Tag Archives: World Vision bloggers

Extravagant gifts | Blog 10 of the 12 blogs of Christmas

I’m always a little bit hesitant to talk love languages, because I have the most selfish-sounding of them all. Because my primary love language is gifts. Which basically boils down to, “If you want to show me that you love me, give me stuff.” It’s kind of embarrassing.

Of course, it means that Christmas has a special place in my heart. Sure, there’s the peppermint mocha coffee goo that I put in my morning joe, the plates of Christmas cookies that are passed around at family gatherings, the unending stream of Christmas music in my car, the rehearsals for church services. These are all wonderful parts of the Christmas experience, and I look forward to them every year.

Occupy Advent | Blog 9 of the 12 blogs of Christmas

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and the holiday season gift-buying is in full swing. Black Friday specials have the shoppers out in droves. Downtown Portland is a sea of moving people with packages, shopping lists, and agendas. Me, I’m armed with my Nikon camera, hoping to capture some artistic street photos.

I stand on a street corner for a half hour or so, just getting a feel for the people walking from store to store. I notice that some of the downtown citizens remain outside the retail giants’ doors. There is an older gentleman attempting to hand out copies of his religion’s periodical. There are street performers and musicians demonstrating their talents in hopes that the holiday revelers would donate a bill or two in the spirit of the season. The young man standing next to me has a stack of pirated CD’s and is trying to get a passerby to listen to his iPod long enough to decide to buy a track or two.

Then, there are the homeless. Like in every city, they have cardboard signs about their most immediate needs. When I spotted Cecil, I immediately liked his face. I semi-hid behind one of the large pillars in front of a department store so I could raise my camera without drawing too much attention. It didn’t work. Cecil looked directly at me as I released the shutter.

Less of more and more of Jesus | Blog 8 of the 12 blogs of Christmas

Back before the days of flip cameras and high-definition video cameras, my parents recorded some of our early Christmases on tape. Well, I don’t even know what they used to record it, but they made a cassette tape for me with the recorded memories. Yes. I am old.

Anyway, on one particular Christmas, my parents had gotten 2-year-old me what they assumed would be the hit of the year -- my very own play kitchen. The tape documents me coming down the stairs Christmas morning and discovering all the gifts Santa had left behind.

A classic Christmas story goes Veggie!

I am usually a stickler on no-Christmas-stuff-until-Thanksgiving-is-done rule. I want to experience one holiday at a time -- mixing pilgrims with Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree is just too much for me!

But, this year, I caved.

In November, I opened up my mailbox to find a new VeggieTales DVD -- a Christmas Veggie Tales movie, "The Little Drummer Boy." I couldn't tell my kids to wait several weeks before we watched it, right? Right?! We had to sit down immediately and see what Bob and Larry were up to!

And I'm so glad we did.

Compassion | Blog 6 of the 12 blogs of Christmas

For years, I never understood Christmas. Admittedly, I was a bit of a Scrooge. It just seemed like the whole thing was a farce.

Every made-for-TV movie I watched between Thanksgiving and New Year’s preached the same gospel: “It’s not about presents.” But then, every Christmas morning, I was inundated with presents. It didn’t make sense. Someone was lying.

Everything you want?

My parents, and probably yours, would conclude every December 25th with the same nervous question: “So… did you get everything you wanted?”

Are you kidding me? Everything I wanted? Is this what we want to teach our children about life? That you can get everything you want?

What only God can do | Blog 2 of the 12 blogs of Christmas

Years of being blessed with a low checking account balance forced me to rethink my approach to Christmas. Those were not easy years as I tried to tell myself that Christmas isn’t all about the presents, while fearing that my family would consider me cheap or inconsiderate.

A budget gift is a budget gift.

In a happy case of irony, my focus on gift-giving led me back to a better conception of Christmas.

If art thrives on limitation, gift-giving followed suit. If I only had $10 to spend on each person, I had to ask very different questions for gift-giving, the most important being: “What would this person never buy for himself/herself?”

