"Please Help Us Help These Kids"
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2016
For Terri Tarwater, Women for Orphans Worldwide (WOW) has become more than an auxiliary organization for Orphan Outreach. It's a personal ministry for her and her family. One of its charter members, Terri says the seeds for the founding of WOW were actually planted long before mission trips were scheduled or fundraisers planned. WOW's prequel was written at a Dallas-area daycare center, when two toddlers met and fell in love.
"I was working full-time, and my daughter Marlee was in daycare. One day she told me about a little girl she met named Inna. She wanted Inna to come to her birthday party, so I gave the invitation to the daycare workers - I always saw the children but never saw their parents. When Inna arrived, the two girls screamed and ran into each other's arms. I looked up and saw Tiffany Taylor Wines, Inna's mom. Because of the love of our two-year old daughters, we became great friends.
"Tiffany would always say, 'When our daughters are 13, we're going on a mission trip together.' She had traveled to third-world countries to do orphan care, but had never taken family. We thought we were doing such a good thing, but didn't realize it would be such an eye-opener. On that trip, we met a young girl who had been abused by her uncle, and then visited an orphanage that lacked beds for every child. Our girls looked at us and said, "We have to get beds for these kids." We pulled a little money together to purchase mattresses and thought we were finished with our work. But the girls kept saying, "No, it's not over. We have to do more. We just have to do more."
The change in Inna and Marlee - and their passion to do more - is what brought Women for Orphans Worldwide into existence. I remember at the very first WOW luncheon, the girls spoke to those attending and said, 'Please help us help these kids.' A women in attendance at the luncheon looked at me and said, 'Show me a 13-year old who isn't all about herself, and I'm all over it.' She had never been to Guatemala and knew nothing about the work of Orphan Outreach, but she wrote a check that day to support the work being done."
When Terri and her family moved to Houston, she knew WOW would be there too. She continued to work with the Dallas chapter as she worked to launch a Houston chapter. And once again, it's her children who have taken the lead. "My son did a peanut butter drive and my daughter did a baby formula drive. Most recently, we've invited students to learn more about WOW and Guatemala. We raised $500 in one hour - with teenagers! Each teen wrote a love note to the kids as well - it was amazing to watch."
Terri and her WOW Houston partner, Suzanne Odom, traveled to Guatemala in October as part of an Orphan Outreach vision trip. The chapter purchased pajamas for the young women of Hope & Future for Christmas. And the first-ever WOWHOU Guatemala mission trip is slated for July 2016. She says that, right now, she sees WOW Houston as a "whatever/wherever" chapter - serving in whatever capacity is needed. Sharing the love of Jesus Christ through acts of service is the top priority.
For Terri, WOW remains her family's ministry. "Our youngest son now wants to go to Guatemala. Ministry to the children there has been a way of life for him, and he is ready to serve on a mission trip." She can't wait to take him to Little House of Refuge in Xela - one of the first places she and Marlee ever visited on a WOW trip. "Seeing the children there who have grown up in such positive ways is a gift - and hearing them call me by name. ME. They know us, they remember us. It's easy to worry that we're not doing enough, not visiting enough. But oh my gosh, being there CAN be enough."
"Watching my own kids' hearts melt in a way that would have never happened had they not served - that's changed my life too. You can talk all day about how other people live, but being in Guatemala has allowed them to develop a servant's heart. My daughter, now in college, wrote an essay recently that said, "I didn't even know what a servant's heart was until I saw need. And I realized that I can help by praying and offering care in a way that could change someone's future in positive way."
Preparations are already underway for the July 2016 mission trip, and Terri says the "whatever/whenever" theme is going to allow them to serve needs that arise when they arrive. "We'll use the money that's been raised to both raise awareness and attend to the issue of poverty and vulnerable children - and then go and help - and bring back memories for those who have given so generously, so they can see the impact of having a servant's heart in their lives too."
If you are interested in learning more about the Women for Orphans Worldwide chapter in Houston - or would like to start a chapter in your town - contact Tiffany Taylor Wines at firstname.lastname@example.org.