Monday, July 16, 2007

Michaelah: Changed by Africa

Have you ever watched a TV show and thought to yourself, “I wish my life was that simple, with the only major problems being faced are about a guy or girl, a very close friend, or even something as stupid as a zit?” I know that I have. There are days when life just stinks, and the problem could be about a guy or girl, a very close friend, or even just a zit, but for the people of Africa, the problems are way more extreme. The problems they face everyday are: poverty, AIDS, malaria, death and sicknesses due to unclean drinking water. It’s not a secret that there is so much we can do for them. We need to share financial resources, technology, and education about hygiene and clean water. But there is a lot that we can learn from them, such as the importance they place on hospitality and the respect they show for each other, and the people who are guests in their country. I bet you are saying to yourself, “What does she know? It’s not like she’s experienced any of this for herself.” But let me tell you, I HAVE seen all of this for myself, and my life will never be the same.
Several weeks ago my parents, and I, and some very close friends, made our way to Moshi, Tanzania, in east Africa. Before the trip I was SO excited to be going out of the country for the very first time, and getting the chance to tell the people there about the love of Jesus Christ. But what I found out, was that there was going to be so much more to this trip than what I had expected. I had in my mind, that we were going to change the lives of a lot of people, but what I didn’t know was that mine was going to be one of them.
There were many things that happened while I was there, and it would take way to long to tell them all. So, I’ll share one experience that really got to me.
We spent two days in a little village called Sonjo. Most of the people that lived there lived in mud huts. The few concrete buildings, for the most part, were from the government, like the school and the teachers’ living quarters. There were other concrete buildings, not from the government, and most of them were uncompleted, with only four walls, no roof, or floor. I remember only seeing one that was completed, and that was the home of the wealthiest family in the village. Our team had expected to be sleeping on a dirt floor in one of the mud huts, but the teachers gave up their beds so that we would have a comfortable place to sleep. I mean these homes had no electricity, running water, or a way to keep the lizards out. Ha ha ha. It made me cry because these people were giving us the best that they had, and none of them complained once. I complain when I have to give up my bed for a guest, but the sad part is, is that I still get to sleep a lot more comfortably than they did those two nights. We guessed that some of them might have even slept outside. And just the fact that people could be so welcoming and hospitable when they had so little, was a huge deal to me. I have never experienced anything like it, and I’ll admit that I had a hard time handling it. But I kept it together, for the most part.
God works in unusual and powerful ways, and sometimes we don’t understand some of the things that happen, but we just have to remember that everything happens for a reason. And no matter what, we have to trust that He will always be there for us. Every person has been made for a purpose, and God has an incredible plan for each of us. Even though people and circumstances may let you down, He will never abandon us. That goes for everyone in the entire world.
I value my trip to Tanzania, very much, and plan to return someday. I hope that you will also pray and consider doing something like this.

Mungu akabariki (moon-goo a-ka-ba-ree-kee)
This is Swahili. It means: God Bless You!

~Michaelah Weaver~

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Marlee's Purses for Hope House

Marlee Saxe is a 6th grader who is making a difference in her world already! She loves to do crafts with her mom and grandmother. She and her mother saw the idea for Capri Sun purses last Fall and decided to start making them. She started her purse business in November of 2006 and she began filling numerous orders from November - December! Everywhere she took her purse, she got orders!

During this same time she and her family began volunteering at Hope House in Middletown Ohio. They have painted the women's rooms and made and served lunch along with a team from WellSpring. Marlee will tell you she has met many special people and kids at Hope House, it has made an impact on her - she loves to serve there and talk to the people.

When she started selling so many purses, she talked with her mom about taking some of the money and doing something important with it. Hope House was her first choice! She talked to the leaders of Hope House and they said that the money she gave could be used for some of the needs the kids have.

So Marlee says she gives, "only" a humble comment, a third of the money from each purse she sells and put it in a Hope House jar. With that money she and her mom have brought warm material and she even talked her Girl Scout Troop into making 7 blankets for the kids at Hope House to keep them warm during the winter.

Marlee and her mom check with leadership to see what art and craft supplies or other things that the kids need.

Marlee even came up with a thank you note that she encloses with each purse she sells telling them that a portion of the money goes to Hope House for the kids!

Marlee is learning besides sewing, managing money, selling and other business skills - she is learning how blessed she is by having a home and wanting to help those kids who do not have a home. She is talking to them and showing them God's love. She is caring about someone else besides herself - which is sometimes unusual for an 11 year old! WOW! What blessings little juice pouch purses can make - God is awesome!!

Maggie... You did what on Spring Break?

Maggie Hare shared with her class what she did during spring break this year. I wanted to share it with you! You have stories about how God impacted your life? Or a special story about youth ministry life? Email me and let me know! I'd love to post your story also!

Spring “Break”

“This hurricane made Louisiana look like a dump”, I said, as my family, brothers, mom, dad and I got out of the car and looked at all the trash around us. It seemed like everyone was caring about the victims of Hurricane Katrina because it was a category 5 hurricane. We were looking at the damage from hurricane Rita. There were houses up on hills, garbage everywhere, houses torn apart and more!

We were going to stay in a church that just got the roof put back on, and a new gym floor. We would stay on the gym floor since there were 20 or so of us helping. The first time we went to the actual church area was on Sunday when they had church services. The Pastor’s sermon was on serving, which was what our ministry thought we were doing. We thought serving was just serving someone like helping them or something. Serving really meant, from the Pastor’s sermon, that if it didn’t cost you something, than it’s not a sacrifice. I understand now what it really means. It means that when we do a job or a good deed half heartily or without it costing something like; spring break ”vacation”, or your time, then it’s not a sacrifice. Our ministry went by that phrase for the rest of the week.

The next day we were hard at work on outside work, painting houses or building a tin roof on a barn. I went with a group of people that were painting houses. We painted a family room white that day. I got paint all over me!! We sacrificed our spring break, that costs us something, but what motivated us to keep working was; 1, just looking around, 2, that we drove 18 hours to get there and 3, seeing how much they had lost. We also sacrificed our time to help these victims, by waking up at 6:30am and starting to work the latest by 8:00am

My favorite part of this trip was going to an old lady’s house to pain and just listening to her stories. We were finished now painting the outside and kitchen of her house after life 3-4 hours of work. We were saying good-bye and hugging her. She still had more stories all inside her that she wanted to share, but we had to get back for other jobs and other people that needed our time. It was sad leaving her and we were all crying, because she finally had someone to talk to. I think we could have been there another 3 hours or so, and she would still have more to tell us. I really hope she will have someone else to tell more of her stories.

Do you have a story of how God has impacted you in your life, through a person or through our youth ministry?