I travelled to Bogotá Colombia on 5th of July 2006 with 'Exodus'. Exodus is a non-denominational Christian organisation based in Coleraine with offices in Belfast and Lisburn. The team consisted of 10 people of varying ages from across Northern Ireland. Meetings were held from the beginning of February in the Belfast offices in order that we might get to know one another, gel as a team and so that we were leaving with adequate preparation and training for the task at hand.

The organisation we were working with is called Children's Vision international inc. CVII was set up by Jeanene Sanderson from Bangor, Wisconsin in 1993. Her desire was to see the street kids whom she had come to love so much be given the care and quality of life they deserved. And this is still her and her husband Richard's dream today. And so we set out to help her achieve this. Whilst we were in CVII we undertook many practical jobs such as the painting of the courtyard in the Genesis house and the painting of the Beginning of Wisdom School. Also removal of old tiles and concrete in the Exodus house kitchen to enable a beautiful new floor to be laid.

We were also involved in the most important job of all, spending time with the kids and giving them the love they deserve. This was done through simple things such as taking them to the park, holding a kids club with craft, games and bible stories and even taking the entire house of 120 kids and over 50 staff out for pizza and ice cream!

There is no doubt that this is one of the hardest, most challenging things I and the other members of the team have every undertaken but definitely one of the most rewarding. To hear the stories of the lives these children led before they came to CVII and then to see how their lives have been changed for the better and to be given the opportunity to be part of that is simply amazing!

I learnt so much out there that I pray will stick with me for the rest of my days. About appreciation of what we have; about the unconditional love Christ has for us and how we have been called to share that with others and how we should not be afraid to dream big because 'we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength'.

In closing I would just like to thank everyone who supported me so much. By your prayers, by your financial support and by your constant encouragement. Thank you for helping me to help others. This is our commission as Christians to go out and 'preach the gospel to all nations', this can be done as much through actions as through words!

Thanks once again, 
 God Bless,
Laura Hawthorne.