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Episode 58

We Just Got Back From Colombia. It Was Lifechanging

Melissa and Marisa

You’re listening to Together by AGCI. I’m Melissa Rush.

Today, Together by AGCI co-host, Marissa Butterworth, and I are talking about our recent travels to Colombia. After several years away, it was such a gift to be back with our Colombia team and see the kids and life changing work firsthand. It was also at times, really, really hard. I hope you enjoy our open, honest conversation.

Spoiler here we both cry a little bit, so thank you in advance for your grace. Let’s get into our conversation I am so excited to talk to you today, Marisa, and hear about your recent trip to Colombia. Well, I haven’t gone to for your recent trip to Colombia. I know we finally both got to go back after. Yeah, like darn.

Two and a half. I know. I was trying to think, oh, my gosh, it was like two and a half, three years, something like that, because I had a trip scheduled, like, two weeks after the COVID shut down, like quarantine and everything. And so, yeah, it’s been so long, it feels like without seeing the work and you I mean, you do a job where you’re like, writing stories and trying to communicate it, and it got hard, I think, at least for me.

And I’m sure I’m guessing for you, it got hard to tell stories without experiencing some of them. It’s like kind of a selfish thing to do, but there’s nothing like seeing it in person, meeting people yourself to like be able to do a better job, like communicating the heart of something. Yeah. No, absolutely. And I think sometimes just because, you know, day in and day out, we’re hearing these stories second, third hand, however it is.

And I feel like it’s almost like a it’s probably like a self-protection mechanism. But yeah, you can kind of start to get detached from how trying these stories are and how difficult some people’s circumstances are. And to have the I mean, I guess the the ability to get to go there in person, meet these people face to face, hear their stories, it just like changes things.

You can’t turn away either. Yeah, I think it is in self preservation that everyone has. So the job we do, obviously, we there’s an element you have to like have some boundaries personally or like we’ll shut you down, but there’s nothing like going and seeing it yourself and meeting people to, you know, humanize the stories that we hear and at least for me, like, I don’t know, I just I don’t want to say reengage, but like my passion level goes way up where I’m like, OK, let’s get this done.

People need help. Like, we got to figure out how to do this and soon. So, yeah, yeah, definitely changes everything. Well, it kind of lights a fire in you, I think. Like you said, it’s like not that you don’t I never you never stop caring or realizing how essential the work is. But I think seeing it in person, you’re just kind of like but I don’t know.

Yeah. Like, commits you. Yeah. In a way. I don’t know how else to say it. Yeah. And we try to tell stories like of hope on this podcast. You know, I think anyone listening, you know, when you’re talking about adoption and you’re talking about vulnerable children, you know, like that, there are really hard stories going on too. And maybe to a fault we don’t share like the depth of how hard things are because I think we are trying to protect our listeners a little bit too.

But I’m excited today to share some of the stories because it just does make it more real, it makes it more tangible, and hopefully it’ll make it easier for people to understand and grasp though the like importance, the work that we do, because I know it and going there, it was just like, yep, like this is why we do this.

This is why we commit our lives to doing this kind of work. And, you know, it’s, we’re all figuring it out too, I think. Yeah, so what so did been, you know, over two years since you’d been back to Colombia. What was it like to be back? Like were things did you feel like things had changed or do we.

Yeah. What was that like? I mean, I love Colombia and my daughter right now would be screaming at me if she were home because it’s pronounced Colombia, you know, when you say it that way, spelled with O’s, not a U there. Yes. There are shirts at the airport that say it’s Colombia, not Colombia. Yeah. Yes. So I, I, anyone listening and I’ll do it both ways, but I love the country.

I love the people, I love the food. I love their culture. We have, you know, the people that we work with, with our Colombian team are just the most incredible people out there. And so it felt a little bit like coming home in some ways and like there is something comforting about being there. It’s like getting to be there.

It felt normal in some respect. Definitely. I think like anywhere like you, we felt the effects of COVID in different ways. They definitely struggled more than we did, you know, as a country. And it’s not over there. You know, there’s there are still pieces of it that well, impact us probably for a long time. But I don’t know, getting to see everyone.

