Sunday, June 20, 2010

God Is Love

Today, I am giving a little, quick lesson in church. I am teaching the song, "God Is Love" and I wanted to give a little lesson about it. The problem is, I don't really understand that phrase, "God Is Love". God is made up of flesh and bone. So, what does it mean that "God IS Love"? For the past few weeks, I have been trying to better understand this concept. I still don't understand it with my mind, but I have started to comprehend it in my HEART. A few experiences I have had these past few weeks have helped me feel this idea that God Is Love. I felt God and was overwhelmed with this realization of how HUGE His love is. I saw beauty in Earth and felt warm inside like a testimony of God's love. I felt Love, and in that love was God. I wish I were an eloquent writer, like Bethany P. Haily, or Gabi Dickinson, or Katie Davis. But I am not. All I have is my testimony and my heart.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Another Mriacle at the Post Office

Another sale at the Post Office?? Hmmmmm...I think God is up to something. He has some AMAZING work He is preparing some special young women for. :) I sent another box of donations a couple of days ago. This was the SCARY box. I had sorted and resorted. I had down sized again and again, taking out items I thought were not AS necessary as others, etc. In the end, I had a box that was so full I had to put paper on the top to fill in the gap between the folded down leaves on the top. I went to the post office just to weigh it. I had brought the address and some tape JUST IN CASE, but I fully planned to weigh it, find out the price, and come home and downsize AGAIN. I had discussed with Gabi how much it COULD cost. I was estimating around $200.00, but hoping for $150.00...what? I believe in miracles!! I had raised $140.00 at the yard sale. Twenty of that went to sending Renee's package. That meant I would have to use some of the money from my "miracle stash" in Shelley. That was okay. But I was REALLY wanting to use it to either help with the cost of getting to China, or help with the cost of registering SSS as an NGO (a girl can dream!). If it came to more than $200.00, I didn't know WHAT I would take already felt like I wasn't sending nearly enough! I stood nervously in line, trying to guess how much it was going to cost, and trying to picture what I could take out of the box (on that part, I was coming up blank). When it was my turn, I hefted the huge box onto the counter and told the post woman I just wanted to weigh it and find out how much it would cost. She looked at me doubtfully and asked, "Is it going to close?" It was stuffed past closing, but I promised her I could squish it down and it would fit...I was hoping for a miracle for that part. When she read me the price, I think I just gave her this odd, blank stare. The price? $71.00. Blank stare. Not $200.00? Not $100.00? Just seventy-one dollars? For the WHOLE box? To England? Why is it so hard to believe miracles? :) Since I wasn't actually thinking I would be able to afford to mail it at that time, I didn't bring my camera, so you will have to trust me that the box did make it to the post office. :) We have cloth diapers, socks, and clothes en route to England even as we speak! We are praying God will provide Gabi with the two extra suitcases so she can transport all of the donations with her to Africa. (Please join us in prayer if you feel so inclined.) Thank you all for your love and support. God is so, so good. :) :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Side Note

A Side Note Tomorrow, I am going to weigh the box to send Gabi and ask how much it will cost to send. Wouldn't you know, I have been STRESSING ALL DAY about this..."What if it is too much?", "What if I can't afford it?". "What if...", "What if...", "What if...". When will I ever learn?! GOD WILL PROVIDE A WAY.

God Is Good

Some incredible things happened yesterday. I want to share them with you. For the past few days, I have been packing up the donations to Renee (Serving His Children) and Gabi (Racham Ministries). I finished the box for Renee and planned to send it. I lifted the box, and boy! was it heavier than I had thought it would be. Gabi's, too, was big and heavy! I knew I needed to send Renee's box ASAP because she is leaving the states soon, so I made arrangements to mail Renee's box. Then, I started panicking. What if I couldn't afford to send the boxes? I remembered a God who had provided twenty four Fuzzi Bunz diapers against all odds. I also realized God would not have provided the diapers and would not have asked me to send them without providing a way to accomplish what He asked. So...what did I do? I prayed! I prayed with full faith that God would provide a way for the packages to be sent to Renee and Gabi. I absolutely believed that God could provide a way for those boxes to be sent. I envisioned some kind person behind me hearing where the box was going and footing the bill. I imagined a SALE at the post office...I mean, I had never before HEARD of a postal sale, but that wasn't the point. I KNEW God could provide a way. As I was kneeling in my room, my Mom hollered in to me. She said she had just received a notice in the mail that I had a bank account in Shelley that hadn't been used in five years and I needed to do something with the account--either withdraw or deposit--or the money would be given to the government. I smiled. I knew God could find a way. SOME way. A bank account? In Shelley? God had a plan for this moment from the time I opened that account and then forgot about it (I know it seems impossible to forget about money, but to this moment I cannot remember leaving money in an account in Idaho...). He knew this time would come where I would need the money. So, off I trekked to the Post Office, with my box of donations in the back seat.
