Posts Tagged ‘love’

Showing Some Love, by Caroline Burns, Back2Back Mexico Staff

May 23, 2011

Bathtime with more than one child can often get a little crazy. Imagine trying to shower and dress ten boys ages 3 to 8 at one time by yourself. I like to think of it as organized chaos.

It didn’t take me too many weeks of this to figure out that if I don’t have tear-free kids shampoo, about half of the boys would refuse shampoo with violent tears oddly enough. So now I’ve made it a mission to make sure that every week these boys have kids shampoo and kids toothpaste.

After bath time, one of my boys saw me putting one a day’s worth of shampoo for ten boys from the full size bottle into a small bottle that we leave within their reach. If you leave the big bottle down there, inevitably one boy will knock it over on accident or pour the whole thing out for his pleasure.

So this boy said, “Why are you doing that? Why are you pouring just a little into that bottle?”

I told him very directly that to me it’s very important that they have tear-free shampoo everyday and that they bathe everyday just like it’s important to me that they have “non-spicy” toothpaste. But if the whole bottle is down there, someone might waste it and then they won’t have kids shampoo anymore.

He said, “Love is when someone takes care of you. That’s God’s love.”

I was floored.

I stopped my mopping of the soaking wet bathroom and looked at him and said, “Do you know that God is trying to demonstrate his love for you by sending people to take care of you? That’s why I’m here. God sent me here to love you. That’s why your full-time care-giver is here. That’s why Sammy loves you (his favorite Back2Back intern).

I told him again for the 100th time that day that I love him very much.

Then, I asked him Sammy’s favorite question, “But, do you remember who loves you more than all of us?”

And he replied without hesitation, “The Lord.”

We then went on to dialogue as I mopped that God will never leave him alone and that there will always be someone to take care of him. This particular child has severe fear issues. He’s always afraid that one of his brothers will leave him or that his mom will never come back. But this child is learning that God isn’t going to go anywhere.

It was a beautiful end to a chaotic daily event.

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They are Loved, by Caitlin Gromacki, Former Back2Back India Intern

January 13, 2011

God showed me his love through the kids in India. We visited this small orphan home the first few days and then a week later had them join another orphan group for a concert. I was able to play games, sing songs and hug the kids, but because of the language difference I didn’t really get to know them each super personally. When the kids arrived to the concert we hadn’t seen them for about a week. I just remember their big smiling faces running towards us from their bus. This one little girl runs up into my arms, and I picked her up. I twirled her, and she held on to me so tightly. Next thing I knew she pressed her lips against my cheek and gave me the biggest kiss ever. I was shocked, I mean I didn’t even remember her name, yet she loved me so deeply. I knew at that moment this was how much God loves his children, including me! We don’t have to do anything and he loves us! He cares for me like an orphan who knew me for only two days, yet it would seem like we had been best friends since the day she was born.

At one home that I served, there were almost 200 kids. It is a lot harder to give them the one-on-one attention that they need. They call each other sister or brother, so when you actually call them by their first name their faces light up so big. They loved every moment we were with them, even if it was just sitting next to them while they ate dinner. The kids in India need attention and quality time. They need to know, just as I did, that they too are loved!

High, Low, Thankful, by The Whited Family, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 8, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  This Christmas was very interesting.  We had never realized how dependant we were on the mental stimulus for the holidays that comes from the weather, fireplaces, stores playing music (in English) and the constant reminder from the upcoming ABC Family Christmas shows.   But rest assured with all of those things gone we still had four amazing and very real reminders of exactly what time of year it was!

Most of the kids we work with have somewhere to go for Christmas:  mom or dad, aunt or uncle, grandparent, someone that will step in and at least help them avoid the pain of waking up alone in a children’s home on Christmas morning; but a few don’t.

