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Nicoleta’s Smile.

7 Aug

It’s the smile that first captivated me. It’s ever-present. And it’s powerful to melt hearts.

Nicoleta and Bianca.

Nicoleta snuggled into my lap as we listened to the story of Stephen at Kids Beach Club. She did her best to pay attention, even with the distraction of Hawaiian leis, nametags, treasure chests, and her little sister Bianca sitting next to her. Her hairstyle was far too familiar – I had seen it on countless orphans in third-world countries as an easy remedy for a lice breakout. And her clothes were tattered and dirty. But that smile. Oh that smile.

The story of Stephen taught about courage – about being brave in the midst of hard times, about being an overcomer in Christ. I looked at Nicoleta and her sister. Neither really understand the meaning of the word “courage,” but both live it every day. The girls and their siblings live in Nevrincea, with a mom and a man who now does his best to care for them. It’s unsure if he passed away or walked away, but their father is no longer around.  The oldest sister, a teenager, is now caring for a baby of her own. Dana, the middle sister, has special needs. Bianca, the youngest, rarely talks and doesn’t stray too far from her sisters. Nicoleta is the rare gem – she’s open and talkative and happy. She shines.

It’s a rare and special gift to meet Nicoleta and her sisters. They live at home only during the summer months. During the school year, they are taken to a “placement center” – or children’s home – to ensure they receive an education and proper care. I try to wrap my head around a yet new description of the word “orphan,” and the tears fall. That “if only I could take Nicoleta and her sisters home with me” rush sweeps over me, but I know the answer. They are social orphans. I’m called to be family – whatever that looks like. And for them, family looks like transformation of the village of Nevrincea. It looks like food and clothing. It looks like clean water. It looks like education programs. It looks like the Gospel – lived out every day.

Now it’s my turn to understand the meaning of the word “courage.” It’s my turn to be brave and be bold for Nicoleta and her sisters. Working with Red Page Ministries and the House of Joy, I believe transformation can happen. As I watch my team from First Baptist Church of Levelland fall more deeply in love with this village, I know change is coming. It’s already begun.

I love this smile.

And that makes me smile. Just like Nicoleta.

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Need.

3 Aug

In just a few hours, the journey begins – again. I leave for Romania, to serve with Red Page Ministries. It seems like only yesterday that I was traveling there for the first time, and falling in love with the country and her people. This time, though, I won’t braving the bitter cold with teenagers who were selected to attend a youth camp nestled in the mountains of Transylvania. There will be no ski areas or cozy hotels.

This journey takes me to the heart of the 31 impoverished rural villages served by Red Page and House of Joy. Together with a team of folks from First Baptist Levelland (a community in West Texas) and a trusted friend from Austin who has traveled with me to Guatemala two times, we’ll deliver humanitarian aid to orphanages and laugh with children and carry groceries down dirt roads to farmhouses filled with families who simply need.

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Camp NomNom – sweet (g)local nom-ination.

30 Jul

The pictures tell the story of Camp NomNom. 

Two days. Tasty homemade deliveries to folks who needed a smile –  in trailer parks and gated communities. All camps should be so sweet. Our thanks to everyone who gave – and received. We love you all.

~Court and Ronne

(G)local missions at their sweetest.

12 Jul

Caring for the discarded, the hurting, the lonely, the rejected? Yes, it can be a very sweet thing. This is something Courtney and I have done for three years here in Austin, Texas. Every year, we end up with happy tears and full hearts. We can’t wait for Camp NomNom…there’s nothing more fun than being a food fairy.

This year's invitation.

Our first year, two high school girls helped prepare food and treats for single moms living at a local shelter. Last year, the original two became our team leaders and helped 15 high school girls made everything from cookies to cupcakes and candy to deliver to families and local ministries. This year, our goal is even more food fairies. We’ve already got some grown-up team leaders donning their wings to help make the day amazing – for both the girls and for those they bless.

If you’re interested in learning more about CampNomNom, send us a message!

~Ronne

(un)Commonly Discarded.

10 Jun

Creamy macaroni & cheese. Messy sloppy joes. Homemade cinnamon rolls. And always, veggies and fruit thrown in for good measure. Am I on a mission trip? You’d better believe it.

Ministry tools - of a different sort.

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Heroes.

8 Jun

Today, two men are being heroes to the discarded.

He could be sitting in an office today. But he's making kids smile instead.

In Texas, Brad Rock is teaching kids in foster care and kids with special needs how to waterski and wakeboard at a wonderful camp called Skiin’ with the Galilean.

He may think he's a nerd. But he's really Superman.

In Uganda, working with Arise Africa, Ryan Nowakowski has just configured an orphanage in Bukaleba for wireless internet access.

Yeah, heroes don’t have to wear capes in order to change the world.

Know people who are changing the world? We’d love to meet them!

To my friend, the thief.

3 Jun

True confession: Courtney is a thief – of hearts and of stuff. And this is a post about stuff. Continue reading

A Life Changed.

2 Jun

This morning, I ran. I should say, I attempted to run. And then I received the link to this video. I ended up standing in the middle of the road, bawling like a baby. If you would like to join GuateTeam on its next adventure, reach out to Orphan Outreach. We’d love to have you join our family.

Thank you, Amy Hobbs, for creating this video.

~Ronne

You Bring – Love (second in a series)

1 Jun

There’s nothing like watching someone fall in love. Amy Hobbs did just that in Guatemala. The object of her affection? Read on and you’ll meet him. If you’d like to read more of Amy’s stories, you can visit her blog, Living Out Loud. And if you’d like to learn more about sponsorship of some precious orphans in Guatemala, reach out to Orphan Outreach.

On Thursday, I had been assigned the job of helping paint the ceiling in one of the boys’ rooms at Cerecaif. Adriana had drawn stars, the moon, a rocket ship and the star of the show, an astronaut. So we began painting the celestial oasis.

Love at first sight.

Sitting on the corner of a bottom bunk, flipping through the pages of a tiny New Testament, was Armando. Continue reading

Sweet Moments – Little Samantha (guest post)

30 May

Ashley Davidson is a student at Texas Tech. Her ever-present laughter and beautiful sense of wonder are captivating, and she is truly a “kid magnet.” You can read more of Ashley’s observations about love and life on her blog, Love Encounters.

I just might have to blog twice today. lots of time, quiet time and lots of goodness. But first I want you to meet Samantha.

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