At the post office, my sister came in with me. As we stood in line, we guessed how much it would cost. Mind you, I had only made 140 dollars at the sale to send these boxes. I thought this box would cost $70.00, my sister guessed $80.00. Either way, if either of our guesses were correct, I would be left without enough to send Gabi's package without spending the money in the mysterious bank account. I was so happy God had revealed that to me before I left so I would not be under great stress at the Post Office, waiting in that line, wondering what the mailing cost would be. When it was our turn, the postman read us the prices. The cheapest price? You will never guess. $21.00 No kidding. A sale at the Post Office?! God is good. Always so, so good. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quick Update!!

What a day! I have spent much of the late hours of last night and most of the day today sorting all of these wonderful donations we have received! It is almost 2:00 and I still have not showered (I know...I sicken myself sometimes). It has been difficult, exciting, fun and humbling to do this work.
Anyway, I wanted to post a few pictures really quickly to give you all a peek into how it's going!
Thank you, to EVERYONE who has donated! We have SO MUCH and it is so exciting to picture little children and young adults around the world receiving their new clothes from your hands to theirs!
I hope you all have a fantastic day!
OH! Please spread the word about Project: 1000 Words...let's get some of these cameras sponsored!!
Love you, all! Remember, you are a child of GOD!
Yes, this really is our living room...I am sure my family just HATES me right now.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Story

I am driving through the country-side in Idaho, down back roads, totally lost. Why am I here? I am so glad you asked. :) Several months ago, Renee with Serving His Children let me know that she was in great need of Fuzzi Bunz one-size diapers. I was so excited when she told me that because it seemed like something Sixteen Small Stones could provide for her. We launched Operation: Fuzzi Bunz...and nothing happened. No one donated. I emailed Fuzzi Bunz manufacturers and distributors asking for discounts or donations. I emailed LeLeche League leaders. I told everyone about this project. I prayed that someone would donate! I had FAITH that something would happen...but it never did. Nothing happened. I was worried that Renee would think I let her down. I was worried that she would think Sixteen Small Stones was some dorky thing that some careless flake "put together". I forgot to look at His big picture. I figured I would just buy some Fuzzi Bunz myself and send them to Renee! However, I quickly learned there was NO WAY I could do this, as Fuzzi Bunz are SO expensive! Some people donated cloth diapers, and I was so thankful to them! However, because of the children Renee cares for, I knew these just weren't going to work. I was so sad that things were not working out as I had hoped, and wondered how the end would be. One day, months after I had started Operation: Fuzzi Bunz, and months after I had all but "given up" on this project ever coming to fruition, I received an email from a woman who wanted to donate Fuzzi Bunz! She had FOUR that she wanted to donate! I was so excited, and SO THANKFUL! ("Maybe Renee won't think I am a total looser, after all!", was one of my first thoughts...How shallow I am!) Renee was going to be in the US in June, and I set the diapers up so I could send them to her when she was in America. I was so thankful, and imagined the difference these diapers would make to her and to her children! I prayed and thanked Heavenly Father for this sweet woman. Then, this same woman emailed me and told me she wanted to donate MORE diapers, UP TO TWENTY, but she always looks into the organizations to whom she donates, and she wanted to know more about Sixteen Small Stones...specifically, if we were 501c3 approved. Dang. That little combination of letters and numbers has alluded me for years. Not because we don't qualify, but because I just can't figure out the process of application, etc. Somehow, I just can't wrap my mind around this complicated process. Dang. Dang. Dang. My heart was breaking. If only I could somehow PROVE to her that we are what we say we are, even without those silly numbers. I felt so heartsick for the lost possibility of getting the much needed diapers to Renee. I felt embarrassed that we weren't an official NGO. I felt overwhelmed with desire