6 days upside down: in search of better priorities


A few thoughts on the week…

Thursday=Thanksgiving

Friday=Black Friday

Saturday=Small Business Saturday

Sunday=Church & a sabbath from all this shopping

Monday=Cyber Monday

Tuesday=Giving Tuesday

These days were created by different people for different reasons…Pilgrims to thank God, business owners to make money (hopefully to then serve the local and global communities), and non-profits to provide opportunity for giving so people can help others here and around the world.

 

In short, it seems these 6 days can be summarized as:

1. Thank you Jesus (or at least…”Cool! We have a free day for food and football”)

2. I’m going to buy stuff…some of it to even give as gifts

3. If I have anything left, I’m going to give to help people here and around the world

 

Turn it all upside down!

It’ll never happen, but wouldn’t it be nice if we as a culture could keep Thanksgiving as number 1, and then flip the 6 days upside down to then be stated as…

 

1. Thank you Jesus (for this good food, family, football and a host of other things)

2. With this gratitude, I’m going to give and help people…it’s a priority!

3. What some of what’s left, I’ll responsibly (Dave Ramsey is watching) then purchase things to bless and benefit people in my life.

4. Thank you Jesus that any of this is possible…

 

I’m not against capitalism at all. My last blog post touched on that issue. I’m also thankful to see “Giving Tuesday” added to the line-up. I’m encouraged to sense a growing culture of concern in our (i.e. American) culture. However, the order of these days seems like a metaphor for what I fear is true in my life at times…and maybe in others…God help me keep my priorities in order!

What do you do to help you keep the right priorities in your life?

 

Note: Since it is “Giving Tuesday,” I’ll mention it’s beautiful to be a part of the Convoy of Hope family….and in doing so, we raise funds for what we do. You can click here to help Convoy of Hope, or here to partner with our work with Convoy of Hope and our Convoy of Hope Interns. Thank you!

Meeting Jessica: doctors said she wouldn’t be here

Our spring Convoy of Hope intern team is currently in the Philippines. Jessica is on the team, and that makes us all happy. She’s bright, full of integrity, creative and loves Jesus a lot. You can see her blog, some of her photography and more at her website, jessicasievers.com .

Here, she shares a bit of her life, which doctors said she wouldn’t be able to live normally…

So glad Jessica is on this team… from mattwilkie on Vimeo.

So glad Jessica is on the team.

Thoughts from Haiti, day 1

(With no internet access in Haiti, I’ve returned to share a number of blog posts over the next few days…)

I’ve been a few really sad places in the world, Auschwitz, slave ports along the West African coast, various slums and other deprived areas. I expected I’d have the same dark and depressed feelings here in Haiti. While there’ve been plenty of somber moments, I don’t have those same feelings.

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                      In the ride from the airport, I asked our driver about the mood of the country. He said, “People want to be hopeful.” Instead of looking to the past and pain, there seems to be a desire to move to what’s next. While there’s tension and apprehension as to how the process will look, people really want their country to heal. I’ve only seen one symbol (a cross on a hill) to memorialize the precious loss of life, but have seen hundreds of people working towards the next and better normal in Haiti.

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Since the January 12 earthquake, Haitians have buried loved ones, many have moved into tent cities, they’ve begun digging through rubble, stores have opened, roads are being cleared, and schools have opened. The church is a key in leading the way. The next normal is coming.

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                              I’m honored to be a part of the Convoy of Hope team. I’ve never been here and have had very little to do with our response in this country so far. However, my colleagues from the Convoy of Hope staff and our Haitian partners on the ground have mobilized well and effectively. Before the quake, over 11,000 school/orphanage children were fed each day through our feeding programs. Since the quake, over 8.6 million meals have been distributed. The school feeding program is back up and running and people are being helped every day.

 

The interns and I weren’t part of Convoy’s first wave of response, but we’re a part of the next (and the next and the next and the next?). A team of about 15 interns/staff and I will arrive on July 5 to begin helping in areas affected by the quake. I can’t wait. This current trip will help us get the best picture as to what the most effective work for them will be. We’ll respond, work hard, and live out the Kingdom of God in this great place.

 

I look forward to being even a small part of what I believe Haitians are hoping for…a rebuilding of a country that will someday be stronger and healthier than before the quake. A country where children are educated, where malnutrition is rarely if ever seen, and where hope and faith reign in areas that experienced the worst of the worst.

 

Today I’ll work with our disaster response team in strategizing what we’ll do. I look forward to sharing more later…

More than just spinning wheels in Nepal

_faceI’m in Nepal.

Fascinating. Old worldish. Beautiful. Religious. Smiling. Like nowhere on Earth.

This country is between the world’s two largest: India and China. Still, it’s never been conquered. Nepal is tough, powerful, proud, kind, and when necessary, fierce. I love it here.

