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August » 2006 » Hope 4 Kids International Blog


Update on Baby Elmer of Peru
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We found Baby Elmer while we were in Peru and knew we had to help him! His mother was trying to feed him by squeezing milk from her breast and allowing it to drip into his mouth because he was unable to suck. Hope4Kids got a special bottle and provided several months worth of formula. We also collected money to pay for Baby Elmer to have surgery and have been told he is scheduled for his first of a series of surgeries. Please keep him and his family in your prayers as they go through this long slow process.

We have a number of children who need your help. If you would like to make a difference in the life of a child-either a one-time gift or sponsor a child for $20 a month please contact


Update on Little boy in Peru
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Remember Esnaider, the 3-year-old boy we met in Peru? He was badly burned from pulling a scalding pot of water over himself. His arm and face were infected and looking really bad. His parents couldn’t afford to send him to the hospital so Hope4Kids picked up the bill. Without treatment Esnaider would have lost his arm and then his life. When he arrived at the hospital the doctors took him immediately into surgery. We’re happy to report he is well and doing fine! Thank you for making it possible to save this precious little boy.



Eastern Europe Team – Through the Back Back Door with Tom Eggum
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Tom Eggum led us through Hungary, Romania and Russia through, as Dave put it, the back back door.  Not only are his leadership skills exceptional but his knowledge of the countries and ability to take you to places you would never see on a typical tour group adds tremendously to your experience on a Hope4Kids mission trip. 

Tom has been in the ministry for 30 plus years and his ability to lead and his compassion for people is incomprehensible.  Everyone on the trip remarked at how he makes the journey go above and beyond any expectation one might have had. 

Tom celebrated his 55th birthday in Russia as well as it being his 55th trip.  To watch Tom with the people and how they love him back is inspirational.  People don’t forget him and flock to him.  For example, Sasha whom Tom has known for a number of years wanted to give Tom more gifts before we left Russia.  Tom told him we were leaving the hotel at 4AM.  The metro is still closed at that hour but that did not stop Sasha from carrying gifts to Tom-he walked!  The walk was about an hour each way but Sasha thought it was worth it to give Tom one more hug. 

We all gleaned so much from the stories Tom told of his early years in Russia when he smuggled Bibles and met secretly with Christians and what it was like to be there when communism fell and the new freedom to speak about Christ and to distribute Bibles.  We eagerly paid attention when Tom reminded us of his early days in Romania and the attitudes toward the gypsies even by Christians and how that is slowly changing to at least the Christian community valuing the gypsy and reaching out to them.  He introduced us to people he trained as teenagers and are now serving in the church and connecting with those who are hurting physically, emotionally and financially.

Although Tom has struggled with cancer this past year and still suffers from the effects of radium seeds he does not allow it to detour him from his calling.  He survives on little sleep and makes certain the team is well cared for.  He chooses opportunities of great need as well as cultural highlights for the team to experience.  He models Christ’s love and inspires us to go beyond our comfort zone to reach out to others.  He doesn’t just talk about the God he serves but demonstrates God’s love each time he meets someone whether it be a high official or a poor gypsy who is outcast by society. 

It’s a privilege to serve alongside him as he leads, not to control, but to allow you to experience what God has for you.  He has guidelines without constricting your freedom to make a difference in what you feel led to do.  I think that balance along with his compassion and passion to make a difference is part of why Tom is so successful in leadership. 



Eastern Europe Team – Rachel’s Wrap Up
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This was my 12th mission trip with Hope4Kids in the past four years.  It’s been an honor to become a sort of photo journalist on these missions.  As Tom’s sister I’ve been intrigued with his ministry over the years but to actually go and experience it has been beyond my wildest dreams!  My biggest dream as a child was to go to New York at Christmas time.  I never considered that God would one day allow me to go to countries like Uganda, Peru, Chile, Cuba, Romania and Russia!  I still have not been to New York but one of these days. . .

This trip was incredible!  I met so many heroes.  In Romania I was impressed with dedicated people who spend their days serving the poor and trying to make a better life for societies’ outcasts as well as reach them for Christ. 

