Welcome to the weekend!
A long weekend at that. Nice!
When last I was here, I shared with you several tables with heart ... and gave you a sneak peek at the newest one. I also told you how surprised I was to know it existed ... and how humbled to be one of the first invited to sit around it.
I also promised to tell you "the rest of the story." Here 'tis ...
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, this property was home to our girls at Hope Unlimited for Children. We called it the Girls' Ranch. Creative huh?
It was "home" for many years, but the property is adjacent to the new, "under construction" Campinas airport ... and we had an opportunity to sell it at a great price. Even so, I'll admit that I traveled to Brazil last week with a slight sadness just knowing there would be no more fun times at the Girls' Ranch.
So where are the girls now? Well ... They're ten minutes away at the City of Youth -- the location of Hope Unlimited's educational facilities and home to our boys. Except ... because the girls needed temporary housing, the children are attending public school for awhile ... and the girls moved into the classrooms. Did you follow that?
In typical little girl fashion, they excitedly lined up outside of their homes and invited us to come see. I thought you might like to see some of their rooms, too. The girls (and their fantastic housemothers!) had such great attitudes and didn't seem to mind the inconveniences. They're very patient.
So what are they waiting on? Well, in typical God fashion, the sale of the Girls' Ranch included some totally unexpected blessings: a work crew to build a new facility at the City of Youth for the girls AND to disassemble and move anything we wanted to keep, including the swimming pool and palm trees! Who's smiling now?
Our creative staff decided to replicate the floorplan of the Girls' Ranch houses ... but to make the new facility multi-level. Each "house" has this (or a mirror image of this) floorplan and will house 16 girls plus their houseparent.
Unfortunately, in typical Brazil fashion, the rainy season slowed down work, and the promised large work crew has been replaced with a much smaller one ... and so the progress is slow albeit steady.
Check it out ...
I had a blast walking through the space and seeing all the wonderful "new" that the children and staff will be getting ... but I was totally unprepared for the biggest surprise of all: The staff had worked hard to prepare a "model home" where we would eat lunch!
I loved hearing how they stretched their funds, even finding someone to build solid wood chairs that will survive the "wiggle butts" of little girls!
Oh, the girls are going to be so excited!
So are the houseparents!
The spirit of the staff as they shared the space with us was just beautiful ... and the delicious meal they served was a treat!
|Notice the creative way they found extra counter space?|
This table ... lovingly set to receive its first guests ... was inaugurated with thanksgiving, laughter, and friendship by the Board of Hope Unlimited, their guests, and some of Hope's staff.
But before we left, we had the privilege of praying over the space, asking God to anoint it with protection and blessing even as we prayed the same for the children who will call it "home." Some of our group immediately felt drawn to the bedrooms where the girls will sleep, praying God's peace for each child in the quietest hours of the night ... when loneliness and the deepest pains of their pasts threaten to overwhelm them.
I was drawn to the table. As I stood beside each chair ... touching them one by one ... I thought of the girls who will sit around that table. Girls whose faces I already know -- and girls who are as yet unknown to anyone but God. Children, on average 10-16 years of age, who must face devastating circumstances before they're qualified to come to the table. How tragic is that?
Little girls who have faced abandonment by family and society, unspeakable abuses, and unimaginable exploitation, often including forced prostitution. (Even the youngest ones.)
But this table has heart -- a really big heart -- and it must ... because those who will sit around it desperately need all of the acceptance and embrace, the love and security, the stability and hope that it can offer. I am blessed to pray for them and to claim this promise on their behalf ...
I invite you to join me.
To learn more about how you can encourage these young girls, click the pics below.
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