Not My Favorite Place

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There is an orphanage in Bulgaria that breaks my heart more than any other.  I adore the children who live there, but the despair and ugliness of this building is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  The building is old and decrepit.   No pictures on the dirty walls. No place to play.  Nothing beautiful to see.  Children shivering at night because they don’t have adequate bedding or heat.

We are on a mission in this place.  In three weeks, our ministry will be buying new bedding (duvets, duvet covers, sheets and pillows) for every child in this place.  We are working to have beautiful pictures of the children on the walls.  Over the next year, we hope to paint the interior and redo the dining area.  Warm blankets will arrive before the next winter. New shoes will be delivered this summer so that the children can go to school.  I want this place transformed in every way.  If you want to help, you can use the donate button at the top of the blog.

PRAY for families to come for these children.   I can’t even imagine growing up without a family in this place.

Much love, Mary

A Tale of Two Orphanages

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In three weeks, I will be going back to the land I love.  This will be my seventh trip to Bulgaria to work with orphans in that land.  Over the past two years, my relationships with orphanage directors have deepened and trust has grown.  My ministry partners and I now have access to places we only dreamed of.  We have been able to provide food, clothing, training and medical care to hundreds of orphans.

Over the next two days, I want to share with you two very different orphanages.  Bulgaria has very strict regulations on orphan privacy, so I can’t give orphanage names or show pictures of any of the children.  But, I want you to have a better idea of the needs in this country.

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The first orphanage had a horrible past – a bad director, starving children, abuse and neglect.  A new director took over the care of this building 7 years ago, and she has been working tirelessly to help the children in her care.  She and her staff care for more than 100 children with severe special needs.  It took us a while to earn her trust, but we now have a sweet friendship with the director.  Our ministry has provided thousands of dollars of formula and supplements, we pay for a doctor and two therapists to visit the children weekly, we provide any needed medical testing, and we were able to buy them a good used car. This orphanage is two hours from the children’s hospital in Sofia, but they didn’t have any reliable transportation to get the children from the orphanage to the hospital.  Because of your financial gifts to our ministry, they now have a car. Thank you!

 

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The director called last week with a large, specific need.  This orphanage hires older women (babas) who work one on one with the children.  These women help dress the children, read to them, take them for walks or stroller rides, and provide the individual attention that children living in orphanages desperately need.  These women work for very little money (less than $120 per month), and their love for the children is precious to see.  The orphanage lost the funding for the Baba Program, and they have asked our ministry to help.  We want to pay the salaries for 10 babas over the next year.  The total monthly cost is $1200 for the 10 women.  If you would like to help, please use the donate button at the top of the page.  Without this program, the children will not get the individual attention that they need.

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Please pray for our relationship with this director and orphanage.  It is one of my favorite places on earth.  Tomorrow, I will share about another orphanage that is NOT my favorite place.

If you love the pictures in this post, visit my ministry partners’ photo store.  All of the pictures are taken in Bulgaria, and the money they earn from selling these pictures supports their work with the Roma people.

https://www.thebighouse.photos/

Much love, Mary

 

Beauty and Pain

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I fly to Bulgaria again next week – my 6th trip in 15 months.  I’ve never loved a country so much, and I’ve never wept for one as I do for this place. Such indescribable beauty and pain co-exist in this tiny corner of the world.

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Bulgaria is the smallest and poorest country in the European Union.  Its population is decreasing because of limited opportunities for employment. Once glorious buildings are crumbling, homeless walk the streets, and orphanages are filled with children whose parents cannot afford to care for them.

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Bulgaria has a population of more than 750,000 Roma (gypsies).  The young girl sitting on the ground is only 16, but she has already given birth to 6 children.  In Roma culture, girls as young as 12 go into prostitution to help support their families. These young girls often have many children and can’t provide for them.  They often have no choice but to place their children into orphanages.  The future of these children is bleak, and they are vulnerable to abuse and trafficking.

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These children are precious, and we know that God has so much more for them.  Our ministry works with several orphanages. We purchase formula and feeding supplements, provide salaries for medical personnel, and pay for urgent medical testing.  We give warm clothing and blankets. We provide training for orphanage staff members.  We advocate for these children to be adopted.  And, most of all, we love every child.

