Victoria family, Ashley Furniture send goods to Belizean orphanage (w/video)
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For more information about The Word at Work, visit twaw.org.
For more information about King's Children's Home in Belmopan, Belize, visit kingschildrenshome.org .
Traci and James Kral sat in front of the family computer and clicked on their email inbox.
Hours earlier, the Victoria pair distributed multiple requests to Christian-based organizations with ties to Belize.
Their email explained the family's desire to travel to Belize on a mission - volunteering for Belizean children however needed.
"We didn't hear back from anyone for weeks, and it forced us to go through this self-examination about what our real motives were in taking this trip. When no one responded, we thought maybe God was telling us that he didn't want this for us," Traci Kral, 38, said.
Still, the Krals were eager to do God's work abroad, living out the biblical passages of their prayers that referenced caring for widows and orphans.
Traci and James prayed one last time before sending out the final email, and agreed that if no one responded this time, the family would reexamine its plan for international service.
Staring at the inbox, Traci and James were pleased to see they had a response.
The Word at Work organization, of Amarillo, replied with a warm welcome and more information about sending the Krals to Belize.
"That was it. We just knew we were going to Belize," she said. "It's amazing how quickly God moved everything after that."
In August, the family of four returned from their first trip to Belize, impassioned to return and emboldened to make a difference in a country plagued with crime and poverty.
"God just revealed to me on that first trip that we needed to be a light and help these children," Traci Kral said, mentioning the orphans she encountered at a Belmopan, Belize orphanage in August. "When we showed up and saw they had nothing and how cramped they were, you can imagine our hearts were burdened."
The Krals discovered that The Word at Work was in the process of working with the orphanage to expand its 2,000-square-foot facility for more than 80 children, to 22,000-square-feet.
The children of King's Children's Home were supposed to be moved in by Christmas, but Traci Kral was skeptical they would be finished with construction on time.
"There was so much work that still needed to be done, and I just didn't know how they were going to pull it off," she said. "I just started asking God, 'Lord, what can I do?'"
After returning to the States and figuring out a game plan with her Belizean contacts, Kral started pushing a Crossroadswide effort to furnish the new orphanage by Christmas Eve.
"The furniture they had wasn't enough. And it was furniture that no one in this country would take in their home, even if it was set on the roadway," Traci Kral said.
A few weeks later, with a goal to collect enough furniture to fill a small storage space, Traci Kral was introduced through Northside Baptist church friends to Paige Streiff, 32, co-owner and manager of Ashley Furniture HomeStore in Victoria.
"I told her what I looking for and said I was willing to buy some furniture within my budget," Traci said. "I wasn't expecting her to tell me to go pick out what I wanted for free."
Traci Kral said together, she and Paige walked through a warehouse of gently abused furniture that may have been knicked or scratched, and decided it should all go to the orphanage in Belize.
"All of the pieces had fallen into place for them to be there. I thought, 'Why not help?' Anytime someone has a need locally and we have the ability to meet it, we're going to do it," Streiff said.
More than 300 pieces of furniture were donated from Ashley, totaling more than $30,000, Streiff said.
Traci Kral also was able to collect furniture from other church members who had gently used items to add to the collection.
"God's hand was in all of it. I literally went from having an empty storage room to my cup runneth over," Kral said.
A few weeks before Christmas, Streiff's warehouse was loaded on a truck, and the items were shipped to Belize by boat.
The furniture arrived on time on Christmas Eve.
Since The Kral's first trip last summer, the family has returned twice.
Traci Kral said she's hooked on Belize, and her family is committed to serving on mission trips for as long as God allows.
"Everything those children need now is there, and its nice stuff. Paige and everyone who gave helped give those children a real home," Traci Kral said.