Tag Archive | "mission trip"

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You Are Worth More Than Gold

Posted on 04 October 2012 by Kari Gibson

The theme this summer on our Simply Love mission trip was Gold. I love this upbeat song by Britt Nicole, my daughter Hannah shared with me as we prepared to leave for our mission adventure. The team taught lessons to the girls and boys in Uganda and Ethiopia that they are worth more than gold. We played the song so many times at the different ministries we served… we had it memorized! We sang, danced, and cheered with the Kings and Queens of Africa. Team members made hundreds of stars with the song laminated on them. There’s even one hanging in the Man Up Cave … we don’t want them to ever forget how valuable they are day and night.

I learned from the children we served, that sticks and stones hurt, but words can break your heart when you’ve been told you are NOT worth anything. I grew up in a home that daily renewed my value as a daughter and that I was beautiful inside and out. There are millions of boys and girls all over the world who have never heard the words … you are beautiful, you are valuable, you are loved. When people ask me why going on a mission trip is so important, I always keep it simple, “Every child deserves to be loved.” You can have the honor of telling a child for the first time in their life, you are worth more than gold. That is a priceless gift.

whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
so hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine
from the inside it shows, you’re worth more than gold so don’t be ashamed to wear your crown
you’re a king you’re a queen inside and out!!!!!!!

One of the craziest stories happened on our last week in Addis Ababa. Hannah bonded with a precious little girl named Beza and asked Sumer Yates if she could sponsor her so she could go to school and be a part of the Project 61 program. Beza lost her mother in a tragic way, and in one night lost her entire world. Beza turned 13 years old and Hannah brought her home for a 2-day birthday sleepover at our guest home. Beza was in heaven, she played with Zoie and watched movies and baked cookies. It was a birthday to remember. Every day she would stalk watch our van pull up at Great Hope Church in Korah and was visibly upset when Hannah wasn’t with us. One day, Roger and I had to stay late in Korah and worked on finishing up a project with a mission team. We pulled up to the guest home at around 6pm and when we opened the door we were VERY surprised to see Beza standing on the stairs looking down at us with a nervous expression. We were confused, how in the world did she get here? Did she sneak in our van and we didn’t see her get out? The mystery of Beza was solved when Hannah told us she had walked from Korah to Lafto in her bare feet and had arrived an hour earlier. WHATTTT? She had walked over 10 miles to our guest home??!!!! “I missed Hannah,” was all she said to her defense. She even got a thorn in her foot that Hannah had to pull out with tweezers, praying hard not to pass out. It would have been a funny story, minus of course, the danger and thorns of a 13 year old walking alone at dusk. Mama Kiki (me) had to sit down with the help of our staff and have a firm discussion in English and Amharic why we don’t make surprise visits without permission. In the end, we decided to let her stay with a big hug and kiss … she learned, even through our correction, she was valuable and worthy and loved.

We have an opportunity every day to teach value and worth in our own homes, on a mission trip… literally all over the world, that you are worth more than gold. Please feel free to “borrow” our theme and use this amazing song to remind YOUR kids today, how much you love them. I hope none of us feel ashamed to wear our crowns … we are daughters and sons of royalty!

I made this video with personal photos of beautiful Kings and Queens in Ethiopia … enjoy and share!

You were walking on the moon, now you’re feeling low
What they said wasn’t true, you’re beautiful
Sticks and stones break your bones, I know what you’re feeling
words like those won’t steal your glow, you’re one in a million

this, this is for all the girls, and boys all over the world
whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
so hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine
from the inside it shows, you’re worth more than gold
You’re worth more than gold

well everybody keeps score, afraid you’re gonna lose
just ignore they don’t know the real you
all the rain in the sky can’t put out your fire
of all the stars out tonight, you shine brighter

this, this is for all the girls, and boys all over the world
whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
so hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine
from the inside it shows, you’re worth more than gold
You’re worth more than gold

so don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not loved
and don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not enough
yeah there are days that we all feel like we are messed up
but the truth is that we’re all diamonds in the rough
so don’t be ashamed to wear your crown
you’re a king you’re a queen inside and out
you glow like the moon, you shine like the stars
this is for you, wherever you are

this, this is for all the girls, and boys all over the world
whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
(so hold your head up high) so hold your head up high,
it’s your time to shine
from the inside it shows, you’re worth more than gold
You’re worth more than gold

so don’t be ashamed to wear your crown
you’re a king you’re a queen inside and out


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Steady My Heart

Posted on 02 October 2012 by Kari Gibson

“Life is hard.” This is what our adopted son, Sentayehu D told us one day after Man Up Bible study. My husband studied the book of Daniel for 3 1/2 months with about 35+ young men living in Korah, a slum community in Ethiopia. Every single day they came and learned together how to live a life of courage, faith, and prayer like Daniel. The Bible tells us Daniel lost his home, family, friends, and community … everything he knew, but the Babylonians never could take away his relationship with God. The guys all understood Daniel’s heartaches and his loss and his battles. Most of them had lost everything, too … they are fatherless and motherless and familyless.