Mishu, the pastor to a gypsy village has eight children and makes so little money.  He would work for free and almost does.  People come to him and he will spend out of his own meager income so they can have flour and not go hungry.  He has no roof on his house and last winter his family huddled in one room in order to stay warm.  Alina told us he never complains and constantly gives.  We thought this hero should be honored so we told Alina a team member wanted to pay for a roof on Mishu’s house.  Alina has great needs of her own but she lit up and you could see the joy on her face and hear it in her voice when she said, “Oh!  I am so happy for him!  I can’t wait to tell him!”   Mishu wept when she told him the news and again she said, “Nobody deserves it more than Mishu.  He sacrifices so much for the people here.”  Never have I seen such joy for another receiving a gift.  Alina and her husband don’t have their own home but her thoughts and delight for Mishu added her to my list of heroes.


Meeting Sasha again was a tremendous pleasure for me.(photo of Sasha and me above).  I met him three years ago and this time was armed with questions for him.  I was privileged to interview him twice and with my digital recorder not working I wrote so fast I can barely read some of what I wrote.  On our last night he showed up at dinner and brought a friend.  His friend brought a photo album of their Democratic Union, the most radical, non-violent group in Russia who have fought and continue to fight for Democracy.  To sit and listen to someone who fought alongside Gorbachev and Yeltsin in the early days and to hear the disillusionment of those dreams for a democratic society was another thrill beyond my wildest dreams.  To be told of these guys being imprisoned for speaking out and promoting their ideals was unbelievable.  Sasha has been arrested and jailed at least fourteen times since 1987 yet he continues to hope his country can experience true democracy.  He loves his country and will fight to his dying day to make it a better place.  I’d have to say that the pages of insight I gained from my conversations with Sasha have been among my most memorable lifetime moments.

This team was amazing.  We jam-packed so much into our days that no one got much sleep yet everyone kept their good humor and flexibility.  I know that each one was touched and will never be the same whether they come back and serve with us again or find a place to serve in their own communities.  Everyone was fabulous!

It’s always an honor for my husband, Robert and I to travel with Tom.  When Robert retired from the city of Phoenix five years ago Tom told him, “Come to Cuba with us and I’ll show you an adventure of a lifetime.”  We did and were not disappointed.  We go as often as we can and will continue to do so for as long as God allows it.  I remember watching Tom on our first trip and thinking, “This isn’t just a job to him.  He truly loves everyone he comes into contact with and they love him back!”  He’s an amazing man and along with Robert, Tom is at the top of my list of heroes. 

My first hero is Jesus and the way He loved people and treated the lowest in society with such a value.  I want to be like Him and when I stand before Him one day I know it will not be because of anything I’ve done but because of what He did for me when He died on the cross.  Because He has forgiven me of so much and has extended such mercy to me I want to serve Him all the days of my life.  I know that by serving I’m not working my way to Heaven because the price has already been paid and that frees me to serve with joy!



Eastern Europe Team – Spotlight
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DuaneDuane and his wife Kathy of Flagstaff, Arizona have often talked about doing missions together.  She has participated in mission trips but this is D J’s first.  His wife just accepted a new job position and was not able to come this time but he hopes in the future she will.
D J chose Romania because they are sponsoring two children in the gypsy village.  He was able to meet them and to see how they live and see where their dollars are going.

Among his highlights was working and painting.  He feels his contributions are more labor intensive than relational but I think he did well in both areas. 
He really enjoyed the Romania worship services and was moved by the Tom’s messages.

Culturally, this South Dakota farm boy enjoyed the countryside of Romania-seeing their farmland and livestock was similar to his boyhood memories.   Just being in St Petersburg and seeing the magnificent city was thrilling.

Duane has traveled extensively and has seen poverty and knows about the trafficking of children but seeing it up close and personal made a huge impact.  He can no longer stand back but feels the poor and defenseless children need us to reach out and do something!  Seeing that Hope4Kids does this is what attracts D J to this organization and will have him coming back to partner more.

D J loved the team members and the energy of everyone working together.  We loved D J and his involvement and willingness to serve.  You won’t see many photos of him.  He seemed to disappear whenever I got the camera out but I did manage to catch him off guard a few times.


