One of our dear donor partners frequently sends us Beanie Babies to take to the children in our orphan homes. This trip to East Africa meant packing yet another batch of these lovable stuffed creatures. Beanie Babies are the perfect gift as 1.) They are now quite inexpensive, 2.) They can be bought in large batches on ebay, 3.) They are small enough to carry in a large quantity, and 4.) They allow each child to pick a character that closely matches their personality.

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(A PILE OF BEANIES. David Ochoa helps to distribute the toys to the children)

Believe me, these things are highly cherished, often taking a prominent position on the children’s pillows. In many cases, they are the only toy that a child possesses and the only gift they have ever received.

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(NURTURE. A young orphan girl covers and cradles her new Beanie Baby)

On my visit to one of our homes in Uganda last week, a medical team was there administering an HIV test to all of the children. The youngest had their fingers pricked. The older ones had to provide a full vial. Some were brave, others not so much so.

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(STABBING REALITY. Many of these children will be diagnosed as HIV+)

The cry of these precious ones as they were getting stuck with needles was heartbreaking indeed. More upsetting, though, is the realization that quite a few of these children will soon hear some very bad news, life-shattering news.

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(THE TEST. The ultimate pass/fail result)

With Beanie Babies in hand, tears turned into smiles.

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(RECEIVING LINE. Children come forward and pick a toy that matches their personality or preference)

Regardless of future test results, they were now happy in the moment of hugging a little stuffed animal, a gift from people in America who love them and pray for them.

God’s timing is so good.

Here’s just a few more children after they recieved  a smile from America…

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