Friday, October 18, 2013

Cross it off the list

I was just having this email exchange with my friend about how people see the world in terms of impacting others around them. Most of us are looking for some BIG way to make an impact, and that paralyzes us and we don't do anything. I'm suggesting that we do something smaller, and then we at least do something.

Well that conversation sparked me to sit down and write this post IMMEDIATELY! There was an urgency that came upon me in that moment. My friend and I went to Haiti this past summer. I am always blown away by the love and kindred spirit I feel with the people, especially the kids. It is a universal. Kids just want to be loved! But this trip I came back with two basic To Dos on my list.

Well you know what typically happens with these kinds of experiences. You get back and you are on a high, and you want to tell everybody about what you saw, and what you did, and how they can help, and all of that. And then life happens, and you fall back into the routine of just living your life, and all of those hopes, and dreams, and plans you had to make a difference, sort of keep getting pushed down on the list.

This is their classroom. You can help these kids.

 Well for me...NO MORE! The very first day we visited an orphanage where the kids' sleeping conditions were deplorable. Some of them had dirty old mattresses on basic bed frames, no sheets, no pillows that I recall. But they were fortunate, because there were so many kids in that orphanage (more than 20) that some of the kids had to sleep on the floor.

We just looked at each other in amazement. And the first thing we thought was, "I'm sure that we know 20 people who can donate a set of sheets so that these kids can at least have that." We both kept hoping to make some big corporate push at our churches to get some donation drive started, but that was the fuel for our email exchange.

We waste time trying to make the BIG appeal, when sometimes we can accomplish a BIG thing with little steps. So I know that I know 30 people through my blog, my Facebook page, my family. I checked and a twin sheet set is only $12. I am not even going to ask, "Will you consider?" Please donate $15, $30 if you can. I will make sure these sheets get to those kids that we visited this summer.

The second thing that struck us was a bit bigger, but still very doable when many folks come together. This orphanage director was struggling just to pay the rent, which was roughly $100 a month. (Keep in mind that the average person makes about $2 per day in Haiti.) We asked our translator a couple of times to repeat what he said, because we assumed that we had misunderstood. Yes, for just $1200 a WHOLE year, he could provide shelter to these children and keep them off the streets. I know in my job as a children's ministry director last year, for ONE event, we paid $1000 just for inflatables. So I know that we as churches, and we as individuals, can think more critically about how to use the resources that God has given us to make a lasting impact.

So that is my appeal today. Please give to get these sheets. That is simple. YOU CAN DO IT! If you have a little more and want to give toward the rent, let me know.

Yes, there are more than 350,000 orphans in Haiti....and yes they all have, clothing, shelter. And if you stop and think about that number, it can be daunting and you can begin to feel like what would one $12 pair of sheets do to make a difference? I am not asking you to change the lives of 350,000. I am asking you to make a difference in the lives of 30.

We CAN make a difference.

So I know my friends and family. You are I am expecting to be inundated with responses.

Love you all....

To Help Just send Check or Money Order:
Tina Bryson
2108 Walsh Ct.
Lexington, KY 40509
Memo line....sheets for Haiti

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Haiti--Contrasts Day 5 (part 1)

What another experience. Today some of us had a chance to go to the market. There were so many things to see. I am always interested in seeing familiar things in a different culture like Coke or Pepsi signs....on one building I saw a crudely drawn Barney and Mickey Mouse...not sure those go together but I totally recognized that was probably a place for kids!

Then there was the pharmacy, the hairdresser, police station, and even a firehouse that looked like it could have been dropped right out of Lexington. Sabrina today had on an EKU t-shirt. That was funny. Had to get a picture. That's Eastern Kentucky University and the shirt even had the Colonel on it.

While at the market we also saw the butcher area....a whole slab of beef hung up, the cow head on the table, raw chicken, all kinds of vegetables and other stuff from the can use your imagination. The flies were enough to drive us away....not that they were on us...just watching them crawl around on the meat.