Eastern Europe Team – Spotlight
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This is the first Hope4kids’ mission trip for the King family.  They’ve heard Tom speak at their church in Benicia, California over the years and knew they wanted to go someday but in February when their kids, Dan and Missy heard Tom speak and said they wanted to go they decided now was the time. 

Debbie is a physical therapist and loved working with Dawn in Romania.  She was so impressed with one of the group homes housing nine special needs kids with a 1:1 caregiver.  Each caregiver acts as a mother to these abandoned, forgotten children.  She contrasted this home to the hospital where children are left with no hope but with Dawn training staff people to touch and physically work with these children there is hope for the future.  She dreams of returning to help Dawn train therapists so the care can be ongoing.  She saw the desire for the care givers to learn and to use their new skills.

In Russia the culture was a delight and Debbie found the Russian people to be wonderful.  She thought seeing the world’s top performers at the ballet was a real highlight and loved the night we climbed to the top of St Isaac’s Cathedral.

Debbie was also impressed with the quality of care at Orphanage # 2 in St Petersburg.  She saw the director of 25 years full of empathy for the children and the dedication of the care givers.  She says to make a real impact in this field those caring for them have to have real love which is a gift from God.  “God has gifted me in this way and through this experience is confirming that what I do is what He wants me to do.”

Dave, upon seeing the living conditions in the gypsy village-the dirt floors, no roofs, wondering where the children slept when it rains-really took it to heart and is happy to see these issues are at the core of Hope4Kids missions.  He loved playing with the kids and laughing and putting more into their Joy Banks. Being a kid at heart Dave felt he connected on their level and for brief moments kids could forget about their living conditions and just have fun.  He constantly reminded them “Issu te iubesti” (Jesus loves you).

DebbiedaveDave was moved in the Orthodox service by a ceremony inducting a young man into the monastery.  They cut off a few locks of his hair and the man stood solemnly at the altar while they waved incense around him, placed a robe on his back and sprinkled him with holy water.  Not having been a part of this type of worship or ceremony in the past David silently prayed for the young monk and thought how different your life will be from mine.  You are being dedicated in a way I could never imagine.

Dave’s cultural highlights were tasting new foods such as cow stomach soup in Romania, cold sour cherry soup in Budapest, and borsch-cold beet soup in Russia.  He loves adventure and celebrating our differences.
He enjoyed the wonderful people of Romania and enjoyed seeing ballet in Russia at a world class level.

He’s read Europe Through the Back Door and thinks that Tom’s level of leadership leads people through the back back door!  Tom has taken us places and shown us things few people get the opportunity to experience.  Standing at the gravesides of the great geniuses of the world and Tom’s introducing us to political legends such as Sasha were incredible experiences. 
Dave was honored to share this trip with his wife and two children.  His daughter is missing her first week of school because of this mission but Dave feels the experiences she’s gaining far outweigh what she has missed in the classroom. 

He would encourage others to get involved and go with Hope4kids or at least support a Romanian child for a measly $20 a month.  People need to know that even that little amount can mean so much in the life of a child in changing their community as well as their personal life.

Dave and Debbie are a fabulous couple and the love they have for one another and their kids is inspirational.  We hope to see much more of them in the future.


Eastern Europe Team – Spotlight
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This is Shaney’s first mission trip with Hope4kids.  She was looking for a worthwhile vacation and searched the mission trips on her church website.  She found a link to Hope4kids and thought the Romania/Russia trip was for her.  Her husband was a little reluctant to have her travel but gave his blessing and here she is!

She’d heard Tom speak once and liked what he said about what Hope4Kids does.  She sent letters to her family and friends and eight people responded with their support and finances in order for her to go on this trip.
ShaneyOne of her highlights was the gypsy village in Romania.  She loved playing with the kids there and found a special friend in one of the mothers, Marianna.

Shaney’s Russian highlights included meeting a 6-year-old Downs Syndrome girl, Laara.  She immediately felt a connection and Laara’s laughter will resound in Shaney’s heart for a long time.  Shaney does squeezy hugs with her own daughter and was surprised she didn’t have to teach Laara what they were as she hung onto Shaney and squeezed her tightly.  Shaney was sad to leave her but got her contact information so she can keep in touch and know that Laara is well cared for.

