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August » 2006 » Hope 4 Kids International Blog


Eastern Europe Team – August 20 – Russia
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We’re in St Petersburg, Russia!  We arrived late last night and stayed up late enough to see Danny turn 20.  We would have gotten in earlier but Tom set off the security alarm when we came through customs.  The guards pulled him aside and wanted him to prove he had implanted radium seeds.  They told him that actually happens quite often and didn’t delay him for long.

This is Tom’s 55th  trip into Russia.  He recalled in 1990 after years of smuggling Bibles into the country he was able to stand on the steps of the Museum of Atheism and preach about Jesus without fear of being arrested.  An elderly woman, Katya knelt on a piece of cardboard on the steps and cried.  “I always thought the Americans would come carrying weapons of destruction and now they are coming carrying the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  One of the team leaders asked her if she had a Bible.  “No.  I’ve never owned a Bible but I have seven pages of a Bible and each morning I lay them out on my table and read them.”  She was overjoyed when they presented her with a whole Bible.

This morning we toured the Hermitage which was the winter palace housing the Tsar’s private collections long ago.  Hermitage means “a place of solitude” and what a fabulous place it is!  If you stood before each piece for one minute it would take seven years to see it all!  We saw paintings by Rembrandt, Picasso, Monet, Leonardo da Vince, Van Gogh just to name a few.  There were statues and mummies, jewelry, armor and many items we didn’t have time to view. 

We then went to the children’s hospital where we got to hand out beanie babies, make glasses and crowns out of pipe cleaners, do animal balloons, take Polaroid photos and talk with the children.  Many of them were there with broken bones caused from falling to football accidents, motor scooter and car accidents.  We enjoyed our time there but were disheartened by the conditions.  It was a state run hospital and we were told the condition was average.  There are better and there are worse. 

For dinner we went to Patio Pizza-a traditional place for the teams to go.  We celebrated Danny’s birthday and then took the subway to St Isaacs Cathedral and walked up over 200 steps to the viewing station and enjoyed watching the city as the sky darkened about 10 PM. 

As you can see we really pack in the days.  Tomorrow we’ll have another full day.

Thanks for your prayers and support.



Eastern Europe Team – July 16
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For our last meal in Romania Mary and Dave ate a whole bowl of cow stomach soup!!  AND they liked it!

We said goodbye to our Romanian friends last night and this morning and headed back to Budapest.  We also said tearful goodbyes to Al and Dan who are staying on in Romania to help with projects while we are in Russia.  It was such a treat to have them with us and it’s not going to seem right to not meet them at breakfast and to hear Dan’s little English accent. . . They were a fabulous addition to our team and will be missed greatly.
We also said goodbye to Dawn who has a couple more weeks to go before she returns to the States.

When we returned to Hungary we stopped at a fast food place where no one spoke English.  The menus were Hungarian and we had no idea!  We ended up looking into the cases and pointing to what we wanted and went away satisfied.

We’re back in our hotel in Budapest with a free afternoon.  People went sight seeing and shopping and some of us just curled up with our computers for the afternoon.

Tomorrow we fly to Russia!

Thanks for your continued prayers and support.


Eastern Europe Team – August 17 – Spotlight – Part 2
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Mark and Linda have wanted to go with Hope4Kids for a long time.  They are from Flagstaff where Linda works as an office supervisor at NAU (Northern Arizona University) and Mark works at the Walgreen’s distribution center.  Their daughter is a police officer and their son is in the Marine Corp. They attend Shepherd of the Hills church is Flagstaff and have heard Tom speak a number of times.

They came on this trip feeling it was time they gave back because they have been so blessed.  And Mark adds, “I guarantee this won’t be our last trip!”

Their enthusiasm spills over as they animatedly discuss the many highlights they’ve had so far.  They spent hours painting the school in the gypsy village and are looking forward to painting a special needs orphanage in St Petersburg. 