This led to a series of time-consuming projects, such as homemade applesauce, unique jams, hot sauce, and framed photographs. Everything was tailored to the specific needs of each person, and in most cases, kept us within our budget.

[caption id="attachment_10609" align="alignright" width="270" caption="Ed's homemade applesauce."]What only God can do | World Vision Blog[/caption]

True Christmas spirit | Blog 1 of the 12 blogs of Christmas

Starting today, World Vision bloggers are linking up to spread the true spirit of Christmas. Our 12 blogs of Christmas represent the creativity, love, joy, hope, memories, and family holiday traditions that keep us connected to the true reason for the season.

Feeling gratitude — from the heart (Blessings #1 and #2)

Counting your blessings this week for Thanksgiving? We are, too. Blessings #1 and #2: The people we serve and those who serve with us, and the many faithful donors and supporters of World Vision's work around the world. Thank you.

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I was in the Dominican Republic last year with World Vision.

On our last day there, the World Vision staff in Santo Domingo threw us a "goodbye" party. At some point during the festivities, I was asked to say a few words and then pray.

I don't remember what I said exactly, but I remember what happened after I finished. As I handed the microphone back to the sound guy, a woman grabbed my hand. And when my other hand was free, she grabbed it, too, and cupped them inside hers.

When she had my complete attention, the woman began talking. I couldn't understand what she was saying as she spoke in Spanish. I thought about stopping her so I could look around for somebody to translate her words, but so much was happening around us -- talking, laughing, shouting, music, and dancing -- that I felt compelled to keep my eyes on her, listen closely, and experience what she was saying.

Giving Christmas away

Not too long ago, I received the kindest of emails from Marina, the famed Energizer Bunnies' Mommy from the Energizer Bunnies' Mommy Reports blog. Marina shared with me an idea she and another blogger had about using their social media influence to inspire readers to make Christmas meaningful for more than just their own children this year.

This guest post from Marina (and this week's series on Marina's and Angie's blogs) is a result of their desire to "give" Christmas to those less fortunate in this country and around the world this holiday season. Thank you, Marina and Angie!
Lindsey, World Vision Blog

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Christmas is less than 50 days away. What’s on your child’s wish list?

A LeapPad Explorer? Let's Rock Elmo? A Fijit Friend? Oh, yes, the hottest toys of the season!

A treat for any child! Or is it?

Do you know what’s on these children’s wish list this Christmas?

God used microenterprise to change my life

In July, Deana Calhoun, a World Vision Child Ambassador, visited her sponsored child in the Dominican Republic, where she saw World Vision Micro at work. She blogged about her experiences, which we're sharing below.

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Today, we journey to the Palmera area development program (ADP). It is located in northern Santo Domingo. In order to get to the ADP office, we drive through what is called “the Misery Belt.” It is an area along the river and outskirts of town, where the poorest of the poor live.

We leave the main office and walk a few blocks away to the technical school. There is an art and music building nearby, which we’ll hopefully visit later, but for now, we will see the place where they teach woodworking, upholstery, sewing, hairstyling, baking, and jewelry-making.

On prayer... (LINK UP)

I thread the glass beads between my tired fingers in my left hand. My right hand holds the pen to paper.

I scratch out prayers in the quiet morning over coffee.

God and I meet best in the early hours, my mind needing awakening and my bones still heavy from sleep. I suppose He’d meet me anytime, but I’m most sincere in the morning.

I’ve never done well with prayer. It’s always been a hurdle to jump, my brick wall in the marathon of faith. Putting me in a group of people who speak whispered prayers makes me uneasy, and I clam up tight and choose to be quiet.

If I speak my prayers, my language changes. I don’t sound like me, I feel weird in my skin.

So, I take to paper. Journal upon journal upon journal…lines filled with etched-in ink, aching cries, soaring gratitude, questions and more questions. It’s a history of my hemming-in, Him drawing near, yet letting me run. The journals remind me of His own pen and ink, writing out the grand stories of life and lives.

