During the Christmas holidays this year, we had the opportunity to take a few of the Hope Program teens to the United States. We thought it would give them great insight on what it’s like to live in a foreign country with a foreign language surrounding you at all times. It put a face to the Hope Program for some of our supporters. What a great way to merge two cultures.
Ruby loaded up Jazmin and Evelyn for a long day of travel. We took two buses, two flights, and a car ride to finally arrive in Indiana. We were greeted with snow to the girls delight.
Our two weeks were filled with the girls meeting people, eating in restaurants, shopping, being cold, and visiting Chicago – all of which were new experiences. It gave us a chance to deepen our relationship and for them to see what life is like in the United States. They got to spend time with their previous house parents, Bill and Heather Merrill, who they still have a relationship with, and one of the highlights was a day in Chicago that the Merrills blessed us with. We stayed in a 5–star hotel and felt like queens for the day.
Tim and Kathy sent Antonio to visit a supporter in Austin, Texas. He experienced his first border crossing and a bus ride in the US, alone, and lived to tell about it. A few days later, we loaded up Cheko and headed to Austin to pick up Antonio and then on to Oklahoma. The young men who had never seen snow before were able to experience a blizzard on Christmas Eve. During the week, they encountered lots of opportunities to push people out of the snow and to shovel driveways. They even built a snowman and their comment was, “It’s a lot harder than it looks!”
When you grow up in a childrens’ home all your life, you are constantly surrounded by people. One thing we noticed on this trip was that being in a completely different environment, their personalities were able to shine through and we saw a side of them we had never seen before. You could see on their faces that they felt loved, valued, and important.