We arrived in Lovina on Monday, the location of Rileigh Tyrrell’s sponsored child, Arystia (age 15). This time, we met at the family home. We were briefed by Raymond’s Uncle Tjeerd that her father had died of cancer last year and the father’s family had basically kicked her mother and 3 sisters out of the home where they were living. Therefore, the family of five moved to the property of the mother’s brother. 

The “home” for the mother and four girls consisted of two cinderblock rooms with a corrugated metal roof – one 3-sided and open to the yard (which contained storage cabinets and piles of clothes and other “stuff”) and another small enclosed room with a door for sleeping. The “kitchen” is really just a hot plate near a sink outside on a makeshift counter and the “bathroom” is really an outhouse. The beds were old mats covered with worn blankets on the concrete floor. When we first arrived at the home, Arystia was still at school and therefore, we made plans to return on Tuesday evening.

During the evening, our hearts were heavy and our conversation centered around how we might best help this family with some of their immediate needs, in a humble and honorable way. So, the next day while Arystia was still at school, we hired a driver/interpreter (friend of UncleTjeerd’s – he literally has friends everywhere) to pick up the family and we went shopping for and purchased new beds/bedding for the sleeping room.

We also asked Arystia’s Mom what else she would most like to have for her home and she mentioned that a desk for studying would be nice. We invited her to choose one and she was very reluctant at first, but when she passed a specific desk, her face lit up and we made the purchase. So after enjoying lunch, we met the delivery men, and were met by the entire neighborhood, who helped empty the sleeping room and set up the new beds. 

That evening, we returned and Rileigh finally got to meet Arystia and deliver the Disney princess dolls she had purchased for her and her sisters. Arystia shared how surprised she was to find the new beds and desk. 

But the most incredible part is that Arystia’s mother had transformed the 3-sided-open air room; it had been cleaned up and organized, and featured the new desk against the back wall. 

While this was by no means an “extreme” makeover and a very small improvement to make their lives a bit more comfortable and safe, it felt just as moving as any “reveal” on one of the American TV home renovation shows and most importantly we felt the gifts were received with all of the love with which they were given.

So grateful for the ways God leads us into circumstances to change us, grow us, and mold us. All I can say is wow!