Archive | Journey Reflections RSS feed for this section

Recent J117’er and Photographer Shares Haiti Story Through Pictures

27 Mar

Keren Chookaszian recently served with Journey 117 on a trip to Haiti with others from her church in Evanston, IL. Keren is a photographer, mother and wife, and advocate for the orphan. Check out her blog to see pictures from her trip as she highlights the story of how God captured their hearts through the beautiful people of Haiti.


Ethiopia Journey Inspires Teacher to Do More

9 Jan

Nathan Livesay, a teacher at Sumter High School and former basketball coach, spent nearly two weeks of his Winter Break in Ethiopia with Journey 117, a ministry of World Orphans.


A trip out of the country can change a person.
“I wouldn’t trade those two weeks for a state championship,” said Nathan Livesay, a former Sumter High School basketball coach.
Last month, the English and credit recovery teacher traveled to Ethiopia with World Orphans, an organization that brings churches in Third World countries together with American churches to help supply basic needs of the children being cared for by the indigenous churches. He learned about the organization through the Willow Creek Global Leadership Development Summit simulcast held at Alice Drive Baptist Church in the fall.
“I was reading the statistics about HIV and AIDS, about people dying in extreme poverty, and the numbers really bothered me,” Livesay said. “I was compelled to go on this trip to put a name and face with the statistics. … Even with basketball, I’ve always had a heart for kids that don’t always have everything they need.” Continue reading

I’m Back…But…

21 Dec

This trip was seriously an eye opener. I learned so many stories from kids that are heartbreaking but seeing their joy through the experience was something that hit me. One boy, he was wearing a tye dye shirt, came to the Hope for the Hopeless orphanage after his father left the family and his mother was too poor to care for him. He came to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He had come from a muslim family. A couple years later his mother came to take him home but this boy decided to stay at the orphanage because he would rather have Jesus. It was such a cool testimony that he was willing to give up his family to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. This trip was filled with many tears both from happiness and from heartbreak. It was sad to leave the kids behind 😦

by Bethany A., written the day after she returned from Ethiopia

Home and Happily Heartbroken

22 Jul

Blog post by Holly N, recent Journey 117 team member (Moldova).

Looking back on my experience [this summer in Moldova] I now am, and pray that I will continue to be, heartbroken. God truly broke my heart for what breaks his.

Once I had signed up to go on this trip with World Orphans and serving abroad became a real tangible thing, God started changing my heart. He began to make me uncomfortable. My eyes were being opened to how materialistic we as Americans are. I began getting very uncomfortable with how comfortable we are with our materialism.  Unfortunately, God was beginning this work in me to make me uncomfortable to the point of action, but I, the gross sinner that I am, just got angry. By His grace, He made me aware of my anger issue and reminded me constantly to turn my eyes on Him. So I began praying about my anger that God would turn it to compassion.

While on the mission field I experienced many things that began to break my heart. The kids just wanted to be loved. They wanted hugs and attention. As was mentioned in a previous blog, the kids did not even understand our language but they wanted our attention and affection. These children were just like our children at home, but they had no one to hug them each day or tell them they are loved and valued. Leaving them broke my heart even more so knowing the situation I was leaving them in and the life they will be facing. It’s unfair and unjust. There is so much corruption that you feel like anything you try to do will be futile. But then I’m reminded and comforted by the fact that God hates injustice. My God who is so big transcends language barriers and corrupt hearts. He brings healing and restoration when there appears to be no hope in sight. The kids I left behind are praying to the same God I do. Continue reading

Love Transcends Language Barriers in Moldova

20 Jul

Blog post by Penny S, Journey 117 team member serving in Moldova.

Our team represented the hands and feet of Christ on this trip. We showed Christ’s love with our actions quite literally because of the language barrier. We did not have enough translators so much of our communication with the orphans was what we did: laugh, smile, hug, high-five, share. The orphans arrived at camp on that Sunday with faces showing no emotion. The translators said many did not want to be there. These same orphans were smiling and laughing and dancing with us by Friday. They departed camp with crocodile tears not wanting to leave. Our team brought youth and energy to the camp which was crucial to the relationships with the orphans. And I believe the Moldovan counselors/translators were energized and encouraged by our presence. God used our positive, happy attitudes to cross the language barrier to bring the love of Christ to the hearts and lives of the orphans in Moldova. I left with a sense of feeling like we completely planted seeds in many hearts that I am confident God will water and grow long after our departure.

To see pictures of the 2011 Moldova orphan outreach camp, check out the Journey 117 Facebook group.  Be sure to LIKE us!

