Friday, December 31, 2010

A Reflection of my Trip and Perspective for a New Year!

It is always hard to go to a 3rd world country, see the poverty, see the "other" way of life, see what we call "abnormal", and then return to "our" way of life....America's normal. No matter how many times I have been to Africa, I always come back to America and take in my surroundings in a new light. The simplest things, I have found I am thankful for that I wouldn't otherwise think twice about. I find myself sitting at a stop light and thinking..."Wow, a stoplight!"

I brush my teeth and turn the water off thinking of the water that is wasting, running down the drain that a child would have had to walk miles to fetch himself.

 It was real interesting going from working with orphans on an African safari in December,

and then back to America one week before Christmas, to "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" and twinkle lights all over the place, and Christmas lists as long as my arm that American children think they are entitled to. The fact is, it is no one's fault, how they are brought up. We all only know what our world consists of, and that is all we will ever know, until we take the opportunity to step inside someone else's world....into their normal, and all they have ever known. What I walk into and think is an awful condition on our standards, for any child to live in,

 is all that child has ever known. So then I quickly realize why there is such a stigma put on America. These people are left to dream. They see pictures in books, tv, or an occasional magazine that lets them know that there is another world out there. For them it looks like a paradise or a dream beyond anything they could imagine.

That is why when we travel 7 hours outside the city of Addis, where hardly any visitors show their face, we are looked at like we are from another world. Some are so excited to see us. You see it on their faces. Some just stare in wonder and amazement. You see it on their faces. And some look at us like...."What do you really want?" You see it on their faces.

 I think the picture above of some of the village children coming up to our car to see who the new visitors are, pretty much sums up what i just explained. It amazes me how some just want to touch you. Maybe because we are white. Maybe because we represent that other world that they know they will never have and they just want to touch a piece of it.


But what I find is that I am in just as much awe of them and what they represent, if not more so. They look at us and see material blessings of the basic needs that are so hard for them to obtain everyday. I look at them and see the spiritual blessings that are so hard for us to obtain everyday. In the midst of their poverty, they have joy and unspeakable faith that they cling to to keep them going from day to day.




 In the midst of our material blessings we search everywhere for what will bring us joy and go to churches on every corner and conferences so that we will not become bored in our faith (ouch!)
We in America, sometimes search on the outside for what will complete us, when I have seen it proven right in front of my eyes that no matter what your circumstances that surround you, true faith and joy are found on the inside. The people of Africa have found that because they have no other choice. They invite you into their world of nothing where they would share anything they have,

when I have seen people in my own neighborhood so worried about their yard's manicure that they scurry children off the grass and complain if your grass appears to be too dry or if you leave toys out in your own yard for too long, or trash cans by the curb for too long.

Again, it is what we are accustomed to. We don't think twice about it....until we are forced to.

Some of the things that I am so thankful for from this last trip, and some of the things that opened my eyes to how God was guiding our steps to spread His love were found in some of the smallest details. They were found in some of the things that we would take for granted in a second in America. I was in awe as I realized how the small things are where the blessings are found. We wait, thinking we have to do all this BIG stuff in order to really help someone, when in all actuality, it is the small things that they will remember the most.
It is taking a two boys, one from a trash dump, and one from the streets....
And letting them see something that would cause them to stand in awe and stare for 10 minutes and then finally turn to me and say "It is so beautiful."
Taking these same two boys to eat....asking them, "What kind of ice cream do you boys want?" and then seeing them just stare at me blankly. I thought, well they don't understand, so I had the waiter ask them and I saw them shrug their shoulders and shake their heads. It then hit me like a ton of bricks, "Oh my gosh! These boys have never had ice cream before." I saw their eyes light up with excitement when it was placed in front of them. I had forgotten what it must really be like to live in a trash dump or on the streets until that little cup of ice cream was set in front of them.

I loved seeing my little sponsored child's face light up with joy as we took him to school for the first time. He saw his friends that had all gone on to school before him. He had been left in the trash dump community because his mom needed him. We talked to the mom and offered to help her. She kissed us to show her appreciation and we were able to take one excited little boy off to school to get an education with all of his friends he hadn't seen in three months.

I'm thankful for the sweet detail I found in one little orphan baby's feet. Here he was, just simply laying in a very poor, remote orphanage, without anyone to call his own, and I found the sweetest pleasure in the detail of his little feet. God knows this child who sits in the middle of no where and loves this child. He delights in the smallest details of life, just as we should.....even his feet.
I saw lives touched on this trip, and miracles take place. I saw my sister meet her daughter's birth mom for the first time and be welcomed by the whole village.....
I was able to see the fruit of our help to my own son's birthmom.  The last time we visited in July they lived in a mud shack.
And we now got to experience the joy of their new home and all the hope that it brings with it's green grass and beautiful home.
 We saw the thankfulness in their hearts as they rejoiced over the life of the son that she gave up out of loving sacrifice because, as a single mom, who is deaf, she simply could not feed him and didn't want him to die.
I saw the miracle of my daughter showing back up to visit her sponsored child. She met him in July when he lived in the trash dump. She told him she would sponsor him for school and that she would come back to visit one day. He told her she was his family and he gave her a little ring that he had found in the trash dump. She has treasured that little tin ring and had it on her finger when she returned to give him a big hug and show him that she didn't forget about him. She IS his family.

I witnessed love poured out to children who had never seen us before but yet were so precious and ready to receive.....or ready to give back, whichever way you want to look at it.