When I look back over my life, the past 45 years … I agree, life is hard. I have experienced great loss, but nothing can compare to losing your family, your dad and mom. The conditions are heartbreaking living in Korah, living on a trash dump. The boys and girls living at the shelter with Great Hope Charity and Project 61 ministry have lived through death, rape, or abuse. Trust has to be earned. Roger and I showed up every day. We had to prove (at first) our loyalty to the community and children, that we loved them unconditionally. I met Sentayehu two years ago on a 2-week mission trip, but it took showing up daily and taking long walks, for him to finally open up and share his history, his story. It was easier for him to write the painful memories in letters, and finally trusted me enough to share the details of his mother’s death. Steady my heart, my broken mommy heart; there are really no words to say to comfort this beautiful boy who had lost everything. Why is life so messy? Why is pain a part of us? Nothing ever goes right. Sometimes it just hurts so much. Roger and I made a commitment to Senti that we. are. family. We gave him the blessing and security that he will never be alone again …. this young man has many people that love him, but knowing he has an Abate (dad) and Enate (mom) and a big brother and two little sisters is healing to the soul.

I learned from the children, the importance of family. I had the great honor of being a mommy to the motherless in Ethiopia. I took on the role of protecting and loving and cuddling and hand-holding and parenting and teaching and feeding and caring for children that desperately need a mom in their life. In Ethiopia  a mom is called Enate (Amharic). I will never forget the first time I heard the kids call me this affectionate name. It melted my heart. I love being a mom to Michael, Hannah, and Zoie, so it was very natural for me to “mother” the children we served in Korah. I wanted so much to give them this precious gift, I wanted them to know what it means to have a family, but most importantly, I wanted to ease, like only a mommy can do, their pain of loss. Teaching them that in life … what’s good and what gets broken happens just the way that You [God] plan. They taught me through their suffering, that God is real and is the Healer of my scars. 

Here’s the truth behind my craziness for missions … for years, I lived with the false belief that leaving my children behind to go on a mission trip was bad. It was irresponsible for me as a mom to spend money on a mission “vacation” to love orphans. My belief system was messed up because I used this as a barricade to hide my real fears of travel, or death, or spending time away from my children. How could I ever sacrifice motherhood for kids (out there) I didn’t even know. On my 41st birthday, God helped me to TEAR down all my fears of missions and clearly see the truth. I celebrated this victory and went on my 1st mission trip to Haiti with my church family. It changed my life and I’m grateful He never gave up on me. He was the only one who really knew my heart’s deepest desires. I think this is why I’m jetting full blast ahead making up for lost time. It’s my passion now to obediently live life wholly for Jesus. To die to self, knowing God will do a greater work through me. (John 12:24)

Now, here’s my challenge back to you … pray bold and act fearlessly to visit the widows and orphans on a short term mission trip. Stop making excuses, using your children or lack of money as a barricade to NOT do what God has CALLED us to do in James 1:27. There are so many wonderful churches and ministries out there that lead mission trips. We are currently planning 4 amazing Simply Love and Man Up mission trips this year. It’s your choice where, when, how, why … pick one and go. I made a decision to live my life full-on, as if it’s my last day, to share the gospel to the unreached people groups and inspire others to GO and love big on the fatherless and motherless and familyless. It’s our responsibility to love like Psalms 89:1 Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the story of your love— What is your barricade holding you back from loving radically on a mission trip? Be honest and let’s pray and support one another.

I want to hear from you (seriously) It’s been my joy and daily renewal to blog and be your friend through the years. I read every single comment you leave, but we need to re-connect after my month+ bloggy sabbatical. If you take the time to read a post, please let me know how it changes you or inspires you or challenges you. I’ll take the good, bad, and crazy!

Just for you: Have you ever considered sponsoring a child from a third world country? What impact has it made on your family?

{Steady My Heart by Kari Jobe}

Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy
Why is pain a part of us
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You’re here
You’re real
I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart

I’m not gonna worry
I know that You got me
Right inside the palm of your hand
Each and every moment
What’s good and what gets broken
Happens just the way that You plan

And I will run to You
You’re my refuge in Your arms
And I will sing to You
Cause of everything You are

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Are You Ready For Part 2: Twists, Turns, Redirection!!!!!!!

Posted on 05 June 2012 by Kari Gibson


I shared Part 1 with you here sitting at Panera and today I’m home-free, unemployed, and happier than I’ve ever been in my life! How is it possible to feel pure joy and massive butterflies inside doing exactly what God has called up our family to do? I love and serve a God who understands every single one of my strengths and weaknesses! Honestly, there were lots of days this past month, I didn’t think I would make it. It was too hard, too scary, too difficult, too crazy. Waiting for our home to close was challenging and tested me at every level spiritually, emotionally, and physically. We packed up our 5,000 sq. ft. home in less than two weeks, celebrated my son’s graduation and cheered him on in state finals at golf… all in the month of May. We’ve been busier than we’ve ever been in our lives, but the miracle never wavered … God sold our home and we made a decision to trust THAT promise through the storms. We officially closed on our home Friday, May 25!!

My hubby woke me up early on Mother’s Day saying, “Why are we waiting … let’s go NOW!!!!” I still had morning breath, but could have kissed him and hit him!! How in the world could I get us ready to go now in just a few weeks??!! I assumed it takes months to prepare a family to move to Ethiopia! Well, you know how crazy we roll as a family … we’re living home-free and now out of 4 bins & 4 duffles getting ready to LIVE in Ethiopia as a family June until mid September!!!!!!!!!!

