Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Given change in Florida (by Faith)

Recognizing people making change is kind of like the time my parents bought a new car. I never really saw that kind of car on the road, but as soon as we got one, it seemed like I saw them everywhere! Now that I am more aware, I seem to see kindness more than ever before.

Last week my family and I went to Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday. We rode bikes to our favorite ice cream shop, and since the weather was so nice, we sat down to eat our delicious treats. My brother finished his ice cream first, so he went to ride around on his bike while he waited for everyone else. He happened to crash right in front of some people, which started a conversation. They were from Missouri, we were from Texas, and we met in Florida- how cool is that?

As we talked, we told them about our trip to India. After hearing about the work we are doing there, they scrambled through their wallets, each pulling out money to donate. They started handing the money to my mom, then stopped and laughed, handing it to me instead. Looking me in the eyes, they made me promise that I was going to use the money for the kids in India. I promised I would as I gave them each a big hug and a thank you.

We talked for about another hour (thanks to my mom) and then we left. The experience was special because total strangers not only opened their wallets to give to a cause they just learned about, but they trusted me to do the right thing with the money. Beyond that, they made sure they knew our names so we could be included in their prayers.

Our new Missouri friends!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

And so it begins... (by Tara)

Today is a milestone for us. It was 9 months ago that we stood in our kitchen, scouring through pictures on the internet of children half a world away in India. I had just finished hanging a new piece of art on the wall, a picture of the 10 lepers, showing the one leper who turned to show gratitude to Jesus for the miracle of healing. I hung it there so we could remember that significant lesson. Little did I realize, our own lives were about to be knit together with the very people we honored through that piece of art.

A phone call from a friend prompted our search into the leper colonies in India and why such a disease still ravages lives, despite miraculous modern medicine. We learned about the remarkable organization, Rising Star Outreach, and decided that we wanted to spend part of Faith’s 7th grade year there to take part in the incredible work they are doing. It would require taking the year off from public school to study and prepare ourselves to serve the sweet children and their families. Once the decision was made, we blasted full steam ahead.

Plans for a fundraiser began. Our idea was to design a bracelet that would capture the hearts of our own friends and family – more than a donation, maybe a new way to look at life. We talked at length about the great needs around the world, but also the simple need for kindness surrounding each of us daily. We issued a challenge to our friends to send us pictures of a time they did something to make a positive change for someone else, or a time when someone made a positive change for them. The response was overwhelming. You can see that on our video.

Preparations have been unexpectedly challenging. Excitement and grand ideas have given way to weariness at times. But now with a website built, bracelets packed and ready to ship, passport in hand, books read, homeschool somewhat figured out, tears shed and prayers said, we are finally able to share our worthwhile message with the world. As a mother, my greatest hope is that my children will see their significance in the world by showing others theirs. 

Faith is the face of this journey – all we have done to bring positive changes around us, and ultimately to the people of India. It has been my job to support her and encourage her growing mind to see important things with clarity. In the end, she is still just a 12 year old girl (almost 13, she keeps reminding me!). My first daughter. One of my best friends. A teenager in every sense of the word with a heart that instinctively senses the most minute details, which makes her my teacher every day.