Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Full Blast

When I originally started S4TS with my compatriots, we were advocating full-on for kids out of Orphanage 3 on Reece's Rainbow, and more specifically, Sonya. Ever since the Hinzes committed to and brought home Sonya (and Dusty!), we haven't really done a "full-blast" campaign for anyone. We heavily advocated for Shawna, Lindsay, and Jonah, all of whom at families now. We continue to pray for Brigita, Charity, and all the other little lovies we have on our respective pages. We'll be updating the pages with even more kids shortly.

But we are about to hold another full-blast campaign for another little Girl.

I've mentioned my dear friends the Spitz Family. The story of their first and now second Special Needs Adoption is amazing. But it is not my story to tell. So pop on over to their blog (linked in their name above) and read it for yourself in the post "Lucky to love LYLA!." Pretty amazing huh? Their devotion to Lyla (now Lilianna)  amazes and humbles me. Not many people would continue to advocate for, care about, and pray for a child they lost two adoptions earlier. But they are. And so we here at Speaking for the Silent want to help them- as friends, as fellow advocators, as fellow orphan-lovers, as fellow human beings.

Please pray and spread the word about this precious Daughter of God. I know God has an amazing plan for her and the situation surrounding her- no matter who she comes home with, or when she comes home, this little wonder has changed lives already. If it weren't for her, there would be two more orphans in the world. If it weren't for her, an amazing Husband and Wife might have never known the call of God in their lives to adopt internationally.We want to see Lilianna find a home, and we are Speaking for this Silent one. Please join us! God Bless You!

Proverbs 24:12: "If you say, "See, we did not know this," Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Prayer and Care

Well, after over a week of being Incognito, I'm back! So refreshed, renewed, the list of positive adjectives goes out the door! Camp Veritas is always an experience I relish- the spirituality, the people, the places, the overall experience is just life-altering in the best way possible. Being there since the first year it ever took place always makes it special too.

Every year we get a little bigger. the first year, we had 60 campers. The next, 120. Then 200. then 260. We continually grow, and numbers alone change the experience from year to year. But one thing that was going to be especially different for me, and in the end for everyone else, was that I was giving a testimony about Orphan Care. I had cemented myself  into Camp history by being there the first year and playing guitar come talent night. I rode that wave for every year thereafter, playing Guitar at talent night. But this year the sheet music was being left behind for sheets of notes. Shortly after returning home from Ukraine and feeling blessed by the experience, I got in touch with Director and Founder Ryan Young, somebody I have the privilege of knowing personally and admire so much. I asked him if he thought the story sounded like a cool idea to share. He said yes, and told me to prepare notes and be ready come the week of Camp.

Camp rolled around faster than I realized. I had my notes typed up a week before I left, and I felt ready and pumped. Despite the fact it would rain for the first two days and it's an outdoor sports camp in the mountains, I had high spirits. Veritas people are my second family, in the same level of love and friendship as my Orphan Care Friends. When I arrived, however, I was greeted by quite the surprise. Ryan had originally planned two weeks of camp. The second week, however, hadn't filled to capacity, and Ryan had decided to merge the two weeks into one. so our little over 200 turned into little under 300. Que the emphatic hammer dropping. I had not been expecting a 300 (close to 400 once you add in counselors and other volunteer staff) person crowd. I wasn't about to chicken out, but my mountain had just shot up a yard or two, metaphorically speaking.

Monday afternoon, after having endured about the first 24 hours of rain,  a good chunk of us were crammed into the cafeteria building (Which, for the record, got struck by lightning when we were there last year). Ryan called me over, and we talked for a bit about the talk, what advice Ryan could offer, and then (drum roll) when it would happen. Ryan calmly told me he was giving a pro-life talk Wednesday night and wanted me to follow 'er up. Cue the second emphatic hammer drop. I smiled and gulped down my nervousness and said great. Wednesday night- that was, like, 36 hours away!