We had the opportunity to have a family of four at our house for the Christmas Holiday.   In the midst of our very limited Spanish and their non existent English, these 14, 12, 11, and 10 year olds gave us a crash course on what Christmas was all about. We had such a great time.  We played Wii, fed them sugar cereal, and took them out for hamburgers. (All of which was a first for them) There was money donated from a few people that had been on mission trips to Back2Back for their Christmas gifts.  It was a real joy watching them open their gifts and have stockings with their names on them.  One of the boys loves music and playing the guitar.  A B2B supporter from the United States bought him a used acoustic guitar and sent it down, he was ecstatic when he saw it!

For those of you that know us well or have had dinner with us as a family, you have probably experienced the Whited mealtime tradition of “High, Low, and Thankful”.  The point is to create conversation, purposeful rabbit trails, and a structured format to share your day with the others around the table.  A day or two before Christmas a good friend of mine named Rodolfo was also a guest for dinner and since he is fluent in five languages I thought this would be the perfect night for high low and thankful.

As we went around the table I was completely shocked and caught off guard by what these kids had to say.  I thought for sure the rare break from beans and tortillas would be a big hit.  Maybe the Carmel corn and amazing line up of movies we picked out would be on the list. Based on the kind of “lows” I have some days, I was even a little nervous to include that part of the game knowing it could get ugly or negative pretty quick.  After all was said and done there was one common theme with each one of these kids.  Each and everyone, above all else, were thankful to have a family to be with for Christmas!  No gifts, no snacks, no movie, just time and attention…love.  The part that really threw me off was that in spite of being asked the same question in different ways not even one of the four could come up with a single “low”.

I have had a lot of Christmas’s, but even with no snow and no TV, I have never felt like I was more in the center of what the season is all about than at that table looking at four lonely kids loving being loved.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support, we miss you all!

The Whited Family

His Unflagging Love, by Ally Horine, Back2Back Mexico Trip Participant from Northstar Vineyard Youth Group

June 21, 2010

Playing with a new friend

Our trip started out with the group arriving on campus to discover that Back2Back was bussing kids from the children’s home, Imperio de Amor, to their campus so that we could have a pool party and cookout with them. We were all tired from traveling, but excited to play with the children. We played with the girls then the boys got in the pool. Instantly, I bonded with a boy named Alejandro. We played and spent time together until it was time for them to leave. I was sad to see them go, but excited to know that we would be seeing them again soon.

On the last day, we took the same kids on a field trip to ride bikes. When they arrived at the park, they all chose “Americanos” to partner with for the bike-ride. Instantly, Alejandro chose me. We didn’t get the bikes until about an hour after we got to the park, so until then we played together. From running around, to throwing water on each other, we had a blast. At one point, this little trolley bus came around to give tours of the park. Alejandro saw the trolley and instantly ran ahead to catch it and grab a seat. I jogged behind him, due to the selfishness in me that would not run in the heat.

I was one of the last to get on the bus, but when I got on I looked around and spotted Alejandro with his hand on the seat next to him, saving it for me. At that moment, I knew why I was in Mexico. Not to do service projects, not to bond with my youth group, but to be a friend to Alejandro. God sent me all the way from Cincinnati, Ohio to Monterrey, Mexico just to spend time with this boy and be his friend. He loves the orphan child. His unflagging love continues to amaze me every minute I spend with Him. Experiencing and sharing His love was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

After our bike ride, our group stopped for a photo with the kids we'd paired with. I'm the second person in from the left, posing with Alejandro.

Showing God’s Love at the Rio – Valentine’s Day Outreach, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Staff

February 18, 2010

Valentine’s Day was a perfect time for one of our short-term mission groups to share God’s love to the kids and families at Meme’s Rio. Our group had fifteen kids in it ranging from seven to nineteen. They were great as we asked them to help us teach the 1 Corinthians 13 passage on love to about thirty-six kids at the soup kitchen. After we shared the verse, the kids teamed up to give six different dramas of what love is and what love is not. The kids were fascinated and really paid attention well.