They didn’t expect to fall in love with Romania. . .they say with faces lighting up.  Being among the people-trying to alter their conditions. . . seeing how the kids appreciate anything are just a few things that have grabbed them.  Kids being satisfied to receive attention-taking their photos and showing it to them-watching them smile.

 Seeing families of 12 to thirteen people living in these humble little homes was a real eye-opener for Linda and Mark.  Linda says she has learned more about compassion and caring for others.  “You tend to think that others live like we do but when you see people living with no running water and having to walk ½ mile to a well. .  .”  It’s pretty incredible.
Mark says, “We are so spoiled.  VERY spoiled!  People don’t realize how much is needed.”

Parents selling their young girls was a shock.  “We think of our own daughter and just can’t imagine. . .and for what?  $200?”

Tom leading this trip was a high spot for both of them.  Mark said, “Tom opened our eyes to so much.  You can see his heart is there.  His compassion is real.  Some people just talk but with Tom it is genuine.  We will definitely be supporting Hope4Kids.”

They were also impressed with the good food, the comfortable hotels, the translators, the drivers, the kids and on and on.  I think they are really liking this trip!  Oh.  And the Romanian church was a great experience.  They could really sense God’s presence.  They are excited the churches are reaching out to the gypsies and wouldn’t it be fun to return to see the changes. . .

We have been impressed with Mark and Linda and their flexibility, their hard work and diligence to get the job done.  They are nice and easy people and I couldn’t imagine the trip without them.


This is Jenny’s third trip with Hope4Kids.  We just got back from Peru about 10 days before coming on this trip so it’s been a busy summer for Jenny.  Two years ago she went to Chile with us.

Her highlights have been hanging out with the kids.  Every time you see Jenny you see kids!  They love her.  Jenny loves them and she loves language so she carries her Romanian phrase book with her and practices with the translators and the kids.  The kids taught her that she is “alba” (white).  She says a lot of words as well as greetings.

Another highlight was the five hour walk when Tom led us around Budapest after our all night flight.  She liked seeing the houses and the walking street and experiencing the culture of Hungary.

She has enjoyed making new friends and will miss the Romanian translators as we say goodbye and go to Russia.  But Jenny has also studied Russian for a year so I’m sure she’ll make fast friends with the Russian translators and practice her language skills.

I asked Jenny, “What are you going to take home with you?”
“You mean physically?” she smiled.
 “When you get home and you close your eyes at night what do you think you will see?”
She shook her head.  “You’re too poetic!”
She might not say it but I know Jenny will carry a lot home and when she closes her eyes at night she’s going to remember all her little gypsy friends and will be speaking Romanian and Russian and dreaming about going with Hope4Kids to Uganda.

We love Jenny and hope we see her again soon.

Although Robin has been familiar with Hope4Kids for years and has helped out with our local outreaches in El Mirage, AZ this is her international mission with Hope4Kids.

She attended Community Church of Joy in Glendale for many years and when the teenagers traveled with us she would support them with financial gifts and has kept her eye on Hope4Kids all these years knowing that someday she would go.  She sent in her application for this trip a year ago.  At one point the trip was cancelled because only a couple signed up-then six people wanted to go so it was back on and now 18 of us showed up so Robin was happy to go.  Her birth mother was Romanian so Robin has always had an interest in traveling to Romania.

One of Robin’s highlights has been the gypsy village of Lazareni and seeing Mishu and the love he has for the people and the love the people have for him.  She’d like to see the village come up with a great community project to support themselves and raise up the standard of living.

Robin has been a valuable part of this team.  She has great organizational skills and has taken on the job of doing the paperwork for the children we support.  She has diligently sought out the children to make sure the information we have been given is accurate.  We’ve taken pictures of the children and will have more Romanian children ready for sponsorship soon!  She is looking forward to how the Lord will lead her from here.

She thinks the team is awesome.  She’d love to return to Romania because, “Romania stole my heart!”  We’re glad because we want her to come back and so do the Romanians!


