We had our first board meeting for Sixteen Small Stones!! We had a barbecue at the park and it was really fun! We were able to accomplish quite a bit! I will write more about that later. (I have pictures I will post with it!)
Taiger and I live next door to a sweet family. Their son is Taiger's best, best friend, and Taiger plays so well with ALL of their kids. Anyway, the Mom, Joann is SOOOO SWEET! She has become like a sister to our family, and I love her so much! Well, she knows how to make websites!!!!! Out of the pure kindness of her heart she is making a website for Sixteen Small Stones! I cannot believe it! I am SO excited! The one sad thing was that the name "Sixteen Small Stones" was taken, so we are having to use "16 Small Stones" (which I don't like as much), but for that to be "the sad thing", I think is GREAT!!!!!
I had found a web layout design that I liked okay, so Joann went ahead and started creating the website using that. As time went on, I realized it just wasn't a very good layout. Joann actually CHANGED the ENTIRE layout, thus losing ALL of her (hard!) work up to that point!!!! We found a REALLY wonderful web layout design to use and she has started creating the new website using that layout, starting all the way back at square ONE!!!!!! I can't believe that she would go through that just so I could have a "prettier" web site. If I were her, I would have said, "TOO BAD!", but not Joann. She acted like it was no big deal and deleted ALL of her work. AND...stayed happy and excited as she did it.
Joann is amazing because not only is she making a website for us, she is doing it with all of her heart. She has talked to me A TON about Small Stones and what I want to see happen with it, she has looked at the websites and blogs of our "Friends" (Amazima, Luckyhill, etc.) to see how theirs are so ours looks "appropriate", and also so she can see exactly what kind of things Small Stones will be doing. She did all of this so she could better understand the purpose and feeling behind Small Stones so she can not just "design" a webpage, but actually CREATE something artistic that reflects the spirit of Small Stones!!!! I don't know any other web designer that would have gone to such lengths to make our website PERFECT!
I am so thankful to all of the people who have stepped forward to help Sixteen Small Stones!! I am so thankful to Joann for creating a website for Small Stones. She is a blessing to us, and I am so happy to have such a loving and wonderful person creating our website for us!!
Jeremy (lovingly) mentioned that I should have commented on my FOURTH member of my board, who, really, was my FIRST member. This person's spirit is so, so strong and we are SO blessed to have in on our board for Small Stones.
From the beginning, this has been "Taiger's and my" project. For years he has listened to me talk about China. Since before he could speak, I was telling him stories of my old home, and he was being prepared to serve the people in China. From the time he was a new born, I would rock him in my arms and sing Chinese lullabies to him. As a toddler, he would ask how soon we could move to China. Taiger knows there are people there, waiting for us to help them.
When the idea came to mind to move to Ghana, I spoke with Taiger about it, making sure it would be okay with him if we moved. He was confused at first about why we were going to Africa and not to China, seeing as how he had been waiting his entire life for that move. I reassured him that we WOULD still be moving to China, just to Africa first. It took him a while to process this other place about which he knew so little at the time. We started having lessons about Africa in our little school we do together. Soon, he was anxious to go to Africa. Before long, on a world map, he could point out Africa and also Ghana...and Madigascar, actually.
It was a sad day when I had to tell him we couldn't go to Africa. He is still upset about it. I can tell he felt the loss as deeply as I, if not more. At first he was confused, then angry, then acted like he had had something very special stollen from him. It has been hard to watch him deal with not being able to go to Africa, but I am happy he seems to be less hurt by it. I think that finding ways to serve the children of Ghana has helped him through his sorrow and anger. In some ways, I think he felt connected to Ghana and Africa, as I had talked to him about how he was half from that land and half from America.
Taiger is the only child on the Small Stones board. Him being a child brings so many blessings to the board of Small Stones. Because he is a child, he brings to the table child-like love, child-like faith, child-like hope, Child-like joy and child-like acceptance of others.