The work didn’t stop. Like, I was very struck by that. There were definitely challenges and you know, people were isolated and quarantined for longer there and but our team didn’t stop doing the work there. And so I was really struck kind of by like the juxtaposition of like seeing I guess what we heard was you know, they’re already seeing like huge numbers of cases of sexual violence against children.

And because they weren’t able to track like there wasn’t any when there weren’t any like safeguards, there weren’t people watching. Teachers were not, you know, not seeing these kids in person. Yeah. So they’re seeing like the after effects of that this year as kids are coming back. And on the other side, like acknowledging how much work has been done, like the stories that we hear, the hope that we heard, you know, stories of healing.

And I would say like supernatural healing. But for me, I just like felt so honored to be a tiny part of the work that Gods doing. And yeah, it just felt so amazing. What about you? So you were there like a month ago, a month and a half ago. How did what did it feel like to you? Well, it had been a lot the last time I had been in Colombia was like late 2017.

So had been like, oh, my gosh, almost five years. Yeah. So a long time. So for me it was like a pretty stark difference. Just I think that the work that we’re doing has grown in so many ways. The programs and also just like the way that things are being approached. When I first went, we hadn’t fully I don’t think we’d fully begun or it was like just the beginning phases of implementing TBRI and that was, I don’t know, I feel like I got TBRI on a totally new level.

Like I knew I understood it theoretically, but seeing it in practice. Well, you tell us like a little bit about TBI for people that don’t know what that is. Yes. So TBI, trust based relational intervention, basically, it’s kind of a approach, I guess you could say, of caring for children who I mean, it really can be used with with all people, but particularly for kids, they say, from hard places.

So kids who have been adopted would fall into this category, kids that have had basically any exposure to trauma, particularly early in their life, that can be loss, you know, abuse, neglect, difficult birth even or prenatal trauma. It just kind of spans, you know, honestly, like who hasn’t been touched in some way by trauma. Exactly. Yeah. And so it’s a really powerful it’s a really powerful tool for caregivers.

So, you know, that would include parents, that would include caregivers at institutions, but also, you know, teachers, counselors, I mean, really, anyone that works closely with children, I think can benefit from the tools of TBI and what they’re like doing it at the judicial level. And. Yes, yes. Like lawyers and social worker. Yeah. Anyone that touches a child’s life in Colombia, the goal would be to get that tool into everyone’s hand, because a lot of these kids are labeled as bad kids.

Yes. Yes. And like anyone that’s ever worked with kids, you know, they’re the current bad kids. They’re just kids that have been through trauma and are experiencing grief and loss and they don’t know how to deal with it. So TBR gives people the tools to help them deal with it. And like yours, like it’s for anyone like me and the tools for us to face.

Yeah, trauma. But yeah. I’m sorry. Did you keep going? No, no, no, no. I’m glad you did. I was kind of like going on rambling there, but. Oh, your word. Know TBI is is amazing. And one of the basic tenets of it is that you have to deal with your own stuff to be able to help a child like heal from the things that they’ve been through.

And so it’s just. Yeah, so to be able to see the transformation that is occurring with that and just like how invested the caregivers are, like at the different homes that we visited, I was really fortunate to get to participate in a nurture group with family members who for whatever reason, their kids had been, you know, removed from their care.

And but the parents, at least the parents that I met with were so committed to figuring out whatever those issues had been to like get their kids back. And they were at these groups. They were doing all of the exercises and their kids were so connected to them. And it just was like, I don’t know. I think sometimes people have a hard time understanding families where you know, the kids, for whatever reason, are removed and people tend to blame the parents.

And the parents have, in a lot of cases, have just dealt with so many things. And I just think having compassion and understanding and also believing in people’s ability to change and heal and grow. And so to get to witness that firsthand was like, oh, just made me cry. Yes. So powerful. Yes. Yeah. And I think that’s what’s beautiful is that we do like primarily work with the kids, but then inherently you start having to work with the parents, too, because they need to learn these skills as well.

And that’s like the whole like cycle of trauma is that they’ve been through this. And, you know, it’s so easy to pass your trauma. It’s like cyclical. So you pass your trauma down to your kids and then they repeat the same traumas and try like gets in there and disrupts that cycle and you know, people can find healing.