The best part, over a year ago we dreamed of spending the summer in Ethiopia with our family during the time Roger and I both lead Visiting Orphans mission trips in June, July, and a special Man Up trip in August. We can’t believe God made our dreams come true in such a radical way. Change is never easy, but faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

So, here’s the nitty gritty …. I leave TODAY (with Hannah) and my best friend, Julie Neal leading an amazing Visiting Orphans team of 24 to Ethiopia and Uganda for 14 days. Roger, Zoie, and our happy helper, Dovie White will travel on June 16th and together we’ll spend the summer in Addis Ababa. Dovie will head back to the states in August and we will stay until mid-September. Our incredibly supportive son, Michael will start his freshman year at MSU!!!!!!! Continue Reading

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[My Hubby Shares] What Is A Modern-Day Warrior?

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[My Hubby Shares] What Is A Modern-Day Warrior?

Posted on 02 April 2012 by Kari Gibson

It’s such an honor to have my share his new quest, 127 Warrior with my readers! I have watched God do mighty miracles in his life and can’t wait to see what adventures He has planned for our family. If you enjoy this post or learn something crazy, please go grab your hubby and encourage him join the 127 Warrior movement. We have Man Up mission trips planned this summer (open spots!!) with several wonderful organizations, as well as the Man Up and Go movie, and conference coming soon!! It’s time to Man Up – protect and love the fatherless … living James 1:27 in a radical way.

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, email me. Today’s crazy guest is Roger Gibson.

What does a modern-day warrior look like? I recently saw the movie Acts of Valor. It was a total dude flick. No Hollywood actors. The actors were real life Navy Seal action heroes. It was the kind of movie where 40 year olds get to live out their warrior fantasies by watching these bad asses pulverize the enemy on the big screen. Hooyah!

Acts of Valor is about a Navy Seal Seven unit that is deployed to rescue a captured CIA agent behind enemy lines and defend the borders of the United States by keeping suicide bombers from entering. For me, a modern-day warrior operates very much like a Navy Seal, but in James 1:27 style. What does a 127 Warrior look like? As men, we are naturally wired to protect! In the book, The Male Brain the author called this hormone “Vasopressin the White Knight.” Vasopressin is the reason for our gallantry and monogamy. It makes us aggressively protect and defend our turf, mate, and children. Along with testosterone, vasopressin runs the male brain circuit.  A 127 Warrior is a man who is able to look beyond his own wall to Man Up for the fatherless. I know as men we instinctively know that we are supposed to protect our home, spouse, and kids but outside of our own very “wall” what does that look like? Unfortunately, four years ago I didn’t have a clue. Continue Reading

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I Will Give You A New Heart

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I Will Give You A New Heart

Posted on 22 February 2012 by Kari Gibson

I wanted to personally introduce this amazing couple …. Brady and Lisa Stark are dear friends of ours! We go to the same church, as well as serve together on the mission field. They are both leading a May 17-28th mission trip (with Cherrie Cornish) to Ethiopia with Visiting Orphans – if you want to join the team there is space available. The first time I met Brady, I was a little intimidated. He’s a cop and security for the church staff on Sunday mornings. He’s very serious on the outside, but I could also see his big heart. Lisa told me that her hubby’s life was changed going on a mission trip and I’m thrilled to share their story to encourage you today! This is a very personal testimony and I hope you’ll spread them some support and love in the comments.

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, email me. Today’s crazy guest is Lisa Stark.

God doesn’t change, but He can sure change us.  He can change our focus in life, our direction of decisions, and even our marriage. That’s what God did in our life and our marriage.  He picked us up and redirected our course of life.

The beginning of our story is not unique.  Brady and I have been married for 20 years now, but the majority of these years were spent in struggle, division, and isolation.  We were living under the same roof but the only unity it seemed like we had in our marriage was our foundation in Christ.

We attended church regularly, and volunteered in various ministries in our church, but something was missing.  For many years, I was the spiritual leader in our family.  I developed a close relationship with God and He became so real to me.  But it seemed like Brady was very content to remain constant in his walk with the Lord.  He did not seem to want, or need, a closer relationship with God.  Brady was content where he was.

This went on for many years.  Then in 2007, Brady sensed a stirring within himself that God wanted him to do more.  This stirring consisted of a quiet thought that kept coming to him about disaster relief and medical aide.  From that, Brady started praying for direction from God.  Brady finished his bachelor degree and decided to apply for PA (physician assistant) school.

In October 2008, I took my first mission trip to Venezuela and it changed my life.  This trip was a construction / medical based trip.  While on that trip, I sensed God’s calling to become a medical provider to the poor and to those in need.  After returning home, I approached Brady about God’s leading.  I was somewhat apprehensive about pursuing this calling because I did not want Brady to feel like I was in competition with him by returning to school also.  Brady was very supportive and in agreement with this leading.  I applied to the nurse practitioner program at SLU and started in January 2009.

Meanwhile, Brady applied but was not accepted into the PA program.  This rejection into the program was huge to Brady.  He questioned whether or not he even heard from God to begin with.  Brady struggled with why God would lead him this far, only to have a closed door.  It was during this time of struggle and questioning that I said to Brady, “God has something special for you.  Maybe it’s just a matter of timing.”  Those words resonated with Brady; and still do to this day.

During that time of trying to figure out what he was going to do, now that he wasn’t going to the PA program, I signed Brady up for a mission trip to Africa.  Surprisingly, Brady decided to go.

Brady served on that trip and came home a changed man.  God revealed Himself to Brady in a miraculous way.  Brady experienced suffering, hunger, sorrow, illness, poverty, abandonment, and thirst.  He also experienced a physical healing of a young woman after members of the team prayed over her.  Brady experienced God’s presence in a land of brokenness.  And then God broke Brady’s heart.

Brady came home from that trip a different man.  And he has never been the same.  God became real.  So real, that God became Brady’s focus.  That change in focus brought about change in our decision-making.  From those decisions, changes in our marriage occurred as a result.

