Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Will You Give Presence This Year?

As you all know, Christmas time is here. You are probably finishing up those last minute details and getting ready for guests, or maybe even packing for a trip. No matter what we get done or what we don't get done, the 25th will come and before we know it, it will be over.

We all know that Christmas is a time set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but it is so easy to get distracted by all the other things that are going on around us. One of those distracting things is presents. Parents and grandparents asking children, "What do you want for Christmas?" Maybe it is the assignment at school where children are asked to write a letter to Santa telling him what they want for Christmas. Sometimes it is just a simple question asked of children by so many adults, "Do you have your Christmas list ready?" It seems like no matter how purposeful we try to be, no matter how much we try to keep Jesus the focus, the distraction of presents will always be there in this culture.

The other day, I was thinking about this distraction of presents and it hit me. Children don't need presents they need presence. Please do not hear what I am not saying. It is fine and dandy to give children presents, not to mention a privilege. I gave my son a bearded dragon this year and the gift was spot on. With that said, I do not want my presents to replace my presence. Because children need us!

How do you give the gift of presence? Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Play a game with them (Uno, Skip-bo, Checkers, tag, hide and seek, etc.)
2. Go for a walk with them
3. Play Play-do
4. Read them a book
5. Dance with them
6. Play legos
7. Put together a puzzle
8. Bake
9. Take turns giving back rubs
10. Play charades

Do not limit yourself to this list, be creative and come up with your own ideas as well.

In two days it will be Christmas morning and as you are watching your children open their presents don't forget to give them the gift of presence as well. Your presence in the life of your child is priceless.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Amazon Smile

If you are trying to avoid the crowded stores, long lines, and the searching for a parking spot like it's a "Where's Waldo" game; please consider using this link with the purchases you make from Amazon this year. https://smile.amazon.com/ch/27-3982540

When you shop at Amazon using this link, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates a percentage of all your purchases to Village to Village Intl. This is an easy way to not only get your Christmas shopping done, but it is also an easy way to help kids!

Monday, November 23, 2015

#GIVINGTUESDAY

Why choose to give to Village to Village Intl? I thought it would be good to let some of the families we have been able to help answer that question.

"We are a family of six. But we are part of a much bigger group of family and friends who supported us in our adoption journey. As often is the case with international adoption, our costs were far higher than the estimates we were given. God provided us with people all along the way who wanted to help and be a blessing to us. Village to Village was a great way to facilitate that for us. We are very thankful to V2V for their help in uniting our family." - Barkema Family


"Brad and I were really felt led to adopt our first child, and when we started digging into the process, we were very overwhelmed with questions on how we would afford the legal fees associated with the process.  A friend of the family told us about Village to Village and the amount of resources and learning material on their site is amazing, and you can feel the support radiating through them for all adopting families everywhere.  Having a vehicle to post our story and tell people why we wanted to adopt and the challenges we were facing was a huge blessing for us.  The fact that it is tax-deductible was also a big bonus for those donating and was a great start to any conversation :)  Our son Theo is now 2 years old and is the light of our life.  We continue to support Village to Village in hopes we will bless families the same we were blessed, and want to thank Matt and his team for helping us bring home our son!" - Jensen Family

"When we started feeling the tug of God on our hearts to adopt, we knew that our extended families would be excited.  We already have four adopted nieces and nephews, so we would simply be joining the club.  Our biggest challenge for God to show His faithfulness was going to be coming up with the finances necessary to complete the process.  Some good friends of ours turned us onto Village to Village, and they partnered with us to help make this happen.  Having a legitimate collection point was a huge blessing to us and our friends and family who wanted to help us.  We were surprised at how God raised up the finances to cover all the costs through lots of different people, some that we didn't even know personally.  Village to Village is one of the great partners that helped us complete our family!" - Rauch Family

"Receiving the Village to Village grant has not only been an enormous financial blessing but a spiritual blessing as well.  When I felt God calling me to adopt a second time, my heart was all in, but my head wasn’t so sure…I had no idea how I would afford it.  But I decided to take a leap of faith & trust that God would provide, if this was His will.  It took everything I had in my savings to pay the initial fees…beyond that, I prayed for & relied on God’s provision.

And prayers were answered.  Every time I received an invoice, a generous donation appeared in my account.  And every time, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness, not only to me but the child He was going to place in our family.