to provide these diapers to the children. I felt FULL of FAITH that if we were supposed to get these diapers, we would get them...with or without having 501c3 at the end of our name. So, I asked all of our partner homes if we could use their names and send to this woman a list of the places we help. I was so amazingly humbled and grateful when everyone said I could, and I sent this woman an email with information about us. I was ashamed because it looked like we weren't "real". A week or so passed, and one day I opened my email to see a message from her. I was sure she would say she has decided NOT to donate any more...and that she wanted me to send back to her the four she had already donated. "Oh ye of little faith..." This woman said that her friend in Rexburg had twenty diapers to donate. I was overwhelmed with gratitude! With humility! I prayed and thanked GOD for His goodness! TWENTY DIAPERS! Could you imagine? Well, more time passed...another month, and I didn't hear from this woman or her friend. I began to think it wasn't as great as it had sounded. I doubted everything. "I probably won't hear from them again...Even if I do, I bet they don't actually have TWENTY diapers, maybe 5 or 6...But even 5 or 6 would be AMAZING...But I probably won't hear from them again...Why would they want to donate twenty diapers to us?..." And so my doubts continued. In an attempt to make a long story short(ish) I will spare you all the details. But, the real story begins when, this last weekend, I received a phone call from that woman's friend, stating she wanted to meet up with me while I was in Idaho and donate diapers. I was at my cousin's wedding, but left early so I could meet this woman! NOTHING was going to get in the way of getting these diapers, even if it was only ONE more, it was one more, and that would make a difference!!!!! I changed out of my wedding attire. Taiger had fallen asleep and I tucked him in to bed and left the house. I got in the car and considered going back in to get my i-pod, but decided I needed this quite drive more...I needed some quite time with God. So, I drove away. The sun was setting and the sky was beautiful, as it is only in Idaho. Their sunsets are the most amazing I have ever seen anywhere in the world. I spoke with God as I drove through the beautiful, open land and gazed at the many-colored clouds of dusk. I felt so close to my Heavenly Father as I drove and spoke with Him. It was a tender and quiet moment as I thanked God for His miracles and for these diapers. Then, I began to doubt (AGAIN! Oh my gosh, will I EVER learn?!). I thought of Taiger at home. I knew if he woke up, alone in the basement, he would be so frightened. He could cry for a long time before anyone heard him. I knew he would be too afraid to leave the room and go upstairs. I wondered what I was doing...what I was sacrificing to help these other children...complete strangers, really. I was sacrificing my own son for the sake of my desire to serve some children far across the world. WHY?! Would Taiger always resent me? (How the devil puts EVERY doubt in our mind when we are doing good.) I prayed for Taiger, that he would please just stay asleep. Please. I drove for a long time, all the while worrying about Taiger, praying, thinking. I became lost. It was getting late, and I didn't want to leave this woman waiting. We had planned to meet at a specific time...what if I couldn't find this place? And here we pick up where we began. I am driving through the country-side in Idaho, totally lost. I see a gas station up ahead and I decide to stop and ask directions. If you read my post about getting lost with Taiger, you will understand this next fact: I was worried about stopping at the gas station to ask directions. I didn't want them to be angry with me, and I didn't want to bother anyone. Finally, I went into the gas station. I flashed the man at the counter a smile, hoping I could soften him up before he realized I wasn't buying anything and was only taking advantage of the fact he may know the surrounding area. When it was my turn in line, I was so nervous I just blurted out my question without much gentleness or formality. I shut my mouth in shock at how my words had come out. I knew I had blown it. I waited for harsh words to rain back on me. Instead, I was met with a kind smile, and a soft voice. The man I had asked, as well as someone else working with him, took the time to explain how to get where I was going. They leaned on the counter to look in my eyes and point directions on