Monday, October 27, 2014

Birthday With A Purpose

Corinne, the birthday girl, is a Village to Village board member

Nearly 26 years old and eager to find creative ways to help support Village to Village Intl. and its many critical causes, I thought why not use my birthday as a way to bring people together in support of this organization. In August, while running a 5K with Stacey Borst we began discussing the needs among foster children. Supporting families who participate in foster care is one way that Village to Village Intl. has started to reach its local community. As Stacey and I spurred each other on to keep running the race we also found ourselves talking about how children in foster care often do not have personal luggage. Coincidentally, my mom and I had been talking about this same need just a few days prior. Their lack of and need for luggage is extremely ironic and heartbreaking to me.

I had heard of a local sewing studio that had opened up near where I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After learning more about the store and what it can offer I thought this could be the perfect venue and resource for making bags for children who are in the foster care system. With my birthday right around the corner I began talking with my mom about this idea. She offered to underwrite the evening so that my friends and I could make these bags for children who often find their selves traveling from one place to the next, and who deeply need to feel a sense of belonging. My desire for doing this was to provide these children with something that they can call their own. It is a small contribution and won’t satisfy the desperation of their situations, but I pray these bags serve as a reminder that Christ loves each one of them and has called them to be His, amidst the ever changing world we live. 

The finished product.  Thank you ladies for your time and gifts.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Did You Know?

Sometimes numbers can be overwhelming, and sometimes they can be motivating.  I am sharing these numbers with the hopes of these numbers becoming faces, the faces becoming names, and the names becoming the children we are loving.

The following is taken from a study done by Barna Research Group:

Here is what is true of kids who age out of foster care by the time they turn 26 years old.  The top numbers are those who have aged out of foster care and the bottom numbers are those from the general population.

Those who have a high school education or less:
Those who age out: 60%
General population: 28%

Those who have a 4 year degree or more:
Those who age out: 4%
General population: 36%

Those who are employed:
Those who age out: 46%
General population: 80%

Those who cannot pay rent:
Those who age out: 28%
General population: 6%

Women who receive food stamps:
Those who age out: 68%
General population: 7%

Men who have been incarcerated:
Those who age out: 64%
General population: 9%

The cost of us not being involved is huge.  How can you be involved in your community? 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to School Giveaway

As we begin the month of August, the realization that summer is coming to an end begins to set in.  The end of summer can bring a mix of feelings depending on who you are, how old you are, and what phase of life you are in.  You might have feelings of joy, anxiety, excitement, or a mixture of all these. If you are like me (Matt) when I was younger and about to start school again it was a feeling of nausea as I did not like school.  But if you are like some of my children you are counting down the days to begin a new chapter. 

Well, no matter what you might be feeling we thought that giving away a $50 gift card to Amazon would be a great way to ensure that you are feeling happy, just like that Pharrell Williams song says.

This giveaway will be running the entire month of August and here is how it is going to work.

For those of you who are not recurring donors, all you have to do is sing up to give $10/month.  100% of your donation will go to help adopting families and the projects that are on our site.  You can sign up here.

Many of you are already one of our recurring donors and we are so grateful for that.  We would like to give you a chance to win the $50 gift card to Amazon as well.  For every person you recruit to be a new $10 donor, you will receive one entry.  For example; if you recruit two new people to sign up to give $10 a month you will receive 2 entries and each of your friends will receive 1.  Just keep track and send an email ( of those you have recruited by August 31.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Carnival for Compassion

A few months ago I (Matt) was contacted by Marie Boggess.  She asked me if it would be okay if the proceeds from a carnival that they were planning at their church went to help Village to Village.  Here is what Marie had to say about this experience.

My name is Marie Boggess and I am the part-time youth director at Immanuel Baptist Church in Minot, ND. One event the youth group plans every year is called the Carnival for Compassion, which is an idea the students had to try and make a difference in other people's lives. This year was the second year we have done this carnival which includes fun games for kids, face-painting, food, and a silent auction. Our church is amazing in that the members donate almost everything to make the night a success: decorations, hotdogs, prizes, games, volunteers, etc. Each year we decide where we want 100% of our proceeds to go, and this year, we decided to choose one of the special projects through Village to Village International. Our goal this year was to make $2,000 to send to the families at the Heart of Korah. On May 21st, we had our carnival, and it was such a fun night! We had more games, more silent auction items, and more people who were willing to donate to a great cause than we did the first year! We ended up making $2,400 and we were all so excited to see what a few kids and adults could do for Jesus with the talents that God has given us and a little hard work! It is amazing what can happen when we take a simple idea and take action together; hundreds of people can be impacted!