We’re witnessing it, people can change. And yeah, you know, and we all that’s what the goal is. That these kids, you know, would now not all of them, of course, are able to go home, but some of them are. When you get that healing, it’s not easy work. It’s deep now. So hard work. But a lot of these families and are committing to seeing that through.

And we are so lucky as an organization to be a part of that, you know, and all of our partners that like I felt so encouraged. I know I was like texting some of our partners that support this work and like, hey, because of you, we’re seeing like this this change. We’re seeing this because you’re helping fund this.

Like, yeah, we were able to get these into this therapy and trauma informed care into the hands of people that otherwise wouldn’t ever be exposed to it. Yeah. Yeah. And what’s so amazing about it, like you said, I mean, it truly like breaks this cycle that if without intervention will just continue because then those kids, if they don’t get that the care that they need and the help that they need, they will just repeat what has been the way that they were raised or that, you know, struggles that their family had because they don’t know any other way.

And that’s just being human. Yes. We just we don’t know what we don’t know. And so it’s it’s what’s exciting about it to me is it’s like you’re helping the parents and the kids right now. But that it’s like also an investment in the future and the next generation. That’s not even because those kids will have the tools to, like, raise their children.

Yeah. You know, and be there in that way that maybe they didn’t have. And it’s really exciting. It is. It really is. That’s one of the things that made me to like super jazzed. I don’t even know why I said that. You know, it made me I don’t I was like, yes, yeah. It’s really cool to story and how like fast it I mean, like I said, it’s not, you know, there’s no quick fixes for anything, but the effects can start.

Are felt I think are visible like fairly quickly. Like once you begin that process, like there are changes that, you know, it’s not like oh you know, you start using TBR I and nothing changes for years. It’s like there are like pretty immediate things, which is really cool. It’s a really, really powerful tool. Let me ask you this.

Did you have did you meet any kids or families that, like, really hit you particularly hard or were you inspired or like for me, I met, you know, kids that overcame so much, like did you have anything in particular that hit you? Oh, there are so many. I mean, for me, the the family preservation work is like some of my favorite work to get to witness just because like, oh, it just it just like rips me hope in a way.

Like, I just it like breaks my heart. But then it also is just, like, so inspiring so there’s one. So I as I said, I got to attend a nurture group and there was this four kids like a one year old, a four year old, eight and like 12. And they their dad was there, just their dad and I guess I don’t know the full story, but their mom is not in the picture.

I, you know, I, I guess I think the dad had had struggles with employment and things like that. But he, he was so committed and he was there. And as part of this nurture group, you, you go around and you have bandaids and you have somebody put a Band-Aid on where you’re, you’re hurt is. And it could be like my finger hurts or it could be like my heart hurts.

And the dad, you know, so everybody does it and it’s in front of a group and it’s just like pretty vulnerable. And I was kind of I kind of expected people to maybe be I don’t know, like flippant with it or kind of just like, oh, like rolling their eyes or just whatever. Because that’s something. Because it feels uncomfortable.

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. But no one was doing that. People were taking it very seriously. And this dad, you know, when asked like, OK, what hurts on you? You know, he said, like, his heart hurts and his daughter put the Band-Aid on his heart. And, you know, and he and then he talked a little bit more and just was like sharing, you know, how sad he was, like this is where their family was at right now, but that he, you know, believed that they could figure things out and turn things around.

And and his kids were just like so connected to him. And he just clearly loved them so much. And I just was like I had to go after the nurture group. I went to one of the the the woman that was facilitating it. And I was like, please, like, are things going well with this family? Like, what do you think is going to, you know?

And she’s like, well, you know, we I can’t tell you 100% what’s going to happen. But like, he’s so committed, he comes every week. The kids are doing really well. Like they’re actually supposed to go back into his care. He’s secured a job like they were supposed to go back into his care, like within the month. And it just was like, oh, when we give people like an opportunity and like, let them, you know, give them the help they need, I just think, like, God can work in those magical ways and we can see that healing.