an air map. My heart was again humbled. I left with many a "thank you" pouring from my mouth, and a heart full of humility, gratitude and relief. I found the place and got out of the car to meet the woman. At first sight, I was struck with how KIND she looked! So loving and gentle! I was so relieved and immediately began thanking her for meeting me, for taking the time, etc. She lead me to the back of her suburban and opened the door. There were many things in the back, and I wondered if she was a Relief Society President helping set up for some ward event, or if she was just getting rid of many "old" things...maybe a trip to DI, but they were all so organized it was surprising. She moved some pots (all neatly stacked) and there was a box. Because I had wondered if these were all just old things from her house, I figured she must be donating some old, used diapers (I had thought this from the first), and since no one in their right mind would need TWENTY Fuzzi Bunz on hand, I figured she was going to donate one or two (again, this is what I had already figured from the get-go). Then, she said, "Let me count and make sure there are all twenty". "WHAT?!" I my head, of course! "She REALLY IS going to donate TWENTY?! HOW?!?!?!?!" She opened the box, and inside, all neatly packed, were BRAND NEW FUZZI BUNZ DIAPERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My thoughts stuck in my head. She pulled some out and began to count and I caught a glimpse of the tag..."ONE SIZE"...THIS WAS A ONE SIZE FUZZI BUNZ DIAPER! Precisely what Renee needed! She counted out twenty. Yes, twenty. I asked if these were all hers, and she told me that she sold Fuzzi Bunz and her friend (the woman who had donated four to us already) had ordered these twenty from her. I almost fell to my knees. Do you know the sheer price of twenty Fuzzi Bunz?! I will give you an idea: ONE costs about 15 dollars. Yeah, you do the math. But more than the actual cost, I realized the SACRIFICE going on here. The woman asked me a little about where the diapers were going and through conversation I found out she has sent a donation of colored pencil packets to Katie Davis of Amazima Ministries! Again, my jaw dropped (in my mind here is still part of my face, I swear). How good is God?! How His timing and planing is so perfect! I could tell she felt somewhat comforted knowing I knew about Amazima and that Renee was "friends" with Katie. I gave her a Sixteen Small Stones business card and told her she could read more about us at our blog and website. I was overwhelmed as I got in the car. I pulled out one of the diapers...I realized they ALL were "One Size". And I began to laugh and cry at once, all out loud, and then I started praying at the same time. I have never laughed and cried and prayed at the same time before, and it gave me a tummy ache after a while, but I couldn't stop. All the months of being discouraged, God knew these two women were going to donate. All the time I felt nervous and worried about what to do to get Renee these diapers, God was already miles ahead of me, preparing these women. I realized that long before God planted in my heart the idea of Operation: Fuzzi Bunz, God was already preparing for this time. Through a journey I don't even know the story of, he lead this woman to Katie Davis and to making that huge donation of pencils so we could be united to bring diapers to these children in Africa. It all reaches back before time and memory and existence to the the beginning of His plan, which has no beginning or end. I was struck with how BIG God is. How HUGE He perfect and amazing and....BIG! I was struck with how ENORMOUS His love is for those children in Africa....every single one. He is not too big to know each of them know each and every one of them. And then I was humbled that a God so big, with a love for those children that was so GIGANTIC and with a plan so perfect and big would use little, insignificant me to be His hands to bring diapers to those important children...HIS children, who He loves immeasurably. I am sitting here, in the center of His great and eternal plan, with twenty little baby-yellow Fuzzi Bunz diapers, ready to mail them around the world to His precious children in Africa, for whom He has a plan, for whom He is concerned constantly, for whom he LOVES deeply, and for whom He has chosen little Sixteen Small Stones, without 501c3 status, to be HIS hands to deliver twenty yellow Fuzzi Bunz.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Sale: Part II Become as a little child.