Needless to say, the rest of Monday and most of Tuesday blurred by. I prayed every spare second  I got. I employed everyone from the petite little nuns to the 6 ft. tall priests for prayers. I would read scripture and review my notes. I wanted to be prepared.

Wednesday rolled around. Thankfully, God gave me the peace I needed to relax and enjoy the day, and worry later. After Praise and Worship, my talk would come. We got through the day and went to adoration after dinner. During that time, I must have just said "Help me God" about 500 times. I knew this was gonna take gut and the Holy Spirit. After Adoration ended, Ryan motioned for me to come over. Ryan must have prayed over me for about 5-8 minutes straight, just pouring his own Grace and love of the Lord into me.  From there he told me I could go up to the basketball court and get ready. Cue 3rd (and final) hammer drop. In the past, our testimonies had always been either out on the lake, where the light of a bonfire barely illuminated anything, or up on the Tennis Courts where lights were dim. The B-Ball courts are lit from every corner within reason. I went up to the courts, where I was promptly handed my mic and waited for the masses to flood in from retrieving their night-time essentials for activities like Volleyball, or just the cold mountain weather. As the campers started coming, I was nervous to the point I would grab my friends for one last good-luck hug. Ryan gave me an insanely kind introduction and with that, my talk began.

I can honestly say the talk itself is a blur. I remember brief moments, but I turned the mic on and God basically shot the words out of my mouth double-time. I finished the talk and was almost instantly flooded with hugs, congrats, and compliments.

Mission accomplished.

The rest of the week I was always bombarded with more hugs, and compliments, and awesome people. I even met a little child a family is trying to adopt out of foster care! Being on the ground, working with people, that's where my heart is.

I could nitpick about my talk. That I didn't always hold the mic super close to my mouth. That I talked 25 minutes after my limit. But the fact is God spoke that night. People heard. They listened. They wanted to help in some way. And God knows what seeds were planted that night. Prayers led to Orphan Care for me. In the same way, Prayers led me through my talk. And I still had the blessing of being spiritually renewed by the week and the many memories, friends, and experiences I enjoyed.

Camp Veritas 2011 Slideshow from Caleb Lococo on Vimeo.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Beautiful Overflow

I admit there are times when I feel overloaded with Orphan Care-related projects. I've been blessed to get to know a lot of great Advocators. I'd love to give them a shout-out. All of them. Adoptive Families? Blessed to know many. At LEAST two I'm going to post about. Both close to travel- right when you need your prayers and spirits up the most.  Kids? SO many I want to put raise a shout for, like this little girl:

This is Anastasia. Isn't she sweet? That look in her little blue eyes just grips me- a look that says "I've kept my hopes up this long, will you fulfill them?" Older kids like her are especially close to my heart- because so many of the lovies I met at Julia's Orphanage were close to transfer. I REALLY want to help more of them- but there are just so many hours in the day. And after having two big events in the last month- 2 Weeks for 200 and my family's joyous meeting with the Hinz Family with Sonya and Dusty, there hasn't been much room for the usual. On top of that, I'm leaving for a week-long Catholic Youth Camp this Sunday through Saturday, where I'll have the opportunity to speak about Orphan Care, spend time with Our Lord and hang out on the beautiful sandy beach we have by the lake. I'm majorly looking forward to it. At the same time, leaving the blog dormant for six days (with Tori starting School and Josh rehearsing for a big play) kinda bums me. I LOVE you guys and writing out my passion here a LOT. At the same time, I'm REALLY excited for what God will inspire me to write about once I get back. It'll be great.

Just the other day, Tori did a phenomenal post on Shining City Teens about suffering. I admit I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to suffering- I rarely do a good job carrying my cross with a smile. But to hear Tori's perspective, it really lays suffering out for what it is- a test God is giving us to test our mettle and show his love for us. He knows we can survive- He just wants us to see. How lucky we are to be considered strong enough to endure losing something or someone we care about. Or dealing with a situation in life that we feel is too sad, too hard, or too large for us to brave. And the miracle is that god will be behind us 120%. And it got me thinking, how lucky am I to have the surplus of friends in the orphan world I do. to have adoptive families that want my prayers, my presence, my friendship. I may not have the time or energy I always want, but God will guide me to do what He wants for His Glory. And I am honored. Never was there a more Beautiful Overflow of things to do, people to love and Orphans to speak for. It's a true blessing, without a doubt.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Giver of Miracles

It's been quite a 24 hour+ period since yesterday morning. I have been in constant motion since then.

