Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunglasses Drive

On the last medical trip that GOYA took, April (one of the team members who will be currently going on this trip) collected brand new shoes from payless shoes to give to the children. This year, April has a new challenge.

We take for granted the simple pleasure of shielding our eyes from the sun during the warmer months. Since the equator divides Kenya, Nairobi has increased UV light compared to the United States. Because of this, many people living in the slums can not afford sunglasses and have eye problems. This year, April would like to give sunglasses to the adults living in the slum. As we had our GOYA meeting last night, she pondered how she could find funding to give the adults sunglasses.

I immediately thought of how many people have supported me through my personal fundraising. I suggested to her that we have some type of fundraiser or collection. We all agreed that this would be a great idea. I told her that I would like to take it upon myself to set this up. I asked her how many pairs she would want and she said 600!!! I know that I personally can not get 600 pairs of brand new sunglasses, but I know that many of you could help me out!

Here's where you come in! I need volunteers to help spread the word about this and to help in the collection of BRAND NEW, adult sunglasses that must have UV ray protection (otherwise this defeats the purpose). If you're in Bloomington, then you can drop off new pairs at:

Cybernatic Studio
900 W. College Ave
Normal, IL 61761

Make sure you mention to the receptionist that they are for GOYA.

We will be collecting sunglass pairs until we leave for our trip on December 28th.

If you don't live in Bloomington, shoot me an email, and I'll tell you what to do at

Collection Idea:
If you work in retail, or some other type of place with high customer traffic, get creative!-(but first check with management that it's ok) Cut a hole in a shoebox and wrap it in holiday gift wrap. I'm sure you can go onto the GOYA webpage and print off their logo. Take some clip art of sunglasses and paste them onto the box. Make sure the box says somewhere that we are only collecting BRAND NEW adult sunglasses with UV protection labeled somewhere on them.

Your contributions will IMMEADIATELY affect these people... That's what I like about this trip, is that I will see people's lives change immediately while I'm there. I'll make sure to take pictures of people wearing the sunglasses while I'm out there!

A letter from God

Many people have told me that they were touched by my letter that I sent out to my friends, family, and supporters. I must say that letter was not my own words. I prayed before I wrote it, asking God to give me the words to say what he wanted. I heard the words flowing in my head and this is what came out:

Dear Friends and Family,

This journey is hard. I cannot do this on my own. The only one that I am relying on is the lord. That sounds very churchy, but I’m serious. This trip would not be possible without Jesus. I have met someone who escaped from the hard life in Africa. Someone who buried hundreds of his dead friends just to see hyena’s eating their bodies the next day. Someone who ate mud and urine to keep himself alive. His name is John Bul Dau and he came to my university to speak about his life. His story is incredible. The odds were against him. He should have been dead. Not only did he survive the Sudanese civil war that ranged from 1983 to 2005, but God had a purpose for his life. To tell his story. His memoir, “God Grew Tired of Us” was created into a documentary, produced by Brad Pitt. The documentary received the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

What is your story?

I was nervous waiting in line, with his book clutched in my hand, waiting for him to sign it. I’m not really sure why I was so nervous. I took out my business card and wrote on the back of it: “God has a lot of favor on you”. As I got to the front of the line, I introduced myself to him and handed him my card. I told him that I was going to Kenya to help children. His eyes lit up as he began signing the book. As he was signing it, he asked me when I was going and then he wished me good luck. I thanked him and walked away. As I got into my car, I opened the book. It read: “Never ever give up!” During his lecture, he said that he relied on two things to get through the painful walk to Ethiopia and Kenya: To rely on God and to never give up. Had he not relied on either of those, he would be dead right now.

This trip isn’t just about doing something for the common good. It’s about finding myself and telling my story. Through this trip, I have been brought together with so many people…people which I probably would not have become friends with. My heart has changed tenfold. About 7 months ago, I didn’t want to have anything to do with children, I thought they were annoying. Now on every other Sunday I get excited to teach Kindergarteners about God.

You see, everything happens for a reason. Had I not been so motivated with my schoolwork, I wouldn’t be graduating early. If I weren’t graduating early, I probably wouldn’t be going on this trip. If I got into grad school, I wouldn’t be staying longer for this trip. Had my heart not changed for high school students, I wouldn’t have developed counseling skills with students who deal with depression, sexual abuse, and coping—Skills that I can use while on my trip.

You see, I can not sit here and pretend that I got to where I am by my self. Even before I became a Christian, God was working in my life, and the cool thing is that my life is a constant process of finding myself. This is my story so far, but it’s definitely not the end. Like John Bul Dau, I refuse to give up, even if I’m staring death down. God will do all the guiding; all I have to do is stand my ground and not give up.

Now is a crucial time. I have yet to raise $645 in about a week. Can it happen? You bet it can!