Welcome to the Compassion House in Tanzania!

Come and see the home we helped to build !

After years of fundraising, our Freeride 836 effort was combined with the Women of Compassion annual fundraiser. Together, along with many other generous donors, the Compassion House in Tanzania was built, at three times it’s original size! Because of this home, 30 orphaned girls in Africa will have a family.

Dedication day was a glorious celebration of the completion! 
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The home is so much bigger than I expected and the first 10 little girls have moved in!

Here’s one, meet Zawati!

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Zawati giggled as I painted the bottom of her feet for this picture.

I wanted to capture an image

of her “small steps” in life !

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Zawati’s Story

Zawati  was orphaned as a very little baby and was taken to a local orphanage. In African orphanages, children are subjected to poor living conditions and malnutrition. Zawati’s condition began to deteriorate. Her grandfather heard that she was dying of malnutrition in the orphanage. He went to the orphanage and brought her home to live with a relative. The relative was unable to care for her. The grandfather contacted Juma, who is the local operations manager of the Compassion House, in Tanzania. He told Juma that a beautiful little girl needed a home. Juma visited Zawati and brought her to her forever home at the Compassion House.  She was confused and cried when she was taken away from her relative. She didn’t know what was going to happen to her as she was loosing the person she thought would be her caregiver.  Within minutes of stepping into the Compassion House, she was laughing and giggling with her new sisters and house mothers. She realized she was in a safe and secure home, where all her needs would be met with love. I enjoyed watching her play during my stay in Tanzania. Seeing the joy on her face, I could tell she is happy to be a part of the family at the Compassion House.

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This home is not your typical institutional orphanage.

Inside this beautiful home you smell the scent of fresh baked bread each morning.  Life-giving sounds erupt with joy from little girls laughing and playing. Food is served fresh and hot on a family style table where the girls gather to say grace and share three delicious meals a day.

Jerry and Christi Haag,  Florida Baptist Children’s Home President and wife,  came to the dedication in Africa !

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They toured the grounds to see the beautiful self-sustaining property-

The property grows coffee, vegetables, bananas and fresh fruits.

There is a community well and a Tilapia fish pond for protein.

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Scripture is written above the door of the home.

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We are so grateful for the partnership of  Orphans Heart and Florida Baptist Children’s Homes.

We continue to appreciate their care and concern for orphaned children in this world,

and especially the ones in Tanzania.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony! 

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Just remember today,

every small step of compassion matters in your life #smallstepsofcompassion Click To Tweet

You never realize the impact of generous giving until you see the faces and smiles of the children you have helped.

 

Rory Story #1: What is the color of love?

What color represents love to you? slider-mission

Blue

red

yellow

 Love was blue and grey shades of sadness the night my husband discovered a boy from our church was leaving town for good.

Fear made my husband’s voice quiver.

“I think Rory is leaving for New York. His family is homeless in three days.”

Rory is a 19 year old African-American young man from our Sunday School Class at church. He was introduced to Christianity through Compassion House, a food bank and resource center that is next to our church. He went to Compassion House to get food for his family and eventually work to earn more food by helping around the place.

Rory’s family lived in the ghetto of lakeland and has struggled with poverty and homelessness for years. He has lived in abandoned houses, foster care, group homes and cars. He and his biological mother were on their own after his father died when he was 8 years old. Rory came to our church at 18 years old.

Love became deep shades of red, as this boy captured my husband’s heart in Sunday School each week.

There is something so special about Rory and his personality. He had a genuine love for learning and was an active participant in discussions. Rory was not like most of the kids in Sunday School. As he left church, he walked back to a hard life and not a privileged meal at a restaurant.  He walked back to a life on streets without security that most of take for granted.

Love was shadows of grey for Rory living in the ghetto.

The ghetto: full of  hopelessness and empty promises from those he trusted.The ghetto: devoid of true joy. It is survival. It is getting by. It is never living for more than Friday. Rory told me that when you live in the ghetto, you start to get used to believing you will never get out. There is nothing more. Good people have nothing and bad people are rewarded with  money in bad ways. They seem to prosper.

