Thursday, December 11, 2014

hurt and hopeful...

This will probably be my last post of 2014, as you can tell, I am not so diligent at posting on this blog. I wanted to touch base with the few of you that have asked about Lydia and baby boy. Their past are exactly the same and I am hopeful that in some way, their futures will be as well.

Lydia is doing WONDERFULLY! She is in full time custody of Family Legacy, she is recovering from a list of medical issues that were within inches of taking her precious life. I hear she is a bit of a "stinker" and keeps the house mommies on their toes. She had gained a lot of weight and is starting to look like a normal 4 year old. There is hope in her sweet little face, joy sparkles from her eyes and her body is functioning healthily. I am so thankful, for each hand that touched her, in physical medical attention from Dr Guffy and the staff at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, with motherly love from Ashley and the House Mommies, with prayerful words from each of you. Not a day goes by that I don't wish that I could have scooped up her little body, flown home with her and loved her unconditionally each and every minute of her life. I sit here, what feels like a million miles away and wonder how all of this will effect her in the long run. She was so sick, but so engaged with her biological mother, she now has new "mommies" and living in an environment that I am sure she could never have imagined. Her brother, Steven, has passed away, the last time she saw him was as we were escorting her to the hospital from the medical tent at camp. Life drastically changed for a sweet little four year old in the blink of an eye, she will never go back to where she came from, and although the future looks bright, aren't we always somehow connected to where we have been?

Baby Brother spent some time in the hospital in really bad shape. His real name is Geoff, which I am pretty sure NOT what his mother told me when we met, but non the less, he is now baby Geoff Kameli. He is with is biological mom now. Several months ago, she asked Family Legacy to take him, but has sense changed her mind. That is tough to wrap my head and heart around, bc I know he is in a very volatile environment. All we can do now is pray that Mom takes care of him and if at any point feels as though she needs help, comes directly to Family Legacy. I worry about Mom, she is a prostitute, it's what she has to survive. The chances of her having another baby, spreading the HIV and not being able to fully care for the children is quite possibly a never ending cycle. I will never know the pain of not being able to provide for your sick child, but I imagine it is a pain worse than anything on the Earth. There is no chance of her getting mental help for the losses she has endured in the last year, pray for the Mom and all the other like her, they are hurt and they need some hope.

Hope you all had a wonder 2014 and move into a prosperous 2015. I won't be back to Zambia for Camp Life this summer, but I will working on a very special project for some very precious kiddos there. I need to raise $21,000 to "Refurb Redeemer House". It is my version of Extreme Home Makeover, we will "move that bus" and re-invite 12 handsome little boys into their home. Windows need replacing, house needs painting, cabinets need doors, bedding, pots, socks, toys and the list goes on. If you are at all interested in helping with this project, please let me know!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, keep in touch...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It just doesn't get any easier...

We found "baby boy", it's not pretty, he is malnourished, has diharia, a cough,  and has lost a lot of weight. 

Today marks one month since I found out Steven died. Today I got the email that we have "baby boy" in our custody, who, our Dr believes, only has a 25% chance at life. We have admitted him at the same hospital that treated Lydia. I have to fully believe we can get him through this. I need your help, prayers, good mojo, sunshine and rainbows- whatever you've  got- send to him- "baby boy"/ (aka) "nugget" needs it! 

This morning I was going to blog about a new project I am taking on for some kids that the Tree of Life, but I don't feel like I can totally start on that until we have  this precious baby well and in our permanant care. 
Sorry so brief, these post don't seem to be getting easier and I don't seem to be able to say so much...
I still beg you to, 
Keep in touch...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

sometimes it's not all rainbows and butterflies

I have told you about Lydia, and her sweet baby brother. They are precious, I love them.

I have told you about Steve, who is the eldest brother and the reason I met Lydia and baby brother.  I love him.

I fell in love with them the moment my eyes were exposed to their sweet little souls. I can't help it, I just look in their beautiful eyes and I am done, in love and forever holding them in my heart.

So this wipes me off my feet and punches me in my gut,

Steve died on Saturday, I just got the email today. I was sitting in a meeting, and there is was on my phone screen,  "Stephen died on Saturday"


just like that, "Stephen died on Saturday"

what is that, my heart on the floor being pounded into the smallest pieces and my brain running a sprinting marathon trying to understand it all.

He died, his precious little life ended, I don't know why, I don't know how and to that end may never really know.