5 tips for encouraging your friends to sponsor a child

From now through September 30, you can enter for a chance to win a trip to Peru with World Vision to see our work firsthand. It's as simple as finding new sponsors for just five children.

But we know very well that asking friends, family, or colleagues to sponsor a child isn't easy. In fact, it can be difficult -- even intimidating. That's why we asked Elizabeth Esther, World Vision Bolivia blogger, for her tips as an experienced writer and child sponsorship advocate. Our Facebook fans had lots of tips to offer, too.

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From Elizabeth Esther:

When I first started asking my readers to sponsor a child, I was apprehensive. I wasn't sure how people would respond.

Bringing death in Africa to life in America [LINK UP]

“Can I have a snack?”

“I’m so hungry mom. Is it dinnertime yet?”

“I’m starving – what can I eat? No, I don’t want that. Do you have ____?”

So much of my day revolves around my children ruled by their bellies. They eat three meals and a snack. The youngest, with his medical condition that requires additional calories, eats two snacks and, if given the chance, would graze all day long.

They fill the air with misery if I dare suggest not eating right that instant. And the days I’m caught empty-handed when they decide they’re hungry? The wailing and gnashing of teeth makes me want to rip my hair out, don sackcloth and ashes, and carry a banner touting “Meanest mom alive.”

When I returned from visiting Bolivia, I could no longer smile indulgently at our obsession with food. After seeing true poverty, and meeting people so poor they could only eat two meals a day (no snacks!), I realized that none of us have any idea what being hungry really means.

Horn of Africa crisis: 14 strategies to make an impact

(Editor's note: In an international campaign to raise awareness about the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, World Vision offices around the world are coming together to tolerate #faminenomore. Will you join us?)

Why help? Why raise awareness? What could I possibly do to make an impact for the 12.4 million affected by drought and famine in the Horn of Africa?

[From the photo above] When the maize crop failed yet again this year, Hadija Hassan Abdi, 28, took her children and hitched rides for 8 days and nights until she reached the safety of Burtinle camp in Somalia. Along the way she begged for food for her children from strangers. She has been in the camp only 4 days, just long enough to construct a tiny stick hut covered in cloth scraps. There is nothing on the floor and no cooking utensils. She and eldest daughter, Nurto, 10 (on right, wearing orange scarf) are able to earn a little by hauling garbage away for families in nearby Burtinle city. But mostly she still survives primarily by begging. I wonder how we'd react if she came to us for help?

This story from Jon Warren, World Vision photographer in Somalia, really struck me. If Hadija and Nurto were begging right outside my door, what would I do? I live in Seattle, where I see people begging a lot -- sometimes I respond by giving and sometimes I don't. Hadija and Nurto aren't outside my door, but I can't ignore their story, their need. They are as real as the people needing help right in front of me.

12.4 million people are affected by hunger, fighting for their lives -- that's a big problem to wrap our minds around. But I know this... together, we can make an impact. So what could you possibly do to help those in crisis in the Horn of Africa? Start here.


LIVE THE LIFE OF A FAMINE-VICTIM FOR 30 HOURS. The millions suffering in the Horn of Africa are part of the some 900 million hungry people worldwide. The 30 Hour Famine gives your group a chance to do something about it. Read about the Famine team's recent experience in Dadaab, Kenya, one of the world's largest refugee camps.

TEXT. Get those texting thumbs ready... Text "FAMINE" to "20222" to text in your $10 donation to fight hunger and famine in the Horn of Africa

[Bolivia bloggers] A dozen unforgettable moments

I saw this tweet from Rachel Held Evans yesterday morning: “Been back from Bolivia for a week now, and I'm just now unpacking. Anyone else out there an unpacker-slacker?" I'm the worst kind of unpacker... I let the task of unpacking intimidate me in a really silly way.

I also think there's something sort of nostalgic about an unpacked suitcase -- it brings back memories of where you've just returned from. In this case, it brings back bittersweet memories of the seven days I spent in Bolivia with some of the most insightful and endearing people I'll ever know -- Elizabeth, Andrea, Joy, Nish, Matthew, Carla, Rachel, Amy, Michael, Jana and Deb -- and all of the moments we experienced together. Moments that have changed our hearts forever.

Now, each time I look at the photos, read the blog posts, or trip over my unpacked suitcase in the morning, every moment and every child’s face floods back into my memory and fills my heart with more love and joy than I sometimes know how to process. Those are the moments I never, ever want to forget.

Home for one week and still unpacking our bags, these are our unforgettable moments from our time in Bolivia. We hope pieces of our experiences bless you as they've blessed us.


Elizabeth Esther, ElizabethEsther.com

Meeting the special needs kids in Colomi ADP touched my heart in such a deep way. The parents’ unflagging dedication in spite of insurmountable odds truly inspired me to be a better parent myself. It was amazing to see the value World Vision places on each individual child—especially those with special needs. It was a great honor to join this trip. Thank you, World Vision.

Andrea Rodriguez, trip host, communications officer at the World Vision Bolivia National Office

The moment Arturo, a child at the Colomi special needs center, got his hearing device, his eyes became like the Sora Sora lake with the sunset – bright and beautiful – a moment I’ll never forget.

[Bolivia bloggers] Back at home, but haunted by their faces

The following post was written on Day 1, back at home from Bolivia, from Elizabeth Esther.

I did 26 hours of travel on two hours of sleep. I don’t recommend this. My body and mind feel sundered–torn apart. This afternoon I started shaking. I’m so tired–physically, emotionally, mentally–that my body started freaking out on me without sending a warning note first. And Mariela’s face haunts my emotions:

[caption id="attachment_7329" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Mariela poured confetti on my head--the traditional Bolivian form of blessing and rejoicing"]Haunted by their faces | World Vision Blog[/caption]

I met Mariela at the special-needs center in Colomi. Her uncle, in the words of Mariela’s mother, “es muy malo.” Very bad–meaning, his special needs are severe, overwhelming for a family already entrenched in deep poverty. Mariela wouldn’t let go of me. She held my hand, asked me to draw pictures for her, kissed my cheek repeatedly. Mariela has no father. Her mother is a single parent, recently returned from Argentina where she tried to find work. Mariela was too skinny for her age. But she knew how to love. She caressed my hand and stared into my eyes.

A letter to the mothers and fathers of Bolivia

To the incredible mothers and fathers of Bolivia,

This journey has been an opportunity to give a voice for the voiceless. To put a spotlight on the unseen. To shed light on what life is like through the eyes of Bolivians. I hope that I have shared and will continue to share your stories with the accuracy and thoughtfulness that they deserve.

To the mothers who pray daily for the health and future of their children -- you are the fortitude of your families. To the mothers who battle cultural discrimination because their children are born with disabilities -- you are women of strength. To the mothers who took in children who were not their own because no one else would -- you are brave. To Celestina whose son Wilfram was born with a heart condition and down syndrome – I count you full of courage for never giving up hope in his life or in God.

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 7: Sex and poverty

Paulo has 8 children ranging in ages from 14 years to 6 months. Three of them walk 2 hours to school and 2 hours home. He told us that he used to live near the mines, but it wasn’t a safe place for children. He bought the land in the mountains where we visited him, and moved his family there. But he can’t grow enough in his fields to feed them all.

Thank you, Lisa Leonard [photo album]

So you know we’re in Bolivia. You know we’re blogging. You know we’re meeting sponsored children. You know we’re hoping you also make the decision to sponsor a child in Bolivia.

Here’s something you should also know: The first 150 people who sponsor a child in Bolivia through our blogs this week will also get a special “Bolivia bloggers” edition necklace thanks to our sweet and talented friend Lisa Leonard. Lisa’s handmade jewelry design company donated these to our trip to support our team and child sponsorship in Bolivia. (Of course, we wish you were here with us, Lisa!)

And when you sponsor a child in Bolivia and get this necklace, know that someone special in a World Vision community in Bolivia is wearing the necklace, too -- maybe a necklace is around the neck of one of these beautiful people we've met on our trip.

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Sponsor a child in Bolivia

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