Throughout the course of my process, the program became unstable, at best. There were significant changes around adoption laws in Ethiopia resulting in little to no activity for long periods of time; numerous agencies began to pull out as well as many waiting families who were unable to sustain the fee increases or who simply found the situation to appear hopeless.  At a time of such great uncertainty, the enormity of God’s provision left no question in my mind of His will for me. Not only did He provide enough to cover the expected expenses but also those unexpected increases that I may have otherwise seen as a gap too great to fill. His blessings were a clear message for me to hang in there & stay the course. And I’m so glad I did. After 2.5 years of waiting, I received the greatest blessing of all…a referral for a beautiful baby boy!

I am currently in the process of obtaining (more) documents, waiting for approvals & a court date, but I have no doubt God will see us through & bring our family together soon!

Thank you Village to Village for being a vessel that God can work through to bless others!!!" - Mol Family

The Number One Answer Is...Family


'Tis the season for thankfulness. The time of year when we are purposeful in slowing down our lives and really thinking about what is important and what we are thankful for. I do find it a bit ironic that Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, so we spend Thanksgiving Day thinking about and planning how we will get the things we do not currently have, but I digress...back to thankfulness...

The other day I asked this question on my Facebook page, "What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you are asked what you are thankful for?" I had a hunch that most of the answers would have something to do with family, but I wanted to see if my hunch was accurate. Out of 54 responses 28 had to do with family, and the majority of the rest mentioned something about God, or their faith.

Why do so many people think of family when asked this question? What exactly is family? A family is people who love you no matter what. A family is who you can be yourself with. A family is who takes care of you. A family is always there for you. A family provides for you. A family is who you can call at any hour of the night. A family is who you can trust and confide in.  No wonder so many people are thankful for their family. Who would not want a family like that? But, what if this is not what family means to some people. Unfortunately, for some, family means broken, hurtful, dishonest, painful, abusive, sorrowful, and abandoning relationships.

I believe that it is God's plan for all children to grow up with a family, the way I first described it.  However, that is not reality. The good news is, we can all be a part of God's redeeming plan to help children be able to experience the true definition of family. We can adopt, we can do foster care, we can be a CASA, we can do respite care for foster families, we can support others with our time and resources, we can pray, and we can be a friend to hurting families.

This Thanksgiving, as you are enjoying your time around the table with your family, will you ask yourself this question; "What can I do to help children who are not able to enjoy the blessing of a family like I am enjoying today?"

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Common Myths in Parenting

We have recently started our Empowered to Connect Parent Training classes and I was reviewing some of the material in preparation for one of our classes. One resource that we use in the class is a book entitled "Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt."


In this book Leslie Leyland Fields is refreshingly honest as she deals with nine myths that all of us as parents have thought but maybe never had the guts to say out loud. Here are few examples of the myths she discusses:

Myth 3: Parenting is your highest calling
Myth 4: Good parenting leads to happy children
Myth 5: If you find parenting difficult, you must not be following the right plan
Myth 8: Successful parents produce godly children

So if your view of parenting has trapped you in worry and guilt and you would like a little different perspective that will offer you some hope, check out this book.

You might be wondering if this book is only for adoptive and foster parents, and the answer to that is, "Absolutely Not." This book is for any parent with any age kids. I hope you enjoy.
"Our children learn less from the rules we outline or the programs we follow than from the lives we live before them." - Leslie Fields

I Hate Waiting!!

The other day I noticed something while I was driving... I hate waiting. I was trying to get to my kids' school and every stop light that I came to, between my home and their school, was red. Not only was every stop light red; but one light I came to was red, it then turned green, but turned back to red before I could get through. I would like to say that I handled this "little trial" with grace and patience, but that would be a stretch of the imagination.

I have been thinking about all the scenarios in my life when I am bothered because I have to wait and it made me think about all the kids in the United States who are waiting, waiting for a permanent family. According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption there are 101,666 children waiting to be adopted in the United States.



I cannot imagine what it would be like to be one of these children. Waiting for a family. Waiting for someone to come along and choose them. Waiting for someone to call mom or dad. Wouldn't it be amazing if it were the other way around? If we had loving families who were the ones waiting in line instead of the children waiting in line for a family.

