Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I love Christmas.  I mean LOVE it.  I might be its biggest fan.  So much so, that after an all night 20 hour drive back home from Thanksgiving in Ohio, we pulled in the driveway at 5:45 a.m., took a two hour power nap and then proceeded to decorate the house for Christmas. 

We trimmed the tree...

We set up the Nativity scene...

We hung the stockings above the fireplace and then I noticed...

Yoj?? My "joy" was all backwards from hanging the garland a different way on the fireplace than I did last year.  I started to untie it so I could turn it around but then stopped.  Yoj.  Haven't I had the source of my joy backwards so often?  Haven't I looked for joy in the having and the getting?  The stuff instead of the Savior?  

We so carelessly sing the words to "Joy to the World" without swallowing whole their meaning...
JOY TO THE WORLD!!  THE LORD IS COME!  It was Christ's coming that brought the world into full joy.  It was God's GIVING that brings us a reason to sing.  So, my family is committing itself to no more backwards joy.  We want the real thing...

Mark Twain said "To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with."  And this season, there is a whole community of children in Korah, Ethiopia who we want to share the joy with.  You know how you meet someone and your encounter with them somehow changes forever who you are?  Well, that is what this precious community of kids has done for my family.  It has changed us forever.  They have shared their joy with us and now we get to share with them this Christmas.  Gone are the Christmases  of accumulating things for ourselves.  There's no real life found there.  It's in the giving, plain and simple. It makes me quite giddy, this giving.  

So, we invite you to give right along with us.  Through Children's HopeChest's Change Their Story 2012 Campaign, we are raising $5,000 that will go toward nutrition for the 210 kids at Hands for the Needy care point in Ethiopia.  The funds will go toward providing meat for the children on a consistent basis (right now, they only have meat twice a year on holidays), providing the cooks with electricity and stoves which will improve efficiency and reduce smoke inhalation, and also providing food for families who are in dire circumstances with nothing to eat.  

Let me share this another way...

I had the absolute joy of spending a few hours in a 10x20 corrugated metal building that makes up the kitchen at Hands for the Needy with these women...

 They spent hours hunched over chopping vegetables to prepare the meal for the kids in the feeding program.  

 They tended to two gigantic pots of stew over an open fire, choking on smoke the whole time.  And they did it all with joy in their hearts and smiles on their faces. 

Imagine their smiles if they had improved kitchen facilities and could more easily prepare their 210 meals!!

The children are so grateful for the opportunity to come to the care point and receive a healthy meal.  In July when we were there, we were able to provide a feast with two lambs.  We slaughtered the sheep on site and it was priceless to see their faces because they knew a good meal was coming!

Imagine what it would do for them to have such a great source of protein consistently!

Meet Benalfew.

he is an 8 year old boy who comes to the care point daily.  He lives with his mom in a small 8x10 room.  The way his mother has provided for them is by scavenging for plastics in the dump.  The week we were there, she stepped on a syringe that went into her foot.  Benalfew took us to his home to visit her, as she couldn't get out of bed at all since her foot was immensely swollen with infection.  

8 year old Benalfew, Sisay (staff at Hands for the Needy) and Benalfew's mother.

Benalfew's mother profusely thanked Yemamu and Sisay for taking such good care of him and feeding him daily.  She said that since she hadn't been able to go to the garbage dump because of her injury, there was no food at home.  Sisay and Yemamu had brought a supply of food with them to leave with her and her eyes filled up with tears.  She told them how Benalfew always comes home happy from the care point and how their lives have changed since he's been sponsored.  Now, she can eat sometimes because she doesn't have to worry about feeding Benalfew.  Her relief was palpable.  As we gathered around her to pray a blessing over her, she asked in a hushed whisper if we would please pray that she hadn't contracted HIV from the needle that went into her foot at the dump. Through our tears, we held hands and prayed together, asking God for a miracle. 

As much as we wish Benalfew's mother's story was the exception in Korah, it's not.  Our hope is that the money we raise through the Change Their Story Campaign this December will help provide a fund that can be used for situations such as this one.  

What Ben and I have been able to witness at Hands for the Needy time and time again is hope and transformation.  There is nothing else we would rather shout from the mountaintops this Christmas than "Joy to the world!  The Lord is come!".  He has come to the community of Korah and is changing lives every day.  We encourage you and your loved ones to consider giving to this campaign so that we can share the joy we have so freely been given.  Let's not waste another Christmas confusing the source of our joy.  It is found in giving like we've been given to.  There's just nothing like it. 
You can donate HERE.  We would be honored if you would share this link with your community of friends and family. 

Thank you so very much.   

1 comment:

  1. Love this post! In our family we talk about JOY - Jesus first, Others next, Yourself last. When we are being selfish, we say, "Don't be YOJjy." (Putting yourself first and Jesus last). Loved your pics. Also love what you are doing for Christmas. Thank you for being a light for these precious people! Merry Christmas!