“All For One and One for All”

Up until my trip to Africa my view of child sponsorship was very limited. I saw a child and failed to see that child’s community. Oh I talked about community and connecting the child, but everything was focused on “all for one.” It was all about that child. What I didn’t realize was how World Vision’s model empowers and maximizes that “one for all.”

Let me explain. When we sponsor a child we promise that “one” an education, food to eat, medical provision, Aids awareness, clean water etc. however when you stop and realize that some of these areas don’t have a school, or clinic, or clean water… Giving a child all the money in the world can’t fulfill the promises. So the genius of the model works like this.

School in World Vision ADP (Area Development Project)

No school… Pool money from each sponsored child in a village and build a school in the village. Outcome… Every sponsored child can now attend school. However so can every unsponsored child in the village…

“All for one” just became “one for all.”

The promise is fulfilled and multiplied to others.

Fresh onions from family farm – because of irrigation project

Lack food... We tend to think that when we sponsor a child money is used to buy that child a bag of rice or a meal. But check this out. We promise that that child will eat as will all the sponsored children in a village. So if we pool resources from each sponsored child we could build irrigation canals and every family can have an onion farm providing resources to feed not just their sponsored child but the whole family.

Hauling water from a WV water source

Gathering water from a WV water source (looks like bad water but all water is boiled from this source)

Lack water… Many children travel many miles a day to collect water. One child in this village cannot attend school because she travels 3 times per day approximately 7 miles per trip to collect water for her family. When water is provided in the village everybody benefits. Children can go to school because their day is not consumed traveling for water.

I think you get the idea… The promises are true… Your sponsored child gets an education, food, clean water, etc but that sponsorship impacts so many more at the same time.

Petro, My sponsored child from Tanzania

WV staff member translating a sponsor’s letter

So what is the difference between my sponsored child and the other children? First and probably most importantly, your sponsored child has a relationship with you. That relationship is personal and the power of that relationship is profound (see previous blog)! The value of this relationship alone is FAR greater than $35 per month. I cannot stress the importance of this relationship enough!

WV staff with file for a sponsored child

The other difference is the relational contact between World Vision staff and your child. Your child receives monthly contact and check ups by staff members in addition to personal visits every time you write your child. These children become ambassadors for their village painting a picture of what is happening in the village with all the children.

WV Core Values on wall at ADP field office

The goal of world vision is to develop a community in such a way that it is self sustaining with all the promises available for ALL the children. Your sponsorship of one impacts all.

We truly are

“ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL”

If you have not sponsored a child and would like to click here. This is our sponsorship page for our Kilimanjaro Team World Vision climb. When you sponsor a child you can simply put my name as “Athlete” to complete the form.

Bee hives from WV honey project

Honey from WV aided honey project

Honey from WV aided honey project

Banking


Irrigation Canal from river

Family Onion Farm

Sampling an onion from a family farm

Maasai family Benefitting from child sponsorship

Lessons learned on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Team World Vision – 10 start 10 arrive

On June 23rd, 10 of us with Team World Vision set out to conquer the mountain and change children’s lives. As I return I am keenly aware that, for many of us, the mountain conquered us and changed our lives forever. Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way…

preparation

If you have followed my blog you know I went probably over prepared. I was glad for my training and physical prep. And even though I over packed a little I was well prepared and glad I did. But it was the little things I learned to appreciate along the way. One of those things was my pee bottle. Yes my pee bottle. When you take Diamox (drug for acclimatization) you have a tendency to need to pee a lot. This is not fun 2 – 3 times in the middle of the night when it is cold out. So I rejoiced often in this. And even though others gave me a hard time about this, my tent mate was grateful when he found himself desperate one night.