Orphan Sunday in November 8th. Is your church or community doing anything to bring awareness to the number of children who are in need of a family? Here is a link to see if there are any events planned in your area http://orphansunday.org/map/ If there is not an event planned in your area, get some friends together and plan your own event. It can be something as simple as gathering your friends together to pray for children, social workers, foster parents, etc., in your communities.

So the next time you find yourself annoyed because you are having to wait a whole three minutes for your popcorn to pop in the microwave, stop and ask yourself, "What can I do to help the waiting children in my community?"

Monday, August 31, 2015

Changing One Little Life

by Valerie Busic


The phone call comes in,

"Do you have enough room?"
For one more young child....
He needs a home very soon.

He comes to your door,
tattered and bruised,
His clothes are all dirty,
he's wearing no shoes...

You welcome him in
with a smile on your face,
He'll have to adjust
at his very own pace.

His life has been
a hard, rocky road.
Somehow you must help
to lighten his load.

He is going to need you
to care for him now,
So deep in your heart
you silently vow-

To make his life better
than what he has now,
to again make him smile,
though you're wondering how.

Each new day brings
anger, sadness, and joy
You pray that your love
can help this young boy.

Sometimes it seems that
you're getting nowhere,
And you wonder why God said
"Send this child there".

After an especially trying day
When you're sure
There must be
An easier way

Into the room,
his footsteps now come.
With a shy hug, he whispers,
"I love you, Mom"

With tears in your eyes,
you know just what to say,
You've waited and waited
For this very day.

"Remember this, honey,
And no matter what,
You're special. I love you.
You just hold on to that."

And then the day comes
when you answer the phone...
They're sending "your" little boy
back to his home.

You think of the work
that may be undone
When they do send him back,
to the very same one.

He's much different today
then he was, way back when.
Your hard work has paid off,
You can see it in him.

You hope and you pray
he'll remember your love
But you can't help but wonder,
Will it be enough?

To carry him through
what may lie ahead
You try to be strong
To cover your dread

Your head says you must
get through the good-byes
But the weight in your heart
feels like part of it died.

Later, you learn
he's doing quite well.
He comes over to visit
and you really can tell.

His life isn't perfect but...
it's turning quite nice
So you have made a difference.
In one little boys life.




Thursday, August 20, 2015

WARNING: You May Not Want to Watch This


Some of you might remember watching the short film entitled "Removed." If you have not had a chance to watch it, you should take some time and watch it here.

I will let "ReMoved Part 2" speak for itself, but I will warn you to proceed with caution. This will stir up all sorts of feelings inside you and may even urge you to do something to help children.


Would you consider sharing this video with your friends and family? And, if you would like to help Village to Village provide housing for youth aging out of foster care you can donate here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Rest of the Story

Everybody loves a good story. From the time we are kids we love listening to a good book or a grandparent reminiscing about the times of old. As a kid growing up in Iowa, my mom and dad would listen to 1040 WHO radio out of Des Moines. I remember thinking that the radio station was pretty lame because it was just a bunch of talking. But one program always got my attention; "The Rest of the Story" told by the award winning radio host Paul Harvey. Take a listen.


No matter what story he was telling; I couldn't wait to find out the rest of the story.

This reminds me of a very familiar verse when it comes to orphan care, James 1:27, you have probably heard it, but here it is...
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (NIV)
Did you see the part of the verse I put in bold? Sometimes I feel like we use this verse, but we forget the "rest of the verse," the part in bold. Sometimes we forget that there is no adoption without loss, pain, and grief (distress). When I am reminded of this truth, it gives me more patience and compassion for my children. When I forget this reality, I find myself being impatient and short tempered. It does not take a child psychologist to figure out which one of these responses is best for my kiddos.

Michael Monroe from Empowered to Connect has written a great article entitled "Embracing the Grief of Adoption." You can read it here.

So as we move forward, let's not forget the "Rest of the Verse," but let the "Rest of the Verse" motivate us to love our kids even more.

Update from New Day

Some of you may be aware of our involvement with New Day Foster Home in China. We have visited New Day a couple of times and have done numerous projects to help New Day take care of the children entrusted to them. Here are a few updates from New Day, please note that these are general updates and vague for the reason of protecting the child as well as New Day.





