Oh, Michigan.

You treated the Gillis family so well.

When I reflect on our time in Michigan, I am overwhelmed by the hospitality of old/new friends, and I’m inspired by what I see happening on the orphan care front.

From Kentucky, we made a quick stop at Cedarville University to see my brother, my sister-in-law and my two nephews during their first days on campus as full time students. We had no idea we would be coming through this part of the country at the exact time they would be dropping the boys off at college, so it was an extra special blessing. We enjoyed a short afternoon touring the beautiful campus and then we were treated to an amazing dinner with my bro’ and sister-in-law. When living full time in an RV for 3 months, you learn to appreciate full meals even if had only been about three weeks!

From Ohio, we pushed up to Detroit, Michigan. 

Enter the Kuhn family.

Chris and Emily Kuhn were our incredible training hosts for the Detroit area. Not only did they host two successful trainings, but Emily’s parents (The Thomas’) hosted our family while we were there. They were SO generous to us. And Chris and Emily really set the standard for all future hosts! 🙂 We are excited about their future and their ministry, Deep Roots!

When we arrived at the Thomas’ house to get set up, our youngest son, Judah, washed his hands in record speed because of the habits he had formed on the RV. Never use to much water or we’ll run out or have to dump something! He was still putting that to practice that night at the house. Then, the first time our daughter, Rachel, used the bathroom in the house, she picked her foot up to push the flush handle at the bottom of the bowl. Well…they don’t have those in houses anymore. Just RV’s. 🙂 

Anyway, the first Detroit training in the morning was lively! We had a great group of advocates with meaningful conversations. This training opened the doors for some great ideas to be exchanged and for some challenges to be identified. I was extremely excited after this first training and I was equally as excited for the Detroit area because they were in such good hands. Now if those hands could just start working together….that’s the goal.

The evening training was the larger of the two. Despite talking for three hours in the morning and most of the afternoon, Chris, Emily and I found that trail mix and coffee is the perfect way to wake up when exhausted. We kicked it in gear for another awesome session.

Orphan care conversations are never easy. There is so much to consider. There is pain represented around every corner. There are so many hopes and dreams that advocates and church leaders have. Many of these dreams go unfulfilled because people become weary and their lives become busy beyond control. But, we have an unwavering hope that the gospel changes everything. It changes people’s hearts. It changes their eternity. It changes advocates, church leaders, your neighbor and mine.

Back to the evening training.

It’s always great to see people slow down enough to focus on solutions during our trainings. I like to say that Patch Our Planet brings a “Hyper-Focus” to orphan care. We dig down to the deepest levels. We make sure that we answer as many questions as possible. And we prioritize equipping churches to know how to accomplish those lofty goals, teaching advocates how to break down any barriers that may exist. 

Inspiration is only as good as the first practical step. 

So we like to give that first step, followed by all the rest….

After training some 23 advocate leaders in Detroit, we headed north to spend a couple of days with some very special friends of our family and our ministry. We had the privilege to see their working dairy farms and hang out at a really fun county fair. It was a joy to be able to get to know these friends at a deeper level. And it was an encouragement for our family to see their unwavering commitment to the gospel and to the orphan. It’s amazing to see all the moving parts in the Kingdom of God and how he uses everyone in a special and unique way. It all makes a difference.

To say that we were spoiled by our hosts in Michigan would be an understatement. I would say, “encouraged and refreshed”. You don’t realize how weary the road can make you until you actually do it. A new place every day or two begins to grade on a person, or a family of four. If you’ve done it, you understand. So, for this little break, we were sure appreciative!

Then we headed to Kalamazoo, Michigan where we attended a local church on Sunday morning with our friends from Children’s Hope Chest. Afterwards, we were able to spend some time meeting with CHC and another local church leader.  It was a joy to spend time with my friend Will Crooks (Children’s Hope Chest) and part of his sweet family. You could say that he and I are two peas in a pod.

A few years ago, Patch Our Planet intentionally developed a strategic partnership with Children’s Hope Chest. We align on all the global issues and how to solve them. We make the connection with CHC and local churches as often as we can. We believe, like they do, that local problems demand local solutions. (So if your church is looking for an intentional global orphan care focus, let me connect you!)

From Michigan, we head West.

Through the cornfields. 

The prairies. 

And, yes…the mountains.

We couldn’t be more excited about our Patch Trainings in Utah and Colorado, the second half of our tour. 

We are coming your way Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

At this point, we are still open to scheduling more trainings. First come, first serve….we’d love to serve your church or orphan care network! Reach out and let’s talk about what it could look like for you.

Hey, thanks for reading and for keeping up with Patch Our Planet and the Gillis family.

Until next time,

Steve Gillis

Founder | Executive Director

e: steve@patchourplanet.org


*Still extending forgiveness for road-weary editing mistakes?! You don’t know how much I thank you for that! 🙂

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