Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We are listening

I Believe There Should Be No Orphans
By Agnes Tucker

Once upon a time, three years ago before I was adopted, I lived 11 years as an orphan. That life wasn't as pretty as the life I have now. Although I miss my country and the other children I grew up with, I prefer this life. I lived with 600 other orphans who are still hoping to have the life I have now. People here have more than they need I have noticed, but yet they still cry that they are poor. To be considered that they are poor, it should be that they don't have water; they should be starving, have no clothes, no car or any means of communications.

In civics and economics, I learned about scarcity were people have unlimited wants and limited resources. Well this is definitely the case when you are an orphan. But whether you believe it or not, none of you, not even the beggars on the street in America, have faced the real life of an orphan. Because you have parents and do not have any of the things mentioned in the first paragraph. Being an orphan means you don't get to see the outside world. The only thing you do is look outside through the same window everyday expecting someone to come for you. And when they don't, sometimes you break into tears or accept what just happened as if you are tough.

I had been looking through my window for 11 years. And finally my time came. But before it came, I wondered if it did come, what will happen to the other orphans who are my family, friends and everything to me? Tears rolled down on my cheeks anytime I thought about the time they will age out of the orphanage. They only have one year left now for them to age out. They will be thrown into those dark, dirty streets. What will happen to them out there? Many things can happen to them.
Those streets are scary, I have seen them before. They are dirty because diseases travel through that air like blood travels through our bodies. People are raped and hurt on those streets. They have to hunt for food and they will be lucky if they find a piece of bread. Children die out there because of the dirty environment they are in. Imagine being on the streets, you wear the same clothes until they tear apart but still you wear them. Imagine sleeping outside on concrete, no blanket and no showers and no shoes. All these things make me cry and the sad thing is it's true, real and happening right now.

That's why I believe that there should be no orphans, because we've all got what it takes to save the life of an orphan. We got more than what we need, and it won't hurt us to share what we've got. If we do this all together, I promise there will be no orphans left.

Thanks for speaking out, Agnus!  We are listening...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurdling the Four Letter Word

I would stand on the edge of the high dive clenching my life jacket, unable to move.  My swim teacher, in her red one-piece was treading water below, pleading with me to trust her and jump.  Gentle chants of encouragement would come from my mom sitting in the bleachers.  But it was all useless, the fear had paralyzed me.  Eventually, my swim teacher would climb the ladder and walk across the wobbly board to my stiff little body.  She would escort me back to the ladder so I could shiver my way down.  I could sense her disappointment.  But who could blame her, who wants to come out of the water on a chilly June morning in Iowa to rescue the terrified student week after week.

Fear.  It makes me do weird things.  It's paralyzing.

While I've pushed through many hurdles of fear there are always new ones popping up.  Down goes the hurdle of the high dive.  Down goes the hurdle of trying out for the team.  Down goes the hurdle of trusting a man.  Down goes the hurdle of traffic in a big city.  Down goes the hurdle of foreign travel.  Down goes the hurdle of culture shock.  Down goes the hurdle of adoption.  Down goes the hurdle of the "special needs" child.  Down goes the hurdle of...

But, up pops the hurdle of gray hair.  Up pops the hurdle of finances.  Up pops the hurdle of being misunderstood.  Up pops the hurdle of being labeled.  Up pops the hurdle of parenting.  Up pops the hurdle of my limitations.  And up pops the hurdle of opening my home to a waiting older child...

Admittedly, I search the faces of children in the US and abroad that are waiting for a family.  Many of them over the age of nine, their chances of exiting the foster care system and entering the streets has increased.  In some countries "older" means only five or six years old.  I have "older" children in my home.  Four of them to be exact, and they all still need a lot of parenting, a lot of love, and the security of a family.  Especially, the one that will reach the coveted "teenage" label in a few months.  These are emotional, insecure years.  Maybe someday I will open my home to one of these waiting children, but right now that four letter "F" word stands in the way.


It's funny how I recognize fear when it stands in the way of something I want to do.  Like jumping off the high dive.  Why did I climb that ladder week after week only to climb down wet and discouraged?  Because deep down I wanted to jump.  Deep down I want to love these waiting kids.  I want to give them what they want.  A family.  As I hear them speak my hurdle of fear starts to wobble and teeter.

Hear their voices...


Friday, October 19, 2012

Family Updates:

Ishmael Family

In August, Charles and Marcy Ishmael, traveled to the Shanxi Province in China to meet their son, Shaun.  Meeting him just before his second birthday, they took in the sights and sounds of his birth country prior to returning home as a family of three.  Shaun is adjusting well to his new family and is picking up English.  He enjoys playing outside and playing guitar with his daddy. Charles and Marcy are enjoying the thrills of having a two-year-old.

