Friday, November 9, 2012

Peru & Inca Cola Anyone!

Do you want to experience Peru first hand?  Have you already been there and when you see a picture you get that sugary bubble gum taste of Inca Cola setting you saliva glands into a whirlwind of chaos!  You can see all the colorful buildings and the smiles of the people around you.  You feel them hugging you and kissing you on each cheek. The warm friendly people of Peru.  Then a closer look and you see the houses built on top of mountains of sand that could melt away into a landslide if the region ever got rain???  And you look closer and closer and for a little while you are transported back.  Maybe with smiles on your faces or tears in your eyes.  If you have never been to Peru?  No worries you can virtually go there November 13 - 17th with the Compassion Bloggers.  Follow along - Read - Cry - Laugh - Be Changed - I Double Triple Dog Dare you!  If only I could reach through the screen and get me some of that Inca Cola or hug on a Peruvian family. 
I will also be finding my way in Ethiopia with Compassion in the near future.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

World Poverty Day

It is possible in this generation to eliminate extreme poverty!  Extreme poverty - living on less than 1.25 a day has been decreasing.  People are reaching out to each other, sharing and living with enough instead of more.  If you are looking for a way to get involved check our Compassion.  Sponsor a child and reduce that number by one or do something else but do something.  We can do this - together!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Compassion Bloggers - Praise God

The results are in and the Compassion Bloggers ran a great race.  An amazing race actually but well that is another show..... Like that show this journey may have road blocks and double u-turns and detours as all journeys in life do.  But the prize is worth so much more.  The experiences that the sponsors will have in building relationships with their new sponsored young people are priceless!  Here are the official results for the month of September for all those who blogged and prayed.  We thank you!

The word from Compassion is.........

Congratulations bloggers!

Thanks to you 3,159 children were sponsored online in the month of September. We exceeded our goal of 3,108 children by the not so insignificant number of 51 additional lives.
We are taking time to thank  and praise the Lord - Ugandan Style!

Be sure to follow the next team of Compassion Bloggers to Peru from November 13-17.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

From Poverty I Am Released

I have traveled a little and have seen some challenging things. It was the Compassion Bloggers who first introduced me to Mathare Valley in Kenya which infiltrated my senses and begged me to do more. I hope to stand inside Mathare one day but for now have only seen it from afar. Why would someone want to go to such a place when you could choose to travel many other all inclusive destinations. But this destination holds some treasure for me in the names of Florence, Daniel & Ruth.

Ruth is the newest member of my extended Compassion Family and lives in Mathare. Her smiling face came to me only a few days ago and we have yet to exchange letters and get to know each other and build the relationship that God has for our families. I do know she has been waiting since December of 2011 for a sponsor. This week during Compassion's blogging month we are to write a letter as if we are the sponsored child to our sponsor. So until I receive my first letter from Ruth I will imagine it is from her with sprinkles of Florence and Daniel mixed in.

Dear Sponsor I greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Please enjoy my poem as a gift to you.   Mathare Valley, Kenya, my home, is a harrowing, dangerous place. But with God and you dear loving sponsor, I know you see my face.

This 8x8 we call our home made of cardboard, wood, and metal tin sheets.
Is where I wake at four to make the fire and roll up the mats where we sleep.

On my way to school my eyes feed my thoughts and what is this I see?
Thick sludge rotting garbage infested streams they are surrounding me.

The tiny narrow path I walk between refuse and decay.
Off this path and beyond I do not want to stray.

I can hear the music drifting out of every bar and brothel I pass.
The voices taunting me to come inside make me hurry onto class.

I know my Mum tries her best to sell Samosas in the market every day.
She works and toils endlessly making less than a dollar - is this okay?

Then here they come those daily lies that whisper in my ear.
You are no good, and never will be. they could be right I fear.

It is then that I arrive at school and reach into my pocket.
I have your letter in my hand and my thoughts soar like a rocket.

I see these visions dance and spring as if straight from my heart.
Those things that being sponsored brings right from the very start.

We now have a doctor, food, and school and an almighty God.
It is enough I need no more He takes me in even though I'm flawed.

My dreams and hopes beat back the dark and go beyond the lies.
Doctor, lawyer, teacher, nurse I could be any of these come the cries

I know I'm loved by Mum and sis and thank my God it's so.
Yet there is but another one that loves me this I know.

It is someone I yearn to see and hope some day I can.
It is you dear sponsor, yes it is, I hope it is in God's plan.

For now I fix my thoughts on God and trust His perfect peace.
And jump for joy and shout aloud from poverty I am released.