So, to continue with the Sale Story... Sorry...this part starts on a bad note...but ends on a good one, so read on! A woman and her husband stopped by. I explained what we were doing and that ALL of the money goes to helping the children in the orphanages. This is our conversation: Woman: Is there an orphanage around here? Me: No, we help homes in Africa, China and Haiti. Woman: I grew up in an orphanage. Me: Oh my word. Isn't that something. Woman: Yeah, it was something. They looked around a moment more. I wanted her story. I wanted to hear if she was ever adopted. I wanted to hear EVERYTHING! But I didn't pry. I felt a gentle tenderness toward her. She was rather closed off and I could tell she didn't want to discuss it. I was thankful she felt she could open up and be honest about being in an orphanage as a youth. I got the impression it wasn't a fact she generally shared with strangers. And then, they left. I am serious! A woman who had herself dealt with life in an institution, had MAYBE felt hungry, had MAYBE felt alone, could MAYBE sympathize with these children, and EMPATHIZE in a way none of US could. And she didn't even drop a nickel in the nickel basket. I was saddened, but also confused. What had I done wrong in setting up and preparing this sale? Where had I failed? A mom and two girls came to the sale. They were such a sweet family and I loved visiting with them. I was amazed at the interest the girls showed in the the pictures and the orphans, and I was truly AMAZED at the fact that these two young women had more compassion than I had seen in many adults that day. They were genuinely interested in everything we were doing. The Mom wants her two girls to go volunteer! Anyway, they bought some things, paying more than the usual garage sale low prices and I was so thankful! After the morning I had had, I was ready to hug them and tell them to take EVERYTHING! I was just so thankful for their good hearts. I really couldn't believe how good-hearted these three women seemed to be. Toward the end of the sale, these same young women returned to the sale! I was so happy to see them, but they had not just come to say HI. They had brought MORE MONEY! Each daughter bought a Sixteen Small Stones shirt, and I could not be more honored to have those two, wonderful girls wearing "our" shirts. Then, they bought a cake with some money that it sounded like their Grandma had given them. I was impressed with the way the whole thing went. I saw the Mom gently guiding the girls. Teaching them without words how to love and how to be compassionate. She stood back as the girls selected their shirts, and offered kind words when they asked her if this color or that one would be better. She was excited to tell them how great the shirts were, and then, again, stood back as they paid and selected a cake. Their mother was allowing them to exercise their own compassion so it could grow and become strong. I thought of how these girl's lives will be so different because of the lessons they learned from their mother about serving others, and caring about others. It really was quite touching to watch this lesson unfold, and it was so glorious to see these young girls follow their mother's example of sacrifice and give their money for the children. Three women on their way to the gym donated money. They didn't want to purchase anything, but one handed me money anyway and offered words of encouragement. I was touched by that. They then returned to their car, but before leaving, another of the women came and said she, too, wanted to donate some and handed me some money. Another woman did the same thing. She handed me some money without purchasing a thing and told me, "This is great work you are doing. Keep up the good work" and left. I was so, so thankful to these women for their sacrifices. They are going to be feeding so many children and I am so grateful to them for giving without a thing in return. A cute, young couple had stopped by the sale early in the day, but had left, saying they didn't have any money on them. I hear that at my job all day. An excuse to get out of having to spend money without having to look someone in the eye and say NO. However, these two surprised me! Later that afternoon, they returned. When I said, "All of the money goes to the children", the man said, "That is why we came back". Hearing that touched my heart. They bought a cake and then saw there were HOMEMADE Snickerdoodles, and wanted some of those. I was going to let them just take some, but a kind woman said, "Here. For mine, and his cookies". She handed me some money and took a bag of cookies for herself. I thanked her profusely and so did the young man. It was sweet to see someone sacrifice for someone here in her neighborhood as well as for people around the world, all in the same moment! What a wonderful experience! Our neighbor from down the street came to the sale. Her little girl came with her. The mom had told her daughter that a single nickel would feed a child. The little girl danced up to the sale and begged her Mom to empty her pocket into the Nickel Basket. Out of her Mom's pocket poured two handfuls of nickels! The little girl was beaming! Those were HER nickels! When the little girl had heard that one would buy a meal, she had gathered ALL of her nickels to donate. My heart burst at this fact! Such a dear little girl. Her heart is so big, and she would give ANYTHING to anyone! The little girl and Taiger played (Taiger LOVES this little girl SO much! I am so thankful Taiger has such a good example for him. She is a bit older than Taiger and Taiger looks up to her so much!) and the mom stayed and helped with the sale. The little girl had brought a whole jar of small stones for people to pain! SO thoughtful! Not many children had come, so she and Taiger painted the rocks, colored with the chalk, blew bubbles, and sorted all of the clothes we are sending to Africa, China and Haiti. This sweet little girl sacrificed everything for others. I