Dear friends of
Horses for Orphans
The last few months have been bittersweet. Since autumn last year, we have been perplexed often, faced opposition, been confronted with situations that on human terms seemed hopeless, felt helpless regularly and at times we were challenged beyond what we thought we could bear, yet God was with us always and met us daily. His love, power and grace truly are enough!
‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.’ (2 Cor. 4:7-9)
We pray that His grace is reaching more and more people and will cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
‘Therefore we do not lose heart.’ (2 Cor. 4:16)
Relationship with Jesus is what motivates us to do what we do in Brazil and the nations. We love to encounter Him, experience His love, and give it away to those who are hungry for Him.
‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ (2 Cor. 4:18)
With our eyes focused on heaven and endeavouring to store up treasures in heaven and not on the earth, we wish all of you an amazing summer!
Richard & Ingela Larsson Smith
Brazil Project History
The Horses for Orphans project in Brazil at Betel Children’s Home began in November 2009. Many people joined our teams to love the children, hug them, play with them and teach them English and horsemanship.
Others supported us with prayer and/or finances and with a great team effort, a very nice horse training facility was built. For the last 3.5 years, 23 horses have been taken care of and trained. Together we all made a huge difference in many lives.
Our leader Reginaldo excelled as the manager of the project and grew more and more in his leadership skills.
The project has been a great success so far and many, many lives have been touched, transformed and set on a completely new path with a bright future ahead.
Brazil Project Story
Of course we had encountered many ups and downs and challenging situations since we started the project, but never to the degree that we experienced in the last few months.
In October 2012, Reginaldo was told by the leadership of Betel, that he had to leave immediately. This caused us great concern for his life and future as well as the wellbeing of the horses and the project at Betel.
On our return with a team in November, we re-united with Reginaldo and continued running the project as usual. Reginaldo was now a team member rather than a staff member at Betel. On leaving we had no choice but to put the horse project on hold for December and January. Without Reginaldo there, the children would have no supervision or horsemanship instruction.
Our saddest day was when we tried to explain to the children that they wouldn’t be able work or play with their horses until we returned or had another leader. To help the horses survive without having someone there that could take care of them, we had to make a difficult decision: To turn the 13 horses that we caught and tamed together 3 years previously back out to where they had come from. It took many hours for the children’s anger to calm down and their tears to stop flowing. Together we walked the horses up the hill and 13 boys said goodbye to their best friend. They took the halters off, hugged the animals and reluctantly turned to leave. Then the most incredible thing happened. None of the horses ran away. Not one wanted the freedom. Instead they all turned and watched the boys leave. Great triumph started to rise in everyone’s hearts, winning over the pain and the sense of loss.
For the next few days, the horses tried to return to the training area. Some even managed to break through the fence.
These were the very same horses that in November 2009 had run away from us as far as they could. It had taken us 9 days of approach and retreat until we finally had them in a corral. There, they kicked, bit, reared and ripped away from us. Now they just stood there, watching the boys. Horses and youth had succeeded at building a relationship based on love, trust and honour, to go on in life to never be the same again.
Eight herd members couldn’t be turned out to fend for themselves. They either had never lived in the wild, or they had been fed by us since birth. We kept 3 Lusitanos, two 2 year olds, 2 yearlings and a foal in our main pasture. Our advanced horsemanship boys were put in charge to feed and take care of them until our return in February.
There were around 100 children at Betel when we left and many were going to spend the Christmas holidays with remaining family members or relatives. We didn’t know that most were not going to return.
In December, back in Canada, we received a phone call from the president of the ASEB (governing body of Fazenda Betel) and were informed that Betel Children’s Home has been closed. It came as a shock to us, even though we knew that the current Brazilian Government policies and legislations have been increasing the difficulties for institutions like Betel Children’s Home.
The leadership had made the decision to close Betel for the children and youth and the authorities had been informed that they would have to re-home the youngsters.
On our return in February, there were only 23 children living at Betel. Just 9 out of the 55 that used to be involved in the horse project were still there, yet 15 joined us for English, worship and other activities. All of us had a fantastic and growing time for the next couple of months, despite all the challenges that arose around us…like all our horse feed disappearing from the feed shed before our arrival.
Richard & Ingela and the team searched extensively for a new location for the project. Questions like where, with whom and how went through everyone’s mind daily. All land that was for sale near Brasilia turned out to be illegal and no other suitable property could be found.
