Perspective & Provision

This week’s Compassion blog month assignment is to write from the perspective of a child living in poverty.  Thinking about and writing this has made me realize how little I know about the challenges of living in poverty in any specific country.  And as I thought about the challenges of living in poverty and the challenges of living my life in not poverty, these are some of the perspective differences that I have noticed.

Monday I came home from work to sugar ants having a fiesta on the kitchen counter.  I was pretty annoyed and grumpy about it, squished a bunch with my thumb, and sprayed the rest with Windex.  Then Josh put out some ant killer that my dad had given us.  We cleaned up all the little dead bodies, washed the counters down,  and hoped they would stay away.  I was kind of afraid to go into the kitchen the next day because I really didn’t want to see more ants.
If I was a child waiting for a sponsor, I wouldn’t care about sugar ants.
Last night the mosquitoes were really bad.  My sister and I only got a few bites, but my little brother got bitten a lot.  I’m afraid that he is going to get sick.  A neighbor lady told me that there is medicine that will help malaria, but I know a lot of people who have had malaria and they didn’t get any medicine – they died.  Please God, keep the mosquitoes away and keep my family from getting malaria.
Compassion provides mosquito nets and medical treatment for malaria.
A couple weeks ago, my lunch fell victim to the weekly fridge cleaning at work.  It theoretically takes place Fridays after 5, but sometimes happens on Monday mornings.  Since I’m on the early shift, my lunch is sometimes in the fridge when it is cleaned out and this time my lunch got trashed.  I was bummed that I didn’t get to eat my leftover pizza.  Then I walked across the street and bought a lunch.  A little irritating, but no big deal – I can always buy a lunch.
If I was a child waiting for a sponsor, I wouldn’t have that confidence in the next meal.
We ate all the rice and beans last night for dinner.  We ate the last of the fruit for breakfast.  Mama said we won’t have lunch today, but she would get us something for dinner.  But her eyes looked worried.  Papa left earlier than usual today to look for work.  Mama left me to watch my brother and sister while she goes to do laundry and cleaning for a rich family.  I hope they will pay her today even though it’s not her payday yet.  I wish I knew how to do something that I could get paid for.
Compassion’s Child Development Centers provide food supplements and teach students and their parents job skills and how to make money for their families.
I was recently asked if I was planning to go to grad school.  I said I would like to because I’m a nerd and I like school, but I don’t plan to go back to school at this point.  The only “practical” gain I could see coming from more schooling for me would be the ability to teach at a community college.  While that does sound appealing, I would rather do other things with our money (like eventually be able to have kids and be a stay at home mom).
If I was a child waiting for a sponsor, I wouldn’t wonder whether or not I should go to college after high school.  I would wonder if I would even get to high school.
I started the third grade last year, but I only went for two months because Papa got sick and we did not have enough money for school fees.  Mama and Papa haven’t told me yet if I will be able to go to school this year or not.  Papa says that going to school is important; he only went to school for two years but he wishes that he had been able to go to school longer.  He said he is trying to save enough money for my school fees, but I know that we often don’t have money even for food.
Compassion helps pay for school fess, supplies, and uniforms.  Compassion also has a Leadership Development Program that helps some sponsored children – like my parent’s sponsored child, Mulu – go to college.
On Compassion’s website, there are currently 2417 children waiting for a sponsor.  One of them might share your name, birthday, or live in a country you would love to have a pen pal in.  Could you spare $38 a month to sponsor one of those children?

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Pins against Poverty

We’re in week 3 of Compassion’s blog month and 1,515 children have been sponsored.  Woohoo!  1,593 to go to meet the goal…

I have been resisting creating a Pinterest account because I was afraid that I would waste all my internet time pinning and liking and whatnot.   But today I found out from Compassion that I can win stuff for Adukere and his family by participating in a Pinterest Contest.  Friends, I am now a pinner…
You can enter the contest by creating a “My Sponsored Child” board on Pinterest or by sponsoring a child through this link: compassion.com/my-sponsored-child 

These are the prizes:
Ten separate sponsors will win a $25 gift for their sponsored child.
Five separate sponsors will win a $100 gift for their sponsored child’s family.
The contest guidelines and entry form are here: http://blog.compassion.com/my-sponsored-child-pinterest-contest/ 

Please help me by re-pinning the image at the top of this post (but from my Pinterest board)!  Every repin gets me another chance to win a gift for Adukere – Thanks!

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No Skipping this Saturday

Compassion’s goal for September is for 3,108 children to be sponsored.  As of this Monday, 837 kids were sponsored.  If you would like to sponsor a child, go to this site: http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/default.htm.
This week’s assignment is to write a letter to God.  I saw that on Monday and thought “I don’t want to do that!”  That’s something for my journal, not my blog.  Then I thought I could just skip it, just skip this week’s assignment, like I used to skip going to assigned sessions with a Spanish tutor at Chemeketa.  I’d calculate my current grade, how many points I had, how many points I figured I could get by the end of the term, what extra credit I could get, all to avoid the simple assignment of going and talking to someone in Spanish for 20 minutes.  Because that’s definitely a good use of 30-45 minutes.  In two years of Spanish classes, I met with a tutor exactly twice.  And signed up for and skipped meetings at least 4 times.  I still got A’s in 5 out of 6 Spanish classes, but I wonder now how much more I would have learned if I had just gone to those meetings I skipped.  Back to this week, I initially decided just to skip the blogging assignment.  But then I wondered how much more I might learn if I just took the time to write it and post it and not worry about letting the world (or at least the few people who read my blog – Hi Mom!) see how I talk to God.  So here goes…
Dear God,
Thanks for providing for me.  Thank you for birthing me in America.  I like it here and the thought of living in a developing country is scary.  I know I don’t really understand how a large portion of the world lives, but thank you for showing me enough to make me want to change things.  You know I like Compassion and what they do and that I feel really weird about writing to you and making it public, but I ask that this post would maybe make someone think more seriously about sponsoring a child.  I started sponsoring Adukere because of a blog, so it seems fitting to write about sponsorship here.  Please bring enough sponsors to meet the goal of having another 2,271 children sponsored.
I don’t pray for Adukere enough.  He’s far away and I am forgetful.  Please keep him and his family safe; provide for them; keep them safe.  Please grow Adukere into a godly man and help him become aware of his gifts and talents to use them as you lead him.  I have been learning a lot through reading books right now; how actions show what I believe more accurately than my words do, that the voice I hear making “I” statements (like “I don’t like her” or “I’m more important than him”) are probably Satan trying to get me to sin rather than the product of my mind because you have made me a new creation, and how we talk about love in economic terms and make it a commodity that is earned instead of a way of treating people.  I know Adukere doesn’t have the same books but since you reveal truth through the Bible, I ask that you would teach him those things.  I ask that you would put people in his life who will love him unconditionally so that he can better understand how you love him.  Please draw him close to you and show him that you are real and present and that you love him.
~Stacy

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Through Chesterton’s Chapters

I finished re-reading G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy last week.  I read it the summer after I graduated from high school, and at the time, I felt like I was only getting about half of what he said (similar to my first try at reading That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis).  I’m sure I missed a lot this time around, but at least I could follow the general line of thought.  Where C.S. Lewis uses metaphor to get his point across, Chesterton uses restatement.  Where I would try to come up with a single, perfect example, Chesterton gives a string of rather ordinary examples.  It’s a great style to read, but isn’t really reflected in the quotes below, so if you want to experience the restatement, you’ll have to read the book for yourself.

II. “The Maniac”
  • “If you consulted your business experience instead of your ugly individualistic philosophy, you would know that believing in himself is one of the commonest signs of a rotter.”
  • “The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens.  It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head.  And it is his head that splits.”
  • “You may say, if you like, that the bold determinist speculator is free to disbelieve in the reality of the will.  But it is a much more massive and important fact that he is not free to raise, to curse, to thank, to justify…or even to say “thank you” for the mustard.”
III. “The Suicide of Thought”
  • “We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.”
  • “For madness may be defined as using mental activity so as to reach mental helplessness; and they have nearly reached it.  He who thinks he is made of glass thinks to the destruction of thought; for glass cannot think.”
IV. “The Ethics of Elfland” 
  • “It is no argument for unalterable law (as Huxley fancied) that we count on the ordinary course of things.  We do not count on it; we bet on it.  We risk the remote possibility of a miracle as we do that of a poisoned pancake or a world-destroying comet.  We leave it out of account, not because it is a miracle and therefore an impossibility, but because it is a miracle and therefore an exception.”
  • “Even nursery tales only echo an almost pre-natal leap of interest and amazement. These tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green.  They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water.”
  • “According to elfin ethics all virtue is in an “if.”  The note of the fairy utterance always is, “You may live in a palace of gold and sapphire, if you do not say the word ‘cow.’…The vision always hangs upon a veto.  All the dizzy and colossal things conceded depend upon one small thing withheld.”
  • “It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork.  People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance…it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising.  His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life…Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.  They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown up person does it again until he is nearly dead.  For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.  But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.  It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon….The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”
VI. “The Paradoxes of Christianity”
  • “And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”
  • “It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands.  To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame.  But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.”
VII. “The Eternal Revolution”
  • “We have said we must be fond of this world, even in order to change it.  We now add that we must be fond of another world (real or imaginary) in order to have something to change it to.”
VIII. “The Romance of Orthodoxy”
  • “But the point is that a story is exciting because it has in it so strong an element of will, of what theology calls free will…When somebody discovered the Differential Calculus, there was only one Differential Calculus he could discover.  But when Shakespeare killed Romeo he might have married him to Juliet’s old nurse if he had felt inclined.”
IX. “Authority and the Adventurer”
  • “Those countries in Europe which are still influenced by priests, are exactly the countries where there is still singing and dancing and coloured dresses and art in the open-air.  Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground.”
  • “Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial.  Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul.  Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labour by which all things live.”
  • “Yet He [Jesus] restrained something…There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation.  There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.”

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Compassion Kiddos

I’ve signed up to be a Compassion Blogger and September is Blog Month, so I will posting at least one article each week of this month.  I signed up for two reasons: 1) for extra motivation to actually post on this blog and 2) because I think the work that Compassion does is vital, both physically and spiritually, and being a Compassion Blogger means I get to have a small part in it.

“Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name”

Compassion partners with local churches in impoverished areas to provide a program for sponsored children.  They provide food, educational assistance, and teach children about Jesus.  Because Compassion works through local churches, each program is tailored to meet the needs of the kids at the individual Child Development Centers.

When I was younger, my family sponsored a boy in Rwanda named Bizimana.  When the genocide started, we got a letter from Compassion saying that everyone was scattering and there was no way to provide sponsorship to the kids at his Child Development Center.  When things calmed down, they said, they would let us know if they were able to find him again.  We never heard anything else about Bizimana.

A few years later, we started sponsoring a girl in Ethiopia, whom we call Mulu because we have no idea how to pronounce the rest of her name.  She was accepted into Compassion’s Leadership Development program and has now graduated from college.

When I transferred to Western Oregon U. and moved into the dorm, I somehow stumbled across Shaun Groves’ blog (http://shaungroves.com/).  At the time, he was on a trip with Compassion visiting one of their Child Development Centers.  There were photos of the sponsored kids and where they lived.  And I got to see vicariously how Compassion’s sponsorship actually worked.  After months of reading that blog, I finally decided that I needed to sponsor a child.

In honor of Bizimana, I am sponsoring Adukere  in Rwanda who is now 13 years old.  He likes to sing in the choir, play football (soccer), and often updates me on what his family has planted or harvested in their garden.  I always get an update on school, too, but I get the idea that school is not his cup of tea, as it were.

Compassion has other programs in addition to child sponsorship, but this week’s assignment is sponsorship, so more about those programs another time.

If you want to sponsor a child or just check out Compassion, go here: http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/default.htm

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Seriously Suite

I have a pet peeve.*  At work, I see a lot of addresses.  A lot of those addresses have suite numbers.  Except sometimes they are actually suite letters.

For example: 123 Some Random Rd. Suite #B.

Suite number ‘B’?  Seriously?  Suite B makes more sense and is easier to type.  Why on earth would you insert ‘#’ and make yourself look silly?  Unless of course you’re the kind of person who likes to look at the sound of green…

*I actually have several pet peeves.  I’m not an animal person, so I keep a few peeves as pets instead.

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Quote of the Day

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.  Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”

~ Dr. Seuss

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