Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back in the saddle again....

Been a while since we updated our blog!
World of computer problems along with
adjusting to a lot of changes!
But don't worry, Hope Provided has been 
doing just fine and staying very busy.
We're excited to share some pictures 
from our work these past few months
along with some stories.
So stay tuned!!

As of right now, staying busy, filling 
care bags for our homeless neighbors 
in need, to prepare for the storm
scheduled to hit Richmond tomorrow
morning. Please keep our community
in your prayers and maybe show a little 
extra love on your outings!

Happy Turkey Week!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Happy (busy) Holidays!

Theres a lot of talk that goes on around this time of year about what the Holiday's are "really about." Whether it be a blog post, facebook status, email forward or tweet; people always seem to buzz about local charities, soup kitchens, angel tree drives and goodwill drop offs. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad there are so many avenues for people to read and share their hearts for those less fortunate, especially at a time as special as Christmas.
But I find myself curious as to where all the personal involvement has gone?
It's easy to post an add you came across for "A thanksgiving meal" or "Present drop off". But where are the face to face encounters? Where are the post about the man you spent Christmas day with?

This is not a guilt post! So it thats what your getting out of this, maybe there is something at work in your own heart.
I simply would like to know what people are ACTUALLY doing...no more mass stories about those 1 in a million people who did an incredible act of kindness. Brag on yourself! I want to hear about it! I want to be encouraged by the neighbors in my own community who aren't just reading about the nice stuff, their doing it.
I recently took a homeless woman out to breakfast, at what felt like, an ungodly hour. She said she wanted to go early because she wakes up when the sun comes up (of course) and "enjoys the quietness of the city at that time of day." I have never really considered the sleeping patterns of a homeless person before. Never sleeping in, never going to bed early, waking up to all kinds of sounds that you can't control. When I apologized for all my pestering questions, she stopped me and said "It's nice to have someone curious about whats going on in my life."

I love that. When the meal was over, she didn't ask for anything, or even want anything else. She was content with company and conversation over a hot meal.

This short encounter made me regroup back to the basics. It's not about the number of blankets, food or presents we pass out this holiday season. It's the faces of the people we are handing them too. Try to remember to not get overwhelmed by the needs. Just see and hear the one person who is in front of you today. I encourage you not to just hand out money to the sign holder, but to maybe pull over, stop your "busy schedule" and mind from racing, to remember whats important. People.

Christ was never overwhelmed or discouraged by hundreds of faces and needs he saw every day. Why is that? He was fully human, fully capable of giving into that stressful feeling of "never doing enough" or the guilt of doing nothing at all.
It's because he concentrated on the individual. It's because he was so in-tune with the Father that he was able to focus (fully) on one need at a time, allowing both hearts to be opened and prepared for each other. So that both the homeless man and he were blessed.

I know its easy to use the "I'm busy" excuse. There is so much pressure from society to always be doing something. It's a subconscious answer when friends ask me what I'm up to, to say "Oh just crazy busy!"
SO heres the challenge; Be open. Don't be so busy. Just don't. I promise that you are the one who sets your schedule. You make time for the things that are important to you.
Give time and love to the things that last, people. When you look back on this christmas, years from now, you wont remember sending a check in. You'll remember the single mom and 4 children you had over for Christmas dinner. Or the man you handed a blanket to downtown and listened to his life story.
You'll never know the value that people give to a good listener or someone who simply cared enough to notice. For some people, its everything. 

Happy Holiday's everyone! May it be filled with tons of happy people and love 

Email me with needs in your area, or your encouraging stories.
To get involved with a need in Richmond you can also contact me through phone or email;
Kourtney@hetrickpainting.com 804.461.6252
Our Sponsor

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Community Development, just a reminder...

Community development (CD) is
a broad term given to the practices of civic activists, involved citizens and professionals to build stronger and more resilient local communities.
Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing them with the skills they need to effect change in their own communities. These skills are often created through the formation of large social groups working for a common agenda. Community developers must understand both how to work with individuals and how to affect communities' positions within the context of larger social institutions. 

How are you investing and helping your local community?

I am so excited to be back in Richmond for the Holidays working with Hope Provided and other local business! Only a few short weeks left here in Chiang Mai Thailand!

Plans for Thanksgiving? How about taking some of those leftovers to local parks to share with your neighbors who don't have families to sit with? Or maybe organizing a Thanksgiving dinner with a local soap kitchen? All kinds of ideas!!
Please share with us your plans to give back this Holiday season, or email us for needs in your area you'd like to help with!

Our sponsor! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Red Light District

From christinayoung.theworldrace.org
Have I told you yet that Kalzone and I work on the red light district?
Right in the middle of it.
Every night girls line the streets by the dozens. They stand outside "karaoke bars", "massage parlors", "cafes" or places labeled things that leave no mystery as to what their selling...
The girls are usually sitting in a chair, being looked over by a man of all nationalities, staring down at their laps or having their faces and hair checked over by (what I can only assume is) their pimp.

Most nights I want to pull over and ask them questions, why they're here, who they are, whats happen to them...
Maybe it's a blessing that language separates our lives. I'm sure the answers to these questions would cause more harm then good. 

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want. I can do ALL things through Christ..." Phil 4
I can feel my mind spreading thin with all the dreams of things I want to accomplish with I'm here...or in life.
The distraction of myself is still the greatest battle, trying to focus my mind to finish the goal that I started and not be swept away with the emotions that over power my passion at times. 

