My mind is always on the move, trying to think of ways that we can raise money to help in the School Building Project, and how to raise money to help children in Africa pay for school expenses. I love to save money and I learned at a very young age how to be very frugal from my mother. She could literally stretch a dime further than anyone I have ever met! I do pretty well, however........I think, at times, that I am more wasteful than even I realize.
Lately I have been looking at all that I have, and I keep going back to the thoughts of how to raise that money needed for Africa from things I already have. One of those things were the large amount of CDs I still have that we recorded back in 1999. I literally cannot STAND the picture I used (what what I thinking with that hair?!), but the CD itself is fine, so I have updated the photo and am selling these to raise income for the school building project. :) Old things made new again are goooood!
The next project will be with a jewelry line I am working on. It will be for sale on my website and in local stores soon. Pearls of Promise Jewelry will carry a variety of items, (all made with a pearl on it) and some items made in Africa. These items are purchased from families trying to raise money for their child's school or uniform fees.
Oh man!! Then things start moving, you better get your running shoes on!!
It has been about 1 1/2 years since I last blogged. What a shame!! Life (for everyone) seems to catch a person and pull them into distractions. Seasons come and go. People come and go. Life comes and goes.
Just a quick note before I continue this memo. Dec 2013 my sweet mama went to be with the Lord; no longer having to battle the disease that robbed her memory and took her from us in a slow motion downhill battle. She is free! I miss her terribly, but I KNOW I will see her again!
In January of 2014 we finally, FINALLY (did I say FINALLY) got to put our feet on Liberian soil! When we got off of the plane, I knew I was home!!! We were welcomed with open arms and met some amazing people! We walked the property where the future site of the school will be (How honored I was to see what they want to name it). We visited the primary school and handed out A Girl Like Me books that people sponsored to all of the children, and we stuck our feet in the Atlantic Ocean and walked the beaches of Monrovia. :) We also did a ground breaking ceremony, were interviewed for a news paper, had a meeting with the Liberian Vice President, were on a radio show talking about modesty for young women, and I gave the message at a local church on a Sunday morning. WHEW!!!!
My heart was and is still full, full, full!
We truly wanted to go back with a team this January 2015, but the Ebola outbreak has placed things on hold. We daily pray for healing over the people and in God's timing to return!
Returning from Africa in 2006 really set my heart in motion. I just fell in love more deeply with my Liberian family; with the church people of Nigeria; and with the journey God was leading me on that was somehow connected to Africa.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned from our trip there and our time spent with the Bondo family and other African Christians is when you physically have nothing; prayer is everything! If they tell me they will pray for me, they are very serious about it and do it because that is all they can give! They are so faithful in praying for the simplest of things, but with the size of faith that moves mountains. They REJOICE in the days they have dirty dishes, for that means there was food to eat that day! They just KNOW that God will answer their prayers for their daily needs. They live in a country that has very little, yet has a wealth of faith! WHAT A GIFT!
I live in a country that is wealthy in every area one could think of, but lacks faith. We can go to the store and take hours shopping while we try to "choose" the perfect item for ourselves. Then we haul it home and pack it into our already over filled spaces. If the store does not have what we want; we complain, throw fits and yell at any associate we can get our hands on. We gripe about dirty dishes, dirty clothes, dirty cars, or paying for repairs for everything that breaks; yet we forget to REJOICE in the fact that we have those things! Don't get me wrong.......I LOVE this country of America! Though we are quickly heading in the wrong direction, because we have fallen victim to complacency and self righteousness, we are still the greatest nation in the world. But.........for myself..... I know I am an America for a specific reason, and it has nothing to do with serving myself or looking out for #1. I am American so I can help my Africans, and this fact challenges me to move forward as it is covered with FAITH.......................a faith that motions my heart to step into the unknown and to trust it's Creator completely, Heb 11:1 "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen."
I soon realized that God's mission for this African family and my family were intertwined. He had great plans to allow us the privilege of supporting them; help pay for school so the kids could get an education; and get on board with their vision of launching churches and a school in Nigeria and in Liberia. At times we were (and still are) stretched financially beyond human understanding and so many times we have experienced "loaves and fishes" moments. How God has supported our families; only He knows!
In 2006 I felt called to visit this family and so my reluctant, but supporting husband and I headed to unknown (and not so safe) Lagos, Nigeria. We finally met our whole African family, the church people, and many, MANY school children! We handed out 1000 little gifts that we had brought. We had to laugh when the kids would introduce us as Uncle Eric and Aunty Debi and their classmates would stare, and then ask how in the world that was possible! One day at church, when I spoke, I stood next to Andrew and told everyone "We are brother and sister! Can't you see the resemblance? We both have the same Father!" (and I would point heavenward). They would all laugh!
Brother Andrew Bondo walked into my life during a meeting at a church my family and I were attending at the time here in Canon City, Colorado. He was the pastor of a "sister" church in Liberia, Africa. He stood next to a bulletin board that had pictures on it and shared about the civil war his country had been through. Andrew begged for donations to be sent to his church and family... these were donations like towels, blankets, sheets, clothes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc., etc.Oh yeah; and a chain saw! :) Things we may be "throwing away" would be a treasure to them while they recover from the devastation of war. I was amazed at the booming voice this African man had (as he was not very tall!) He and I talked for quite a while after church and we exchanged email addresses. I committed to him that I would pray for his family and church, and would gather as much as we could to send back to Liberia. Periodically through out the next year or so, we would email one another, and any time God brought Andrew's family to mind; I would pray for them!
I am often asked how I, a white, middle-class American woman, ever got driven to support an African family, co-write a children's book with an African woman and begin the process of purchasing land to begin building a permanent location for a school (named in my honor by my African family) in Liberia. I guess the best way to explain it is to go back to how it all began.
One rare day (I don't remember they year, but possibly 1999 or 2000) that I had time to sit down and watch daytime television, I was flipping channels and stopped at The Oprah Winfrey Show. I have to admit, I never really watched her show; but on that day I was drawn to it as her guest was a white, middle-class American woman who was sharing her story of supporting an African woman. I honestly cannot remember how it came about that their lives connected, but they had never met in person to that point. Then suddenly Oprah pulled the element of surprise and out walked the African woman. Both women fell in each others arms and cried and the rest of the show was their story. I sat there for some time thinking "Lord, I want an African woman who's life I can change. I want to make a difference in one persons life somewhere in Africa. But how in the world would that ever happen......". I let it go and went back to my busy life and time distanced the show, but not my heart. THEN....... I met Andrew.........
This little book is officially done! Praise God! :) What a journey this has been for this first time author who has NO IDEA what she is doing! Really, this is the combined efforts of my co-writer and sweet African sister, Gbolu, and my dear friend, Michelle, who was the illustrator. (I think you will LOVE the pictures she created for our story book.)
The story of how each of our lives were joined is a book in itself (oh wait... it's called A Girl Like Me!!). I would love to blog in more detail about it at some time, HOWEVER... right now my mind is stretched to the max through trying to figure out website issues and FB invite pages.
The scripture that hits home today for me is Philippians 4:13. "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." I claim it, even when I don't feel it.
I have no idea how God is going to build a school in Africa through this little book, or how I can get 400 books to be donated to African children.......... but He does and that's all that matters. :)