Afterwards, they made valentines with homework to give away to someone special.

We served a delicious tostada meal and a group prayed against the spiritual warfare that is apparent there. The men helped put doors on the soup kitchen, while the kids played and played.

At the end,  we were getting ready to pray for Meme, one of our ministry partners, when Meme pointed out a girl who was sick and needed prayer. These kids laid hands on this girl and strong, passionate, sweet prayers went up around her. Prayers for healing, for increasing her faith, for protection and against fear.

What a full day to see God’s love in sharing His word, feeding the hungry, loving the people, working on the soup kitchen and blanketing the place in prayer. Now that is Biblical Love.

Love is a Verb, by Mandy Lail, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 29, 2010

I love the complexity of God.  I may have charged into the city of Monterrey with great passion for changing the lives of orphans but I keep seeing God doing His work on me as well!  Right now it’s grammar lessons.

I am always fascinated with the word love.  We love to be “in love”, to feel loved, even feel love for another but that’s just one sense of the word.  I am fascinated at our preoccupation with love as a noun. It’s this wonderful, sometimes elusive thing we are constantly seeking.  But what about when love is a verb?  What about when it’s all about our actions and not our feelings?  What about when loving someone hurts? But we do it anyways but God calls us to love.  While I am sure He would be pleased if it felt good to us I believe He calls us to action with love.  He wants us to pour it out on others and pour it out and pour it out and our it out.  Regardless of how it feels.
God has called me to a complexity of love.  Parenting is love.  It about actions for sure but often we can carry those out because we FEEL so much love for our children.  We fall in love with them often early & fast and that fuels our ability to love in action. We serve & sacrifice because we feel love for them.  We tolerate a complete loss of control of our personal time, TV choices, dining choices, even sleeping arrangements in order to love/serve/parent our kiddos. It’s hard but our feelings for them keep us going.

So this I am experiencing this new level of love with my foster sons. I do feel love for them for sure but it’s not the same.  We haven’t bonded the same as my little ones.  They aren’t always wiling and open to be loved unlike my little ones. They come with other family attachments that can make it hard for them to figure out where we, their house parents, fit for them emotionally.  So it’s this new level of love for me.  I get a lot less back emotionally from my sons.  So I have to dig deeper into Jesus and into that sense of unconditional love … action love.  Sometimes I don’t want to love them like they are mine.  I want to guard my heart.  They can be hurtful at times.  I could lose one of them at any moment (should they decide to leave the program etc.) It’s so hard to love them with as much of me as I can when it doesn’t feel the same.  It doesn’t always come back to me.  This is where I am learning to lean in more to Jesus for His strength to LOVE (verb) them the best I can.

Now we are fostering a toddler son as well.  And I find this grammar lesson digging to new depths.  Again I want to guard my heart.  I don’t want to “fall in love” with him, to bond too deeply because I can only imagine how much it will hurt when he leaves.  But he needs it.  He needs my love in action.  So I am learning to lean in, to press harder into Jesus for the strength I need to love.  Learning how to rely on Jesus to give me what I need to love this boy like he is mine, to love with all I’ve got…because that’s what God wants for Him.  That’s a way God will show himself to this sweet boy.  And for me it’s a hard but important grammar lesson.  Isn’t God a God of action?  Doesn’t His immense love for us play out with His son dying on a cross? If that isn’t love in action, I don’t know what is.

What are you thankful for? Reflections from a child at El Limon Children’s Home.

