You’re listening to Together by AGCI. I’m Dayn Arnold.
2020 has been a year of apocalypse. Merry Christmas. I’m out.
Just kidding. About being out, not about 2020 being a year of apocalypse. Yes, clearly the word apocalypse feels dramatic and end-timesey, but a pastor I’ve been listening to for years has been pointing out this year that an original definition of the word is different than the one we have come to know and fear, and I think it does a pretty good job defining this landmark year.
(I listened to a guy on the internet pronounce this word correctly, or at least it sounds like it is, and I feel a little funny saying it, but here goes: a-po-CA-leep-sis.) It’s a Greek word meaning “an unveiling or revealing,” and it’s where we get our word, apocalypse. As I understand it, in the original Greek it can mean to pull back the curtain to see things as they are, not necessarily as we choose to see them or even want them to be.
In this season, many of us have begun to pull back the curtain on deep-seated tensions in our nation from politics to race to the very state of our world. And it’s messy. And it’s painful. But with generous doses of humility and empathy, this apocalypse provides us with opportunities to come together, to heal, to see the starting point of something truly life changing for ourselves and those around us.
I’ll be the first to say I haven’t had this attitude and mindset nearly as much as I should have this year. I’ve had the same stretches of anger, depression, and sorrow as many of you have had. But I hope and pray that the Lord will grant me the humility to see the world through the eyes of my neighbors, and that in my weakness, if I stop and look at this apocalyptic year through a different lens, I can see that God has done some truly amazing things.
Today we are going to share some of the amazing things God has done through AGCI, with your help, to continue His work among children and families in need. We will hear from Kiersten Luginbill, our VP of international programs, Jodi Miyama, our VP of Adoption Services, and then Hollen Frazier, president of All God’s Children International. As you listen, please remember that you have had a direct effect on all of the amazing things we’ll be sharing about. We hope you know how much we appreciate your partnership and prayers.
First we will hear from our VP of international programs, Kiersten Luginbill.
Today we are talking with Kiersten Luginbill, who is AGCI’s vice president of international programs, and she was on our podcast, um, a few months back. And we’re going to welcome her back today. So Kiersten, welcome back to the podcast.
Thank you so much. Glad to be here.
So today we are focusing on the positive things that have happened in 2020. This has been a challenging year for all of us and, um, just a weird one, just an odd year for the books. And so I just felt like it would be really awesome for us to kind of wrap up 2020 as, as a podcast, to focus more on what are some of the positive things that have come from this year? What are some of the successes or, um, you know, whether their big or small, what are some of the things that have kind of propelled us forward rather than, um, held us back? So, um, you and I have, have been kind of chatting about what some of those things could be, but, um, um, maybe you could kind of, um, you know, pick one from what we talked about earlier and we can just, um, just hear a little bit more about some of the cool things that have happened this year.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s, it’s kind of, um, strange, I feel like, to be on sharing some of these highlights because the last time I was on the podcast, um, I think the pandemic had just sort of taken root and we were all making major adjustments and really had no idea where God was leading us in 2020. Um, so it really is cool to be able to report out on some of the amazing things that God really did do this year. Um, in the midst of all of the challenges and ups and downs that each month brought, um. I would say a couple of the standout out moments for me, or, um, initiatives that we’ve had this year are really sort of investing in these TBRI Special Forces groups that we’ve been a part of in two different continents. So we’ve been working in Latin America, uh, this year with a group of actually 400 child welfare professionals who participated in this group. Um, they represented several different countries in Latin America, including Colombia, Peru, Honduras, Costa Rica, um, and really just saw some incredible fruit come out of that learning group. Um, so what these groups are, I should explain a little bit. Um, yeah, so we, we go through, um, usually about 12 to 13 weeks of ongoing learning, where we talk about the principles of Trust Based Relational Intervention TBRI, which is a tool that AGCI has been using in all of our programs throughout the world. And we also have a desire to pass that tool on to others because we’ve seen what a transformation it makes when we, um, connect and empower the kids and families that we serve. And, um, have been able to kind of offer this 13 week learning group to these, uh, child welfare professionals and help them understand what it means to do this kind of intervention, how to practice it in their own organization or role within the organization. And ultimately to be able to see that impact really thousands of children across these different countries, as those professionals take that information and those practices and put them back into action in the work that they do every day. So I think for us to see the ripple effect of that work that began in Colombia two years ago, this year kind of just explode throughout the region has been, um, really something very incredible to watch.