But it reminded me a lot of when we went to Korea....the same air markets with any kind of meat just sold right on the street, but also vegetables and rice and other stuff. And then you could also buy sandals, and dresses, totes, hats, etc.

For a while my group thought they had lost me. I didn't have any trouble finding them, but some people got between me and my group and I sort of blended in....which we all laughed about.

The fact that I am not Haitian has just confused the kids and adults here. Today I went to tell the cook the meal was delicious and she asked one of the staff why she couldn't understand me since I am Haitian. He tried to explain that I am American. So she wanted to know if my mom was maybe I had been adopted from Haiti. Nope!

I'm not sure he was able to explain even after having this debate literally with the kids a couple of days.....they just refuse to believe I am not Haitian! So I am like...."I have to do another trip and bring some more black people with me!"

We also got to hang out with the director's kids and help stock donations in the depot. Oh yeah.....I got to ride in the back of the pickup on the way to the market.

Then here was the contrast. We went out to dinner at a hotel restaurant. Yes....I know...normally when you think of don't think of the Caribbean. But it was stunningly beautiful.....overlooking the was breathtaking.

And then a little discussion developed about how this could be used to help turn Haiti around. But I think therein lies the problem. You're dealing with corrupt people on both sides. Some Haitians who are only thinking about themselves and not the people, and some American developers on the other side who I could easily see exploiting the beauty of this country for corporate profits with minimal benefit to the people.

But the food was good and we (the folks from down South) had a hilarious time talking to Tim (from Minnesota) about chittlins, liver pudding, pig feet, and the like. We had a great time.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Haiti--Contrasts Day 4

Thought all night about a boy I met here......a little boy who taught me yesterday to sing "God is so good." They thought he might have malaria, he was just taken to the hospital. I just prayed for him every time I woke up and first thing this morning.

I thought of "10 Things" and our support of Malaria No More. This is not the full circle moment that I want unless is it that organizations like that have helped them have the medicine they need to help him. But honestly, I just want him to be OK.

The crazy thing was when the doctor at the Travel Clinic showed me the map of places in Haiti affected by malaria, nearly the whole country was colored in. Now how is it possible that I have now sitting in my backpack medicine to prevent malaria and the likelihood that I will would ever get it or come in contact with it is this 1 week while I am here.

But he lives here and can be impacted any time, he is at risk daily.....yet why am I the one with the medicine? Then all night I thought of our group discussions and how we talked about the utter poverty here and all that we have in the U.S. I guess it is somewhat of American guilt when you come to a place like this.

But then when I thought of kids in Clark County, where I work, or even kids in child should go to bed hungry, or feel unloved, or not have a place to call home. So I hope that we don't get so focused outward that we miss that there are kids living in poverty right in our own country.

I just finished reading the book "The Mighty Miss Malone" by Christopher Paul Curtis, which dealt with childhood poverty during the Great Depression. But the book is recent and the author mentioned that in 2011 there were 15 million homeless kids in America. I think about reading "The Glass Castle" and kids in America having to eat out of the trash, having to basically make a life on their own.

Now I am not saying we should not care about the kids in Haiti, but I am saying we should be aware that there is work to do at home and abroad. So my perspective is "to whom much is given, much is required."

I am glad to be American. I could have been born in Haiti, or Ethiopia, or Darfur, or South Africa. But I was not. I am what is my response? Why has God blessed me to have so much and what does He expect that I will do with it? How does this change how I approach life, how I live it? What I do now?

I can do something today whether big or small. I can love on these kids. I can serve them and their caregivers and be open to God's leading. The boy I mentioned at first just walked by......

Boy....did that bring a smile to my face. I was so happy to see that child!!! God is faithful. He does answer prayer. So today.......go HARD....or go HOME!

To support Malaria No More, visit
A portion of each English copy of "10 Things Every Kid Should Know About God" that we sell goes to Malaria No More. We have been able to donate more than $500 to this cause. Thanks for your generous support of these efforts. We can change the world!