Interview with a Foster Parent and Missionary

Interiew children washing clothes pin

My dear friend Isabel is such a source of inspiration to me.  Her family have dedicated their lives to serving and loving the most vulnerable and needy and have done so for many years.

So when the activity to interview a foster worker came up in our ‘Prayer and Personal Involvement Journal’, I thought we’d take the opportunity to tweak the activity a bit and instead ask Isabel about her experience as a foster parent.  I also sneaked a few questions in there about her work with orphans.  She has a huge heart and great capacity to love.

I hope your heart is stirred for loving the most vulnerable children.  We may not all get to travel to Africa, but there is much we can do.  It takes all kinds of participation!

1.  How did you get involved with foster care?

I have had a passion for abandoned children since my early childhood. My husband Richard was himself adopted and has always had a tender spot in his heart for fostering/adopting. The Lord released us into fostering when we came to NZ 8 years ago.  After fostering short-term and respite, along came our fifth child who we have now been fostering for over 6 years and has become a permanent member of our family.

2.  What is the greatest challenge in foster care?

For short term: getting attached to children and then having to give them up again

For respite: adjusting your family routine constantly to changing children which I found very intense.

For permanent care: the issues that you deal with from a child that has had a difficult start in life. But we absolutely LOVE the tremendous GIFT and ENRICHMENT that our foster son brings to our family, and the challenges pale in comparison to the JOYS!

3.  How can a family participate in foster care?

There is a GREAT need for all types of foster care mentioned above. PLEASE consider opening your home to a child/children through foster care.  You have to know the Lord is calling you to it, but if you feel a tug on your heart, don’t be held back by fear about how you will be able to handle it. It IS a step of faith but the Lord will be there to help and there is a lot of support available. In NZ there is no financial burden at all, as all costs are covered – quite the contrary to those caring for orphans in Africa!

praise school

4.  Please share with us a little about your work with orphans.

Three years ago, God has led me to come alongside existing African initiatives that care for orphans and vulnerable children.

I feel to strengthen and empower these through friendship, prayer, support-raising and input to carry the heavy load with them and enable them to serve and care for the orphans more effectively.

I currently support 2 projects in Uganda:

  • Home(s) of Praise – a children’s home (hopefully soon 2 family homes) – caring for close to 40 children at present – near Kampala. Praise has become my much loved daughter which is priceless and much more than a ministry!
  • Hope In Villages+ – a sponsorship programme to help vulnerable family units keep children that would otherwise end up abandoned/in orphanages in the very poor villages surrounding the YWAM base near Jinja.  Through our home church in NZ, 65 children are now able to go to school and get discipled. Their caregivers are getting trained in micro-business at present to empower them out of extreme poverty.

Praise school maths

5.  What is life like for these children?

It is very hard yet full of joy for the children. They live very simply, without electricity, proper sanitation, have to carry heavy water long distances daily. Showers are sponge baths in the open. They wash their own clothes. The older children look after the younger ones. In the “Home of Praise”, up to now, they have been living in an unfinished house, 2-3 in a bed (that will soon change) with rats nibbling on fingers and toes while they sleep, bats flying over them for lack of windows and occasional snakes. They have many mosquitoes that carry malaria and the children get malaria regularly, even though they now have mosquito nets. They constantly have to fight jiggers (worms) in their feet that come from the mud.

Their greatest treasure is God and the highlight of their day their devotional time with praise/worship/prayers and teaching. They love to sing, play drums and dance and are generally very happy and content. Up until now they are not eating when it rains (about half the year) since their food is cooked on an open fire. But money has been raised for a kitchen to be constructed that will enable them to eat regularly. They do get to go to the school that Praise started, but it is very basic and nothing compared to the education our children are receiving – hopefully that will change soon!

toilets

6.  What vision do you have for the work in Uganda that you are involved in?

  • For Homes of Praise – Praise and I are envisioning 4 houses to be built where children live in family units with a mother and a father (about 20 per home).  We would like to see a well on the property, proper sanitation, a kitchen and a proper school with qualified teachers. We would like the ministry to eventually become self-sufficient.  We envision the children to become strong godly leaders that will impact their nation and the nations!
  • Hope IVillages+: As we are now starting to empower the children’s caregivers where possible (hard for the old grandmothers), it is our hope that they will eventually become self-sufficient and won’t need sponsorships indefinitely. The vision that YWAM Hopeland and I have are transformed communities where HOPE is alive and children can grow up to be productive, God-loving adults with thriving families transforming their nation.
Isabel's first time meeting Jo

Isabel’s first time meeting Jo

7.  What can your average family do towards caring for orphaned children?

There is no limit to what a family can do!  Ask God – be creative and use what’s in your ‘hands’.  Ask the Lord to give you HIS heart for the orphans and you WILL find a way to do something!

  • Adopt an orphan in prayer (I can give you a photo)
  • Sponsor a child to go to school ($25/month)
  • Write to your sponsored child and possibly develop a relationship
  • Get together with other homeschoolers for occasional or regular fundraisers
  • Stay in touch with regular updates on Praise’s Facebook page “Journey with Praise”

We pray regularly for the children and my 10 year old daughter has decided that she wants to save all her pocket-money and earnings from extra jobs to help pay for schooling for Praise’s children. It is great for our children to become sensitive to those less fortunate than them and to pray, share and work to help them!

~  Isabel is about to leave for Uganda in a week, so I would so appreciate you praying for her time there and also for her family who are remaining behind this time. ~

**  Thanks to Isabel for the use of her beautiful photos.

[Our cousins are also in Uganda – I’ll tell you about them another time] 🙂

{Linked up with March for Missions}

5 thoughts on “Interview with a Foster Parent and Missionary

  1. Jessica S

    What beautiful blessings foster parents are to the world. It’s easy to forget that God tells us our children are His, and foster parents correct that. They take in God’s children and give them the love and support every child of the Living God deserves. I’ll be saying a prayer for each of you. 🙂

    Reply

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