Village to Village Intl. would like to thank Marie, her family, and Immanuel Baptist Church in Minot, ND for making this all possible.  Thanks for helping us care for vulnerable children.

Family Spotlight: The Curtis Family

What is your name and where are you from?  Joe and Kristina Curtis and we live in Bettendorf, IA

What is your favorite place you have visited?  We both love San Antonio!   

What is your favorite movie?  Joe - We Were Soldiers, Kristina - I'm not a big movie person but I do like the classic Disney movies

What is your favorite thing to do on a date?  Nothing to crazy for us...just dinner and a walk afterwards is perfect for us!

What is your favorite sports team, if you have one?  Joe - Iowa State Cyclones and the Cubs, Kristina - Iowa Hawkeyes and the Cubs   

What is your favorite food? We both love Colombian food.  Joe is from Colombia so we make it a point to include his culture in our lives. 

What is your favorite book?  Joe - Chosen Soldier, Kristina - I have way to many to list...I love to read!

How did you meet your spouse?  We met in art class during our first day of college.  We definitely bonded over our dislike of the class! 

Who is someone you would like to meet someday and why?  Joe - Bear Grylls...I want to follow along on one of his survival trips, Kristina - Irene Garcia...she is a foster/adoptive mom who wrote a book I am reading currently

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  Joe - I wanted to be a soldier, Kristina - I wanted to be a doctor

If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you tell them? Joe - Don't quit and don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something!
Kristina - Don't ever put limits on what you think God wants of is very likely He has something completely different and way more perfect than you could ever imagine!

Have you ever tried sushi?  Did you like it? Yes! It is one of our favorite date night dinners!   

What are two of your favorite websites? Joe - Google and ESPN,
Kristina - My NICU support group and Pinterest

Do you have any updates on your adoption process? We have all of our paperwork done and are just waiting on a referral so we are officially a waiting family!

They are so close to meeting their $10,000 goal.  You can help them by giving here.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Foster Care Interview

I (Matt) am a substitute teacher.  Part of what is fun about being a substitute teacher is getting to meet a lot of people.  A few months ago I was subbing at a local middle school and met an amazing lady, Tiffany McKnatt-Smart.  She was so good with the students.  As I got to know more about her, I learned that she is a foster mom.  She shared stories with me about her experiences and I was just amazed at all that she does to help kids.  I saw a love in her for kids that reminded me of Jesus' words in Matthew 19 where the disciples are shooing the children away and Jesus stops them and says, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." 

The month of May is "Foster Care Awareness" month and I thought it would be great to do an interview with someone who is fostering children.  Right away I thought of Tiffany.  I hope you enjoy it.

1. What is your name?  
Tiffany McKnatt-Smart

2. How many children have you fostered?
I have fostered a total of 7 children in 3 years.
A 14 yr old girl still with me who is now turning 17
A 14 yr old girl still with me who is now 17 and whom I have adopted
A 17 yr old girl who aged out at 18 but still comes to me for guidance (she was with me for 6 mos)
A 16 yr old girl who was with me just for respite (babysitting), but she messed up in her other home and last I heard she is in a girls school
A 1 yr old boy (respite) while a home could be found, he is in the process of adoption by the family and we keep in contact
A 14 yr old girl who just came to me

3. What lead you to start fostering?
I have two reasons why I decided to foster:
1. I was a kid who was on the streets at 16 and could have ended up with a horrible life, but people came along and helped me make good choices, so I am paying it forward.
2. I work at a middle school and see many of our kids fail at school and life because of "misery at home" and wanted to do something to change that.

4. What is the most rewarding thing about being a foster parent?
All the little moments that you see these kids blossom. When you see a hurt child change into a confident child with just a few scars left from their past, makes it ALL worth it.

