Almost a year ago we sat in the living room with my parents, siblings, spouses and 10 little cousins listening attentively as my Mom and Dad shared their Christmas gift. It was a package of JOY. They gave each of us an envelope of money and told us to go spread JOY and in doing that remember to do something for Jesus, Others and Yourself. So we all left thinking about how and what we would do. To be honest in June I was still trying to really wrap my mind around how we would accomplish this. I wanted something for my kids to understand and really be a part.
That is when the email came across from the Mighty Acorn Foundation asking for help. They had located 6 kids, 5 boys and 1 precious little girl who needed help quickly. You see they were part of a family surviving in Kenya. Their Dad was a hard working man who not only drove a cab but also dug ditches. Their mother stayed home and tended to the children. They lived on a small plot of land that their father saved for and built a one bedroom home with a thatched roof. They were doing well. The last time he left to drive his cab his neighbor asked to borrow his shovel. Something that costs a great deal of money in Kenya. Being a kind man he gave that shovel to his neighbor to borrow until he returned. He came home weeks later and after his welcome walked next door to get his shovel. Unfortunately he never returned. After worrying his wife walked over only to find her husband dismembered in the front of the neighbors house.
Pretty difficult to imagine right? It doesn’t seem possible but unfortunately it is and it happened. Months passed and their Mother was so broken with grief she was unable to care for her children. The house was falling down around them and she couldn’t even feed her children. They were barely surviving. That is until the Mighty Acorn found out about them. They found out and they went. They put out a plea to their followers to help these children and the plea was answered within 24 hours. 24 hours later there were 6 children who were taken into a safe place, with food, water, clothing and education. 5 things that most of us take for granted.
I remember when I got the email. I was sitting on the bleachers with my son Liam watching Sean play baseball. I knew that was our chance, and that is when we were introduced to Samuel. Samuel is the oldest of the 6 children. He is the same age as my oldest son. He was the perfect fit for our family and since then we sponsor him so that The Mighty Acorn Foundation can continue to care for all their children. The hope for these 6 kids is that their Mom will have the time she needs to heal and find a safe place to care for her children. Until then Mighty Acorn will do that for her. They will love those children and remind them that someone believes in them every day. That is a basic need. All people can grow as long as they have that one person who believes.
(Samuel with his family)
(The day his Mom signed over her rights to help her children)
Fast forward to today. Today a package came in the mail. A package that forever changed the way I look at this JOY project and The Mighty Acorn. You see today I opened a box from our own Mighty Acorn Samuel. It makes me cry even saying that. Samuel personally wrote us a letter letting us know how much we mean to him. He wrote how he looks forward to meeting face to face. He told us how much he and his siblings love us and how he wishes us the best things in life. He also made sure we knew that God loves us and that he is praying for us and that in any situation God will be by our side.
I am not even sure my son would be able to put words together like he did. His kind and gracious heart spilled out on that paper. I felt that feeling that we all say and never really understand. You know…the “it is always better to give then receive.” That phrase that we instill in our kids. The phase they will never understand until they hold a letter from another person who was graciously touched by their JOY. That feeling.
So I am pretty sure I am good this holiday season. That is all I need. To feel the love from that little boy in Kenya and my own 6 children here in the states. It goes to show you what you can do when given an opportunity and you take it.
This past year I have had person after person put in my path and each have taught me lessons that I didn’t even know I needed this year. Denise DeMarchis and her husband David (the founders of Mighty Acorn) have shown me how to lead with my heart. Denise helps others. It is just her makeup. One of my most favorite things written about her was about 6 or so months ago when she was in Kitale, Kenya tending to their orphanage. She looked over and saw children at the gates hanging on the fences begging to come in. You know what she did? She let them in. She made room. That story still brings tears to my eyes.
I wrote a little something earlier this month about being the change that you want to see in the world. That is my new mantra. 2015 will be doing just that. I have no idea what it will be but I know this for sure, what ever it is I will find it in my heart and help where help is needed.
Don’t forget! Teryelle Girls is donating 20% of sales through Christmas Eve to help the Mighty Acorn Foundation throw a beautiful Christmas for all their children. You can help by shopping Teryelle online! It is a win win because Terry the designer of Teryelle Girls believes in models of all abilities too! Another mission that the Mighty Acorn strongly supports.
Merry Christmas friends. Special thanks to my parents for giving us this gift. I pray for you all to feel what I felt today.