Yeah. Can you think of any, um, uh, like stories of impact or, or feedback that you’ve gotten from people that it really has kind of made a big difference in the way that they see working with children?
Absolutely. Um, yeah, I would say one of the stand out stories for me is in Guatemala. So we work with a local NGO, a Guatemalan NGO run there, um, and they have been bringing TBRI into, uh, their services with children who are living in families in a community called La Limonada in Guatemala City. And these are areas that have been heavily influenced by gang violence. And, um, our partner organization there has just done incredible work to, uh, bring just hope and healing kids and families in these areas in these neighborhoods. And they participated in the special forces group and their, um, psychologist have been taking that back and bringing that into their one-on-one, um, sessions with each of the kids and families in the program and have just seen incredible change with some of their kids. Um, one grandmother in particular, who was working with her granddaughter and just facing all kinds of difficult behaviors. And after they had learned about TBRI through the psychologist, that was a part of this group, um, you know, they saw just major change in this little girl’s behavior and such an improvement in the connection between this grandmother and her and her granddaughter. And, uh, we know how crucial relationships have been in this season of the pandemic where children and families are together all the time. Maybe if you’re listening to this, you’ve been with your family all the time, this year. Um, and did that can either be a really rich or really strained experience, I think, depending on those family dynamics. And so to be able to provide tools that help families that maybe already have external stressors, um, and all of these needs be able to strengthen their relationships as well and know that that’s actually being the glue, that’s holding these families together in an even more difficult time than they’re used to has been really, um, really cool to see. And then on the flip side, on the higher level in Guatemala, one of the really surprising outcomes of the special forces group is we had some representatives from the government agency in Guatemala, um, reach out to AGCI and request some additional training for their child welfare agency staff at TBRI. And so we’ve been in discussion with them these last few weeks, um, and hoping to launch some training with them in the new year. So, um, again, we just kind of stand in awe really of all of that God is doing, um, through these types of groups where we may not have even known all the individuals that have participated in, but start hearing these just incredible stories of impact rolling in and knowing that God had sort of a bigger plan for this year than we could have imagined.
Yeah. It, it really is amazing to just kind of see that, um, the, the impact that can be had with some of that TBRI training and especially in light of like exactly what you’re talking about, where families are all together all the time. And it just, um, the, the families that are living in kind of a state of trauma that, that can make a world of difference for them to be able to communicate with their kids. So that’s really, really awesome. Um, I’m… The, you know, within the pandemic, we have all had to kind of make adjustments and make changes to the way that we do regular life. And for a lot of us, it’s, it’s meant, you know, maybe teleworking. Um, and we have been able to participate in something that we’re calling teletherapy. Maybe you can help me kind of, um, unpack what that means.
Yeah. So, um, last time I was on the podcast, we were new into the pandemic, really across the board, looking at all of the programs that we provide through AGCI and trying to identify how do we continue this work in the midst of everything going on. And one of the adjustments we made was providing interventions for children and families via teletherapy sessions. So basically online, um, through a secured platform, uh, continuing to offer one-on-one sessions for, um, particularly children in Colombia who have experienced sexual violence and, um, in partnership with a local organization, that’s a close partner of All God’s Children. Um, we’ve been able to offer around 12,000 of these sessions, uh, teletherapy sessions this year, um, which when you think about just how urgent this particular need is, um, and how urgent it was to continue that service, despite all that’s gone on this year. Um, it’s probably one of those standout moments.