5. What is the most challenging thing about being a foster parent?
For me the most challenging thing about being a foster parent is realizing that I can't erase years of neglect and hurt and make this child all better. I am such a control freak and this is one area I can't control and I have to give it to God, do my best, and then let it go. The next biggest challenge is the flaws of our foster system.  We have laws that are not "kid friendly" but instead "Government make money friendly."  The whole foster care industry is so flawed (ie. parents have years to work on getting their kid back with little effort, so the kid just sits in foster care waiting to see whether or not they will be adopted or if their parents will get it together and get them back) and needs reform, but that is not a reason for us to not do our part and help these kids as much as we can.

6. What is one thing that others could do to help you as a foster parent?
If someone wanted to help a foster parent there are many ways: We don't get a break unless we send the kid to respite and for my girls they feel like I am "giving up" on them so I don't use it. I could use a support person to come to the house and let me have some "me" time. I am trying to get a program off the ground where each foster family would have 2 families be the support family. What that would look like is the support family would do a background check and then they would be willing to volunteer 2 hrs a week to help the foster family with things like transportation to appts., tutoring, respite, projects at the house etc... It would give families a chance to see foster care without jumping all the way in and maybe some would decide to do this and others could just continue to be a support.

7. What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a foster parent?
DO IT!! We currently have 600,000 kids in the USA looking for a home If not you then who?  I would also tell them make sure they go through an agency that is known for supporting their foster families, make sure they have their own life together before they get into this because it can be mentally draining, and most of all get linked up with a good church for support.

8. Do you have a favorite resource about foster care that you would like to share?  
God, my church, and facebook sites that are for foster parents to share ideas

9. Do you have any other comments?
I am available to help anyone that wants to walk this journey. It is so worth it.

Dodgeball For Kids

On April 26, five teams and over 70 people showed up to play in a dodgeball tournament.   We were able to raise over $1,100! All the money will go to help children in need around the world.

Thanks to everyone who played, what a great group of people

Here are what some people had to say about the tournament.

"When are you doing this again?"
"Can I play next time you do this?"
"How often are you going to do this?"
"That was a blast!"
"I cannot believe how much fun that was."
"That was awesome!"

I would like to thank Boht Trophy for the donation of the trophies, Renew Elkhart for your sponsorship, The Elkhart Youth and Community Center for allowing us to hold our event there, everyone who put teams together and recruited others to play, and Paul Baldwin for your help with organizing the event.

If you would be interested in helping support Village to Village by hosting your own dodgeball tournament, contact Matt Borst at  This is a very simple and fun way to raise some money for a great cause. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thoughts From CAFO 2014

As many of you know some of our board had the opportunity to attend the Christian Alliance For Orphans Summit last week; here are some thoughts from our board members.

From Matt Borst:
CAFO 2014 was a great time of meeting new people who are like minded in trying to help children all over the world.  We had the privilege of taking our whole family.  Our kids were able to meet other kids who are part of a multicultural family and it was so much fun to see them interact and enjoy each other so much.

Some of the kids our kids got to meet and hang out with.

One thing that I remember was a quote that was shared by poet, Shawn Welcome.  "What if you woke up with today, only the things you thanked God for yesterday?"  Wow, that is a great perspective on life.  Be sure to check out some of Shawn's work here

Secondly, I was challenged by a young man named Austin Gutwein, who started an organization called Hoops of Hope.  He shared 3 things that were very encouraging to me;
1. Do what you love, and let others do what they love
2. Think like a child
3. Do not give up
Here is his website to find out more about what Austin is doing

Lastly, I was so encouraged by meeting new friends, and catching up with old friends.  It was a great time of encouragement and great information.

From Terry Waggoner:
I had the privilege of sitting in a workshop taught by Krista McCoy about raising children in a transracial family.  I was challenged with thoughts like "Don't say that you are color blind, say that you love all colors" and "We need to live in the reality that we are all unique and celebrate that we are all beautifully and wonderfully made."

Secondly. the theme of "Everyone can do something to help vulnerable children; if we all do a little, a lot will be accomplished." was very hope filled.

Lastly, the words of Dr. Purvis are always amazing.  She stressed the importance of infants needing love and how vital proper nutrition is at such a young age for proper brain development.  You can learn more from Dr. Purvis at

From Stacey Borst
One powerful workshop I attended was called "Life in Limbo."   It was a simulation of life in the foster care system.  I was chosen to act out the role of a foster parent. Although it was only role play, it left a powerful impression as my senses were opened to the confusion and chaos that many children experience in foster care.  And to the blindness that I felt opening my home to a child with open wounds and an unknown history or future. 
Added to that was the lasting impression of a 19 yr old that encouraged us with three thoughts:

Do what you love and let others do what they love.
Think like a child.
Never give up.