Eastern Europe Team – August 17 – Spotlight – Part 1
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RamonaRamona is Tom and my sister-and Robert’s sister-in-law!  After years of financially supporting Hope4Kids this is her first mission trip.  She has always longed to go to Russia and when she heard Tom speak again if February her heart was filled with a desire to go.  She talked to Tom about it and he told her, “Now is your time.”  She sent letters out to family and friends to raise support for her trip.  She received so many beautiful, supportive letters and checks!!  Every time the mail arrived she’d cry to think she had so much support.

One of her highlights was meeting Emilia, a beautiful gypsy girl she wants to sponsor.  She met her and there was an immediate connection between the two of them.  Ramona the interpreter helped her talk with Emilia. 

At times Ramona is touched so much by the needs she has seen she wishes she could help them all but knows realistically she can help one or two.  That’s one or two that have been rescued!

Ramona is impressed by the team and meeting other Christians who love to serve.  She is amazed that 18 people who are from all over the country with different backgrounds and different age groups can come together and become so close in their pursuits to make a difference. 

She’s wondering now that she has seen and experienced this poverty what God would have her do next.  She says, “We are used to our nice little world and don’t see the needs.  It’s overwhelming!” 

She’s thankful to those who have supported her and are praying for this team.  She senses God’s presence and protection.

Oh yeah.  And it’s fun to be sharing all this with her family, Tom, Rachel and Robert. . .

We’re happy that she has finally come with us and hope she comes again and next time maybe she could bring her sweet husband, Don.

Missy is a 16-yr-old junior from California.  She is Dan K’s sister.  She loves being here with her family and seeing the kids.  Missy

The other day we were visiting a poor Romanian family in the country.  The surroundings were pretty pathetic.  The kids were sitting in the dirt.  The littlest girl was sitting on a blanket with a sharp knife cutting her own apple.  She had broken her leg.  Her face and cast were covered with dirt.  We looked around the yard and saw chickens and the back room of their home housed a cow!  Missy’s dad, Dave, pulled her aside and asked, “Missy, did you ever wonder why that isn’t me and you living her instead of that little girl and her family?  Why were we born in America?  In such loving comfort?”
Missy agreed and said this is her first glimpse of what it’s like to be poor and thinks about how easy we have it-how we have everything and these kids have nothing.  It was difficult for her to experience it.

One of her highlights was a little gypsy girl named Cristine.  She had such amazing eyes with glints of gold specks.  One day while they were playing another child hit Cristine.  When Missy went to comfort her Cristine turned away so Missy couldn’t see her cry.  Missy knelt down and put her arms around her and said “you are so beautiful.  You are special.  You’ve made an impact on my life.”  Cristine clung to her and cried  harder making Missy cry too.  I wonder if anyone has ever showed Cristine so much love.

When we visited the second village where the pastor was teaching the children about keeping clean and how to conduct themselves in society Missy was so impressed with how well the children behaved.  She knows the pastor and the church are giving the kids hope and the chance to have a better life.  She was encouraged by what she saw.

She’s pumped to go to Russia tomorrow and says it’s been an incredible trip so far as she and her family left the states a week early to go to Venice and Rome before meeting us in Budapest.  She loves the team and feels like she’s known everyone forever and thinks everyone has gotten along fabulously!

We love to have teenagers travel with us!  Missy is one who brings such a refreshing flavor to the team.  We’re so glad she’s here.  Her humor is incredible and as you can see in most of her pictures she is making faces.  Only someone that cute can get by with it.

DankDan is studying to be a mechanical engineer at California Poly techic State University.  This is his first trip with Hope4kids.  He’s with his parents and sister.  Tom has been to their church a number of times and last time he spoke Dan and his sister, Missy told their parents they wanted to go to Eastern Europe so they did! 