Over the next week or so, I’ll share some thoughts, experiences, and insights I’ve gained during my time in this place.

I’ll also share about our Convoy of Hope interns who are in the midst of some incredible and important work.

First I wanted to share a bit about the country’s religious history. It’s an intersection of two of the world’s largest religions—Buddhism and Hinduism (with many Muslims as well). _monkeyThe founder of Buddhism was a Nepali man. The country is next to Tibet and contains numerous Buddhist Stupas (temples). Approximately 10% of the people are Buddhist and about 80% Hindu (about 1% are Christian). I’m learning that the Buddhist faith makes room for other beliefs and so often Buddhism/Hinduism are combined in various ways across Nepal.

With hopes of better understanding the Nepali people, we visited two of their largest Buddhist temples, the Boudhanath Stupa and the Swayambhunath Temple, also known as the Monkey Temple. At the Bouodhanath Stupa we saw thousands of people walking around the large statue of Buddha (and many smaller statues), spinning prayer wheels, burning incense, and offering sacrifices.

While the religion would take much more than a blog entry to explain, one element is their belief that the more prayers they pray the better off they’ll be in this life and their next. Hence, spinning these prayer wheels means (among other things) they’re praying many prayers and will have a better chance at a good life/afterlife._dalai

I can’t help thinking about how many Christians think that “spinning wheels” somehow gets us closer to God. _wheelWhile faith without works is indeed dead, I’m thankful that salvation isn’t something I must earn…because I never could. I’m thankful for His grace and for redemption though Jesus.

We also visited one of the most “holy” Hindu temples in the world. I’ll share about it & one other place of worship tomorrow…it was a day we won’t forget.

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(update, wrote this in Nepal, but just made it home)

Haiti devastation and Convoy of Hope’s response

Tragedy. As you’ve heard, just over 24 hours ago, a massive earthquake shook Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I work with Convoy of Hope and wanted to share a bit about our response. It’s been a somber, yet focused day in the office.  We’ve been humbled by the response from caring people.

 

The impact:

Port-au-Prince is flat…flattened hospitals, schools, the UN Headquarters, and even a collapsed presidential palace. I read today where perhaps 30,000-100,000 people lost their lives. During Katrina, approximately 2,000 people died. Both tragic events, both too large to comprehend. Devastating.

 

haitie

 

Convoy of Hope is already in Haiti:

Our Haiti director is in the country and he is safe. I can’t imagine what he’s seen, heard and experienced. He said, “I heard screams for help from everywhere.  I’m seeing many dead and injured people. The need is beyond description.” I know God is walking with Him as he works to set up our command center, and begin the response. He’s working with other team members on the ground and at our headquarters to respond rapidly and intelligently. The response has begun.

 

Our Convoy of Hope warehouse in Haiti includes food and water: 

We feed 7,000 children like this little guy each day in Haiti. Our warehouse is full of food that can be part of

the solution. We’re checking on the schools and other distribution points, and will work to see this food distributed wisely. We are also sending containers with more food, water and supplies. 

The need for help will be ongoing for months and years to come.  Convoy of Hope has made a long term commitment to the country.

 

Our interns:

Our Convoy of Hope interns are scheduled to serve in Haiti this summer. As we plan the full Convoy of Hope response, I’ll be sure and let you know what our intern response will look like. 

 

What you can do:

Please consider a donation to Convoy of Hope . The people of this organization are wonderful stewards who see this not as a contribution to Convoy of Hope, but a contribution through Convoy of Hope. I can say with no reserve that the people here will work hard to see the money spent well.

Many have expressed interest in going. We’re waiting until we have a good idea of the security of the situation and the best strategy before we send teams, etc.

Please pray. I don’t think this is one of those events that we’ll easily forget. It’s too close to home. Let’s make sure we don’t forget it or the hurting people. Let’s pray for them.

As you read this, there are people crying out to God with voices that no one hears. I pray that He will make His presence known to them and show them life and truth and hope. I pray for those who today have held their dying children, wives or husbands. I pray for the survivors who will forever have memories of the death and decay they can see with their eyes right now as you read this. I pray that this country which knows violence and corruption will see peace and structure as this journey progresses. I pray for Christians who know truth, that they’ll be able to speak words of comfort in the midst of their grief. I pray for responding agencies that good stewardship of funds and resources will be the norm. I pray that evil intentions will cease and that help can get to those who need it most. I pray that people will find Jesus through this tragedy.

Thanks for caring for the people of Haiti.

I’ll note I got the photo from the flickr. Clicking on the photo will take you to the site.

