07/01/2012 - By Gayle Irwin
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Abigail and Elizabeth Tharp enjoy spending time together, sharing experiences with others, and telling people about God's love.
The sisters recently returned from Portugal where they, along with 15 other Casper travelers, helped people in various ways. They pulled weeds at an animal therapy property, conducted prayer walks at the beach and within the community, and met with Portuguese children through youth encounters. They also shared a beach volleyball game with kids from various nations, including Ireland and France. Neither had ever been to Europe before, and both said they greatly enjoyed the experience.
"I liked pretty much everything," Abi said. "I especially liked going to the beach because I got to go to the ocean and collect shells."
Abi has a seashell collection at home and whenever she travels, she brings home a new one or two.
"I liked making new friends," Elizabeth said of the experience.
The girls will be traveling again this summer with other youth and their parents, going to Calgary to help communities with their Canada Day celebrations and also to host youth sports camps in basketball and soccer.
The sisters agree sharing God's love with people is very important, and that's why they go on these trips.
"Being able to meet new people, telling them about God and being their friend Ė that's what I like about going on mission trips," Elizabeth said.
Taking such trips is part of the family's lifestyle; the family has traveled to Canada four years. Sharing their faith and God's love is engrained in the girls. Their father, Ed, a youth pastor, and their mother, a nurse, together mentor college students through a ministry at Casper College.
Making friends, showing care and concern, and sharing family experiences are what the girls also look forward to in anticipation of the arrival of two brothers, through an adoption process that began a few months ago. The boys are close to Abi and Elizabeth's ages. Abi is 10 years old and Elizabeth is 12.
"We'll have more playmates!" Elizabeth said excitedly.
"It's going to be fun to play with them," Abi agreed.
The girls have a few special things they look forward to sharing with the boys, such as the Falls on Casper Mountain and camping at Alcova Lake. Sharing God's love is also important, according to Abi.
"They might not know how much God loves them," she said.
People are not the only beings that the girls shower love upon and with whom they spend their time. The family includes a cat named Milo and two rescue dogs, Cheyenne, an eight-month-old German Shepherd, and Wrigley, a 15-month-old shepherd mix.
"I like playing with the dogs," Elizabeth said. "We play fetch, take walks and wrestle."
She also likes riding her bike. Abi, in addition to collecting seashells, enjoys playing with her best friend and going to the park. A 5th grader at Fort Caspar this fall, she also enjoys reading. Her older sister, who will be in 7th grade at Casper Classical Academy, enjoys math and science. Both girls play the violin. Elizabeth wants to also learn to play the cello while her younger sister is interested in learning to play the drums and guitar. A Portuguese drum came home with the family last month.
As the girls and their parents await the finalization of adoption papers for the boys, they are also preparing for summer church camps in Wyoming and later in New Mexico. Travel is apparently something else the girls will be able to share with their new brothers!