I’m just so proud of our partners and their perseverance to make adjustments and, um, be able to offer this critical support in a new way this year. And, um, just really, even through our supporters at AGCI, we were able to actually, um, support an increase in those services this year. So not only to keep them going, but actually to provide additional counselors and additional children, this opportunity to provide this level of support because of just the general generous supporters of AGCI. So, um, we’re talking about a population of children in I believe there were around 14,000 cases of children who experienced sexual violence in Colombia. Um, so that gives you an idea of just the scope of the need. And our partners are one of only three organizations licensed to provide this kind of service in Bogota. So just a huge need. Children that have been on a waiting list in fact, to receive this kind of urgent support. So we are really proud, um, to be able to step into that need, to be able to keep that going and even expand the reach so that these children who have been waiting, um, can really get that critical support they need to process that trauma and be able to, um, yeah, just find healing and, and be able to move forward with new strategies.
Yeah, that’s amazing. It’s so often it seems like when you have to adapt to something, is when there’s some sort of a compromise and certainly there is that interpersonal compromise. Like it, it is superior to be able to meet in person, um, for this kind of, for this kind of thing. But to see that they’ve been able to actually expand their reach, um, in the midst of what could ordinarily have been just like a, well, we tried. You know? To see it actually doing even better than it had been previously is that’s, that’s a miracle truly, truly a miracle. Absolutely. So let’s stay in Bogota and maybe we can talk about, um, some of the successes of the dream home.
Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s been an up and down year for all of us that have been in quarantine in any way, shape or form that you have then this year. And certainly I would say our residents at the dream home felt all of those ups and downs just like we have here at home. Um,
I think one of the things I’m most proud of with our residents there and our staff is just this willingness to go deep and be raw with each other, through all of those moments. And, um, we just saw an incredible, um, level of, I think, a new level of connection in the house between residents, between staff. Um, and what that has done is it’s allowed for our girls to start to experience a new kind of healing and connection through relationship that has only really been made possible because we’ve all been forced to this sort of intimate setting, um, and the stressor of going through a pandemic and, and all of the normal stressors of life. Um, it’s really propelled those relationships into a different level where we’ve started to get at the root of this wound that many of our girls have experienced upon coming into the home and their worries about the future and their current relationships or their fear of developing relationships or their fear of the future. And, um, that deep work of unpacking some of those things and then helping to provide tools and, and just even to process how to move forward from some of that, um, and be able to develop new relationships of their own in the future is some of the work I’m probably most proud of. And, um, it’s hard to capture on a podcast. It’s hard to capture it in an email it’s hard to,
it’s just hard to capture because when you watch a young woman start to really like, come, come alive and go deeper in this type of way, there’s just, there’s no way to really fully describe what that looks like and feels like, but you can see it making the impact and you know, that the work that they’re doing right now internally and in relationship with trusted staff is what’s going to be like foundational for them as they become adults and have families of their own and build relationships outside of the dream home. Um, you know, you know, that, that deep hard work that they’re doing and they’ve really been focused on this year is what’s really going to set them up for success into adulthood. And that’s really the whole reason we set out to do the dream home, to, to create that model was for that kind of healing and that kind of building of relationships to happen. And this year more than ever for good and for worse, like we’ve just, we’ve seen that that happen in such a deeper way than ever before. And, um, yeah, I wish, like I said, I wish I could capture it better into words, but I’m so incredibly proud of every single resident in that home and every single staff person in that home, that’s been walking the walk and, um, really doing that deep work on themselves and in relationship with each other, um, to help, help improve their future. Um, I’m just, it’s not easy work to do. And I’m so proud of them leaning into that.
Yeah. So cool. Let’s um, I think we have time for one more, um, awesome thing from 2020, and maybe we can hop over to Ethiopia for that one.
