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Sometimes pictures captivate me.  The picture above is one such shot that draws at my heart, filling me with memories and richness.  It was taken this past month at Huen Nam Jai Orphanage in Thailand.  We've been loving on the kids at this orphanage for over 13 years now. Through the sponsorships of many of you, these kids have been busy growing up and are beginning to move into their adulthoods.  The sweet girl in this picture is the youngest child at Huen Nam Jai Orphanage, named Meaw (yep...what a cat says).  She was just three when we first met her.  Now, she's 16 years old.  I'm so thankful for Facebook because it allows me to be friends with many of our orphans online.  I get to follow the social media side of their lives.  Sometimes their pictures stop me in my tracks.  Like this one, it's not 'just a picture'. 

What strikes me in this shot are several things: 

  • The angle of the shot is taken from the orphanage kitchen area and shows part of the church which is situated on the same property as the orphanage.  We've spent many hours on that very property loving on those kids as they grow up.  Several years ago, one of our teams built up the floor area of the kitchen to help prevent flooding that often happened in their cooking area.  I wonder how many meals have been cooked and served to the children living here...
  • The brick pavers upon which Meaw is jumping were lovingly (and painstakingly) laid by another of our mission teams several years ago.  I still vividly remember the heat that we worked in those days and the hard labor it was to lay each and every paver, row after row.  Those pavers have served the orphanage well, cutting down on mud and dirt that once covered the space.  I wonder how many knees have been scraped tripping on these pavers...
  • The basketball hoop that Meaw is shooting her ball into was given by folks from the YMCA in Colorado many years ago.  I wonder how many shots have gone through that hoop over the years by kids who grew up in this home...
  • Behind the church sits the bathroom and shower areas for the orphanage; we've taken many cold bucket showers in those bathrooms.  Through their early years, I've helped several little ones clean off from the dirt of the day in these bathrooms.  Another of our teams helped tile and upgrade the bathrooms.  I wonder how often kids have had to wait their turn to get ready for the day using those restrooms.... 
  • On the very far left corner, I can see just a part of the playground that oh-so-many kids have played upon.  Yet another of our mission teams spent a couple days painting each and every inch of the playground to add color to the dingy equipment.  I wonder how many kids have sweet memories of playing upon those monkey bars...
  • The steps going up to the church on the right is where I've had many conversations with kids from the orphanage.  The steps are removed from the activity of the orphanage and are the perfect spot to sit and talk about life.  I wonder how many heart-searching conversations have happened upon those steps as the children grew up and struggled with issues of abandonment and loneliness...
  • In the very back of the picture is the car-port.  There's a bench you can't really see in this shot.  Many years ago, one specific orphan grabbed my hand and led me to that bench.  We couldn't communicate back then, but her heart was so heavy and hurting.  We sat down and she proceeded to just cry in my arms.  Did she just need a mother's touch of comfort?  Was she dealing with issues that have defined and limited her heart?  Was there something serious happening that needed my attention?  To this day, I don't know what those tears were about...but I sat with her and let her cry.  In Heaven, language won't limit us.  I wonder how many tears have been shed by kids at this home and how many hearts struggle with a complexity of issues which now impact their adulthoods...

You see, I wonder about a lot of things as we work in our LightBridge locations.  As I see pictures, like the one above, I realize it's not just a picture.  It's filled with so many memories, wonders, hopes, fears, and prayers.  How honored I feel to have so many memories that involve almost every foot of that orphanage.  Some of you have spent time at this orphanage with me.  Others have never stepped on the property, but have prayed and given so these kids could grow up in the safety of this home.  Today, I'm so thankful for the ways you have ministered with me in this place (plus many others).  Would you join me in praying over these kids?  Pray for: 

  • Focus and stamina for the high school and college kids who still live at Huen Nam Jai.  Education is difficult and requires much from these kids.
  • Godly friendships to develop and thrive in each of their lives.
  • Their hearts to be completely devoted to Jesus...in a 98% Buddhist environment, that challenge is real and constant.
  • The Holy Spirit to be their wonderful counselor helping them navigate the complex issues that begin to process in their hearts as they grapple with the realities of abandonment, especially facing adulthood. 

Thank you for joining us in this work.  Thank you for giving and praying for kids like Meaw.  And thank you for being a part of ministries where shots like this one are more than 'just a picture'. 

With gratitude and hope...

Karla

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