Our eyes were opened.  We wanted to serve our God, by serving those in need:  the broken, the sick, and the lost.  When our focus to serve God in this capacity occurred, a unity in our marriage occurred.  We became one heart, a heart for God.  Christ was no longer just the foundation of our marriage.  He was the walls, the windows, the door, and the roof.  God used our service on a mission trip to change the focus and the direction of our lives.  We both went on separate trips, at separate times, and both came back changed people.

I prayed for many years for a whole marriage, a unified marriage.  I prayed for many years for God to reveal Himself to Brady in a powerful way.  I prayed for many years for God to use me, for God to change me.  God doesn’t change.  He hears our prayers and gives us our hearts’ desires.  He has a way of molding our hearts’ desire to become a desire to serve Him.

And yes, it was all a matter of timing.  Brady applied again for PA school and was accepted into the program.  I graduated last year and now work as a nurse practitioner in an underserved area.  After Brady graduates, we hope to serve in Africa; whether it be a disaster or whether it be the disaster of poverty, our hearts’ desire is to work in the mission field as medical providers.  To give not only medicines and health care, but most importantly, to give eternal hope to those in need.

Brady returned to Africa six months later on another mission trip.  But this time he took our son with him.  As Brady stood in the dump in Korah, he realized God’s plan.  As he stood in the muck, the decay, surrounded by the hurting and the hungry, he wept.  He was in God’s presence.  God was there.  Brady would give up everything he owned now to serve his Lord.  It was no longer about the cars, the money, or the ‘things’ of life.  He experienced a glimmer of God and he didn’t want to be anywhere else.

All because of prayer.  All because of a mission trip.  “And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you…”  Ezekiel 36: 26a.

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The Craziness Starts 3/5 – Simply Love + Tom Davis Giveaway!!!

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The Craziness Starts 3/5 – Simply Love + Tom Davis Giveaway!!!

Posted on 21 February 2012 by Kari Gibson

Hello crazy readers, I wanted to personally say …. I’M SORRY if you came over here and got bit by a nasty computer virus bug. I have a brand new web manager and thick walls of protection around my site. I’m 100% virus free and you can feel safe to “share” links or “Pin It” to your blog friends. I’m grateful to you, my faithful friends and appreciate your patience waiting for new posts. I had to take a mini vacation absence during the clean up, but have the official GO to continue blogging daily to encourage moms, support adoption, and celebrate our humanitarian projects to make a difference in the whole wide world!

I’m sooooo excited to announce our 2nd collaboration with Tom Davis and Children’s HopeChest ministry starting March 5th right here on My Crazy Adoption! This will be the craziest, biggest, heart pounding 2 week project we’ve ever done together! We have two projects we are raising funds for in Haiti and Moldova, as well as GIVING AWAY a special mission trip (value: $3,000) to one mission-hearted blogger! 1 tee = 1 entry to win!!

I need your help before we kick off the crazy project 3/5. Children’s HopeChest needs 10 volunteers to purchase 1 tee shirt for a test run to ensure the new store site is running without any snags. We want the process to be problem-free from start to purchase for every donation. If you are interested in volunteering, there is a bonus gift for you. We can refund you for your purchase or we can give you an additional tee shirt, including an extra entry to win the mission trip giveaway! Please email me here and let me know you want to be a “Crazy Project Volunteer” I will pick the first 10 people starting now ….. on your mark get set GO! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the new Tom Davis + Simply Love Project coming soon!!

BTW- Happy Mardi Gras Day. We took this “Fat Tuesday” photo of Zoie in 2009! Hope this makes your day happy!


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10 {Crazy} Reasons To Go Love Big In Haiti

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10 {Crazy} Reasons To Go Love Big In Haiti

Posted on 10 February 2012 by Kari Gibson

I asked my extraordinary Visiting Orphans “Simply Love Haiti” team what was their very favorite thingsabout their mission trip to Haiti and here’s what they wanted you to know:

  1.  It’s only a 2 hour and 15 minute flight on American Airlines to Port-au-Prince from Miami, Florida. Is that easy or what! (Kari)
  2. The endless opportunities to love. (Stephanie)
  3. The mango’s (hanging from trees) at Well-Being, the church service in Pignon, praying with different families on clinic day, home visits, seeing our witch doctor friend singing along with Jesus Loves Me on clinic day, the beautiful Haitian countryside, and above all the KIDS! (Susan)
  4. The smiles and endless hugs… The kids running down the road with us after the church service!!!! (Becky)
  5. The blankets of stars in the sky, hearing a bunch of little kids sing their hearts out in a shack church, unbelievable scenery, the blind woman singing on clinic day! (Sonja)
  6. I have to agree with the stars and the cacti fencing- very resourceful!!! I also think it is pretty amazing that so many women were able to live together for a week closely with shared bathrooms and limited food and not one person got disgruntled. There is so much to love… Jen’s facial expressions, I also cannot get out of my mind the forlorn face of the brother whose sister was in the witch doctor’s care… I can only imagine what his face looked like when he got formula for those babies and offered a job!!!! The singing… everything. Can we go back ???? (Ashley)
  7. I loved the singing in the little church! I have a video of that and I watch it everyday! The love, smiles and endless hugs from all the kids! (Jennifer)
  8. I loved watching the kids leave for school in Pignon in the mornings all decked out in their uniforms. (Becky)
  9. Watching the team walk into ministry opportunities daily and embrace every single moment with a big heart! (Mama Kiki)
  10. And my favorite was seeing how God used the talents of every member of our group through-out the entire week. The breadth of knowledge utilized through the various situations and projects was mind-boggling. (Becky)

This was just a taste of our 7 days in Haiti. We (the girls) talked late one night under our mosquito nets about how important it is to spread the word when we get home about our time in Haiti … to open eyes and hearts to come here and serve. Haiti needs you to come and love big! There are endless reasons you’ll fall in love, too! If you can love big, give hugs, pass out food, organize crafts, pound a hammer, hold hands, bring hope, pray, sing, and dare to try new things, you are EXACTLY what Haiti needs!

