In my years of involvement with international orphan work, one of the facts that has become most evident to me is that those who come to bless end up being the ones most blessed. The last week, members of Princeton Alliance Church traveled to our campus in Vitoria to minister to our kids there, and perhaps complete a work project or two. The real questions for me are “Who ministered?” and “Who was blessed?”
Hear from a couple of the PAC members and judge for yourself:
- They Don’t Call it Hope Mountain for Nothing Yesterday we arrived in Vitoria to meet the wonderful boys of Hope Mountain. They ALL literally met us at the airport in their bus, took our luggage to pack underneath, gave out cards, sang songs (very loudly), shared snacks and welcomed us like we were the long lost siblings they hadn’t seen in years. On the way to our hotel, we went our for ice cream and spent some time with them near the beach. They showed off their soccer ball handling skills while trying to incorporate some of us Americans… Let’s just say we need some work. After saying goodbye that night, it was very clear that Hope Mountain is truly a special place.
- We started our painting work today and the kids just jumped right in to help. If they weren’t in school, they wanted to get their hands dirty. The light in their eyes and in their lives was shining brighter than the sun. A few of them even said they wanted to help because of the grace of God in their lives. I mean, come on, how many 14-17 year old boys do you hear saying, “I’m doing this because of the grace of God” or “I’ve had help so I’m helping you”? Wait, weren’t we there to work for them? Weren’t we the ones who felt compelled to travel 5,000 miles in order to give these boys things they couldn’t get on their own? And they are the ones reaching out their hands of grace to us? There must be something about this place called Hope Mountain.
- If you don’t know (or haven’t kept up on the blog), Hope Mountain was set to close twice in the past year. But the government has pulled through at the LAST minute and helped them with some of their operating costs for a set period of time. Well, today, there were people from the press visiting, asking what makes Hope Mountain so special. There will be other visitors tomorrow from the government and the press meeting with Philip and Paul Husby, the director there, to talk and negotiate. Talk about great timing for a team of Americans to be there, demonstrating our concern and care for the work that goes on there. Please pray that God will show favor on Hope Mountain as these meetings happen and that seeds will be planted. Please pray that the team members would have the right words to say if approached by any of the visitors. Please pray that Philip and Paul would be prepared to knock their socks off with the success of Hope Mountain. Did you know that about 90% of the kids graduate and can find jobs after they leave from the program? What CEO wouldn’t want those kinds of results? They are breaking the cycle of poverty. They are creating a positive outlook and a future for the kids. They are transforming lives every day. Their work needs to continue. Please pray with and for us.
- But Now What? Well, our trip is coming to a close. We’ve finished the painting job sooner than expected and hung out with the boys of Hope Mountain much more than we thought we would. But now what? Clearly, we had some impact on the boys and they have made an impact on us, a hundred fold. But the question has been asked numerous times: What do we do now? How do we make you all understand being that you haven’t seen it?
- Our last day with the boys consisted of any Easter Egg Hunt, soccer games, and a trip to the beach one last time. Philip Smith, Dayane and Rogerio, (one of the house fathers) shared some of the boys’ stories. No surprise some of them included abuse of all kinds, murder and drugs. But all of the boys experienced neglect and abandonment. One has been adopted seven different times. Another was left in a closet and beaten for years. But we don’t share this with you to make you feel bad for the kids. Because if you saw their eyes, you wouldn’t see all that deep pain and scarring. You’d see happiness; you’d see boys trying to be boys who enjoy some horseplay, playing practical jokes on each other, eating VERY well, and make farting noises. Even Josue, who definitely has deep-rooted issues enjoyed a simple game of peek-a-boo on the bus ride to the beach. They are just boys looking for love and who have found hope in their new life at Hope Mountain. It was more than a pleasure to serve them these past four days. It was an honor to meet them and fix up their home.
- Pray for the future of Hope Mountain. As of right now, it will stay open until July. Then, only God knows. But what is happening there certainly has eternal impact. Pray for wisdom for the leadership, that they will have the discernment to make the right decisions and that their eyes would be open to the opportunities God might provide. And most of all, pray for the boys. Pray that they will continue to grow in faith and courage so that no matter what happens to the residence, they will bring the message of hope to wherever they wind up.