In late September in Estes Park, Colorado, the morning air ushers in a crispness like the first bite of a Granny Smith apple. The mountaintops become a mixture of snow that refused to melt and the year’s first dusting, while the aspens have exchanged their leaves of green for gold and orange hues that sparkle when the light shines through them. Afternoons here feel like summer but taste like winter. And when the sun sets, we are all children again, staring into a star-covered sky and considering the universe in all its vast wonder.
As autumn snuggles into the Rocky Mountains each year, the World Orphans staff packs into a large log cabin that becomes home for a week. The cabin, though large enough to hold us all, is merely a dot when you stand on the towering mountains that look across Estes Park.
With a decentralized staff and plentiful work, Scott Vair (World Orphans President) could choose to pursue any number of tasks during this week. We could pull all-nighters with spreadsheets and calculators and problem solve and plan and work, work, work . . . but, that’s not the agenda.
Day in and day out we seek to pursue excellence in orphan care while clinging tightly to the vision of seeing every orphaned child have a home. We lean into the brokenness of the orphan, the widow, and the refugee, hoping to summon hope into those places of darkness. World Orphans staff have listened to the stories of widowed mothers, wept with orphaned teenagers, and sipped chai with terrified refugees. We know the pain. We know the gut-wrenching stories. We know what we’re up against.
So, one week a year, Scott invites us all to Colorado. We fly from Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Guatemala. We unload our possessions for the week into a cabin that feels strangely like home. We're thankful for the coworkers that were able to attend, missing the coworkers that could not be there, and delighted to welcome Chris and Lauren Turpaud (visiting in the US from Guatemala). We room with people that feel more like family and less like coworkers separated into departments. And in the shadow of the towering Rocky Mountains . . .
Within the quietness of rest and away from the daily tasks that so quickly distract us, we find endless reasons to be grateful.
We thank God that in 2015 . . .
- 700 Yazidi and Shabak refugees received new homes in Northern Iraq
- 3 new Church Partnerships were established in Guatemala
- 153 single mothers were part of a new savings program established in Ethiopia
- Social workers provided trauma counseling in Haiti, Guatemala, Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Iraq
- 348 people from the US were mobilized to serve the orphan, widow, and refugee
- 1,520 children and their families received food
- 286 pastors and church leaders were trained
- 2,143 widows received care
- 2,010 children and adults came to faith
- 1,250 children and adults were impacted through our community center, soccer field, and refugee care efforts in Iraq
- 10 churches in Cambodia engaged to disciple families providing foster care
- 5,710 people received medical care at 24 medical clinics
- 1,474 people were fed through outreach events
- 11,512 vulnerable children and adults were reached by 87 outreach events
It’s easy to get caught up in all that needs to be done; however, we cannot forget to thank God for all that has been accomplished. Tears pour down many faces as we read these statistics aloud. And thanksgiving, you may find, often leads to praise and celebration.
While in Colorado, we praised God for many things throughout the week–for each other, for the work that has been accomplished, for the work that will be accomplished, and for you. That cabin in the Rockies was filled with laughter, several good naps, songs of worship, Scripture reading, and endless amounts of praise to the God who sees us, knows us, and loves us.
Many of you partner with us in this ministry through your time, finances, and prayers, so we invite you to also rest. Maybe it’s a week. Maybe it’s five minutes. Maybe you can’t do it right now. But, we hope you will find time to sit in the stillness at a cabin in the Rockies or on a sandy white beach or in the one room of your home that your child hasn’t colored with crayons yet. And in that quiet rest, may you recall all the good that your heavenly Father has given you, may you find yourself praising him, and may you also become deeply aware that you are seen, known, and loved . . . just as you are.