Simple words that were communicated with grace and have stuck in my heart. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Family Spotlight: The Ward Family

What is your name and where are you from?  Kelly and Tracie Ward both originally from Arkansas. Go Hogs!! :)    
What is your favorite place you have visited? Kelly-Israel Tracie -Cayman Islands   
What is your favorite movie? Kelly- John Adams  Tracie-Grease    
What is your favorite thing to do on a date? Coffee and antique stores     
What is your favorite sports team, if you have one?  Arkansas Razorbacks    
What is your favorite food?  Kelly-fajitas Tracie-Seafood    
What is your favorite book?  Kelly- Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley, Tracie Angels of Humility by Jackie Macgirvin   
How did you meet your spouse?  We met at church! Kelly was the Childrens Pastor at the church Tracie attended    
Who is someone you would like to meet someday and why? We both would love to meet George W. Bush because he seems like a really great guy to be around!  
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?Kelly-DJ  Tracie-News Anchor      
If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you tell them? Kelly-Make good decisions daily Tracie-Don’t sweat the small stuff     
Have you ever tried sushi?  Did you like it?  WE LOVE IT    
What are two of your favorite websites?  Kelly-facebook and twitter Tracie facebook and pinterest    
Do you have any updates on your adoption process? Kids are doing phenomenal! Pending a couple of things falling into place we hope to have them home by the end of the year!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Interview with Hannah Samuels

Hannah (second from the left) with the rest of her family.

1.     In what context are you involved with orphan care? 

Since 2009 I have had the privilege to work with an orphan-care facility in Beijing. New Day Foster Home provides life to orphans from all over China who otherwise wouldn't survive, and it's been an incredible experience. At first my role at the foster home was working one-on-one with children to help them develop and thrive, however in 2010 I was given the opportunity to run the foster home's social network and begin to work more with our sickest, most critical little ones. I would spend half of my day taking pictures, writing stories and responding to e-mails and the other half in our Critical Care Unit working with the nannies to keep the babies stable and comfortable. July, 2013, my family and I moved up North to Inner Mongolia where we are starting New Day North. My role in this stage is communication with orphanages, weekly trips to local orphanages, translating for trainings, assessments of the children's developmental and nutritional status and a whole lot of other small things.

2.     In your current context, what do you see as the biggest need? 

In one of my first orphanage visits a few years ago I was struck with the lack of "enough" in orphanages. I saw food, warmth, comfort, love and care... but not enough. This realization has stuck with me as I work with other orphanages, help to spread the word about orphans in China, and advocate for children's medical care or adoption need. There is just not "enough." Not enough people know about the little ones waiting over the ocean in cribs lined up against the wall. Not enough families are willing to take a leap of faith and begin the paperwork to bring an unknown child home. Not enough of us will sacrifice financially, with our time or our energy to really make The Fatherless a priority.

If each of us were to tell just one more person about orphans, adoption, the needs or the, often small and do-able, ways that we can be involved, so much more could happen and so many more children would know life and the love of a family.

3.     What is one thing that you wish other people would know about orphan care? 

Just one? In all of the orphanages that I have visited there were more boys than girls. This is a shock, because our history and experience with orphans in China is that they are all girls. Nope! Also, the effects of living in an orphanage are huge on most children. They have suffered many things that cannot completely be resolved in a few weeks of one-on-one love and care. I'm currently watching a few children in an orphanage that we visit regularly act more and more institutionalized each week. This shouldn't scare families from adopting, but should inspire them to get the kids out as soon as possible. Don't let a child wait one more day. They can heal. Their broken hearts can be stitched together, just don't be in ignorance that there will be a seam. 

4.     What is one resource you would recommend and why would you recommend it? 

I would hope that most churches have an adoption support group. If not, start one. If so, get involved.

5.     What advice would you have for Village to Village Intl. as we seek we seek to make a difference in the lives of children?