Child-like love is the purest love. It is not selfish, does not have another agenda, and does not bennifit oneself. It loves everyone and never discriminates in who recieves it.
Child-like faith is faith unwavaring. It is a beliefe in all things good, pure, wholesome and joyful. It is beliefe without doubt.
Child-like hope is the hope for all things good and beautiful. It is a hope for love and joy and it never ceases.
Child-like joy is a joy in all things good! It is joy for joy's sake! It needs no coercing, and holds back nothing. It is easily gained and easily expressed.
Child-like acceptance of others reaches to EVERYONE! It never judges, it never discriminates. It never wonders what it will gain in return.
Can you see the many, many things we can learn from children? Can you see the things Small Stones board members can learn from Taiger? Just think, if each member of our board and each person participating in Small Stones could learn to be child-like in all things, imagine the difference we could make in the world!!
I read this story some time ago when I was first considering Small Stones. It touched my heart then, and it still does today. It reminds me of the things I have just mentioned, about child-like faith and hope.
This story was written by a doctor who worked in South Africa.
One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator).We also had no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts.One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies, and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates). And ‘it is our last hot water bottle!' she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.'All right,' I said, 'put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts Your job is to keep the baby warm.'
The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. During prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. 'Please, God' she prayed, 'Send us a hot water bottle today. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon. While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, 'And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?'As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say 'Amen?' I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there?The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!
Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly-colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - that would make a batch of buns for the weekend. Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the.....could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, 'If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!' Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully-dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked, 'Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her? 'Of course,' I replied!
That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child – five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it 'that afternoon.'
I am so thankful to have Taiger on our board! He is such an amazing little boy! He is always happy and so full of LOVE. I love him so much and am so thankful he is my son.
I am so lucky and so blessed! Already I am seeing the strengths of the people on my board! It is amazing to watch how God works through them. I can see we will accomplish much with these two such amazing, spiritual and Godly people working together with me. I am humbled at their eagerness to grab hold of my ridiculous dream and make it their own.
Jeremy's enthusiasm never ceases to amaze me. He asks all the time how soon we can start a project for Small Stones. He has so many ideas and just can't wait to put them into effect. Jeremy has a HUGE heart and loves more people day by day. He is always ready to reach out to someone else, and that is something I admire greatly in him. He would help anyone in any way, at any moment. It is truly amazing to watch him. He understands how to serve better than anyone I know. I have a LOT to learn from him about true, genuine, inconvenient SACRIFICE and SERVICE. I am so blessed to have him on my board.
Bryttan is my sister, so I could talk endlessly about her spirit and example. Bryttan loves everyone. Absolutely everyone, and in a bigger, more powerful way than I have ever seen anyone love. She can reach the heart of anyone. People are drawn to her because of the love she emanates. She NEVER is slow to love someone. She will take anyone in her arms and encircle them in such peace I have never seen. People with disabilities, people with trials, people who are absolutely heartless and cruel to Bryttan are completely loved by her. Her endless love makes her a joy to be around as she never bears ill-will or malice for ANYONE, even those who hurt her most. She will love and accept ANYONE without question. Bryttan is passionate about being around the poor and orphaned in the world, and she yearns to show them love by serving them. She is a perfect example of Christ-like love! Her love will bless us all as she serves on the board of Small Stones.
Bryttan had a fabulous fund-raising idea!! Near our home is a large outdoor mall. It is hip and cool, and TONS of people LOVE this mall! Not only is there great shopping, they also have a huge movie theatre, an IMAX theatre and planetarium, a space museum AND a children's museum! It is also a fun place to just wander around and soak up the relaxed and exciting atmosphere. Bryttan suggested that this summer, we set up a booth at this outdoor mall. At our booth we will have buckets of paint and rocks. For 16 cents (in accordance with the name of SIXTEEN Small Stones) people can paint a rock! All of the money will go to 16 Small Stones (of course). Her idea gets even more fun! We will take pictures of people painting the stones and put them in an album here on our blog. Later, if others wish to contribute to Small Stones, they can paint a rock and send pictures to us with their donation and we will add their picture to our album!! I thought it was such a fun idea and a way for people who donate to feel part of something by having their picture on the blog. Having all of the people who donate paint a rock and take a picture will, I think, have a sort of unifying effect for everyone who donates. They can see how people from many backgrounds, in many situations in life, who are different ages and races and types, can all join together to make a difference!