Yes. I’m so excited to talk about what’s been going on in Ethiopia this year. Uh, yeah. We, um, actually had an incredible opportunity to join forces with four organizations in Ethiopia that have all operated in the country. Um, and we started a special forces group there, uh, with around 40 professionals from different organizations, um, in Ethiopia. I’ve been sharing similar things to what I mentioned in the TBRI group for Latin America. But I think it’s just been so powerful to hear from these local leaders in Ethiopia about their experience, putting these principles into practice and, um, really teaching us in a lot of ways how to teach. I mean, they have changed the way that we do so many things because of their voice in the conversation and, um, the way that they are looking at TBRI within their cultural context in Ethiopia and how that, you know, fits within family dynamics and their own dynamics as individuals and how they were raised. I mean, it’s just been such a rich experience. And we actually wrapped up that special forces group several months ago. And these local leaders said, you know, we want to keep learning. So can we continue on meeting on a weekly basis as teams to share about how we’re implementing TBRI and examples of some of the ways we’re incorporating that? And so every Thursday we still get on, I think we’re almost six months in now to this group and yeah, and every week I I’m telling you, I learned something new and they are teaching our team and we’ve been sharing our experience. And it’s just this incredible, um, I don’t know. Yeah, just shared opportunity of encouragement and support of one another in providing service to kids and families. And we know that work can be hard. It can be a challenge and we all may experience, um, certain situations or, or particular children where we feel like, wow, I just, I don’t know how to handle this behavior. I don’t know how best to advise this family. And, uh, being able to talk openly about some of those things with teams on the ground and sharing experience or ideas, um, has just been so incredible. And then these local leaders are taking that into their work every day. They’re communicating that with their communities and government workers that they are connected to, and we’re just seeing this whole community grow in the country around TBRI and what that means is a community growing around, um, best care practices for children. And so that’s just really exciting to watch. And, um, we’re excited for, um, a more official practitioner training hopefully happening here in April. Um, and just really to see those local leaders continue to empower to kind of bring that training locally throughout communities in Ethiopia. And we just know God has got even bigger things in store for that group in 2021, but it’s been so awesome to be a part of.
We get to see what this means for kids and families at the end. And that’s really like, we talk about these training opportunities and, and this TBRI tool, but at the end of the day, it’s really, it’s, we’re seeing kids and families restored, really. Like, and relationships restored. And just like I was talking about the dream home, I mean, those are the things that stick with you and just kind of keep propelling you forward and wanting to spread that, that around and for others to have that experience. And that impact too.
Yeah. It’s real and lasting transformation, and it is replicable at the same time. It can be passed down. So, so cool. That is super encouraging. And I love hearing that in the midst of all the crazy of this year, that there still are amazing things happening. So thanks so much for sharing with us.
Yeah, my pleasure. It was so fun to get to be on today.
That was our VP of International programs, Kiersten Luginbill. Next up is AGCI’s VP of Adoption Services, Jodi Miyama who is going to share about some of the amazing things that have happened among the children and families of AGCI’s adoption programs.
Today we’re talking about the amazing things, the exciting things, the fun things that actually happened in 2020, despite it being kind of a dumpster fire of a year. I mean, it was a really hard year, but I think that there are some really amazing things that we need to celebrate. So, um, you and I kind of worked together to come up with a list of, uh, just a handful of highlights from the year. And um, I’m wondering if maybe we can just kind of go through that list and you can just let us know some of the amazing things that happened in adoption.
Absolutely. Thank you for having me today.
Oh yeah, of course. So the first thing that we have on there is that you, um, uh, the adoption team welcomed new families in all country programs. Um, tell me a little bit more about that.
Sure. Well, first I should start with, it’s been an incredible year to witness God working in so many families, hearts and minds. Despite this pandemic and these crazy times, we have seen an incredible, uh, calling of many families that from God to adopt a child. And so we have seen families, uh, we’ve been able to welcome families into each of our programs this year. So…
What are those programs?
So we have adoption programs in Bulgaria and Burundi in East Africa, and in China, Colombia, Haiti, Philippines, and South Africa.