How has this trip changed Shaney?  She has a greater appreciation for the life she leads in the United States.  Thankful to have been born here and having been given great resources Shaney feels it’s our duty and privilege to give back whatever we can and even a small thing can make a huge difference in the life of a child.  Having the contact with the special needs population in Russia will give her a new attitude and connection with those here in the State.

Shaney is grateful for the support of her friends and family and so happy to be a part of this mission.  She brought so much to the team with her laughter and fun. 



Eastern Europe Team – August 21 last day in Russia
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We returned to the Orphanage #2 to finish painting the hallways and woodwork.  The director was so pleased because they are having an inspection next week and they will be able to show this great improvement.  She said we were the answer to her prayer.

Some of us played with the special needs kids.  Robin brought out sidewalk chalk and let the young artists have free reign.  We handed out gifts of beanie babies to the kids and gave care packages to the real heroes-their caregivers.  Sometimes we concentrate so much on the kids we forget to honor those who are there everyday making sure the kids are well taken care of so we wanted to make sure they realized how much they are appreciated.

We went to dinner at Patio Pizza and surprised Tom with a birthday cake and gifts.  We then took a boat ride on the Nevo River and Sasha entertained us with Russian history pointing out buildings and giving us insight into Peter the Great and others.  It was a fabulous evening and even knowing we had to get up in a few hours to leave the hotel by 4AM didn’t cause us to rush.  We wanted to hang onto the few remaining hours and agreed we could maybe sleep on the plane trip home.



Eastern Europe Team – August 20 – Russia
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Today was the 15th anniversary of the fall of communism.   Tom talked about being in Moscow a few days after the attempted coup when the hard line communist tried to take back the Soviet Union.  Tom stayed in a KGB Hotel by the Kremlin after bribing the manager by paying for a new wood floor in the bar.  No foreigners had ever stayed in that hotel.  The barricades were still up from the failed coup.  You could still see smoke from the fires but after 73 years of communism it was declared illegal. 

Tom was invited to speak at the first Moscow Gospel Music Festival.  He talked about how after years of smuggling Bibles and meeting secretly with Russian Christians he was finally able to openly declare the Gospel of Jesus.  There were Christian artists from the States to give concerts.  The Festival was going to hand out one million New Testaments.
When Tom spoke at Pushkin Park he asked people to come to the front if they wanted to ask Jesus to be Lord of their lives.  100’s of people gathered around the stage.  Then Tom made the mistake of telling them they had free New Testaments.  People actually got hurt rushing to get a Bible.  After that they had to have uniformed guards placed in different places in order to distribute the now legal Word of God. 

The Gospel Music Festival was held with the walled city of the Kremlin.  The teams’ bus driver was shaking when he drove them into the Kremlin.  He’d never been allowed inside. 

Here’s the way Tom tells it:

“Two days after the tanks had surrounded the Federation building where Yeltsin was holed up I was staying in a hotel close enough to watch the human barricades.  I took pictures out my hotel window of the barricades, young people and memorials.  One day after the coup ended we opened the music festival. 

My translator, Sveta told me she did not agree with what we were doing there and we had no business bringing our Christianity to Moscow. She said “I want you to know that I do not approve of what you are doing.  This is just a job for me.”   One night there were about 8500 at the Kremlin in attendance.  After the Holy Smoke band performed it was my turn to speak.  Yeltsin’s parliament men came in, showed their badges and threw people out of the front row in order to sit there. 

I was shaking as I stood to speak.   After 18 years of being followed and watched by the KGB I now could talk about God all I wanted and here were Yeltsin’s  men in the front row wanting to hear what I had to say!  So many wanted to receive Christ that night I couldn’t even pray.  Someone had to take over for me as I stood in the wings and wept.  As I stood there a man in a navy uniform approached.  I thought maybe I shouldn’t have told that part about being arrested here.  He said:  “Young man.  I just wanted to come and thank you.  I have given my heart to God tonight.  I want to know if I can give you a hug.”

Sveta, my translator was among the many who received Christ as savior. Our goal at the music festival was to give out one million Bibles.  The Holy Smoke band was invited to play at Yeltsin’s victory party and they presented him with the one millionth Bible on the steps where the coup had taken place.

