 people!

Because she stayed in a village home,  I did not hear from her for four long days. Finally, I received  a Face Time call from her as she returned to the motel.  I will never forget the emotions I had when I saw her on my phone. It was all I could do not to cry!  I asked her to describe to me her experiences by choosing one word. Her answer was “prayer“.

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She explained to me that the Christ followers in India have a great need for prayer. They don’t have access to medicine or doctors, as we do here. Many of the women asked her to pray for them to have a child or for their alcoholic husbands. One mother asked for prayer for her son with a dairy allergy.  Because of the large number of people her team visited, she shared, “mom I have never prayed as much as I prayed this week in India“.

While she was away in India, thousands of miles away from the safety of her family and home, I could also say, “I have never prayed as much as I have this week“.  Sarah was sitting on our bed the night before she left for India. Her dad and I were about to pray with her for her trip. I asked her in a concerned mama voice, “Is there any fears you would like to share that we can pray with you about”?  She looked at me, let out a small chuckle, and said “No, I worry about you both worrying about me”!  So I told her I would try not to worry.  It worked for about the first two days she was gone. She had traveled to four different countries in the past four years, and that wasn’t so much my worry, but when she finally arrived in the village host home,  my anxiety levels started to rise. Thoughts kept racing through my mind. I feared her being abducted while out and about. I feared the small village home wasn’t secure enough. I feared the 105 F plus tempeartures with no AC.  I feared her getting sick and what does India know about medicine?  I feared she wouldn’t be able to find a bathroom, aka “squatty potty”, when she had the urge to go.  At one point, out of nowhere, I had an image flash in my mind of her being beaten. The mind can play tricks on us, but I decided not to dwell in that mind game.

The past nine months, after Sarah flew the coop to Liberty University, ten hours away, I had been proud of myself for ” releasing her “to God’s care. There were a few times, when I saw the photos on Face Book, of her sitting dangerously close to the edge of a huge rock she was perched upon,  smiling ear-to-ear,  hundreds of feet in the air, I wanted to let out a scream. Other than those times, I had peace.  But this India trip tested my fears and my faith in God for her protection. This is when I finally decided to pray like I have never prayed before, so that my daughter would return safely. I couldn’t protect my  daughter.  I couldn’t run to her if she needed me. I had to rely on God, my Father, to watch over her. She was out of my reach, but not His.   When I prayed,  peace came to me, because I was able to release her to His care. Since then, I have had a daily fresh awareness of God’s presence and His peace in my life. I would have never thought that Sarah’s trip to India, not only changed her, but could change her fearful mama.  Prayer, it changes things and it changes me.

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Sharing My Bread at the Dollar General


Yesterday I wrote here about sharing our ” bread”, our resources, with those who are poor or experiencing a crisis. The idea was based on King Solomon’s advice in Ecclesiastes 11:1-2. I encouraged the reader to share with those they meet during their daily activities here in their communities,  or even far from home.

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This morning before I left for work, I paused and prayed for a few minutes. It was a short, sincere prayer. I prayed that God would use me today for whatever His plans were for me. I would like to tell you that is a regular prayer of mine, but it isn’t.  Before my hand hit the doorknob to leave, I felt a strong sense come over me that I was going to cross paths with a homeless person and God may use me in that capacity. To be clear, I did not hear a voice, just a very strong thought.  I had not shared any “bread” with such a person in almost a year. It was this time last year, when I shared some citrus fruit  at the local grocery store on Main Street. The one that stopped giving out free coffee to its’ customers because the homeless people decided to get in on the deal too, and well, you know, that just doesn’t look good for their business. It may lose the reputation of “where shopping is a  pleasure”, because someone may ask them for spare change as they enter or exit.

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So, on my forty minute drive in to work,  I pondered about where I might see a homeless person. I decided to go to the same store down on Main Street, because I had to get my lunch, and I might  see one there, because there were a few who sat outside the store, on the sidewalk. But as I entered and exited, I did not see such person, so I went on to work.  I’d like to tell you that I went searching for the homeless during lunch,  but not once did such  person enter my mind for the rest of the day.

As I left work, the thought came to go visit the local Dollar General to purchase Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box items.  After making the purchase, I went out the door and saw a man with a back pack standing near the building by his bicycle. He said to me “do you have any spare change?” I replied back, “sorry I do not have any”. So he said to me, “ok, God bless you”.  I walked about 20 feet to my car and it hit me like a ton of bricks, the thought came so clearly:  “turn around, there is the homeless person, that you thought about earlier this morning after you prayed to me”.  I headed back into the store and found a store gift card. I went back out and said to the guy, “I have something better than change, I’m giving you a gift card. But first, I have to tell you a story.”