Thailand is full of so much life. So many good things. The wonderful aroma of food sizzling in the markets, tuk-tuk cabs rushing by, music from musicians hoping to make a few baht. Its all yours, how much can you take in?

But the underline deep depression...one that I feel in America at times. Is also very present. Lurking in the faces of the girls "selling flowers" on the streets. Lingering outside the bars that line the streets...following the men that walk in and out of them.

What must it feel like to loose your soul. To use money to buy a human. 

I heard
a story the other day of missionaries who had come to teach english to some hill tribe children in the mountains... Sounded similar to the work Kal and I are doing so my ears perked up!
To the twisting of my stomach the story unfolded into a horror tale of a man who had actually raised support to come to Chiang Mai to molest and rape children who spoke neither thai nor english...a sick, perfect plan. The Hill tribe people are not actual citizens of Thailand and therefore nothing can be done to the perpetrator or for the victims...

Or the story of the famous "trafficking ring" just north of here, where all the boarders meet. A woman sold her 2 day old baby to foreigner men trafficking children...the baby was sold for 5,000 baht....(roughly $150 dollars).

I wish we weren't so desensitized. I wish we could picture, in such a raw way what all of this actually means.

I'm encouraged by all the great work I do see happening here, and that God is raising up people all over to pursue their passions, whatever they may look like.
But this morning...my heart is heavy. My mind is tangled. And my arms feel weak... It's one of those days where you feel like, nothing could ever be enough.
That is why I am thankful that not only are mercy's new every morning, but also that, it is through the weak man the Lord finds His strength in us...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sawat dee Ka (Honored to be in your presence)

In love with this place already.

Thailand, which is appropriately nicknamed "Land of Smiles", somehow finds a way to capture people in both its cultural beauty and physical enticement.

Most of the missionaries have lived here 5 plus years.

"I just can't seem to leave...when people ask me where home is, I instinctively reply- Chiang Mai."
--Heather (one of the Volunteers at Garden of Hope) 

                                                          Kalzone and I teach English 4 days a

week and volunteer for a missionary family once a week.
So far the greatest challenge has been my own limitations. The children are eager and willing to learn. Like little sponges, they sit quietly in those moments of silence when I am praying through the next step to teach in class.

Kal is with the elementary children and I have the honor of teaching kids that look 5 years older then me, though I am told they are high school age.

We're taking Thai classes twice a week to help us be more effective here, this has been a huge blessing as our tutor has offered to teach us for free in exchange for English lessons at the end of ours. Unfortunately, where we teach in the Hill tribes, the kids speak neither English nor Thai....I can't begin to tell you faces I've had to make and ridiculous gestures I've had give to get my point across and teach a simple word.
Sometimes I'm feeling very unequipped and bored with my own material, wondering how the kids will ever be enthusiastic about the subject if I am not. But God continues to be both faithful and gracious with me. I feel like I am already learning so much about myself and more of my purpose for God's work through these faces. Even in the heat of the 100+ degrees, I'm feeling very much at home during our time in the mountains, it is, still, my happy place and where I feel most alive. 

We are missing 30 of our kids in this picture....

Despite crazy traffic, many warnings and statistics like, "Thailand being the second place in the world for more tourists to die from motorbike collisions.", one of my favorite things to do here is drive around Chiang Mai. Kalzone is extraordinary with directions and makes me feel like a local with how well we are able to get around. Between my fearless driving and her amazing sense of direction...we make a pretty great team.
God has been very merciful and we have only been honked at once!

Prayer request:

Our biggest need right now is SLEEP! Poor Kal and I have not slept through the night once since we've been here, our backs and necks have been achy every morning. Please pray for peaceful, restful sleep.

Our visa run trip!
Laos is just around the corner, 2 weeks! And with it is coming many hidden fees....Kal and I need about $150 more dollars to cover the trip and prayer that everything goes smoothly at the immigration office and the trip itself.

The Hill tribe children. We were a little shocked by how little the school was getting on without. The kids in my class share 1 pencil for ever 4 students, paper is often something ripped off a poster, not to mention other basic needs like flash cards, crayons, notebooks, books, etc.
Along with school needs the children also have a few health issues, many of them are orphaned and the ones who are not are here away from their families because their original tribes are to poor to feed them or school them. This being said, many of the kids come from all over and share everything they have...including lice and worms. We were able to go buy basic school supplies and good shampoo, but obviously all that is temporary. Please pray for a more permeant solution and wisdom for Kal and I as we treat some of the health needs and teach them English and the love of God.

Protection for both of us. Against sickness, lice and spiritual battles.

Thank you so much for all your support in every way!
We are so overwhelmed by the community that has come along side us in this trip.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

We made it! Thailand Day 1!

Thai food= My taste buds have never been this excited about foreign food.

The market place is magic. So many colors and wonderful food.

Kalzone and I are jet-lagged, but happy to be safe and sound in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Bring it on...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thailand Here We Come!

After a traveling to DC twice in 3 days, Kalzone and I finally have it all! And God is SO SO good! Thank you for all the prayers and support that poured in over the past week.

Hearing terror stories of lost passports and expensive visas had me rebuking worry the past few weeks. But now, sitting in a coffee shop, passport stamped with a visa in hand, I can't describe the my overwhelming thankfulness. The Lord has far exceeded all my expectations, goals and what I deserve over the course of this month. We leave Tuesday morning for Chiang Mai and it feels like a dream. Theres been so many blessings and so much confirmation covering this trip. I just know the Lord has huge things for the 2 of us, and I can't wait to see how it unfolds.
Thank you for all you do!

- 2 Blessed girls -