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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Investing into Education

 

 
In a country where financial poverty is rampant, and disease is out of control, we must contribute where we can best direct young people to a better future.
Pictured below are our six students, the last one, on the right is actually the brother of our student studying abroad.
I've just returned to the US from a short trip to Angola to see our students and organize the accounting for our scholarship fund. It was so nice to see them all and hear how they are doing. Three students are in the middle of their second year and three are in the first year. This time I took lots of time to really sit with them and learn their stories and meet their families.
I  was especially touched by this visit with Joao Paulo, a second year student in nursing. He is the oldest of 7 siblings and his father has suffered from a series of stokes. It seems as though his father's brain is no longer cooperating. They must always have someone there to "babysit" him and they have to lock all doors because he wanders. What a burden for this dear lady, when I came into her house she just cried and embraced me, thanking me over and over, then I cried and tried to convince her that it is the Lord who is bringing this blessing and not me. But I was non-the-less received quite warmly.
 Hercilio is our volunteer secretary, hopefully as we grow this will become a paid position. So far, he has been found trustworthy and prompt.
 Above is our official Board of Directors. They help council me in Angolan culture, and help in the selection process as we choose students.
 
 
 
Pictured above is Pastor Cadivonga and his lovely wife Ju (and me). He has founded an Angolan NGO to support our scholarship in official Angolan issues and needs, and he is the president of the Organization.
 
 
Above is a picture of Marcia, one of our students at the University where 4 of our students attend. She is at the office and then lastly checking grades.
At this point we are ready to start planning for the year 2016. In Angola the school year starts in February.  If anyone would like to have me come to your church or group of friends, or organization to talk about our scholarship, I would love to do that. We are looking for people to support a student for four years, each year costing $4,000-$5,000 depending on the student. When all the funds come in for the six students to continue next year, then we will consider choosing new students to begin University.
Let me encourage and remind you, without this scholarship, these students would certainly not be going to University, and therefor contributing to the dire conditions from the lack of education in Angola. Please consider supporting a student or even just giving a one time gift toward our scholarship.
To learn more about our students and how you might give, go to our website at www.sorichlyblessed.org.

May we all search out the Lords will and follow Him,
Lori

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Let's build some houses


Happy Spring everyone! Here in Oregon, Spring seemed to start early, and we are enjoying every moment. Thank you all for the continued support to our ministries. Even as we are now living stateside, we were able to double our scholarship fund this year. We now have 6 students in college Six of whom would not be there if it weren't for all of us pooling our resources to help the underprivileged on the other side of the world. 
The school year has officially begun. (there they study from February to November). Now I can focus on two beautiful ladies who could use a new house. Pictured above is Elvira Rode. She went completely blind about 10 years ago, and then her husband died 4 years ago. She does have four adult children, non whom are working yet (neither was she able to send them to high school), but one did make it and now is studying civil construction. 
Rode is the treasurer of the blind association. Which means that she keeps up with the few dollars that they might have to use if they have events or if a member is sick and in need. Rode roasts peanuts and sells them in front of her house everyday, and has grown a small business with the help of her daughters, that go to the bread shop in the early morning to buy a basket of bread and also sells to the neighbors.
 For the past 5 year,s Rode has been buying one cinder block at a time to build herself a new house. Her dream would be to rebuild the adobe house you see behind her with good solid bricks. (cinder blocks) And in a perfect world the opposite side, which faces the "road" would have a store front where she can continue to build up her business. Below is a picture of her bathroom, which is not connected to her house, but this is very common in her neighborhood.

 For about $5,000.00 we can higher Angolan workers, buy locally made materials and rebuild her house and add the store front. I think we should do this. If anyone wants to contribute the smallest amount, Elvira Rode and I would be very appreciative. Just go to our new website; sorichlyblessed.org and you will be led to a donation page at Helping Hands Ministries. That money will go straight to this building project.

Next is a story that I am totally invested in. This little guy has become John and my godson. His mother ran away from his father while she was pregnant with him. She said that he hit her frequently. He also has two older siblings and now a baby sister. (Another father, who is not interested in having children, therefore out of the picture) Adele, the mother, has asked John and me to take her son, because like many poor people in the developing world, giving away the child to a rich family is easier, and a more secure future for her child. Well, I think before John and I take any of her kids (which I really do want to take that boy!), we need to help her face this discouraging life and help her gain some security. Let's help this mamma gain some self respect by being a home owner, and give her a secure future knowing that she will have a house to give to her children some day. Pictured below is Adele and her little guy and baby, in the house that they rent for $20 a month. which is adobe, therefore growing weaker with every rainfall. and only two small rooms with no water or electricity, or toilet, I actually don't know where there toilet they use is, hopefully the land owner who lives next door, has one.