I started to tell him about what I had prayed before I left home this morning, and about going to the store on Main Street, and not finding anyone in need. By the time I finished I had chill bumps on my arms and I was crying!  Those who know me, would agree that I am not Emotional Emma as I rarely cry in public. He gave me a hug and told me that when he was in the military he made a decision to be a God follower. He had been in Desert Storm during the war. When he came back to get settled in, he couldn’t find a church he felt comfortable in because they were either like a “social club”, or they had “classes of people he didn’t fit into”.  He then told me he prayed but wasn’t reading his Bible regularly but that he knew he was supposed to love God and love others.  I suggested a local church for him to visit, and he said others had also recommended him go to this church.   I shared with him that I had never experienced anything like this before where I asked God to use me, he directed my thoughts to folks like him, and then I met him the same day. He seemed very touched by the experience as well. Again, I’d like to tell you that I asked if I could pray for him before I left, but I didn’t.

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I’m sharing this here because I prayed a simple, sincere prayer today, and I had my plans of finding the person on Main Street. When I didn’t, I no longer thought God had a plan to place that person in my path, I had completely forgotten about the prayer!  And when He did plant the person  in my path, I almost missed a blessing and would have jumped in my Honda and left, had I not had the thought to turn around and go back.

I’m now waiting eagerly for the next opportunity, which may be a totally different way to serve up bread.  This God-sized  experience has stirred me today. We have a Sovereign God who has the time to break into my life and allow me to be His hands today to minister to a military veteran, who put his life on the line for our country. I promise you I will not miss my bread.  The man simply asked for spare change, and I’m the one who walked  away changed.  Feel free to leave a comment of how you have shared your bread. 14CBpray-with-homeless-sox-man-sm

I’m Sharing My Bread This Christmas


As the Christmas Season is fast approaching,  I’m adding a new item on my Gift List: Bread. The idea came to me as I was reading the words of the richest and wisest man of his time, King Solomon.  “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on the earth.” Ecclesiastes 11:1-2

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After I read the verse, a childhood memory came flashing back . It’s one of my favorite places, my grandmother’s house on Skinner’s Lake. My grandmother had loaves of day old bread she purchased at the bread store for “her fish”.  She would say to me, “go feed the fish’.  I went to her refrigerator, reached my hand in the bread bag and pulled out a couple of slices. I headed out the door, and down her long dock.  Next, I started breaking the slices into smaller pieces, and tossed them into the water. Within seconds, the bread would start to move, then disappear as the hungry fish devoured the bread!  This small act of feeding the fish brought  joy and excitement to me.

Looking back to Solomon’s advice, his intention was not for us to ” go feed the fish.”  This verse can be interpreted several ways, with one being sharing our possessions with the poor.  Solomon also wrote in Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.    We all like to give and receive at Christmas.  When we share our “bread” or possessions with  the poor, we are giving it to the Lord, and He gives the best gifts back in return!  We will “find our bread after many days”, as Ecclesiastes 11:1 states. We will have kindness shown back to us through other ways.

The “Bread of Life”,  who came to earth the first Christmas, instructs His followers with the following command:

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This Christmas, as I celebrate the birth of My Savior,  I want to be more intentional with giving my bread to the poor. Really, it’s not my bread. It is God’s bread.  Every blessing I have comes from His hand alone. Today, there are many people, near and far, who are drowning in the troubled waters on life’s sea. We see their faces in our neighborhoods, marketplaces, schools, work, church, and even across the ocean.  We have the “bread”  in our hand to toss out to them. The question is, are we going to hold on tightly to the bread God has blessed us with,  and ignore Christ’s instruction to us, or are we going to have an open, gracious handful of bread to share?   I encourage you to add Bread to your Christmas List this year, and share with someone who cannot give you anything in return. And while you are doing it, introduce them to the Bread of Life.whocanilove

Open Your Mouth Wide


This past week I came across a verse from Psalm 81: 10  “I  am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, that I may fill it. ”  I immediately thought of the children at the center in Guatemala that our team had the blessing of serving every day  at lunch time on our recent visit there .  Several of the toddlers would come to the table and cry, and for whatever reason, decided they didn’t want to eat at that time, while most chowed down the delicious food on the green plate in front of them! The babies fully depended on our team to feed them, as they waited patiently for the spoon- to- mouth experience, with mouths wide open.