(Girl) is a simple and honest cute little girl, with big eyes. She looks like a doll with beautiful eyelids. Everybody likes her cute, cubby, little body. She likes to play most every day in the game room, reveling in her own world, and swaying to and fro lying on the floor. She is a persistent child, because she will hold her favorite toy from the beginning to the end and never let go. Every time you open your hands to her, she will be very happy for you to hold her in your arms and she enjoys your touch. Her appetite is very good and eats a lot a time. Her sleeping is also very good. We are also excited to share that she has been adopted!

(Girl) is growing (she has grown a whole shoe size in the last month) and flourishing with her new foster family.  She is starting to learn some English words like "out" and "yes" and knows all the members of her new family.  She especially loves playing with her 2 big brothers and 1 big sister.  She wakes up every morning with a big smile on her face and outstretched arms.  She is truly a joy to be around.

(Girl) is a clever and lovely girl. She has an active personality and likes to be on the move. Every time she sees something new, she wants to investigate it. If the object is dangerous, I remove it from her sight. This causes her to pout until she finds a new object to discover. She likes to turn the pages in books, and points to pictures of animals. She enjoys hearing the name of each animal, and is beginning to remember them. We am so proud of her.


You can continue to help children like these receive the surgeries that they need by giving here

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"A Child Called It"

My son Tait, who is 13 years old, recently finished a book called "A Child Called It." This is a popular book about the true story of Dave Pelzer. I asked Tait a couple questions about the book and thought I would share his answers with you.



1. What book did you read and what made you choose to read that book?
I read the book "A Child Called It" and "The Lost Boy." I read these books because my sister had read some of them and told me about them, and they seemed interesting, so I decided to check them out from the library.

2. Give a brief description of these books.
"A Child Called It" is about a kid named Dave and how he was abused by his mother. She beat him, burned him, made him drink ammonia, and she even stabbed him. "The Lost Boy" is about when Dave entered the foster care system and all the challenges that he faced while in foster care. These books tell how he got through these really tough challenges. They also talk about what he was feeling at these times.

3. What are some of the emotions you felt as you read this book, and why?
I felt a lot of different emotions, some good and some bad. I felt mad and sad throughout the whole book. I also felt confused, not because the writing was difficult to understand, but because of the commitment the author felt towards his parents. I felt happy when things finally started to turn around for Dave.

4. Would you recommend this book to other teens, why?
I totally would recommend this book to other teens and to adults as well. Everyone can learn a lot from reading it.

5. What did you learn from reading this book?
I learned a lot from this book. I learned how foster kids might be feeling, and how hard it is for them to be known as a "foster kid."

6. If you ever had the chance to meet Dave Pelzer, what would you say to him?
If I ever have a chance to meet Dave, I would ask him "What was the hardest thing for you to get through?" and "Why did you not run away from your parents and go to the police?"

Summer Vacation!

If you are a parent, you have probably heard of the tv show "Phineas and Ferb." This is one of my favorite shows to watch with my kids because it is just as entertaining for me as it is for them. The show is all about two brothers deciding what to do with their time on summer vacation. Watch this video to see some of the ideas they come up with.


As a father, one of my goals is to help my children "see outside of themselves." One of the ways this can be done is by educating our kids about different "needs" in our community and around the world. One of the needs that we have identified is youth who are aging out of foster care. Did you know that between 36%-50% of youth who age out of foster care end up homeless within 18 months and that 64% of men who age out of foster care have been incarcerated by the time they turn 26? It is our desire to help these youth through a project we are calling Oasis. Check it out here.

I thought it would be fun to give you some ideas on how you can help make Oasis a reality and have some fun with your kids at the same time. 

1. Car Wash
What kid doesn't love to wash a car? This can be something you do in your neighborhood, and invite others to be a part and help out.

2. Lemonade Stand
Now this is a summer staple. Buy some lemonade, set up your stand, and start selling. You could also make it a competition and challenge your friends to do the same and whoever raises the most money, is the winner.

3. Garage Sale
This is another great way to raise money and get rid of that stuff you do not need. It is always fun walking your kids through the process of deciding what to sell and what to keep.

4. Collect Pop Cans
If you live in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, or Vermont, this is a great way to raise money. I have found that if you offer to come get the cans people will gladly let you have them, especially if it's for a good cause.