And I just I don’t know, like, those kids will be so much, I don’t know, to be able to grow up with their dad and have him, like, understand what they need. I mean, just like that’s what we want is what I want for everyone. You know? Yeah. And it doesn’t happen for everyone. But you see, you know, these parents that are willing to do the work, the hard, hard, hard work and enter into that with their kids and be vulnerable in front of their kids, I don’t know.

I think that that’s like the bravest, most honorable work that you can do is to acknowledge that you weren’t OK and then be willing to work toward being OK. Absolutely. Because that’s the harder path. Like it would be easier in so many ways to just be like everybody is looking at me like I’m, you know, a failure. I didn’t do a good job, whatever that is, and just to turn away from it, but to instead like turn towards it and be like, OK, things have not gone well.

How can we how can we fix this? This is what I want. Like, that’s hard. Yeah, that’s really hard. And so I just I don’t know. That was encouraging to me to see. What about you? What what stuck with you? I asked you that question. I should have been I know is like so and had to there’s so many.

I mean, oh, gosh. So I have had a couple opportunities to share some stories with people that partner with us, our donors. And and they were really moving stories like without even seeing it. And I went and met a family. We had a chance to hear from the dad again, which I think is so encouraging. And rare. And he shared his story with us and he was so vulnerable and honest and shared what had I mean, he went back to before he was born, like telling us his story.

We heard about the traumas he endured himself and then he openly shared with us what he had done to his own kids and the shame that he felt for it. And I won’t go into their complete story or anything, but because he had found out he and his wife were divorced, he had the kids were with his wife and he had found out that there had been abuse going on with both his son and daughter.

But the daughter specifically had a lot of sexual trauma because of that. And when I heard the story from home, I mean, it breaks your heart. She’s just a little girl. And it made me angry. It made me so sad. And I was able to get on a call with them and they were able to share about a lot of the healing work that’s going on and that sometimes it can put like a false bow on something of like, look how well they’re doing now.

So we heard their whole story and then we were able to go out and meet both of their kids in person. And they have a dog, too, that they brought along, which was hilarious. No, leash the dogs just like running around. It’s like become the therapy dog. Cutest ever. Oh, I love. And when I saw the kids who I’d met online, like I’d seen them on Zoom, I knew their ages when I saw them.

It hit me so hard how little they were. And I was like, Oh, my gosh. They only come up to like my bellybutton, you know, like the daughter. And their son was littler, and I knew everything that she had been through. Things that, like, are beyond comprehension. Yeah. And I just like, in that moment, I just, you know, you have that time where you’re like, oh, lord, like, come soon.

Because I can’t even imagine this little girl going through that and that same little girl who’s smiling and jumping around and excited to meet us and has been through so much. I mean, she has a psychologist and something that really also hit me was the dad when he was sharing. He started crying, which, you know, will wreck anyone.

And he said it was the first time when they had gotten help. It was the first time anyone had asked him if they could help him to as an adult man. You know, that they yeah. They were like, hey, you know, how can we help you? And he was so moved by that and acknowledged he needed the help, too.

And and his willingness to do that hard work for himself has meant like what an example for those kids to see and a total life change. And so there are amazing things of the story, like the kids are now in his care, which was I won’t go into it, but it was very difficult to get. It’s a positive thing, though.

His mom’s there helping them to he has a girlfriend who seems to really love his kids genuinely. She was there to and wanted to meet us and you know, there are all these beautiful things and then too, there’s stuff that’s happened to them that they’ll work through their entire lives. But hopefully they have the skills and you know, to process it.

So it was it was a lot. You don’t the work that we do like there. It’s interesting, we were talking about this on our team, like I get asked the question a lot like, OK, I’m glad that we’re doing this work in these other countries, but what about our own country? And it’s a valid question, but I will say so Columbia, from what I’ve heard, is the number one country for domestic violence in the world.

And the stories that I hear coming out of that country are things that you rarely hear here in the U.S. and not because we’re better than them or anything like that, but because the cycle of violence has been just something that’s been a part of their culture. And it’s just like the people that I met. It’s just hard.

And we are, you know, by the way, side note, we are doing work here in the U.S., too, that maybe we’ll share on another podcast, but like it just just to see it. I like you just can’t find a place to put that inside of yourself. And so, you know, we were talking just a little bit before this conversation.

