I couldn't believe my ears.

"Would you write a post to promote our Garden Celebration?"  

It's the first time anyone in my family asked me to write about something so it must be pretty important.  I've often contended there is no great honor than using your voice on behalf of others, so I am thrilled to introduce you to a Special Place and tell you about their Very Special Event:


My girl is interning at h.e.a.r.t. Institute in Lake Wales, Florida this semester, an amazing, one-of-a-kind missionary training institute.  The first thought when you hear the words "heart institute" is cardiac care, but in this case it's an acrostic for Hunger Education And Resource Training.

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 20, h.e.a.r.t. is opening its doors to the community, offering seminars led by fantastic speakers and treating guests to authentic jambalaya prepared by a real Cajun. The day's Key Note Address will be by Dr. Martin Price, founder of ECHO, another amazing organization that equips those who give their lives to serve others.  Attendees can select three seminars, a difficult choice when you see the list to choose from:

My husband and I had the opportunity to tour h.e.a.r.t. when we dropped off our daughter in January; I've never seen anything like it.  The entire staff welcomed us with warm, open arms and we got to see some of their projects in various stages of completion.  Students learn to re-purpose everything and gain invaluable insight into "using what you've got" when working in impoverished areas.  

Though I didn't notice on the Garden Celebration schedule of events, I'm sure if you ask you can visit the goats, chickens and bunnies!  We happened to see a trained chicken when we were there–who knew you could train a chicken to sit?!

Learning is hands-on at h.e.a.r.t.  Students earn college credit and can choose between a 15-week semester program or a 3-week short course.

We would never have heard about h.e.a.r.t. had our daughter not attended a conference where they were exhibiting two years ago.  Seeing the impact it is having in her life, coupled with her desire to serve others (whether domestically or in developing countries), makes me want to introduce this organization to as many people as possible.  

With that in mind, I'm extending a strong call to action:

  1. If you live in the Lake Wales area (Polk County, central FL, south of Orlando), ATTEND the Garden Celebration tomorrow.  Up to two children are free with each paying adult. 
  2. Share this post with your friends.  You may not live close enough to attend, but maybe some of your friends do.  Pleasepleaseplease Facebook Like and/or Share, Tweet, Pin, Email, Stumble or whatever this post or h.e.a.r.t.'s site to expose their amazing organization to others.  
  3. If you're considering service abroad, or if your older children are interested in missions work, attend H.E.A.R.T.'s semester or short course. My daughter had completed three semesters of college before working as an intern this semester and she is blown away by this practical educational experience.  
  4. Donate.  While the Garden Celebration is all about connecting h.e.a.r.t. to the Lake Wales and surrounding community, it is also a fundraiser.  Your generous donation will enable them to offer similar future events and to continue their important training.
  5. Like h.e.a.r.t. village on Facebook.

Serving on the mission field is challenging; h.e.a.r.t. helps students gain a greater insight into what that might look like, preparing them in a way the classroom experience can't.  

Thank you for sharing h.e.a.r.t.'s story.  And if you live close enough to attend the Garden Celebration?  Hug my babygirl for me…this mama is missin' her somethin' fierce!


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