2015 Summer Newsletter – Gabriella’s Story
“For I know the plans I have for you: declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
God provided this message of comfort and hope to Gabriella when she lost her father in an accident in 2011.
“He put that verse on my heart,” recalls Gabriella, now 14. “At first I didn’t understand it. I was like, ‘If you have plans for me, why did you take my dad?’ But after a while I began to see what He has in store for me and my family, if we just continue to follow Him.”
Those plans for Gabriella included moving the following year with her mother, sister and brother from their native Nigeria to the United States in search of a new life and a good education. The
plans also included the fear and uncertainty of homelessness, followed by the relief of finding safe shelter at O.U.R. Mission Home.
Gabriella wasn’t sure what to think when she she learned in February that her family was coming to the Mission. Her mother, Mary, had lost her job and the family – including Zarah (13) and Samuel (1 O) – had been staying with friends temporarily. “I knew it was the best thing. We were going to have a safe environment where we could get back on our feet.” But I was also afraid of what would happen when other students found out I lived in a shelter:’
Actually, the reaction wasn’t bad at all. “When I told some of my close friends, they were fine with it. As for everyone else, it doesn’t really matter what they think of me. What matters is what I think about myself and how I carry myself.”
Gabriella is attending Jones High School, where she excelled in some of the most challenging classes a freshman can take. As an honor student, she’s a member of the golf team, participates in dance and was even elected Sophomore Class President for the
upcoming school year.
Zarah and Samuel are doing equally as well in their respective schools. In fact, Zarah was named Student of the Year.
But, sadly, they are exceptions among homeless children. Studies show that homeless students are far more likely to struggle academically and with behavioral problems than their non-homeless peers.
Gabriella credits the programs in the Mission’s Family Life Center and the supportive staff with helping her stay focused and keeping her priorities in order.
”There are daily Bible studies and tutoring. The staff is awesome, too. You can talk to them about anything at any time and they are always able to give you Godly advice and encouragement.That’s really what this place is all about.”
Mary is currently working full-time in a dentist’s office and is saving her money so the family will be able to afford their own place.
“God’s hand is on the Missio,”‘ Gabriella concludes. “We pray that it
continues to be a place where people find God and get back on their