The Ishmael's were matched with Shaun in May 2012 and were thrilled!  They had waited for years and then one day everything happened quickly.  Funds were needed and Marcy learned that she was out of a job in June.  Through a friends referral, they learned of Village to Village Intl. and applied.
The Ishmael family raised $5,412 through Village to Village Intl.  This money helped cover the cost of their flights and orphanage fees.  Thank you to all who had a part in bringing Shaun into his family!

Peterson Family

"Fifteen months after meeting our new son for the first time through Orphan Hosting, we have completed the final step in the adoption process!  Vitaly is home, is officially our son, and is adjusting to his new life in a family!  Worth every hour, cent, and tear shed, the required steps are nonetheless draining in every way.  So, those who have come alongside and encouraged in any area have our deepest gratitude.  God has used many in this way - including Village to Village International.  The third trip to Latvia found us in need of travel funds, which were provided in part by the donors of this ministry.  We are now excited about joining in the efforts to bring other children home to their families!" 
-Sue Peterson

Stay connected with the Peterson family by following their blog.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Return to Recess

The bell would ring and we'd run out to the blacktop ready to argue for who we wanted on our team.  Glad to be done with the multiplication table for 15 minutes.  It was a game of kickball that released my energy in elementary school, or the occasional game of four-square.  Oh, I loved me some recess back then...

This past Tuesday, 80 adults reenacted recess.  Grown men turned into third grade boys, minus the grass-stained pants. Women laughed at themselves, now mature enough to admit that they were the underdog in the game.  Eight teams of ten players each, battled it out for the title of "Dodgeball Champ."  Five men and five women made up each team while soft colorful dodgeballs were lined up to separate two opposing teams.  In the end it was Team Albany Park 1 with the most people standing when the whistle blew.

Every adult needs permission to return to recess every now and then.  Friendly competition, full of laughter, raised $1,620 for Village to Village Intl.  A big thanks to Gordon Tech High School for allowing us to use their gym for the event at no charge.

If you'd be interested in having a dodgeball tournament in your neighborhood or town to help support Village to Village Intl., please let us know.  It's a simple way to help a good cause.  Plus, you just might have some fun in the process.


Monday, September 10, 2012


In February, we received the long awaited call that we had a court date for the adoption of our daughter, Jemma.  March 27.  We were extremely excited!  And yet torn because this date clashed with a play that our oldest daughter had been working on all school year.  Her performance date was March 29.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.  The court was in Uganda and we had planned to take our whole family. How was this going to work?  Probably sounds like a no-brainer from the outside, but to us as parents we knew a heart was going to be broken.  A school play is a big deal to a 6th grader, nerves and all, and they want their parents in the audience.  And how could she back out at the last minute?  What does that teach a young girl about commitment?  Plus, who wants to be left behind as the whole family meets the newest family member?  Questions swirling in our minds as we tried to create a plan of action.  Unfortunately, you don't just call the courthouse in another country and say, "Hey, can we change our court date, something came up?"  So there we were with a decision to make...

Thankfully, an amazing family friend, Toussaint Goudeaux, agreed to escort Jadyn to Uganda after her school performance.  He ended up spending a week in-country with our family before traveling home for work.  What seemed like a scrambled, fumbled plan really turned out to be best.  Uganda touched the Borst family, for sure.  But without our date clash, Uganda wouldn't have touched Toussaint.  At least not in April of 2012.  But it did.

Tous (as we call him) became part of the Borst family.  We went to Uganda to adopt our daughter and we ended up adding a daughter and an uncle to the family.  Two beautiful additions.  Now Toussaint is joining the Village to Village Intl. family as a board member.  Graduating from Princeton University and working as a consultant in Chicago serve well on his resume.  But even more so, his love for children and his ability to ask questions that move us beyond our box.  When asked, "What are you most passionate about when it comes to caring for vulnerable children?" He responded:

The smiles. In the midst of struggle, lack and pain a child can find the inkling of hope and mirth. Their grin, for a moment, pushes everything away for them and for anyone who catches a glimpse at it for the magical second. It's a wish that those grins would be so much more frequent.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Giving Back!

Aaron and Nichole Marshall share how Village to Village Intl. helped their family bring home their son, Zurich:

"Village to Village Intl. has been such a blessing to our family in our adoption journey to help bring home our precious Ethiopian son, Zurich Abraham Marshall. Village to Village Intl. has such a heart for adoption and helping orphans all over the world. We were amazed at how God truly provided the funds for our adoption. Family, friends, and people we didn't even know donated generously to help us bring our son home... We have been extremely blessed by Village to Village Intl. and we want to give back, so we have signed up to automatically give each month to other adoptive families. Please join us in this incredible movement of helping orphans around the world."