Okay. So tell me, tell me like, I mean, what was that a surprise to you guys to have a year like that where you have every program engaged in something?
It was, we didn’t know what to expect to be honest, as far as when the pandemic first hit and everybody’s at home and we didn’t know if people would be nervous or what that would look like, but what we found is, uh, it was a great time to reflect on what family means to each person in each family. And if their family is, uh, complete or if they are open to following God’s call to look at international adoption for their family. And we’ve just been thrilled because a lot of… Of course we don’t know what the pandemic and when we’ll be post pandemic or when we could say those words, but it’s been neat to see the, how the adoption process has been able to continue in each of our countries throughout the pandemic. And so it’s been encouraging to see families start their adoption program, knowing that there’s a lot that can be done with their paperwork and getting ready through their education before they’d be matched for the child. And so it’s possible that there’s not really a delay at all in their entire adoption.
That’s so amazing. Um, and as well, like the pandemic is not the only variable in all of this, like so to have not only, you know, different systems and different government offices and different things on the US side and in country and, you know, families having to get COVID tested to travel. And like, I mean, that’s not part of welcoming them into a country program, but like just thinking of all of the obstacles of this entire year, it’s, it’s really amazing that it has been as full and as, um, well, I guess, full as it has been.
And it, you’re right, it’s been incredible to see how each country and the governments in many countries have pivoted to allow different virtual visits to happen so that children, they can begin their adoption process. For example, in Haiti, there’s two trips generally required where a family would have a socialization trip and meet their child. And the government of Haiti IBSR was able to transition those into virtual visits and same in Bulgaria. And so that, that allows the adoption process to, the legal adoption process to be initiated after that. And so in order not to help hold up, children who had been matched with a family, they’ve allowed different, uh, those visits to happen virtually. So that it’s just been incredible to see some of the ways that each government has responded and allowed their children to be prioritized and the need for them to be in there forever family.
Yeah. Anytime that you can have some red tape cut down for you is a miracle, let alone this time.
Exactly. There’s many things that we secretly, or maybe not so secretly hope will continue, like when they can review documents electronically. We’re, we’re all about that because that’s quicker for a family or an a child as well. So we’re hoping some things, we, we all learned that, wow, that was a new way to do it, but that actually is helpful and beneficial. That’s so cool.
And also like South Africa is a pretty new program too.
It’s a pilot program. So we have a number of families in the program, but, um, we have received, uh, we matched a waiting child. So that was really exciting as well as we received our first official referral of a very young child and in a very short amount of time from when the family has been registered. So, um, South Africa has really been an incredible program to be part of because, um, right before the pandemic hit this year in 2020, there was some travel issues and some, a moratorium, but that was lifted very recently as well. And so there is so much great potential that we’ve seen happen in very recent times with South Africa. So that again, we are excited about what the future holds for those kids.
That’s so cool. And so, like you mentioned that there was, um, one matched child in South Africa, and I know that there are matched children from other countries. Maybe we can move on to that as another one of our successes of 2020.
Well, perfect. And that is one of our hugest highlights is being able to talk about the children that we have seen and been able to unite with families. And like you said, that actually, when we first started speaking, I was planning on only being able to share that we’ve matched children in six countries, but now I can say had children referred and matched with their family and all the countries.
Yeah. So cool. Do you feel like this year kind of gave everybody an extra bit of, like perseverance, like something extra because we’re all kind of like having to push through everything else in our regular lives. Do you feel like that helped families in a way to kind of push through?
I do. It, and that was something that we certainly didn’t expect, but we have been very excited to witness because it is, it does take a little extra perseverance or what is it that’s that little nudge to say, this is the time. And who would have thought, yeah, in a pandemic that this would be the time, but it really has. That’s exactly what we’ve seen, where different families we’ve witnessed and feel like we have a front row seat of watching God work in families’ lives. And, and we’ve just been so thrilled to see them step out in faith each time for when they’re thinking about a child and we’ve been able to advocate and share about children. And of course we still have children waiting for a family. And so we always, uh, hope too that it can be an encouragement to see that we are able to still match children with families as well as families have been able to travel and complete their adoptions and welcome them home.