I will post a date and time here when we know for sure when we will do this, so you can all come and support SSS if you want to!
Pretty soon, we are going to have our first "Board Meeting"...I will let you all know how that goes! I am really excited! We may be able to have it tomorrow! WOOHOO!!!!!
And remember, Bryttan is "recruiting" people to help, to be board members, or to be otherwise involved with Sixteen Small Stones...so if you want to be recruited, let me know and I will get your info. to Bryttan so she can contact you! (This includes if you want to help at this FUN first fund raising gig of rock painting...so if you want to help or be involved with it, leave me a comment! I think it will be REALLY fun!)
My heart is full of gratitude today...and HOPE! Lots of HOPE! Hope that Small Stones is meant to be and can make a difference in the world. What has given me this gratitude and hope? TWO PEOPLE have said they would sit on the board for Small Stones!!!!! The first was my good friend, Jeremy. The second, my loving, wonderful sister, Bryttan! I am so thankful to them...I cannot even express it! It is a new path for me. I have worked towards Small Stones for a long (LONG) time...just me, reaching for my dream. To find out that my dream was contingent on other people, that to become an "NGO" I had to establish a board of people, was somewhat of a shift in thinking for me. I learned my own strength and desire to have Small Stones. I have been through trials to push me and to really test if this is REALLY what I want to do with my life. I have learned more about myself and my perseverance in things about which I feel strongly. Of myself, I was quite sure. Then, I found out about having to establish a board. That was something new. To have to find people with the same level of passion for helping others...I didn't know where I would find such (crazy!) people. It was hard to think that MY dream could only be accomplished through OTHER people!!!!!
I see now how important this step in starting an NGO is. When I heard about having to establish a board of members, I thought it was silly, and I could "get away" with not doing it. Once Renee told me I really did need one, I decided to step up to the challenge, and, most importantly, put my faith in God and bring people to me. I see that helping people CANNOT be done by ONE person. It is good to start early on in an NGO learning that an NGO is about MANY people working together. This is a good lesson for me, and I hope I learned it well, as I am sure as Small Stones grows, more and more I will need other people.
So, here are our first three members of Small Stones: Breclyn Everett, Bryttan Everett, Jeremy McNeill. Wow! God is SO GOOD! This is SO AMAZING! .......Anyone else want to "join up"? :D
WOW! What a miracle! My heart was softened with humility as I read the post on Becky's blog. I didn't know what to expect from Becky's post on her blog. I didn't know if things would go well for William and the other children she has cared for. I didn't know. But I didn't need to. No one needed to know. We just all needed FAITH. Trust in God and Faith that He would care for His children.
I copied Becky's post from her blog because she can tell her experience much better than I could (obviously, since all I know came from her post!)
Before that, however, I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU! to everyone...EVERY ONE who supported William, Patience and the other children. You cannot guess the blessing you have been to them. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!