5. Bake Sale
If you have kids who like to bake, this can be a lot of fun. This can be a great learning experience for your kids as well. 

So if you have exhausted the ideas suggested by Phineas and Ferb, try one of these ideas and help us make Oasis a reality.

100% of all donations will go to Oasis, are tax deductible, and can be made here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Introducing...Rebecca Johnson

We are excited to introduce to you, Rebecca Johnson. Rebecca is our newest board member and we are so excited to have her on the Village to Village team.
Rebecca and her husband, Erik
We asked Rebecca a few questions to help you get to know a little more about her.

What are two unique things you like to do?
My grandma taught me to crochet and when I have free time, I like to make fun stuff for my friends and family. I also love to play soccer, I still get to play in an adult league.

What is your favorite meal?
I never grew up eating seafood, but now I love it and I never get sick of it. I especially like sushi! I also love Indian food - Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken with Naan bread. Yum!

What is your favorite movie?
Remember the Titans

In your home, where do you spend the most of your time?
In our living room curled up on our comfy couch, but lately I have been out in the garage working on creative projects.

What is something on your bucket list?
Travel to Thailand and ride an elephant, and while I am there be a part of the Thai Lantern Festival.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to caring for vulnerable children?
I want them to know that they are loved and have value. Everyone wants to be known and feel safe. Vulnerable children especially need this. I love being able to love on and invest in vulnerable children whether it means advocating for them through Village to Village, spending time with them at the Boys and Girls Club, holding them at the orphanage in India, or adopting (Lord willing, in our future). My hope is that through my actions they are able to realize the infinite love Jesus has for them and how unique and special He has made each and every one of them.

Where did you grow up?
Suburbs of Chicago, Naperville to be exact.

What college did you attend and what degree did you receive?
Indiana Wesleyan University, my degree was in Exercise Science.

How did you meet your husband, Erik?
We were both on the soccer team at Indiana Wesleyan.

Welcome aboard, Rebecca

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Doesn't CASA Mean "House" in Spanish?

Do you know what a CASA is? If you were like me, I had heard of a CASA, but really had not idea what they actually did.

My CASA Class. One of these things is not like the others.

Let's start with the basics; CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. Let's get a little deeper. The following is taken directly from the CASA website.

Every day in this country, 1,900 children become victims of abuse or neglect, and four of them will die every day. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children is a network of 950 community-based programs that recruit, train and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities. Volunteer advocates - empowered directly by the courts - offer judges the critical information they need to ensure that each child's rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care.
Volunteers stay with children until they are placed in loving permanent homes. For many abused children, a CASA volunteer is the only constant adult presence in their lives. 
In the county that I (Matt) live, Elkhart County (in Indiana), there are over 100 children who do not have a CASA. It is a great need to make sure that all children have someone who is committed to having their best interest in mind. As a CASA you have an amazing opportunity to advocate for neglected and abused children to help ensure that the child is placed into a safe and permanent home as soon as possible.

There are 950 CASA programs in 49 states, so chances are, there is one near you. You do go through special training to help prepare you to be a CASA. If you are interested in becoming a CASA go to their website and look for the local CASA program in your area. You truly can help make a difference in the lives of children in your community.

Being sworn in by the Magistrate.



Monday, May 18, 2015

How Going to the "Wrong" Conference Was the Right Thing


On April 10th, 2015 I walked, unintentionally, into a new view of my entire life and the lives of others.

The Empowered To Connect Simulcast target audience was to people who take care of adopted or foster children coming from hard places - abuse, neglect or troubled births. 

I am a single professional who's life and work deal with other professionals, but...I'm a board member of Village to Village International.  So, other than a connection to non-profit that helps children...I had no business being there.

I was wrong.

I walked away from the conference with not only a deeper compassion for all children, but all who would grow up from childhood...all people.  I saw myself in a new way.  I saw my history, my story, in a new way.  And I could understand others in a new way.

Sounds a bit grandiose.  Let me explain.

My biggest takeaway was a section they called the Attachment Dance.  In my amateur view, attachment is a psychological and relational term describing how the manner in which a primary caregiver (mother or father) consistently treats a child has significant and long lasting effects on how that child sees themselves and treats others all the way into adulthood.  

As we went through the four types of attachment: Secure, Avoidant, Ambivalent and Disorganized (I’m not going to get into specifics here), I saw that I was a classic example of one in particular ...and it wasn't the ideal (secure attachment is ideal).

Immediately upon realizing how I fit that style I saw relationships with friends, family, colleagues and clients in new ways.  What was just a mass of historical events, started to form into a coherent pattern that made much more sense.  That one concept gave me an understanding, a language, to better navigate and express relational challenges, blindspots and inclinations that I didn't have access to before.

I put it this way.  Imagine I have a favorite restaurant I go to every week year after year.  I sit down, they hand me a menu, I order, eat, pay and leave.  Then, one day, I discover that the restaurant has 3 other menus!  For years, I paid no attention to the variety of food I'd seen others order because that's what a menu was for, variety.  But what does it mean that many (most?) were ordering from a completely different menu?   They didn't simply choose things different than my normal preferences, they had choices I didn't have.  And therefore, I had choices they didn't have.  My menu was spartan, the food was consistently bland, but it had the calories I needed to get on with my life.  Another menu had a well-balanced, flavorful fare.  Still another had foods that were either 3 stars or a step above garbage.  And finally there was a menu with where some of the foods were poisoned, you just didn't know which ones.  

Knowing people were choosing from wildly different menus, would that not change how you’d see EVERY outing at that restaurant?  Would that not make you view the restaurant experience in a new way?  Would people’s responses to the food and the restaurant itself start to make more sense?

It is the same with relationships.

Ultimately, my experience at the ETC Simulcast opened me up to greater compassion and understanding of others so I can be a better uncle, friend, brother, son, colleague, professional...and that means I will have better relationships and those who interact with me will do so also.   

And to think, I just went there expecting some interesting information on adoption and foster care.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Throw Those Balls

On Saturday, March 28th, we had 60 people come out to play dodgeball. Not only did we have 60 players, but we had another 20-30 people who came out to watch. The result; over $2,600 was raised for Oasis. What is Oasis? You can read about it here.

Special Thanks

We would like to thank four different sponsors who helped make this tournament a success. 
  1. Renew Elkhart - Renew helped us by paying for the rental of the facility as well as the $200 gift card which was the prize for the winning team. 
  2. Barnes Chiropractic - They were one of our $250 sponsors. If you are looking for a chiropractor in the Elkhart area, be sure to check out Dr. Barnes.
  3. Encompass Nutrients - They were also one of our $250 sponsors. If you are looking for a great multi-vitamin check out their site. If you order using this link they will donate 28% of your order to Village to Village.
  4. First Place Trophy - First Place Trophy donated all the trophies for the tournament. They are located on CR 20 in Elkhart, IN.
Thank you to all of our sponsors for helping us make this event a success and making sure that all the money that comes in from this event goes to help children.

So who won? Here are the results...

Champion

Lifeline

Second Place

Average Joes

Third Place

Illiana

If you would like to have some fun playing dodgeball and raise some money for a good cause, we can help you do that. Email Matt at matt@villagetovillageintl.com if you are interested. It takes very little planning and is a blast.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Is Here!

One of my favorite (if not, my favorite) times of year is here; Spring. I love the feeling of the hot sun on a cool day, the feeling of wanting to wear shorts because it is 50 degrees outside, seeing people outside, the longer daylight hours and so much more.



Every year when Spring comes it reminds me of new life. Seeing the trees come back to life after the cold dark winter is a very hope-filled feeling. When I think about our work with children from hard places; whether it be children in foster care, those who are awaiting adoption, those who have been adopted, those who many never be adopted, I am reminded of the One who gives new life, the One who makes old things new again, the One who makes right the wrongs, the One who redeems.

So as spring is upon us may we allow this time of year to remind us to never give up hope on the kids we are trying to help, the kids who have been dealt some pretty crappy hands, and may we be reminded of the One who is the ultimate hope giver: Jesus.

"The Lord alone is our radiant hope and we trust in Him with all our hearts. His wrap-around presence will strengthen us." - Psalm 33:20


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Empowered to Connect Live Simulcast

We are so excited to be hosting the live simulcast of this year's Empowered to Connect Conference on April 10-11.  
The Empowered to Connect Conference is a two-day conference for adoptive and foster parents, ministry leaders, and professionals designed to help them connect with children from hard places in order to help them heal and become all that God desires for them to be.