Yeah. And, and maybe even, um, I, you know, as, uh, another thing that we can talk about is um, you know, TBRI is like the lifeblood of AGCI. Um, and, uh, maybe you can just kind of give us a little bit more information about, um, what it looked like to do a little bit more of the, uh, the parent training side of things.
Sure. That’s with a little bit more time on families’ hands for a little bit there, we were able to, um, also see families move through our education program, and we have been able to expand our education program this year. So although we have a program that prepares families and equips families to be expecting their child and how to navigate, uh, different issues that they will be facing with their child. And we have, our Families Are Forever program integrates family or TBRI principles. And so they’re learning about that throughout their education program, but we’ve also been able to create some additional class options for families who might be home. Or we have a class TBRI for teens. We have a class for welcoming siblings to your family, and we have an array of new classes as well as even a domestic package or different class offerings for families who are interested in other types of adoption.
Mm that’s so great. Is there anything else from the adoption side that you feel like our audience should be, uh, should know or should be excited about before we, before we, um, say goodbye?
Well, I would just, again, always take a moment to share and just ask for prayer for children who are still waiting and that we’re advocating for, and always encourage anyone to ask us if they’d like to learn more about a particular child that may be, would tug at their heart. We’d love to share that child’s story. And we always appreciate prayer for those children who are still waiting.
Well, thanks so much for joining me on this, uh, this call, just to kind of talk through some of the exciting things. I think that that’s like, you know, every year you kind of look back at the year and you’re like, what were the cool things that happened in the year? But for whatever reason, it has a little bit more weight this year because it was counterbalanced by so many other things. Um, so it’s just, it’s so great to just hear a little bit more about, um, some of the I mean, really just scratching the surface of a few things that happened in adoption. But thanks so much for sharing your time with us.
Well, thank you, Dayn. And again, we are thrilled to see what God has done this year and uniting children with their families.
That was our VP of Adoption Services, Jodi Miyama. The final voice you’ll hear today is that of Hollen Frazier, president of AGCI. She will share a few more of the amazing things that have happened with AGCI in 2020.
Today we’re talking about the hopeful things, the exciting things, the awesome things that happened this year, despite it being a super challenging year on every front for every country that we work in, including our own. Um, and so I just, I just wanted to kind of, um, hear from you, what are some of those things that, that were really exciting, like kind of high points throughout the year?
Yeah. You know, I think looking now back on, uh, 2020, I think we can all say it’s been the year of the unexpected. Um, where we’ve seen a lot of loss, we’ve also seen a ton of hope and I’ll say, God has been so good Dayn, this year. And just seeing how he’s met needs of so many children and families around the world, despite the fact that we were in a pandemic and unable to travel, um, it really just shows his glory really just shining. Um, but a few of those highlights for me, I would have to say, um, is, is really first, that we were able this last year to offer virtual therapies and parenting support to 724 children and families. Being that we had to really pivot pretty quickly when the pandemic hit, because all the families we serve were not able to come in person to receive the counseling and therapy, um, because of the generosity of our donors, we were able to purchase tablets and really get everyone connected online so that we didn’t see any change to those services for them.
Wow. Yeah. I mean, that’s one of the things like Kiersten and I were talking about was how like, for some of these programs, it actually opened doors in this season in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened. If it hadn’t been like everybody has to pivot or nothing’s going to happen.
