My 2013 started out at a conference called Abolition 2013. Wow, what was I thinking? This was a faith based equipping conference for folks they are calling “abolitionists”. It was three days of training to understand and effectively combat human trafficking and the sex trade industry in our modern society. Why, you ask would I attend such a training? Well, to start with, for the last year and half I have been involved in a ministry through our church that ministers to the dancers at the two “gentlemen's” clubs south of our city. Over the last several years I have found myself researching the fight against modern day slavery and the rescue of women and children caught in the sex trade industry. Research on this subject can be a bit tricking. So a good portion of my fact finding has been through books I have found within our library system. Exodus Cry came up on one of my few internet searches and was thrilled that such an organization was right in my own backyard as well as a conference bringing others with the same burden together. At the conference, I was able to accumulate a number of safe websites to find what kind of work is being done here in the states and around the world. This subject matter is very difficult for me but then again, I cannot seem to get away from the need to end such practices not only within my own community but across the globe. My heart has grown beyond my own ability to love the women that I have met in the clubs. I am not sure what the future holds in regards to my involvement in this fight against something that has been ignored for far too long.
. . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes . . . Isaiah 61:3
Our son, Ryan is invoved in a community service project called Skate For Change. SFC has applied for a grant through State Farm Youth Advisory Board in the value of $25,000 to $100,000 to an organization or school that has a great idea for a service-learning project to impact student achievement in their community. Here's where you come in and can help Skate For Change make an impact on thier community. Click here and vote 10 times a day for Skate For Change through May 17th.
Skate for Change is a local group of skateboarders who skate around the inner-city and metro areas with backpacks handing out food, water, socks, toothpaste, etc. to the homeless and less fortunate in our area. They are fully committed to helping better someone else's day. Even if it's sparing a few quarters to each person waiting at the bus stop to get to a job that they are about to lose. Or giving a few extra blankets or fresh milk to a family with a new baby living under a bridge. Instead of just walking by these people we are helping, sitting down having a conversation, making them feel special and cared regardless of their circumstances.
Getting more people involved is key. $25,000 would address the community's unmet need by providing more services, buying more socks, more food, and stocking up so we never run out. The lasting impact is more people getting involved in "Good" in our city instead of "Bad".
Remember you can vote 10 times each day. Ready, set, vote.
Our son, Ryan, has been a part of a start up ministry called Skate For Change in Lincoln, Nebraska. Their primary goal is to connect with the homeless community in their city. Basically, they are a bunch of skate boarders that have a heart for the under resourced in Lincoln and are doing something about it. This weekend they got a huge media boost with the visit of Ryan Sheckler. Ryan Sheckler is a skate boarding icon, business owner and charity founder. He was interested in what Skate for Change was all about and wanted to experience, along with the skaters of Lincoln, the act of serving the homeless.
To view the news video of the day click here. The hope is that Ryan Sheckler will take this experience back to Los Angeles and start a Skate For Change in his own community. Mike Smith, Skate For Change founder, is also the owner and operator of Bay 198, a nonprofit skate park whose desire is to mentor and empower the skate culture through a positive environment. They are creating a space where skaters of all ages can creatively develop individual skills while cultivating an atmosphere of growth, love, and community.
I just can not get the images of the devastation in Japan out of my head. Sitting here in my home with water, electricity and many other comforts makes me feel so helpless. From here, I know there is really only one thing that I can do and that is pray for the leaders and people of Japan. Their need for comfort, daily needs, and wisdom in the face of all the destruction has to be overwhelming. My heart goes out to the organizations that are on the ground in what I am sure is a desperate need to help and not stop until there is nothing else to be done. I always have a yearning to go to these devastated places in the world and help, but I have no way to do this, let alone funds to make a difference. I do know I can help with my donation to organizations that are there on the ground and they do need the funds, even if it is just my little bit. Here are few ways you too can make a denotation.
Salvation Army has made it possible to donate by texting the words "Japan" or "Quake" to 80888 to make a $10 donation, or make a donation via their website here.
