Monday, July 26, 2010

Starfish Throwers

I am always amazed at how one creative idea or one compelling story, can inspire people to take action.  I've seen it time and time again, as sponsor families start thinking about creative ways to raise money for the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory - or ways to advocate and spread the word.

The "starfish thrower" story is one of my favorites, and yet I still marvel at the simple and profound truth behind that analogy.  The story goes ...

"Once upon a time, there was an old man who enjoyed taking walks along the beach.   One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a small boy moving along the beach like a dancer.


Curious about what the boy was doing, he walked faster to catch up.  As he got closer, he could see that the boy was not dancing at all. Instead, the boy was intently and methodically reaching down to the sand, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

The old man came closer and with curiosity he called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The boy paused, looked up, and replied very matter-of-factly "I'm throwing starfish into the ocean."

"Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the man.

To this, the boy replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them back, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the old man replied, "But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

The boy pondered this for a moment ... and then he bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "I made a difference to that one!"

When I first read that story, I found myself agreeing with the old man and thinking, "what a sweet gesture, and yet how fruitless." And then comes the startling statement of truth ... "I made a difference to that one!"  


And to that one, it means EVERYTHING!!!!

In the past few years, since adopting our two sons from Ethiopia, and working with Children's Hopechest to sponsor two care-points in Ethiopia with 152 orphaned children, I have met a lot of star-fish throwers! And each time - I am inspired and awed anew.  


I have learned that if we focus on the "one" we end up making a difference for many.  Whereas, if we focus on the many, we are sometimes paralyzed by the magnitude of the need, and so we do nothing.

I want to introduce you to a "starfish thrower" named Samantha, who is 11 years old.  Her family is in the process of adopting a 4 1/2 year old little boy from Ethiopia, and they also sponsor a child at Kind Hearts care-point in Ethiopia.  Samantha was concerned about the children at the care-points, and when she saw the photos on my blog that I took in Ethiopia last December - the photos of the ragged shoes worn by the kids at the care-points - she wanted to do something about it.





Her mom, Robyn, contacted me and explained that Samantha was hand-crafting bottle-cap necklaces and selling them for $5 each.  So far, she had raised $125 and she wanted to give it to the kids, so they could have shoes.  That same day, another sponsor contacted me, wanting to do something more for the kids.  She wanted to start with $300 for shoes.  So with that "seed money" I posted on my blog that we were kicking off the shoe fund with $425 - and within 24 hours, we had over $1,600 (one family even gave enough to buy 61 pairs of shoes!!!!)  ALL 84 kids at the Trees of Glory care-point, will now have shoes!

And it all started with one, 11 year old "starfish thrower" named Samantha, who didn't stop to consider that the odds were against her and her endeavor.  She is still selling bottle-cap necklaces and is continuing to raise money so that when more kids arrive at the care-points, they too will have a brand new pair of shoes.  Samantha's blog and online store is called "Little goody 2 shoes", check it out!







I've gotten to know a lot of "starfish throwers" lately - and I'm deeply honored and thankful for the encouragement and inspiration I get from each of you ... Sarah, Jessica, Heidi, Erica, Susan, Kathy, Layla, Becky, Robyn and Samantha and each and every sponsor who is making a difference for ONE orphaned child.   I love making a difference alongside each of you!!


UPDATE:  As of Friday, Samantha has now sold over $640 in bottle-cap necklaces.  That's almost 36 pairs of shoes, for 36 very appreciative kids at Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sponsor a Teacher in Ethiopia!

Sponsor a teacher - and make a life-long impact for 84 orphans in Ethiopia!! 

Now that all 84 children at Trees of Glory care-point are sponsored, and getting nutritious meals every day, along with clothing, medical care and Christian discipleship, our next focus is EDUCATION!!

Our goal is to open a school at the care-point by September, so we are focusing on hiring 2 teachers and supporting their monthly salary.  The entire monthly salary for both teachers is $250 ($140 for the head teacher, and $110 for the assistant teacher).

If you are interested in "sponsoring" a teacher and covering their monthly salary (of if you would be interested in committing to a monthly portion of $50 or $25), please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com. We have two families that cover these monthly expenses at "Kind Hearts" care-point (and write letters to the teachers), and we would like to do the same for the kids at "Trees of Glory".

EDUCATION for these kids is of utmost importance, as it means the difference between a life of grinding poverty, and one of opportunity!! Please spread the word about this opportunity! 

UPDATE:  We have one person that has committed to $100 per month!!  We still need the remaining $150 per month before we can hire the teachers.  Please email me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com if you can support the $150, or a portion.  This is an urgent need if we are to have the classroom ready and teachers hired by September!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

84 Kids in Ethiopia to get NEW SHOES!!!!

On Friday, we set up a SHOE fund for the kids at Trees of Glory care-point, Ethiopia. 

Most of the kids do not have shoes.  Those that do have shoes, most likely picked them out of the trash or inherited a pair that were passed down from multiple other children, and they are literally falling apart on their feet. 

When I was in Ethiopia in December, I took several photos of the kids' shoes - just to be able to show everyone what the kids are wearing. 