Pole Pole (pole A – pole A)

Mt. Mawenzi

This phrase means slowly slowly. This became a valuable lesson for me in life. We from the west are all about getting there and getting there quickly. We say “hurry hurry”. What I discovered was that, not only can this bring failure in reaching the summit but it also causes you to miss the journey. As our guides would say “twin Danny” (let’s go) We would very slowly put one foot in front of the other and begin a turtles pace up the trail. It is at this pace that you are going slow enough to look around and appreciate the journey. So much of life is missed as we hurry along and in another similarity we are killing ourselves trying to arrive at the summits in life instead of simply enjoying the journey.

As we walked “pole pole” we were able to keep our heads up and look out over the clouds and appreciate what God has created for our enjoyment and not stumble along the way. I arrived at each camp with energy and a sense of achievement and wonder.

Success in Weakness

One of the great lessons for me was found in a contrast on the summit. 10 of us set out to conquer this mountain and 10 of us walked to the summit sign at Ahuru point, the highest point in Africa on the tallest free standing mountain in the world, together. We went as a team, we climbed as a team, we arrived at the summit as a team. However, we did not all succeed equally. I learned a great lesson as I came along side team mates who were puking along the trail. I was strong, had only a slight head ache, and made it to the top in my strength… But true success for me was seen in those on our team who made it to the summit in spite of their weakness. We all summited together but I have great admiration for those who pressed through their weakness and did not allow them to determine the outcome.

I have come to believe that the greatest success is success in weakness verses success in strength. It takes great strength of character to press through weakness.

Pride Takes A Fall

I also discovered that no matter how strong you may think you are the mountain can strip you of your pride. It wasn’t the journey to the top that took my pride. In fact I was pretty proud that I had energy at the top. It wasn’t until all “accomplishments” had been met by standing at the sign that I found myself in a weird place. It was the descent that ate my lunch. It seemed to never end. As I headed down the mountain, I found myself hungry and fatigued. I longed for camp and even though I could see it it seemed to never get closer. I found myself with a tear in my eye, my pride left on the side of the mountain, and the reality that I was totally emotionally defeated. My mind was beginning to remind me that even after I arrived at Kibo camp my journey was not over but that we would only stop long enough to take in some nourishment, pack our gear and hike several more hours down to the next camp where we would spend the night. As I entered Kibo camp I realized I was getting sick. I would have to hike the remainder of the evening out with extreme exhaustion and a severe sinus head cold that has lasted for over a week now. This day turned into a 20+ hour day of hiking and I left my pride on the mountain and skipped dinner at camp and went to bed sick. I found myself successfully defeated. I summitted the mountain but the journey is a round trip not one way. Success is only half accomplished at the summit.

Putting things in Perspective

Now as I sit at home and look through pictures I am quickly reminded of thrill of accomplishment and much of the difficulty is forgotten.  Yes there were times of difficulty and even suffering.  But as I look through the pics and the journey I was privileged to be a part of those times were worth it and an important part of the success of this journey in my life.  I am grateful for the difficulty for in it the beauty is magnified.

Rest of Pics can be seen on my face book page

Making a list and checking it only twice… NO WAY!

I am continuing to discover how out of control I am. I have probably checked my luggage for the hundredth time. Guess what, my camera is still where I put it and I still can’t be sure whether I am missing anything or not. However, even as I write this I am thinking, “where exactly did I put my camera”. I am a mess! So why do I continue to look in my bags? Why do I wonder about where things are? Am I just a freak or is it maybe simply nervous energy? I’m going to go with the nervous energy.

As I sit in Los Angeles tonight awaiting our 9:45 departure in the morning, besides checking bags, I am spending time thanking God for all the people in my life who have been a part of this journey. Some have been encourages, some prayer warriorers, some have forever changed a child’s life through sponsorship, some have helped with financial support, and some have picked up the baton and have helped others sponsor children.

My personal goal was 100 children. The final numbers are not in and I won’t know for sure until I return, but if we are not over the goal we are very close. Think about that. There are at least 100 real children’s lives that will be forever changed. They have a new hope and a future that they would not have had had it not been for you! THANK YOU! This is the reason we are climbing this mountain, for the kids.