Convoy of Hope…loving the impact

I love being a part of the Convoy of Hope team. Today our social media guy loaded our first official YouTube video. It’s a thank you to anyone who’s prayed for, contributed to, volunteered with, or encouraged Convoy of Hope and what’s happening around the world.

Here’s the video:

More and more people are seeing the needs around the world and I love that many are responding through Convoy of Hope.  Hal and the rest of the leadership are wonderful people who are full of integrity. I love it here…

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Some thoughts from this side of the world

Yesterday I left the world’s densest country* to head to the world’s highest.  It’s been a wild ride full of wonder, intense poverty, beautiful people, and opportunities to serve.

 

I’m here strategizing the work our interns will do during the spring ’10 Convoy of Hope internship term.  So many places with so much need.  Opportunity.  Impact?

opportunity(1)

We’ll work with little girls who live in the slums but who are finding a way out with help from people who love them.

opportunity (2)

We’ll work in a very special orphanage where the lives of children are changed forever.**

opportunity (3)

We’ll connect with churches that are making a difference and do our best to encourage with a sweet partnership.

I’m actually pretty overwhelmed by this trip…and excited by the opportunity.  More thoughts from here a bit later…

 

 

*For those keeping score, it’s the densest except for city states like Vatican City, etc. 

rice

Philippines update: typhoon #5?

I just got done chatting on line with the Convoy of Hope director in the Philippines.  I had a the great privilege of working with Raul 2 years.  He’s a great man, husband, father, pastor, and leader and he really cares for his country.  He oversees the feeding of thousands of children and other Convoy of Hope projects across the country, and he oversees the Convoy of Hope disaster response.

Here’s Raul with two of the key staff members.

Philippines2

In the last month, the Philippines has been hit by 4 hurricanes.  In our chat, he informed me that #5 could be coming this weekend.

He says his brother’s home was under water for two days.  His home had knee deep water inside, and chest level water outside.  They have connections and means to take care of themselves in the midst of this hard time…and he’s trying to be the connection people across the Philippines so they can be taken care of the midst of this hard time.

We’ve had staff from our home office deploy to the region to work with him, but after our chat, I just felt like he could use a little extra prayer.  He’s tired, and is working very, very, very hard.

Here’s a shot I took of this beautiful country…an area now preparing to be pounded by their 5th typhoon (hurricane) in a month.

philippines1

Return to Dani and Lena’s

A year ago in  Moldova I met Dani and Lena. Here’s Dani.

daniI blogged about those days here.  Their father abandoned them  years ago, and at the time, their mother was in another country where she went to find work.  There were a couple of older brothers who didn’t know how to help cleaningthem.  The kids were very cold and hungry when we went by their house.  The hearts of the team were moved and we went by there a couple of times.  Thankfully, the hearts of the people of the local church were moved as well.  The pastor’s son told us, “I didn’t know that poverty like this exists in my village.”  They commited to keeping in touch with them and helping in any way they could.

Since then, I’d heard nothing about the kids, but have prayed often for them.  We even put their photo in a prominent place in the intern area and it’s helped remind us to pray.  We’d hoped that the church was still helping them and that the family was reunited.

When I returned to Moldova, we wondered the latest.  We stopped by and connected with their mother.  The members of the church new them well and shared the latest:

  • The mother returned shortly after we left last fall.  She’d been gone for many months, and came back home before winter.
  • There are two older sisters we don’t know…nor does the church.  We learnd they’re in a desperate place and need help. 
  • The mother has been working hard, but can’t make ends meet.  The day we connected with her, she was in the danilena04corn fields working hard…we heard that for about 12 hours work, she’d make about $10.  Dani was with her as she worked in the field. 
  • The church had regular contact with the family…sharing food with them, asking if they needed help with things and more.  The mother accepted some help but not other help.

The team wanted to help.  We didn’t want to do anything that would cause the family to expect the church to do everything for them, but we wanted to share the love of Jesus.  We spent a day in their home cleaning, painting, cleaning, scrubbing, and more.  The church members pitched in as much as we did…maybe more.  The mother worked harder than anyone…and Lena pitched in too.

 

danilenaa03The family loved it.  You could tell it meant a lot.  We also had fun playing with the kids, getting to know the mother better and more…

The next day we returned to take a family photo.

danilena01They loved it.  We also shared a few things with the family and had some great prayer with them.  Since then, they’ve been to the church, connected more with people from the church and see a glimpse of hope in their lives.  The team is still in Moldova and keeping in touch with them.  I look forward to what’s ahead.

Poverty looks different in so many places…and it’s too widespread.  While we’re always trying to help “the masses” I love connecting with kids like Dani and Lena and their mother (w/local churches) and learning more about individual stories.  And helping.

My prayer is that in this hard time, their mother (and the family) will see hope, hear His voice, and turn to Him.  Hosea 2:14, “I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”