We’re recording and it’s just like it’s hard to process because it’s not something you can even imagine happening to these kids.

And so yeah, leaving and I met other I mean, a littler girl who had experienced that who’s like four and you know, it just it, it the rects. Yeah. Appropriately it and I think we’re both trying to come back and figure out, you know, where you put that. And I think maybe there isn’t a place to put it at all.

And that’s why we keep doing this work, because it shouldn’t happen. And so hopefully we’re making a dent on those numbers and more and more kids will be protected. Yeah. So that this doesn’t keep happening there. Yeah. It’s that’s definitely thank you for sharing that that was definitely I had a day where we went we were at one of the like incredible organizations that we partner with that is doing this work with kids who have experienced sexual violence.

And I just remember we were interviewing kids and parents and I was, you know, sitting in the room as these people are just like spilling their hearts. And I just remember being so overcome by like there’s like there’s so much there’s so much pain and it’s like unimaginable. I mean, it’s just like some of the things that these kids have gone through.

I mean, you’re like, how are they standing in front of us right now? Like, you know, and then they go off and go down the slide and play outside or, you know what? You’re just like, oh, it just takes your breath away. I mean, it’s just like things you just I just didn’t even you could never even think of.

I mean, there’s just like some of the things that have happened to these kids. It’s like the most horrific. But so it’s like I had that moment of, like, despair where you’re like, there’s so much. And then you just and and these people are, you know, they’re speaking in Spanish. My Spanish is terrible. And so we’re glad I’m working translated.

Yeah, I’m working on it. I’m doing Duolingo. So, yeah, I’m trying, but it’s not good. And so I’m not even fully hearing everything, like, in real time, but the emotion yeah. That is being communicated and their tears are streaming down their face and it’s just like and you’re just sitting there and you’re just like and then you also feel like kind of this feeling of like how am I even do am I helping y you know, is this doing anything?

And I know that. I know that it is, but like in that moment when you’re somebody is just so, like, vulnerable and there’s so many hard things you feel like, oh, I just don’t even know how to it’s hard to explain. Yep, I know. But then you do see these kids were like, they have been through just unimaginable horrors.

And there is there is healing, there is hope. And that’s what the people that we work with like that, they’re bringing that to kids. And it really is changing their lives for the better. And not to say they’re going to have things they have to deal with their whole life that are hard. Yeah. But they can have a life that is not just like, OK, that has joy.

Yes. That has love. That has that has like all the things we want for it for all people. And that was like the takeaway for me is that even even in those moments of like, you’re like how can this happen? Um, there is that at the same time, you have to hold both. I guess there also is so much hope and so I was at least I was encouraged to get, to get to see that side of it too.

Yeah, but it’s hard. It is. And, and like the work that we’re doing I’m like, we’re still growing there. There’s still more work to be done. But I was also so encouraged because we’ve talked about this before, but we don’t go into a country and just assume like that we know best. It’s not like, oh, thank goodness. Yes.

Like the Americans are here. And that’s like a lot of our history of America helping other countries is is absolutely that kind of thought process, we’ll say in a nice way. And yeah, so a lot of the work that we do is working with government organizations, social workers, caregivers and helping come alongside and support them and the work they’re already doing.

And then the cool thing to see was to meet the people doing the day to day work to see I don’t even know how to do so for them. They’re crying, too. They like some. One of them shared she cries every day, but now they have like a support system among themselves of the psychologists that they can cry together and they understand each other and you know, it’s not a perfect date like you when you enter into that.

It’s the bravest work when you enter into that with someone else. And and then seeing like them spreading this to other Latin American countries that they are seeing change. And then they’re being the leaders. They’re being the support system. And then obviously we do whatever we can to. But I also left excited for the future of this. And excited to watch this grow because this model has become like when we started this at work, like, yeah, we there were 120,000 kids in the system when we started this in the Colombian child welfare system.

And now there are 70,000 kids. Like it is breaking the cycle, it is working, but there’s just so much more to do and there’s so many more lives to, to impact. And there are so many more kids that need help and I mean that’s where we come in and that’s what makes me excited because of our capacity to grow that and and the, the capacity of, of everyone working in Colombia on this to help make this spread.