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How can you help?  Pray for these children.  Give financially to provide food and warm clothing.  Come to Bulgaria with us and learn more about the Roma.  Open your hearts to  adoption.  Pray, give and love.

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With much love, Mary

 

 

 

 

We Need Your Help

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This is Lina.  When this picture was taken, she was 5 and 1/2 years old and weighed only 12 pounds.  She was in an orphanage where abuse and neglect happened every single day.

A new director is now in charge of this orphanage, and she cares deeply for the children.  But poverty in Bulgaria is still affecting the children in this place.  There is NOT enough Bulgarian money to provide adequate care for the almost 100 special needs children who are in this orphanage.

Our ministry just received the exciting news that the Bulgarian court has approved our non-profit NGO status!  This is HUGE because it has given us an open door into this orphanage.  This is THE orphanage I have asked God to give our ministry.  I have prayed for 2 years for THIS place – for THESE children.  The orphanage director wants and needs our help.

We need to raise $17,000 in a very short time.  I will go to this orphanage in October, and I desperately want to be able to provide basic needs for these children.  We need $6,000 to pay the salaries for 5 nannies for one year.  We need $6,000 to provide basic medical care (a doctor and 2 therapists) for these children who all have severe special needs.  We need $3,000 for medical tests for the children (MRI’s and other tests that the government won’t provide).  We need $2,000 to provide nutritional supplements.  The children are underweight and need more food than they are receiving now.

I am also looking for a medical person with a feeding specialist background to go to Bulgaria with me in October or January.  The director is very willing to receive feeding training for herself and the nannies.

Can you help? Can you pray or give?  Every dollar given through our ministry will go through our non-profit in Bulgaria and directly to the nannies and medical personnel.  Every dollar given will directly impact the lives of children who desperately need us.  We need you.

Here is a picture of Lina today.  Isn’t she beautiful?  God’s love heals broken hearts and sets the lonely in families.

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With much love, Mary

The Heartbreak of Orphan Ministry

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Years of orphan ministry have changed me.  I cry more, I laugh less, and I walk around with a broken heart.  I’ve had an orphaned baby,  who I loved as my own, die in my arms.  I have been in hard, hard places where children are neglected, starved and abused because they don’t have parents to care for them.  I’ve had people tell me that my daughter should have been aborted (instead of adopted) because she might someday be a “drain” on China’s economy.  I have watched people’s eyes glaze over at the staggering number of 150-220 million orphans and fatherless in the world.

In the last 9 months, I have traveled 48,000 miles and hauled more than 1,000 pounds of luggage to a tiny country half a world away.  Bulgaria has my heart, but I leave more broken after every trip.  Orphanages are filled with Roma (Gypsy) children who have NO HOPE unless a family comes for them.  Twelve and thirteen year old girls who will soon be prostitutes unless a mom and dad change this identity through adoption.  Little boys who will be begging on the streets unless a family intervenes.

I’m not writing this for sympathy.  I want you to know that a broken heart is making me more determined to war for children in need of families.  I won’t stop going. I won’t stop telling people that fostering and adoption are the heart of God.  I won’t stop. But I could use more warriors. People who will give and pray.  People who will open their homes to children in need.  People willing to risk a broken heart.

I will choose a broken heart over apathy every single day.  I won’t stop.

With much love, Mary

 

 

When Basics are Luxuries

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I take so much for granted.  A warm bed, clean clothes, a toothbrush and shampoo – these are things that many children went without today.  For millions of orphans around the world, life is brutally hard without the love and protection of a family.

I will be leaving again for Bulgaria in July, and our team will be able to serve more children than ever before.  We want to take socks, underwear, pajamas, toothpaste and toothbrushes, soap and shampoo for more than 100 children.  Can you help?

Our ministry has an Amazon registry with many of the items that these children need. The items you purchase will be mailed to me, and our team will hand out every single thing to children in Bulgaria.  We will also buy new shoes for as many children as possible.  If you would like to make a donation for shoes, please use the “donate” button on this blog.

The link to our Amazon registry is: https://www.amazon.com/baby-reg/mary-strickland-july-2017-canyon/2XZMTZD0E6CV5

Thank you for loving children half a world away.  These children are precious, and they need to know that they are loved.

