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Tag Archive | "orphanage"

The Post travels to Zimbabwe


Esther Couturier at the orphanage in Zimbabwe.

Esther Couturier at the orphanage in Zimbabwe.

By Esther Couturier

This summer a life long dream recently turned into reality for me when I was able to travel to Zimbabwe, Africa. Since I was 12, God has been cultivating a desire in me to someday live in Zimbabwe. I have continued to believe that despite my circumstances, and of not knowing how it would happen, that one day God would provide a way for me to travel to Zimbabwe.

God orchestrated this through my meeting a young man, in my church, who was visiting from Zimbabwe last summer. He invited me to stay with his family. I was able to travel to Zimbabwe on May 31 and stayed for eight weeks! It was the best eight weeks of my life, so far.

While I was there, I took the Post on many adventures, from reading to children in an orphanage, decorating cupcakes with foster children, helping feed the elderly and visiting a Government Hospital. We also visited Gonarezhou National Park, where we saw hippos and rhinos. At a game reserve we rode elephants and petted a lion. We also experienced Jackal hunting, hiking Victoria Falls, and white water rafting on the Zambezi. We also toured a butchery and shopped at the flea markets.

My favorite part of the trip was staying on a farm. Besides enjoying the absolute beauty of the place, I also enjoyed vaccinating mombes (the word for cows in Shona—Zimbabwe’s native language), riding motorbikes, and teaching at the school. I helped teach math to eight-year-old children and English to 14-year olds. I also climbed gomos (mountainous terrain), and I talked with many of the employees, who helped teach me Shona.

Everyone I met along the way was exceptionally nice. The families I stayed with are very relational and enjoy talking over tea and rusks. I really loved just listening to everyone’s stories. Some tell of just the hardships in the past, others tell of hope for restoration, while most tell of both. There are so many different aspects and cultures in Zimbabwe. Life is different there. Even though there are power outages daily, lack of variety in food and supplies, potholes galore along with insane driving, and a corrupt government, I loved every bit of it!

God answers prayers and He fulfills His promises. He is a God who has a plan for everyone’s life, because He formed us and loves us. I know without a doubt I will return to Zimbabwe. The vision God has placed in my heart is not yet fully fulfilled.

Thank you to everyone who supported me, prayed for me and encouraged me. I hope to continue to share this journey.

I was not able to, or had forgotten take photos with the Post everywhere I went, but it was in my back pack everywhere I traveled.

Thanks, Esther, for taking us with you on your adventure!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

 

 

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Courtland residents help paint orphanage in Guatemala


Two Courtland Township residents, Diane Johnson and Barb VanWagoner, recently traveled to Guatemala to work with an orphanage. Below is Diane’s account of the trip.

Diane Johnson

Diane Johnson and the iguana she painted on one of the walls of the new orphanage in Guatemala recently.

I recently had the privilege to travel to Guatemala to be a part of a newly formed ministry called Paradise Bound Open Doors Orphanage.  My friend and neighbor, Barb Van Wagoner and I were on the construction team that was painting the orphanage.
A dear friend of ours, Diane Brownell, lost her daughter Audra when a rock struck her while she was on a church youth group trip in CO this past summer. The proceeds from Audra’s memorial went towards the founding of an orphanage in Guatemala, where Audra had participated in a mission trip with Paradise Bound two summers ago. The ministry of Paradise Bound was born in 1998 after a long-standing civil war in Guatemala ended and Dan and Heidi Smith became missionaries to the Guatemalan people. By 2000 they had various churches involved on short-term mission trips to take part in building small homes (10 x 12 with a concrete foundation) there in the remote mountainous villages. Audra had helped to build one of these homes.

giraffe painting

This giraffe shows part of the mural in the infant room at the Open Doors orphanage in Guatemala.

Guatemala is a beautiful country in Central America, about the size of the state of Tennessee, with 14 million people living there. Of those, 75 percent of the people are living below the poverty line.  It was an eye-opening experience being in a third world country for the first time, in small villages where many of the homes were partially constructed of corn stalks, tin, or planks of wood with dirt floors and no running water.  The homes built by Paradise Bound are gratefully received and the people call them the “warm houses.”
The orphanage came into existence by the power of God and the power of prayer. A small group of people met each week for this purpose, to seek God’s will, as Paradise Bound had a heart for the many orphans there and the desire to provide a home for them. God opened doors in amazing ways as a result of those prayers, bringing the people and resources together that is involved with founding an orphanage; hence the name is Open Doors Orphanage. The country had closed its doors to foreign adoptions a few years ago, and the need for a well-run Christian orphanage is great. The site of the orphanage is connected to the Paradise Bound mission base, and it is a beautiful labor of love built by many skilled volunteers. We left behind a brightly painted building with lovely murals and Scripture passages on the walls. I even drew and painted an iguana!
If anyone is interested in supporting the orphanage, there is a newly opened Thrift Shop at 6661 Alpine Ave serves that purpose. After meeting expenses, all the proceeds go directly to the support of the Open Doors Orphanage.  You can also learn more about their ministry by going to their website at www.opendoorsorphanage.org If your church group or family are interested in helping out there you can also find out how at this website.

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