stories

Girls at Street Children Home

This month I wanted to share a story from one of the street children’s homes we support. I got to visit this home for girls about a month after it opened in 2013. What an answer to prayer it was to see how God went before us to open this home!

At the time I was there, 6 girls had been rescued and were living there. Hearing their stories was heartbreaking. But seeing the hope and joy they had, now having a safe home to grow, heal and just be kids—how incredibly beautiful.

In a little while you’ll read the story of “Ashmita”, a young girl who was rescued from an abusive situation where she was forced to labor as a child.

Video by Elicia Christofferson

But first I want to share a special memory from my visit to this home. The girls loved having their photos taken (it seemed like every kid we met did!) The three youngest ones, including Ashmita, would crowd in front of my camera and say “Chapati!” each time I snapped a photo—just like American kids would say “Cheese!” for the camera. (Chapati is Indian flatbread similar to a tortilla.) I secretly got a video of those precious girls too. :)


Young Child Laborer Finds New Life

Reposted from Gospel for Asia

Photo from Gospel for Asia

It burned. Ashmita hurled her exhausted young body into the kitchen. Her eyes stung as she cried out in agony. Chili powder washed off her small cheeks in a red stream as she anxiously tried to recover from the new form of abuse. But the pain in her eyes couldn’t compare to the pain and confusion found in her young, tender heart.

A Living Nightmare

Ashmita doesn’t remember very much about her life before her father died. In fact, she hardly remembers her father at all. The only thing she remembers is he was ill and couldn’t eat spicy foods, and one day he was gone forever.

After his death, Ashmita and her mother moved into someone else’s house to do domestic housework. After a time, Ashmita’s mom sent her to live with another family as a servant. This became a living nightmare for Ashmita.

From morning to night she washed dishes, mopped floors and sometimes washed clothes. When she couldn’t do her work, they beat her legs with canes and slapped her.

“The house where I was staying . . . I was very much ill-treated,” Ashmita shared. “When everybody [went] to bed after food at night, the house owner used to watch television. While watching the television, she used to ask me to massage her legs. If I am tired, if my hands are hurting, she used to beat me and ask me to massage her properly. One night, when I was massaging her leg, I was very tired and sleepy, and while massaging, I slept off. She went to the kitchen and brought some pepper powder [chili] and put that pepper powder in my eyes.

“Once my mother called me,” Ashmita remembers. “She asked that [woman] whether [I was] around. Then she told lie to my mother, and she replied that ‘Ashmita is sleeping,’ while I was sitting with them. While she was talking to my mother, she motioned me not to speak and be quiet and continue the work I was doing.”

Photo by Elicia Christofferson

Ashmita’s mother was of no comfort to her daughter. When Ashmita was allowed to talk with her mom over the phone, the young girl cried and pleaded with her, asking her to take her out of the home she lived in. But her mom told her to do whatever they said. Even though her mom was not involved in her life very much, Ashmita missed her terribly and longed to escape the life she was living.

House of Refuge, House of Hope

When the local authorities found out about Ashmita’s situation, they rescued her from child labor and brought her to a GFA-supported home for abandoned and at-risk children. Now precious Ashmita is safe from abuse, pain and hopelessness. No longer forced to labor, she lives like a child should.

Photo by Elicia Christofferson

Ashmita plays with other children her age, bathes, receives daily meals, learns songs and dances with the other girls at the home. She attends school and likes it! She especially loves the staff who care for her, and the other girls who help her with her studies.

“I like this place so much; I like all these didis (older sisters). They work hard for me and for all of us,” Ashmita shared. “I like this place and I don’t [want] to leave this place and go to any other place or orphanage because of the love and care that we get here.”

Ashmita is thriving under the love she is receiving—love every child longs for.

Best of all, Ashmita has learned she is safe in the arms of Jesus. He saw her tears and knew the pain she felt in her heart. By His kindness and love, He brought her to this home. His love is found in the staff who daily look after and nurture the children who have been abused, abandoned, misplaced and forgotten, girls just like Ashmita.

