The Children

The children we got to work with weren’t just kids needing something to do in the hot afternoons. They weren’t just faces we took pictures with and took back to show our friends and family how many wanted to hold our hands. They weren’t a number we needed a certain amount of crafts for. No. These children were God’s Children. They had names and futures in His kingdom.

Like Lucia, the shy but compassionate girl who patiently helped me with my spanish.


Or Luis Fernando, the small but charming boy who loved unconditionally.


And then Jueniel, the one who remembered and loved and taught us a lesson when he turned the other cheek when being mistreated.


Oh, and none of us can forget Kendry, the one with no loss for words. (but he didn’t just say them, he sang them.) (watch him HERE)


And then there’s Elito, the one who chose me and looked past the dirt and the grime of the worksite and called me beautiful. God has given me the incredible opportunity to continue a connection with this child through sponsoring him and watching God work in his life as he grows into a young man.

Me and Elito

Before going on our trip I think some of us thought that the children we were going to work with were so lucky to have us visit them, to make them smile and laugh and to have us, the amazing americans, take time to interact with them. But we were wrong. We were the ones who were blessed. We were the ones that they made smile and laugh.  And they are the amazing Children of God who willingly took time to interact with us.

DR VBS game


(Photo credit Chris O'Neill)

Elito. The eleven-year-old boy who chose me.


He wasn’t smiling like all the other children when he came through the gate. His reply when I asked “como estas?” was not “bien” like all the other children. He was frowning and feeling “mal”. As all the other children skipped off, excited to go to VBS, he walked slowly, so I matched his pace and let God show a little piece of His love through me. I prayed this little interaction would somehow impact his life for the better.

At craft time he insisted on writing my name all over his craft, and by song time he didn’t want to let go of my hand. When it was time to say goodbye, his frown returned, and he told me he was sad about me, that I had to say goodbye. “Tomorrow, “ I said, as he hugged me tight and I fought back tears. What if he didn’t return tomorrow? I walked him to the gate and he turned to hug me again. I reminded him “Tomorrow…please come back.” His sad eyes connected with mine and then he turned and didn’t look back as he began his walk home.

The next day I waited at the gate, but only a few children showed up. I searched each face and smiled, but he was not there. We opened the gate; VBS was about to start and he was still nowhere to be seen.

I searched the road with my eyes as more children made their way from their homes to join us one last time.

And then, there he was, smiling this time, and I began to think that maybe I had made some small impact on this young boy. He came through the gate and hugged me tight, then took my hand as we walked towards the main building.

The day continued much like the last one, though this time with added smiles, more words, and maybe even a skip in his step. Once again he told me he loved me, once again he wrote my name, once again he held my hand, and once again we found ourselves back at the gate, needing to say goodbye. We hugged three times, not wanting to leave. This time he flashed one last smile before he started on his way back home. I waved goodbye and watched til he disappeared, then looked in my hands where he had left me his craft with “Moriah I love you” covering the front and back.

But the story doesn’t finish there because this little boy chose me and this couldn’t be the end.

Curious, I asked the sponsorship coordinator if this boy had a sponsor to support him and found out that no, he didn’t. He’d been waiting for me. At this point I had no say in the matter; no, it wasn’t up to me. Because you see, Elito, he chose me.


Me and Elito


(Photo credit Chris O'Neill)

Hello Blog


It’s been awhile.

I practically feel like I’m starting a new blog!

So far 2014 has looked like this for me:

January- I housesat 14 days, we celebrated my parents 25th Anniversary (woot!), and participated in a Civil War reenactment across town.

February – I started leading our HighSchool worship team on Wednesday nights and went with Jordan to Pheonix for 5 days to participate in a Justice For All training and outreach.

March – Enjoyed fellowship around a bonfire, as well as at our Church picnic a couple days later!

April – Performed with a band in our homeschool group’s talent show and celebrated Joshua’s 7th birthday on the 10th along with my Dad’s birthday at the end of the month. AND we went to the Grand Canyon and stayed in a trailer (but that’s a long story for another time)

May – Choreographed Musical Bootcamp and taught 50+ teens in one week!

June – Left for the Dominican Republic on the 6th, Jordan’s 22nd birthday, and had an amazing 2 weeks there working hard, building a great team, reaching out, loving on children and sharing God’s love. I missed Father’s day with my dad, but made him this song. 3 days after arriving back in the states my Dad and I drove my sister to Kansas, her new home! She is now working as an intern with Justice For All!