Yeah. And one of the areas that we able to also pivot in was, um, our vision trips. You know, a huge part of what we do is getting to bring our partners and supporters to the countries we’re serving in so that they can see the impact of their giving, but also, um, really see the vision of what God’s laid out before us. And when the pandemic hit, we were able to, um, really look at an online virtual vision trip and it has just been incredible to be able to bring the work to life, um, through video and Zoom and then connecting personally with those that we’re impacting and the countries, um, we’re serving in. And then also for our supporters to be able to meet the leaders, um, in the countries that we’re working in. Um, we’ve, we’ve been able to bring so many more people into the work BECAUSE we are online. So there’s been these small little blessings that have come out of it. Um, in addition to just the savings on travel this year too, because, um, traveling internationally can add up. So that’s just been one of those areas. It’s been really awesome to get to connect with so many more people, um, through Zoom, but bringing this vision to life and letting people connect with the work that we’re doing.
Is that another one of those things that you feel like is going to carry through beyond this year? Like some of the things we’ve had to pivot and we do it for now because that’s what we have to do. But do you feel like this is something that will carry through?
Absolutely. I mean, I still am a firm believer face to face is so valuable, but the reality is it’s really hard for people to step away from their lives sometimes for five to 10 days to take a trip. So this is now a new way that we can bring the work to people in a 60 minute trip that’s online, where they can be sitting in the comfort of their own home. So I definitely see this will continue to be, um, something that we can use and invite people, um, to see the impact that they’re having.
That’s really cool. Um, maybe we can talk a little bit about, like, I know that we have our new International Social Services Director. Can you tell me a little bit more about how that kinda came to be and what even the position is and why it’s exciting?
Well, it is super exciting. A huge shout out to the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust. They actually grant, gave us a grant for this position of an International Social Services Director, as we’ve been seeing the trauma informed work that, um, really we’ve anchored now in Colombia, and this next year, we’re really stepping into Ethiopia, this position is really leading those trauma informed efforts around the world on a global level. Um, and being that we entered a year, um, of a pandemic, having someone on our team that could lead virtual, um, trauma informed trainings via Zoom, um, David Randall has just been fantastic. And we’re now from the work that we’ve been able to do in Colombia, we’re, um, hearing from leaders now in the Guatemalan government asking us to come in and step in and maybe start doing trainings. So this position is truly our leader of our global impact when it comes to the trauma informed work that we’re doing in partnership with the Karyn Purvis Institute for Child Development.
I think one of the coolest things that I think about David in his position is that he is a native Spanish speaker and hearing him do some of the classes and facilitating the discussions with people in Spanish. We can do so much more when there’s a deeper understanding. Like what a valuable skill and backstory to have.
Well, and you take that backstory and skill and then you partner it with passion and that is David Randall. I mean his passion for the work that we’re doing both from a professional level, but then also a personal one being an adoptive parent. Um, he really just brings such a level of expertise and passion to the work that I think it kind of catches fire with people when he’s, um, connecting and doing trainings to teach about the impacts and, and how trust-based relational intervention, TBRI, how that can really bring long lasting restoration and healing to people.
It just seems like, uh, one of those God things that like He has all those… And he has all the skills that you would look for and then more, and it’s just, yeah, he’s, he’s a really awesome guy. So I’m super glad that he’s in the position that he is and, and that, it really, it seems like there’s, the sky’s the limit with that program.
So exciting. And you know, one of the, probably highlights for me this year for just looking back on 2020, um, two things, um, the pandemic, you know, really hit in March and we had one of our last in-person trainings in Colombia in February, right before travel got shut, shut down. And we were up actually in Medellin, and we were doing a training for 550 child welfare professionals. And, um, a highlight for me is one of our, our team members called me from that, that trip. And we had our staff. So David Randall was there, our VP of International Kiersten, but also we had trainers from the Karyn Purvis Institute present for this training, and Kiersten called me and said, you just won’t believe this, but this three-day training has been completely 100% Colombian led. And so just to see that this vision to empower local leaders to like then carry this, this mission on, um, that we could have that many, um, US-based TBRI practitioners sitting on a front row and no one had to take the stage because that’s where we’re at now in Colombia with Colombians owning this practice in their country.