And that’s what I mean, that’s what we’re seeing. And it’s not without like, I mean, Jesus is leading the charge in this not as not the Colombia as like he’s he’s doing this, but there are like some serious warriors there that so believe in the work that they’re doing and their people and the children and families and that it’s worth taking the time and entering into this with them and that was so encouraging and moving.

And I’m like, gosh, if they can do this every day and meet all these kids, then certainly I can keep telling their stories and asking people to come alongside and join this with us. Like, certainly I can do that much. Absolutely. And it’s just and it is so exciting to think about like what has happened in such a short amount of time.

And yes, there is still work to be done, but to see it grow and something that I think is so like amazing and makes me so proud is that, like you said, I mean, we don’t go into a country thinking, oh, here we know best. Like, we like try to be really intentional about what are what are your needs, what are your struggles, how and then like how can we learn from you and how can we we help you, you know, help kids and families and like just kind of an open hearted approach.

We don’t it’s not like a one size fits all thing. Even with the tool of TBR, I like I think every country that we’re working in we’re changing that approach or changing, you know, adapting that model to the culture that we’re in and the population that we’re serving. And we recognize that we’re not the experts. And we would never pretend to be on all these different, you know, cultures and parts of the world.

And there’s different ways of doing things. And we’re seeing, I think, like having that trust and faith is being rewarded, which is, I don’t know, it’s exciting to see. Yeah, it’s exciting just to be a part of and like, yeah, there are so many emotions and that I think coming home is like one of the comfort but it’s like, OK, we can keep going.

They can. They’re they’re not stopping. We’re not stopping like there is. And it’s so holistic I mean, we meet needs at so many different points and people’s stories. And not to say adoption is still like we still have an adoption program there. Absolutely. There are kids that, you know, it’s not they can’t go home. It’s not safe. They don’t have family that can take them in.

And and so the adoption is still an important piece of this. But I’m just always inspired that we first work to not have it get to that point. Yeah. And not be the only solution. And I mean, I think that’s why we all work for AGC. I guess we believe in that is the first the TBI, the, you know, family preservation, the policy work that we do as the first line of defense against something like this happening to more kids.

And so we’re seeing it work and we’re seeing it, you know, in Ethiopia, we’re seeing it in other countries in South America. And it’s just it’s spreading and it’s exciting to watch. But you have to also sit in the hurt too. And yeah, there is one I’m going to share one more story because I also got to participate in a nurture group, which I’m going to like botch this description of a nurture group.

So corrective event, I mean, in TV or I in nurture group is a place where like kids kind of go for like and struction and to learn skills of like how to regulate themselves. And it’s a safe place to do it. As a group, you trust those people you trust the leaders, other kids are entering it and into it with you.

It’s a safe place to be yourself and know that it’s a place like where there are no bad kids, you know, and it’s not it’s not like a false sense of that. It was really really cool. And I personally got to sit next to a couple of like pre-teen girls and, you know, like, I like we said, my Spanish is very poor and they didn’t speak any English.

And it was like crazy that TB or I could transcend language. Yeah. And so we did something really cool where we kind of like, disregulated ourselves, deregulate. What’s the word to do? Yeah. Justice. I just know we’re going to go with, which is basically like, you know, we ran around, we jumped around, we did high knees, we jumped, bounced on balls and played with things, you know, that are loud.

And then we practiced. We did things that were soothing and we put lotion on our hands and we played with those, like, what are they? They’re like water beads. They have a name. I’m totally blanking on them. But you, like, put your hands through the water beads. And for most of us, it was a soothing experience. A couple of our team were like, I can’t touch this.

It grosses me out. We like we went to like a place and listened to calm music. And somebody rubbed our shoulders. We rocked each other in a rocker, like back and forth. And by the end, the girls and I bonded I mean, I don’t think it was just me. Maybe it was like, no, but like, they hugged me.

I hugged them. It was like it was something to share with each other. That was like going deeper. And then it’s also a place like where I got to watch. They were like some kids that had more energy, kids that were running around and being, like, stereotypically crazy and, like, watching the caregivers go to them and be gentle with them and give them respect and what it equal, just watching these kids.

