There's been a lot going on! We continue to host retreat events for bereaved parents every few months ... some here in Arkansas, and some on the road. Our most recent parents' weekend was in Wichita Falls, Texas, and we were blessed to meet some wonderful moms and dads there. We were so grateful to Ron and Kathleen Duncan, who opened their home to our group for that event. We have two more "on the road" parents' weekends on the schedule, one in northwest Arkansas in February, which is already completely booked, and one in Madison, Mississippi, in June.
We have Mini-Retreats for Bereaved Moms on the calendar in January, March, and June. January and March are already full, but we have a few openings left for our June 27th date. We've got a Dads' Weekend scheduled for the last weekend in April, and the guys are really looking forward to that event.
We will be kicking off a Parents' Weekend at our "home" site, Family Farm, in just ten days. This event has been completely booked for several months now, and there are moms and dads from six different states who will be in attendance. We cannot wait to meet these parents and hear their children's stories.
Attendance at our monthly support group meetings continues to increase each month. It's hard to say that that's a good thing, because we sincerely wish there was no need for a group like this, but since there is, we are grateful that God chooses to use WWW in this way.
And since January of 2014, we've mailed 128 Hope Packages to recently-bereaved parents. Truly a labor of love.
But here's what we're most excited about!!!
For some time now, we've felt God calling us to build a facility which will be dedicated to serving bereaved parents through these While We're Waiting events. Our desire has been to create a comfortable, safe, warm, home-like lodge where parents who have lost children can gather, with no need to wear a "mask", knowing that they are surrounded by those who understand. A place where hurting moms and dads can be pointed to our one true source of hope, Jesus Christ. A refuge, where we can encourage each other to live well while we're waiting to be reunited with our children in Heaven.
Fifty acres with an older home at the edge of Hot Springs is being donated to the While We're Waiting ministry, and that will be the site of the While We're Waiting Refuge. It's out in the country, surrounded by acres and acres of thoroughbred farms. Brad and Larry have been spending some of their Saturdays clearing the property ...
Can you picture a "While We're Waiting Refuge" sign hanging here at the entrance? :-)
And just this past week, we had a drawing done of what the inside of the lodge is going to look like ...
I don't know if you can tell much from this drawing, but if you look closely, you can see the existing house at the top, with an extension drawn toward the bottom of the page which includes six 16'x16' bedrooms, each with a closet and private bath. The driveway comes up from the bottom of the picture and curves around, circling a separate building which will have four more of these 16'x16' bedrooms. There will be a vaulted roof area connecting the main lodge to those four bedrooms, and the driveway will go under it so folks will have a covered area in which to unload. If you look back up to the top of the drawing, you'll see a large meeting room drawn in, which will overlook the rolling hills and pond on that part of the property. We are having a concept drawing done now, and I can't wait to see it!
All these wonderful things require funds, and God is faithfully providing. Our events are offered at no cost to the participants (although donations are accepted), so all of our funding comes solely from gifts and contributions. Little by little, we've watched God grow our bank account, and we are so grateful.
We are committed to building this facility without incurring any debt, so we are praying for more supporters who will come alongside and assist us financially (and/or physically!) with this project. We've recently updated the donation page on our While We're Waiting website to make it easier to partner with us. You can now choose the amount you'd like to donate, and even sign up to make a recurring donation if you choose to. You can specify if you'd like to make your donation in memory or in honor of someone, and we'll even send a card to notify that person or that person's family of your donation if you'd like for us to do so. It's completely secure, and because we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, all donations are tax deductible. We'll send you a receipt for the IRS at the end of the year. Click here to go straight to our donation page if you'd like to be a part of this project.
So ... Now you're all caught up on the While We're Waiting ministry. I'm going to try to make "While We're Waiting Wednesdays" a regular feature on this blog, so if you're interested in following what God is doing in WWW, be sure to check in from time to time. I hope to be posting a ground-breaking picture soon!