Saturday, January 24, 2009

knocking on the doors of our hearts

How would you respond if you heard a knock on your door and opened it to find a hungry child begging for food? I think all of us would respond the same way, we would immediately, open the door, invite them in and serve them hot food. Offering a hot bath and warm clothes. We would also call for help.

Those are all things we are blessed to be able to do in America. But what if your own cabinets were empty? What if your own children were already going throughout the village and begging or digging through garbage for food? What if there was no one to call for "help," and even if there were, no phone to call them on?

Below are beautifully heartbreaking photos taken by Tom Davis. He's asked those who support his ministry and work in Africa to share a few of his photos and invite our readers to visit his blog. Right now, his team is in Swaziland.

These photos (more can be found on Tom's Facebook profile) were taken in a village where Gogos (grandmas) have taken in the children without families and given them a place to be loved on, cared for and fed. Obviously, these women have very limited resources, but are doing all that they can to give these precious children a chance to live and be loved.

The need seems a bit overwhelming, doesn't it? I've heard about children starving in Africa for over 35 years now. It was almost too easy to push it out of my mind with the excuse of "They are so far away" and "What difference could I make anyway?"

True, Africa is far away, but thankfully there are so many people who have overcome that excuse, jumped on a plane (albeit endured a long trip) and chosen to do something about the millions of people who are suffering. Their selflessness and courage are wonderful, but, they can't do it alone. They need our support.

Tom Davis is one of those people who has chosen to bridge the distance and make a difference. We can too. Tom's ministries offer countless ways to help. Some big, some small.

I pray that one day I too can spend time in Africa serving those who have captured the very essence of the faith I profess, but fail so miserably to live out on a daily basis.

While I can go weeks without stopping to thank God for His abundant blessing within my life, these people rely on God for every single provision in their lives, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that they thank our Heavenly Father for even the smallest blessing. I have so much more to learn...

I can't imagine turning this precious little boy away hungry. Can you?
This little boy's foot is broken and he's lost feeling in it as well. We are so blessed to have swarms of doctors to choose from and pharmacies to purchase medical supplies.

This beautiful girl is named Nobile. Tom wrote about a girl by this name in his life changing book Red Letters: Living A Faith That Bleeds. If you haven't grabbed a copy yet (as I've written about it before), I highly suggest you do. Anyhow, I'm not sure if this is the same girl or not. But this precious girl is the head of her household and cares for her two younger siblings (photographed below.) Both of their parents died of AIDS.

Look at the joy on her face, amidst the burdens she's carrying. I pray the support Tom's team is able to raise will brings smiles to the younger children's faces and allow Nobile the opportunity to enjoy being a child again.

This sweet girl's eyes hit me at the core of my heart. I have a daughter close to her age. The thought of leaving Sara again an orphan is simply not an option. Our family is blessed with friends who have volunteered to raise our children in the event that both Geoff and I leave this world before they are grown. We have been blessed with resources to take care of their future financial needs. We also have incredible medical insurance and care to prevent an untimely death from diseases that others in the world die daily from.

Another day, and I'm humbled once again and more profoundly. God is GOOD. In the midst of suffering and seemingly hopeless situations, God is working. God is moving our hearts and aligning them with His to bring hope and life to those who desperately need it. He's giving us opportunities to push through our own excuses and stop wasting our days on things that only last awhile. He's calling us to invest our time and money into things that will withstand eternity, the very things that our Savior invested Himself in when He walked this earth among man.

I encourage you to join the adventure. You will NEVER regret your decision and you will NEVER be the same.

It's in allowing myself to see the need and feel the pain that define LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Sweet blessings,

Monday, January 19, 2009

forever changed

So, I haven't been to Africa...YET. However, I have been changed, FOREVER. As I shared in my previous post I NEED AFRICA MORE THAN AFRICA NEEDS ME. Need I say more? The more I learn, the more I am changed. There's a deep transformation going on in my heart that is so profound. It leaves me so incredibly humbled. I am so thankful for all that God is doing in my heart.

I have a new awareness of not only the blessings I have been given with on a daily basis, but the suffering that goes on daily in the world around me.

I catch myself adding ice cubes to lukewarm water, rather than tossing it down the sink and getting "fresh water." I understand that safe, clean water is a true luxury. Forget about the fact that I am able to walk a few feet to my refrigerator and pour a fresh, cold glass of water any time I want. I won't even mention that the water is especially clean because we install a $36.00 filter every few months.

When Geoff and I were in China, adopting our youngest, we experienced the critical need to boil our water before consuming it. The water in China has all kinds of little bacteria (aka bugs!) that can make a person significantly ill. I'll spare you the gory details on that. ;-) It was a slight inconvenience, but the water came out of a tap and wasn't found in a murky body of water that has also been used for washing laundry and bathing in.

When our family spends a week camping every year, we are able to experience the "challenge" of walking further than two feet to pump our water and then carry it back to our campground. Even that, I know, is nothing compared to drinking muddy, bacteria-laden water like many people do around the world. Or walking mile after mile while carrying the water on my head. I have to say, though, that working a little harder out in nature, than enjoying the conveniences of our home, does in fact, make us more appreciative for all that we have.

I know that I have a long way to go in being changed. I also know that some people may find the changes I am making in my daily life ridiculous because I live in America (the land of abundance). However, it makes a difference to me. Every time I stop myself from overusing or wasting my resources, I am reminded of those who are much less fortunate than I am.

I have also begun to rethink all of the expensive products and pre-packaged foods I used to buy. Do I really need them? Are they a good way to spend my money? If I choose NOT to spend our money on them, is there a better place my money could be spent? Do I really need to buy this book (I have a love...aka addiction...for books and reading!), or, could I find it at the library?

Tonight I found a book series that my oldest is reading called "Christian Heroes: Then & Now." At the beginning of our school year, I bought her three. She loves them and asked for more. When I checked out the prices online ($6.99 a pop, plus s&h), I decided to check our local library. I put six on hold for her and saved enough to sponsor a child for more than a month.

Not only am I making different choices myself, but I am also gently teaching my children to ]think outside of themselves, to perhaps be less "picky" about their food choices and to pray for those who are suffering around the world.

If you click on the above banner, it will take you to the Mocha Club's 2009 Mission page. It is my deepest desire to spend time (hopefully YEARS) serving in Africa. We'll see what God has planned, but until then, my goal is to raise awareness. If a trip to Africa is too far of a leap for you, will you please consider joining the Mocha Club. They also have a link to stories shared by last year's missions teams. I encourage you to read the stories, look at the photos and watch the videos. Wow.

My family and I have started our own "team" and would love for you to join us in changing lives. The $7 you donate monthly goes directly to the Mocha Club and will help bless orphans. There are five other projects that MC supports. If all you do is start by watching the video on their homepage, you will be blessed and changed as well.

Can I save the world? No. But I most certainly can save my family--from living a live smothered in things, living for our own comfort, distracted by excess and missing out on ALL that God wants to do through us.

I stand in awe of all that God has done for me and am incredibly, incredibly thankful to be LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Sweet blessings,