Right now there is a group of bloggers in Uganda with Compassion International. They are visiting child centers and homes and blogging about their experiences. It’s somewhat of a full circle moment. Six years ago in February 2008, Compassion took their first group of bloggers to Uganda. One of those bloggers happened to be a worship leader who’s blog I read regularly. For a week I read about Carlos’ and the other blogger’s experiences and saw through the wonderful photographs they difference that Compassion was making in these children’s lives, their family’s lives, and their community.
During the course of that week I made a decision. The decision to move past the idea that sponsoring a child would be a good thing to do….someday. The decision was to action. My family and I circled around the computer and together we choose to sponsor 9-year old Mwajuma from Tanzania.
In the past 6 years we have watched Mwajuma grow into a beautiful young woman. We have been blessed by her letters. She shares with us what she is learning from God’s word, prays for us, and we pray for her.
But something more has happened in 6 years. Two years ago we added Wannaporn from Thailand to our Compassion family. One year ago, I signed up to be a volunteer Child Advocate with Compassion. Ten months ago I was assigned my first correspondent child. (Currently I have 6 children to whom I write to regularly as their correspondent sponsor). Seven months ago I decided to take a big step, jump out of my comfort zone, and fly halfway around the world to meet our precious Mwajuma.
I have had the joy of leading Compassion Sunday events at my church, speaking at conferences about Compassion’s work, and walking family and friends through the process of beginning their sponsorships. I believe in Compassion’s mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. So in addition to the joy of meeting this beautiful girl in March, I pray for that God will use me to take what I see and experience and make a difference (in whatever way He sees fit).
You can follow along with the group of bloggers in Uganda HERE
Do you want to know more about Compassion and sponsoring a child?
The ball has been rolling on my trip to Tanzania for some time, but now it’s picking up speed. The trip is more than an abstract thought of “I’m traveling to Africa next year”. It’s becoming part of the nuts and bolts reality of each day. Over the last few days I have sent in my visa application and researched and ordered a new camera. Today it was a visit to the travel clinic. I received 3 shots, 2 prescriptions, and brought home medicine to vaccinate myself against typhoid. Not a typical day in my world.
As I was driving home I was again hit with the thought of what I have compared to a lot of people in this world. (Believe me, it’s been happening a lot lately.) With no more than a short drive and a few hundred dollars (ouch!) I was protected against diseases that claim the lives of millions of children each year. Malaria kills approximately 1 million children each year….most of them in Sub-Sahara Africa. My nurse at the clinic went through preventative measures for traveling as well as how to treat problems such as traveler’s diarrhea. (A altogether fun topic to be sure) And while we may not give such an illness too much thought, 1.8 million children will die of diarrheal-related deaths this year.
And yet through the work of Compassion International children are receiving medical care, education, & nutrition that they may not have otherwise. I have heard account after account of how sponsorship has made all the difference in the lives of children all over the world. In March, I’ll see it for myself.
So I sit here typing with 2 sore arms. A small price to pay for the adventure to come.
The word came from the doctor yesterday that Rachel does have Celiac disease. Our gluten free lifestyle will become permanent. In the big picture it’s a small thing. We change what we eat and her body begins to heal. We all eat healthier in the process. I’m thankful that it was caught and she will not continue to eat foods that do damage to her little body. I’m grateful that we have quality medical care available.
However that care comes at a price. And while a parent would pay anything to care for a sick child, those first bills that came in the mail today brought a small wave of fear. For a moment I felt overwhelmed. In the same stack of mail was a package I was not expecting. In it was this.
A book filled from cover to cover with stories of how God had blessed the work of Operation Christmas Child. How those simple shoebox gifts had brought hope, healing, and happiness to children all over the world – the power of a simple gift. In an instant that fear and worry about the medical bills faded away. The reminder was clear. God has always provided for our needs, and He will continue to.
Later as I prepared dinner I looked out the patio door and was greeted with this scene.