It’s, it’s so awesome. And, and also like, if you really think about the timeline of how long that program has been moving, like just the elements of the Lord had had to put into place in order for all of that to work and how rapidly it’s like, from my perspective, at least how rapidly it has been just expanding. And now it’s moving beyond Colombia and more into, you know, more of the Latin world. Um, it’s just, yeah, it’s just super exciting to see that even in a year like this, like nothing has slowed down. It, it, it has just continued its rapid pace of expansion and, and just bringing new hearts and new minds into this. And, and, and like what you said where, you know, it is local leaders that are, that are running the whole thing and it’s like, that’s almost the most encouraging thing for me is to see like when there’s true ownership and buy-in from the people that it matters the most to like there’s no stopping it. It’s, it’s awesome.
And it’s, and it’s so incredible too cause the sustainability of it as, from a financial standpoint, when that catches fire, it also allows All God’s Children to then pivot and start empowering… Like now we’re going into Ethiopia and we’re doing the same deep work there that, you know, the hope and goal is that we see that same, um, reaction to where then we’re moving to Asia and really seeing how God is moving through these local leaders has. Ah. I mean, I think that, I fair to say it’s blown our entire team away, what God has done the last three years.
Yeah. And just, I mean, I, I, I keep reiterating, but I just can’t believe that there is momentum coming out of the end of this year and that it’s like in all of our programs and we, you know, the Lord has allowed us to kind of stay on course as an organization and to really not, not lose too many steps in all of this, despite the overwhelming challenges and the crazy odds of it all working out. So yeah, it’s just, um, you know, pray, praise the Lord for, for, for that just even happening at all.
Amen. I am right there with you. And then just to one other just highlight for me probably too, is just really looking at the resiliency of our adoptive family. I would just say, I think seeing the commitment and perseverance in this last year and knowing intimately being with AGCI now twenty-five years and seeing thousands of families walk through this process of adoption and understanding, um, the commitment that it takes, but how hard it can be to be on this journey and all the unknowns and twists and turns. Um, our adopted families have just been my heroes this year, just not giving up, the resiliency to bring their kids home, um, has been inspiring. And I, I’m excited to see next year, we’re starting to see kids finally come home with travel restrictions, being lifted but, um, just continuing to see the growth of families being called into adoption because of the time people have had this year to kind of sit back and reevaluate what matters, and what does God have for them. It’s just a lot of really great, great things, even in the midst of the hard. It’s why it’s like my year of the unexpected. Like you just see God working, even in the midst of hard things. And, and that’s always something to just celebrate his goodness that it’s everlasting, it’s eternal. And, um, he has a plan.
Well, that’s, that’s when he does his best work is when we’re completely helpless. At least in my life, that’s been true.
That I would say is the same in mine. So that that’s awesome, Dayn.
Well, thank you so much for just kind of giving us a quick, I mean, we could probably be here all day talking about some of the cool things that have been happening this year. Um, but thank you so much for your time. And um, I’m excited to see what comes in 2021.
I will be right there alongside you. So thank you for having me Dayn. Thanks so much Hollen. Okay. Bye bye.
That was Hollen Frazier, president of AGCI. I want to thank Hollen, Jodi & Kiersten for sharing with us this week. It’s good to be reminded of the amazing things happening in our world, especially this year. I also want to thank all of you for listening to Together by AGCI this year. I hope it’s been a blessing to you. A podcast can be such a one-sided thing, us just talking into the void and hoping it connects with you, the listener. But it doesn’t have to be. If you have any feedback, ideas, or encouragement you’d like to pass along to us, send us a message at email@example.com. And if you like what you hear, tell a friend and feel free to leave us a review on the podcast platform of your choice. We want to share the stories of All God’s Children with as many people as we can, and your participation makes that possible.
This will be our last episode of 2020. I hope you join me after the new year as we begin to see the amazing things that will happen in 2021. Merry Christmas, and may we all clearly see the blessings of a new year as we share this journey – together. We’ll talk to you soon.