Monday, March 9, 2015

It's Almost Time...

In just one short week from today, I'll be leaving for Mexico!  I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by!  I'm trying to get the final things checked off my to-do list (packing, getting new tires, renewing my teaching license, getting insurance switched over, getting my cats' wellness check and paperwork in order for crossing the border, getting my hair cut, and on and on...).  I'm trying to focus on the excitement of returning to the orphanage and seeing the kids there, so that I don't get overwhelmed with the bittersweet feelings of leaving my home, friends, and family for the next two years. 

This past Sunday I wrapped up my speaking engagements at other churches.  I was so very blessed to be welcomed to speak at numerous churches (Marysville First United Methodist Church; Lafayette UMC in London; Shining Light Community Church in Sugar Grove; Plain City UMC; Milford Center UMC; and King Avenue UMC in Columbus).  Thank you to the many people who have offered support (financial, through donating goods to take to the orphanage, and/or prayerful)!  I am humbled and at awe at how God is providing through such incredible people, many of whom were strangers to me but wanted to share their gifts with me and the orphans.

I don't have much new to report this week, but I will share some prayer requests, if you're willing to pray:
-Pray for me and my sanity as I pack and finalize things here this week.
-For me through the emotions of saying "Hasta luego" ("See you later") to family and friends.
-For travel mercies as I will be driving down next week, with two cats in tow.
-For ease of crossing the border into Mexico-- especially with my cats and their paperwork; and in hopes that I don't have to physically remove from my mini-van and open every box and suitcase I am taking with me; and that they accept I am moving and don't try to charge me import taxes on my belongings. [We hope to cross the border either on Thursday, the 19th or Friday, the 20th.]
-Pray for the orphanage, the children, and the workers- especially for protection; that God will continue to provide; for healing hearts of children from troubled backgrounds; for children to be united with forever families (whether back with their own families or through adoption); for the workers to serve humbly, with patience, and with discernment; for the children to know Jesus' love in their hearts; for groups that are coming throughout the spring and summer to visit for a week or so at a time.
Thank you for thinking of us and lifting us up in prayer!

Be blessed!

P.S.  I'm ready for spring.  While I'll miss the beauty of the seasons in Ohio, including the gorgeous snow, I won't miss shoveling, driving in snow and ice, nor the cold!  I'm ready to leave this winter behind (this was from a couple weeks ago, not today, thank God!)-
For more of this (actually from today!)-

Friday, February 20, 2015

More Kids Going Home

I'm down to T-22 days, and I can't believe how quickly time is passing me by!  But with the wind-chills in Ohio down to -25 and actual temperature at -10 the last few days, I'd be lying if I didn't admit how excited I am to arrive to Mexico for spring weather!  After spending the last two days home with a fever, I'm glad that today my temperature is back to normal; I hope to head to Mexico healthy and well.

There is again a lot of orphanage news this week!  While things at the orphanage do change, as is expected with 20-30 kids, they don't always change as quickly nor as often as they have this month.  The latest update is that the six children who were brought to the orphanage on Christmas Eve got to leave this week to live with their grandparents.  Additionally, two more sweethearts (a brother and sister) who I'd met my last two trips to the orphanage got to go home this week.  Again, I'm excited for them, much as I'll miss them too.  I pray that they go home to good, healthy, loving homes, and that their transition home goes well.  Additionally, I pray for those children remaining at the orphanage who are missing their friends and who may also be hurting because they aren't able to go home with their own family at this time. We're going to miss these dear ones, but we wish them well!

Starting today, another college-aged young man from Ohio will be working with the orphanage for 3-6 months.  He's joining another young man from my church already serving there until at least November.  The three of us were with the same group of people who went to the orphanage in December of 2013, so I'm excited to get to work with them again once I get down there (along with Pastor Ricardo and his wife Karla who run the orphanage).  I know the orphans will be so excited to see him again, as they had such fun with him before!  Sad as it is to see kids go, it may be a good thing to have a lower child-to-adult ratio over the next few weeks or possibly months, so that kids can get some more one-on-one attention from adults.  I'm looking forward to serving with these fun souls in the months to come!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Just 30 More Days...

I will be leaving for this new journey in Mexico in just 30 days.  I can't believe how much more quickly time seems to pass the closer it gets to my departure date.  I'm filled with such an array of emotions starting with excitement to some sadness at preparing to leave my home, to a little trepidation, and on and on.  I still have much to finish before I leave like getting new insurance finalized, renewing my current teaching license, finishing packing and deciding what to take versus what to store, getting my cats vaccinated and taken in for their wellness checks and paper work, and on and on.  I trust that it will get done, but I continue to look to God to provide with me time, energy, discernment, etc.