And it wasn’t like with every story, it wasn’t like right away where they’re like, Oh, can you please give me that? And they just perfectly gave it to them. They were like, OK, we’re all done with this loud portion. We were like, We had tubes that were like the accordion tubes. Oh, yes, yes, yes. Yeah. And so the kids still had it.

And like we were talking about as a team and a lot of us are parents or have worked with kids, and it’s like your gut instinct is like, just take it away and be like we’re not playing with that anymore. And like watching these caregivers, they were like, OK, could you do it like a little slower? And I can see that you’re not ready to give that up yet.

And like some of the kids did, some of the kids didn’t. They kept going. It didn’t rattle them. And then it was like something that some of us happened to notice. It wasn’t even like a part of the nurture group. But at the end, everybody’s kind of done. People are moving on to different things. And one of the one of the caregivers like went up to the five kids that had these still.

And she just like I happened to hear it because she was speaking partially in English. I was like Spanglish. And she was like, OK, are you ready to give this to me now? We’re all done. We’re moving on to something else. And they just like we’re giving things. They just gave it back. It was like, oh, OK. That was like seeing it in action, which I don’t even I’m not even doing this story.

Justice, but we’ve all been like most people have been in a room with some crazy kiddos, mind you, those some of those crazy kiddos. But where you’re like, oh, gosh, this kid, they’re too much there, you know? And watching them be respected and watching them learn to respect themselves, and give themselves love and grace and kindness and and utilizing the tools that they were learning that they needed, they needed to take deep breaths.

They needed to rub their own hands and just watching it happen, watching them learn how to take care of themselves. I was just so struck because I’m learning that now at 43 and I thought, well, like a huge gift. Like for them to be learning that now these kids to be learning how to take care of themselves and respect themselves and love themselves and have people in their lives that don’t think they’re bad kids, that are helping them you know, move forward and grow.

And it just felt like the perfect representation of Jesus in our lives of not to sound cheesy at all like a can, but watching them care for these kids that would be otherwise treated poorly in a lot of situations, that they were treated with kindness and love and respect. And it just felt in that moment like they were being the true hands and feet of Jesus to these kids.

And there I go. I’m like getting all choked up. Yeah, but just, oh, such a beautiful thing to witness. And so and it changes me every time I see it. It changes me as a parent. It it changes like my soul to witness something like that because it’s not our human natural response. And that’s what TBI is. It’s it’s something bigger than that.

And it changes it helps build new neural pathways in their brain. And so they’ve taken something. The example I mean, they took the example of Christ’s ministry on Earth, and they put it into practice, and then they did studies on it, and there’s actual science behind it showing that this is something that makes an impact and people can change and there is a redemption.

And that’s I think the moral of everything we’re talking about is like there is a redemptive story. And so for us to be able to be a part of that is like the biggest like honor that I have ever experienced. And so, yeah, leaving the trip, it was like, OK, like just me, however. Yeah. However, Lord, I don’t know what the future will look like, but just keep using me.

And for the people that I work with that support this work, they don’t get anything in return. They do this. It just made me so grateful for these families. And the organizations that we work with. Like they get it there and they’re giving sacrificially so that these kids can be loved and shown that kind of love. It just all of it wrecks me every every time.

Yeah. No, I thank you for sharing that. And I mean, and that’s really what people are giving is like them. I mean, it sounds so basic, but for so many of these kids, like if they don’t have that kind of care they are not going to know what it feels like to be loved, which is like the most foundational thing we all need is to feel known and accepted and loved, like, just as you are.

Yes. And that I mean, I, I 100% agree seeing the caregivers and their patients, that is a a difficult job. Yeah. And their commitment to that and to every kid and to giving them this is another thing I love about Tubular Eye, but like the importance of choice. Yes. Because and I, I, someone recently explained it to me this way and I just I don’t know, it kind of stopped me.

But for so many of kids living in institutions, they have, you know, if they’re not, if they’re not receiving, if they’re not you know, part of TBI, they have almost no choice at all in their day to day lives. This is what you’re putting on. This is what you’re eating. This is what you’re doing. You’re going here now.

