Saturday, September 29, 2007

Prayer Request

Hi all,

I've got a prayer request for you. I just spent well over an hour talking tonight with a mom who has just started the process of adopting from God's Littlest Angels. Here's the exciting part....

She's been a member of a very large church (and I do mean VERY large) for over 10 years and is on staff at the church. She and I spent quite a bit of time talking about the possibility of getting her church involved in supporting God's Littlest Angels and the effort to build a new orphanage.

Please be in prayer that:
1. Her efforts to get other staff members at her church interested in supporting GLA would be effective.
2. if I or others can help her get her church to support the building efforts, that we'd be able to help her do that.
3. Pray that God would open the hearts of people at her church (many of them) so that we can see a substantial impact in the efforts to build the orphanage.

She is having a meeting in a couple of weeks with a very well connected very affluent staff member at the church and she's going to be working on getting him interested in getting their church involved in helping.

Thanks for your prayers!


Here's a picture of the kids who need more room!

This is all of the kids at the Toddler House. What a bunch of beautiful kids but the other thing that picture says to me is that "We NEED MORE SPACE!"

Let me know if you can help us help Dixie get a bigger home for them!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Weekend Wrap up!

Hi all,

I thought I'd take a few minutes to provide you with a little more of an update on how the weekend in Colorado Springs went and some of the ways that God was visible throughout it all.....

Focus on the Family - the meeting went very well. As I'm sure you probably know already, Focus, along with Family Life and Steven Curtis Chapman are in the middle of a major initiative to promote the cause of orphans all over the world. Check out John and Dixie Bickel and I had an almost 2 hour meeting with people from the orphan care department. There are two ways that Focus on the Family invited God's Littlest Angels to take part in their initiative:
1. Dixie and I were both asked to write "articles" for their new website. They are working on a website that will provide information and "human interest" stories about people and organizations who are meeting the different areas of orphan care, from people who are running church orphan care programs, to foster parents, to people who go on mission trips, to orphanage directors to parents who have adopted. They are planning that this will be a resource to encourage people to read more about it, consider different avenues to be of service, and be able to get in touch with people who have been there and done that. So I'm going to have the opportunity to tell our adoption story on a Focus on the Family website! Talk about a God thing!
2. The other thing that Focus is working on is an "alliance" (they don't know what they are going to call it yet) where they are essentially putting together a list of organizations who work in the orphan care business and asking them to subscribe to certain standards (ethical, religious, financial, practical) so that they can recommend them (on their website, in print, etc.) to people as organizations that people should talk to if they want to pursue sponsoring a child, doing a mission trip, adopting kids, etc. In our board meeting on Saturday, we started working through the details of the standards that Focus is setting and should hopefully be able to work through the logistical and procedural steps that would be required quite soon.

After the meeting on Thursday, I called Cheryl and told her about it and said that even if nothing else happened this weekend, the trip was a resounding success. Just being able to form the start of a relationship between Focus on the Family and God's Littlest Angels is a wonderful thing, and a thing that will open more doors than any of us can imagine going forward. God is good! All the Time!

Friday night, we had a fundraiser dinner and it was a wonderful evening. I worked the registration desk with one of John and Dixie's older sons (who lives in Colorado Springs) so I actually had a chance to talk to almost everyone who was at the dinner. I don't know yet how much was raised in funds (the totalling of that will come tomorrow) but I can tell you that, no matter what the funds raised, it was a success. Let me tell you a few reasons why....
1. There were many people who commented to us on the way out, "Thanks for all you are doing to take care of those kids." "God bless Dixie," "This is really neat!"
2. Bethany Christian Services had a "booth" at the dinner and I had a chance to talk to the three people from Bethany during the dinner. To say that the three of them were excited, when I introduced myself and explained that my connection with Bethany was that I connected Bethany with God's Littlest Angels,would be an understatement!
3. There was a couple who came to the dinner because they were invited by someone. When they filled out the registration form, they didn't check the box that said, "please send me your newsletters." After the dinner, when he came to settle up on what he bought (oh, and he was the second highest buyer at the auction) he made sure that I changed his registration form so that he got on the newsletter. He then asked if he could make his check out for more than what he spent. I told him that we'd love it if he did! Well, he made it out for 2 1/2 times what he spent! There was a man who had his heart touched by God on Friday night.
God is good! All the Time!

On Saturday, we had a rare occurence. We had a board meeting where 80% of the board was all in one place. We had people from Canada, Oregon, Colorado, Haiti, and Michigan there (two board members - one from Canada and one from Arizona couldn't make it, so they teleconferenced in). We spent about three hours in the board meeting and it was very obvious that God was with everything that happened this weekend.