Thank you Marshall's for giving back!!! 

Monday, August 13, 2012

She's Still Eatin' Pandas

She is an unashamed city girl.  Although her first few years of life were in Iowa, Chicago is now home to our 12 year-old daughter, Jadyn.  When her city classmates learned that she lived in Iowa they assumed she knew how to milk a cow, laso a horse, drive a tractor, and lip-sync to popular country songs.  But they were wrong.  This little Iowan had her sights set on a far-away land - China!   Floral silk fabrics, bamboo plants, and panda birthday cakes. 

As parents, we pass along many things to our children.  However, Jadyn's obsession for China wasn't passed down but was sprouting from within.  It was mysteriously growing on us, a curiosity for a foreign land that had captivated our little girl for years.  Plane tickets were purchased and father and daughter set out.  The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square and New Day Foster Home filled the itinerary.  Each place created memories, but the little round faces at New Day made the top of her China story.  China became more than a place with amazing historical sites and culture.  Each child at New Day has a medical need, some requiring surgery, but this doesn't deflate them of life.  Rather it fanned fresh air into the life of this pre-teen.  When she returned we hooked the camera up to the TV and listened for hours as she spoke of Claire, Nicole, Vincent...sharing detailed stories about each child at New Day.  Philip, Joshua, Landon...she loves them all!  They were China to her!

Her send-off party before she headed to the airport.
When Jadyn heard that Village to Village Intl. was headed back to New Day in the Spring of 2013 she pleaded to join her dad's side and help lead the team.  Never underestimate the power of a child!  Jadyn's love for the children in China has infected our family and we hope it sparks a curiosity in you too.  Follow the children at New Day Foster Home here.  And join Village to Village Intl. in providing formula for the children with medical needs.  We want to deliver cases of formula this coming Spring.  Dates are being finazlied for our trip and Jadyn would love for you to join her.   


Monday, August 6, 2012

All Faces Have A Story!

Toes clenching the balance beam.  Fingers stretching for the wall.  Necks reaching, leading bodies across the finish line.  Emotions captured in young eyes.  Tears of relief and tears of disappointment.  I love the Olympics!  The dedication and discipline.  The highs and lows.  And most of all the stories.  I love the stories!  The athletes become people.  The people have names.  The names have faces.  And the faces have a story!

Gabby Douglas and Michael Phelps have become more than athletes to many people.  Their stories have been broadcasted around the world and they are known for more than just their accomplishments.  Bob Costas is called a sportscaster, but I think he's a wonderful storyteller.  Great achievements catch the attention of journalists and TV personnel.  With their skill they captivate our hearts by sharing stories.   But these stories started before the gold medal was placed around their neck.  Their stories started before the Olympic trials and their stories will continue long after the TV endorsements end.  But in our generation, we have connected to Gabby and Michael and are proud to know their stories.   

There are many wonderful stories out there.  But some stories will never be broadcasted for television.   Little Philip, living in China, may never win a gold medal in diving for his country, but his determination rivals that of an Olympian as he defies the doctors that said he'd never walk.  Helen and Hulagerish may not be well-known like their countryman, Bekele, who will hopefully win a medal for Ethiopia this year, but their faces shine a charming story.  We hope that one day they will be educated and able to read for themselves of their country's hero, Bekele.  These stories are yet to be written.  Many unfinished paragraphs and chapters.  We invite you to be a part of these stories! Because these little people have faces.  And their little faces have a story.  And we love stories!  Because They Matter!

Dr. Terry Waggoner visited Helen and Hulagerish in Ethiopia. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Welcome Home Lil' Renee!!!

We raise the megaphone to our lips because this announcement is worth hearing!  Skip cartwheels with us and blow up the balloons because we are celebrating!  The Wellings family is home from China with their two-year-old daughter, Renee!  

Four years ago, Tim and Lisa Wellings, felt God leading them to adopt, but they never imagined the rough road ahead.  After two years of waiting to adopt a child from Nepal, adoptions from this country were suspended, leaving the family emotionally exhausted and financially wasted.  Grief over their personal loss and for the children in Nepal weighed heavy.

"We did not know if we could find the resources or the strength to try again to adopt internationally," said Tim and Lisa.  "When we heard about Village to Village Intl. it gave us new hope and we saw it as an answer to our prayers as we looked to God to help us raise the money we needed to start again."

In January of 2011, they set out again to adopt, but this time their path led them to China.  And in March of 2012, they arrived home with their precious daughter, Renee.  Now a family of seven, sprinkled with more love and a little more pink, they thank you for your support.