Put yourself in the position of a parent of one of these children for a moment. How do you feel about those who sponsored your son or daughter? What would you like to say to that sponsor? Now let those word and feelings of gratitude resonate within you because there are mothers and fathers tonight who are filled with gratitude for YOU!

Well, looks like my bags are right where I left them. I wonder if anybody took anything out while I was writing? Maybe I should check? Now where did I put my camera? See you in a couple of weeks.

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A Great Cloud Of Witnesses

Yesterday I made the statement, in my preparations I have discovered how valuable others are who have journeyed before us.  It has been absolutely amazing to me the people I have met as I have begun this journey toward “the roof of Africa”.

I have had divine encounters on airplanes with people like, Lisa Roberts who taught me to give everyone an opportunity to change a life and thanked me for her new “son” that she sponsored at 20,000 feet, and Kendra Gibson-Gegelman and her family who inspired me to share my story and to keep my eyes open for divine encounters in strange places.

On Southwest Airlines you will meet people like Dr. Ben Bobrow who is an amazing medical professional who also climbs mountains.  He not only shared his great wisdom with me on the airplane but our families have now met as they sponsored two children for their children and allowed me the privilege of using whatever I needed from his climbing gear.

On Facebook you will meet African guides like Robin Mountain who, although he is not a Kili guide, has summited Kili 3 times and was full of wisdom and great advice.  The same day I met Robin on line I met Rachael Hall who that day was posting a picture she had just taken from the top of Kili. Rachael, Robin, and Ben have all climbed kili and are all filled with wisdom and knowledge that has helped to alleviate stress and concern.  Conversations with them have also inspired, encouraged, and given me a sense of confidence and added excitement as we set out for the mountain.

I have discovered that I am surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses that have stories and adventures that I can learn from and hang onto that will assist me in getting to the top of Africa. I have also discovered that they don’t have to have climbed Kili to be a witness that can aid me in my climb.  For example through blogging I have met Lesley Carter who writes about Bucket List stuff and has been a huge inspiration to me encouraging me to not sit back and let life pass me by but to live it fully and make a difference in the process.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Those who have gone before us on the journey up a physical mountain are of great value.  But so are those who have gone before us and successfully navigated the spiritual mountains of life.  The question is will we encounter them and learn from them and allow them to move us to higher hights and greater depths spiritually.

What I have discovered is we fail to have divine encounters with those who have gone before us because we don’t live looking for them and live expecting them.  Possibly because we sit on the airplanes of life with our headphones on and our eyes shut instead of looking and listening for an opportunity to encounter God in and through the person sitting next to us.

When was the last time you read Hebrews 11 and 12 and listened to those who have gone before you.  Who will you meet today with eyes and ears wide open for how God might use you in their life and them in yours?

Let’s go climb a mountain, enjoy the journey and

change a life.

Preparation – am I over thinking it?

Well, we are now in the final countdown.  We are only days away. In 4 days I will drive out of the drive way and head to Los Angeles to meet some of the Kili team members before boarding a long flight to Dubai.

The living room floor is covered with clothes, pack back, duffel bags, boots, hiking gear, water bottles, first aid supplies, toilet paper and MUCH more.  Yes toilet paper.  I think I now have everything purchased with the exception of some personal snack items that I will want for the flight and the trail and a soccer ball for Petro.

Am I prepared?  I have trained hard physically.  I have drained the bank account on gear and equipment.  I have checked the list at least 15 times.  I have tried on gear to make sure the combinations of layering works well and I can walk… At one point I began to wonder as I started to look and feel like the boy in A Christmas story.

                    

Am I over thinking it? Probably.  But I have never journeyed down a path like this before.  I have never climbed a mountain 19,300 feet high.  I have never hiked through 5 climate zones in 5 days. I want to be ready.