And I've never felt more energized and joyful.

Yesterday, August 9th, was the magical day that my beloved Hinz Family dropped in for a visit. The day for me started around 8 a.m.- cleaning my bedroom, myself, getting a good breakfast in me, the usual morning chores. I talked to some members of the Hinz party via Facebook early that morning and they were planning on coming around shortly before noon. My Partner in Crime, the one and only Molly, was coming slightly prior. The time between when I finished preparations and Molly came was brutal. You could have cut my anticipation with a knife, I tell no lie. Once Molly came though, my waiting felt far less painful. 10 extra RR people are fantastic, but 1 out of the 10 is still fabulous. It seemed like we'd only been talking to Molly for a minute when mom saw the Hinz's van pull up in our driveway.

If I had been a volcano at that moment, I would have been Mt. St. Helen's. My Cool cover exploded.

I nearly killed myself bolting across my living room floor (hard wood, no less) and tried to bring it down to a nice stroll out the door to greet our guests. After the pleasure of meeting John (Mr. Hinz) and getting a first-reaction photo as I met Dusty from Amy, I quickly realized John was getting Sonya out on the other side, and pulled a stunt something bordering on sliding across the hood of their car. And at that moment, reunions, fantastic pictures, and purest joy commenced.

  I could NOT contain my joy when John put Sonya in my arms again. For the first few seconds I just held her close and took it in. Whether or not she remebered me, I'll never know. But it was definitely the same happy little girl I met on Christmas Day 2010.

I really can't even describe the rest of the day in it's fullness- laughter, connecting. Playing. Loving. LOTS of loving. the weather really tried its best to bomb us out- and honestly, we STILL made the best of the day. But pictures do speak louder than words, right?

The Joy of the day lasted into the late hours for hour tiny ones. Plenty of food going around the Dinner table, and good conversation with it. And all the playing. and snuggling. Good grief the snuggling. And the pictures- the click of mine and Molly's cameras were near harmonious as we clicked away. Having Sonya, and Dusty, and all of this beautiful group here at my house together was surreal. A few times I would blink and shake my head, much relieved to see a smiley baby Sonya still cuddling on my chest. And my dear Mr. Dusty- I can't even describe him. When I met him in the orphanage, his condition SCARED me. I so hoped he'd survive until his family got there. To see him now, you'd hardly know that child ever led a somber existence.

Throughout the day, I could NOT get over the change in him. Sonya was glued to my side whenever I could snatch her off the million other admirers she had (Elizabeth Molly Josh) but Dusty's change in overall demeanor and appearance was just jaw-dropping. His walking is sensational. His level of interaction is heart-warming. What a little miracle child.

Here's our entire group (minus Little Johnny, who's hiding behind my little brother Addisu and Dad). No better group of people. So from bottom to top, left to right, here we go: in the bottom left, we have Amy with Carolyn, Dad with Addisu and Julia, Molly+Dusty. Grandam C (Amy's mom), Aunt Diane (Hinz's sister-in-law) Gabby (my sister by adoption! :D) Josh, Grandpa C, my mom, John, Elizabeth+Sonya, and Me :) defines the Word Milestone as "a significant event or stage in the life, progress, development, or the like of a person, nation, etc." Speaking for the Silent has had many milestones- 200 likes. The fact we started. The Eubanks Family contacting us. All show that God is guiding us on our own little pathway- no matter where it leads. But as I talked about this with everyone in my living room as the rain poured softly outside, this was different. This is one small example to show the children we advocate for, are more than just a picture. More happens then prayers that lead to commitment by a family. We meet these kids. We love these kids. They're REAL.