Don't just advocate for adoption and support parents through the process... be there AFTER the airport. Piles of paperwork and approvals and funds are overwhelming, but it's nothing compared to bringing home a sad and scared child who needs to learn

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An Opportunity to Save a Life (Literally)

We have been involved with New Day Foster Home on many levels; we have taken two trips to this amazing place, bought 45 cases of formula for the babies, raised money for corrective surgeries to take place, and help buy a brace for a little boy in need.  Here is a copy of note sent out by New Day about a little boy named Albert and his need for a liver.

Meet Albert, a chubby-cheeked, one-year-old orphan with a big smile that just melts your heart. Albert celebrated his first birthday on December 19th, but unless we help him, Albert won't survive to celebrate his second birthday.  This sweet baby boy was abandoned on a village street in China when he was only three months old. He was born with severe GI defect called Biliary Atresia, which affects his liver. His little belly is distended, and his big, bright eyes are yellow with jaundice. If he doesn’t get a liver transplant soon, he won’t make it. Surgery is expensive, but without surgery, Albert will die.

Albert is an orphan. He has no family. He has no voice. Albert needs you to be his family, to be his voice. We want so badly for Albert to get this surgery, so he can be adopted by a loving family and live a long, happy life. We want him to experience the love of a family. We want him to celebrate not only his second birthday, but also his twenty-second, fifty-second, and ninety-second birthdays. But none of this will be possible without your love, support, prayers, donations, and a new liver for Albert.

We need to give this little guy a chance. His parents abandoned him, his orphanage didn’t have the resources to help him, and the local hospitals in his orphanage’s province were unable to give him the Kasai procedure (a treatment for newborns with Biliary Atresia that could delay the need for a liver transplant). As a last ditch effort to save Albert’s life, his orphanage sent him to New Day Foster Home in Qingyundian Township, China, which has a loving staff of volunteers and nannies and is close to the hospitals in Beijing with doctors who have the skills and equipment to perform the surgery that Albert needs to survive.

With your help, Albert has hope of a future. Albert needs you to advocate for him! Please give what you can, and please help spread the word! Every life is precious; little Albert’s life is no exception. Help us reach our goal of raising $40,000 to save Albert's life!
For more information about New Day Foster Home, please visit:

Please help Village to Village Intl. help New Day Foster Home help Albert by giving a tax deductible donation here.  100% of all your donations will go to help Albert.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Dodgeball Baby!

One thing that we all like to do is have fun.  I am so glad that we have the opportunity to enjoy the things of life.  That is why we are going to have another dodgeball tournament.  It was so much fun last time that we just had to do it again.  This time it will be on March 22, at 2 p.m.  in Elkhart, Indiana.  We are so grateful for the Elkhart Youth & Community Center and their willingness to host our event at their facility.
Check out the flyer here.

If you are interested in playing please email Matt at

If you are interested in hosting a dodgeball tournament in your area, we can help you do that.  Contact Matt at to get started.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

That Was Easy

We have all seen the advertisements with the famous "easy button."  We know that somethings in life are easy and some things in life are more difficult.  We want to make helping children as easy as possible.  Watch this video to find out just how easy it is.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Interview with Gary Ifft

We are starting a series of interviews with orphan care workers from all different types of contexts to help you understand this big and complex issue of caring for orphans.  We have chosen many different people and asked them all the same questions.  We will be sharing their responses with you and we hope it helps give you a better understanding of orphan care.

We are starting with Gary Ifft.

From L to R: Solomon Negash, Kedir, Peggy Ifft, Gary Ifft, & Temesgen Obsa
1.     In what context are you involved with orphan care?

Here in Ziway and Adami Tulu, Ethiopia, we are operating schools on three campuses.  Contrary to most schools around the world which prefer the smartest and most able to pay, we give priority to orphans and vulnerable children.  Many times, the number of orphaned and vulnerable applicants fills the entire enrolling class, leaving little room for those we would normally desire to select.

In addition, we have a home for vulnerable children, named Samuel’s Home, where we are raising ten kids in a family environment, with a real mom and dad.  All ten children came to us from very dire circumstances, but now are interacting as normal brothers and sisters, going to school, going to church, and participating in other normal child activities.

2.     In your current context, what do you see as the biggest need?

Always, the highest priority item we need is prayer—prayer for wisdom for us and all those who impact the children’s lives.  That means the Samuel’s Home parents, the school teachers and administrators, and everyone who influences a child in any way.

