Big Update!! 11_15_11

This last Saturday was a big day for GAD? and When the Saints. We had about 250 people come out to our morning screening at the St. Louis International Film Fest. All three of us were there for the Q & A .


Even bigger news was the success of the 'When the Saints' banquet . David had set a goal to raise $30,000 in one night towards the rehabilitation home in Malawi, and I wasn't sure if it was doable. The banquet had about 300 people show up, and at the end of the night David and his team had raised $28,368 and in the last few days has almost hit the $30,000 mark! What a night, this home is definitely getting built in Malawi to rescue young girls who are victims of sexual exploitation. Go to http://www.whenthesaints.com for more info...
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Transformation through Empowerment

I was freshly out of surgery and in recovery mode at my parents’ home during the final week of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Every afternoon I would sit in my jammies on the sofa and watch the countdown festivities. After 25 years on the air, Oprah was wrapping it up.

 

What I was most interested in was not the huge hoo-ha of celebrations, fun as they were to watch. No, I kept tuning in because Oprah had promised to reveal which story, of the thousands she had covered, was her number one most favorite story from her entire 25 years on air. The final days of the show were building toward this culmination when Oprah would revisit the story that had most moved, inspired and thrilled her.

 

Imagine my surprise and delight when the story Oprah chose was that of one African life. The “Queen of Daytime Television” and arguably one of the most powerful people on the planet was unforgettably moved by the tale of one woman whose life was transformed when someone came along and empowered her to reach her dream. This woman was married against her will as a child, kept from the education she longed for and beaten when she talked of hoping to go to school. When she came back to the Oprah show for this final-week episode, she had just completed her Ph.D. Initially denied the opportunity to attend even primary school, she now holds a doctorate degree and is returning to her home community to start a school for children like the child she once was.

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A new focus

Poverty can be hidden, it can be covered, it can be pushed to the outskirts so it's not visible to the business class of a city, but it is still there. The reality of such tragedies hit me this week, and of all places here, in the capital city, in a sprawling urban metropolis, poverty can be seen at its worst. Well, in my imagination at its worst, but in the reality of things, those starving people living not two blocks from my house are the middle class of Burkina. Out in the villages, three, four hundred kilometers from Ouaga is where desperation is screaming at you everywhere you go.
Blaise's Barber Shop!  
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Your Worldview!?

The children at the Shalom school are inspiring, and they have worked their magic on me. Without education their future isn't bright, or it wouldn't seem bright to us Westerners. In America it's stressed that if you don't finish high school then your future will be flipping burgers and digging ditches. Here finishing primary school is barely a goal, flipping burgers and digging ditches is a career, and anything more is a gift from god. When I get home from Burkina I plan on fund raising money for the Shalom school. I want those kids to have all the tools necessary for their education. Even though they'll most likely never have electricity, I want to fund raise enough money to spoil them in every other regard! Look around and be thankful for what you have. We are a a society privileged to the fullest. It takes coming somewhere like this, and working on a day to day basis with the people to truly be grateful. If you think you are, well think again.
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Renewed Enthusiasm!

Okay, when I first came to Africa I pledged to blog at least once a week, which obviously hasn't come true. Here's what I've prepared in the way of excuses: We didn't get internet for the first two months; I forgot which email I used to set up with blog site; I am way too busy. Obviously the later isn't true, and in reality the reason for no blog in the last month is more from apathy than anything else. Due to sudden realization that time goes by faster if you're always busy I've decided to redouble my efforts in blogging and teaching. I've added two more classes to my schedule, outside of my normal students for Heal the World. I'll be teaching one class split into two units every Sunday, one unit focusing on grammar and basic English, and the other more abstract, focused on conversation through fun activities, from debates on international topics, to playing cards, to skits. Also, every Thursday I'll be teaching our guards Emmanuel and Jean Baptiste for an hour or two. Two of the nicest guys in the world, gave them a composition notebook and a pencil last night for our first lesson! It's going to be a big project, Emmanuel will have to learn how to write, and Jean Baptiste doesn't know much French, so crossing the language barrier is a little difficult. 
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Do My Gifts Make God Look Cheap?

There are a lot of piles in our house. The weather is cool and we’re pulling out our fall clothes. We’re in the process of deciding what to keep, what to donate and what to throw away.

I used to be one that donated everything. If I didn’t want it, I threw it in the donate pile. I figured someone could use it and it made me feel generous. But that has changed. I once heard a missionary share a story that changed my outlook on donating and gave it a bigger purpose. I wish I could remember her name to give her the credit but for the story’s sake, I’ll call her Mary.

Mary and her husband had served in Africa as missionaries for 20 years. They were retiring and moving back to the States. Mary worked busily at home, packing up their belongings sorting and making piles of what to keep and what to give away to their African friends.

KMOX Interview w/Total Information

Check out this interview from KMOX's Total Information show we did on August 6,2010.


Stories vs. Statistics

It's just one life.

And yet as I look into the fact of a person that's dying, I realize the value of that one life.

As we both pray to your heavenly Father, speaking different languages, I recognize the beauty that He poured out in this life, even though her outside appearance has been destroyed by disease. 

As I look into the faces of her children, I know that her life mattered in a way that can never be calculated in the death rate statistics of Subsaharan Africa. 

I know the value of that life, because I know, at least in part, the story behind it.

It's a lesson I've never forgotten. First learned sitting on a stump in a village in Kenya, and carried with me back to America, as I think about the issues of the day - healthcare reform, immigration, international aid, I'm reminded of that lesson time and time again. So often we make our decisions in the aggregate. We compare statistics and chose the option that will cause the least damage or the most good. But in doing so, let us never forget that those decisions are impacting individuals lives. And when we stand before our Maker, it's the stories of the lives that we touched that we'll be called to give an account for, not the statistics. 

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Incredible News

We have some incredible news to share. This is not your run of the mill incredible news. This is over the top, mind blowing incredible news. This is news that has sent us to the moon and back several times over the last few days. Over a year ago, I wrote a blog about our heart for adoption, about how we felt God strongly calling us to expand our family. You can read it here.

So, people, here’s our news: WE ARE GOING TO PICK UP OUR SON THE LAST WEEK OF MARCH. THAT’S FOUR WEEKS FROM NOW. We started the adoption process in October of 2009 and now, just a short 5 months later, we have a court date. If you are at all familiar with normal international adoption processes, this is really, really fast. My husband’s brother’s family waited over two years. Other friends have waited eighteen months.

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Presence

I'm spending the first half of December in Durban, South Africa, leading a team of incredibly wonderful people from our church, Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Washington, on a missions trip. After Johannesburg and Cape Town, Durban is the third largest city in South Africa with a population of 3.5 million. I was here last December, with another amazing team. After a flight cancellation, three airplanes, layovers across the globe, and 4 solid days of ministry with school age Zulu children, I'm finally sitting down to reflect, process and, well, blog.

Our mission here is to support a local organization called Ithemba Lethu. Ithemba Lethu means "I have a Destiny" in Zulu. In truth, the wonderful staff of IL could survive without our help. We are not here to save the day in typical American, independent cowboy fashion. Quite simply, after seeing the incredibe way they are changing the world, we begged them to let us participate, to literally ride their coattails. We wanted to get in on what they are already doing and thankfully, they said they could use us.

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