In Zambia, you can die from a stomach ache, a toe infection, a run in with malaria, or any number of things that we could cure and live long healthy lives after in America.

My mind has gone all over the place on this, maybe it is the way the grieving process works. The "what ifs", "should have done this", "could have done that", "why didn't we", "HOW", "WHY", it's just a running loop of a bunch of thoughts that are simply speculations, wishes, and unexplained scenarios.

Steve died.

My heart is broken.

A while back, I came home from Zambia  and replaced my heart break of trying to have my own children with the love I have for these children. Loving these children has helped heal my heart after some really tough losses. This one hurts too, I can't get his hopeful little face out of my mind.

I wanted to save him, I wanted to make sure he was cared for. I have to believe that he is in a better place.

I had asked for your prayers, and I appreciate each of you who have reached out to help these kids. Tonight, I am asking you to pray for baby brother and mom. Mom has moved, we don't have baby brother in our custody. I need prayers we find mom and baby healthy.

keep in touch...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

updates and prayers...

Y'all, my cup overflows!

Baby Lydia is out of the hospital, she is living at Chelstone (our transitional housing for Tree of Life). She is eating and playing and enjoying LIFE! She is precious, I mean REALLY precious.

Today, an amazing family stepped up to sponsor her little brother, he will be moving in soon.

TWO lives incredibly changed and made new.  This is wonderful news. Thank you for all of your kind words and help passing the message of my sweet babies along to others to help find a way to save them.

As I sit here with pure joy in my heart, I also feel the pain of knowing that Steven (the older brother) is still living in the same situation, and these beautiful children's mom must be hurting for making such a huge sacrifice.

I am exploring options with Family Legacy for what we can do for Steven. Please keep him in your prayers, specifically, that we can get him in our school program and that his mother will be able to better provide for him and his disabilities.

I would also beg of you to pray for "mommie".  She loves these kids, I saw it, I know she loves them. She showed up to the hospital each day to visit Lydia. They had a compassionate connection, the love of a mother and a child, it is there. So, for "mommie" to give her child up for the chance at a better life, knowing she could not provide enough to keep Lydia alive has got to be one of the toughest things a person could ever do. My heart breaks for "mommie", Lydia and baby boy. I know these kids will have a better chance and we can physically care for them better than "mommie" could. I know our house moms will love these kids like their own and be the best parent they can. It does not take away from the fact that there is a loving bond between a mother and her children and the ties have been severed, it will never mean the love is gone, or any less or replaceable. There is love there and my prayer for each of them is that they can remember and always know that they love each other and that bond will always exist.

No big secret, I love these children, each and everyone of the little souls that I meet, look in their eyes, hug their frail little bodies, touch their sweet little cheeks and cry over for house on end. I can't understand how it is possible that I meet these littles and in less than the time it takes to blink, I have fallen in love with them. They consume my heart and make me feel a passion I have never experienced before. I fully take on the responsibility of loving, worrying and praying for their sweet souls. All from a distance, through longs times of absence, hundreds of miles and oceans apart, I keep praying for them and advocating for them because I can't help  but BIG love each of them.

keep in touch...

Friday, September 5, 2014

meet Lydia's little brother...

If you have been directed here by FB, you have already seen his precious little face.

I wish I could put a name to his face, but honestly, the way we met, there was so much commotion it is all a little fuzzy. I will post his name as soon as I either remember or someone tells me! 

This is a different situation than most for how children become part of our full time care at Tree of Life.

Here is where things get so hard for me, the lack of education can not overcome the love this mother has for her kids. They don't understand how HIV is spread, I am convinced they don't totally understand how babies are made and to follow up all of that, they don't have the skills to work and jobs are hard to come by. They don't have the luxury of going to school, they don't have the means to provide good medical treatment for themselves or their babies, they scrape to get by in complete poverty.  I believe these people find a way to survive, this mother is no exception. I say all of this, because I want it to be understood that although a lot of parents in Zambia don't appear to care for their children (by American standards) this mom, I believe, loves her babies. She is just helpless as to care for them and is caught in a vicious cycle. So, I beg of you, as you read the story of this little boy, know that in this situation, it is in the end, a mother making the biggest sacrifice she will ever make. It is a story of complete desperation and love of life that brings us to this point. Please read with an open mind and a loving heart, she is doing the best she can, and I feel like we have been called to help her and these precious children.