 Pictured below is our little friend spending the weekend with us when we lived in Angola. I miss him so much. His mother is supported by a Welfare/WIC type program, were she is given milk powder, corn flour, sugar, and diapers weekly, enough to feed her and her kids and enough to sell, to have a little money. The government has also given her land, in which we would like to start building on soon.
I do think his mother has her flaws, like all of us. And I want more than anything to just adopt this little guy, but I think the Lord would have him stay in the loving home of his mother. So I'm looking for anyone that wants to come alongside and build this house, using Angolan workers and locally made supplies. Again, this project will also take about $5,000, start to finish.

My convictions to help these ladies, as always, stem from what I know of teachings by Jesus Christ. Matthew 25:40   And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
And then I am also motivated by the words of Paul to the Corinthian church. "You will be blessed in every way and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank you when we deliver your gift." --2 Corinthians 9:11

So whether you give to these ladies, or give to others in need. I truly believe that you should give.

If you are interested in giving to these housing projects, just go to our new website:

sorichlyblessed.org

Thank you so much for reading,
With Love From Portland,
Lori

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What now?

John has officially been working in the U.S. now for 6 months. Many have asked about our transition, and how it has been for us. My answer always tends to wonder, because it's hard to put our feelings into words that others can understand. We were only away for three years, so that doesn't quite make us third culture people. (which is a culture of people that don't really fit into their home culture anymore, yet also never really fit into their new culture.) We are definitely Americans, but that being said. I would like to share my latest journal entry with you. I'm not trying to speak directly to anybody at this point except myself and where I feel the Lord leading me.
Read at your own risk:
In the third year of living in Angola. I realized that all of us living in the wealthy part of Benguela must truly believe that we are better than those living on the other poorer side. How else could we walk through their poverty with our purses full and zipped tight? When I decide to spend and easy $150 on groceries for my family and then give $4 to a man crippled from childhood Polio, not even $4, more like $2. I really must think that I deserve to eat better than him and his family.
Giving a measly $30 a week to the Blind Association so each person can take home 4 peices of bread, while eat at least 2 a day. I guess I value myself more.
Then I realized that I was among a few wealthy people who chose to spend time with the financially less fortunate. And I know why. . . because it's hard.
I'm inevitably faced with the worldly question, "What then?" So am I supposed to give all I have away, then we are all just poor in the end, What then?
I don't hear that question from God, or the Bible. I think it's a worldly question. Instead of asking the question, or dealing with the thought, "Am I better?" We choose to seperate ourselves.
Over hear it is easy to separate ourselves. Over there (I can only speak about Angola) even in the middle of such poverty; those who have find a way to lessen the interactions with poverty. To shut the doors and turn on the T.V.; to dine in walled in restaurants, to vacation in places where we can forget their illnesses and hunger and illiteracy. (I'm the guilty one here)
I hate these question because when I give, it will never be enough unless it hurts. And since I chose to marry and have kids, my giving might not only hurt me, but my family as well. (I'm using the word hurt in a very broad way, what I mean is that maybe there isn't enough money to always buy new clothes, or do all the sports that we want or have a huge house; nobody is truly hurting here!)
I think these questions only bother me because I was hoping to believe that God wants us all to  financially prosper and live healthy, long lives. I think that is one of the biggest lies in the  world wide church today. Is it bad to think that maybe God doesn't care if we get sick as long as we draw near to Him? Maybe He doesn't care if we own a home or a car or new clothes. Maybe those in poverty are actually more blessed because they have to depend on God.
Maybe our home owning, new car driving, new clothes wearing selves are the ones who are furthest from being able to depend on God.

My opinions are provoked by these scriptures:
Luke 6:20-21, "The Jesus turned to the disciples and said, "God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh."
Luke 12: 15-21
This is the story Jesus told about the man that saved and saved his whole life, and right when we was to retire and enjoy it all he died and Jesus called him a fool. Yikes
Luke 18:24-25
Jesus said,"How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God."
Luke 18:27 (Jesus, thank you for this hope!) "What is impossible for people, is possible for God"

Anyway, these are the thing I think about. Many of us don't think of ourselves as rich, but if you were able to choose what you had for breakfast today, you are rich. I pray that God will continue to keep me uneasy about living too comfortably. He is my King and I want to live that way.

Thanks for reading,
Lori