My cousin Amy is a world changer.
I have been watching from afar, as she and her amazing friend Jenn (both under 26) developed a passion for the people of Haiti - and have raised funds and started their own ministry: Second Mile Haiti - a home for malnourished children and their mothers.
Amy is gentle, compassionate & a skilled nurse, and though I haven't met Jenn yet - I can tell that she is a visionary with awesome administrative & leadership skills.
Jenn too, is a world changer.
They seem to be a dynamic duo and the evidence is in the incredible progress they've already made. They have already purchased land in Cap Hatien, Haiti and have nearly completed finishing the buildings on the property: a clinic, education building, recovery homes, apartment - all within 17 months of solidifying their vision. AMAZING.
When I say I've been watching from afar for the past few years of my cousin's life... I'll be honest - I've been watching with LONGING from afar. I had done shorter term trips to Brooklyn, NY & Mexico trips as a teen. I met my hubby just before leaving on a 6 month trip that included Korea and The Philippines. When Jeremiah and I were first married, we traveled together to Indonesia to stay with a friend. Back then, before having kids of our own - we felt a tug to involve our lives ( in some way/form) in overseas work. And later, it was a big part of our decision to homeschool. We've dreamed of raising our kids part of the year (somehow) in a developing country. We've wanted them to see that this American life we lead is not the norm for most of the world. We want them to be touched by the beauty of people in different cultures. With people who live with poverty and yet are full of joy.
In moving to Colorado to buy a home and start our little family - we did not know what we were in for: years of intense job struggles, having FOUR daughters, starting and failing at a small retail business, deciding to homeschool, beginning a life of church-in-the-home-and-whole-of-life, struggling with health issues through diet & natural remedies. We've been in Colorado for 10 years now and it has been a ride. Those old dreams of travel and purpose faded to the background as we focused on surviving.
Part of my spiritual journey has been my own struggle for significance. I lived with a deep fear that unless I tried very hard, my life might not matter. I was anxiously looking for ways in which I could make a BIG difference in the world. I didn't want my life to be 'ordinary'. I wanted to do something important with it.
I felt frustrated that in my Mommy routine, my 'big dreams' of overseas impact seemed worlds away. Instead, I was living with small business debt - struggling to buy groceries, drowning in diapers and laundry and feeling like a failure in many ways. In the midst of all this, I was not alone. And my struggles were not for nothing.
Our marriage was being strengthened through hardship, humbling circumstances and lessons in forgiveness. I was being taught how to be thrifty and resourceful with little. The financial and health struggles led to an unexpected love for gardening, I never knew I had. I've developed a deep love for my little neighborhood community here in Loveland. I do lead a very un-ordinary life! (I grow food, eat lots of fermented things, butcher my own meat, homeschool, and experience 'church' in the home)... this wasn't exactly what I had in mind... and yet it has opened up for me a life that I LOVE.
Eventually, I've begun to embrace where I'm at - instead of wishing I was somewhere more significant. Instead of striving for a 'better, more 'significant' life - I'm relaxing. Trusting that the passions and gifts God has put uniquely inside of me are there for a purpose. I'm learning to love the job I've been given as a Momma, Lover, Food-Cultivator & Educator right here in Colorado. I can admit something:
I am a world changer, right here, today.
I am an ordinary world changer with a God who specializes in making beautiful things out of hard things.
I am God's beloved child. And so is everyone else.
I'm changing the world as I raise my daughters, love my neighbors, show up for my friends and continue to keep my eyes open for opportunities where my passions and gifts can be spent on the needs of the world.
Last month... Amy emailed me.
She told me that they (the Haiti world-changers) had been reading my blog. She said they were inspired and wondered if I would want to come out and help them with food gardening/homesteading ideas for the land there.
I almost peed my pants.
I thought of those dreams of overseas travel (pushed down deep, the ones I had named unrealistic & unattainable). The financial battles and handfuls of daughters and piles of laundry and unorganized drawers and mountains of dishes had not completely buried them. Uncovering those old dreams beneath these 10 years of life... they look different. Maybe because I am different.
So I'm heading to Haiti in a little over a week! I'm going by myself for 10 days - (to soak it all up, help with what I can, make plans, share ideas). I'm also stopping in Florida at ECHO to view and learn from their tropical education food gardens. (excited squeal) I have SO much I hope to learn.
Second Mile will be housing 12 mother and (malnourished) child pairs at a time at the recovery homes on their property. They will be teaching the women job skills, health care knowledge (to care for their own babies). They want to have a large food garden with animals to supply as much of their own food needs as possible, as well as sample small home gardens for the women to learn creative ways to grow their own food and become as self-sufficient as possible.
I hope to help by getting my hands dirty, jump-starting ideas on composting & soil prep, roof-top gardening, gardening in small spaces, vertical-trellising, small livestock production and how it works into the garden.
Once I get home, we will continue to pray and plan for more trips with the family - however the need & opportunity arises. I want to return with my other half (who is the practical skill behind my dreams) and our girls at some point. This is a new adventure for us - but SUCH a fitting one.
Amy, Jenn & I could use your help. I thought I would enlist a few more of you ordinary world changers...
They have been busy raising funds for buildings, solar electricity, medical supplies and it's been amazing to see funds come in. They are currently low on funds for their food gardens and it would be amazing if we could raise some extra money so that we might get started on some projects while I am there.
If you would like to be a part of this, please click here. Click on DONATE NOW and add in the comments that you want to donate to the food gardens. So simple!!
We also have big dreams for our own homestead in Loveland. We will be partnering with an incredible friend and gifted neighbor to add a wood-fired bread oven to our property. We hope to add rain water barrels and a Tilapia pond in the near future. Our vision for our home is that it would be a helpful place and inspiration for our local community as a learning garden, sustainability center and resource. I have dreams of teaching classes at my home on composting, soil management, food preservation and cooking someday. Now that we are beginning this adventure in Haiti - I can see how our experiments in sustainability may be a wonderful asset to share with them as well.
We each have our own unique passions and skills to share with the world. We are all ordinary world changers!
Thanks for being a part of my journey and for doing your part to offer yourself to the world in your own beautiful way!