What an honor to be a part of history in the making.  Those first days of freedom were like none I have ever seen or may never see again.”

After family time we went to a Russian Orthodox Church, Alexander Nevsky.  It was a striking service in a beautifully decorated building filled with art and icons.  The architecture was incredible with the columns and molding and painted ceilings.  We weren’t allowed to take pictures because it is a holy place.  The people are reverent and women cover their heads.  It’s a serious service with no seats as you are expected to stand.  Sasha told us the belief is the church should be the most beautiful building.  It’s where they pray and worship God and when you are standing before God the building as well as the surrounding grounds should be a reflection of Heaven.  Many Russian Orthodox churches are built on hills and along water fronts so the church will reflect like a jewel. 

We went from the service to the cemetery on the grounds where many famous composers like Tchaikovsky and writers such as Dostoevsky who wrote Crime and Punishment.  One tombstone read “You are walking around looking at our monuments but remember very soon you will be here with us.” (translated from Russian)
From there we went to the square which holds the Cathedral of Spilled Blood.  This was built over the place where the Tsar, Alexander II was murdered.  About a block from here is another Cathedral that the communists turned into a museum of atheism and mocked religion.  Since the fall of communism it has been restored to a Cathedral.  It’s another place Tom stood in 1990 declare the Gospel of Jesus.

Finally the hour came to attend the ballet in the famous Mariinsky theatre!  We were fascinated by “Don Quixote” and felt it ended way too soon.  It was unbelievable to think here we are in St Petersburg, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and sitting in the Mariinsky Theatre!  The performers were tremendous.  What a thrill.

We were sad to say goodbye to Britt who is flying out early in the morning.  She’s got to go back to school and already will be a day late but I’m sure she will think it was worth it.



Eastern Europe Team – August 19 – Russia
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We went to the country today to a special needs orphanage.  Hope4Kids has had a long relationship with this orphanage which is State run and therefore does not have a name other than “Orphanage #2”.  We had a great time playing with the kids, doing pipe cleaner art, balloon sculpting and playing with the parachute.  Other team members went immediately to work painting the hallway of the main floor. 

This orphanage has around 80 children ranging in ages 4-18.  When they turn 18 they are sent to another institution and are there for life.  The building is about 130 years old but fairly well maintained and very clean.  The children are well cared for with dedicated staff many of whom have been there ten years and more.  The director has been there 25 years.  It’s obvious they are all devoted and think of one another and the children as family.  We handed out beanie babies and donated balls, crayons, sidewalk chalk and other supplies to the orphanage.  Some of the paint crew will return Monday to finish their job.

We then went to Peterhof which was the summer palace for the Tsars.  During the 900 day siege during WW II the Nazis took over this palace.  It’s a beautiful place with fabulous manicured grounds.  Peter the Great was kind of a jokester and had hidden fountains put in so when someone would step on a certain rock water would spurt up soaking the person.  There are 142 fountains throughout the grounds.  Peterhof is on the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland.  If you look way off into the distance you can see the coast of Finland.

After dinner our legendary Sasha came to visit.  Tom met him in 1987 and has had many interesting times with Sasha.  He took a small group of us walking behind a monastery where he showed us burdock plants.  He wants Tom to juice the stems of the plant and drink it everyday.  He said it will boost his immune system and would be very good for him.  Last time we were here in 2003 Tom prayed for Sasha’s mother who was dying of cancer.  Sasha was treating her with this plant and between the two he says she is alive and ornery.  She’s living in the country and enjoying her life that has been returned. 

Later some of us gathered in a lobby while Sasha told us stories about his fight for democracy in the late 1980’s.  In 1990, one year before the fall of communism, Sasha attended a session of parliament which was broadcast live on TV.  Sasha had sewed by hand a large Russian Flag from the days before communism.  He stood on a balcony and with the cameras on he unfurled his flag.  They stopped the session and didn’t know what to do.  Parliament wanted to sue Sasha but the TV station refused to support the law suit because it caused their ratings to go up.  For a number of years Sasha has printed a paper called the Anti Soviet Pravada.  His papers can be found in the library of Congress.  He’s a man in love with Russia and wants democracy for his people.  It was extremely interesting.  We hope to spend more time with him in our little time we have left.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.



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