Over the next few weeks I am preparing to speak on Sundays at Plain City United Methodist Church, then Milford Center UMC, and finally King Avenue UMC.  Then on March 15th I'll have my commissioning and send-off from my home church, Marysville First United Methodist Church.  It's so exciting and a blessing to get to share this journey with so many others!

The update I got from the orphanage this week is one that fills me with joy, and honestly a little sadness too.  I'm only sad for selfish reasons in that I'm not sure when I'll get to see these children again, but I'm hoping I'll get to see them at church services in Mexico.  I'm mainly filled with joy that three beautiful siblings got to return home to live with their mother this week, after spending about 14-15 months in the orphanage.  Their mother was one of only 3 moms who came weekly to visit the children, so I'm thrilled that they're able to be reunited long-term now!  I pray for their transition back home to continue to go well.  I also pray that finances continue to be stable, and that their home life will be a safe, healthy, and happy one.  And I pray that they continue their Christian walks and get to continue attending church regularly. (And, if it's His will, I'm selfishly praying that I'll get to see them at least once more when I'm living in Mexico.)  Praise God for providing for these three precious kids to get to go back to their family home!

Be blessed!

Friday, January 30, 2015

It's official!! Things are happening!

Great things are happening!!  I now have my official dates!  It's becoming so very real!  I will leave March 17, 2015 to drive down to Mexico.  I'll take several days to drive down to Mexico, stopping in the Memphis, TN area to meet up with and see my sister and niece one last time.  It's about a 24 hour drive total, so I'll drive that over 3 days with some stops along the way.  I hope to arrive in Piedras Negras on March 20th.  Then my official start of service date in Mexico is March 21st!  That's just 49 days away, and I know it will fly by.

Additionally the site for online giving of financial support is now functioning.  However it's at a different web address than I previously had.  It's at this site now: Donate here (or ).  Once there, click on the "Use for the Individual Volunteer Program" drop down menu at the top, and then select "LaFrance, Laurel".  This can be used for one-time or recurring donations.  Thank you for considering to support me financially in this journey!!

God has blessed me so much through generous donors, and I'm already at just over 88% of my fundraising (whether through actual donations and/or pledges)!  I have three more churches lined up to speak to in February, and I am continuing to leave things in God's hands.  But I truly believe that, if it is His will, He will help me reach 100% of my funding through pledges and donations by my leave date.  It's amazing how God is calling others and using them to help support me on this journey; I am so very grateful and humbled!

I got completely moved out of my apartment this past week.  Now I'm working on sorting some things to figure out what will be stored while I'm gone, what I'm taking with me to Mexico, and if there are more things I can donate.  I feel like I donated, sold, and threw away nearly as much as I kept, which is both refreshing and a little overwhelming at times too.  But it's good to share with others and to be free of some things I can live without!

Finally, I found out there will be another college-aged man from Ohio serving at the orphanage from about February 15th through April 15th this year.  And I know we have a high school girl from my church who plans to go down for about 5 weeks this summer as well.  I'm so excited that the orphanage is getting some additional help and people to love on all the kiddos there!

Be blessed!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Latest

I haven't heard any further updates from the orphanage this week, so I pray that all is going well.  I'm sure there is an adjustment period for having nine new children there, so I am hopeful that everyone is adapting as best they can.  I know that there is a need for more adult help, so I'm still wishing to get there soon-- hopefully mid-March!  It's exciting (and, yes, there's a bit of nerves and fear mixed in there too) to think this could all come to fruition and be my reality so soon!

I just finished serving on a Chrysalis team this weekend (a spiritual retreat for young women between 15 and 25).  It was amazing and rejuvenating!  But now that means it's time for me to prepare to move in with friends this coming weekend, in attempt to save some money for expenses as I prepare to go to Mexico.  And today I was back to substitute teaching (which has been going great and keeps me plenty busy!).

Additionally, I'm excited to have speaking engagements lined up every Sunday in February at numerous churches.  I am so blessed to have been warmly welcomed by these churches!  The first weekend is my home church's missions Sunday.  On February 8th, I'll be speaking at Shining Light Community Church in Sugar Grove, Ohio.  On the 15th, I'll be with Plain City United Methodist Church.  And on the 22nd, I've been invited to speak with the congregation at Milford Center United Methodist Church.  If you know of a group (especially a small group, share group, or Sunday school class) that would be willing to let me speak to them, I'd love to do so!

I'm currently at about 40% of my fundraising thanks to donations and pledges!  Praise God for providing so much in less than a month of fundraising!  I am humbled and grateful to people who are willing to answer the call to pledge and offer financial support.  Unfortunately, my online giving site is still not yet functioning; it's pending the finalization of a couple of budgetary items with my sending agency office in New York.  So we keep hoping it will be activated soon.  I'll update when it is working for online giving. 

That's all for today.  Be blessed!

P.S.  Have I mentioned that I can't wait to get to see these kiddos again???...