I’d love to know if you have any questions about going on a mission trip to Haiti … how can we (the team) help inform you about going, your concerns, fears, or anything!!!! We are NOT pros, but we fell in love with Haiti, so can you!

Team Photos:



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Machine Gun Camera

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Machine Gun Camera

Posted on 26 January 2012 by Kari Gibson

Guest Blogger- Caleb David

Machine Gun Camera: A Philosophy in Short-Term Missions

Let’s clear the air. The world of short-term missions has been rocked recently with many new thoughts, blogs, missionaries and scholars.  I’m not writing to defend the camp that seems to think that all short-term mission trips are destructive, nor am I siding with those who are stuck doing things “the way they have always been done” and are offended at the other viewpoint and prefer the distance of being behind the machine gun camera.  The point of this article is to help us discover that we need each other and that it can be done in a holistic and effective way. I do not consider myself a revolutionary and am aware that there is nothing new under the sun, but we can find new ways to engage and apply the resources and wisdom that is already available to us.

I grew up as a preacher’s kid and spent several years as a child in India and the course of my life led me to work for a great short-term missions organization called Big World Ventures (www.bigworld.org) for many years in which we facilitated thousands on trips. The next phase of life came after we adopted our daughter, Sakari, from Ethiopia and on a vision trip back to Africa with Children’s Hopechest (www.hopechest.org), the Lord spoke clearly for us to launch a unique hybrid of short and long term missions while engaging individuals, ministry partnerships and communities – One Child Campaign.

Our philosophy: We believe that the purpose of short-term trips are to create awareness, build Kingdom-minded relationships, successful partnerships, funnel resources with accountability, give voice and facilitate sustainable solutions while connecting communities long-term.  This is accomplished through many creative streams and strategic partnerships. The trip is not the end result – the real work begins once we get back home. The goal is to be as invisible as possible and empower the local churches, missionaries and communities to continue the work seamlessly even after the team leaves. This means working within the appropriate cultural and ministry structure and being willing to never be recognized for our efforts.

To be honest, I totally get what the seemingly jaded long-term missionary is saying because of their encounters and the overall structure of “traditional” short-term team trips.  They have to deal with the effects of those who drop in but exit as quickly as they come. The other side is that short-term teams have the potential to raise awareness, bring resources and encourage those who are putting it all on the line daily. I’d like to establish what a short-term trip should NOT be: a poverty tour, a yearly penance to feel good about ourselves, a quick fix for our elusions of heroism, or a way to fill a hole in our identity. Are we secure enough in our calling and identity to never get an ounce of credit? Each of us must use our areas of influence with purpose and dignity, with a sense of awareness of each other.

We have to think beyond the 10-14 days of our time in a nation – beyond handing out candy, evangelical tracts and putting on drama performances and crusades. Now, before I’m called a heretic, I’m not saying those things are wrong, but I’m asking us to re-evaluate our initial integration into a foreign culture. I humbly ask you to think deeper than the surface of someone repeating a prayer after you. We must make disciples (the concept of multiplication) and that takes time, trust and truth. We must model consistency in our love. We go because we love Him and His people. Any other motivation is wrong.  

Everything in our lives ultimately goes back to our identity. In order to be effective we must first know who we are and know that we can hear and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd. He has called us to love and perfect love casts out all fear. He came to seek and save that which was lost. What was lost?? Communion and relationship with God – we are to be ministers of reconciliation, not heroes with good PR. The Gospels make it very clear that we are to go, but I think that many times we focus on the action of going and not on the attitude or the aftermath of our actions while we are there. We must constantly check the motivation of our hearts and look past the marketing, the budgets and conferences.

I believe that the church is finally waking up to its responsibility for social justice. I believe the next revival that we will see will be one of compassion and justice. Both of those words require the awareness of a need and an action to bring reconciliation or peace. Tim Keller shares in his book, Generous Justice, “In general, to “do justice” means to lives in a way that generates a strong community where human beings can flourish. Specifically, however, to “do justice” means to go to places where the fabric of shalom has broken down, where the weaker members of societies are falling through the fabric, and to repair it. This happens when we concentrate and meet the needs of the poor. How can we do that? The only way to reweave and strengthen the fabric is by weaving yourself into it.”

It can be intimidating, so do we just sit home in fear that we will do the wrong thing? I submit to you a resounding “no!” Where does our heart, mind and spirit need to be when we are about to step foot onto a plane when God calls us to go? We will start more discussion on this subject in our next post and offer some practical tips that will help you to prepare for your next trip. The Father clearly lets us know the harvest is ready in Matthew 9:35-38. We need to keep short-term trips going but lay down our own agendas, take the time to engage those who are there on the front lines fighting every day and use their wisdom and experience to forge an effective strategy together.

Yes, the trip will change you but remember it’s really not about you. Before you book your plane ticket and embark on a life changing adventure, commit to putting on the cloak of humility, walking in wisdom and lifting up the name of Jesus, so that all men would be drawn unto Him not just through your words, but primarily through your selfless love in action. 

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Mission Story: You’re Never Too Young


Mission Story: You’re Never Too Young

Posted on 22 November 2011 by Kari Gibson

Last February, I had the honor of having Jake on our mission team. He was the same age as my son (17) and I was thrilled to have a few amazing teenagers to simply love in Ethiopia! One of my favorite memories was watching Jake teach team member, Helen (70) rap on our 4 hour drive to Awassa. The trip made such an impact in his life – he was back in Addis Ababa a few months later. Wait till you read his story… I’m so proud of you, !!

You’re Never Too Young-

Over the course of our lives we long to accomplish something that is greater than ourselves. We strive for that one moment in our young lives that enables us to be independent and content with ourselves. That one moment for me came when I was given the unique opportunity to travel to Ethiopia. At first, I was unsure in my decision to travel to a foreign country with people I had never met, but I chose to seize this life changing opportunity. That unsure feeling quickly diminished when I was united with my team; all people from different places and different backgrounds; people that share the same common purpose as me: to serve the needs of others and to become greater than themselves. I had no idea that those same people would suddenly become my friends for a life time. When i arrived in Ethiopia, my mind could not process all that it was taking in, the view, the people, and the culture, it was all so new and exciting! That first moment I landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is something I will remember forever. Over the course of those next few weeks, my life drastically transformed. Everything I thought I knew was suddenly gone. I had a new outlook on life: I realized first hand how important and precious human life really is. You will be confronted with heartache, and feelings of doubt, but those emotions have led me to become a better and more compassionate individual. I quickly fell in love with the people of Ethiopia, and have planted friendships, that I will have forever. There is just something so gratifying and rewarding being in the presence of people who show great humility, and gratitude from a simple smile. My short term missions trip has led me to expand my opportunities, and travel back to Ethiopia to pursue a lifetime commitment of serving the needs of the people who live there. The time is now to seize the great opportunity of going on a short term missions trip, and making a positive difference in the lives of others, and also your own.

You are never too young to go and serve and love! If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it.


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Me and Jack Bauer (Aka Steve Ijames)

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Me and Jack Bauer (Aka Steve Ijames)

Posted on 22 October 2011 by Kari Gibson

I really do know the real Jack Bauer!  Two years ago, I went on my very first mission trip with Bauer’s team (aka Steve Ijames) and ministered in Haiti.  This trip changed my life and ultimately God has opened the door for me to lead mission with Visiting Orphans! He’s a fantastic leader, and it only took me begging him one time to convince him to lead with me again to Haiti January 20th- 27th 2012!!  Take a peek at a short clip of us a year ago, planning our 2nd trip back to Haiti to bring formula post-earthquake with my church family.  (He’s a hoot!)

I have 6 spots open for “Simply Love Haiti” 2012 Mission Trip!!

Apply here- Visiting Orphans

Do you know the #1 reason why people are not serving in Haiti?  The F.E.A.R. of earthquakes, violence, and disease are keeping the numbers down low for Haiti Mission Trips.  Well, I want to break the mold and DO IT AFRAID!!!!!  I’m bringing a co-leader who has traveled extensively throughout Haiti and has built a relationship with the police in Port-au-Prince… they trust this guy!  We will travel through Haiti with the best of the best!!  My new Visiting Orphans “Hope for Haiti” mission trip in 2012 will change your life- I promise!

Tell me what your thinking?

Jack Bauer’s Bio:

Major has been a police officer for the past 29 years, and recently retired as an assistant chief with the Springfield, Missouri Police Department.  Ijames is a graduate of the 186th FBI National Academy, and has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, and a master’s degree in Public Administration. During his law enforcement tenure Ijames served in, supervised, and commanded a variety of assignments including uniformed patrol, investigations, undercover narcotics, and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).  Ijames created the less lethal force (impact projectiles, chemical munitions, noise flash diversionary devices, TASER) instructor/trainer programs for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and is the author of their model policies and position papers involving these technologies. Ijames has offered related training on behalf of the IACP and the U.S. Department of State across the United States, Canada, and in 33 other countries including such places as Tanzania, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, El Salvador, Yemen, Pakistan, and East Timor. Ijames has served on a number of post event use of force investigative commissions, most recently in New York City and Boston, has reviewed approximately 1,500 police use of force cases for agencies of varied size including the Los Angeles and Chicago police departments, and provides police litigation consulting in a wide variety of resistance control and related areas.
(now do you feel safe:)

A Christian since age 17, has led mission teams to Nicaragua each year for the past 13, and is on the Board of Directors of Project Hope, a 501C3 group serving Nicaragua and Haiti. Went into Haiti the day after the earthquake with Convoy of Hope, and made numerous other trips to Haiti in 2010. Will lead two trips to Nicaragua this summer for PJ Hope and James River Assembly, and will serve in a feeding ministry in India during the month of August, 2011.
We only have space for 20 team members, so don’t miss out on this God-Adventure in Haiti.  You can fill out the Visiting Orphans application here.
[older post] To learn more about the Pignon Haiti Home of Hope (HHH) that we delivered formula- READ HERE.






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Vlog- How Can I Fundraise For A Mission Trip?

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Vlog- How Can I Fundraise For A Mission Trip?