I actually found this little boys brother, Steven, who is paralyzed on his right side and has a substantial burn on his left upper arm on Thursday of Camp Life. I asked our community leader to bring him to camp on Friday for medical treatment. On Friday, Steven, showed up with his mother and two siblings. Immediately, Dr. Guffy (our infections disease Dr, who is on staff with Family Legacy) said he could not change Steven's situation, but we could save the sisters life. You can read about my sweet Lydia's situation here. He examined the baby, and at the time, with the information we had, felt like the baby was being provided for and could go home with mom.

Yesterday, Family Legacy reached out to me to say, "mom has reached out to us, her situation has changed and she does not feel like she can care for this little boy." I guess she has come to the realization that she can't provide for the 10 month old once he is not nursing and has asked us to take him. While we have them at camp, everyone was tested for HIV, the baby, Lydia and Mom all tested positive. 

This baby boy is precious, I got to hold him while Lydia was being examined. He is so small for a 10 month old and barely sits on his own. I didn't know at the time he was 10 months old, I thought he was 5-6 months. 

This child will be in our Tree of Life program. He will live in a home with 12 other beautiful little souls, have three meals a day, regular medical evaluation and treatment, lots of love and an amazing education in our private schools. He will be given not only a chance to live a healthy life, but an opportunity to have a full life with opportunities to thrive and be a significant part of the future of Zambia. 

If you want to know more about our program, go to

Sponsoring a child at the Tree of Life is a long term commitment. The monthly fee is $250 month for full term care. 

If you are interested please contact me. 

If you feel called to sponsor a child but not at the $250 level, we have children who live at home, who would love to attend our schools In their community for $65 per month. I can get you in touch with folks who have met these sweet kids and tell you all about them. 

I fall so hard and fast in love with these kids, I want to take them all home and love them for the rest of their sweet little lives. The goal of this program is to educate and empower the future of Zambia. If you can help us, we can change a nation. 

It is the only place I have ever been that feels like home. I would trade the luxurie of my life to spend 10 more minutes in their life of poverty to hug them for a second more.

If you can help- I would be forever greatful. -xx

- Keep in touch 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Finding Lydia

We spend an afternoon with our camp kids in the compounds they live in. As we were meandering through part of Chaisia, we met a boy who was sitting on the side of a pass through. He had what appeared to be a bad burn on his left upper arm and clearly had some sort of paralysis on his right side. Luckily, my group was traveling near one of the Family Legacy American staff members as well as one of the Zambian coordinators (discipleship leader/ DL) that work in Chaisa.  The DL agreed to bring the boy to camp the next day so we could have the Dr check him out. The boys name is Steve.

Friday morning, Steve shows up to camp with his mother and two siblings. We all head to the medical tent for evaluation. It is determined that Steve is paralyzed on the right side, he doesn't have much control over his right arm or leg. The burn on his arm was from a few weeks prior when he lost his balance and fell. The nurses cleaned and wrapped the burn. Unfortunately, there was nothing more we could do for this child. He appeared to be in good health, HIV screening came back negative and he would be sent home. 

Within seconds of seeing this family, the Dr said he couldn't do much for Steve, but we could save his sisters life. Lydia is four years old, she weighs just under 20 pounds, was substantially malnourished and according to the Dr, probably within days of dying. 

I have never in my life seen a human body so frail, it was a case of "skin and bones". Dr said she had hypothermia, so we bundled her up in a blanket and I held her to keep her warm. I could feel the edges if every bone in her precious body poking out. She had so little energy she couldn't cry, she just released these soft little moans and cringed her face at the pain. 

Her mother had no explanation as to why this child was so malnourished. The two brothers and mother had clearly been receiving nourishment, they were not even skinny by Zambian standards, they were  "fat" (fat does not mean obese in Zambia, it means normal size, healthy weight, meat on your bones/ it is a compliment...). We didn't find out why Lydia was malnourished, we didn't need to know why, we just needed to do something about it. 

Within a couple of hours of Lydia showing up to our medical tent, it had been determined we needed to get her to a hospital for treatment. She tested positive for HIV and needed food and nutrition in her precious body ASAP. I carried her frail little body to the car and handed her off to get treatment.  The head nurse at Tree of Life went to the hospital with Lydia, it was important to have the right person admitting her. If you can imagine, Zambian health care is different and ensuring her admittance was going to take a strong Zambian personality, they could have easily turned we away for lack of hope. Luckily, she was admitted. 

