Orphans

Purchase With Purpose: Part 2

Check out part 1 if you missed it. 

Recently the question was asked, “What if everything you bought for Christmas this year made a difference in the world?” But seriously… what if it did?? 

So, here goes round 2 of sharing the good stuff…

Image

I’m obsessed with No. 41. I silently stalked No. 41 on Instagram for a while and then randomly one day I got to meet the brains and passion behind the organization. They’re awesome y’all. Based out of Rwanda, they work with young women at an a orphanage, teach them to sew and give back to their community through a feeding program. When you purchase one of their super cute bags you feed one child, for one meal, for one year. They also have stockings that make me want to die they’re so cute. I’m buying three to hang on my mantel this Christmas, don’t even worry. 

http://www.no41.org

Image

Thistle Farms, y’all. Let me just tell you. It’s based in Nashville and works with women who have survived trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. Thistle Farms is a residential program that provides these women with housing, medical needs, education, therapy, and job training. Their stuff is all natural and wonderful. I got to spend time with a few ladies that graduated from the program a while back and man y’all, talk about some powerful life stories. They were also hilarious and I wanted to get their numbers so we could hang out sometime but I refrained because of the definition of creepy. Alas. They also opened up a restaurant a while back that is fabulous. Thistle Stop Cafe, go there and love it.

http://www.thistlefarms.org

image

It’s no surprise that anything Uganda related I will love unconditionally. So, I introduce you to Imani. Imani works in northern Uganda. If you don’t know much about Uganda- northern Uganda borders South Sudan and the Congo. Northern Uganda is a war-torn region where there are child soldiers, refugees, and children forced into brothels, trafficking, and the sex industry. Imani works to alleviate poverty and free women from the sex trade industry by teaching them to make jewelry. They learn a trade, get paid a fair wage, provide for their families, and get freedom. I love it. I have approximately all of their jewelry on my Christmas list this year. Imani is under the Zion Project; which deserves a whole paragraph of its own. I’ll refrain, as long as you’ll promise me to look them up, read what they do, and love them.

http://www.imanilove.com
http://www.zionproject.org

image

Exile International. One day I will work for them. I’m not at all joking. They work in the Congo and northern Uganda providing trauma care to former child soldiers and children affected by war through art and expressive therapy. I KNOW, RIGHT!? Coolest thing ever. They also have a sponsorship program for children who have been orphaned or abandoned by war where they feed, house, educate, and give them psychosocial care. Their vision is “empowering children of war to become leaders for peace.” I mean, it just doesn’t get any cooler. All of the proceeds from their EI store goes to continuing the work their doing. If any of you get a job with them before I do, please don’t tell me.

http://www.exileinternational.org

addone

Last one. Promise. If you didn’t catch the post about add ONE, check it out for a more thorough explanation. The gist is simple: when you buy an add ONE product you will help bring 3 kids home from Uganda, China, and Haiti. I mean, I just think it’s really cool. Regardless of whether Dustin and I are a part of it or not.

http://1907apparel.com/addone/

There ya go. More than enough ways to make a difference this holiday season. Have at it.

Advertisements

Webale Y’all

This is Courtney. I’ve been quiet for a while but I’m back.

In Kaihura, the word for “thank you” is “Webale” (weh-BAH-leh). It was one of the few words we learned before we went to Uganda. Dustin and I have been meaning to write a “Webale” post for a while now but just haven’t. Sometimes stupid things get in the way. But today is the day and we want to take a minute to say “webale” to y’all.

A couple of weeks ago we had a fundraiser at a local ice cream shop where proceeds from the day went to our Know Think Act project that is getting new clothes for Christmas for the kids at the orphanage. The day exceeded my expectations and kind of let me down all at the same time. It was a day that we felt God nudge us to do. It was a day that we constantly prayed about. It was a day that outside of inviting people and talking about it was completely out of our control. It was a day that we were excited and anxious about. It was a day that we poured our hearts into because it was helping kids we love and a place we are homesick for. It was a day that was completely up to God to do his thing and show up in whatever way he wanted.

