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June Newsletter

Dear Friends,

The school year finished on May 31 here in Latvia. Both children and staff held their breath as the final report cards were handed out because several of our children were struggling right up until the last week of school. When the official report cards were handed out, we rejoiced that all of our children passed and will be advancing to the next grade! A partner kindly sent funds for us to rent a large, bouncing attraction for the children, and we grilled hot dogs and had a picnic and party at home to celebrate.

We also congratulated each child with our own handmade diplomas, swimming goggles, candy, and a new beach towel embroidered with the child’s name. The beach towels came from a partner who wanted the children to feel individually loved and celebrated. The children were thrilled and almost in awe when they saw their name on their towel. It was a big day, full of fun, and full of gratitude for the great results for our children.

A few days after the party, I was privileged to take D to her kindergarten graduation. Passing into first grade is one of the first, big milestones in education here in Latvia. Simultaneously, it represents the children moving from a preschool age to school age where they will face and conquer greater challenges. D’s brother came with me, and we sat through a beautiful ceremony. My heart is always moved by the courage of our children as they sing songs to thank parents for their help with school and present handmade gifts.

D wanted her birth mother to be there so badly, but she has not visited for over a year. Nevertheless, D sang the songs and presented me with her gift. She bravely carried on with the program as parents and grandparents of the other children congratulated their child. D had not one complaint, not one tear, just an expression of longing and loss that was out of place on the face of a six-year-old.

However, D’s courage helped lift me out of my own tendency to complain or lose patience as I wait for God’s answers. Like the children of Israel who so quickly forgot God’s mighty hand in delivering them from Egypt, I also lose patience and open my mouth to complain at times. Yet, D’s quiet resolution while moving forward with her life reminded me of the correct posture we need to take as we wait on the right timing for answers to prayer.

Our faith in God is tested and tried as we encounter trials. When we stand strong, our faith grows and we mature in Christ. Like D, we become an encouragement to others who watch our lives and an example to them to follow us as we follow Christ. One of the strongest ways to be a witness for the Lord is to live our faith before others. How we speak, how we walk through difficulty, how we guard our attitudes, these choices determine how brightly we shine as a witness for our Lord Jesus Christ. I am thankful for D’s reminder, and I hope it is a blessing to you as well. We are into the full months of summer, and with your help, the children are signed up for camps that will help them mature and grow in their individual interests. Depending on the age and stability of the child, some of these camps are day camps, and some are overnight.

During the first full week of June, K and M went to overnight basketball camp. Both boys have talent but only just started playing basketball when they came to Sparrow’s Nest. This camp helped them to catch up on skills and teamwork while learning how to be under the authority of their coaches. They also had fun as you can see by their photo! This release of energy and new focus often translate into better attitudes with their caregivers, siblings, and housemates when they return home. Thank you to all who gave specifically for these camps.

We will also be holding our own “summer camps” at our farm. It is a wonderful place for new children to have their first camp experience and for all the children to relax in the peaceful atmosphere of the country. We have a wonderful family serving as caretakers, and they are working to make repairs for safety reasons at the farm.

The children will begin going out everyweek beginning June 22 all the way through to the start of the school year on September 1. They look forward to long walks in the forest, time spent at the Baltic Sea, and working together in the garden and home. Most of our farm helpers, including myself, speak English as their first language, so without stress, the children absorb English vocabulary, helping them prepare for their required English classes in the coming school year.

Our newest children are settling into their homes with us, and this month, a long-term foster family was found for R. He is just four years old and

will be moving to a part of Latvia where his relatives are closer and can visit and stay in touch with him. While at Sparrow’s Nest, R was brought up to date with required immunizations and received a medical exam that revealed an early need for eyeglasses. Also having taken place this month, two of our children had their adenoids removed after long battles with chronic, severe breathing issues.

Life goes on here at Sparrow’s Nest, and you are a big part of that life.Physical, mental, and emotional needs are met in times of crisis with your help and prayers. We are aware of your presence every day and thank God for you when we gather to pray each morning. We also ask for God’s blessings on your family and for the salvation of your loved ones. God is faithful, and we have seen His kindness and mercy. May you sense His Presence and draw strength from the peace and help He so readily gives.

With love in Christ,

Alissa Stemple

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