Please pray that I will be clever in my education.
- Ruth

If you want to see children who have been waiting the longest to be sponsored click here.  Maybe you could find it in your heart to start a relationship with someone in Kenya then click here.  We only have until September 30th to reach the goal of 3108.  As of Monday there have been 2006 sponsorships!  That means at least 4012 lives will never be the same.  Let's finish strong - please click, pray, sponsor and help us reach the finish line!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Summer please stay

O summer how I long to see you stay.  I do not look forward to the cold winter snowy days.  Maybe I could enter this summer portal and stay here until next spring!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dear God.......

Lives are lived and changed in every moment. Compassion International has played a big part of my life in the last several years and many of you have asked me questions and listened to me talk. This week Compassion has challenged us to write a letter to God and get passionate with Him.  So forgive me for ignoring you all for a few minutes.  I will take a lesson from some Ugandan youngsters I met and block out everything to speak to God.  You are welcome to readdrop(eavesdrop)!  Er before I start keep clicking here and praying for those children waiting for their sponsor.  So far your prayers and positive thoughts have been working - 837 sponsorships down and 2271 to go.
Dear God
How patient you have been waiting, coaxing, pushing, prodding this mere existence of a human form. One who lived with a purpose of self, desiring to control my surroundings merely to exist and survive in this world. Never questioning the purpose of my creation, just existing. You were always in my corner watching, waiting, loving, forgiving and redeeming. I have extreme gratitude for your perseverance of working with slow learners. Working ever so carefully opening my eyes, weaving your thoughts into mine, and piercing through the broken layers of my heart. In 2002 you placed all of those smiling faces of Compassion children in front of me but I was too intent on healing my brokenness by myself. One long year later, in 2003, you pushed deeper and I took that first tender baby step into this winding journey of purposeful living. You watched as Sara, my daughter, picked out Firehiwot from Ethiopia. My thoughts focused more on how this will be a good thing we are doing. We will be helping someone else. Yet you waited and watched with an ever so slightly hint of a smile knowing before I was formed in my mother’s womb what you had for me. A smile that a loving Father has for His daughter who knows that there are lessons to be learned. Two more years passed waiting for me to let go of self and change. Firehiwot waited with you longing for a word from a sponsor who was too busy to write more than two letters. But Firehiwot prayed, the Holy Spirit groaned in accordance with your will and you infiltrated deeper into the corners and fringes of my soul. In 2005 you stretched me to a new level adding Elmer to our Compassion family. As I worried about being able to support another child you knew I needed another prayer warrior to bring me closer to you.

News came that Firehiwot failed to pass her fifth grade in school and you met me there full on letting me know it was I who had the bigger failure as I did nothing to encourage this precious gift you had given to me. You extended mercy and forgiveness and transformation showing me the power of relationship with you through others. I started to write and relationships grew and strengthened and I became less of my former self. Then there was the word advocate that you whispered in the shower, you whispered in the car, through the radio, in the quiet moments of the day and the chaotic symphony of living. Advocate for the least of these? No thank you, no one will listen, it will be hard, I don’t think I can ask others for money? Still you waited patiently and you pushed through my fear with scripture and continued to whisper advocate ….. advocate…. aDVOCATE. I doubted and you pushed, I tested and you walked me through every door. You did not abandon me even when I was ready to give up. Then came the leap into advocacy and a bigger Compassion family, You knew from the start that I needed them more than they needed me. Their prayers driving me towards you like the snow on a wild winter night whipping into the windshield at 55 mph. Those prayers sustained me as my daughter Sara walked out of my life with nothing but a note on the kitchen table becoming a prodigal for a long year not knowing where she was but knowing that you would keep me in perfect peace if I trusted in you and fixed my thoughts on you.

Through Compassion's ministry you have exposed your very presence. You have connected me with Compassion Advocates who radiate your Holy Spirit. They have encouraged me and prayed for me and inspired me to seek you out. The Compassion Blogger’s have taken me further into the depths of the dark places, reducing me to a huddling lump of tears sucking away any word I could dare utter on more than one occasion. Questioning how to they do it? How do they survive? Then showing your shining light through the people they meet urging me to take action. You have opened my ears to your words through countless speakers. Exodus 16:17-18 became part of my DNA as Shaun Groves brought those words to life …”everyone had just enough”. My eyes took in the “One Act” video. I can still hear Michelle, a Leadership Development student confess how her own family told her she would never be anything but a thief and a drug addict but her sponsor told her she was beautiful, she could be anything and that she loved her. Then you delivered my own Firehiwot’s letter with these simple words “I understand that you love me”. The world stopped, not a sound could be heard, my eyes back tracked as I read those words again. This time it was me, you and Firehiwot and the words “I understand that you love me”. Then I stood on the red, dusty, African clay. Florence and her mother Lillian slowly approached me with quiet shy smiles on their face. Florence looked away shyly her eyes turned down to the ground. Her mother in the first five minutes of us meeting looked me straight in the eye and spoke the only English words of the day – “How is Sara doing?” She had prayed for my prodigal daughter aiding in the journey back to me. The rest of the world fell away and became a very small place as there we were two mothers who were simply loving their kids, hoping for the best. It was as if we had known each other all of our lives.

