Ima's Home for Children
Where do I even begin? Every single time I sit down and try to write out my thoughts I hit delete/erase/backspace and then stop. Words (at least my words) cannot truly describe the experience I had while at Ima's Home for Children. I would like to point out that while I had an experience that will forever be engraved into my heart, this blog post is not about me. It is my hope that by writing about my experience at Ima's Home, everyone who reads this will have a better appreciation for how unbelievable it really is.
About Ima's Home
My pastor, James Kilgore II, started an orphanage (Ima's Home For Children) for abandoned street children in the Philippines (Angeles City to be more specific). It currently houses 80+ children with plans to house around 150 children once construction on the second building is completed. Pastor Jim has pursued his God given dream diligently and faithfully and I am so thankful he did.
"...many [of these] children [have been] rescued from a life of abuse and hopelessness and given the glorious opportunity to live in a safe environment and be exposed to the love of Jesus Christ."
I highly suggest visiting Imas Home For Children to get the full story of how this amazing organization became what it is today.
I was ecstatic after being asked to join the group of people who would visit Ima's Home for 10 days. Not only was I finally going to get to experience it for myself, I was asked to put my photography skills to use while there. I was about to fuse my passion for photography and my love for this organization together and I was PUMPED.
I had sat in my home church (Life Church) many times when our lead pastor, Pastor Jim would talk about Ima's Home. I saw the photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram when people from our church would visit and I felt a true love for it in my heart. I knew it was good and I was more than happy to be connected to such a cause... and of course the idea of one day visiting was in the back of my mind. Little did I know what it would really be like...
My Personal Visit
There is something about just driving up to Ima's Home that makes you an emotional mess. Maybe it was because I had heard the passion and deep love in which Pastor Jim would speak about Ima's Home and the children. Or, maybe it was the stories I had heard from those who had previously visited that were with us again on this trip. Regardless, there is a spirit of love that permeates Ima's Home and you have no choice but to let it fill you up from the second you arrive.
Picture this: you're driving up to Ima's Home and before you can even get out of the van kids are eagerly waiting for you with Christmas-morning-smiles on their faces. You get out of the van and there's hugging and laughing and JOY everywhere you look.
After that initial moment of meeting and hugging all the kids I remember thinking, "I love them." The love you feel for them comes out of no where and hits you like a ton of bricks. It's instantaneous. I didn't even know I had that much love in me (it may sound like I'm being dramatic but I promise you... I am not).
Another thing I noticed right off the bat was how genuinely happy the kids were. After the things they have been through they have every right to be sad, hurt and mad but they weren't. They are so resilient. I realized how happy the children were by watching them interact with the houseparents. There is this amazing mutual love between the kids and the houseparents. They care for these precious babies as if every single one of them were their own children. You can tell they just love them to pieces, which makes it more than just an orphanage. It truly is a home for these amazing kids. Yet one more reason as to why Ima's Home is literally the best place on earth.
On the last day as we were saying goodbye to the children something absolutely incredible happened. Due to the fact that it was such a special moment to us all I won't go into too much detail. All I will say is a rainbow appeared out of nowhere and it was a moment I will never in my life forget. God was with us and those children. God loves Ima's I just know it.
Saying goodbye to Ima's and the kids was so hard. It was so emotional and the love that was developed between us and the kids was so strong that it hurt! There was a ton of tears... I'll just leave it at that.
Even today as I finish up this blog post 5 days after coming home I lack the words to explain my experience. Yesterday at church so many people asked about the trip. I kept finding myself giving them a short answer of "amazing" or "awesome" and it felt like I wasn't doing Ima's Home any justice. Part of me wishes I could take my memories and thoughts and share them with everyone so that they will understand what it was like. But really, it is something to see and feel for yourself.
Being able to contribute to such a worthy cause by using my personal gifts/talents in photography was icing on top of an already amazing cake. It was truly a once in a lifetime moment (but hopefully not once because I NEED to go back again next time). Taking photos of those kids, the orphanage and the beautiful country was one of the best things I have ever done. Plug-- in case you haven't seen the photos yet you can find them here.
... Actually it's just the beginning. My journey with Ima's Home is just starting. I cannot wait to be a part of all that I can whether it be staying in contact with the kiddos, taking more photos in the future or donating to this home.
Ima's Home For Children is a place I will forever hold in my heart.