The simulcast will be held at Oak Creek Community Church in Mishawaka, IN.  The doors will open at 9:30am each day with the simulcast starting promptly at 10:00am.  We will have coffee and light refreshments available.  The conference will end at 6:00pm each day.  There will be a lunch break from 1:00-2:30 both days and we encourage you to grab lunch with someone else from the conference.

Continuing Education/Training Credits
The conference has pre-approval for 11 credits from the National Association of Social Workers for continuing education credits.  Training credits for foster parents is available as well, but you will need to get approval from your agency.  

The cost for the conference is only $22.  Click on the button bellow to register for this amazing conference!
Eventbrite - Empowered to Connect Simulcast

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2015 Dodgeball Tournament

This year our dodgeball tournament will be on March 28th.  It will be held at the Elkhart Youth and Community Center, which is located at 200 E Jackson Blvd. in Elkhart, IN.  Click here to view the flyer.

If you are interested in playing, putting your own team together, or if you have any questions you can email Matt at matt@villagetovillageintl.com.

Will we have a repeat champion?


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Why Do We Underestimate Children?

Being a father of five, you would think I would get used to kids amazing me by their thoughts and actions. But this week I was amazed at the generosity of 2 young people.

First, by a nine-year-old girl named Paisley.  Paisley celebrated her birthday on December 31st.  Just like any little girl, Paisley had a birthday party but instead of asking her friends and family to bring presents, she asked them to bring donations for Oasis.  You may wonder why a nine-year-old would even care about something like Oasis.  Paisley's mom found herself in foster care and when she aged out of the system she was not prepared.  She was young, pregnant, and had no place to go.  Many nights she stayed at shelters and in church basements.  Her mom was so excited to hear that something like Oasis was coming to this area.  Paisley was able to raise $228 at her birthday party!
Paisley (in yellow) w/ her family, and V2V board members: Rebecca Johnson, & Matt and Stacey Borst


The second situation was a response from our monthly newsletter that went out Monday (1/26) morning.  I received an email from my son, Tait, a 13 year old young man, telling me that he is going to put a dodgeball team together for our dodgeball tournament coming up on March 28th.  Even though he is too young to play, he is willing to ask 10 adults that he knows to play on his team.  He also left $50 cash on my desk and told me that it was a donation for Oasis.  I asked him why he was doing that and he told me that he wants to help people who are in need.  I guess that is a pretty simple answer to something that I, as an adult, sometimes make too difficult. 

Tait with two of his sisters
Today, our teachers are Paisley and Tait.  Neither of them have much, but they did what they could do.  They did their part.  What is your part?  For me, it is a shift in my thinking.  I need to STOP thinking about what I can't do and start thinking about what I CAN do. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Anonymous Donor

In the words of Jesus...

"When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘play-actors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out." Matthew 6:2-4 (MSG)

It has been amazing to watch this happen and to see many of the families on our site be the benefactor of such amazing and humble people who just want to help and do it quietly and unobtrusively.  

Kim Mol was one of the recipients of an anonymous gift at the end of 2014.  Here is what she had to say about Village to Village Intl. 

"When I was first told about Village to Village International, by a fellow church member, I never imagined the impact it would have on me...not only financially, but spiritually as well. I was grateful for an opportunity to help offset some of my adoption expenses but never fathomed that my $10,000 goal would actually be met. I was just hopeful that enough money might be raised to cover the cost of airfare to Ethiopia. But God knew my needs were greater and He provided in the most amazing way! In addition to the generosity of family of friends, a significant donation was made to my account by an anonymous donor...on THREE separate occasions! Each act of generosity was an answer to prayer when it was needed most. This whole experience has had such an impact on my faith...confirmation that God is orchestrating every detail of this adoption. I am beyond grateful for each individual who has allowed God to work through them & am humbled to receive such an abundance of blessings!"

Thursday, January 15, 2015

From Indiana to Thailand


The Waggoner family recently finalized the adoption of their little boy, Ty.  They did a great job documenting their journey and we would love to share it with you all.



This second video is a great video that will give you a little idea on what traveling for an adoption is like.  Check it out.



Congratulations again, and thanks for sharing your journey with us.

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