3.     What is one thing that you wish other people would know about orphan care?

We often see that many people feel the only way to solve the “orphan crisis” is to adopt a child from a developing country.  We wish people would understand that much of the time the better solution is to provide the orphans and vulnerable children a chance to succeed in their own country.  There they are familiar with the language, the culture, the food, etc.  They fit in naturally.  By educating, encouraging, and nurturing them, they can grow up to be the scientists, engineers, nurses, entrepreneurs, etc. that can improve their country of birth, as well as themselves.

4.     What is one resource you would recommend and why would you recommend it?

This is not meant to be a flippant answer, but the best resource for dealing with the orphaned and underprivileged is the Bible.  It gives many teachings as to how to deal with the less fortunate segments of society.  If responsible persons in all countries and cultures were to follow the Scriptural guidelines, these types of problems would be greatly diminished.

5.     What advice would you have for Village to Village Intl. as we seek we seek to make a difference in the lives of children? 

As your ministry expands to encompass more children, more countries, and more caregivers, be sure you really know who you are dealing with.  It’s hard work, but the time spent on research and referrals is worth it.  There are a lot of less-than-honest people out there who want to partner with Westerners only to enrich themselves.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Family Spotlight: Hartson Family

1.     What is your name and where are you from?
We are both grew up in Pella, Iowa and still live there today.

2.     What is your favorite place you have visited?
We don't do a lot of traveling, but our favorite place we have visited is Ethiopia. When we were there over 2 years ago, we immediately fell in love with the country and cannot wait to go back.

3.     What is your favorite movie?
Jeremy:  Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Sarah:  It's hard to pick a favorite.  I love romantic comedies.  I'm lucky that Jeremy will watch them with me.

4.     What is your favorite thing to do on a date?
We just enjoy going out and spending time together talking.  Our dates usually include dinner and a movie.

5.     What is your favorite sports team, if you have one?
Jeremy:  New York Yankees, Atlanta Falcons, and Iowa Hawkeyes
Sarah:  I don't follow many sports, but I grew up in a family that watched everything pertaining to Iowa State Cyclones, so I definitely cheer for them in any sport.

6.     What is your favorite food?
Jeremy:  Ethiopian
Sarah:  I love to cook, so I enjoy trying new foods, but my favorite is probably anything Italian.

7.     What is your favorite book?
Jeremy:  Crazy Love
Sarah:  Crazy Love

8.     How did you meet your spouse?
We met while we were in high school.  We went to different schools, but both worked at a local pizza joint.  We became friends and later started dating.

9.     Who is someone you would like to meet someday and why?
We both love music.  I introduced Jeremy to Jeremy Camp when his first album came out.  We've been to a few of his concerts, but would love to meet him in person. :)

10.   When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Jeremy:  I wanted to be a doctor until I realized how much schooling it would take. 
Sarah:  I grew up on a farm and always enjoyed spending time outside with my Dad, so I wanted to be a vet.

11.   If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you tell them?
Jeremy:  Don't force your views or beliefs on others. 
Sarah: Develop relationships with others and listen to how they think and feel.

12.   Have you ever tried sushi?  Did you like it?
We have both tried sushi and liked what we ate.

13.   What are two of your favorite websites?
Jeremy:  Guitar for Worship and Ultimate Guitar
Sarah:  Pinterest and Facebook

14.   Do you have any updates on your adoption process?
Right now we have turned in all of our paperwork and are just waiting for a referral.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kidney Stone and Orphan Care

A few weeks ago I (Matt) had the unfortunate experience of passing a kidney stone.  For those of you who have also experienced this "opportunity for growth," you know what I am talking about.  For those of you who have not had this experience, I can sum it up in one word: PAINFUL!

As I was writhing in pain my lovely wife was trying to help by reading all sorts of different things people have done to get rid of kidney stones.  Here are a few that she shared with me:

1. Drink 100% pure cranberry juice
2. Drink apple cider vinegar mixed with honey and warm water (it was disgusting)
3. Jump up and down
4. Drink lots of water
5. Add lemon to your water
6. Drink wheat grass
7. Keep moving

And the list goes on.  Everyone swore by the remedy that removed their pain.  What cured my problem was a mixture of several home remedies.  I don't really know which one was most effective, because I was willing to try anything and everything to ease the pain. 

