Fellowship for African Relief

who_mainFriends,

Today is Giving Tuesday and I wanted to introduce a small Canadian relief organization called FAR you probably have never heard of. Yet their work in Darfur has been nominated for the UN’s Global Project Prize. I only know about them because ¬†my good friend was their country director in Sudan for the last couple of years. ¬†FAR is committed to sustainable development and currently has projects in water and sanitation, economic development, food security, peace and conflict transformation, emergency relief, and health.¬†FAR began in Sudan in 1984. Today they are one of the most respected development organizations in the country. They currently have offices in Kosti, South Kordofan and West Darfur, and employ approximately one hundred staff.

I have been interested in relief organizations for a while, but it has been enlightening talking to my friend about criterias that make a good organization. One of them is how much money actually goes to the people that need it and how much is spend on advertising and administration. My friend assures me that if you donate to FAR it actually goes to the people of Sudan. Sudan is a very closed Islamic country, suspicious of any Western aid. In the last year they have kicked most expats out the country. Yet FAR is still there. A good agency walks a tight line between employing locals yet maintaining their integrity and ethical standards. This is not easy in a country with corruption and tribal biases. Lastly FAR is openly Christian yet works well with its Muslim employees, not forcing their faith on them but not hiding it either, as some do in Muslim countries.

So if you wonder how you can make a difference in Sudan, consider giving to FAR.

Have a lovely day,

Sofija

 

Fellowship for African Relief

Have You Packed Your Box Yet?

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This week is collection week and this morning we dropped off the shoe boxes we packed a week ago. What I like most about this family tradition of ours is that it enables my kids to think of others before they start the holiday season. I take them shopping and they pick out things they want to put in their box. And believe me, they would love to keep every single item they buy. Yet they have to give it away. My hope is that they will always live their lives like that, thinking of others first. Probably not going to happen, but a mama can try, right?

Between the AHG and our Cub scouts troop we had 59 boxes. They barely fit in our trunk. Below is a rare appearance of my son Shane. He usually does not like me to take his picture. Today he felt generous and gave me permission to put this picture in my blog.

IMG_2751 IMG_2749Here is Lori from Calvary who has been working with Operation Christmas Child for the last several years. She remembers us when we show up.

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After we dropped the boxes we got cookies and hot chocolate and wandered around the Calvary campus. Calvary is Albuquerque’s biggest church, with 15, 000+ members.

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Do you have any fun family traditions? Angel Tree comes to mind as another way of shopping for other children first. The gifts go to children of prisoners. Or the toy drives that fire fighters do every year.

-Sofija

 

 

Have You Packed Your Box Yet?

When the Church is the Church

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Friends,

I love it when the church does its job! In preparation for our missionary family coming back from the field this church has found a nice place to rent and completely furnished it in a matter of weeks. Furniture, bedding, lamps, dishes and food just kept pouring in. I took a picture of the dishes as my daughter and I put them in the cabinet.  So pretty.

This family has lived pretty isolated in a country (I cannot name here) for 7 years. This country would not give out visas for family and friends to visit, and it was the last place on earth you ever wanted to visit, I’m not kidding. After 7 years of faithfully serving in that country they got kicked out. The husband had to leave right away, the wife was allowed to stay a little longer to tie up loose ends. Pretty traumatic to be told you have to leave and never come back. Especially for their youngest child for whom this country is home. Would you pray with us for a year of rest and peace as they process the last 7 years and deal with culture shock?

On another note I won’t be posting next week. I’m taking the week off as we will be traveling and then entertaining visitors.

You can find me on Instagram. My Instagram pictures also show up on the side bar of this blog.

Have a lovely weekend, I will miss you!

-Sofija

 

 

 

 

When the Church is the Church

Weep with Those who Weep

I wrote my last post before I got the horrible news of the school shooting in Connecticut. Please forgive me for posting something trivial when we should be mourning.

Every time I look at the list of names I cry. I have a six year old daughter, I have been holding her close.