Today we received the newsletter from the couple, Travis and Roberta Sanders, at Casas por Cristo that served as our team coordinators for the mission trip that our family took at Christmas time in 2007. Because this newsletter is not on-line, I want to share it with you here, otherwise I would just give you a link. But this is the article that Travis wrote:
"A couple of Christmases ago Roberta and I had the privilege to be a part of the Bergfalk family in celebrating Addison and Peggy's 50th wedding anniversary by building a home for Sergio and Flor Venegas. This January the world lost an incredible man as Addison passed away. Instead of flowers Addison and his family requested people to donate to the work of Casas por Cristo. About a month later Casas received a substantial check in honor of Addison. After hearing of Addison's passing, I began to look back on the brief time that we got to spend with him and his family and about the impact that our time together has had. The focus of Casas por Cristo is to provide adequate housing for people in desperate need. The generosity of Addison and his family has had a deep and significant impact on my life and my ministry here. I have always known that doing what we do has a lasting impact on not only the families who receive homes but also everyone who has ever gotten the opportunity to be a part of a build. After all, that experience is the reason that every single person at Casas has moved hundreds or thousands of miles for their homelands to serve here. I have seen thousands of people's lives get changed here, but none have hit me so hard. The thought of being part of the seventy-two hours that Addison chose to represent who he was as a man is probably the most humbling experience of my life. I am not anywhere near being worthy enough to be a part of the life changing impact that goes on here. However, I am incredibly grateful that we serve a God that does not see that unworthiness, but allows us to share in what He's doing. Thank you to all of you with whom I've been able to share in what Christ is doing here, and thank you to the entire Bergfalk family. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your family, for your continued prayers and support, and for reminding me that this is bigger than building a home or serving our friends across the border. It's bigger than any of us."
To hear of the inpact that my Dad had on Travis is so touching. I can't say I will ever tire of hearing stories of how my Dad made a difference in others people's lives. It continues to prove to me that I cannot wait to be "perfect" for God to use me, but allow God to use me in the midst of my journey.
In my studio I have a wall above my cutting table that has been blank for a long time. Recently, I decided to fill it with reminders of what I want my life to represent, where I have been, and what Stitches By Sturman supports. The pictures are from the several mission trips I have been on. The quilted cross was made by the women of The Mashia Foundation. The women live in Nigeria and help support their families by making quilted items and selling them. Since my first trip to India in 2006, Stitches By Sturman has purchased at least 4 sewing machines a year for women in India to start their own sewing business to support their families.
Using some black spray paint, it did not take long for all of the frames to look a lot better and like they all went together. I then picked some of my favorite pictures and printed them in black and white and placed them in the frames. I now have a daily reminder that this is what it is all about and Stitches By Sturman is God's way of providing me with a way to support women 1,000's of miles away doing the same work I do and giving me a connection with them through His love.
I am linking up to: Between Naps on the Porch, Its So Very Cheri, Keeping It Simple, Mad Skills Monday, The DIY Show Off, The Girl Creative, Skip to My Lou, Today's Creative Blog, Coastal Charm, New Nostalgia, Me and My Bucket, The Thirfty Home
This is a tapestry that I purchased in September of 2008 on a trip to India. I have known that I wanted, no, I needed to display it somewhere I would see it everyday and remember the people of India. This week while shopping I found the perfect hooks to hang my tapestry on. They started out a kind of worn beige and of course I wanted them to be a worn out red. So out came my handy colonial red spray paint and a little wipe with a rag and, wa-lah, worn out red hooks. Now this beautiful tapestry made of antique pieces of sarees hangs in my studio where I will see it everyday and remember in prayer the people of India. A part of my heart remains in the land of India, where I have seen the beauty of a people so different than me.
This is after I had spray painted and wiped off some of the paint. You need to work quickly as spray paint begins to dry right away. You need to paint and then wipe one at a time or the paint will be too dry to wipe off.
Today the kids and I stepped into Africa through the World Vision Experience. I had no idea what to expect but I knew that I would leave that place with a fresh heart for the poor and hurting of our world. This brought to my mind the men, women and children that I have met across the world that are in need of a hand up. I thought of the little orphan boy, Jefty, in Haiti that hugged me and crawled up in my lap and clung to me during a church service. The fact that he just could not get close enough to me was almost overwhelming. I remember the little girl I met in the Philippians that would not stop staring at me and finally came over and sat with me and sang worship songs to me while a pastor spoke in a language I did not understand. I am reminded of the children in the orphanages in India that I have met and the house Moms that care for them. My friends Sam and Prati Stepehens, Pastor Benny, Samita, Dony St. Germain and the many others that minister to these people. My heart for the under resourced of this world continues to grow. As I walked through the life of Babirye today not only did the young girl loose her Dad to AIDS but she also tested positive for the disease.
