Monday, February 28, 2011

Guess How Much I Love You?

How many of you are familiar with this children's book?  Guess How Much I Love You is a staple in every American child's library.  Along with Goodnight Moon and one of my personal favorites, Where the Wild Things Are.  There are a lot of other things that are staples in the lives of American children.  Things that we take for granted and don't even notice on a daily basis.  We seamlessly get through life with these and other "things" that keep us stay fed, clothed, clean, healthy, educated, entertained, and feeling loved.

Did you know that there are almost 83 million people living in Ethiopia today?  I don't think that I need to tell you that it is one of the poorest countries in the world.  It struggles from severe poverty, HIV and the lack of HIV education, and is home to over 3.8 million orphans.  I remember when I was growing up I used to always see pictures of starving Ethiopian children and hear about how hungry people were over there.  It was the one country that stood out to me the most as a child as "hurting".  And now I'm going there.  And my heart is hurting for the people of Ethiopia and I haven't even met them yet.

I leave in one month.  I'm volunteering with a friend and her mom at a Christian-based organization in Addis.  I will be there for three weeks.  And the entire time I'm there, I'll be with the children of Ethiopia.  I am excited beyond words, but nervous and scared at the same time.  I don't know what to expect from this trip, but I do know that it will be life-changing.

And when I think about these children's books that we as Americans expect to have in vast quantities on our children's shelves at home, next to their beds with cozy, colorful bedding, and a nightlight always left on, it makes me think:  how do these Ethiopian children who don't have books and beds with cozy, colorful bedding and nightlights and moms and dads to tuck them in - how do they know that they are loved?

I want to be able to go over there and say to each one of their sweet faces, "Guess How Much I Love You?"  I don't even know you, but I love you enough to bring you basic things that every child needs - a toothbrush, some soap, something to keep your feet warm at night.  I love you enough to hope and pray that you can be educated and have a chance in this world, and that perhaps I can help with some children's books, puzzles, coloring books, markers, crayons, and pencils.  I love you enough that I will try to provide you with just a few things that might keep you healthy - children's vitamins, diaper rash ointment, cotton balls, Neosporin, and baby wipes.  I love you enough that perhaps I can give you something to wear.  And enough that maybe I can find something that will put a smile on your face, like a soccer ball, jump rope, sidewalk chalk, balloons or stickers.  I love you this much.

You see, every child deserves to feel loved.  And there are so many ways -  easy, easy ways -  to show them that they are.  It doesn't take the newest toy on the market.  It takes basic necessities that they live so many of their days without.

So here is my plea:
For anyone who wants to help me show these children that they are loved, there is a list of items below that I would be more than happy to collect and take over with me to Ethiopia to give to these precious souls.  Contact me and we can work out logistics, but I need to receive everything no later than Saturday, March 26th. 

Alternatively, for anyone who would like to contribute $$ for us to buy some of these items to take over, or to give to the organization directly, either send me a check or click on the blog link that follows, and you can donate via PayPal to Ben & Lauren Huss.  Lauren and her mom are the ones serving with me over in Ethiopia.  (*Note:  if you choose this option, please put in the notes that you know me*).  If you like, you can specify what you prefer your $$ to be spent on.

Blog link to contribute via PayPal:

Items requested for donation
baby wipes
diaper rash ointment
cotton balls
stickers for activities
kids scissors
glue sticks
foam letters or shapes
jump ropes
wiggly eyes
craft sticks
sidewalk chalk
play dough
coloring books
toddler/preschool board books in English
kids' Bibles in English
books for 1st-4th graders
new or gently used clothing (particularly for 7-11 year olds) (also pants only, no shorts)

I'm not usually one to ask for things.  I actually feel quite uncomfortable doing it, but I know that I cannot do this alone.  And I also know that I don't want that to limit these children to just what I can provide for them.  And I know that many of you out there have amazing hearts and have the desire to help others wound tightly inside your DNA.  So if I may, I would like to ask you all to do one of three things:  1) show these children love through the gift of items 2) show them love through a $$ donation or 3) pray for this trip and for these children.  All are equally important and equally impactful.  And certainly equally appreciated.

If you have any questions at all, please DO NOT hesitate to contact me.

Thank you, sweet friends, for helping me show these children how much they are loved.