Thankfully, the stone passed and I was pain free.  So how does this relate to orphan care?  Let me try to explain:

When I see children without families, children placed in orphanages due to poverty, families breaking apart and the children suffering, families being faced with excruciating decisions because of poverty, war and disease, I feel a strong pain for these kids and their families.  I search the internet looking for remedies to help ease their pain.  I read books and talk to people that live among those hurting.  Sometimes the best remedy is providing basic needs, counseling, adoption, reunification, orphanage care, foster care, a group home, etc.  It's not possible to say that one remedy works every time.  Sometimes it seems "cool" to criticize what others are trying when it comes to orphan care.  Unfortunately, it is not that simple.  Children suffer because families suffer because cities suffer because nations suffer because our world suffers.  When it comes to orphan care it seems similar to a kidney stone to me because there are many things you can try to do to help remove the pain; some may help and some may not.  Sometimes you try one thing and tweek it a little or move on to something else entirely when it doesn't seem to work.  But to leave the body in pain because you might choose the wrong remedy is silly.  You try something, you listen to others, you learn and make changes, and you pray the pain will go away.

I am truly thankful for the great people behind the amazing organizations we are working with.  They are trying to ease the pain of hurting children and families.  Thank you New Day Creations, A Heart for Korah, The Crossing, Samuel's Home, Holy Savior Children Helping Association and all the adopting families for loving and caring for children in your own unique ways...because they matter.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Complete the Village

When we say the word "village" here at Village to Village Intl. (V2V) we are speaking of 1,000 people.  It has always been our vision here at V2V to see a "village" (1,000 people) giving $10 a month to help orphans.

This year we are going to focus on completing our first "village."  We have set a goal to find 900 people, who are willing to give just $10 a month, to fulfill our first "village."

We are going to break 2014 into quarters and focus on finding 225 people per quarter.  We will be tracking this progress and posting it on our website and on our Facebook page.

So to be clear, this year we are asking 900 people to give $0.33 a day, which is $10 a month, to help provide care and loving homes to orphans both internationally and domestically.

How do you do this?
1.  You can sign up here on our website.
2.  You can simply text $10 to 574-707-8625 and follow the directions.

What else can you do?
1.  Share this on your Facebook page.
2.  Do you know 10 other people who think that helping orphans is worth $10 a month?  Ask them to give too.
3.  Host an open house and share V2V with your friends. (You can host or a rep from V2V could help you host as well).
4.  Invite V2V to come to a special event at your church (ie. missions conference, Orphan Sunday, etc.)

If you have other ideas or would like to host an event or invite V2V to an event please contact us at

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Family Spotlight: Walters Family

1. What is your name and where are you from?
Bret & Mandy Walters, Warsaw, IN

2. What is your favorite place you have visited?
Mandy - besides Haiti to visit my kids, Jamaica with my husband!  Bret - Jamaica on our honeymoon

3. What is your favorite movie?
Mandy - The Blind Side/Hunger Games, Bret - Shooter

4. What is your favorite thing to do on a date?
Dinner & Movie or an Indianapolis Colts game

5. What is your favorite sports team, if you have one?
The Indianapolis Colts

6. What is your favorite food?
Mandy - Filet Mignon & Crab legs, Bret - Porterhouse steak & lobster

7. What is your favorite book?
Mandy - Anything by Karen Kingsbury, Bret - Deadline by Randy Alcorn

8. How did you meet your spouse?
We met at a restaurant that I (Mandy) was waitressing at.

9. Who is someone you would like to meet someday and why?
Our first grandchild - a grandchild is a very special person in your life and someone you can tell stories to and teach life's lessons. 

10. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Mandy - Wife & Mother,  Bret - Baseball player or Special Forces in the Army

11. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you tell them?
Do some homework before jumping into something you know nothing about.

12. Have you ever tried sushi? Did you like it?
Mandy - yes, depends on what kind, Bret - yes, its ok

13. What are two of your favorite websites?
Mandy - Facebook & Google, Bret - Facebook & Bing

14. Do you have any updates on your adoption process?
After a year of being in process but waiting we have found it necessary to change agencies and unfortunately begin again with our son. We feel we are on the right path and God is going to bless us with some movement and see at least one of our children home in 2014!

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