We each followed the story of a different child and had to wait in the clinic area for the test results of that child. Lindsey and Anna's little girl did not test positive, but both Ryan and I had children that are now living with the disease.
All of the children pictured in the prayer chapel have either been diagnosed with AIDS or lost one or both parents to the disease. The impact of AIDS in Africa is staggering and is wiping out an entire generation of people.
I am not sure what touches your heart. But I do know that you need to act on that desire to help. Even though you do not think that your small gift or service can make an impact, if every one of us acts, we can, and will make a difference to the people in this world who are in need. Whatever you do, ACT!
Today my hand is stamped with a + sign as Babirye's was in the clinic where she found out the news. This is a reminder that I can make a difference if only I act no matter how small the gesture. My God can take my act and grow it into a plan that will make a difference in the world. Our family plans to act in the LIVE OUT LOUD offering at Indian Creek Community Church on December 20th knowing our God has a plan.
This past Sunday's day of service was so fun! We had a good turn out in Gardner and the best part of the whole day was the contacts that we had with the people in our community. I had the great privilege and fun of going to each of the sites to capture some pictures. I like to call myself the "supervisor" but that might be assuming too much. Being the armature photo journalist that I am, I missed several great photo ops. Like the whole group worship and prayer at the beginning of our day, and after looking at my pictures after I got home, I did not get a group picture at each site. I am teachable and will not miss those next time. The purpose of our day of service was not so promote Indian Creek Community Churchbut to "be" the church to those in our community. In talking with those that participated, many had ideas of how we can continue to live a life of service to those in Gardner. I am inspired to intentionally find ways to "Live Out" and put into action what I truly believe. "The church is only the church when we are being the hands and feet of Jesus."
There are things in my life that just keep coming up everywhere I look. I find it when I am searching for it and when I am not searching for it. This thing that keeps showing up everywhere is poverty. God seems to be continuing to show me that there is poverty in His world and it is all around me. I can chose to ignore it and it will disappear into the landscape of my world or I can pay attention to it and do what I can to help. Now the question is, what can "I" do? There is the inadequacy thing where I am sure that there is nothing I can do to change such a large problem; and the; Why even try, I mean, I am just one gal?, Or God has the perfect person to help, I am sure I am not it. But I do know that if God were only going to use the perfect person nothing in the world would get done. God will use those who make themselves available to Him. I read this book, The Hole in Our Gospel, a couple of weeks ago and I have not been able to get it off my mind since. I am making myself available to help change the poverty in this world. Today, I can help with the needs of school children in our area by donating to the backpack and school supply drive at Indian Creek Community Church, I can bring can goods to the Johnson County Parade in Gardner on Saturday, August 8th and place them in the Indian Creek grocery carts as they go by in the parade. I can do something right now and I will continue to see the poor and under resourced in my world and not look away hoping someone else will help. I will get invovled!
Saturday was filled with some hard work and a great time at the What if the Church? serve day. We met some great new people, and worked with some old friends too and got a lot of work done for the Urban Scholastic Center. We had just over 100 people working at our sight with around 19 of them from the Indian Creek Gardner campus. The jobs we did ranged from painting, to cleaning, and removing and planting shrubs. It was so fun to see how much was accomplished in this one day and if we continue to work together as churches we can change the city, the country, and ultimately our world. Isn't that what the "great commission" is all about? I am looking forward to the city-wide worship event on June 3rd at Shawnee Mission Theater in the park at 7:00pm. Hope to see you there.
If you have not yet signed up for the What if the Church? Serve day event you need to do it today. Indian Creek Community Church, Gardner Campus will be serving at the Urban Scholastic Center. To registar, click here, and follow the instructions. We will be meeting at Wheatridge Middle School at 7:30 am on May 30th and will be riding together as well as sharing coffee and donuts on the way. I look forward to serving in the urban core of Kansas City with all of you.