gave her a bag of cookies for her generosity, and she immediately gave a cookie to me and one to Taiger. That left her with only two cookies. When two small girls came to the sale a moment later, our neighbor asked her daughter for her last two cookies and gave them to these other two girls. The neighbor girl stood and smiled as she watched her last two cookies being handed to two complete strangers. We hurried to give her a new bag of cookies, thinking she would be sad that she had given away every one of her cookies. Quite the opposite. She looked up at Bryttan and said, "Thank you that I could give my cookies to those girls!" We were shocked! Such a good heart. Her mother had taught her to give and give and give and not think of herself. This little girl had achieved what many adults have not. She has gained an open heart, a giving heart, and a selfless heart. She thanked us for the new bag of cookies. At the end of the day, I was finishing cleaning up after the sale. Everyone else was inside, and I was carrying in boxes of things, tables, etc. A young girl approached apprehensively. She looked to be around eight years old and long, red braids hung loosely over her shoulders. I said, "Hi sweetheart." She came forward and said softly, "I don't actually want anything. I just wanted to give you this." She handed me six dollars. I thanked her and gave and told her how much that would help the little kids. She beamed. Her smile was huge as she walked away with her head high. She realized what she had done. She knew she had sacrificed for others. And she saw that felt good. My favorite story is from a bit earlier in the day. But before that, I need to explain something. When Taiger was little, he LOVED the movie, "Cars". He had seen a toddler bed that was "Cars" themed. He was only about a year old, but he was so tall and so big that it was time to get him his OWN bed. I knew I could never afford this Cars bed! BUT I found a bed with a car on the headboard that I wanted to get him. One day, my mom and sister came home from shopping with this very bed! It had been on sale and they had bought it for me to give my son. I was so, so thankful. I had NO money and being able to give my son this bed meant a lot to me. Taiger LOVED his Car Bed. He slept in it so well right from the first. I had made him a "Cars" blanket and given him a "Cars" pillowcase, so it really looked like a "Cars" bed, and he loved it. Taiger had that bed for years. However, about a year and a half ago, he was past outgrowing it and it was time for a "real" bed. I gave him a twin mattress and box spring from work. He thought it felt nice, but DID NOT want to give up his car bed. I put it in the basement, and he cried for about a week straight. Whenever it was bedtime, he would cry and cry for "his" bed, saying he HATED this new one, and he just wanted his old one back. Sometimes, while we were out for the day, he would suddenly ask if he could PLEASE have his old bed back. It was more than a year before he finally stopped asking for his old bed back. Well, this bed was at the garage sale. I don't know if Taiger realized it was sitting out there to be sold, or if he thought it was just some strange decoration, but when someone drove up and offered me five dollars for it, I immediately looked over where Taiger was writing with chalk. His jaw was dropped and I could see the sorrow in his eyes. I muttered to Michael to go distract him. I was so worried a tantrum would ensue. I must admit, as they began loading the bed, my own heart became heavy. That was my little boy's bed. It was like letting a part of his childhood go. I wasn't ready for him to grow up! I wanted to grab the bed and tell the woman that bed was my baby's bed! I didn't WANT to sacrifice! The orphans could have money from something else! This was my only child's youth I was sending away with complete strangers for a lousy five bucks! I WANTED IT BACK! Then, I heard Taiger's little voice. I don't know what Michael had said to him, but this is what I did hear. "...It is okay, because it is to help the kids in Africa, China and Haiti have food and clothes...". And that is when I realized, my baby wasn't just my baby...he is a child of God and he has a good heart. He is filled with compassion for others. The scriptures say to "become like a little child". I saw example after example of the goodness of youth and children. Sacrificing without hesitation. Having not a thought of themselves, but only of those in need. Giving their money, their cookies, their favorite bed. I thought of the adults. So many sacrificed, but many more did not. They are not "bad people", or "mean people"...they just have forgotten how it feels to be like a little child and give freely without considering the consequences. Without thinking of what they could do for themselves with that nickel. Without thinking how good the cookies would taste if only they kept them for themselves. Without thinking about the fact that they will never again see their favorite bed. Without thinking of what the money could buy them. I only know this because I am this way. I think of myself all the time. I think of what I can do for myself more often than I think of what I can do for others. I think of me all the time. I am slow to part with my possessions and fast to look away from those in need. May we all become more like these children.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Sale: Part 1

I have been anxious to post all about THE SALE. However, ever since the sale, I have been exhausted and have not even had the energy to post! I have slept a ton, and finally yesterday, started feeling sick...for the last few, exhausted days I have been fighting some sickness, and that is why I have been so, so tired. But it has caught up to me. So, I am curled up on the couch with body aches and a sore throat, listening to Taiger talk on and on and on (and on, the way only Taiger does), and have decided to buckle down and post about the sale!