“The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow.”—Psalm 146:9

Photo by Elicia Christofferson

A Testimony of God’s Provision and Confirmation

Before I even came to Canada, God used two things to totally confirm that I was supposed to come. While I was raising my support, I was
praying that I would have 100% pledged before I came. Looking at my support report a few days before I left for Canada, I realized that God had answered that prayer! Many people had been generous with one-time gifts and monthly pledges, and God showed me His provision by bringing in my support.

Six days before I was set to fly to Toronto, I got out my passport and had an awful realization. My passport had expired last August! Oh no. Mom and Dad and I began praying, and looking into getting my passport renewed. It was easy to blame ourselves for this mistake, but we had to choose to believe that God is sovereign and is in control. Romans 8:28 and Matthew 19:26 were promises that encouraged me.

The normal route to renew a passport is to go to the post office, make an appointment, apply for renewal, and wait a few weeks for the new passport to come in the mail. But I didn’t have the time to do that – I needed to leave in 6 days!

It was a situation that seemed impossible for humans, and that was just the place for God to do a miraculous work! The leaders of GFA Canada and an auntie who helps with travel things for GFA gave us good advice about renewing my passport quickly, and directed me to go to the Federal Building in downtown Dallas. And I got my passport just three days before I left for Canada!
Every time I tell this story, God’s provision completely blows my mind. He completely confirmed that it was His plan for me to come to Canada, and it is so exciting to be here, right in the centre of His will.

Life recently.

What if time is relative? Wrapping my mind around that concept is difficult. Like trying to comprehend infinity or the size of the universe.

Nevertheless. Time goes faster for me these days – maybe it’s because there is so much to do, and almost every moment of my day is mapped out.

But I’m enjoying this time. Building relationships with wonderful people, learning so much, growing so much.

And enjoying a few donuts while I’m at it.
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February 12 was Pancake Tuesday. We made bacon pancakes for supper.
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Susan and Sharlena and I went to a social justice event and shared about how Gospel for Asia is bringing hope to children in Asia. And about School of Discipleship.
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Eight people make up our School of Discipleship class: Crissy, me, Daniel, Sharlena, Ashley, Abbey, Michelle, and Chris. We don’t always make it to lunch at the same time, but that day we did :)
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We eat some delicious food around here.
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Three times a week, we have class. Reading, listening, learning, and discussing.
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And taking random selfies. Just for fun.
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Happy Saturday!

golden hour portraits

Of my sister Clara.

golden hour 01

golden hour 02

golden hour 03

These photos just happened, really. We were outdoors on a late afternoon, in the backyard, just talking. Then it was like “the light is beautiful… your eyes are beautiful… wait, let me grab my camera.” I had some expired Fujichrome film loaded in my 35mm SLR, so that’s what I shot with.

farmers market explorations

A group of friends and I  trekked downtown on our city’s public transportation, and we explored the farmers market! The last time I had been was years ago -and I remember it as wonderful and magical, so I was hoping it would live up to my expectations. It did! But I will begin at the start of our journey. We met at the DART rail station around 8am, bought the passes, and hopped on the train. My sister and I had made scones to share as we rode. Oops, we forgot about the no food and drinks rule. Riding the Green Line through the trees and neighborhoods, the view out our window transitioned to the downtown city. We passed a few corner coffee shops and cafes and rode through a few stations before departing at the St. Paul Station. We then walked down about a mile to the farmers market.
dallas farmers market


dallas farmers market produce

The color, the fragrance, the noise of all the shoppers…
dallas farmers market : berries


railway birds

I came home with a bag full of fresh local produce, yum.

my handpainted shoes

These shoes… I never imagined what they would do! I hand painted these coral ombre sneakers for a friend, because I wanted to give her a unique gift. Before I gave them away, I took some photos of them. I thought I might list them on my Etsy shop, just to see if anyone would be interested. They were fun to make, so why not? They sat in the shop for a few weeks, mostly unnoticed; a few views, favorites, and treasuries here and there.