Over the last few weeks I’ve felt a lot of things about that day. I’ve been sad that we didn’t raise more money than we did. I’ve been frustrated that people got all excited about it and then didn’t come. I’ve judged people at how easy this was to do. My heart and sometimes my mouth have said, “All you had to do was come eat ice cream. How much easier does it get!?” I’ve been mad that God didn’t show up bigger. I’ve felt defeated. I’ve been focused on all of the things that didn’t happen.

I’ve been forgetting that Dustin and I (with the help of Adam and Karen) got to do something really cool that day. We got to see our “yes” to God play out. We got to tell people all about Know Think Act, what they do, where and why they do it. We got to see random strangers give money to a cause they just learned about. We got to see parents telling their kids about other kids who don’t have parents. We got to tell kids what an orphanage is and why we were doing this. We got to watch as kids tell their parents they wanted to help and give money. We got to spend the evening with sweet friends and family who took the time out of their week to come and support Know Think Act, not because it’s necessarily something they are passionate about but because it’s something we are passionate about.

We got to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves for one day. As I’ve been processing why I feel the way I do about the fundraiser, I have felt God nudge me towards the fact that saying “yes” to God doesn’t always mean we are going to get what we want. If I had gotten what I wanted all of Nashville and especially all of our friends would have been there that night. If I had gotten what I wanted we would have exceeded the money amount and had to pick a new project. But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what I wanted. It matters that my “yes” is still “yes” no matter what the outcome is. That when I am involved in something bigger than myself there isn’t any room for judgement or negativity because it wasn’t about me in the first place. Saying “yes” to God isn’t about God moving the same way in other people’s lives as he is in mine. What is important is that I am faithful to the call he has placed on mine (and Dustin’s) hearts no matter what.

So, I first want to say sorry. Sorry that this post is so long overdue. Sorry that we had some stuff to work out in our hearts before we could even say a simple thank you. Sometimes life is silly like that.

Now we can say… THANK YOU. Thank you to the people who came to the fundraiser. Thank you to the people who didn’t come but still gave money. Thank you to the random strangers who filled up a jar full of dolla dolla bills y’all. (No? Okay.) Thank you to Know Think Act for being an organization worth doing a fundraiser for. Thank you for being a part of our story.

We’re still trying to finish up the Christmas clothes project. If you’d like to help, here is the link. We’re half way there!

TIA Friday: Baby Ana

I’ve been on a love does kick for a while now. As my friend John Mayer says it, love is a verb. The idea is so simple but so true. Love is an action. Love does things. It shows people Jesus. Love doesn’t just talk about it. It doesn’t just blog about it. It doesn’t just think about it. It doesn’t just pray about it. Love does.

There is something called Know Think Act (KTA) that we came back from Uganda really excited about. I like to think about KTA as the connection piece between Bringing Hope to the Family (the organization we worked with in Uganda), Uganda and everywhere else. The idea is pretty simple. A need arises in Uganda. That need is put on the Know Think Act website. People give towards that need until it is fulfilled. Once it is fulfilled it can happen in Uganda and change lives. To me, Know Think Act is the love does piece of the organization. You see a need and do something about it. Simple enough, right?

My sweet baby Ana is almost a year old. Last November, a local hospital contacted the Bringing Hope orphanage. A baby had been born a few days prior and the mom had not survived the childbirth. The father was unknown and the mother had no other family. The hospital knew of the work that was being done by Bringing Hope to the Family and asked if they would take the baby in. The orphanage was not equipped at the time to care for newborns but they took in baby Ana without hesitation. The orphanage took in Ana but had no baby formula for her. They contacted Know Think Act and baby formula was immediately put up on the website. Within 4 hours, baby Ana had enough formula to last her 5 months. She is now healthy, growing, wanting to crawl, and ready for us to adopt her… kidding, sort of.  Ana’s life is now full of hope all because love does.

Love is what drives Know Think Act. Without love it wouldn’t exist or be doing anything. But because love does exist and love does things, Jesus is all over Uganda. The lives of my friends are eternally being changed because that’s what love does. Love changes the lives of people like baby Ana. Love gives hope to the hopeless orphans. Love shows people Jesus through something as simple as baby formula. Love does these things because love is a verb.