Posted on 26 September 2011 by Kari Gibson

Thanks for your vloggy cheers! The past month, I’ve receive some great emails from you asking for tips on fundraising. In my vlog today, I will share some important steps to help you fundraise for your mission trips.  I also want you to hear about my new partnership with Visiting Orphans. I hope ya’ll feel the stress melt away and gain understanding on why visiting precious orphans can change the life of a child. (Men, this is for you, too!) If you normally read, I encourage you to watch the vlog today and let me know your ideas, too. I even got choked up sharing about visiting Sixty Feet in Uganda.  I’m really loving this crazy vlogging!

If you want to fundraise with Simply Love tees [featured in two documentary films) email me for information or click on the Kit button.

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They Are Ripe For Harvest

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They Are Ripe For Harvest

Posted on 09 September 2011 by Kari Gibson

Our staff at Visiting Orphans has had a heavy heart this Fall season. Maybe not everyone as much as me since I oversee the agency, but what has been difficult is watching as trip after trip was cancelled this Fall season due to lack of interest while our Summer 2012 trips and December 2011 trips fill up with waiting lists. Sure, we know all the reasons. We understand that everyone is heading back to school and most are focused on this time of their personal lives or family’s life. However, it still burdens us as we know how much these children need each one of us at ALL times of the year.Autumn or Fall is my favorite time of year. I love how this season is considered the Harvest season. Recently I read this blog post entitled “When Visiting Is Enough”. The author of this blog explained how one visit to a child can indeed change their life. If you are willing to go, obey and be used, God can use YOU to plant a seed in that child’s life. Yes, it can be excruciating to then leave, walk away, not knowing what will happen to that child. But for this particular blogger, years later she was able to actually see what happened to the seed she planted!As she returned to Russia, to the same village where she told this little girl about Christ, she found out that this little girl, through the help of ANOTHER christian in Russia had and was still being disciplined! She had aged out of this orphanage but was now living with the hope of Christ.This past Sunday while I was worshipping the Lord spoke to me and said, this is the Harvest season. If my workers would just GO, they could be the ones to bring in the HARVEST of those who went on all the Visiting Orphans’ Summer trips. Those who planted the seeds. The ones traveling this Fall season will be used by God to continue watering these seeds, bringing in the harvest. He wants us to participate in what Jesus has already started in these children’s lives through others.

Do you think that investing in ONE child’s life makes a difference? Jesus thinks so. When Jesus walked the earth, He was here to die in our place. He had SO much to be concerned about each day and moment. Much like we do this Fall season. However, in John 4, Jesus chose to speak to ONE Samaritan woman. The Jews considered the Samaritans lesser than themselves, yet He esteemed her. So she had an ENCOUNTER with the one true Messiah. And through this one woman’s changed life and testimony many in her town also chose to believe in Him. (John 4: 39). With all the cares in this sinful world, Jesus chose to spend 10 minutes in conversation with this woman. He chose her. One person and her life changed MANY. Her encounter with Christ reaped a harvest.

“Do you not say “Four months more and then the harvest? (Sept, Oct, Nov, and Dec) I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!! THEY ARE RIPE FOR HARVEST. ” Even NOW the reaper draws his wages, even NOW he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together! Thus the saying, “One sows and another reaps is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor”. John 4:34-38.

Don’t you just love God’s word?! We just need you to GO this Fall season.. Please enter into His true labor and choose to change the life of one orphan, one child, and bring in the harvest. That’s what this season is about. Let your feasting this holiday season be to do the will of the one who sent Him.

“My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of Him who sent me and to FINISH His work.”

To find out more about our Fall trips please visit www.visitingorphans.org.

Amanda Lawrence
Executive Director

P.O. Box 668
Nolensville, TN 37135

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God Doesn’t Use Puny

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God Doesn’t Use Puny

Posted on 27 June 2011 by Kari Gibson

First of all, thank you to all my crazy guest bloggers and their amazing stories they shared with readers during the month of June!!

I’m back from my mission trip… changed and ready to share some amazing stories with you from Uganda and my mini 2-day visit to Ethiopia!  The most exciting news, YOU filled up my next Visiting Orphans June 2012 trip “Simply Love Ethiopia & Uganda” in 48 hours! This is a world record- you did this!  We are at full capacity, but with a waiting list (we are working on expanding the team bigger) If you want to go, turn in your application online at Visiting Orphans and pray for a mighty miracle! I only have 10 spots left for the “Simply Love Haiti” trip in January- don’t miss this incredible opportunity to minister to orphans in Haiti (I’m bringing along Jack Bauer).

For the next two weeks, right here on My Crazy Adoption Blog- I’ll share my top 6 mission trip stories from the children and ministries that radically changed my life in Uganda.  I love this quote from Francis Chan’s Crazy Love … by standing in awed silence before a mighty, fearsome God, whose tremendous worth become even more apparent as we see our own puny selves in comparison.  I’m just a crazy mom, puny sized faith at times (not puny hips) constantly having to do His work afraid, but learning more and more each mission trip I go on.  God really healed my heart in Uganda and I can’t wait to share what He did for thousands of orphans living in Kampala and Jinja.  We serve a mighty God!

What things in your life is holding you back from doing what God wants you to do?

Thank you!!

You helped the Man Up trip raise over $2000 with the purchase of the new Man Up tees!!


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Join Me in Ethiopia/Uganda or Haiti in 2012 (!!)

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Join Me in Ethiopia/Uganda or Haiti in 2012 (!!)

Posted on 15 June 2011 by Kari Gibson

My crazy readers- are you ready for an adventure?  I have TWO new trips to share with you… join me in 2012 making a difference in the life of an orphan.  Are you longing to visit orphans in Haiti or Ethiopia and Uganda?