Dan has done other missions in Mexico to an orphanage and village outreach.  Last summer he did a summer project with Campus Crusade for Christ.  For ten weeks he worked at a surf shop in New Port Beach, CA.  His group did beach and street evangelism and part of building relationships within the community was his job at the surf shop. 

Dan’s highlights here are the kids.  Marius, a five-yr-old gypsy boy seized Dan’s heart.  They would play together and Marius would imitate Dan.  If Dan would sit on the ground and breathe heavily so would Marius.  If other kids would try to play rough with Dan Marius would protectively stop them.  When Dan left Marius kept grabbing and kissing his hand.

He also made friends with a guy his age-nineteen (at least for a few more days).  They talked through an interpreter and Dan was encouraging him and telling him he’d be praying for him.  When Dan asked questions about his friend’s personal life he found out he was married and had TWO kids!  He’d been married since he was fifteen!  The two of them joked about who was stronger and Robert got in on the act with them.  One day the three of them were carrying bags of cement up a hill and making macho sounds like they thought they were some kind of cave men.  It was pretty cute.

Dan says this is his first time to actually view poverty up close.  It’s a lot different when you are in it than when you are looking at pictures.  The hardship is so much more personal.  Yet he sees joy and contentment among people who have nothing.

Dan’s having a great time on this trip and everyone enjoys his presence but he does miss his girlfriend, Brenna.

His verse is Psalm 82:3 “Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless.  Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.”


Eastern Europe Team – August 16 – Spotlight
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Dawn1We met up with Dawn in Oradea.  She has done a lot of work in Romania since 1999 when she came with Joni and friends with “Wheels for the World”.

She returned in 2000 for the summer and worked as an occupational therapist in a state run orphanage where out of 400 children 100 had severe disabilities.  The conditions were so horrible she sat on the steps of the orphanage and cried to God: “Take away my eyes.  Take away the smell.  Take away the taste and give me your eyes.  Give me your smell and you taste.”  Now what seemed so horrifying doesn’t phase Dawn as she does the job she feels God has called her to do.

In 2002 Tom brought a team to Romania.  A physical therapist was shocked by the lack of attention these kids were getting-not even the basic therapy.  He worked with the kids for two weeks and then asked Tom to pray for a therapist to come to Romania full time to work with these kids.

When Tom returned to the states a few days later his phone rang.  “Hi.  My name is Dawn.  I’m an occupational therapist and I was looking through the internet and found your website and see you do missions to Romania.  I want to go live there because I believe this is what God has called me to do.”

Complete silence.  Oh my gosh.  This guy thinks I’m an idiot!  I am! 

“I’m here,” Tom choked.  “I’m just trying to compose myself.  We have been praying for a therapist to work in Oradea.”

“That’s where I want to go!”

In August, she decided to go and was there by September.  In October of the next year Dawn was called home to care for her father.  He needed a liver transplant and they weren’t sure he was going to live long enough to receive one.  He told her he hadn’t approved of her going to Romania and “wasting her time like that”.  But he had read all her posted updates and now gave her his blessing and made her promise that she would return to Romania and continue her work after he died.  He died in December and after a few months her mother reminded her of her promise to her father so Dawn returned to Romania for another year.

Now she works in Arizona but dreams of training and equipping Nationals to do therapy on the children in Romania.  Abandoned children living in hospitals and orphanages are so sensory deprived.  They are the least touched and least loved.  The longer they are institutionalized the worse it becomes-along with their physical disability comes mental disability from neglect.  If she can train volunteers and hospital workers to do basic stimulation and basic positioning she knows it can be better for the children than if she is there by herself.  In a week if she can train five or six in the basics and they can train others. . .

This time she is in Romania for several weeks and has been doing just that.  Our team member Debbie, is a physical therapist and went with Dawn this past week.  She saw the people Dawn was training and the kids who desperately need a touch.  We’re blessed to have Dawn partnering with Hope4Kids and will see more of her in the future I am sure.  If you’d like to know more about Dawn and what she does please see her website:



Eastern Europe Team – August 16
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August 15 Romania

Today Britt, Mark, Linda, DJ, Robert, Al and Dan S went back to the gypsy village to finish painting the school. They finished and it looks beautiful!

