Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sobriety

Three years sober and going strong. I’ve been on the patch, that is, the flower patch.
It was lonely in those fields and don’t think I didn’t have my run-ins with the queen bee.
But others are joining me thanks to a movie named Twilight and a toothy vampire who fell in love with a human. Blood sucking just ain’t cool anymore.
Well I made the commitment long before that movie. It was in 2010 when I witnessed with my own bug eyes what my bite did to a child in poverty. You see, there I was . . .

Enjoying a puddle left behind by a late season rain shower in Burkina Faso when I caught the scent.  Blood and fresh.  I buzzed around until I spotted my prey, a young boy headed home from school.  I took a bite and ate my fill.  And then, just for giggles, I followed him home.

What happened next changed my view on my diet forever.  For over a week I watched him and his family, feasting happily.  Then it began.  First the chills started and he couldn't keep warm.  No matter what the adults did, he would shiver, shake and cry out at all times.  Then later he would start to get really hot and complained that his head hurt.   The boy began drifting in and out of consciousness before falling into a coma.  Within two days, he was dead.

I didn't know.  I didn't know what my bite could do.  So that's when I flew as far and as fast as I could to the flower fields and I haven't taken a drop of blood since.  My name is Massimo the Mosquito and I am a recovering blood drinker.

It seems rather silly doesn't it?  The idea that a mosquito would go sober.  But the glaring truth of the story is that half of the world's population, that is 3.3 billion people, are at risk of malaria infection.  And 655,000 children die of it, that's one every thirty seconds, each year. 

And what's worse?

It is preventable and treatable.

This Thursday is World Malaria Day 2013 and we can make a difference.  It's as easy as helping to provide mosquito nets for beds.

Attribution: Compassion International




Compassion International has a great program to help with this.  It is called, Bite Back.  Donations to this fund:
  • provide households at risk with treated mosquito nets
  • educate family members on malaria prevention
  • treat children suffering from malaria, chagas disease and dengue fever
 For $20.00, you can buy two nets for two children and help save lives.  That's as easy as making your coffee at home for four days or eating in instead of running through the drive through.  Can you think of other ways you can save money to help children in need and make a donation?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My First Letter!

So I was planning on introducing you to another of my Compassion kiddos today but I have something else to share.  I received my first letter!  I was so giddy when I saw the white envelope stamped with "A Message from Your Sponsored Child."  I started dancing around (well as much as I can) and yelling, "A letter, Tony!!  It's a letter!"  I hobbled down to our room as fast as I could and started opening it.  Then devoured it with my eyes.  I still can't help grinning whenever I look at it or think about it.

The letter is from Sawdaou, my four year old boy from Burkina Faso I told you about.  It is a yellow form letter but it is still precious to me.  Since he is so young, I'm assuming that they either talked with him or his mother for the answers and someone else wrote them down.  But this is what it says.

On the front are four boxes.  Each box talks about different parts of his life.

My family members are:  My dad, my mum and my 3 sisters.

My best friend's name is:  Alahami.
My best friend and I love to play: cooking.

My Project is 01 km far from my home.
I go to my project by foot.
I go to my project on Thursdays.

My favorite food is Spaghetti.
My favorite color is white.
My favorite pet is dog.
My favorite activity at the project is singing.

On the back is a large box for a drawing.  His is of a squiggle that is labeled "a dog."  I giggled at this.  I'll try scanning it and posting it later.  Then there are two more sections for questions and answers.

Questions for my Sponsor:  Sawdaou would like to know if you enjoy cooking.

Prayer Requests:  She wants you to pray so that you will get an opportunity to come one day in his village.   (I'm assuming the "she" mentioned here is his mother."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spin Cycle

I belong to a great community on Google+ of Christian bloggers, this week we were challenged to write about our favorite Christian song.  At first I was boggled.  How do I narrow that down?  I have a favorite song or group of songs for every situation, mood or season in my life.  So I just want to talk about first a new band I discovered and second one of the songs on their debut album they just released.  The band is All Things New.  I first heard them at the Our God's Not Dead tour in Yakima back in March.  I immediately fell in love with their sound.  Heck, they have a banjo.  We only heard three songs that night, but it was enough for me to pre-order their album.