Today I began a five-week journey reading the book Hope Lives. My desire is to be challenged to become what God is calling me to be. I believe that there has got to be a reason that I keep finding myself faced with the poverty of the world. I know that God keeps interrupting my life to help me see these people, who He loves, and view them through His eyes. I know that God values the poor and there has to be a reason that He repeatedly keeps asking me to serve them. I will post here of what, if anything, that God reveals to me as is go through this study seeking the purpose God has for me in these opportunities that keep finding me here in Kansas. At this point, I have no idea what will come of this, but I am open to what I discover.
Sunday had to be my favorite day in Haiti. Our team had the great privilege of attending church with our new little friends. Each team member was surrounded by the children we had met previously. These kids could not sit close enough to us. And I have to say it truly made me feel loved by them. Then in the afternoon I was so honored to be there for the church dedication of the Cavaillion, Haiti church that Restore Community Church built. Back in October Restore was in a teaching series about generosity, the plan was to give one Sunday's offering toward the building of a church in Haiti. Restore proved that they are a church of generosity and that Sunday the offering was over $60,0000, WOW! Not only were they able to build a church but the orphanage as well and children will be moving in the next couple of weeks. The dedication service began with a handful of people inside the church and then the people literally started to pour in. You could see streams of people coming down the road to the church. Within a couple of minutes the church was packed out with people standing shoulder to shoulder. Our guess was there were between 300 and 400 people in attendance both inside and outside the building. And these are not "pastor" numbers I was there. The opportunity to be there for this dedication in knowing that this church is there to make a difference in the community, is such a privilege and one I will not soon forget. The emotion of it was overwhelming. I had chill bumps and could not stop the tears in knowing the generosity of one brand new church in Kansas City, was not only making a difference in the community in which they live but helping a group of people make a difference in Haiti as well. God is so good!
We are home from Haiti. Although it is great to be home, a part of my heart has been left behind with the children that we played with for three days. I experienced a whole new kind of love. I have never doubted that God loved me, but have not really stepped back and seen how much God loves others. God loves these children through so many people. The amount of details that have to come together in order to care for these children can only be attributed to the love of God for His own. I do not believe they want or need our pity, because they are willing to show love to all that come a visit them. I watched them make sure we were comfortable, the older ones cared for the younger ones, and they made sure that no one was left out of any of the small gifts that we brought them. Each of the team members, 14 in all, sat in church on Sunday surround by these loving children. Think of being in a church service with 200 children under the age of 12. You would have been amazed. They were all very well behaved and worshiped God along with the adults. It will take me a couple of days to process all that I experienced, but I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to experience His love through these children. They will be in my heart forever and I have been changed.
Whenever I leave for a mission trip there are feelings that come up that I just don't expect. It does not matter how many times I have gone in the past, every trip brings these emotions. There is the anxiousness of going somewhere you have never been before, leaving the the familiar for the unfamiliar, and just not knowing what you really are getting yourself into. I also know that once I arrive in Haiti, there will be the overwhelming feeling of how unfair life seems to be, that I was born in the U.S. in a middle class, christian family, and did nothing to deserve this privilege. I never even realized what a privilege it was until I found myself on that first trip to India three years ago. Just as the people in third world countries, did nothing to deserve to live where they do, in the conditions they find themselves. I know that I can easily be blinded by the immensity of the need and paralyzed by thinking I can make any kind of difference. My focus needs to stay on Jesus and reason I am going, to love on His children, one child at a time.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
This is the work that God has prepared for me in advance and He knows that I can do it when I depend on Him.
I am so excited as the time grows closer that I will be leaving for Haiti. My great friend Sheri and I will be going to Haiti on a mission trip with Restore Community Church who is partnering C3 Missions. There are so many ways in which this trip will be like no other I have been on before. First of all, this is my first trip where we will be traveling with men. I have only been on women only trips in the past. Secondly, I have no preparation as far as teaching goes, we will be going to orphanages and playing with the children. In our meetings, they keep saying that this trip is about the children. How fun is that? And third, we will be only gone for five days. Wow, I cannot wait to see how C3 and Restore is impacting the community in which they have built a church and are in the process of building an orphanage. I know that I never go on trip where God does not have something specific just for me. Part of the adventure for me is finding that purpose and making the most of it!