Yeah. Really, really basic. This is when you go to bed. No, you cannot go have a rest in your room like yourself to the second. Yeah. You know, I mean, just no choice. Yes, no choice. And I it’s kind of like a good I mean, I found it to be a good exercise, like as an adult to be like imagine what that would feel like if every day someone was like, this is what you’re eating, this is what you’re wearing, this is what you’re doing.

You have no it’s not even like. So just even giving kids like, do you want an apple or a banana? Yeah. Do you want this or you know, like basically little things that don’t use you’re kind of like, well, how does that make a difference? But it gives kids, like, self-worth to be like, I matter and my voice matters.

And I and I have agency over my own life. Even with like the Band-Aid story that you were sharing, that’s one of the things is that you ask permission, like, are you OK? Your fingers hurt. Are you OK? If I put a Band-Aid on it and they can say no and just take the Band-Aid and do it themselves, something so simple.

But yeah, it’s just yeah, I’m with you. I’m following along. It’s just yeah, no way about it. It’s it’s just kind of amazing. And so, yeah, I mean, seeing those caregivers that I mean, and they are going to be four, four kids who because, you know, unfortunately, there are kids who they can’t be reunified with their family for whatever reason.

They they’re not adopted. That is their family. Yeah. And so I just kind of like so I mean, I think just to see if people who are like, and this is their job, but like, they like they’re those people. I mean, they are, you know, that child’s person and there are so committed to that. And because of that commitment, that kid stands a chance there, you know, even if they grow up, which is not our first choice but if they grow up within the child welfare system their whole life, they’re going to be, you know, in a place where they know how to deal with their emotions they know how to you know, they have

those basic tools that we take for granted. And I mean, just what an incredible gift. So yeah. And like you said, I mean, to all the people who they will never meet these kids, they will not, you know, but they, you know, every, you know, prayer you say every dollar you give, every time you share someone’s story with someone else and get someone else involved.

Like, that’s what you’re giving kids. You’re giving voice. Yeah. To these kids and love. Yeah, that’s exactly. Yeah. Well, I’m so like, thank you for talking about this. And sharing. I know it’s vulnerable on your side and my side, too. Like, as we’re both like, I just don’t I’m trying not to ugly cry through it because that but it’s like, yeah, it’s, it’s the work that we get to do.

We’re so honored and like, it feels like such a gift to be able to kind of talk about it when it’s this fresh and process it and, and share with everyone about what they’re a part of. And yeah, I don’t want to sound like cheesy and I’m not a salesperson. I’m just not built that way. But like for people, if I’m sure here at the end of the podcast, like, stick around and listen how you can be a part of this work because it is important and it is making a huge difference and it is changing things like it’s changing lives and like you said earlier, generations and is breaking that cycle and stopping it

from continuing. And you’re giving people a chance by supporting this work, you’re giving people a chance, and support does look like prayer, it looks like advocacy. And then like we can’t do the work we do without and funding and partnership and that way. And it’s important. Like, yeah, I came home and I’m like, let’s make sure, you know, we got to support these kids.

My poor husband it’s like, what are we doing now? I’m like, We got to up everything. You just can’t see it without, you know, seeing how important it is. And like sacrificially, figuring out how to give more is for me. No, absolutely. Especially when you see it and you see like, these are real people. Yes, these are. I mean, I just I know I’ll say that till I’m blue in the face, but I mean, it’s just like yeah, they’re not a statistic.

They matter. Yeah, they’re not a statistic. And they deserve everything. We all do, you know, to feel love, to feel known, to have a chance. And that’s what you’re giving people. Thank you for listening to our conversation as we process the hopeful and hard moments of our recent visits to Colombia. If you’d like to get involved in a disguised life changing work, please reach out to us.

There are so many ways that you can make a difference for kids.

Thank you for listening to Together by AGCI. As always, if you liked what you heard, please rate or review us wherever you listen to podcasts. If you’d like to read or watch even more stories, check out our website Reach out to us and let us know what you think on Instagram at @allgodschildreninternational or email us We look forward to sharing another story of hope the next time we’re together. We’ll talk to you soon.