This verse also reminds me of an example we see in nature.  I envision a mama bird feeding her young, and the provision she brings to her nest filled with tiny feathered creatures. They feel the bounce of the nest or see the shadow of the mama bird, before their eyes are fully working, and automatically pop open their tiny mouths wide to receive the food. This may happen up to 100 times per day in the early days of the young birds. Our Heavenly Father wants us to anticipate His blessings that He has for us in our daily lives.  But in order to receive those,  we need to stay close to “the nest” and wait for Him. We need to be  daily ” in the shadow of His wings” ( Psalm 91:1-4)

The verse preceding the promise of  Psalm 81:10 is very important: ” There shall be no strange gods among you: you shall not bow down to a foreign god.”  He cannot give us our daily provisions or the blessings, if our hearts are with idols that we have chosen to  put before Him.  Last Sunday night I heard a sermon from Deuteronomy 12:28-32,  by Bro. Brandon Denmark, as he discussed three types of idols in our lives:  Idol of Comfort. Idol of Significance. Idol of Control.  God cannot “fill our mouths” with spiritual or material blessings, if our hearts are chasing after the idols of comfort, significance, or control  instead of pursuing Him. We must worship Him alone.  He wants to fill our mouths, but He, alone, must be the object of our worship as we wait, anticipate, and have faith that He will answer our prayers.

These two verses have  convicted me of idols in my life and the many times I have failed to seek His presence daily, being still and waiting for Him, and worshipping Him alone. I need to be thankful of the many blessings He brings into my life, whether spiritual or material, and realize I am a helpless young bird needing to be fed only from Jehovah Jireh, my Great Provider.

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Jesus gives us an example of birds in Matthew 6: 25-26 ” Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap or gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

I’m on a Mission: I’m Asking you to Donate Your Lunch Money


When we return to Guatemala on July 11, with Orphan’s Heart, our team’s goal is to distribute 75 food baskets to the families of the children at the Malnutrition Center. The families are able to visit their children once a week until they are healthy enough to return home. Fifty dollars is needed to fill each family basket. That’s less than the cost of one meal when my family eats at our favorite restaurant, but this basket has food staples in it that will last approximately three months!

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As I was contemplating on the basket project, the story of Jesus Feeding the 5,000  came to memory. In Mark 6, we find  Jesus teaching a very large crowd out in a rural setting, away from the towns, As he looked out on the crowd, the Bible says he had compassion on the people. As it was getting late the disciples ordered Jesus to send them away so that they could go back into the towns and buy food for themselves. But Jesus replied “ you give them something to eat“.  They replied that they didn’t have the money to feed the 5,000 men plus women and children.   A boy was there that had 5 loaves of bread and two fish, and he gave his lunch to Jesus, and the rest is history.   After it reached the hands of Jesus, He offered thanks, the disciples passed the food out, and there were 12 baskets of extra food collected after they had all finished eating!

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I want you to take a moment to ask yourself two questions. The first question is : “When was the last time that I or my children lacked for food?” According to USaid.gov, the average US citizen spends one-tenth of their family income on food, while the poorest of the world spend over fifty percent of their income on food. Inside the Malnutrition Center. Almost half of all rural Guatemalan children, under the age of 5, are malnourished. That is a staggering number!  I’ve seen first-hand the effects of malnutrition. There were several babies who had recently arrived that our team cared for.   There was also a “before and after” photo album in the lunch room, to show testimony of how these kids entered their care, some in the back of a rural Guatemalan ambulance, a small pickup truck, with ribs you could easily count, and rashes and thinning hair, to leaving in a “picture of health”. No one needed to convince me further that there was a real problem in this rural countryside in Guatemala, and that we were there to make a difference in these children’s lives, and to continue to make a difference after we left, through monthly  sponsoring one child.

Arriving at the Malnutrition Center

Arriving at the Malnutrition Center

Leaving the Malnutrition Center

Leaving the Malnutrition Center

Now, the second question I ask you to ask yourself:  “Can I give, and I am I willing to give the cost of my lunch to help a family in Guatemala?”  Going back to the story of Jesus Feeding the 5,000 men plus women and children. First we see Jesus had compassion on the crowds. He looked out and had compassion.  What the disciples thought was a good reason to send them away, “they need to eat”, Jesus commanded them to take the responsibility to feed them, even when there was no way possible for them to take on that big responsibility. But a way was made, through one boy’s lunch, to feed the masses. God used one unnamed boy who was willing to give all that he had and place it in the Hands of Jesus and watch a miracle take place! Jesus could have asked the crowd to come to a buffet line to get the food themselves, but he gave the bread and fish His disciples, for them to take to the crowd. God provides, but we are the hands and feet of Jesus. He asks us to personally carry the food to the hungry.

Next month I’m traveling back to  Guatemala to be the hands and feet of Jesus and I’m asking you, my friends and family, to share your lunch, just like the boy did, in order fill the baskets with whatever you wish to give. One of my favorite verses on giving is Proverbs 19:7 “ Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.”   You can go to Orphans Heart to donate. After you have selected the amount please indicate in the last step, under Gift Details, that the donation is for Guatemala Food Baskets.  Thanks for participating in this important mission, whether you give one lunch or ten,  as you will be blessed!

Touch the life of a Child in Guatemala

Touch the life of a Child in Guatemala