 I saw love between siblings who were recently adopted. This young boy is a true hero as he was brought in by the police after found wandering around with his sister, protecting her, looking for food for her, never letting her out of his sight. They were abandoned and he became her care giver and her HERO at such a young age. God had His hand on them as they were found, and now........
 They are CHOSEN and have been adopted and stand waiting for their new Mommy and Daddy.... and their new life to start in just a few weeks.
Of course, all of the waiting children are no different than these two. They all have their own stories as to why they have ended up where they are. The only difference is that some are  CHOSEN and some are still WAITING.......
We must not forget about those that wait. We must continue to SPEAK UP for those who wait to be CHOSEN......



AND THEN WE GIVE THANKS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY BEEN CHOSEN, EVEN JUST SINCE OUR RETURN......
This sibling group of 4 now has a family!!!

All I can say.....is MAY WE NEVER FORGET WHAT WE HAVE SEEN, THE MANY FACES, THE MANY LIVES.....






As the trip comes to a close and we are packed and ready to leave.....

the main thing that brings me comfort is knowing that WE WILL BE BACK. We ARE all family in this great big world. And as the door starts to close as I drive away....and as I  see the worry start to creep up on their little faces as they peer through the crack and wonder if they will ever see us again, as the look on their face is saying,"Please don't leave." ....I leave there saying, "Don't worry, little one...God has a plan! A plan to bring you a FUTURE AND A HOPE!! He loves you all the way from your great big smile, all the way down to your tiny feet!"

May we all find joy and faith in the little things in this new coming year!  May we all be guided in all the blessings that 2011 holds and may we be humble enough to see them. I know I need my reminders all the time, as it is so easy to get distracted :)

Thank YOU for being an Ordinary Hero to a child who needs you in 2011 :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

THANK YOU FOR A WONDERFUL 1ST YEAR....MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


Wow!!! What a year for Ordinary Hero! I just have to stop for a moment and thank each and every one of you who have contributed to OH this first year, whether it be through your prayers, your action, your contributions, or your love for those in need. We could not have done any of this without you. 

WHAT DID IT LOOK LIKE TO BE AN ORDINARY HERO IN 2010?
                                                           LET ME SHOW YOU...............



 We put the call out to find sponsors for orphans in Sierra Leone in the beginning of the year........they are now sponsored and living at The Covering, run by The Raining Season.

We took our first mission team to Ethiopia this year, which was life changing for so many.

 We witnessed people and children living in the trash dump. Our team was rocked to the core. "We have to do something!" they all said. So we all returned determined to help Project 61 find sponsors for these children to go to school.....AND WE DID! Thanks to so many of you, these kids went from the above picture........
To this...........
 From these sweet girls, who had only known a life of digging through trash.......

To now living at a boarding school with clean clothes, a bed, and plenty of food, while they get an education to begin a new life. AMAZING!!

 We have seen children go from sleeping here, under a covering made from trash.......

To here..........

 We saw the desperate need of basic necessities.......
 of so many children in Ethiopia....
 And our team stepped up to help.

 Hundreds of children in Ethiopia received new shoes and food....THANKS TO YOU!
We saw many of our trip members lives change forever......

 We saw those with no children, be called to adopt.
 We saw a highschool soccer coach be changed inside out...he is returning in July and bringing his brother :)
 We saw a single girl in Chicago inspire her sister and brother to adopt.
 We saw highschool and middle school students find their life calling.....

 We saw a single 20 something be so inspired that she packed up and moved to Ethiopia to help serve.
 We saw several bond with certain orphans that they came home and started the adoption process for. They are traveling as we speak for their first court date.
We saw relationships form between sponsor and child that will forever change that child's life. 
 Since our trip in July we have seen many of you moved to action to help fund raise to bring water and new land to the Korah trash dump area.

 And we have seen so many of you moved to take that giant leap of faith called.... ADOPTION!!

In May, we here in the Nashville area, were hit with the biggest flood in history, and what did you do?

 You gave.......
 You offered your sweat and your love.......
 and your donations that would bring joy back to so many that lost everything.
 We saw entire families and homes transformed because of your generosity and support. 
 You gave over 60 children living in the Nashville Rescue Mission a new backpack with supplies to help start their new school year.

 We have seen you make a homeless child's wish list for Halloween........
 Come true...
 And provide them with a day of fun at our Halloween Outreach fall festival. For some it is the first time they have ever had a costume or been to a festival.

 We have seen you step up to help donate items for 200 bags to be given to the moms at the mission. Our way to say "thank you" for being a mom to those little ones in need.
 We brought the TN Baptist Children's Home girls in to help to show them what it is like to give back, even when their own circumstances are not great.

 We have seen you come out and support us at our Fallapalooza fall family event.
 We have seen you support your friends and family who are adopting by purchasing a t shirt from OH to benefit their adoption.
 This allowed us to give out over $10,000 in grant money to adoptive families!!
 You have supported us at our first ever benefit dinner in the spring of this year.
  And of course the most exciting part of all.....
 Is seeing those orphans who have sat on the waiting list, find their forever families.
We thank all of you who have signed up for our Speak Up campaign this year and played such an important part in helping us advocate for these precious orphans. 

SO ALL THAT TO SAY......
THANK YOU!!
Thank you for the most amazing first year for Ordinary Hero! We can't wait to see what 2011 holds.
All of us on the OH team......
And from my family to yours...
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS!