The first time I met them, in their land, it was incredibly hot. The sun seems to rest right on the tops of the trees in Africa. I hid under those trees more than once to avoid getting sun burned. Because I was expecting dry dirt, I traveled with sandals. A pair of Tevo's and a pair of Keen's. Both pair had funky straps. By the end of my two weeks, I had the most confusing pattern of suntan lines on my feet. The sun seared my journey by foot in memory right onto the skin of my feet. There was one patch to the far extreme outer edge of my foot that I didn't even realize at first was from the sun. It was so dark and oddly shaped that I thought something might have bitten me. It wasn't until I discovered an exact idential mark on the other foot that I reazlied this pattern. The African sun would leave a lasting impression.
For nearly 6 months, back in America I could continue to see those marks across my feet. Daily I would be reminded of the marks Africa left on me, in me, through me. I would see the tan lines and smells of children would whisp through my senses. Sounds of their joy in saying "Ah, ya May-LEE-Sa" danced around my mind to wake up my memory. I would never be allowed to forget them. God would lead me to see them each day on the sun stained marks atop my feet. The journey He designed for me would be secured into a pair of sandals, hooked in straps. And He would continue to move me forward in His direction, one small step at a time.
I remember the day I showered and looked down at my feet without seeing the slightest remnant of evidence that I had ever been stained. It broke my heart and I wept like a baby. It seemed really as though that journey faded into nothingness. But then through another amazing prompting and an invitation, that nothingness turned into somethingmoreness...(i love made up words). A chance to strap on those sandals again. (For the record...I have taken the same 2 pair of sandals every time I go....which will be no different next month).
Ironicially, my sunburned sandal strap remnants had absolutely nothing to do with the naming of this organization. Oh, I see the parallels and I get how that would make a great story... but instead it is a coincidence (on my part). Maybe I'm not so clever. But I am reminded in my spirit of the heftiness of the sandal strap tanning experience....and I see how God Himself intends this reminder and its parallel for my comfort, encouragement, and maybe even a dose of reality.
He did not lead me to start an organization so that I could shine, but so that He would. Not so that my dreams would come true, but so that His will would unfold. Not so that my love would have an outlet, but so that His love would be multiplied. Not so that I could feel good about myself, but so that every participant (from giver to receiver) would know Him better. It is His journey, not mine. I'm just so honored to get to have my feet burned every once in a while.
At start up, I made a big plea for school fees and food money. We made a quick difference. But like the suntan on my feet - that fades quickly. I am making another plea. Could we use some big fat donations right now to literally change and improve lives? Yes, absolutely! I never want to discourage hefty giving. But here is the deal...... the children are in such a vulnerable position. What they need more than anything is steadiness. Do you know....if we had 50 donors giving $50 per month...we could maintain their food and school fees? That is right...approx $30,000 per year would keep them fed, medicated (for HIV), and keep them all in school (60-65 kiddos). 50 people at $50 per month. Or 100 people at $25 per month. Or any odd combination....you see....it is totally doable. The problem is that we aren't doing it. I believe with all of my heart and soul that God will prompt enough donors, and I believe that He will do this soon. (I can't afford to believe anything less). If YOU are not one of the ones, would you please consider spreading the word of this organization to your peers? Would you just consider sharing this with others so that they can be moved to respond to a call that God might have placed on their hearts?
We humbly request your voices to speak out for us. Word of mouth is the best (and cheapest) form of advertising. Your generosity in spreading the word could literally save fragile lives, fill hungry bellies, and educate orphans for a better future.
Please give. Or please talk. Or please do both. This is the very equivalent of strapping on sandals and getting sunburned.
May God bless you with His Holy Spirit! (I pray this genuinely)
Founder/Director (to go to the website: CLICK HERE WITH A SMILE ON YOUR HEART )