As I carried Lydia to the car for transport to University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, it took more energy to not cry and pray for her recovery than to hold her extremely fragile body. The mother was not upset, she didn't seem to realize there was something wrong with her baby girl, she didn't seemed concerned that her daughter was withering away right in front of her. I didn't want to let her go, I wanted to sit there and make this child well and love her for every sweet minute she is alive. 

Lydia is beautiful, she has these big beautiful dark eyes, thick eyelashes that curl perfectly around her beautiful eyes. A tiny little perfect nose and these plump little pouty lips that I know will make for an amazing smile once she has recovered. She really is one of the most beautiful faces I have ever seen. I am in LOVE with this baby, she stole my heart the second I picked her up.

I have hesitated to post this, there is a lot more to this story and I will update you as I can. This has been weighing so heavy on my heart, and I just crumble when I think about the situation.

I am begging you all, please say a prayer for my sweet Lydia, she is still at the hospital, I am still waiting to hear if the government is going to place her in Family Legacy's full time care, as well as waiting for updates to her recovery.

This was the hardest goodbye in Zambia, keep you posted on her progress...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Della's House opened today ...

I just saw this didn't load when I was in Zambia- sorry! This is what it was like the day Della's opened...

We opened Della's house today. It was adorable, the girls were so excited! 

The day started out with a run to the grocery and then to a street vendor for patio furniture and a quick stop at the nursery. Through a comedy of events we made it back to Tree of Life with everything we were looking for. 

The house opened at 2:00, all the children from Tree of Life stood outside while we were inside prepping last minute details and praying over the house, the sweet girls movin it and all the blessing we are provided. 

We lined the road for when the bus drove in, got the girls off the bus and headed to the house. We stood infront while greeted by songs from the Tree of Life children, many prayers and blessings and then the reveal! The girls were told to cover their eyes and turn around, on the count of three the girls uncovered their eyes and saw their house for the first time. At one point I had my arm around one of the little girls with my hand over her heart- it was racing! I think the excitement was overwhelming for all of the girls. 

Once they were inside, everyone found their bed and sorted through all their gifts. The found new shoes that fit sifted through all of the new clothes. Everyone got a "dolly", which was a big hit! We all went outside for more pics, then headed inside so Trish could tell all the girls about Della. 

We had cupcakes for everyone and lots of candy (I am pretty sure the girls will not sleep for days)! One if the little girls said a prayer before the group ate their cupcakes. I think the opening was a success, I believe all of the girls are happy and will thrive tremendously in their new home. 

We wrapped up and headed up to meet with the other camp attendees. 

It's been a beautiful day of making new friends, spending time with Zambian family and watching hope enter the lives of so many. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My boys, 2014

Camp flew by this year, honestly, I don't feel like I spent 10 minutes alone with each of my boys. I got very sick the day before camp started and couldn't seem to get my act together after I missed a few days.

This year was a much different experience than years past. I am still trying to make sense of it all, if I get it figured out, I will let you know!

The group this year was, for the most part, all kiddos I have had in years past. I got one new cutie, Moses, who was a first timer at camp and such a hoot to have in the front of the line.

By amazing folks with big hearts, Moses already has a sponsor and will be attending  our Lifeway Christian Academy in January.

The other boys were my alumni group.  The boys line up in height order, so that is how I will update them here.

Kennedy, one of MR and I's sponsor kids got bumped to second in line, he was finally a little taller than one other kid! He has only missed one day of school in the last year. I was really thinking we would be having complex English conversations, but he just isn't quite there yet! I couldn't quite tell if he was not able to respond in English or if he is just still so shy and quiet.  I know he is thriving, I know he is doing well, and I can't ask for much more.

Robert was back this year! It was such a blessing to see him doing so well. His family had declined his participation in our school program two years ago. Last summer, I dropped by his house to tell them that at any point they needed our sponsorship, I would make sure he got into the program. Unfortunately, due to cancer, his grandmother (caretaker) passed away in the last year. Luckily, she had the foresight to make sure he was enrolled in our program last January and is thriving in our school. He is so sweet and helpful, he wanted to carry my backpack each day. Every morning and each day before boarding the bus, I got big hugs from sweet Robert. He has always been a sincere, compassionate child. I think he will do so well and be a huge success going forward.

Haggai was in for round two this year! Still very quiet and shy, but a little more confident than last year. He still lives with his siblings and Grandfather. Comparing the photos from last year to this year, you can tell the nutritious lunches and love have made quite a difference in this young mans life. Last year there was minimal eye contact, this year, he looked at me and answered questions when asked.

