I am so thankful that Tina is so very good at keeping you all updated on the work going on here. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about not contributing so here is MY thought for the day:
When Ivan first approached me about going to Nigeria my first response was yes but I am not a compassionate person so I may not be the best fit. He responded with “I think that is why you are the perfect fit.” As time went on and we completed some of our personality profiles it came out that I did have a little compassion I just have no empathy, seriously on a scale of 0 to 100 I scored a 0, of course Tina scored 100. I really understand now how that can be a good thing. Let me explain.
In Gembu Nigeria we are surrounded by Poverty, Sickness, and Death just to name a few things. Every day we have someone come with a need. In just the last few days we have had so many requests for assistance. A church looking for money because a storm took their roof off. A father came looking for assistance to help his daughter who is 16 get some computer training, his concern is that if she does not get some training that she will not be able to continue her education after High School. A private school is raising money to start a scholarship fund for orphans to pay all their school fees. A young man came that is an orphaned and has no money to continue his education at a University, and there is not the availability of “part time” jobs like we have in the US for him to supplement his fees. A 26 year old woman came; her father had 7 wives and did not care for his children well. She got pregnant at 16 and the father of the child told her to terminate the pregnancy. She did not but is struggling with how to support herself and get her 10 year old daughter an education so that she will not end up in the same situation. People come to the clinic every day that are ill and struggle to have the funds to purchase their medication. I could go on but I think that you get the picture. On top of that we are working hard to get the AWANA program going in as many churches as possible. We are trying to distribute food that we have to malnourished children. Again the list goes on.
So we are forced to make choices every day, which one will we help. If feels like some days we are asked to choose to let one child go hungry so that we can “teach another how to fish”. I may have no empathy and little compassion but you cannot live with this every day without wondering if you are making the right choices. So every day we pray that God will give us the wisdom to make good choices, that we will have his heart, to have the ability to say no when we must say no and to know that all is in his hands and that he knows all. We know that we are just the tool that he has chosen to use here. Most importantly we understand that he has everything in his hands and we turn it all over to him knowing he has a bigger purpose, he can see the complete picture.
Tina closes each post with a “thought for you” so I will close with a question a missionary friend that is on her way to Sweden posted on Facebook this week: This is a challenging thought to ponder….can you honestly say… “God have your way with me”
This week I had a revelation that my life is never, ever, ever going to be the same again.
Here are some things that I will never do again. I will never say, “I’m starving” again. I have seen what starvation looks like and this is not it! I will never say, “Everyone knows about…..” Without books, internet, limited resources in an oral society, this is not true! I will never say, “Do it my way” This past year I have discovered there are many reasons why things are done in this world and there is a way to approach change, if it truly is the best way to go. ) I will never take a hot shower for granted again. I will not waste potable water or take it for granted. Much of this world does not have this option. I will not take a hot drink or a cold drink for granted either. There is nothing more refreshing sometimes! I will not take my family for granted either. The daily funeral processions that go past our house each day tell me that life on this Earth is fleeting and we need to appreciate and love our loved ones while we are here. I will not take access to medical health care (even though I have issues with insurance companies) for granted. If I am sick, there is quality help available. I will always to the best of my ability, try to be a ray of hope in a world that has so little hope in it. I will try, with Jesus help, to not become callous or discouraged about people who are only looking out for what they can get and not for the common good. I will be optimistically, realistically careful. I have realized that there is much hurt in this world and I am not able to “fix it”. I don’t know if you know this or not, but I am a fixer. It is not my job to fix ANYTHING. It is my job to educate, pray, and love like there is no tomorrow and see what answer God has. I must follow where He leads, the job is too big otherwise! I can only help those I come in contact with. If I don’t help wisely, I will not be here to help very long. If you want a good read to help you with this, Read the book, “When Helping Hurts“, we Christians may have good intentions, but our helping can do more damage then good. We must be strategic with the resources that are entrusted to us!
Today my thought for you is this: What experiences in your life have forever changed you to be a better person? How are you using that experience to reach, encourage, help those you come in contact with each day?
I am so sorry I have not blogged for two weeks now. While in Abuja I didn’t have internet, yet so much happened and this week God continued to speak to me this week while studying and teaching the Bible Study I am doing with some Youth on Spiritual Gifts.
This is one of the people I got to spend time with last week in Abuja. Meet Celeste Mergens, founder of Days for Girls. Celeste had a degree in global, sustainable development. She was working with helping a 400 child orphanage in Kenya. She got a call in 2008 from the orphanage asking for more help. With the post-election violence they now had over 1400 orphans and had not had food for two days. Celeste went to bed wrestling with how she could help and advise in this situation. At 2:30 a.m. she awoke — wide awake — with the question pulsing through her mind: “Have you asked what they are doing for feminine hygiene?” She had never thought to ask. Nevertheless, this simple question plagued her. She quickly e-mailed the orphanage directors and asked them this question. The next morning the answer came back, “Nothing”. She e-mailed back asking for further information. The answer came. During menstrual cycles, the girls wait in their room and sit on a piece of cardboard on their bed for three to four days. If they can, they arrange for friends to bring them food and water. She was stunned and searched the internet to see what other countries with similar situations might be doing for this global issue and found nothing. She knew this was a cause she had to take up. Initially, she realized the implications. If a girl misses three to seven days a month while menstruating, that translates to up to two months less schooling per year. As a girl falls farther behind, she often fails or leaves school early. In Africa, one additional year of schooling after age 12 dramatically improves the national economy and opens economic doors and opportunity to women. Education and knowledge continue to be key to a better quality of life for people around the globe. Celeste also knew she could not send money for feminine hygiene products because if there was a need for food or shelter, the girl, her family or the orphanage would choose those things over feminine hygiene products every time. Any person would!
Her first attempt to solve the problem led her to a company that provided disposable feminine pads for $200 for 500 girls for one month. Done. With a trip scheduled, Mergens arrived in Kenya three weeks later to observe results. As wonderful as it was to have pads, she realized that “disposable” in Western countries is possible. In Kenya, the orphanage’s fences were soon lined and stuffed with pads and the pit latrines were quickly clogged. She saw a girl pick up a used pad from the ground and try to clean it to re-use it. Disposable was not the answer! Washable, reusable pads seemed the solution. After trial and error, and listening to the women using the kits, a workable solution was achieved. 26 pad designs later, we have the current pads that are easy to wash, dry quickly, and working all over the world. Girls and women in 86 countries and 6 continents now have a solution and information to take care of themselves and help sustain themselves. What if Celeste would have “taken the easy way out”. What if she would have solicited donations and companies to help those Kenyan orphans and stopped at that? The orphans would have been helped short-term, but God had a different solution for this problem – and Celeste listened.
During our Bible study on Wednesday, one of the girls asked what she could do if she did not have a spiritual gift that she wanted. My answer to her was this, “God gives us each the spiritual gifts that we NEED to have to further His kingdom. You can not teach yourself a particular gift, but you can help develop the gifts you already have. Our job is to listen and obey. God speaks, we listen, life gets messy, helping hurting people is messy, we forge forward listening to His call and His leading. The end result is God is glorified and the church is stronger. This is the power of one person plus God. Things never dreamed possible, are possible!
My thought for you today is this: Do you stop when life gets messy? Who are you depending on? I have to say this again (as I tell myself daily) Pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on me.