Some time later, an ecstatic email from my sister popped up in my inbox. She forwarded an Etsy Finds newsletter to me and across the top she said “YOU ARE ON HERE!!!!!!!”

The result of my excitement? Jumping up, dancing around the house, telling everyone… never did I imagine one of my items would be in the Etsy newsletter!  I was so excited.

Now this little pair of shoes has thousands of views, hundreds of favorites, and is in dozens of treasuries. And I’ve had a few sales too :)

And then last week… I discovered that my shoes were in Etsy’s 4th of July newsletter too!

coral ombre canvas shoes

http://www.etsy.com/listing/98170151/coral-ombre-fade-sneakers

of chocolate cake

So: this is mostly for my future reference. Or just to get this out of my head.

It’s ridiculous how many links I follow to find crazy things on the web… and I can never remember how I find things!

Like, I almost went through 16 pages of chocolate cake recipes on Bon Appetit because I thought that’s where I found the recipe for my chocolate birthday cake back in February…. and then I realized where the recipe actually was. On the recipe blog of this cool girl who lives in NYC and shoots all her food photos WITH FILM. So impressive. They’re beautiful photos. But, that’s where the chocolate cake recipe was from. The enormous, three layer, batter too big for the bowl cake. Right here. And the tinier vanilla three layer cake I made that for that party also was from that blog. My cake was small because I think I 2/3rds the recipe or something. (I am aware that the above sentence is not proper grammar.)

It was a great party, by the way. My 18th birthday, it had to be good. Go stalk my celebrations here.

And since I’m talking recipes: these are the best brownies ever, and this pie is amazing. And my Mom made a granola recipe from the Bon Appetit magazine today, and it made me so happy. Surfers Granola, accompanied by Surfin’ USA by the Beach Boys.

My goodness this post is quilted with links. Did you know that all of the fireworks in San Diego went off at once? HAH

Happy July, enjoy your summer, and don’t forget to wear your sunscreen! (Today was Safety Day at the pool… I’m a swim instructor. It’s great.)

project: forgotten christmas

Back in January, my sister Clara and I helped plan for Gospel for Asia’s Forgotten Christmas video. This is the second year GFA has done this project – and its purpose is to challenge the way we think about Christmas. This 2 minute video forces us to think, to look at Christmas differently.

Have we lost the meaning of Christmas? Have we covered it up with “stuff?” Has Christmas become about the decorations, the gifts, and the celebrations, rather than JESUS? We’ve let these things steal our focus.  It’s not the way it should be.

As Christians, we are to be in the world, not of it. It’s hard to fix our focus on the one thing that does matter – Jesus. It’s hard to tear ourselves away from this world, and to look at Christmas differently.

Put Christ first this Christmas.

Go watch this video here: www.forgottenchristmas.org

Last weekend I created this with my friend.

Time-lapse .gif of it’s making:

And just for fun:

You might notice the “gfa.org/gift” written in chalk up there. GFA’s Christmas Catalog is a way that we can help people who are lost and without hope. The Dalit people group in Asia is the Forgotten People (go to this link to learn more). We can remember them this Christmas, and share with them the love and hope of Christ. Not only can we tell them of the God who loves them, but we can help them in practical ways as well. With a goat, a sewing machine, a cow, some chickens – these people can make a new life for themselves, and learn of the One who died to save their sins.

Thanksgiving Prep

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day! And  you know me, I love to bake. So there has been lots of baking going on :)

Clara made a berry pie yesterday, this morning I made an apple pie, Mom made Mema’s cranberry jello, I also made rolls, and I made a pumpkin cheesecake pie. (Graham cracker crust pies, by the way, are the very easiest to make.)

Oh, and this apron. I made it in Mom’s sewing class!

*Photo credit to my sister Clara