We leave for Haiti in a few days! Last year, I shared packing tips for a mission trip, and realized I didn’t share much about what food to bring. It turns out, my team had a lot of questions about food and I remember asking the same my first trip, so I thought I’d share a quick story about what food I’m bringing this year. Hope it’s helpful to anyone traveling on a short-term mission trip!Read More
In less than 2 weeks, our team will be leaving for Haiti! A while back, each of us attended a security training at NorthPoint Church, presented by Brian Webb. I also just finished his book, ”Open My Eyes”, which elaborates on the information he shared at the training through the lens of mission travel. As I’ve been reflecting upon the material, I couldn’t help but share it with you. It’s simply too important not to pass along, and easy to share, with the possible reward of a life saved. Therefore, this month’s story is a little different from those past. It’s a bit serious and maybe even a bit frightening to learn about the realities of security around the world, but as Brian mentions often throughout his book, “With proper training and awareness of the dangers you will not only be safer but it will be possible to live life nearly free of fear!”
Brian’s bio is extensive, (and can be seen at the end of the story), but here are a few highlights: He served for nearly a decade as the National Program Manager for a government special operations program, he’s managed covert operations throughout the US and numerous foreign countries for 20+ years, he was certified as a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Instructor, being the primary instructor for government law enforcement special operations since the mid 90’s, and is considered one of the world's leading experts in international narcotics smuggling and airborne counter terrorism operations. In short, he’s the guy I want to learn from when it comes to travel safety and security! Likewise, I’m so thankful he’s found a way to share his experience in training others how to prepare and equip themselves for dangerous situations.Read More
As many know, I’m co-leading a mission trip back to Haiti this June (Yay!). As part of our leader training we had the opportunity to experience a poverty simulation lead by HOPE International. I was eager to partake in the experience for the first time, not knowing at all what it would entail. I was pleasantly surprised (and surprise is the name of the game)! We were taken through an immersive experience forcing us to make decisions and actively partake in roles to stay alive. It really hit home for me. After all, imagining what it would feel like to live in extreme poverty while carrying the immense heartbreak and burden it brings, is what ultimately drove me to walking with people living in poverty in the first place. I’ve often thought, “I don’t know what I would do if I were forced to survive on the streets”. This simulation helped uncover some of that in a deeper way - so much so, that I eagerly want to share it with you!
In speaking with Ashley Dickens, the HOPE experience facilitator afterwards, I learned she’s already written a story about the experience and I decided there’s no better words than hers to share it with you!Read More
Awhile back, I came across NASA astronaut, Mark Kelly’s, remarks about how he’s seen the earth visibly change from his view in outer space. After describing what he’s seen, such as the vastly visible deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest, he concluded, “As an astronaut, I’m often asked about the climate, our environment and how we are destroying the Earth. My response often surprises people. ‘Don’t worry about the planet, the Earth will be just fine’, I tell them. ‘What you need to worry about is us - all of us.’”
It wasn’t until I read this, that I started to think about our environment and the “global warming” controversy in a different light. Maybe it was his choice of words that really struck me - making me really think about how damaging our actions can be to the earth, and then how that directly affects humanity. Of course, I care about our world, but the environment wasn’t always top of mind for me like social issues were, until… he connected it back to people. As I dig into it, I’m learning more about how our world is interconnected, and how our actions, really do come back to affect us…good or bad. Call it karma, fate, science, God’s design, the truth is, our environmental actions are affecting all of us, and not only is it affecting the poor first, it’s affecting them worst.Read More
March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day! It’s a day we celebrate people with Down Syndrome and participate in activities to advocate for their rights, inclusion, and well-being. After having my brother in my life for 25 years, I sit here pondering why we even have to advocate for the “rights, inclusion, and well-being” of those with Down Syndrome in the first place. What is it that makes us believe they shouldn’t have the same rights or inclusion as others? You see, for me, growing up with a brother who has Down Syndrome was normal. After all, he was born when I was just 2 years old and he is the very first memory I ever had - Thank you for the best first memory, Jesse! Despite life being a little different when he first entered into the world, life with him wasn’t much different in the sense of what another family might have been experiencing. After all, every family has differing quirks, issues, and personalities. Jesse just brought his own to our kitchen table where we gathered together to be a family. It’s the story of our family and I wouldn’t change it for the world. ❤️Read More
Food. It has long been a source of gathering and community, a silent facilitator of relationships and celebration. In fact, we as a nation, just celebrated one of our most beautiful reflections of these very things, Thanksgiving! Aside from all that yummy Turkey, the tradition is an expression of gratitude and a time to gather in unity. It offers us a moment to prepare our hearts in “giving-thanks” for all we have, while extending our gifts to those less fortunate too. In reminiscing on the holiday, I’m reminded of an organization whose mission fits so well with the idea of Thanksgiving. Urban Recipe is a natural extension of what we’ve been learning - how to “help without hurting”.Read More
Ever wonder how exactly your donation is being used when you give to a cause that stirs your heart? Curious to know whether the approach you’re supporting truly makes a long-term, sustainable impact? Me too. I often struggle with the complexity of how to give in a healthy way, while truly knowing my support is doing the good I hope for. It’s this ever-present question that has led me to dig deeper with the intention of trying to understand how to truly help the poor. You see, by learning about different approaches of poverty alleviation, we can begin to build conclusions about our own personal giving strategies. Read on, as I share how an organization is giving in a healthy way and ways we can get involved in driving large impact!Read More
Here we are, at The Reflecting Pool, a place where we can consider how best to serve others through reflections, learning, questions, and dialogue! Occasionally, we’ll dive-in to step away from traditional Lovelight stories and reflect upon what we’re learning, how we’re helping others, and what other content you’d like to see. I’ve been working with nonprofits since last spring and this is already my eleventh story, so I feel like it’s time to take another dip in the pool. :)
When I set out on this journey to work with the vulnerable, I didn’t know what to expect other than that the journey would be more than I could ever expect! Soon after I started preparing for a mission trip to Haiti, I was exposed to a different way of looking at poverty alleviation. I was forced to think about what’s actually working and what isn’t. All of a sudden my perspective shifted. My eyes opened. My lens cleared of fog I didn’t know was there - and I want to share some of that with you!