Feet have been healed. A child that I worried would never walk again doesn’t need me any more. Mission accomplished. God DID NOT forget. Three pounds each have been added to two children who DESPERATELY needed weight. I don’t show faces, because their struggles are theirs alone to share. But, trust me, these brothers pull at my heart like NO one ever has before (and I have four, soon to be five children). Something about the way they have survived makes me love them in a different way than I have ever experienced. They will not be my children, but they are truly special. God DID NOT forget. Three days after I got here a boy appeared that I recognized vaguely. I realized that I had his picture, but that he was now markedly skinnier. He is 12 and weighed in at 73 lbs. He told me he had “Malaria”, which is the diagnosis for any fever here. Water with re-hydration salts, a portable fan and Tylenol helped. He was up and walking around with the other boys a day later. He went to church this morning and chased the other boys around the yard afterwards. God DID NOT forget. I have bandaged 4-5 wounds per day. Wounds like I have NEVER seen on our tender little American children. A boo-boo half the size would send our children to the ER for a tetanus shot and stitches. Here, they come to me with dirty cloth bandages. I have watched wounds close that I thought would for sure mean my introduction to a Ghanaian hospital. I prayed, and got up every two hours overnight to change bandages and rub them with antibiotic ointment. In the light of day, it looked better already. God DID NOT forget. I have listened to lungs for signs of heart failure, and prayed that the sounds would be normal. What would I do if they weren’t? I have no clue. So far, following the child all day with water, reminding her to stay in the shade and fanning her during the heat of the day worked. A lot of hugs and praying has worked well. And, when it got the better of us, we cried together, and then sent it up to God, because He WILL NOT forget her. I have been blessed enough to have brought everything Lucky Hill will need for their infirmary. It will be stored here in plastic until the building that is currently being constructed for it is completed. I have promised to come back then, and stock it appropriately. I have, and will continue, to work with the staff in a culturally sensitive way to discuss first aid. God WILL NOT forget the children who have yet to come here and will need the medicine that I was lucky enough to have donated to me. God didn’t forget me either. He sent me here. I needed to be reminded that there are miracles every day, all over the world, miracles that I don’t see in my disillusioned middle class, American, subdivision. Miracles that I struggled to find until I got to Ghana and looked into the faces of these children. They are all miracles. Every.single.one has a story that will bring tears to your eyes. They aren’t wasting away in a corner crying. They were all just under the giant shade tree with me, chasing bubbles that you sent them. The biggest miracle of all occurred when I handed out granola bars today and the sassiest child of all turned around to come back to me and said “THANK YOU!” Thank you, for the important respect to my culture. God is good. He is VERY good.
As were were getting ready to leave, my nephew came to say good bye. The sky was dark and threatened rain. The wind was sharp and cold. I realized my nephew had something in his hand. When I looked in, I saw he was holding a tiny, baby bird. I was shocked! It was so small! He held his hands open, and I knew the tiny animal must be very, very cold, for it was completely naked, save a few small feathers. I asked him to come in the house to ask what should be done with the bird.
When I was young, we found a bird's nest in a bush in our front yard. For weeks we watched the nest. We tenderly pulled back the branches to see the nest, first empty, then with small eggs, and finally, tiny baby birds, all grey and fluffy. One day, we went to look in on "our" birds only to find the nest upset, the baby birds gone. Surely a neighborhood cat had found them. I was so sad. Still to this day, I think of those tiny birds. I wished at that time that I had seen the cat, that I had heard something and had come outside and had been able to save the birds and their soft nest. I wondered if the mother bird had died or if she was somewhere, mourning the loss of her babies.
Standing in Idaho, looking at the bird my nephew had found, it looked to me that the bird was not supposed to have hatched yet...perhaps a cat or other animal had disturbed the nest and the animal had been prematurely taken from it's protecting shell. Truly, it looked to still be a fetus to me. But I know NOTHING of fowl.Some people in the family felt the bird should be placed outside, under a tree, to die. It broke my heart to think of that. However, I worried the tiny animal would be in pain being touched and handled so much, and would surely die anyway because of it's prematurity. I didn't want all of the small children to see it die...I also didn't know at all what to do with it, or what to do with it once it died! However, I felt SOMETHING could be done to save it! I just didn't know what. I said we should do what we could for it. That we could put it on a rice bag and warm it up. Someone said we should just let it die. I said, "You are taking to the girl who is starting an orphanage. Don't tell me we should let something die!" I couldn't think through what to do. I didn't want to upset anyone by saying to keep it and care for it. I knew I was outnumbered with that idea. I didn't want to cause a fight. So, I dropped it.