The setting sun and fading light turned the eastern sky into a beautiful combination of blues, lavenders, and pinks. Jet trails lit up in orange and pink hues. This was the thought in my mind. ”You are standing in a warm home. You have food to prepare that will not harm your daughter’s body. He has lit up creation with a beautiful palette of light for you to enjoy.” I felt contentment, and a lovely instrumental song was playing on the speakers in my kitchen. It’s title….Simple Gifts.
Ever find yourself in survival mode? That’s about where I’m at right now. It’s a busy time of year for me anyway. The last few weeks of October are usually jammed with photo shoots. I’m moving into collection season for Operation Christmas Child. Throw in a part-time job and life’s normal mundane tasks like laundry and cleaning and it’s a recipe for craziness.
I was cruising along in this mode when we got hit with something unexpected. My daughter, Rachel, had not been feeling well for several weeks. She had a reoccurring stomach ache and was fatigued. Several other symptoms convinced me that this was not just a passing bug. After a trip to the doctor and some tests it was determined that she had an intestinal infection and we started on antibiotics to clear that up. Two days later the doctor called again. The rest of her blood work was back. They had also tested her blood for Celiac disease and her numbers were sky high. We were referred to a pediatric GI doctor. I began researching Celiac more in-depth and the symptoms were all lining up with what we had been experiencing. The meeting with the GI doctor went as I expected and she is scheduled for a endoscopy to make a definitive diagnosis. Her doctor is certain that we are dealing with Celiac.
The test is scheduled for next Wednesday. For the test to be accurate we were not to alter her diet. Rachel loves fettuccine; so off to Fazoli’s we went! We’ve got one more week of not having to worry about gluten and then we will have to go gluten-free. Yes, it will be a pain, but there are so many issues that are far worse to deal with. When we were at the children’s hospital for her appointment I saw precious children who had lost their hair walking with walkers while wearing masks. In comparison, this is a minor annoyance. Her body should begin to heal the damage within weeks and we’ll just adapt to a new lifestyle. We’ll probably be all the better for it!
So for this day, it’s “one day at a time”. Honestly when I try to think about all that I need to accomplish in the next month and the probable challenges that are coming my way I start to feel like I’m drowning in quicksand. But I’ve learned that the best way to press forward is to focus on what has to be accomplished today. Plan & prepare; but focus on today.
“fill in the blank”. I’ve heard that phrase from many a friend. ”If I can just make it until __________ then I can relax a little.” I usually think quietly (and sometimes not so quietly), “Is this really how we want to live?” Surviving until things quiet down. However right now I could look at you and say, “If I can just make it until November 26th.” Then everything will be better. My job together with a insanely busy fall photography season, my commitments to Operation Christmas Child and its upcoming National Collection Week and my work with Compassion and my upcoming trip to Africa have left me overwhelmed. Each one is a “good” thing, and important thing. However I’m currently living out what I’ve been saying to others a lot lately, “No one person can do everything.” You can try, but you won’t be able to all of them well. Something will suffer….our reliability, our relationships, our families…something will have to give.
For the next 4 days we’ll be away visiting our family. There will be no job, no photo shoots, no volunteer commitments. A chance to breathe. And when I come back home? Then I put my head down and fulfill the commitments I’ve made. But there is a time of reflection and decision making coming. What am I most passionate about at this point in my life? What aligns with that passion? What are my limits? (I can not create more hours in the day.) What is priority? (family) Are the priorities getting the time they deserve? Then everything else outside that will have to be released. That doesn’t mean they are bad or not deserving. On the contrary, they deserve better than I can currently give. It also opens up opportunities for others to grow. Perhaps their passion is one of those things I’ll let go of.
In the end, I can point no fingers of blame for my own busyness anywhere but to myself. Because I don’t have control over much, but I do have control over me.
For this day…….just breathe.