Glory to God, Giver of all Miracles. IF it weren't for him, none of this would have happened. I wouldn't have gone to Ukraine. I wouldn't have met Sonya. or the Hinzes. OR Molly. I had a fever that literally broke 24 hours before the Hinzes arrived. The kinks that seemed like huge earthquakes smoothed out for a picture perfect story beginning to end. And I couldn't be more thankful and Joyful for the opportunity.

"Glory to God in the highest from down here below. Jesus, my Savior, your Name is the sound of my home. So I'm singing out from the depths of my heart, I'm singing out, from the top of my lungs, lifting you High I'm in LOVE with YOU, theses Canyons will echo my voice, singing HALL-E-LUJAH! Oh what a beautiful noise."

Hinz/Lococo/Conley Family get-together from Caleb Lococo on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Life Worth Saving

"If I see one more life that's fading, it's one too many"

Brandon Heath, "The One" 

Recently my friend Kaitlyn of the 4Girls4Christ blog started a facebook group for all of us advocators to connect. It's been great to catch up with and meet so many awesome young people who share my passion. If you want to get in on that action, feel free to contact any of us so we can add you!

One of the many things that's awesome about teaming up with each other has been learning about all of the different little kids we each advocate for. So many different countries, needs, ages, it's awesome. Some of them are kids I know so well and love like crazy. Others are ones I've never seen before. But no matter how much I do or don't know them, I think we all fall in love with them instantly.

Case in point: I want y'all to meet Josh. My friend Ashley Quinn of "Defending the Fatherless: God's Heart, Our Hands" started raising the shout for him a few days ago. Isn't he just a little chunk o' love? While he technically isn't due for transfer until December of next year, he's still in urgent need of  a family? Look at the light in those eyes. The wide smile. The bright, alert eyes. Those aren't things you can keep for long when you live in most Ukrainian institutions, be it Baby Houses or Mental Institutes. I seriously admire Ashley's dedication and love for this little tyke she's never even met. Really momma-like dedication right there. She's even said that if she was married, she'd get to work adopting him without a second thought. Isn't that sweet? Serious commitment right there.  Want proof in ink? Here's a letter Ashley was kind enough to let me share here:

"Dear 'Josh,' 
The first time I saw your picture, I fell in love with you. I haven't "known" you for long, but the love I feel for you in my heart is extreme. I told my big brother that I just want to kiss your face. It's just so sweet and looks so cute and soft. You have the most gorgeous eyes and your smile could make anyone melt. I can't stop looking at your picture. I may only be 19, but I would love more than anything to be your mommy. Did you know that if I was married, I would be legally able to adopt you? I feel as if you were meant to be MY son, even though that's crazy thinking on my part. How could you be meant to be mine? I'm not even married. I don't know why God put this longing in my heart. Maybe it's so that I can help find you a family? I honestly don't know. I do know that anyone who gets you as their son will be so extremely blessed. You are only 3 years old. Born almost exactly a year before my soon-to-be sister. I wish so badly that I could save you from that orphanage. To show you what it truly means to be loved. To show you what it feels like to have a mommy and daddy. To take you to church. To tuck you into bed at night as I sing you sweet songs. To kiss your boo boos. To tell you that "I love you". Like I said, you are only 3 years old. Such a precious age. But, do you know what breaks my heart? If no one saves you by time you are 4 or 5, just less than 2 years away, you will go away to a horrible place.You will be tied to a crib and left to die if no one saves you. You will be alone. What breaks my heart even more is knowing that you do not know that this is coming. You are just a have no idea what your future holds if you are not rescued. I wish that I could rescue you. But, sweet baby boy, since I can't, I have to pray that someone does rescue you.....soon. Before it's too late.
Sending kisses to you from across the ocean...."