Three weeks ago, love became yellow in my husband’s heart, shining hope for Rory in a moment of decision.

Mark shined an opportunity that came with a question:

“Rory, will you stay in lakeland, Florida? I can help you here but I can’t help you in New York.”

Mark quickly left church with Rory and asked him mother to trust him to try to help Rory. His mother agreed to let us take care of him, to try to help build a better life for Rory in the future. Through her tears and some hesitation, Rory made the decision to stay in Lakeland. He came to live with us on the other side of town.

Love was orange as fear and in trepidation filled my heart-

MARK- ARE YOU CRAZY!!!!! We just sent a boy off to school and now we are taking on another one that I don’t even know! I felt a wave of panic mixed fear and impending disaster-

Love was white in my heart that day- White is safe- White is plane – White is status quo- white throws money at problems but not it’s heart!

That’s what safe white girls do!

A solution was born that Rory would live across the street at my brother-in-laws house. A safe entry to a stranger coming to live with us, unexpectedly but not completely unwanted. It was my fear that was preventing me from extending full love to this boy who needed my help, our help, our family.

He arrived with dirty clothes that we began to wash and a gorgeous smile that was irresistible. His hug left me speachless that first day.

Somewhere deep inside, I heard a voice say, Will you make him a meal? Will you just make him food?

Love became the color of grilled chicken and salad. It became the color of green beans on a plate from a can.

Love smelled like good food. I’ve smelled that kind of love before in Malnutrition Centers in Guatemala with Orphans Heart.

As I took that plate of food to Rory, I was filled with joy, more than any joy you find in a store or experience on a vacation. I heard that familiar heartbeat in my ears, the one that beats for the needy, the poor, the hungry. Yes, I know that heart beat. I usually have to get on a plane and fly around the world to help hungry kids. Now I just have to open my door.

Love became purple, a royal calling was being born and I began to see this boy with a kingdom purpose for God in this world.

This was not ordinary street kid, this was a man in the making. This boy had potential for so much more and with just a little, his life could become a lot.

My Christian speaking and writing ministry seems ridiculous in light of the tangible opportunity I had to change the color of love in my heart.

Yesterday, my brother-in-laws house sold. Rory moved into my home, into my son’s bedroom, and into my heart.

Love was green yesterday, as I shopped for groceries in the store with him.

I let Rory drive the family mini-van to the grocery store, practicing his driving. ” Miss Tracey, I am whipping’ the hoop-tie . ( that means driving the car )  He is a becoming a great driver as Mark helped him get his learners permit. He practices driving our cars in a back field behind our house. We walked in the grocery and he grabbed the cart to push for me. He remembered doing that for his own mom.

An unexpected simple experience suddenly transformed into a bond experience.  We picked out food and vegetables and yes, I even let him get sugared cereal, Frosted Flakes! We laughed in the grocery story as he pushed my cart. I felt just like I do with my own boys. My little helper just happens to be 250 pounds and 19 years old.  We laughed as we saw Black families looking at me strange and white people looking at him. As we were checking out of the lane, I noticed I was late to pick up my daughter.

Rory smiled and laughed- ” Uh Oh, I am late to pick up my little sister! ”

We headed to the car, picked up Faith, and headed home

Love is black, rich deep ebony, warming my soul and fueling my faith.

As I fluffed pillows on his bed and took laundry to be washed, my heart filled with pride as if this boy could be my own son. Rory is in my home and love is black, rich deep ebony in my heart. My faith sees this young man as a great leader and a prosperous individual.

I may never be the color of his skin but he is the color of my heart.

Today, I am thankful I didn’t stay the color of fear or the color of my safety-

I am glad God changed the color of love in my heart-

Will you change the color of you heart?

Think about my initial question:

What color is love and will you let God change that color to love someone else- ?