It’s been rather quiet around here lately, hasn’t it? Actually my life has been anything buy quiet. My trip to Tanzania is 5 months away and life’s pace has been a bit overwhelming. I’m ready to return to this poor little neglected blog, and I wanted to return with something important.
My trip to Tanzania is a result of my sponsorship of a child through Compassion. But did you know that Compassion is much more than just child sponsorship? Child sponsorship is a key component, but Compassion provides much more in their holistic approach to battling poverty. Compassion provides prenatal care to mothers and care to infants and toddlers through their Child Survival Program. They also help to develop the next generation’s leaders through the Leadership Development Program. Compassion battles disease through the Bite Back malaria prevention program and Water of Life initiative.
Compassion is also on the front line battling hunger. Did you know that more than 6 million children die of malnutrition every year? In some places around the world, the situation is so dire, even children registered in Compassion programs require extraordinary food interventions. They need major, superhero-sized help. And that’s where you come in.
I am participating in a program called One Meal, One Day. On November 6th I will be skipping a meal and using that money to provide much needed nutrition to a child who desperately needs it. I want you to join me! Will you consider skipping just one meal to make a difference? You donation can be made by following this link:
Heidi’s One Day, One Meal Page
$5 will get you lunch…..or almost get you lunch. Five dollars does not sound like much. What would happen if you gave lunch money to make a difference? Now what would happen if we all would choose to join together? Five, ten, one hundred, one thousand? It’s time to use social media for good! Feel free to share this page within your circle of influence. Let’s make a difference!
This post is inspired by Compassion’s writing assignment for Blog Month
Anticipation. Depending on your circumstances it can be a wonderful feeling or it can leave a knot in your stomach. When my family & I choose over 5 1/2 years ago to sponsor Mwajuma Athumani in Tanzania, I had no idea the journey it would lead me on. There are many words that weave themselves into the journey: poverty, hope, compassion, perspective. The word that is in the forefront of my mind right now though is anticipation.
Six months from today I will be standing on Tanzanian soil. I will be the furthest from my home that I have ever been, in a different country, on a different continent, in a different hemisphere. Some days it seems a bit distant, but then there are days like yesterday. I opened up the mailbox yesterday and in it was a package from the US Department of State….my passport. What had been a “blah” day for me turned the moment I held the small blue booklet in my hand. Anticipation. In my hand was a concrete reminder of where I would be in 6 short months. I immediately thought of Mwajuma and Africa. What would I see there? Will it break my heart? What will her reaction be to meeting me…..what will mine be? Anticipation.
We currently financially sponsor two children through Compassion, and I am a correspondent sponsor to six more. Eight children whom I write to. Eight children whose letters I eagerly await. Every day when I open the mailbox part of me wants to see one of Compassion’s yellow envelopes. Of course I know that one will not be there every day, but I can’t help hoping. Anticipation. I wonder about my sponsored children. I’ll admit I haven’t always been the best letter writer. Then I wonder, “Do they sit on the edge of their seats hoping that their name is called when letters are passed out?”. It drives me to write more frequently. It breaks my heart when I hear stories about children who are sponsored who never receive a letter from their sponsor family. Do they eagerly wait week after week, month after month, only to be disappointed. Anticipation.
I have also wondered about those children who are still waiting for a sponsor. How long did our Mwajuma have to wait before she was told Heidi Hackney from America had chosen her. How many days went by while little Fai waited in Thailand for her sponsor. Anticipating. How did they react when they were told. Did they laugh? Did a big smile come across their beautiful faces? Were their families relieved? Was it a joyous occasion like this one in Ghana? I don’t know. All I know was their waiting was over.
What about the thousands still waiting. Does the anticipation leave them hopeful or weary? Some have been waiting for over a year. ”When will I be chosen?” Anticipation.
You can turn a child’s anticipation from that of “When will someone choose me?” to “When will my first letter arrive?” You can help breathe hope into their life. Thirty-eight dollars a month is such a small amount to help accomplish that. There are thousands waiting today….waiting with anticipation.
Sponsor a child today!