Elias was new to me this year, although he is already sponsored and attending our school. Unfortunatly, I didn't get to spend much time with him and getting to know him bc I was out so much dealing with my illness. When I was around, he spent most of the time running and playing, he was hard to sit downs, there was too much fun to be had!

Richard was new this year as well, again, I feel awful for not being able to learn more about him, I was just so out of the loop and the time was so limited. Richard has been sponsored for quite a while, he has been attending our school and from the little time I spent with him, I felt confident that he was doing well and his home situation was good.

Steven, our second year together, still says he wants to be a Pastor, and speaks the most English of all in the group. He lives with his Dad. His best friend lives in our Tree of Life program, and unfortunately for our time together, he spends a lot of time asking to move in the Tree of Life. We had to have a conversation about how his life situation does not warrant being taken away from his Father and moved into Tree of Life. We struggled with this for the second year. I am not sure I was as patient as I could have been about explaining why he couldn't live at Tree of Life, but I think he got the message.

Richard, also a second year camper is still a sweetheart and so happy each day. He is always so cheery and eager to have fun. He is one of the older boys, but still has a little of that little child attitude in his heart. He wants to be loved and paid attention to. Definitely a people pleaser and peace maker.

Isaac, one of my original campers from 3 years ago, is still the most handsome Zambian I know. He is sweet and kind hearted. He is so quiet and you have to almost force a smile out of him. My parents are his sponsors, he is doing well in school and I know he will be fine.

David was new to me this year by way of a dear friend wanting to sponsor a child, so I added him to my group. He is sweet. He has been our school program for several years, he is very smart. Unfortunately, his original sponsor was not able to continue to fund his sponsorship, luckily, I had a dear friend who wanted to sponsor a child and David was allowed to continue in our program.

Those are my ten camp boys in a quick review. They are all safe, healthy and doing well in school. I explained to each of them that they are holding up their end of the deal and I am I am so proud of them for doing so. I promised to make sure they have sponsorship through their grade school years if they will continue to attend school regularly.

There was one kid, Harrison, that didn't attend camp. He found me on community day, to ask why he wasn't at camp. After some confusion and reaching out to the Community Leader that works with our kids in Chaisa, I figured out Harrison has not been attending school enough to attend camp. Family Legacy started a reward program a few years ago, they made it a treat for the kids to miss a week of school and go to camp. If you have less than 75% attendance, you do not get to attend camp. Harrison unfortunately has not reached that goal. This may have been a tough love lesson for both of us, but I had to explain, that he needed to attend school and that if he would commit to that, he could attend camp next year. Hopefully, he will shape up. I will be checking in with Family Legacy in a few months to see if he is making an effort.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life in Della's House

It is real, they are in and all is well. Della's House is no longer something dreamed of or a "work in progress" it is real.  The house is precious, filled with all things girl, frills and flowers, pink and smiles, bows and barrettes, dolls and love!

It all happened so fast! In the matter of two hours, girls were moved in, prayed over, shown most of their new things, pictures taken, cupcakes eaten and whoosh, it was over. It all happened so fast!

I am not sure if it was the expectaions I had or the fact that life really does go a mile a minute, but I didn't get to know each of the girls, I didn't get to show them each little thing that was prepared and sent with so much love for their special soul.  It all went so fast! I wanted to be able to walk you through each detail of every minute of pure bliss of what it is like to open a home for 12 girls who have known so much hurt and pain and tell you about the moment I could see in their faces that all was well and they knew a beautiful life was ahead.

Honestly, my perception is quite different. I can tell you, the moment before we showed the girls their new home, I had my hand on one of the little girls chest and I could feel her heart about to beat right out of her chest. The anticipation and nerves were overwhelming, there were 300 children singing, at least 40 Americans standing in watch. It was a lot of pressure! I became so nervous for them, it was so much! I am sure after the dust settles and there is a routine, everything will be fine, they will be comfortable in their own home and life will become normal. If I really think about it, normalcy is what they need, along with a lot of love and  faith.

The girls are precious, they are a sweet and they are appreciative. I know life as they know it will forever be changed and that Della will be watching over them as they grow into amazing ladies.