It is shocking when I compare this situation with my kids here at home - who have many pairs of shoes - shoes for school, shoes for sports, shoes for church and shoes for play.  And when their shoes get too worn or scuffed, or too small, we throw them out and get a new pair. 

How different my kids shoe situation is here - compared to the kids at the care-points, who consider a pair of shoes to be a luxury. 

And they wear them until they fall apart on their feet, because the alernative is to be bare-foot, and it's not a good alternative.  The ground is rough and rocky.  Broken glass and thorn bushes leave their feet bruised and bloody, and open to infection.

Friday - we set up the SHOE fund for the kids at Trees of Glory  ($18 per pair of shoes - good quality, leather lace-up shoes with rugged soles that are meant to last as long as the child can wear them!). 

The fund was initially seeded by two sponsor families, who expressed an interested in getting the kids shoes as soon as possible.  And by Saturday night, another sponsor family finished the SHOE fund by donating enough money to buy the remaining 61 pairs of shoes!!!!!  ALL 84 KIDS AT "TREES OF GLORY" CARE-POINT WILL BE GETTING NEW SHOES!!!  As soon as we get pictures of the kids getting measured and receiving their new shoes, we'll post them here!

Our next project that we need to focus on is getting teachers hired and their salaries covered, so that we can open a school at Trees of Glory care-point.  Our goal is to open the school by September!  The entire monthly salary for both teachers is $250 ($140 for the head teacher, and $110 for the assistant teacher). 

If you are interested in "sponsoring" a teacher and covering their monthly salary (of if you would be interested in committing to a monthly portion of $50 or $25), please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com.  We have two families that cover these monthly expenses at "Kind Hearts" care-point (and correspond with the teachers), and we need to do the same for "Trees of Glory".  EDUCATION for these kids is of utmost importance, as it means the difference between a life of grinding poverty, and one of  opportunity!!  Please spread the word about this opportunity!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tender Little Feet Need Shoes!!

All 84 kids at "Trees of Glory" care-point are sponsored and are now getting nutritious meals every day!  But there is still much to be done. 

Two of our sponsor families contacted me asking about shoes for the kids.  Knowing that most of the kids are barefoot every day - and if they do have shoes, they are falling apart on their feet - prompted these 2 families (Davidson and Primeaux families) to start making things happen so that the kids can get shoes!!

As soon as we have raised enough funds for ALL of the kids to have shoes, each child will be measured and fitted for a sturdy pair of leather, lace-up shoes with rugged soles that will withstand the rugged terrain in Ethiopia.  Each pair of shoes will cost $18. 

Can you provide a pair of shoes (or two or three or more) for a child who has none? 

Please contact me for details on how to donate - or simply go to http://www.hopechest.org/, click on "GIVE" and then complete the form for a one-time gift in increments of $18.  Please be sure to specify "ET2119-SHOES" in the notes area so the funds are allocated for shoes at Trees of Glory!  Please Email me if you donate so I can track our progress!!

So far - we have $425 toward our goal of $1,512 for shoes!!











SHOE FUND FOR TREES OF GLORY

Monday, July 12, 2010

Teeny, Tiny Tree Frog






Another summer day and another amazing little discovery. 

Sometimes pictures say a thousand words. 

No additional words from me are needed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

ONE CHILD ... STILL WAITING!!!

**UPDATE**  EVERY CHILD AT TREES OF GLORY CARE-POINT IS NOW SPONSORED!!!  What a difference this will make for these kids!!

Of 84 children at "Trees of Glory" care-point in Ethiopia, there is ONE CHILD still waiting to be matched with a sponsor family! In a little over 30 days, 83 children have already been matched with a sponsor family (which is fantastic!!!) but the ONE remaining little boy is weighing heavy on my heart.


The feeding program is getting off the ground, and lives are already being transformed!

But at some point in the very near future, this ONE little boy is going to notice that when letters arrive, and all the other kids are eagerly anticipating their name being called so they can get a letter and have it read to them .... his name will not be called because there is no letter for him - no sponsor family for him.

If you have been thinking about sponsorship, and feeling that tug on your heart ....

perhaps right now

is the exact right time

to take the step, and sponsor THIS CHILD.


On Tuesday night, I posted about the 11 children at Trees of Glory care-point that were still waiting for a sponsor family.  Within 24 hours, 10 of those kids were sponsored!!!!  But ONE little boy remains waiting ...

Please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com if you would like to sponsor this little boy.  $34 per month ensures that he has nutritious meals every day, along with clothing, medical care, Christian discipleship and an education.  But equally as important, the letters you write to him will help him understand that he is loved and he is valued and he is worthwhile!

Also - I will be travelling to Ethiopia in November to spend time with each and every one of these kids - and I will personally deliver a letter, photos and a HUG from you to your sponsor child! And I will tell them over and over how much they are loved, and prayed for by their sponsor family. And how worthy they are of your love!!! In such hopelessness and despair ... these words in your letters make all the difference to a child who is alone in the world.

Here is the list of children that are still waiting ...