Image

We would love for you to check out the Know Think Act website, here. Look around, learn more about it, and see some of the current needs in Uganda. You can find us on there, too and see what projects we’re working on. Our action group is called “This is Africa in America” and you can check it out here. Thank you to those who have given to our Christmas shoes project, those who are talking about KTA, and those who are asking questions. You are changing lives whether you know it or not. Thank you for proving that love really is a verb.

This Is Africa in America

The week we left for Uganda we also moved. Our lease was up the day we left the country, so we put everything in boxes, dropped it off, and left. If you’ve ever moved before you know that there is a cleaning out process that goes along with moving. As you pack, you put stuff you want to keep in boxes and you put other stuff in the “Goodwill pile.” In the midst of work, moving, and packing for a trip our Goodwill pile never got dropped off.

Upon arriving in Uganda we had to make the 4 hour journey from the airport to the village we were staying in. There is one paved road that runs from the capital city all the way through Uganda to the Congo. As we drove, we passed by village after village. To some extent they all looked pretty similar. Some seemed bigger than others but they all had some of the same characteristics. We passed by one village in particular where there were tons of people. There were little sections of dirt where people were sitting and they were surrounded by clothes, shoes, and just stuff. We asked what was going on and found out that today was this village’s market day. Apparently every village has a market day once a week. On any given day you can find a market day somewhere. We asked what they were selling and learned that most people just bring all of their possessions to try to sell. You might find some real gems and some new stuff but for the most part you’ll find a lot of used goods, if you will. I kind of thought the idea of market day was weird, sad and great all at the same time. It’s whatever, this is Africa.

Just as I thought I was done with my feelings about market day we were informed of something that makes me feel sick to my stomach if I really think about it for too long. Remember my Goodwill pile from earlier? I take that pile to Goodwill. Goodwill goes through it and decides what they want to keep and what they don’t. What they decide is not good enough to sell at Goodwill; they put in pallets and ship over to Africa. The people in Africa then have to purchase those clothes for themselves and for their families on a market day. Those clothes that I could have essentially just thrown away, the ones that would make me pretty mad if I had to buy. The clothes that probably have some pit stains, maybe a little tear somewhere, look discolored from all the washes, and just look worn. Hear me when I say, I have nothing against Goodwill. I just don’t like that that’s what happens. It doesn’t sit well with me. It doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t feel like the gospel is supposed to look like people buying my gross clothes.

But once again they aren’t just people anymore. It isn’t just Africa. It’s the place that I have fallen in love with. The place that has rolling hills, red dirt that won’t come off my shoes, it’s beautiful and green, and it has the sweetest fruit I’ve ever eaten. It’s the place that has William who wants to be a journalist someday, Christine who has the best dance moves and a smirk that kills me, Esther who has the poker face of a champion, Adolf who is going to be a heart breaker when he grows up, and Ana who I love with all of my heart.

I ended up coming home and taking those bags of clothes and shoes to Goodwill. I didn’t really know what else to do with them. Some of those clothes I wish I could give to my new friends. I have a feeling those are the clothes that won’t make it to Africa. It’ll be the ones that I would be embarrassed to give them let alone charge them for.

Dustin and I have decided to do something about it. It’s not a lot but we wanted to invite you to join us. Our friends at the orphanage in Uganda get new shoes every Christmas. It’s their one pair of shoes for the entire year. To buy about 70 kids new shoes cost $800. That’s how much we write a check for every single month for rent. There are 14 weeks until December 1 and we want to get those kids their new shoes for Christmas. I’m kind of scared to invite people in on this. There are a hundred “what if’s” that make me want to throw up when I think about them. What if nobody cares, what people don’t give anything, what if we don’t end up with $800, what if people think we’re weird/stupid/crazy? Then God reaffirms me with, what if all of those things happen? But what if they don’t? What if people do give, what if they do care, what if they just need an opportunity, what if you get more than $800, what if you just do what I’ve told you and leave the rest to me?

We’ve decided to do just that. Do what God’s told us and leave the rest to him. I know that he is bigger than $800. I know that when he moves, he moves big and awesome things can happen. So, we’re calling it the “Christmas Shoes Project” and you can check it out here, on Know Think Act (which we’ll tell you about another time, this post just got real long real fast). As we figure out what living in America looks like post Africa, this is going to be our starting point. It’s what a friend referred to and I’ve started to adopt as our life motto… this is Africa, in America.