If/when I get updates from anyone in Zambia about the house or the lives that are being transformed within the walls of Della's House, I will update you.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lusaka 2014

Here is where the exciting part of the journey begins! I am in Lusaka prepping Della's House with so many amazing friends and Zambian family. Tomorrow is the big day, we will move our 12 precious girls and 2 amazing house moms into their new forever home. Full of love, opportunity, laughter, hope, joy, and praise. As we prepare this structure to become a home, my heart is rejoicing for the sweet lives that Della will continue to touch. 
After a year of planning and hard work and prayer by so many, I am feeling infinitely blessed to be able to be here in Lusaka, to welcome these beautiful children home. 

To each of you who have so genrously helped us bring this to fruition, I will never be able to say thank you enough. You have impacted the lives of so many, the future of a young nation and myself. You have made a difference in ways I never expected to understand, but see so clearly now through your kind hearts. Thank you again, a million times over. 

It's the Fourth if July, we celebrated with fireworks and singing the National Anthem. It's was pretty awesome to be celebrating our independence as a Nation while also preparing a home of independence for our girls. 

I wish I could tease you with some sneak peeks of what the house looks like and all the neat stuff inside, but we worked till sundown and didn't get any pics. I will be sharing the house opening and lots of details soon. 

Erin, if you are reading this, we miss you desperately, it is really tough being here without you. So many times today, I have said, "I wish Erin were here" while we set up the house. I hope you will be happy with how we pull together your hard work and dedication to making this house spectacular! 

Keep in touch!

Thursday, June 19, 2014 near and dear.

My second "thank you" is to those who are so close. There are many and the love is BIG. These are the folks that have pushed me to keep going, who have instilled in me to love God's people, the ones who have shown me what it looks like to help others and appreciate the things I have.

I will start with Mom and Dad, they showed me what it looks like to help others years ago. Each of them have pushed me toward Zambia in their own way. I doubted myself for months before getting on the plane to Zambia, I clearly remember asking my mom if I was the right person for this mission, I had not been to church since elementary school, I couldn't quote the bible, I wasn't (and still not) sure I understand all of the bible and only mildly believed in God at the time. My question to her was, "who am I to go to a Christian camp, tell children to believe in God and have anything to back up what I say to them?" she said, "you have love, you have all this love to give to these kids and the best example for learning about the Lord was to show them it was okay to ask questions", so I went, I loved unconditionally and I asked a lot of biblical questions from folks much wiser. Then I came home, joined a church and have been learning ever since! My Dad, was the one who asked me to start a blog about the experience, he was the first person to say he was "in this with me". He is an advocate for me and my kids like no one else. He agreed to sponsor Isaac before I got home from my first trip. My Dad had been preparing me for years without knowing what he was preparing me for. While working for him, I had the time to volunteer with a  lot of amazing charities. It was initially for business development, but quickly became clear to me that I wanted to do more to help people in a very personal way. My parents have done countless favors for my boys in Zambia, their love and thoughtfulness has extended to lengths I never thought it would for these kids. I won't ever be able to say thank you enough, I doubt any child ever can, but we must keep trying.

Steve and Trish, my father and mother in law. They have hearts for orphans. If not for them, I would not have gone to Zambia three years ago. I doubted every second leading up to making the commitment to go and then every other five minutes before leaving.  They have been there every step of the way, Trish literally has walked through this with me and I am so blessed to have had her by my side for this insanely emotional roller coaster. The three of us are off for round three at the end of the month. I cannot wait to see what God has planned for us! Steve is working in the medical tent at Camp, I haven't told him yet, but I have 10 precious patients for him to give a good look at.

My boys sponsors,  I won't name them by name, bc I have never asked if that is okay, but without them, my kids would be lost, uneducated, hungry and possibly not alive. Because of GREAT love and amazing people who are willing to open their hearts and checkbooks, all of my boys go to school, have a healthy meal each day, get medical attention and are loved unconditionally by our staff in Zambia and their sponsors here. I am eternally appreciative for these folks. This is a commitment to a child through high school, although most of my sponsors will not meet their child, I will be forever grateful for the love they show a child who they do not know. I will forever be grateful that they allow me to shower them with gifts, blessing and love for them each summer.

My MR. I could go on and on about him. He supports me on the good days when I can only think of the joy I find in Zambia, he hugs me on the hard days when I can only worry and fear what is happening in Zambia. He listens to me for countless hours while I ramble on and he has not (at least not yet) fussed at me for taking over an entire bedroom of our house (The Africa Room) in preparation for my next trip (starting the day I get home each year). He only gently makes fun of me for the amount of stuff I buy to bless our children in Zambia. I don't know that he understands my love for these children, but he never questions it and is always supportive of it.