Debbie went with Dawn to do physical therapy on physically challenged children.

The rest of us went to another gypsy village. There we met in a tiny church and talked with the Protestant pastor. He told us they started out meeting in a Romanian home but a Romanian Orthodox priest stirred up trouble because he didn’t want a Protestant church so the lady’s husband said they couldn’t meet in their home anymore. The only person who was willing to stand up to the threats of the priest was a gypsy woman so they met in her home for two years. They prayed for a church and some land and a house with land came up for sale directly across from where the priest lives. When they were purchasing it the priest came to the pastor and said, “I’ll give you any land and as much land as you want. Just don’t buy that land across from me.” The pastor refused his offer. The angry priest told him not one of your people will be buried in our graveyard to which the pastor replied, “We don’t need your land for a graveyard. We have the whole Heaven.” They turned the little house into a church which seats about 20. Three times it was totally vandalized-with the windows and door broken and even a wall knocked down. One night they caught someone trying to set fire to it.

The church was given money to build a new building on the property. It’s unfinished at this time because they ran out of funds. Everyone told the pastor he was crazy to build a church when he has eight children to worry about. “I’m not building the church with my children. I’m building it with God,” he tells them and adds that since they have started building there hasn’t been any more vandalism so they are praying the fight is over. They are putting a shower and laundry room in the back of the church so the kids can come and shower and wash their clothes because they are kicked out of school for being “dirty and stinky.” Currently they meet with the kids twice a week after school. They are taught life skills, manners, how to dress and keep clean, they play games and listen to Bible stories. A social worker comes once a week to counsel them. When they first started the meetings a lot of kids wouldn’t come because of the stories they had been told about those Protestants. A few came and told their friends about all the fun they had and the next time more came. The church wants to start a feeding program too for the children and think between the showers and the food the whole village will want to come.

We had a great time in the village and met kids that we will be sponsoring. I’ll show pictures and talk a little about that in another segment.
Tomorrow our bus will take us back to Budapest. The plan was to take a train but when we found out the train was at four in the morning we voted to go by bus!



Eastern Europe Team – August 14
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Today we the majority of us returned to the gypsy village.  Some of us painted school rooms.  The colors were extremely bright and the paint appeared to be oil base.  The team had such a good time painting and laughing.  I don’t know if they really like painting or the fumes got to them.  Other team members walked around the village visiting homes and playing with children while the rest of us sorted clothing, socks, school supplies and beanie babies.  Mishu, the pastor of the gypsy village brought bags and wrote the names of each family in the village on the bags.  Each child received a beanie baby and underwear.  The parents received soap and underwear and everyone got candy.  Then we loaded all the bags into Mishu’s van and he and his daughters distributed the gifts.  Some of us rode along and watched as the villagers eagerly received their packages and smiled and thanked Mishu profusely. 

Debbie and Al and Dan S went with Dawn to some hospitals where they held and played with abandoned babies. 

It was a great day.  The team walked to dinner from the hotel and afterward took a little walking tour with Dawn and Audi, one of the interpreters.  We pack in full days but time is flying by so quickly and we will rest when we get home?

Thanks for your continued prayers and support.


Eastern Europe Team – August 13
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We all went to church in Oradea run by men and women Tom has known since they were in their teen years.  It is an upbeat church who has reached out to the young people of the community.  There were a LOT of young adults in attendance.  In fact the church was so full people were spilling out to the hallway and the foyer.  Tom joked with his interpreter that he didn’t interpret as well as he did when he was fifteen.  The interpreter had the last laugh.  He told the congregation Tom said “I don’t preach as well as I did fifteen years ago!”  It was a joyful upbeat group.  Young people don’t make a lot of money and there are many students in the church but after Tom talked about Africa they wanted to give today’s offering to the church in Africa.  Their offering is normally less than $200.  Today it was $1350!!  Almost never have we seen a church do this.  Generally they take a special offering after they take their regular church offering.

We went to a beautiful place for lunch.  Alina and George, a couple Tom has known since their teens and often partners with them, told about the outreach work they do.  They go to different cities around the country of Romania and meet with the mayor.  Before they go they research the city find what is their greatest need.  They discuss with the mayor what they can do and tell him/her they will provide the manpower if the city will give them one meal a day and accommodations plus building supplies and tools to do the jobs.  Their next project will be to renovate a four story building to house the homeless.  They have 400 volunteers for the project!  The volunteers pay their own way and even pay for the t-shirts they are required to wear for the project.  Many times their accommodations are their own blanket on the floor.  For the project they are going to do next week they had to turn away volunteers because the city couldn’t house more than 400!  The volunteers take over the city.  You see them everywhere in their matching shirts.  While some work on the building others will be distributing gifts to the poor; holding kid’s ministries with puppets, games, etc.; or praying for people.  All day long people are seeing them at work and asking them what they are doing and why they would work for free.  They tell them they are doing it because of Christ’s love for us and then invite them to a Christian concert they will be performing in the evening.  Last time 1000 people showed up to their concert-that was with no advertising-just word of mouth.


Eastern Europe Team – August 13 – Magnificent Michelle
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MichelleAfter Lunch we went to see Michelle.  She moved her from North Carolina eight years ago to rescue abandoned babies and has done phenomenal things ever since.  She says marrying her husband, Dan is the best thing she’s ever done. . .

Michelle says the number of abandoned babies is phenomenal here in Romania.  Mothers bring them to the hospital saying they are sick and never come back for them.  She started out by volunteering in a hospital for six months.  She would sneak formula in to the babies and feed them.  One day a nurse whom she had befriended caught her and asked, “Is this what you’ve been doing?”  When Michelle admitted she had the nurse said she wondered why the babies were getting healthy and gave her a good tongue lashing.  She begged the nurse not to tell and was told to keep quiet and not let anyone else know what she was doing.  Michelle says sometimes she thinks it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission!  I said, “Our Pastor Rod says that all the time!”  She said her husband told her “that’s not in the Bible!”

What began as a 6 month stay turned into a calling for Michelle and she stayed on in Romania.  She has a degree in social work and felt this was a place she could use it.  Some friends had started a Christian orphanage which was better than remaining abandoned in the hospital but still not a “home” so Michelle, being a voice for the defenseless started an organization called Children of the Son.  She opened Christian foster homes and placed abandoned babies and children from the orphanage in those homes.  These foster parents were all Romanians and many ended up adopting the children. 

Michelle and her husband opened Agape House which is a home for unwed mothers who are at risk of abandoning their babies.  As a social worker Michelle counsels these women and tells them she has tried everything with people but the only thing that will really change them is the power of God.  She tells them “Let Jesus modify your behavior by using Biblical principals.” 

Currently there are two young mothers and their babies living in Agape house.  They will be getting two more next week.  They have Christian house parents who live there and teach the girls life skills.  Michelle said, “You wouldn’t believe how many of these girls don’t even know how to boil and egg.”  I asked, “How do you do that?”

They have a flower garden and teach the girls to raise flowers to cut and sell.  They raise chickens and turkeys and sell the eggs.  During the winter they sell the birds.  They have a huge vegetable garden.

The government says they can keep the girls for one year then they have to go on their own so they are taught job skills and are helped to find work and a place to live.  They are followed up on all the time to make sure they will succeed.

Michelle and Dan also have a project called Arms of Mercy where they find volunteers to work with babies in the hospital providing them with formula, vitamins and other needs.