Sweetly Broken – Reflections on my Journey to Haiti

2 Jun

Jeni reflects on her recent Journey 117 trip to Haiti in May 2011. To read more of her blog, check out

I have been meaning to blog about my journey to Haiti and the amazing ways that God moved in my heart through this trip. I have had a very hard time coming up with the words. But since I have been asked to speak at 3 local churches, I figured it was time to put words to this journey. Praise God that I will bring Him more glory as I share.

I could not have known how God would allow me to be broken when I started on this journey last fall. I knew it would be big, because as I planned and counted the days, trips were never for sure and were postponed. I kept saying, “In God’s time.” I knew in my heart I would get there EXACTLY when He wanted.

I was incredibly sad that I was not able to go in December, but now I see so clearly that He had a greater plan. I ended up going on a Journey 117 trip with World Orphans, totally different than the original trip. It is a journey that is designed to educate you on orphan care and how God wants to use you to bring justice to the least of these. Continue reading

Coping with Tragedy in Haiti: Losing a Child

29 May

Lauren, a recent nursing graduate from Texas, shares about a traumatic loss during a  Journey 117 trip to Haiti in May 2011. To read more of Lauren’s blog, check out

Are they just a number?

It has been almost a week since I have been back from Haiti and it has been an emotional roller coaster. Each day I wake up and with each memory I hold onto, I still try to process it all. Here, I want to begin by re-telling some of the life-changing stories that happened while in Haiti.

At the beginning of the week, my team and I experienced a traumatic passing of an infant that cut down deep within me but changed my life forever. Bear with me as I try to vividly re-tell the story. On Monday, we had the opportunity to visit a home for dying and abandoned babies. When I first heard of this home, I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to go and hold, feed, and bathe babies, but I did not fully understand the heart-wrenching sights that I was about to see. When we arrived and I stepped foot into this home, my heart immediately dropped and I fought tears like never before. Wiping my face with the sleeve of my arm, I made my way down the stairs and before me were rows and rows of cribs filled with sick and dying infants. I cannot express to you in words how many there were; row after row and room after room. As I looked, these infants didn’t even seem to have an identity; their bed was labeled with a number. As I tried to process this scene, my mind began to think, “Are theses infants just a number here?? Is this real??” Inside, my heart was screaming as I looked at each infant. Even though they couldn’t’ understand, I told them, you matter. You are not just a number to Christ. He cares for you. He knew you even before you were formed in your mother’s womb. He loves you so much. This pain will end soon. Hold on little one. I was angry and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I walked through the row of cribs and touched each tiny little hand that reached out for me, starving for love, and begging me to pick them up. I immediately scooped up a sweet baby girl and as soon as she was in my arms, she stopped crying and her head laid on my chest. Again, I fought tears. I looked at her face to find that she had a severe eye infection. It was oozing and she looked as if she was in a lot of pain. She felt warm to touch and I’m sure was suffering from an infection that her little body couldn’t fight. In my mind, I began to think back to my hospital at home and the place where I would work. If I were to hold an infant like this in the states I would be gowned, gloved, and with a facemask on for protection from any type of disease, but with this little girl in my arms, I didn’t care. I stroked her head as she laid on my chest. I went to the side room and prayed over her as two of my other teammates gathered around with their sweet infants. Tears fell. My heart was broken and I couldn’t understand. Time passed and I held this little girl, trying to get every spoonful of food I could down here; her belly was huge (protein deficiency) but her arms and legs were so skinny; she was greatly malnourished. It was time for their nap around noon and as I placed her back in her crib, she cried and cried. I picked her back up and she stopped, as peaceful as she could be as long as she was in the warmth of my arms. I had to put her down, telling myself that I could get her again after her nap. We left the room and let the children sleep while we visited another orphanage for a few hours.

Continue reading

I am back…but my heart remains in Haiti

29 May

Lauren, a recent nursing graduate from Texas, shares about her Journey 117 experience in Haiti in May 2011. To read more of Lauren’s blog, check out

As I sit down to write this post, tears fill my eyes as I think about Haiti. It has now been two days since I returned and even though I am back here physically, my heart and mind are still in Haiti. The past nine days of my life have changed my life forever. I have seen poverty in a whole new way. I have seen things that are heart-wrenching and at times I had to stop myself and ask, “Is this REAL? Is this really happening?? How can God let this happen to His children? Why God, Why? These people didn’t choose this life.” These questions bombarded my mind while in Haiti and as I fought through tears I prayed for understanding and that God would place within me a love that is so deep. I prayed and prayed for God to break my heart for what breaks His, and that He did. I know the things that I saw and the things I experienced break the heart of God as well. He hurts and this was not his intention for his children but it all goes back to the issue of sin and where it all began, in the Garden of Eden.

Continue reading