Much love,  Mary

 

A Beautiful Gift

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My friend, Karyn, made these beautiful dresses for orphans around the world.  Some will go to Nicaragua, some to Africa and the rest to Bulgaria.  If you are interested in sewing, knitting or crocheting for children, there are several easy patterns listed on the sidebar of this blog.

Thank you Karyn!  Your work will bless little ones who have nothing.  Children living in orphanages and in garbage dumps will receive something absolutely beautiful.

Do you want to help, but you don’t have time to make something?  Tomorrow, I will have a link for an Amazon registry  that contains items desperately needed for my upcoming trip to Bulgaria.  We will be visiting many orphanages and orphans on this trip.  I am wanting to take socks, underwear and other basic needs.  We will try to also buy every child a new pair of shoes.  If you want to help with shoes, you can make a donation through the “donate” button on this page.  Thank you friends!  We CAN make a difference for children living in horrible situations.

Love, Mary

It Takes an Army and a Precious Family

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I leave for Bulgaria tomorrow morning. This will be my third trip in 6 months, and I believe God is going to do something amazing on this trip!  Because of an army of sweet people in Bulgaria who love orphans, I will be able to visit several orphanages on this trip and meet with new orphanage directors.  We know God has beautiful plans for Bulgaria and the children there.

I am able to go only because I have an army.  An army of friends and family who support our work, love us dearly and work tirelessly to help me do what I love.  I could NOT go without them.

They make these…IMG_0052_2

And these…IMG_3039

And these beautiful dresses…IMG_3077

They order all of this for me to take to babies half a world away…

Then I have my precious Mason, Molly and Madelyn who till my new garden, do home school on their own, watch their little sister, clean the house and cook the meals when I am away.  They are amazing!

Then there is the army of people who come to my home when I’m in Bulgaria.  They help care for Maci, bring meals, check on my children and love my family extravagantly.

Then there is this man.  The one who packs my bags, checks my flight itinerary, prays for me and supports all of the work that we do.  Randy is truly a man with a servant heart unlike any other person I know.  I’m so, so thankful for this guy!IMG_3475

And last, but never least, is my beautiful family.  My children and grandchildren who are my joy.  They love the Lord, and they love me well.IMG_3414

So it takes an army for me to do what I love.  They work, pray and sacrifice so that I can be with children on the other side of the world who desperately need families.  Thank you army.  Thank you family.  Words will never be enough to express my love for you.

Back to Bulgaria

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In four weeks, I will go to Bulgaria again to follow God’s call to help orphans in that land.  I am so excited about this trip because I will finally be able to meet with two different orphanage directors. Please pray that these meetings will open doors for our ministry to care for babies born with Downs Syndrome and medically fragile children with other health issues.

Would you like to help?  Our ministry has a baby registry on Amazon filled with items I hope to take to Bulgaria with me in April.  You can go to the registry, choose what you want to purchase, and the baby items will be shipped to my home.  I will pack them up and take them with me to bless the orphanage directors and the precious children living in Sofia, Bulgaria.

There is a desperate need for feeding items such as good bottles, bibs, spoons and bowls.  The children often lie in cribs for 24 hours a day with no stimulation.  I hope to take many crib mobiles, toys and play mats.  These children are precious and need so much! Let’s work together and make a difference.

Here is the link to the registry:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/baby-reg/mary-strickland-april-2017-canyon?lid=2XZMTZD0E6CV5

The items will need to be purchased by April 2 to insure that they will arrive in time for my trip.  Thank you, thank you for loving children half a world away who so need our help.

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This is Love – This is God’s Heart

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This might look like a pile of mismatched luggage to you, but this is so much more.  This is love and sacrifice given by you to people in a country on the other side of the world.  This is warm blankets, hand-made hats, warm socks and gloves.  These bags are filled with gifts for missionaries who serve far from home and family.  These suitcases contain items purchased by friends who spent hours shopping for just a “few more” warm socks and blankets.  These suitcases contain the Kingdom and the heart of God.  Love given to people we might never meet again this side of Heaven.

We are giving and going because we know there is a need. It is bitterly cold in Bulgaria.  Many homes do not have heat, and parents have no way of keeping their children warm.  The orphanages are unheated, and children have probably died THIS week because of the cold.  And so you give, and so we go.

Thank you for donating to this ministry.  Thank you for shopping, sewing, crocheting and praying.  These bags are going to bless the lives of many because of YOU.  You are my heroes.