"We don't always understand the ways of God, but it is an awesome thing to see God take the ashes of the failed adoption and create beauty.  We want to thank you for making it possible to bring our daughter home. Your gifts to us paid for our round trip airplane tickets and Renee's airplane ticket home. It was such a blessing. She is an amazing little girl!"

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I KNEW you were fighting for me!

 The hands on the clock stopped for one adopting family last month.  A journey that began with anticipation landed them in a detention center in a foreign country.  This family was in the process of adopting four siblings and had traveled to be with them when they were falsely accused of child trafficking and arrested.  Stuck in a detention center, they were separated from their two biological children and the four children they were adopting.  Why?  What??  How??? Questions must have flooded this family's head as they sat in the middle of "unknown." The mother commented on this time after they were released and admittedly detained for no reason:

         "I remember sitting in the detention cell wondering "how much longer?"  and asking God all the "whys" when it dawned on me...EVERY child is worth fighting for even at the expense of being detained for false accusations." - Christine Moghadam

In the midst of this "unknown" situation their 13-yr-old adopted son said that he KNEW his new parents would fight for him and the rest of his siblings.  His hope during this unknown situation is beautiful.

It is the reason Village to Village Intl. exists.  It is the reason we invite you to join us.  We want vulnerable children to KNOW that someone has their back and that they are worth every ounce of effort.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pack Your Bags...

He raced me to the door and gestured that he could open it.  I backed off to watch as his arms strained to pull his limp legs across the room to the door.  With determination he reached up to the window's ledge and pulled himself up.  Once standing, with his body weight supported by his little arms, he stretched out his fingers for the door knob.  Grimicing and twisting, he managed his goal.  He opened the door for me.  A little toddler, with so much will, accomplished something that I don't even realize takes effort.  I was proud of him.  He was proud of himself.  His name is Joshua.  He taught me something that day.

There are many more children like Joshua, full of life and will, at New Day Foster Home, and I am anxious to meet them.  This time we invite you to pack your bags and travel with us.  In the Spring of 2013, Village to Village Intl. will be hosting it's first trip to Beijing, China.  Please consider joining us.  Because They Matter!  Dates for our trip will be announced in the coming weeks.  

Click here to see how Village to Village Intl. is currently partnering with New Day Foster Home http://www.villagetovillageintl.com/pediasmart-drive-family-12.php

Monday, January 30, 2012


In August, 2011, Village to Village International launched its online website, desiring to help children in need around the world by spreading the vision that many small gifts can have a big impact. Over the past few months we have witnessed the power of selfless community. A unified group of people that have believed that one life, one little boy, one family, is important. And not only have they believed it in theory, but they have acted by giving.

Village to Village International wants to thank you, the friends, family, and community of Aaron and Nichole Marshall for encouraging them on this journey. We also want to thank those that had no personal connection to the Marshall family, but gave out of love believing that children matter. All 191 gifts received, ranging from $5 to $2,000 have been added together to meet their goal of $10,000. Village to Village International has sent this amount to the Marshall's adoption agency to cover expenses such as; plane tickets, lodging, and legal fees. This week they will bring their son home and we celebrate with them.

As we have been blessed by the Provider of All, we can come together and bless others. Because they matter!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snyder Family News!!!

As most of you know, the adoption journey has twists and turns, bumps and hiccups, and is quite unpredictable. Many times the stories we hear are full of waiting and unknowns, but when the phone call comes that there is a specific child in need of a family or that a birth mother has selected your family, all the waiting is forgotten. This is what happened to the Snyder family. Here is an email we received from them sharing their exciting news!

We have a beautiful baby girl. Her name is Andi Willow Snyder. She was born on Dec. 30th. She was 6lbs 14oz. 19 inches long. She was a last minute placement. We got the call from our agency on Sat. Dec. 31st around 12:30 in the afternoon. They said we needed to call a birthmother that is interested in us. Birthmother was deciding between us and another couple. So we called her and talked to her for about a half hour. She had laryngitis so she was really hard to hear. So she said she would call back later that evening after her voice had rested. Well she did not call back until 11:00pm that night. I felt the conversation went really well. She was still deciding. So we still did not know if she had chosen us. On Sunday morning Jan. 1st at around 9:30 as we were getting ready for church she called to tell us she had chosen us. We were so excited. We got a few things around and headed to Lafayette. Birthmother and baby were getting discharged at 3pm. We got to Lafayette a little early so we went to Walmart and bought a few things that we needed for baby. Finally around 4pm we met birthmother, birthfather, and baby. After talking with birthparents for awhile and signing paperwork we were headed home around 7:00pm. We arrived home around 10pm to a very excited big sister!

Thank you Snyder family for sharing your story with us! We are SO thankful for the life of your daughter and we are excited for your family!

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