November 23, 2009

El Limon Children’s Home is five hours south of the Back2Back Mexico campus in Monterrey.  Since 2000, Back2Back has partnered with El Limon by helping to provide resources for the children, meeting their needs through service teams and ongoing care.  At a recent anniversary event to celebrate the faithful service of the directors of El Limon Children’s Home, several of the children from the home read letters to them, as a tribute to express their love and gratitude.  The common theme among the children’s letters was one of thankfulness for the way God had provided for them by placing Fernando and Yadira, the directors of the home, in their lives.  This heartwarming moment caused us to reflect on the things that we’re thankful for, but it also acted as a powerful reminder of the way in which God is faithfully caring for the children we serve.  In honor of Thanksgiving, we wanted to take a moment to share one particular child’s speech with you:

Real Parents, by Alejandra

A real mom and a real dad are not those who give you money to buy Sabritas (chips).  They are someone who give you advice when you have problems and help you when you are in need and if you are in trouble they will help you and pray for you because they are good parents.

Mom, Yadira, Dad Fernando and Mom, Nancy, are some of the best parents I’ve had in my life because God gave them to me and He has a plan for my life.  Thank God I’ve been set free and I´m happy.  So, thank you Lord for giving me such beautiful parents who know how to care for me and do not leave me in hard times and pay attention to me when I tell them I need to talk.  So, I want to tell them they are the best parents I’ve had in my life.

Thank you Lord for taking care of me and loving me so much.  Thank you mom and dad – I love you.

A student from Horizon Community Church plays with a child at El Limon

Some of the children from El Limon pose for a picture with students from Horizon Community Church

A few children at El Limon playing with Back2Back mission trip guests from North Cincinnati Community Church

Crazy Love, by Claire Rogers

July 15, 2009

This summer the Back2Back staff is reading Crazy Love, by Francis Chan.  Chan urges readers to resist the temptation to be satisfied with the status quo and instead respond to God’s invitation into a passionate love relationship.  He challenges readers with a call to forsake complacency and apathy and follow God wholeheartedly.

Crazy Love

Here is an excerpt from Chan’s book that I found to be particularly impactful (pages 93-94):

“As Tim Zizziar said, “Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”  . . . God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward.  He measures our lives by how we love.  In our culture, even if a pastor doesn’t actually love people, he can still be considered successful as long as he is a gifted speaker, makes his congregation laugh, or prays for “all those poor, suffering people in the world” on Sunday.

But Paul writes that even if “I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2-3 ESV).  Wow.  Those are strong and unmistakable words.  According to God, we are here to love.  Not much else really matters.

So God assesses our lives based on how we love. But the word love is so overused and worn out.  What does God mean by love?  He tells us,

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends . . . faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

–   1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 ESV

But even those words have grown tired and overly familiar, haven’t they?  I was challenged to do a little exercise with these verses, one that was profoundly convicting.  Take the phrase Love is patient and substitute your name for the word love.  (For me, “Francis is patient . . . “) Do it for every phrase in the passage.  By the end, don’t you feel like a liar?  If I am meant to represent what love is, then I often fail to love people well.

Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side.  It is not a label we can display when it is useful.  It must be central to everything we do and are.”

As a staff, that is our challenge as we provide care to orphans.  Our call is to not just offer clothing and shelter to children in need.  Our mission is to meet the needs of the orphan, both spiritual and material, out of the overflow of Christ’s love in our hearts.  Love must be our motivation and at the core of everything we do.

God calls us to wholehearted faith characterized by love.  That is the mark of the Christian faith and our prayer and hope is that it permeates through every fiber of our ministry.  Our organization is rooted in Christ’s mandate to love sacrificially.  In 1 John 3:16-20, we see God’s compassion for the poor through the example of Christ’s love manifesting itself through His willingness to surrender everything, even his very life.

Crazy Love has encouraged us as a ministry, but it has also prompted me to examine my own heart for any areas of my life where I have become complacent.  Chan’s exercise was especially powerful. As I replaced the word love with my name, I was convicted of ways in which I haven’t allowed Christ’s generous love to reveal itself through my actions, often because of fear or complacency.  His kindness and merciful love should compel me to pursue a deeper relationship with Him and likewise love those around me radically, laying at His feet anything that is hindering me.

What attitudes or areas of your life might God be asking you to surrender to Him so that you might love more radically?  What is holding you back?