The children asked daily where the next project was going to be, and when there would be another leader to teach them in the months that Richard & Ingela weren’t there. For the youth that loves horses, interacting with them is their main escape from the thoughts that pain them. Being with a horse allows them to forget their troubles. Horses need the children’s full attention. The animals cause them to turn their focus away from self and help them feel loved, successful, wanted and joyful.
After a meeting with the ASEB (Assistencia Social Evangelica Brasillia), even though we received permission to continue with the remaining children in June, it was made clear that the leadership didn’t want to continue the project at Betel in the future.
We were disappointed, as we have developed a deep bond with the children and horses. We suggested that we could temporarily move the horses to a friend’s farm to be looked after until we return in June. Sadly our offer was rejected, with the promise that Betel would take care of the horses themselves.
More heartbreaking than fearing for the horses’ wellbeing was seeing the children suffer. We visited as many of our boys and girls as we could in the place where they were currently living. Often we ended up weeping, because of the situation we found the children in. Some were doing well, but many had been sent back to remaining family members or parents who were not capable of looking after them. It was extremely difficult for us to see the boys that had been full of life now downtrodden, hungry, dirty and desperate. Sadly not even the local schools seem to have the authority to do something about it. The hardest part for us was being in a position where we could do nothing more than hug them, pray for them and buy them some food. One school informed us that three boys from the same family came to school hungry and filthy every day. The school feeds them breakfast, but if they give them anything to take home, the mother sells it to buy alcohol.
The more we see, the more we understand that God’s heart is never to hurt anyone, never to make anyone sick or cause anyone pain. And when we read in the bible about sharing in Jesus’ suffering, it doesn’t mean suffering by becoming sick or getting a disease, but suffering by identifying with those who are broken and hurting. Seeing what Jesus sees and feeling what He feels is sharing in His sufferings. And even though it hurts and breaks us, and even though at times we feel it is too much to bear, we realize it is a privilege that God shares His heart with us. It makes us happy that our Father in heaven trusts us enough to share His heart with us. We want to be friends of Jesus and it makes us glad to feel what He feels, even though it makes us cry. We are set on carrying His heart and making His love known to the hurting. We shall not be moved by the discouragement that we experience but hold confidently onto the truth of God, our rock, our strength and our deliverer.
During the month of April and May more difficult news reached our ears. The horses were getting very thin and were not looked after. Our hands were tied. Even our personal horses had received the ASEB brand and no matter how much we wanted to take care of them, we had no legal right to do so.
On our return in June, we were faced with a very sad picture. The dry season had begun and the horses had not been fed. They were in extremely bad condition, some of them were close to starvation. We gathered the boys to help us care for them, trim their feet, wash and groom them and find the best possible grazing place.
Despite all the challenges, we were followed by miracles. God is good!
We found all our advanced boys in the places they live now and got to spend time with them.
Fabricio has a hard few months with many struggles behind him after he lost his first horse job. Now he is doing much better. He has a nice place to live in and a well-paid new job.
Patrick met someone who has horses and a beautiful farm. Richard and Ingela were able to talk to his future boss and he got the job.
Rogerio lives with a lady from his village and is doing well at school.
Gleidson is about to start a job with horses in a beautiful, professional establishment near Brasilia.
Weverson is doing well in the army.
Aurimar loves his work on a horse farm in Sao Paulo.
Antonio and Welliton are still at Betel, so are Douglas, Hudson, Valdemir, Marcos, Marcio, Pablo and Leonardo.
Reginaldo came to Canada in November to learn English, go deeper in his relationship with God and further his education in horsemanship.
After Christmas with Richard & Ingela and their family, he received the opportunity to spend some time at Forest City Destiny Church in London, Ontario until end of March. April and May he spent at Kingdom Horse in the UK with Nick&Hilary Rands and Emma Hudson. There he was able to learn from the horses that Ingela had trained to high level. His biggest achievement was two-tempi flying lead changes on Hope. Now he is on a ranch experience with Buddy & Devanne Cardinal in Northern BC. In August he will be re-united with Richard & Ingela and return to London, Ontario until he goes back to Brazil in October.
Reginaldo has adjusted excellently, he is progressing well with English and horsemanship and loves his life in the Western World.
The new Horses for Orphans project will be launched in October/November this year at a new location about 1.5 hours from Brasilia. We are hoping that the youth that has been involved so far will be able to join us at weekends and during the holidays to continue their training.
We take courage and move forward, with unshakable faith in the greatness and awesomeness of God our Father. There is always a way. Onward and upward!
The Horses for Orphans Team