Speaking for the Silent was started to help spread awareness for that small group of children who few know need care. There's approximately over 2,000 Special Needs Orphans in Eastern Europe alone. A small group in populations that span millions. But one life saved is one less lost. Pray about him. Pray for him. Do all that you can. It makes a difference.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Not About Age

When I teamed up with the Lindquist Family almost a month ago, one of the first ways Mrs. Lindquist described me was following I Timothy 4:12, which reads, "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." Little did she know I had come to respect that verse a couple years previous after reading the book "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris. For those of you who haven't read it, I highly recommend it. Just an awesome, honest look at the lack of high expectations most teens are given today, as well as real-life examples of teens who are doing amazing things, and ways you can change the world around you. 

One of the many things I love about being in Orphan Ministry is the fact that so much of it today is teen/young adult-oriented. Student Mission Trips. Student Groups. Student activities. You get my drift. Beyond the fact that so much is being offered for young people, though, it's so awesome to see so many of my fellow teens getting involved. Some of my generation that's getting involved aren't even teens! Some are already through High School and inspire us with their "Big Brother/Big Sister" example. In some cases, I literally have friends that are twelve or thirteen who are striving to make a difference. 

As the Harris Brothers, or me, or Tori, or just about any devoutly Christian person will tell you, the expectations set for the teens today are far too low and underwhelming. "Just don't do anything bad," many people tell teenagers. When young people stand up for their beliefs that may not mesh with what culture wants to feed them, they're told they don't have the ability to make those decisions on their own yet. There's not  a whole lot of "Do the right thing even when it's hard" type of morals going around. But Orphan Ministry, I humbly believe,  is the special group of people to say "It's not about age, but heart. It's not about whether you're sitting in math class or saving children from starvation in Africa. Great things can be done at all ages. Because we are all called to be extraordinary."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chronicle of the Craziness

Once again, I want to thank each and every one of you who helped make the 2 Weeks for 200 project a success. I am still in awe of what we accomplished!

I kind of recapped the short version of the last 6 months in my last post. If you go back through my posts you'll see the longer version in bits and pieces. But I didn't recap the last 24 hours, because, well, it had been the last 24 minutes at that point! :D But as a little breath of fresh air from our usual advocating/heart-pouring posts, I figured I'd tell a story. One of God. Of Friends. Of prayer. Of hard work. Of Triumph.

2 Weeks for 200 had been going on for, er, two weeks. We were wrapping up, and we were still about 30 likes short. At one point on Monday I had posted a shout-out on our Facebook page, saying if we got roughly 1 like per hour, we'd make it. Some hours we got a Like. Some we got 5. Some we got 0. I had NO idea how on earth, on the LAST day of a project, with a little over 12 hours left to the day on Tuesday Morning, we'd make our 200. So in the true spirit of what I promised to do in my "Five Loaves and Two Fish" post, I turned it over to God. If it  wasn't His Will, it wasn't going to happen. And on that same note, if He DID will it to happen, we'd get a miracle. Knowing God and His hand in Orphan Ministry, I was hoping and praying for a miracle. We got to about 6 p.m. EST. 6 hours left and we still needed 20 likes. I had seriously been trying to stick it out and keep my enthusiasm up the whole day. I really did. But I was on my last legs. I had NO clue how I'd make it. Posting a couple last-ditch efforts, praying super hard and celebrating every like we got with a new status, I was keeping things moving. But at the rate I was going at, there was no way on Earth I'd hit my goal. Que miracle time.

We had had a TON of friends and accomplices plugging S4TS all over FB and blogger the whole two weeks. People have been grabbing our button like nuts. And like the final battle sequence in the second Lord of the Rings movie, at the last moment, our long lost allies came in with the sun behind them to shine a light on our last stand. Our new friend Ashley Quinn, formerly of To Love the Unloved and now part of Defending the Fatherless, brought in a good 5+ more people. Ashley Gibson, Carter (formerly Antonio)'s Mom, another 5+. 10 Right there. Sammy of the 4 Girls 4 Christ came in 4 us. :D And in the final moments, Taylor of Defying Prevalent Notions came in with her Social Networking Guns a-blazing, with at least 10 more likes! And by the time the counter caught up, we hadn't just hit 200.