I want to know what you love most about missions or what is holding you back from going on a mission trip.  Help me learn more about how to encourage YOU to go on a missions trip.  Leave me a comment today (don’t be shy) and let’s chat!  If you have questions- email me!

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Trip 1:

I love Haiti!!  I’m so thrilled to lead a trip with Visiting Orphans in 2012 to Port-au-Prince and Pignon, Haiti!!  This trip will be an adventure for 10 days with my dear friend, Steve Ijames aka Jack Bauer! Wait till you hear more about my new co-leader!!  His expertise and connections in PAP are like rock star status – God has used this man in a mighty way in Haiti.  Together, we will lead our team safely through this incredible country to minister and visit orphans!  Steve and I have traveled 2 times together to Haiti, but he has lead trips for years all over Haiti.  Let’s max out this trip and give hope in Haiti 2012!  FYI- you can apply now!

Apply Now!

“Hope in Haiti” 10 Day Trip
January 20-30, 2012
Leader: Kari Gibson & Steve Ijames
Location: Port-au-Prince & Pignon, Haiti
Team Size: 20 persons max
Cost: $2400-$2700 (trip total varies depending on flight and travel insurance costs) Details:

Join My Crazy Adoption blogger, Kari Gibson celebrating her 45th birthday on a 10 day missions adventure to Haiti. I’m thrilled to have Steve Ijames (aka Jack Bauer) co-leading with me to Haiti.

Port-Au-Prince portion:

This team will spend the first few days visiting 2 orphanage partners in PAP. Children Household of Tomorrow Orphanage is located right in the heart of PAP and is home to 44 children. This orphanage more than doubled in size after the earthquake and is in desperate need of assistance. Well Being Orphanage is located just outside the city in an area called Croix de Bouquette and is home to 30 children. These children are currently living in large tent on the property that is owned by the family members of the woman who cares for these kids – they have been living there since the earthquake destroyed the original orphanage.  We will also minister to the children, as well as bring supplies needed to care for them.

Orphanage Haiti Home of Hope portion:

We will venture out of the city, up to the mountainous village of Pignon where we will live and minister for five days with Kari’s good friends, Bill and Jennifer Campbell at their orphanage, Haiti Home of Hope (HHH) The children range in age from 2 to 17 years old with special needs, children who were former slaves, those who were abused, one who is terminal, and those that almost died from simple starvation. They are all beautiful and loving princesses and princes!  They enjoy crafts, games, and being loved on. We have a projector, and can have a big movie night, under the stars, with popcorn and the works! Our goal at HHH is to bring up children in a Godly manner, and stop the cycle of ignorance, abuse, and poverty.

Clinic of Pignon portion:

The team will also serve at the clinic with Family VBS- devotions, prayer, and singing. “We have had a number of voodoo practicing families come to know Christ, after hearing the Word in clinic, and the change in their lives is amazing- HHH” We will prepare a big meal for all the clinic families, and serve them and minister to them… providing seed packets, formula, and diapers!

Village of Pignon portion:

We will have the opportunity to minister to the village of Pignon! Home visits are a great way to find out specific needs and specific ways to help individuals. The Campbells have finished building houses for widows, put roofs homes to keep the rain out, passed out medicines, saved children from slavery, prevented children from becoming slaves, found sick and injured and taken them to hospitals. Making home visits is vital for HHH.

(Johnny Fig and me in Haiti- he was injured in the earthquake!)

Trip 2:

Julie and I have dreamed of leading a trip together to Ethiopia!  We have been friends for over 13 years and both have adopted children from Addis Ababa!  We can’t wait to visit orphans all over this beautiful country with a Visiting Orphans team ready to man up 4 the fatherless!  You can apply now for this amazing trip!

Apply Now!

“Simply Love Ethiopia and Uganda” 14 Day Trip
Dates: June 7-20, 2012
Leaders: Kari Gibson & Julie Neal
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jijna and Kampala, Uganda
Team Size: 30 persons max
Cost: $3200 – $3400 (trip total varies depending on flight and travel insurance costs)


Join My Crazy Adoption blogger, Kari Gibson and her best friend, Julie Neal on a 12 day missions adventure to Africa.  Together, they are leading a team to minister in Ethiopia and will make sure your time is both powerful for the orphans and immeasurably life-changing for you!

The team will be working for several days in Addis Ababa with Project 61 for extreme needy children living in the Korah city dump… VBS, community BBQ, Home Makeovers, Leper Hospital, and more.  We will have a special outreach at Baer Essentials (rural Dahley) outside the city, as well as an excursion to Negash Lodge to see the beauty of rural Ethiopia. We will have the incredible opportunity to celebrate the inauguration of the Dig Deep Well in Chucko Weyama (Neal Family Project) with A Glimmer of Hope. We will visit the community and share in their joy of living with clean water!  The team will also minister at two Govt Orphanages [ages infants to teens] as well as visit Fistula Hospital for an exclusive tour of the center and the courageous women featured in the movie “A Walk To Beautiful.”  Just for fun- donkey races and bowling! [Itinerary subject to change]


We will work with Sixty Feet ministry and live at Canaan’s Children’s Home.  The relationships and ministry opportunities will be life-changing!!  More details to come!

We are looking for men, women, and teens who want to Man Up 4 orphans!
Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is LOVE. (1 Cor. 13:13)

Videos to View:

Dig Deep Project

Village of Korah

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