Feyessa (boy), 7 years old

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

11 Kids Still Waiting for a Sponsor Family!!

**UPDATE**  As of 8:35 PM (CST), Wednesday, July 7, there is only 1 child at Trees of Glory care-point that is waiting to be matched with a sponsor family!!

Of 84 children at "Trees of Glory" care-point in Ethiopia, there are still 11 children waiting to be matched with a sponsor family!  In about 30 days, 73 children have already been matched with a sponsor family (which is fantastic!!!) but it's at this point that I start to worry about the few remaining children. 

I know the feeding program is getting off the ground, and lives are already being transformed around them. 

But at some point in the very near future, the waiting children are going to notice that when letters arrive, and all the other kids are eagerly anticipating their name being called so they can get a letter and have it read to them .... that their name is not being called, and there is no letter for them.

If you have been thinking about sponsorship, and feeling that tug on your heart ....

perhaps right now

is the exact right time

to take the step, and sponsor a child. 

You will be AMAZED at the impact it has for that child ... and you'll be amazed at the impact it has on YOU!

Please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com and let me know if you have a preference to sponsor a boy or girl - or no preference.  I will then send you a photo of the child and biographical information, along with  instructions on how to register as that child's sponsor through Children's Hopechest (http://www.hopechest.org/). 

Also - I will be travelling to Ethiopia in November to spend time with each and every one of these kids - and I will personally deliver a letter, photos and a HUG from you to your sponsor child!  And I will tell them over and over how much they are loved, and prayed for by their sponsor family.  And how worthy they are of your love!!!  In such hopelessness and despair ... these words in your letters make all the difference to a child who is alone in the world.

Here is the list of children that are still waiting ...

Mekdes (girl), 6 years old  (Update: Mekdes has been matched with a sponsor family!!)

Birtukan (girl), 5 years old  (Update: Birtukan has been matched with a sponsor family!!)

Gebre (boy), 7 years old  (Update: Gebre has been matched with a sponsor family!!)

Feyessa (boy), 7 years old

Melese (boy), 7 years old  (Update: Melese has been matched with a sponsor family!!)

Webitu (girl), 6 years old  (Update: Webitu has been matched with a sponsor family!!)

Birtukan (girl), 10 years old (Update:  Birtukan has been matched with a sponsor family!!)

Tadelech (girl), 11 years old  (Update: Tadelech has been matched with a sponsor family!!)

Kube (boy), 4 years old  (Update: Kube has been matched with a sponsor family!!)

Adamu (boy), 6 years old  (Update: Adama has been matched with a sponsor family!!)

Asrat (boy), 8 years old  (Update: Asrat has been matched with a sponsor family!!)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wishing You a Weekend Filled with Awe and Wonder!















This time last year, our two sons, adopted from Ethiopia, experienced the 4th of July in America for the very first time. 

They had already taken their first steps on U.S. soil.  They had experienced airplanes, elevators, escalators, and drinking fountains for the very first time. 

They had walked into their very own bedroom, with a closet full of clothes, and with surprise, asked  ...  "For me?".  They had opened a pantry and a refrigerator fully stocked with food, and I saw their eyes go a little wide - just a little. 

And although everything was a bit overwhelming and confusing at first, they really never expressed AWE or JAW-DROPPING AMAZEMENT.

I remember taking them on our first family vacation to Florida and looking forward to seeing their faces as they first glimpsed the ocean and endless, white sand beaches.  "This is the ocean!!!!!!" I exclaimed "Look how big the waves are!!!  The ocean is so big, you can't even see the other side!!!  I was expecting amazement and some acknowledgement of the magnificence of the vast ocean.  Instead - I got a nonchalant shoulder shrug and they went to digging holes in the sand.  I sighed. 

Another time, we took them to the zoo.  Here too, I was looking for an expression of amazement and great interest in all the animals they had never seen before - not even in books or on TV!!!  Again - not impressed.  I sighed again ...

And then the 4th of July arrived ... and we went boating, and went to a carnival, and watched a parade.  Evening came and after a picnic and grill-out, and sparkler and mini-fire crackers with all the cousins, it became quiet and darkness descended. 

But instead of going to bed like we do every other night, we got in the boat and motored out to the middle of the lake where hundred of other boats were already anchored, with people talking in hushed tones as they waited with great anticipation.  We explained to the boys what was about to happen - and our daughters went to great lengths to describe the colors and loud explosions of the fireworks.

And then that first spark shot upward - and all eyes turned to follow the fiery trail as it arced into the sky. 

B - O - O - M ! 

It echoed across the lake, vibrating in our chest cavities.

It was followed by several more fiery sparks shooting into the sky. 

And both of the boys, in unison, dropped their mouths wide open in awe and never took their eyes from the sky!

Yes!!!  Finally a little shock and awe and amazement!!! 

Flickers of fear rippled across their faces for just an instant - but with a quick glance at our smiling faces and "oooohs" and "aaaaaaahs" of amazement.  The fear and concern immediately evaporated, and they turned their faces back to the sky and watched with great fascination as our country celebrated freedom!

From our family to yours .... we wish you a holiday filled with awe and wonder!!!!