Where can I find the words to thank you for allowing me to witness present day miracles as I watch in amazement how you match up sponsors and children at packet passes and events. The two energetic high school girls approached the table, happy to be at a summer music festival with friends, far from the four walls of a classroom. They pointed at some of the child packets and would comment on the country or the child. They look over at me quickly and one said her family sponsored a child already and the other wished she could. In my usual fashion I thanked them for stopping by the table for sponsoring and told them if it was in God’s plan she would definitely sponsor some day but they could help by praying over any of the children. Her friend poked her in the ribs and said you know that boy you were looking at. She promptly left and went over to pray over the child that you had connected her with. I was distracted by another couple that walked up to the table with a question. A few moments must have passed and another young girl walked over to me with a child packet and said I would like to sponsor this young boy. And then I heard it! A big OOOOOOHHHHHHHH. I looked and Lord you already know who I saw. It was the girl who had went less than 5 minutes ago to pray over the boy you had connected her with. This boy that another complete stranger was standing there with wanting to sponsor. These lives were now connected through pray, a miracle witnessed. We shared the story with all of them and lives were forever changed.

It is all of these precious unique individual gifts that complete a piece of my life’s tapestry showing me the purpose of my creation. Each of these children, their families, the experiences from other advocates and Compassionating at engagements are all golden threads in the picture. Slowly releasing me from myself and this materialistic world that distracts me at every turn. I pray for your continued vigilance on this journey and thank you for allowing me to live long enough to get a glimpse. I fall to my knees in gratitude unworthy of your love and patience that surpasses my understanding. Grateful for you weaving Compassion into the fabric of my life and exposing to me your saving grace and a purpose beyond self with heroes seldom thought of as heroes. My Compassion family are the heroes.
Your loving daughter

Won't you keep praying and for these children and their future sponsors - Change lives with Compassion!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Days of School - Let's Celebrate

They told us we were going to visit a school today. We stepped out into the pleasant temperatures of a sunny Ugandan day with a slight breeze blowing. We didn’t know what would await us but we were pretty sure there might be some singing, dancing and a few smiling faces. We loaded into into the bus and bounced our way down some unpaved roads. We came to a stop and the dust cleared. As we stepped out of the bus and onto the hard red Ugandan clay there they were.

The familiar blue brightly painted buildings with the open air concept and lots of curious eyes peering out at us. Some barely able to reach the window with bodies pressing against each other to get a glimpse of these strange looking funny talking visitors. If you squinted your eyes and glanced really fast at the windows it might have appeared as if there were barb wire over the windows. A fleeting photo in a history book seen many years ago came dredged out of the memory banks and the word prison camp flashed through my thoughts. But no these faces were happy. There was giggling and pointing fingers. This was a happier place.

Say what ….a happier place….this is a SCHOOL! Didn’t we all wish for the day when we would be done with school…when we wouldn’t have to study for tests!

Yes here in Uganda and other countries the difference between being in school and out may be a matter of life and death. A matter of eating or not eating. A matter of staying with your family or being sold into the sex slave trade. This was a happy place.
  Schools with a class size  of seventy plus

Schools where flash cards are painted on the outside of their classrooms and they know about Yams and Zigzag.  I wonder how they use zigzag in a sentence.  When I think of zigzag of I think of snow and there is none of that here.
Schools where the teachers stay up all night grading the one workbook a student has. And they get to sit outside and take off their shoes since it is going to take a little while.
Now you might think these schools are different from those in the United States but they do have something in common.  That one student who was daydreaming of a better place and had to race to get in line before the bell rings…..or those strange people with the funny looking skin show up to tour the school.  Couldn't you just scoop this little guy up!  Not to worry his teacher didn't see him she was busy grading those books.
These children celebrate being in school in this corner of Uganda. It is the hope they need to become who they were created to be. So here's to a new school year for 2012 and let's take a minute and be part of the celebration.  Click here and read about another Compassion child that is doing below average, average or above average ..but in school.  Think a positive thought or pray for that child.  Just takes a minute.  If you have children at home have them join in.  If you don't do it anyway.  Really it takes just a minute.  If you want to read more or click to the next child that is up to you.  But today we celebrate because they are in school.  We celebrate because maybe, just maybe 3108 more children will be in school at the end of September.  Leave a comment and let me know who you clicked to and how they were doing in school!