It seems like just yesterday we were sending out the year end newsletter and yet now we are already five months into 2016. We have experienced some growth, change, and plenty of setbacks along the way. In March we received a new child. Yeury is 10 years old and became our first orphan by reason of abuse. The Department of Education became aware of his situation and advocated for 4 months for his placement. The placement of children is somewhat of a challenge for us as we can only reach so many children on our own and therefore our requirements for placement within the children’s home are designated for those in the greatest need. We find the ministry of Advocates of Love in a pivotal place in that it is the only children’s home and resource within the entire province of Samana. This brings with it much pressure as we are presented with so many children in need and we are always trying to manage the limitations we possess.
In April, we added Freddy to our team! Freddy’s role within the children’s home is Director of Activities. Freddy fulfills many responsibilities including teaching the children English after school, driving the children to school and baseball, and raising our bar of total supervision through positive engagement.
We have experienced growth in attendance within the children’s church located at the new home. In fact, an adult bible study has formed out of the many community parents that desired discipleship and fellowship, but are unable to attend a church regularly as the closest adult church is miles away.
In March, we hosted a women’s mission trip and the outcome was amazing. There were 6 women who took part and they brought so much love and care to the children and community. They facilitated a shoe drive, helped deep clean the children’s home, identified critical needs, and cared for the house mother and support staff in a deep and vital way. They have already begun talking of a return trip in October, so mark your calendars and please let us know if you would like to go.
Just a week ago I was at the children’s home building some much needed cabinets in the kitchen. Like so many visits I was inundated with the vast needs of the house and the ministry as a whole. I was discouraged at first as I thought about all the needs and difficulties here in the U.S. operations (new website $6,000, video intro creation $3,000, unresponsive church partnership and awareness attempts, lack of successful fundraising, etc). When you operate in the “here and there” aspect of the ministry the awareness of the overall health of the ministry is in real time. It can also be overwhelming at times. Upon my arrival I was greeted by a broken refrigerator, no power for a few hours because of a need for additional battery backup, a van that is always in need of repair, the need for additional staff to assist with the home demands, etc.
I began to try and identify what we were doing wrong. I thought countlessly over how we could get more awareness to those who have a willingness to join in this great mission. I even touched moments of despair as I added amounts in my head and reviewed cases of other children who are being presented for placement. At some point during my visit I could hear my heart receive this simple passage:
Philippians 1:6: And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
I am strengthened by knowing that only in God’s timing will he provide everything that we need to run the ministry successfully and that he is currently doing just that. There was a greater joy in my heart as I would peek into all of the children’s rooms and see them sleep so peacefully. I was encouraged as I saw the children cleanly dressed heading off to school each with a new lunchbox and a thermos or watched them practice instruments and conduct their own nightly group devotionals. There were great family moments surrounding the plentiful dinners and birthday cake.
We press on as God is clearly at work, and we delight to somehow get the opportunity to be used by Him. We need Him in every part of our lives and especially in this ministry. As we continue to be advocates of His great love to these wonderful children, we are strengthened by His great love and provision for us.
Melissa is originally from Ocala, FL and after moving around Florida, Georgia & North Carolina, she has settled back in Ocala. Melissa went to the College of Central Florida and has pursued a life of service in various administrative, customer service and marketing roles. She has now settled into her dream role as the Communications Director for Advocates of Love.
Melissa was on the state board of the Florida Foster and Adoptive Parent Association while serving 4 years as a foster and then adoptive mom. She has two adopted daughters, Kenzi and Shyne, who keep her busy. Melissa also serves in her local church.
You can reach Melissa via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.