I thought I’d share something written by our daughter. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, she has really blown us away by her thoughtfulness and generosity.
The Gift of Giving
A little bit ago I started a small earring business called B-Jeweled. It started as a regular business, me getting all of the money from it. About the same time I was reading an awesome book by a 14 year old, Austin Gutwin. The book was called Take Your Best Shot and quickly inspired me to do something “bigger than myself”.
About 2 weeks before the beginning of B-Jeweled, my parents went to a meeting. This meeting was about a mission trip to one of the oldest and poorest slums in the world, Nairobi, Kenya. In Kenya my parents were going to see our sponsor child, Jonathan (see Sponsor Spotlight), teach the teachers at the schools there, put light in their huts, and help out in the medical clinics. They soon decided that they would go and started collecting money (the trip is about 4,000 each).
As I said before, I was inspired to do something and I found the answer in my parent’s trip to Kenya. Instead of giving B-Jeweled earnings to myself, I decided to give prophets to my parent’s trip to Kenya.
Before I knew it, it was 2 weeks before Christmas and I had $26.30. Wow! Who knew I could raise so much money with a small earring business!
B-Jeweled has continued to grow and raise money for Kenya. So far B-Jeweled has raised more than $70!
Merry Christmas Everyone!
I just wanted to share a story from my Christmas experience today. I was blown away by one of the best Christmas presents that I have ever received. As a family, we had decided to keep it pretty low-key this year as far as presents go, since we were saving up for our big trip to Kenya this summer. Honestly, this wasn’t the easiest choice to make. It’s hard not to want to give your kids and family as much as possible. Despite the “tough” decision, our family – especially our kids – handled this Christmas remarkably well.
Today as we were opening presents with my wife’s family, it was fun to watch as my two nieces tore into their gifts. It was also special to see the genuine appreciation from our kids as they opened their own gifts. But my daughter took the cake for my Christmas experience today when she handed my wife a small box that she had purposefully prepared to give to the two of us. When we opened the box, we discovered over $42 mostly in one-dollar bills that she had saved up from money she earned selling her homemade jewelry. This act of pure generosity brought tears to my eyes.
Our upcoming trip to Kenya is going to be exciting and life changing, but what I’m experiencing already in preparation for this trip is already changing my life. To know that my daughter is so willing to think of others first is a true gift. Today, I learned so much from her – about putting others first – about correctly prioritizing things – and about what Christmas is really all about. No other words can fully express the emotion that I experienced today. I am one proud dad!
Earlier this year, our chuch sent a team of four to Kenya to scout out our opportunities to serve and make a difference. Here’s a short video that shows a small glimpse of the slums. When we go to Kenya next summer, we’ll be serving people who live in these slums. (Notice, the sewage that is flowing down the middle of their streets. I can’t even imagine the smell.)
Today when I arrived home from work, there was a letter from our sponsor child written by his teacher. Here’s what it says:
Dear Jon and Leanne Stolpe,
Praise God – Jonathan says he is very grateful for sponsoring him. He says that you created ways for him where their family had come to an end.
He likes our feeding programme and his favourite dish is rice with meat stew.
He likes to socialize and share materials with other children in class and in the playing field.
His prayer request is to pray for him to excel in his studies and his family members.
He likes to recite this memory verse from Mark 10:14 (Jesus said let the little children come to me).
Pretty cool (the letter even had artwork from Jonathan on the back of a sun and a window).
Last night after a great weekend and wonderful evening with some friends, it was time to get the kids to bed before a four day week of school. (I should note here that we topped off delicious meal with orange Crush and root beer floats.) The kids were given specific instructions for getting ready for bed, and without delay one of our kids chimed in…”I’m hungry.” Okay, so I realize that kids at this age must burn through calories at a rapid pace as they sprout up like weeds in my landscape, but come on. We just had a big meal, and it was already time for bedtime. To make matters worse, our child continued to whine and complain and whine and complain and whine and complain. Does this sound familiar to any of you?
Leanne took the brunt of this episode as I was “Skyping” with my parents, but the pouting was still underway as I came up to say my good nights.
Leanne and I both shared with our child that we understand that feeling of hunger, but we also explained that many in the world experience a hunger far worse than that every night they lay down to sleep. Where we’re going in Kenya, my guess is that many of the children who call the Mathare North slums home experience this feeling of hunger all the time. This includes our sponsor child Jonathan. After this discussion, we took time to pray for Jonathan and others in Kenya and around the world who are experiencing hunger. We also were especially thankful for the blessings of food, shelter, safety, etc. that so many in the world don’t get to experience.
It was interesting to see the change in heart.
…continually impacted by Kenya…
Our whole family is diving into this Kenya thing. If the kids could go along on the trip, I think they would be game for the idea. The kids are becoming aware of the financial aspect of this trip. Isaac actually sat through the first meeting we attended where we learned that the trip would cost $6,000-$8,000. Obviously, the money thing is a big aspect of whether or not we’ll be able to go. When Leanne and I submitted our initial applications this past Sunday, we did so by taking a step of faith expecting that God would provide the resources necessary to take this trip. Together, we’ve been brainstorming ways that we can save money for the trip and focus our attention on the people we will serve in Kenya.
Leanne had the brilliant idea of building and selling chicken coops. Then she mentioned that I should sell my baseball cards. The kids want to sell eggs and golf balls. I’m not sure which if any of these ideas will take off, but it’s great to see the wheels spinning. One thing we’re doing is eating a meal of rice and beans one night a week. Not only is it a cheap meal, but it also gives us the opportunity to think about how others in the world eat every day.
I knew all our conversations were hitting home yesterday when I went to pay Isaac for cutting the grass. This summer we agreed that it would be a good idea for the kids to start cutting the grass (under supervision of course). This would give them a chance to help out, and it would give me a chance to work on other things outside while they were cutting the grass. We agreed that they would get a small “paycheck” for completing this task and doing a good job. Well, Isaac cut the grass on Tuesday, so naturally, I wanted to follow up on my end of the deal. When I went to pay him last night, he simply said that he wouldn’t take the money – that we were saving for Kenya.
Whoa! Needless to say, I was blown away. I don’t know yet how we’re going to come up with all the money required for the trip, but I’m already seeing that it was worth taking the leap of faith.