Dustin, a professional photographer and member of the Asbury group, took some spectacular Easter pictures of our children while the team was here. The children loved getting dressed up in their Sunday best and they all looked so beautiful and handsome. Here are the pictures.
Remember, once you click on an image and it enlarges, you can navigate to the next image by clicking on the right side of the image (a “NEXT” button appears) or return to the previous picture by clicking the left side of the image (a “PREV” button appears). When you are done, click the “CLOSE” button or click outside of the picture.
Once again this year we had the privilege of having the youth ministry from Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa, OK serve at our children’s home. This is the 4th year they have been here. In previous years they put on a new roof over our patio, did an incredible mural, and repainted the entire home. This year, we had some different projects lined up for them.
First up was a new storage shed that we needed to be build on the second floor to hold our our tools, paint, and other maintenance items. Our good friend Joe Brauer put together a wonderful design and in a few short days, put together the perfect storage shed, complete with a light, outlet, shelving, and hooks for everything you can imagine.
Laundry Room Shelves
We also had to tackle the installation of new shelving in our laundry room. Some of the shelving was a cinch to put up since we were going through metal prefabricated walls. But others were incredibly hard as we had to drill through what seemed to be drill-proof concrete. It took two batteries, three concrete bits, and a lot of sweat and muscle to get those things in there. Thankfully, man prevailed this time and the new shelves look incredible and will be very helpful to our staff.
The third project was the construction of a new bunk bed for the girls room. The idea of the bunk beds have always been to give the kids more space in their rooms and not necessarily being able to take in more children. But with the addition of Pamela and Joshua (who came while the team was here), a bunk bed became necessary.
With a great group of guys and girls, we worked for the entire week on building this bed out of raw lumber. No IKEA stuff here. We found a beautiful design online, modified it to make it stronger, and then the team worked hard to bring it to life. After 4 days of cutting, sanding, painting, sanding, painting, and some more sanding and painting, the bed was done and turned out beautifully. I had always thought this would be a fun “weekend” project to do by myself, but after this week, I see it would have been virtually impossible to do this without their help.
Extreme Room Makeover
The final but most important and involved project we had was the Extreme Home Makeovers we wanted to do in the children’s rooms. Of course we wanted to do themes so a few monts back we had decided upon a girly theme for the girls room, a forest theme for the younger boys, a space theme for the older boys, and a sophisticated sports theme for Miguel’s room. We gave the group complete creative freedom and what they came up with is simply breathtaking.
However these makeovers are about so much more than just a pretty room. We had some very specific goals in mind with the design:
Individuality: In so many orphanages children become lost in the crowd. “Who am I?” They have shared clothing and shared toys and really don’t have the opportunity to discover who they are. But we know that each and every child is an incredibly unique creation, a masterpiece designed by God himself. It’s great to share things, but having objects and spaces that are your own is also important. We wanted to recreate this in the design with personalized spaces, and individual bookshelves and nightstands.
Importance and Belonging: One of the biggest struggles orphans deal with is abandonment and belonging. “If my family, the one group of people in the world that should love me, left me, then where do I belong? Am I disposable?” Of course, our children’s home is structured to combat these feelings by giving our children and family like environment. But we wanted to bring this concept into their rooms as well. Before the team came down they painted wood letters to make up each child’s name and then we placed these names on the walls. Ideally, we wanted to place them by their beds, but because of lack of wall space, that wasn’t always possible. However the idea remains. Every child is important (even Joshua and Pamela, the newest children got their names as well) and they have a place to belong to.
Encouraging: As we thought of the designs, we wanted to encourage the children and give them places to show off their artwork, school work, letters, or whatever. So we placed bulletin boards by each bed so they have an area they can “show off” their individual accomplishments and be reminded of how talented each person is.
Reading: We also wanted to design the space to encourage reading. With shelves and night lights, the children can place their favorite books next to their bed and read them. The more access they have to being able to read, the more likely they will actually do it.
Fun: Finally, we wanted the rooms to be fun. We wanted them to wake up in the morning with a smile of their face. When they look at the ceiling and see the planets floating, or when they open their eyes and see pink puff balls, or when Miguel throws the ball at his miniature basketball hoop from the comfort of his bed, we want it to bring a smile to their faces.
What makes Extreme Home Makeover on TV so watchable and lovable is that the show isn’t really about the house. Sure they make it huge, and beautiful, and it meets the family’s needs, but it is never about just that. It is always about the family, and how the house gives the family hope, peace, joy, happiness. It connects with them on an intimate level. The house is as much personalized to their emotional needs as it is to their physical ones. That is why the show is so popular. The human connection. And this is exactly what Asbury achieved here. They have connected with our children on an emotional level and through tangible items like paint and curtains have brought smiles to all their faces. We are eternally grateful.
Finally, a special thanks to Fufi, Joe, Cindy, Chris, and Todd for making this all possible. God bless you all!
Here are some panoramic shots of each of the rooms to give a better idea of how they turned out. You can move around and zoom in and out of each one. I’ll be posting all the pictures late on.
Note: Having the panoramas embedded here was causing problems with certain people. We’ve replaced them with images that link to the actual panoramas. Click them to see the panoramas on your computer, iPhone, or iPad.
The Young Boy’s Room – Forest Theme
The Older Boy’s Room – Space Theme
Miguel’s Room - Sophisticated Sports Theme