and we’re back {december 2016}

and we’re back!

We are back safe and sound, and had an amazing trip to KZ.  We are so grateful for a FRUITFUL (and fun!) trip to see so many people that we love!

First and foremost. there was something different about this trip.  After going back and forth now for the 5th time- to meet girls and see who will be a part of The Greatest Exchange- we are now able to see how these girls lives truly are affected after they experience a summer in Jacksonville.

We are able to visit girls’ homes, which are sometimes not much larger than our family rooms, and see pictures of the girls and their host families hanging on the wall.  We are able to hug the children of our girls that have participated in the past (yes, Dimmash is officially adopted!) and meet the parents and families of past participants who were so unbelievably grateful.

There were so many “high points” for us during our seven day trip.  We couldn’t stop crying tears of joy during our GE Reunion- with all the girls that have participated over the past three years- as they shared how this has changed their lives.  We couldn’t stop laughing when the girls tried to take us ice-skating and when we played games late into the night.

There are so many wonderful stories I could share with you of our time.  And I wish I could include an update of every single girl, because my goodness we could write a book.  

Kazakhstan is changing.  Drastically.  There is political unrest and economic depression.  Did you know that for 15-19 year old girls, Kazakhstan has the highest suicide rate in the world?  The HIGHEST.  In THE WORLD.  That’s the age of the girls that we met last month.  Our girls.  According to a UNICEF study, 12.2% of moralities in Kazakhstan are due to suicide.

 The task seems daunting.  We need people, families, to open this door for the girls.
We have not announced a number, or the amount, of girls that we are praying to bring this summer yet.  We are praying, first and foremost, for e host families to take these girls in.  We need host families, and lots of them, to lay down their lives for five weeks to give this girl the chance of a lifetime.  .  I would be happy to sit down with you and discuss it, or send more details.  As one of our girls from last summer shared, “I didn’t know that people that you aren’t related to could love you so much until I met my host family.”  We are praying for stirred hearts- and for families to fill in the gap and take in these girls.

There are other ways to participate in The Greatest Exchange as well.  If you are looking for additional ideas to get involved, please click here.

From the absolute bottom of my heart, thank you for praying and participating in what God is doing all over the world.

PS- to read some testimonials from our girls, click here!
Kelly Ray

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