I got the album last weekend and haven't stopped playing it.  Or singing it at the top of my lungs whenever I'm alone in my car.  Because nobody wants to hear that...trust me.  But praising God along with these guys just lightens my heart.

Now to the song.  The song that lifts my heart the most is "Washed Over Me."  Here's just a taste of the lyrics:
My chains were broken, my debt was paid
I traded dirty rags for riches in Your name
And in that moment, my soul could sing
When Your love washed over me

Like water, You poured out
And grace covered me
When Your love, oh Your love
When Your love washed over me

My search is over, I've found my home
My cup is overflowed, with You I thirst no more
There on the river I found the victory
When Your love washed over me 
 This song reminds me that Jesus died to set me free from my sin, from death.  I am righteous in God's eyes because of him.  The visual I get of God and Jesus' love just pouring out over me and the world brings me to tears.  Belong is the lyric video of the song, take a listen, praise God with me and the guys from All Things New and let me know what you think and what songs remind you of God's great love for us.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Learning Curve

Remember back in high school (or was it college), when we were taught about the learning curve?  I think when it comes to trusting God with my health and chronic pain, I'm on a steep one.  I think I have it all figured out, then something comes along and trips me.  And I end up rolling down the curve to land at the foot of the cross.  When that happens, I go back to the start.

In my journey there have been two songs that have really spoken into my heart:  "Blessings" by Laura Story and "Even If" by Kutless.

They've taught me two things:

1.  Not all "trials" are hardships, some of them are blessings in disguise.  All things have a purpose, even my chronic pain.
2.  I can grow closer to God through my suffering by leaning on Him through it.  Yes, I pray for healing but more than that, I pray He gives me strength to get through it and wisdom to learn from it.
3.  No matter what, God is good.  He is faithful.


Romans 5:3-5 says "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love."
I have learned in the past year that God is always with us in our trials, whether we sense His presence or not.  If we learn to lean on Him and be still, He will battle for us and He will be our strength.  And our faith will emerge stronger.  But the key thing here is we must trust in Him.  If you try to handle the trials and problems on your own, then the endurance, the patience, the learning is stunted. 

Has there been situations where you've learned through a trial or a problem?  What about when you've stumbled and lost sight of the cross in the midst?  How did you get back on track?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Introducing Sawdaou

I've talked about sponsoring, now I'd like for you to meet my Compassion family.  I financially sponsor one child and I am a correspondence sponsor for three others.  What a correspondence sponsor means is I write the child but I do not financially sponsor them.  Usually they are sponsored by a business or organization (or occasionally a person) who cannot write them, but because letters are so important they are encouraged to allow correspondence sponsors to encourage the children in their stead.  I'll introduce you to the children one by one.  First we'll start with my youngest and the one that I financially sponsor.  This doesn't mean I love him more or less than the others. 

So without further ado, this is Sawdaou.


Isn't he cute?!  I certainly think so!  As I mentioned before Sawdaou is from Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in Africa.  He's four years old with a birthday in December.  He doesn't currently attend school because he's underage but he does attend the project as well as Sunday school.  Sawdaou lives with both parents who are occasionally employed as farmers.  As my Compassion information says, he on the plains of Benaverou, home to approximately 5,000 residents. Typical houses are constructed of dirt floors, mud walls and wood or tin roofs. The regional diet consists of maize, fish and potatoes.

Common health problems in this area include malaria, coughs, meningitis and typhoid. Most adults in Benaverou are unemployed but some work as subsistence farmers or market traders and earn the equivalent of $20 per month. This community needs employment opportunities and tuition assistance.

I'm still waiting for my first letter from him.  When I hear more, so will you!