First, I want to say AGAIN how THANKFUL I am to everyone who helped, donated, came, prayed for success, and who helped in any other way imaginable. :)
Although we had been getting ready for this sale for weeks, the REAL "last minuet" preparation began Friday night. Bryttan, Michael and I worked at making the signs for the yard and the signs to place around town. The signs for the yard were AMAZING! I had printed off pictures of FACES of the children we help, and they were beautiful! We mounted them on signs to set up around the sale. The signs for around town were perfect, and Bryttan and Michael even showed off some of their amazing art skills by drawing Africa on some of the signs! I was super impressed (you should have seen my attempt to copy their idea! HA! Africa looked like a limp balloon. It was pathetic.). My Mom had been in Idaho and drove all the way back that night to be home in time for the sale the next morning. My sweet board member, Natalie, had spent the last week or so baking goodies to sell at the sale as a Bake Sale portion (see what I mean about spending the past few weeks getting ready?!). My Mom transported the goodies from Idaho to Utah for us. My Mom stayed up LATE that night, despite being exhausted from the days in Idaho and the LOOONG drive back alone at night, and took care of Taiger while we got ready for the sale. Taiger helped make signs for the Sale. Saturday, I woke with a smile on my face. I knew what day it was, and I was so excited to see what God had planned. The day dawned grey and cloudy. I am NOT a morning person, and I don't know the last time I woke up at 6:00am, so, because of my complete lack of early-morning experience, I kind of thought maybe that grey look was how all days started. I threw on some sweats and my Sixteen Small Stones shirt and raced outside to start setting up. Wouldn't you know it, a few minutes later, my sweet Mom came out and helped set up. What an angel! As soon as things were ready, my Mom drove me around town to put out signs. A light rain began to fall. I knew the donations, the clothes AND the lovely posters and pictures would be ruined, and I prayed...not for the last time that day. When we returned from putting out signs, three men were at the sale! I was THRILLED! One wanted to know how much a table was. I told him it wasn't for sale, only display. Three men, two together and one alone, left the sale...without even dropping a nickel in the Nickel Basket. The rain drizzled on. I was freezing and sat in the car to watch if anyone came. People would drive up and stop, even turn off their engines. They looked at the pictures. They looked at the information signs. But all they SAW was a garage sale with nothing they wanted, and they drove on. After so many "drive bys", my heart broke. I saw the suffering of the children. I saw the hardness of the hearts of people. I went in the house and dropped to my knees. As I stood from my prayer a woman pulled up. She turned off her engine. She looked at everything. I thought this was one of the miracle times, when your prayers are answered immediately, and you feel your testimony grow and your faith in men restore. I pictured (with minor trepidations) this woman burst out of her car in tears and throw thousands of dollars at me to use to help the poor children. Instead, she turned her engine back on and drove away. I went back to the car. My board member Natalie texted me and I burst in to tears. She wanted to know how the sale was going. At first, I didn't want to tell her. She had worked SO HARD baking goodies, and has donated SO much (I joke that she is singly handedly trying to clothe the entire orphan population of Africa!). In the end, I unloaded all of my sadness on her. She was a kind and listening ear, and I appreciated that. Then, someone came! The woman bought some cookies and left! Then another person bought his grandson a toy for a dollar. More people came. More drive by's. More BUYS. Bryttan woke up and then Michael came, and it made a HUGE difference to have some support rather than sitting alone in the pouring rain, watching cold hearted people drive away from the needy. A little later, I was feeling discouraged again. I had been praying all day ("Please let them buy", "Thank Thee, God, for letting someone come", "Please let someone stop", "Thank Thee for sending someone", "Please help me help those in need", and