So, where do we stand? Well, within the next couple of weeks, the final plans for the orphanage will be finished. It's going to be a 39,000 sq. ft orphanage at an estimated cost of about $51 per square foot (pretty inexpensive when you figure it's made of stone and concrete!). That comes out to about $2 million that we need to raise. The land has been paid for, the wall around the land is being built and will be done by December, along with the maintenance/storage building and both of them are paid for. We would love to be able to start building the orphanage buildings as soon as the wall is completed. The baby house, offices, guest house and director's quarters will take about 2 years to build and then another year to build the toddler house.

What do we need? To put it very simply, we need 840 people to pledge $100 a month for the next 24 months. Or we need 1600 people to pledge $50 a month for the next 24 months. Can you help? Any amount, however big or small would be appreciated.

We have all said that we really felt that God was with everything that we did this weekend. It wasn't our doings, it was his plans. Thank you for your prayers, they have been very much needed and it has really been felt.

We'll keep you informed, please continue to lift up the cause of God's Littlest Angels and the children in Haiti in your prayers.

Tom Vanderwell
(616) 292-7559

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Resounding Success!

That's the way I'd describe the fundraiser that was held tonight. It's really really late, so I'm not going to go into much detail, but let me give you a couple of highlights:
1. The food was delicious - I haven't had that good of Haitian food since I was down at Dixie's house!
2. There were, I think, over 150 people who attended. Many of them had no contact with God's Littlest Angels before this.
3. It was very obvious in talking with people that many of them had their hearts touched by the story of GLA and the "plight" of the orphans in Haiti.

Everything went smoothly, all except for 6 of the auction items sold, and everyone had a great time. We had a really neat band performing that was really special because it was a family band with 3 of the kids being biological and 3 of them adopted from Haiti. Check them out at Yes, that really is the name of their group, but the reason is because that's quite close to how you'd pronounce their last name! Check it out, they are quite something. I spent a while talking to the Mom and they seem like a really neat family.

I don't know the totals of how much money was raised, but it was a resounding success.....

If you want to consider holding one like this in your area, let me know and I'll put you in touch with Doug Rollings who does this type of thing alot.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

God is good! All the Time!

Hi all,

I thought I'd put a quick update on here about the meeting with Focus on the Family. I'll give you a couple of quick highlights and then write more later when time allows.....

The meeting went for almost 2 hours. It is truly fun to talk with other people who share your passion for the orphans of the world.

Let's just put it this way:
Focus on the Family is working on some initiatives that will generate much more exposure for the plight of orphans in this world, both internationally and domestically.

Based on our discussions today, GLA will be able to play a part in that initiative! We're still working out some of the details but we firmly believe that God is enabling a huge organization like Focus to help smaller organizations like us achieve what God's calling us to do.

I'll let you know more as I know more, but like I was telling my wife today, if nothing else happens productively out of this trip, I'd still feel like this was a very worthwhile trip. God is Good! All the Time!

I'm here!

Hi all!

I got into Denver around 6pm last night and got down to Colorado Springs around 8:30. It's kind of fun, I'm driving a rental car - a bright red PT cruiser!

Met with Jean Bell last night and worked up some details for the meeting with Focus on the Family, then got settled into the hotel for some sleep. By the time I got to the hotel and got settled, it was a 20 hour day!

I'll write more as I have time later today after the meeting with Focus.

Thanks for your prayers!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Well, tomorrow is the day! I'm heading off from Grand Rapids Michigan to Colorado Springs for the rest of the week. Here's an overview of what's happening during that time:

On Thursday, Dixie and John and I are going to be meeting with people from Focus on the Family to talk about ways that we can jointly work together to raise awareness of the orphans of the world and encourage more people to adopt (specifically Haitian kids!)

On Friday we have the fundraiser (see Dixie's previous posts about that!)

On Saturday we'll be having a board meeting and discussing various ideas in terms of how we can raise $2 million to build a new orphanage.

I'll be coming home on Monday.

Stay tuned, I'll keep you informed on how things are progressing. I'm excited about what God is doing and I'm looking forward to seeing how I and many others can join God in his plans to take care of his Haitian Angels.

Please pray that:
All who travel will have safe travels. I know people are coming from Oregon, Alberta, Haiti, Michigan and other places for this.
Pray that we'll have a wonderful turnout for the fundraiser on Friday.
That the meeting with Focus on the Family will be productive and that God's will be done.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Update on Hurricane Dean

This is from one of the staff members at GLA

Well, we survived Hurricane Dean. It was definitely quite windy during the night, and as a result, I got very little sleep. But, we didn't have any damage, and so we are very thankful for that. I am so glad we did take all the precautions and clean up stuff, because the wind really would have blown things around. ......and she has a small balcony off of her room. She had one of the wooden rocking chairs on her balcony, and it was on its side this morning. So, had there been lighter things, they would have blown away. It is still very cloudy and a bit rainy today, but the wind has died down, and I expect by tomorrow, everything will be back to normal.