We hit 214.

Including myself, we're technically 215, but specificity isn't the point here; we had made it.

God really showed His hand for me that night. In the final hours, not only had we reached our goal through Friendship and Prayer, we had surpassed it. Was it NUTS trying to keep up? Absolutely. Was it Frenetic? No more than it was Phenomenal.

I honestly have no clue when or what we're gonna do next. Honestly, if I type the tag-line 2 Weeks for 200 one more time, I think I'm gonna get Carpo Tunnel. And if this has taught me anything besides to trust in God when my chips are down, it's that fundraising is a full-energy experience, emotionally and physically. I've got a TON of things to do between now and when School starts. But one thing I can say for sure is this: 2 Weeks for 200 was an awesome experience, if not a Chronicle of Craziness!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"I can do all things, through Christ who gives me STRENGTH!!!!"

There's something awesome about the number 200.

It's a popular focal length (200 millimeters) in Photography.

200 Bucks is a nice chunk of money.

It's also the amount of Likes we have on Facebook.

To tell the story of how all this has come about in full detail, it would take a novel. But I'll try and shrink it down to the most important bits.

One flight ticket to Ukraine was a ticket to a life-change. One trip to a Ukrainian Orphanage planted the seed of Orphan Care in one guy's heart. That one teen came back with an idea. He turned that idea into a ministry called Speaking for the Silent. They got to meet some awesome people. Make some awesome friends. In short, it was just awesome.

Then they went out on a limb and wanted to try and spread the word. Que those awesome friends and partners, supporting them like crazy all over the internet. Was it always a clear, trail-blazin' trail ride on well-groomed Stallions getting to that 200 likes? hardly. But it was WORTH it.

And now they sit in awe at the fact they hit 200 likes literally through sheer will-power, God Power, and friends that love 'em.

If I thanked literally every single person that has supported us, I don't know if I'd fit it into a post. Frankly, I'm willing to bet there are people I don't even know supported us that prayed us through and helped us a long the way. And to all those people  I don't have the pleasure of knowing, thank you. You've lifted one teen's spirits and kept me going.

Thanking all those that I do know.... Where do I even begin? God. "From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting, the name of the LORD is worthy of praise." If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be here, in more ways than one. I wouldn't have gotten to go to Ukraine. I wouldn't have met Sonya. I wouldn't have started Speaking for the Silent. I definitely wouldn't have made it to 200 likes alongside my teammates. Heck, I wouldn't even exist. Soli Deo Gloria.

If God's my Heavenly Parent, my next thanks easily go to my earthly parents. My supporters when I had no idea that I'd ever even consider letting orphan ministry into my life to now. In it to win it. Sticking it through with me to the end. If I didn't have their backup, input, and morals instilled in me, I'd DEFINITELY not know what Orphan Care really means.

There are so many friends I can and will try to thank. My sister Elizabeth, Taylor, Molly, CareBear (Shawna and Lindsay's Momma!), Sarah, the Lindquist Family, John and Amy Hinz, TONS and Tons of family and friends. My cup overfloweth.

And last but certainly not least I have you to thank, my beloved followers. If it were not for YOU this would not have been possible. Thank you for continuing to speak with me, for those who have no voice and not only need, but deserve to be spoken for and loved. Let's keep moving along and doing what we love, and I know that through Christ, we will do GREAT things!


Well Everyone, today is the LAST DAY of 2 Weeks for 200! And boy did we go up within the last two weeks!

Out of the 130 facebook "likes" we were aiming for, we went up about  100 of 'em! Which is GREAT!

And the best part?

You still have about 15 hours left to share!

Share it our URL ( on blogger!

For a double whammy, share it with our Promo!

Speaking for the Silent Promotional Video from Caleb Lococo on Vimeo.

Easiest way? Recommend the page to your friends on Facebook or share it in a status!

Come on everybody, lets go out with a BANG!

God Bless!

The Speaking for the Silent team!