so forth) and just when I was feeling so sad, Jeremy came! I cannot express how thankful and happy I was at that moment. Then, a woman came. She looked at everything. She commented. And she went to leave. I handed her a card and told her she could at least go to the website and learn more about the people we help. She handed it back and said, "I'll remember the name". Let me say that again: SHE HANDED THE CARD BACK! It was in her hand, and she gave it back. Really? Did she REALLY do that? Yes. Yes, she did. I stood there stunned. I felt the hurt coming into my heart. I felt the tears growing, swelling and pushing to come out. I held them in. I didn't want to cry in front of everyone. I don't know if Jeremy could tell I was about to burst or if God just prompted him to say SOMETHING, but he started talking about how nice the sale looked, how well everything was set up, how good the pictures looked. I was more thankful to him than I have ever been (and that is a lot, because I really owe him my life, and that is a TON of gratitude!). We all went inside after that and watched from the window for someone to come. I was still on the brink of tears when Jeremy left.

After the rain, it became very windy. Don't you love my rain-wind treated hair? No wonder no one was stopping or buying anything! They thought the whole thing was being run by a CRAZY woman! HA! They were right, but not because of the hair-'do!

Then, something incredible happened! A woman came. She spoke little English. Her daughter was there to translate. Her husband was with her, but two little kids were in the car, so he went back to the car after a while to wait with them. These people were kind hearted and gentile. They asked the price on some items, and when I said, "Whatever you want to donate," the woman chuckled, I think in disbelieve. She asked on some other things, and I gave her the same answer. Some people had donated some amazing things and some really nice children's clothing. She began gathering all of the nicest things. At first I thought of how poorly this sale was going, and I thought, "If she takes all of the 'good stuff', there will be nothing to LURE people in!" But I stopped those thoughts and figured God had a plan and He had sent this woman and I had better stand back out of His way! So, I watched as she found some good things and started making a pile. When she had all she wanted, she and her daughter walked to the Nickel Basket and began dumping in change! They were speaking in hushed tones to one another. I was overwhelmed with GRATITUDE! Look at all the little ones they were helping! Then, the woman reached in her purse and held out to me five one dollar bills. The daughter translated as she spoke, "My mother says she is sorry, but my Dad is not working and this is all we have." I quickly and sincerely said, "NO, no, no! It is fine! Anything helps! Thank you so, so much!" The woman again had her daughter apologize, and I walked right up to the woman and looked deep in her eyes and said, "NO! It is fine!" Then, I pointed to the pictures and said, "Look at all these children you are helping! Whatever you can give is PERFECT! Thank you so, so much!" At that, she had the daughter translate more. "I have two daughters still in Mexico." And with that, she burst into tears. I hugged her, and the sobs came freely. I asked the daughter how old her sisters were. 15 and 13. They are staying with family. But they cannot see the girls. The mother misses them very much. I felt her Mother Heart. I could tell this Mama loved her children deeply and being away from them was torture for her. She sobbed and sobbed. I held her as she cried. Then, Bryttan held her as she cried. Our hearts were broken for this loving Mother. After she left, my heart felt healed. Somehow, I think we helped least we gave her someone to open up to. When we looked in the basket, we saw she had put in the basket pennies. Isn't this what Sixteen Small Stones is all about? Sixteen SMALL stones. It is not about doing some great, unbelievable things. It is about doing all we can, no matter how small it is, and allowing God to make up for the size. Her pennies were like gold to me. She sacrificed all she had to help others. It didn't matter how little or how much it was. God makes up for that. It was about her giving all she had to help others, even in her own pain and sorrow. TO BE CONTINUED