They have begun a new project but have not yet named it.  Michelle has studied the gypsy culture and says they are the largest group abandoning children.  She says it is very typical to for parents to sell their daughters between the ages of 13 to 15.  They will either sell them for about $110 to a man for his so-called wife or the father will pimp the girls out for one night stands.  Then when the girl becomes pregnant and no one wants the baby they leave it at the hospital.  So now they are approaching hardworking gypsy families and offering this solution.  If the family agrees not to sell their daughter they will pay for her education for as far as she wants to go-doctor, lawyer-whatever.  They will also buy the girl school clothes so she can integrate with the others in school-they’ll pay her fees at a Christian school.  They tell the parents, “Maybe you can get up to $200 for her right now but if she gets an education she could make up to $500 a month!”  They like that.  So far they have a few parents who have agreed to those terms.  One of the girls they are rescuing is eleven years old!  That’s the age of my granddaughter who is in sixth grade!!  Then I thought about my little gypsy girl, Pamela and thought if she isn’t rescued she will be sold!  Oooh.  It gets really personal when you start to know their names!

If you’d like to know more about what this awesome couple is up to look at their website:






Eastern Europe – August 13 – Spotlights
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BrittBritt can count to ten in Romanian!  She’s a twenty-year-old from Iowa and keeps everyone on their toes!  Remember when she hit Robert in the face with a piece of his own birthday cake??  You have to keep your guard up around this one.  She’s full of fun and loved by the team.

Britt was looking for opportunities to travel this summer and her mom told her about this Eastern Europe trip with Hope4Kids and she said, “Cool!”
She has done missions in the past in Mexico and in Oaks, OK on an Indian reservation.

In Mexico she participated in school outreaches.  They weren’t allowed to talk about God but they could do skits on abstinence and urge kids to say no to alcohol and drugs.

Her highlight has been playing with the children in the gypsy village.  She was also moved by the work Michelle is doing.  She can see herself coming back for several months when she finishes her nursing degree to help Michelle with the abandoned babies.  She’s always had a heart for kids-especially babies and has always wanted to do medical missions so she is going to see what God has in store for her but this will definitely be on her mind.

She wonders if Robert will get her back.  I told her “Oh. He will.”  So she has to be on guard too! 

We are so glad Britt’s mom found this trip for her.  She adds so much life to the group!  We would love to see her come back-but more importantly hope that this has helped her prepare for what God would have her to do.


MaryMary is from Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran church in Flagstaff, AZ.  This is her first trip with Hope4Kids.  Tom has been a guest speaker in her church over the past four years.  The first time Mary heard him she was so moved by his message.  She told him, “Sometime I’m going with you.  I don’t know when. . .”  She talked to him about her skills and didn’t know if she was qualified because she wasn’t a medical person but “I like to hug and get people to smile.”  Tom said, “You’re qualified!”

When she heard about this trip she mulled it over because she’s always been interested in Eastern Europe and would like to do some sight seeing.  She felt it was time to give something back and thought this would be perfect to travel and give of herself at the same time.  When she heard Tom had cancer and she battled cancer last year she decided to “go while I can.”

Mary is loving this trip!  She said it is wonderful being with Tom and hearing his stories and experiences.  It’s fun to be right there and to see what he is talking about.  She also loves being in the presence of other Christians.  She thinks that along with Tom’s enthusiasm, love and leadership is what makes this trip so fabulous.

The gypsy kids have impacted Mary the most.  She said it felt good to see the joy they had in being with us and we had nothing to give them the other day-no Barbies or GI-Joes-no game boys-just our time and playful ways and the children were happy and appreciative just being with us.

When I asked if she would like to go with us again, her eyes lit up, “I would LOVE to!  And I’d like to encourage others to go too!”

We love to see you again Mary.  We like your hugs and smiles.


Hope 4 Kids International is 501c3 faith-based non-profit committed to help children around the world that are suffering from extreme poverty through Dignity, Health, Joy & Love.

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