And that brings us to July! The coming weeks are packed for me, so it’s likely I’ll disappear again, though not so long this time! Family coming into town and a lot of housesitting for my sister and me!

Hope that helps get this blog up to speed 🙂 I’ll be posting about a highlight from my trip to the Dominican Republic soon, so stay tuned…

❤ Riahjoy


PS How do you like the new blog look?

Moody Global Trek Game!

Global Trek
Moody Ministries is doing a fun Global Trek  game online to get you more information about the ministries and all they do (you must be 13 to play). Not only do you get to learn how they’re working in the world today you get to answer questions and receive points towards some amazing prizes! Sadly you have to be 18 to win, but if you’re 18 that’s awesome, because you might win a missions trip to Guatemala!

Game board


Head over to sign up!

SetApart Girl Conference – 5/31-6/1/13 {Flashback Friday}

This year’s SetApart Girl Conference was amazing!


We worked with the Ormand’s church and we’re able to use their building to reach a bigger group then last year in my small living room



I am so grateful for the Ormand family and all they did to help grow my vision and share this conference with others!


Right now everyone in my family is at a HUGE book festival while I sit at home feeling under the weather. And that feeling is getting old. I’ve been in this state for a week slowly getting better. And that process for me includes a lot of time in bed, which means I’ve spent a lot of time reading! So since my family is going to come home all excited about books I thought I would excite myself and you with what I’ve been reading this week. Sound good?


Help Meet

Preparing to be a Help Meet

by Debi Pearl

This was a great book with fun stories, wonderful words of wisdom, and new angles. Of all the relationship books I’ve read this one is the best. It gave me something to do now and in the future. This book encouraged me to strengthen my prayer life and look at where I am here and now as an amazing training ground that will prepare me for my future, wherever it may be.


Borders of the Heart

Borders of the Heart

by Chris Fabry

I only set this book down about four times! The story line was incredible and the writing was terrific (and the Author’s just plain amazing, I know him!)!  I do have to say that it was pretty creepy to read about crazy people running around with guns in scenes that took place in Tucson around buildings and streets I know. This book contained many surprises and was definitely hard to put down.


PassionA Passion for the Impossible

by Miriam Huffman Rockness

(Still in process of reading this one)

The life of Lilias Trotter has intrigued me so far. She’s a very gifted artist who tosses away fortune and fame to spend a life with the lost and unsaved. And that’s pretty much all I know… so far…

My Gramma and Papa Newhouse gave this book to me for my birthday and I can’t wait to read it through! In many ways this lady’s life is very similar to mine and I’m excited to watch and learn from her life.

You might notice the word passion in the title. This book was part of the reason I chose that word as my word of the year. I’ll hopefully have more to share after I finish the book!


ChristmasA Wild Goose Chase Christmas

by Jennifer AlLee

Part mystery, part romance, with a few spins that make you laugh and cry at the same time. I really enjoyed this book (which was given to me by Chris Fabry!). The back cover didn’t get me too excited to read the book so I was all the more surprised by the great story line and intriguing characters.


No Greater Love

No Greater Love

by Levi Benkert

This story started in America but quickly uprooted to the heart of Ethiopia, Africa. It followed the calling God placed on the Benkert family and how they started the ministry Bring Love In. I could see the children’s faces as I read and it definitely pulled at my heart strings!

I encourage you to take a look at the website for Bring Love In and learn more about this unique ministry…

Stack2 Stack3

EDIT: I’m linking up to the March of Books over at Kindred Grace!

$45k in 45 days

It is more blessed to give than to recieve. This is something my dad understands, which is why for his 45th birthday he wants to give a gift to children who have essentially nothing.

My dad and I visited these children two years ago and were changed forever. Each day from now until April 29 my dad will be posting a glimpse into life at God’s House of Grace.

Please spread the word (pinterest, twitter, facebook, blog…) and consider donating. Just $1 can change a child’s life for the better.

via $45K in 45 days.

Today… 2 years ago

I was in Africa. The land I love. Today, 2 years ago I had just arrived in Kenya after spending (about) 5 days in Burundi. Burundi brings back memories of confusion, joy, fear, kindness, grief, but most of all love.

The way God orchestrated the whole trip was incredible. I can’t even list all the ways God worked in and through our team from my church.

I would love to share more, but this experience has already been written over at my Africa blog 😉 To read about our first day in Kenya click here.