My sister in law, asked me to go on a girls trip while the boys went to a Red Sox/Cubs series. What girls trip doesn't include going half way around the world to complete poverty for two weeks to love on orphan kids? Not one second of my life will ever be the same. I can never say thank you in such a way that would show the insane gratitude I have for Erin introducing me to this life. I. just. do. not. have. the. words.

God,  I thank him daily. My Faith is stronger, more peaceful and incredibly thankful for what He is doing in my life. I make sure to start my prayers with "thank you", because again, I can't say it enough.

I am grateful each day for the love that has been shown to me for the children in Zambia. I could never have imagined this would be my path. I still pinch myself sometimes. I cannot wait to share this journey with you all. Thank YOU for following me in this mission, for supporting me and praying for me. YOU are blessing these beautiful children

Keep in touch...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

thankful...for those far away and in extended absence.

This past year has been such an eye opener for me. I have always known I was blessed with amazing family and friends. The thing is, when I thought about who that was, they were close, immediate family and friends I see and communicate with regularly. This year I was reminded that friendships last lifetimes, even if they are from a distance and left untouched for a while. Family runs deep and is an unconditional love that I have found a new respect for. Part 1 of my "thank you" is to my big, distant, spread out family and friends. Those of you who have come to me from years past and extended absence.

Through the last year, I have asked for so much. To prepare a home for 12 precious girls at Della's House, as well as continued support for my sweet boys in Chaisa. I am continually blown away by people's love and giving for these kiddos half a world away.

I was at Office Depot buying supplies for the House and boys, a lady in line asked if I was buying my kids school supplies, I explained who I was buying for and she helped pay for the supplies at checkout. No name, no contact info, just a generous person who lent a hand to someone trying to help others.

I posted on Facebook that I was putting together gift boxes for the girls, I got replies instantly asking where to send money to sponsor a box. The love came from friends who I bar tended with in college, folks I work with now, and distant cousins that I have connected with via social media.

I made Christmas ornaments from beads made in Zambia to raise money for Della's House, sorority sisters who I haven't seen in years, friends of my husband who I barely know, family who sees more ability in me than I know I am capable of and sweet friends who live within a few miles that seem to be separated by a million miles; all reached out to support the project.

A beautiful soul who teaches at an AMAZING and "JOY"ful school, showed her class the lesson of loving a world away to raise money and pick out toys and necessities to fill Dellas House. Another creative lady who makes beautiful wreaths donated the perfect piece to welcome all who enter Della's House. So many people poured out to support each spoon, towel, pillow, outfit, rug etc to fill an empty home with all the comforts we are accustomed to.

A child who was in my group two years ago who's grandmother wouldn't allow to attend our school, came back to us and is now in our program, I needed to find a sponsor for him. One Facebook post led to numerous offers for sponsorship. So Robert is now in school with a sponsor from the love of a work friend, who I will never be able to thank enough for reaching out and supporting this amazing little guy. From that request, I found sponsors for other children.  I asked Family Legacy if they had any children that needed sponsorship, to no surprise, there are always children who need help and luckily I had a sponsor for them. These ladies are changing the lives of these boys. I can not wait to share there successes and stories with them when I come home from Zambia.

I asked for 10 people to sponsor a $20 blanket for each child in my camp group, over 33 blankets later, I am blown away by the love and support of folks that I haven't seen in years. Girls I went to middle school with and haven't seen since the 8th grade, a precious guy who I worked with in a bar in Austin, again my sweet friend who is so close (yet so far away), precious ladies who I have not spent much time with since high school, folks I have met through other philanthropic adventures, a friend who's music makes my heart smile, part of my extended Lucy's family, sorority sisters, work colleagues, family friends and the list goes on. These people jumped out there to love a child and make sure they at least get a warm blanket to cover them in the cold dark nights.

No doubt, I have been made more aware of the love I am surrounded by. I prepare for this trip to Zambia with a new respect for the love in my world. I am packing my bags with deep thought and full intentions of showing the love that has been shown to me to all of these precious souls in Zambia.