Great things in life require preparation.  Preparation is not always easy.  This has actually be kind of stressful.  At one point, probably as I was taking out the plastic again, I said, “I thought this was supposed to be fun.”  Don’t misunderstand me.  It has been fun.  The preparation has also been challenging and a learning experience.  I have learned much about my self as I have been preparing.

I have learned that I…

  • Second guess myself a lot
  • Am cheap – I want the best but don’t want to pay for it.
  • Need and value the wisdom of those who have gone before me.
  • Am a visionary who often times gets overwhelmed by the details.

Am I prepared… we will know in a few short days.

Living the Adventure or reading about it?

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Life is filled with adventures waiting to be experienced. I’m waiting to stand next to this sign but the adventure has already begun. One of the best selling novels on the electronic shelves of today are adventure novels and stories filled with action and intrigue. Movie lines are filled with people who want to see some action and adventure and romance. People are drawn into these stories.

I have noticed however that there are two different types of people. One type lives through the adventures of others. They are the people who like to read about adventures. They cuddle up with a good novel or blog and journey vicariously through the characters in the story.

I am not that kind of person. I want to live the adventure. Don’t misunderstand me. I love a good action adventure blog, book or movie. I love, like many, to be encouraged and inspired through the blogging of the Lesley Carters of our world. But I want to personally experience the thrill of victory and the, well… thrill of victory… I want to read about the agony of defeat. Nobody wants to experience defeat. Except that is part of living the adventure. The thrill of victory I think is often in direct proportion to the potential defeat. Therefore I have embraced that potential in life in order to personally live the adventure. The risk is worth it for me to get to personally experience the story and not just read about it.

I wonder if maybe it is the fear of the agony of defeat that keeps many on the sideline in the novel or blog and out of the game. Unwilling to take the risk in order to experience the thrill of victory.

Do you have dreams that are being set aside due to fear of failure?

Is fear of failure creating a hole in your bucket allowing your dreams to drain out and your bucket List to dry up?

What would it take for you to plug that hole, refill your bucket and start living your list?

Now I post this with the fear of being misunderstood.

Living the adventure in my lifetime

Choose Your Own Adventure

“What is your story” is a question I have been asked and am asking a lot lately. I have come to realize more and more that we are simply in the midst of a story that is being written. A great story that has many chapters before our character came on the scene. It is a story written by the Author of life and is filled with drama, excitement, adventure, redemption, reconciliation, pain, suffering, relationships, emotion and all those other elements that make for a perfect story.

But more than anything I am realizing the importance of our story and its significance. I am a character in the plot of a broader story which will interact with and have impact on other characters as my personal plot unfolds and intersects with others.

Have you ever thought about the “random” encounters you have in life as a chance for your story to intersect with another character and at that point become a part of their story potentially even changing the outcome of their life story?

Do you remember those books where you get to choose your adventure? They were popular in the 80’s and gave kids an opportunity to make choices that determined different outcomes for the story.

As my wife and I sit in this coffee shop talking about these stories and their relevance to our lives we are struck by how our choices impact the outcomes of someone else’s story. For example, as I was hiking in Yosemite last weekend we met a team of hikers on the trail. As we began to interact with them their story began to change and have options for different outcomes in their life. Our interaction automatically introduced new characters into their story. We talked about human trafficking, child sponsorship, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and opportunities to change the story of a child forever.

We are now friends on facebook and their story has the possibility for new directions, as does mine.

The major question ringing in my ears as we talk about this is, what if we had chosen to just walk on by and not interact with our fellow hikers? Their options for different routes in their story only came through our choice to engage in meaningful conversation and open the door for relationship and opportunities.

Each of us has an incredible story.

What is your story and what are you doing with it? Your story could be the connecting point between someone else’s story and God’s story of redemption. Your story has been impacted by other characters who have intersected your path and were willing to share their life and story with you, giving you the opportunity to make choices that change the outcome of your story.

So now it is your turn to “choose your adventure.” What will you decide?