Because the hour was so late, we had to leave then. To be honest, I was happy for the reason to leave. To not have to watch the small bird die.My cousin, Shannika, lives next door to us in Idaho. She has had pet birds, and other pets as well. (She recently saved a small mouse from becoming food for her school classroom's pet snake. It is now her pet.) It was decided we should ask Shannika what should be done with the bird. We left after Shannika arrived at our house and saw the bird.
Several years ago, I went to China. I lived there, and every day I saw people starving on the streets. I saw small children, hungry and cold. I saw mothers with babies, grandparents with small toddlers, their faces chapped from the cold wind, their faces drawn with hopelessness. I gave them money, blankets, a loving word, a gentile touch...I even cried for them. But in the end, I always walked away. I didn't know what to do to help them! I knew something must be done...but what? I knew nothing of caring for homeless people. One girl, I stopped and tried to speak to. It was my first month there, and I didn't know more than a few words of Chinese. I tried to ask her if she wanted to come home with me. Soon, a crowd formed around us...the beggar and the foreigner...What a sight! What would the white girl do? What was she trying to say? It was horrible. Finally, the other foreigner I was with told me I was only making things worse for the girl and we better move on before anything happened. I handed the girl the rest of the chicken on which I had been snacking, and the half drunk water bottle I held. Not wanting to cause a stir, or problems, or discomfort, I moved away. Time and time again, this same situation took place. However, sometimes it was worse. A man lay on the street, day after day, his wife at his side. His leg was broken and part of the bone showed through the swollen, red, infected skin. He was in pain and I saw him day after day. Some days his eyes showed pain. I remember one day where his eyes were staring to the sky. It was blue that day...strange for the sky over China, which was usually just grey with smog. I remember thinking the man must be close to death. He was strangely at peace, his eyes calm and thoughtful and almost smiling as he just stared up to the heavens. I cried several times because of this man. I called my parents to ask them if I should take him to the hospital. I wondered how I would pay for the hospital bill. I wondered how I would even get him TO the hospital. Where he would live once the hospital released him. It was all so overwhelming. I didn't know what to do. I was only one person, and I couldn't think through the whole process. So day after day, I hurt for this man...but still, I walked away.
As I drove on toward Utah and away from Idaho, I wondered about the small bird and what had been done with it. Bryttan was in the car with me, and said that surely they had put it outside to die. I said a silent prayer that God would either keep it alive or would let it die quickly. I prayed it would not be cold and wet in the horrible weather.
Finally, despite Bryttan's insisting that it was outside dead, I called my Mom to ask what the fate of the baby bird had been.To my surprise and joy, she said they had kept the bird. The children had made it a nest in a shoe box, had put a lamp over it as a heating lamp. The kids had given it water from a small dropper and a worm to eat. Even my Mom admitted she had gone in to check on the tiny thing (not that this is surprising...my parents are both very compassionate!).
I thought about the bird. I thought about life, and death. I thought about Small Stones. I thought about how I almost let the bird die because I didn't want to cause problems. I thought of the people in China hadn't "saved" because I didn't want to cause a stir. I thought also about all the things I didn't know how to do. I didn't know HOW to save the baby bird. I didn't know HOW to help the people in China. However, I feel that now, after these years of learning and praying and reading and researching I have learned a lot! I thought of the children I will encounter in China, and how I will NOT let them die. I will not turn a blind eye. I will cause a stir. I will cause discomfort for others, if that needs be. I will not leave them to die. This is the mission of Small Stones. To at least TRY. People keep saying, "You can't save EVERYONE!" Well, I will say here...it is the mission of Small Stones to TRY!
At this time, I also think of all the things I still don't know...and that is why I must find board members. I don't know EVERYTHING... in fact, I don't know much at all. I NEED others to help me! I need people who know different things than what I might know so we can all work together to help as many people as possible.