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.

 

Praying for Children Around the World

Did you know that international adoptions to the United States have decreased 75% in the last few years?  This means that even more children languish in orphanages around the world with no hope.  They have no hope for a mom or dad, and they have no hope for a rescue.  Children are dying every single day because we are failing them.

In 3 weeks, I will return to Bulgaria to meet with people who can help us open a center for children with Downs Syndrome.  I need your help.  Can you send single-layer fleece blankets, warm children’s socks, or infant/toddler footed fleece pajamas?  Can you send a donation to help us rent a building and furnish it for these precious babies?  Donations can be made through the link at the top of the page.  Blankets and clothing can be sent to the address in the “Contact Us” section. All financial donations are tax-deductible through our 501c3 organization.

This is a 3 year old little boy who is struggling to live in the Ukraine.  He only weighs 10 pounds and is rapidly declining in health.  Our family is praying for a miracle for this sweet boy.  Pray for a family to come quickly for him.  Pray that he will be able to survive long enough to know that he is loved and precious to the Lord. Pray that this never, ever happens to another child.

As we love on our families this holiday season, let us have tender hearts for those still waiting for a family to come.

For Yulia

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This is Yulia.  She is 15 years old and lives in an orphanage in the Ukraine. She desperately needs our prayers and our financial help.

There is an experienced family who is doing everything possible to make Yulia their daughter. There are a few things standing in the way. 1. Yulia’s paperwork is not yet prepared to make her free for international adoption. This is being worked on as we speak. 2. The family is waiting for the official approval from the US side for them to be able to adopt Yulia. 3. Funds. They do not have the $25,000 needed for an international adoption just hanging around. This is where we can help!!! Because things are not 100% confirmed yet, the organization trying to help her will be taking pledges for now. So if you are willing to donate to help bring this sweet girl home, please email:  keshia.melton@mayashope.org with your pledge.

I know pictures like this are HARD, but we need to be ever mindful that millions of children are at risk for starvation, disease and abuse because they are orphans.  You and I can do something.  We can help this one!