Charlotte Bacon                    02/22/06
Daniel Barden                        09/25/05
Rachel DaVino                       07/17/83
Olivia Engel                           07/18/06
Josephine Gay                       12/11/05
Ana M. Marquez-Greene          04/04/06
Dylan Hockley                        03/08/06
Dawn Hochsprung                   06/28/65
Madeleine F. Hsu                    07/10/06
Catherine V. Hubbard              06/08/06
Chase Kowalski                      10/31/05
Jesse Lewis                           06/30/06
James Mattioli                        03/22/06
Grace McDonnell                     11/04/05
Anne Marie Murphy                  07/25/60
Emilie Parker                           05/12/06
Jack Pinto                              05/06/06
Noah Pozner                           11/20/06
Caroline Previdi                       09/07/06
Jessica Rekos                         05/10/06
Avielle Richman                       10/17/06
Lauren Russeau                       06/82
Mary Sherlach                         02/11/56
Victoria Soto                          01/04/85
Benjamin Wheeler                    09/12/06
Allison N. Wyatt                      07/03/06

 

Pray and weep…

 

This list was released by the  State Police of Connecticut

 

 

Weep with Those who Weep

A Meaningful Christmas

Friends,

Thanksgiving is behind us and now it feels like a countdown till Christmas.

Here are some gift ideas that will last a life time for those on your list who have everything. Organizations like World Relief have Christmas catalogues available where you can decide where your money goes. How about donating $5 for a brood of chicken to provide eggs for a family in need? Or $24 for seeds and tools? One dear to my heart is $35 to rescue a person from human trafficking. $47 pays for shots for small children to keep them alive the first 5 years. $90 pays for school fees for a year. And lastly, my favorite, $60 pays for a goat. I really want to buy a goat for a family. They provide milk and cheese. The families share subsequent baby goats with their neighbors.

There are many other trustworthy organizations that have their own christmas catalogues such as Samaritan’s Purse, Word Vision, etc. I prefer the ones that work with local churches who are established in that culture.

Happy shopping!

-Sofija

P.S. After writing this I found out that today is #Giving Tuesday. How timely is that??

A Meaningful Christmas

Operation Christmas Child

Hi there,

It is Operation Christmas time! Every year before we buy gifts for the kids we take them shopping for other children. We have been doing this since the 90’s, and it never gets old. Franklin Graham started this project with the idea to bring joy to impoverished children mostly in war torn countries. The boxes these children receive are most likely the only toys they will ever get. They are many stories of children receiving exactly what they needed.

For the past three years we have been doing packing party  with our American Heritage Girls Troop. Everybody brings a lot of small items (such as hair ties, tooth paste, etc), one larger toy such as stuffed animal, doll, etc. In addition to that people may bring a couple medium size toys. We all come together on one night and have a packing party. It is like Christmas in November.

Here is my Ella with her medium sized toy that she would have very much liked to keep.

All the toys are organized on tables. The girls can go through and fill their boxes.

After we pack and wrap our boxes we load them up in our van and take them to the drop off center. This is the part my kids look forward to all year. Calvary Church of Albuquerque collects the boxes, puts them in larger boxes, stacked up in large rows high to the ceiling,  and then takes them to a processing center. They collect about 15,000 boxes.

Their staff must be required to take a “super friendly 101” class. You are greeted with smiles, stickers, cookies, hot chocolate, and friendly grandma type ladies. By the time we are done these ladies will know every detail of our family. Here is Ella filling up on cookies.

Somebody offered to take a picture of us; I couldn’t say no. Do you see what I mean, nice doesn’t even describe it.

Here is Luci outside getting that last drop of hot chocolate out.

I paid for the shipping online so I can track the box and find out where it’s final destination will be. Collection week ends this Sunday. So it’s not too late to do yours.

How about you, have you done this before? Do you have other traditions you do as a family before Christmas?

Have a great day,

Sofija

Operation Christmas Child