I have said it so many times, my heart breaks each summer I make this journey. It breaks when I say goodbye to MR, because even a few days away from him is hard for me. My heart breaks when I see the first child in the slums who needs their little nose wiped, a healthy meal and hug from someone who loves them. It continues to break when I hear that another of my kids parents have passed and they are sad, and fearful of where their next meal will come from or if anyone will want to take care of them. I continue to feel my breaking heart when I see the children who have been touched by the evil witch doctors that live a few doors down, or the little girl who is continually abused by men who are either trying to rid themselves of HIV or are just sick and violate the precious girls innocence. The hardest heart break is the goodbye, because it is not good, it is hard, and I worry for a year until we meet again. My heart is just broken each step, but as we touch the lives of these kids, as we reach out to the parents and care takers of these little ones who I love so much, we make a difference. We are showing parents through our love of their children, the hope for their future, that things can be different. We provide a new light and hope for what can be and what is to come. We introduce them to love of a "mazunga" (white person) from the "other side" (United States).

I am so proud to say "WE" because if not for each person who has helped me have the opportunity to do this, I would not be able to bless the number of children I do. With each heart break I encounter along the way, I also experience a tremendously strong thread that mends the break from the love of each of the open minded, loving folks that bless me to bless them.  You all keep healing my broken heart, throughout the year, you stitch me back up, you make my heart full to break all over for these babies I so dearly adore.

This is my thank you to those of you who have stepped up to my plea to help these beautiful children I have fallen so deeply in love with. I can never say it enough or truly show you the impact you have made on my life and theirs. My hope is that when you come back to catch up, you will see the love and excitement in the faces of the kids YOU are blessing.

From far away and extended absence, thank you, for reaching out from miles away and so many years between.

keep in touch

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Catching up

Hello! Been a while since my last post. So many things have happened, so I will try to catch up before I am Africa bound and then post as God blesses me with my third trip to Zambia.

I will start with Della's House:

A little over a year ago, we decided to build a house- in Zambia- for 12 precious girls and two house moms at the Tree of Life. Through much prayer, and by the pure grace of God in just shy of one year, we reached our $100,000 goal to build the house. I can't begin to comprehend the love and compassion so many people have shown through donations, encouragement and prayer for this project to come to fruition. My SIL coordinated the biggest garage sale I have ever seen, we sold t shirts, we made/sold hand stamped jewelry, we swapped donation checks instead of Christmas/Birthday gifts, we poured our hearts out to anyone who would listen to our love for Zambian orphans AND... God provided!

With the house being funded, we were tasked to raising money and supplies to stock the house. From every tiny sock, wash cloth, spatula, toilet scrub brush, toy, bible, rug, toothbrush, pillow case, chair, hanger, pink shirt and skirt combo and beyond we shipped everything for the house to Zambia in January. Everything X's 12 for the girls, and X's 14 for general goods. That's a lot of stuff! I have to admit, this was the easy part for me, shopping for little ones is just as enjoyable for me as Sunday ice cream runs with the MR, or Thanksgiving dinner!

We don't know these sweet souls, but I can tell you in each purchase of a hair bow, page of stickers, bottle of bubbles, pink pair of undies, flower print dinner plate, red mixing spoon and orange Tupperware I thought so hard about what a little girl might love to see in her kitchen, I fussed for hours over the house moms comfort and ease of use of the pots and pans and color of umbrella and scarf. Would they love their aprons, does this towel match that rug, will this wall art make them smile when they finally get to sit for a minute and soak it all in? I have prayed continually for these little girls and the house moms. Different prayers on different days, some for peace of mind, for patience, for cooperation, for their understanding that God loves them and their family is so much larger than they could even imagine.

It's all been sent, a few loose ends and extra blessings are being gathered and packed up for our trip in July. I have reached my bag allowance and still need to pack a change of clothes for 2 week adventure.

We will unpack, set up, decorate and pray over every single item that goes into our home. This is going to be a safe loving home for girls who have never known this life is possible. We were used to provide a home, built with love, in Della's name to give life back to 12 beauties who thought all was lost.

Our house is being built in memory of my husband's grandmother, Della. Della's House is going to be a tribute to the love Della showed throughout her life for all that she touched. We know she has been watching over this process and her love will be present in each life that flourishes in her house.

This has been one of the most amazing projects I have been able to be a part of. I am ready to meet these precious girls and the two loving Zambian house moms. 

These girls come with a tremendous amount of unfortunate circumstances. Things that are unimaginable have been done to these sweet girls. Della's House is their safe home. The abuse, neglect, fear, stress, fighting, heartache, and many other awful actions that have happened in their short lives ends here. Della's House is the game changer, it is the hope, the life, the love, the opportunity for a beautifully loved future for 12 more orphans. The hands laid upon these children will be those of God's loving care takers that have 100%  interest in these amazing little lives joyful future.

 There is so much more to say, so keep in touch!