Sunday, July 24, 2011

With a Little Help From My Friends

Lots of prep still going on for our trip to Swaziland. I've been busy sewing shorts, skirts and dresses for the kids at the carepoints we will be visiting. There are about 150 kids at each carepoint so it's a pretty big job. Thankfully we have a great group of women from all over the country working on this and it's been really cool to be in contact with others that are passionate about these kids!

As I've said before, asking for money or donations for myself has been an uncomfortable part of this journey for me. It feels very awkward because we have what most would call a very comfortable life. We have a house, 2 cars, 3 healthy kids and food on the table. But I have no shame in asking for help for the people we will be visiting in Africa. Take a look here to see if there are any ways for you to help contribute:

Hygiene Packs - We are collecting hygiene items for the kids. A hygiene pack would include (in a ziplock bag, preferably)
1 toothbrush
1 toothpaste (big or small)
1 small lotion (travel size)
1 comb
1 bar of soap (for under age 10) or deodorant (for older than 10)
1 washcloth

School Packs - (in a ziplock)
$5 towards a backpack
5 or more Pencils (not colored)
1 Pencil sharpener
1 thin spiral notebook (the 70 sheet is good)
1 box of crayons (for under age 10) or calculator (for older than 10)

Socks and undergarments - All items must be NEW. Socks of all sizes are needed; from little feet to mens sizes. Preferably in white, black or gray (because that is what they're allowed to wear to school.) Underwear in all sizes too - nothing too flashy and no weapon or skull prints. Bras of all sizes - again, nothing flashy...just the basics. All of these things would be great to look for in the clearance section!

Medicine - children's liquid medicine (cough medicine, tylenol, pepto, immodium, cold & flu), neosporin, gauze, band-aids, and sanitary pads.

$ to go toward school uniforms - Education is key for these kids. They have to have specific uniforms to go to school. We need to raise around $4,500 if we want to have uniforms and shoes for the kids at just ONE of the carepoints.

T shirts - You can go to Danielle's blog and purchase a t shirt. $25 includes your shirt, shipping, and a shirt for one of our Bheveni kids too!

It seems overwhelming as I type all of the needs out here... but I know that we can collect it. Would you be willing to help? If you have donations of any kind please let me know and I will gladly come pick them up!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Prepping for Swaziland

I've been spending a decent amount of time preparing for my trip to Africa. My passport is here, I've had a few shots (medical, not alcohol... ha!), I've sewn several skirts to wear while I'm there, and I've sent out the dreaded support letters. You know the ones; they usually start off with a cute greeting and then dive into the asking for money part. It was harder for me to get one written than I thought it would be. I hate asking for money... I was the kid who during fundraisers would spew out a sales pitch something like this: "I am selling _____ for band and was wondering if you'd like to buy one. But if you don't want to, it's o.k. I mean, it's not a big deal if you can't buy anything. I'll just leave. Sorry for bothering you."

I still have a long way to go but I've been blown away by the response I've had. People have been more than generous with their words and their pocket books. People that I know are living paycheck to paycheck have donated. People who don't necessarily agree with my beliefs but understand that this is a trip about helping people, not about politics. Amazing.

I've learned a couple of things about mission trips before even boarding the plane for Swaziland. The first is that every penny counts. In the past I've received support letters from people when we haven't had a lot of money to offer. I'd consider sending what we could afford and then thought "But what will $10 or even $20 possibly do?" I would set the letter aside and end up not contributing at all. Now I understand that it is those smaller donations that make a trip possible. Not many people (that I know) can throw big money around. But I know that we can always afford $10, no matter how "poor" we think we are at the time. If 100 people send $10, that is a large chunk of what it costs to go.

The other thing I've come to realize is that it isn't all about the money. When I wrote my letter I included a line that said "I appreciate your prayers, advice, and any financial support that you can give." While money is certainly a helpful gift and the main reason for writing a support letter, the prayers and advice are equally important. I've kept each of the notes that people have sent me and I continue to read through them. Right now I am feeling only positive about my upcoming trip, but I know there will be days ahead when stress and anxiety will come. Those notes will be a source of comfort then... just knowing that so many people are behind this trip and are praying for my journey to Africa.

So.... a heartfelt thank you to all who have come along side me on this journey. Whether it has been financial, through prayer, advice or well wishes... it all means so much!