So, let’s put on our glasses - that fog is about to clear!Read More
Today’s story focuses on Charity: water! One of my greatest passions is poverty alleviation through access to clean water and thus, I’ve followed Charity: water for some time. Some of you may remember my birthday campaign for clean water last September. Some of you even donated to that campaign! Thank you - more to come on the status of our project in a moment.
Speaking of birthdays, it’s Charity: water’s 12th birthday today!Read More
Elite Women of Excellence exists to provide programming for girls from all socio-economic backgrounds with life-changing perspectives and practices to build confidence, wisdom and courage.
The key piece I find most interesting is life-changing perspectives for those from all socio-economic backgrounds. I was all ears when she started sharing how her programs are integrating girls from inner-city Atlanta with girls from all communities throughout metro Atlanta.Read More
This is Joubert. (I’m calling him by his middle name, so as to be respectful to his privacy.) He’s 2 years old and I know his family wants us to share his story, because his short life has already served as a testimony within his community. His parents are willingly sharing this story, hoping that everyone who hears it can come to believe in the Lord.
Two years ago when Hurricane Matthew hit La Beyi, Haiti, their entire community was wiped away. Water flooded the plain on which their community was built and rose halfway up the mountain leaving their homes, livestock, and land completely destroyed.Read More
To the people of La Beyi, Haiti:
I admire your way of life. A life that’s simple, yet so complex. It’s your daily struggle to live that makes life so tough, yet at the same time, it makes life so beautifully simple. I see you. I see you working hard in the fields with basic hand tools, sewing fishing nets by hand on the beach, and pouring concrete cinder blocks one-by-one. I see the tiny sardines you’ve caught carefully laid out to dry in the sun on the side of the road. I see the marvelous fresh fish you’ve just pulled from the Caribbean Sea. I see the milk you’ve received from your family cow, cooking over hot coals.Read More
On October 4, 2016 Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, leaving their homes, livestock, and land completely destroyed. In fact, water flooded halfway up the mountain, completely covering everything they knew. Despite the relief and recovery efforts over the past 2 years, little improvement has been made for those living on the south coast of Haiti. The locals described their community as being beautiful with coconut trees and pristine white sand, but the hurricane took that all away leaving them struggling to survive. My husband, Sam, was talking to a women who described their shelters of sticks and tarps as not being acceptable living standards. They used to have homes and now, in her words, they “live like goats”.
This breaks my heart.Read More
We leave for Haiti in 4 days!
My mind is swirling with thoughts of anticipation and excitement! Our team has been preparing for Haiti the last 5 months, growing together in our understanding of poverty, the community we’ll be working in and each other. If I were to narrow down all those swirling thoughts, my hope is this trip will be highly impactful for those we are serving and equally transformative within ourselves. Bringing the right essentials should help us keep focused on our work, by staying healthy and safe!
So, what are we bringing to Haiti?Read More
Poverty is an opportunity to uncover great beauty in other people.
For years it's been this beauty and opportunity that has drawn me to be an advocate for the poor! While that desire has been tugging at my heart for a long time, I wasn't always quite sure the best way to help, where to begin, or worse, aware that things I do can potentially hurt the poor in the process of trying to help. In my last story, I recounted one of my most shameful efforts that did indeed, actually hurt the poor. Today, I want to share with you one of my recent experiences that I believe lends itself more to helping!Read More
Three years ago I and some friends visited a local food distribution facility that provides food for those in need. My sincere feelings of compassion for those who don’t have food led me to volunteer that day. Yet to my surprise, I left their facility enraged at what I’d seen. We came to find workers throwing the food we just prepared directly in the trash. To say I was appalled is an understatement and I quickly started firing questions as to why they would throw perfectly good food away when there were people on the streets hungry for something to eat. Met with apathetic responses, my friends and I instantly started to devise a plan to help distribute some of the food to the poor, so they wouldn’t throw it all away. The plan was simple; we'd hand out the food directly to Atlanta's homeless, ourselves. It was a good idea in theory.Read More
My dream is coming true! My husband, Sam, and I are traveling with 410 Bridge on a mission trip to Haiti this summer. For those who know me, you won’t be surprised to know I’ve been learning all I can about Haiti and the people we’ll be working alongside. I like to study, read-up and be prepared as a way to create the most meaningful experience possible. As I’ve started to learn about the intricate details contributing to poverty in Haiti and around the world, I’ve begun to realize just how small and interconnected our world truly is. We say it all the time, but do we mean it? This time, I mean it. From a distance, poverty looks the same in many places. That’s because it is. Many of the same factors that plague Haiti’s development, plague other areas of the world, yet each of these factors manifest in different ways, making it actually appear quite different in each country or community. My hope is to share with you what I’m learning about Haiti’s specific situation before we go, so I can bring you with me on the journey to Haiti and back. Want to join? Here we go!