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April Newsletter

Dear Friend,

These past weeks have brought a sense of excitement and new beginnings as we changed schools for six of our children and welcomed in a missionary couple who will care for our farm and help with the children throughout the summers and school breaks. New beginnings remind us of God’s mercies and that through Jesus’ work on the Cross, a fresh start is possible when we turn to Him.

The schools in our area are overcrowded, and we have been on the waiting list for various programs since last September. There haven’t been any open places for our kindergarten-age children who need special programs to help them overcome developmental delays. Recently, an opportunity arose to enroll our children in a smaller, regional school about 15 miles from our center. This school has the key programs we have been looking for and offers smaller class sizes and more individual contact. The children are now in their third week at the new school. Little E gets so excited for school that she runs to the car!

Another special school-related event was “shadowing day” when our children followed adult workers in their career field of interest. Quite a few of our boys were interested in building, so they went off to spend the day with a group of contract builders. Another child expressed an interest in being an accountant, so he followed the routine of an accountant in our town and then helped take a client to lunch. All in all, “shadowing day” was a great success and planted seeds for the future.

I am so appreciative of our care workers who provide the safety of daily routine for children in our care. I have been driving the children to the country school over the past few weeks, and each morning, I observe our care workers looking out the door and waving to the children as they leave for school. It would be so easy to forget these small acts of kindness in our busy schedule, but it is these small, heartfelt gestures repeated often that work wonders in hurting hearts and model more positive behavior.

Marcus and Leza—our missionary couple—and their two children arrived in Latvia on April 1. With Leza’s permission, I share her story because she was once an abandoned child in the care of Sparrow’s Nest. She came to us at three years old with multiple diagnoses and little hope that she could study normally. I remember that her first pair of eyeglasses had lenses nearly as thick as my finger, but after putting them on, she noticed right away that trees had individual leaves on them not one big, green ball.

When we took Leza into care, I felt in my heart that shewould one day be my daughter. At age six, our adoption was completed. Now Leza has returned to her birth country with her husband and children. With a degree in agricultural science and four years of service in the US Marine Corps, she and her family want to serve the current children at Sparrow’s Nest. We are grateful to have them and are inspired by Leza’s desire to give back and to share her birth country and culture with her own family.

The farm is an important part of our work, and it is where so much of our indirect therapy occurs. School holidays and summer months can be difficult for waiting children, but the farm offers wholesome chores, time to explore, and time to heal. Sowing and harvest principles come easily as we garden. God’s abundant provision is evident when we gather wild forest berries and mushrooms. The children hike in the forest, swim in the sea, and build countless sandcastles. Simple meals taste fantastic after a day in the fresh air, encouraging poor appetites and building health and strength.

During the month of March, we were blessed to have visitors to Sparrow’s Nest. One was a long-time partner and true “Uncle” to the children, and the other a new friend who brought vitamins, under clothing, and spent time with staff and children. We have also received special gifts to help three of our children attend camps during the summer. Two will be attending basketball camp, and one will be participating in soccer camp. Another partner took on the project of preparing special towels for swimming this summer, and we are watching for her package to arrive.

We are truly grateful for our partners who help in so many ways. The prayers, gifts, and visits mean the world to each child and staff member at Sparrow’s Nest. We continue to pray for you and your families.

With love in Christ,

Alissa Stemple

P.S. As I was writing this letter, the funds came in to take care of our needs at the farm, and now we are trusting God for the funds for five more children to attend camps this summer. We thank God that He supplies your needs and our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

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