This is my first ever guest blog, and what a privilege it is to do this for Natalie and JT! I love these people. Natalie and I go way back as my husband was her youth minister back in the day. One of the biggest perks of ministry is getting to seek how God conitnues to work in people that you have loved. Natalie has blown me away with how she has allowed God to shape her and lead her! JT I just met face to face last week (seriously), but thanks to facebook, I feel like I've known him for years! I love his heart for God, for serving, for orphans and those in need. And I love that he is willing to take risks for Christ. So, when I was asked to write a guest blog for them, I was thrilled to do so! And because the topic of clean water is fresh on my mind, I thought I'd share a bit about that.
It's only 29 days away as I write this. My heart already beats a little faster to think about being back in Ethiopia. But it goes wild to think about WHY we are going. Y'all, I just cannot find the right words to tell the joy I find in being a part of taking clean water to the beautiful people of Ethiopia.
Most of you know our story (because I've told it everywhere I can think of!). But for the few who may not know who the heck I am or what in the world I know about the problem of dirty water, let me catch you up. My husband (Jeff, he totally rocks!) and I, alond with our son (Bryan- he rocks too!) brought home our daughter (Ellie- yes, she rocks too... duh) in August of 2009. She was almost three years old and weighed in at 22 pounds. She was 32 inches tall. We saw the pediatrician right after she came home and found that she had 5 parasites in her from the dirty water she had been drinking in Ethiopia. We started meds right away to get rid of them, but it took a full 9 months before they were gone. Yes... 9 months of antibiotics. 9 months of stool samples. 9 months of very little growth, tummy aches, you name it. But here's where the story gets good! Once the parasites were gone, she grew 12 INCHES AND 15 POUNDS in the following 9 months. (yes, you read that correctly!)
We watched our daughter transform in front of our very eyes, and we were certain that we couldn't just be happy that she was well. There were so many others still in Ethiopia who were hurting and drinking that same filthy water as our Ellie had for so long. We knew their names. We knew their stories. We'd held their hands. We couldn't ignore them. The truth is that God calls us all to care for the orphans (See James 1:27), and our daughter was no longer an orphan, so we still had work to do.
We began to research clean water. I'm ashamed to admit that it took watching my child suffer before I became aware of the massive problem this is across the globe. The World Health Organization tells us that 2.2 MILLION children will die this year alone from preventable diseas before they reach their 5th birthday. The lack of clean water reaches more than 1 BILLION people worldwide.
Folks, this is just not acceptable.
When we learned of our daughter's parasites, we had the blessing of knowing that we had the ability to do something about it. We had doctors, medicines, money to pay for those things. She had a chance. There was relief in my heart when I looked at my tiny, emaciated daughter and I knew that she was in a safe place with access to water that would not harm her. And really, every mother deserves to know the same thing. Every mother in every land deserves to know that she has what is needed to provide life and growth to her children. And shame on us if we don't do everything within our power to help them be able to do that.
Jeff and I began to research, and we were led to WaterStep, a great group that is working to find solutions for clean water across the globe. With WaterStep, we had found the part of our search for how to clean the water, but we still lacked access to getting that solution into Ethiopia and in the hands of people who would use it. That's where One Child Campaign comes in :)
One night, I was in bed googling things like "water projects in Ethiopia" and "mission work in Ethiopia" just to see if anyone else was addressing this issue. I came across a blog of One Child Campaign that stated they had been in Woliso- the very town our daughter was from! The blog went on to say that they had a desire to be able to do clean water projects with some of their ministry partners in Ethiopia, but they did not have anyone with that knowledge at the time. I sent an email that night, and within a few days the founders of One Child Campaign, Caleb and Becca David, were sitting in our dining room, having pizza and dreaming big with us.
It's been one of the most exciting journeys of my life to be a part of this. The first time we were able to install a water chlorinator and witness the people of Ethiopia drink pure water for the first time is a moment that I will never forget. Hearing mothers tell us since then of how their children do not get sick every day, do not have diarrhea every day, can go to school, etc etc because of clean water access is something I will never grow tired of. Seeing people across the U.S get on board with us by praying, donating and going with us has energized me even more. This is God's work. It's holy, and it's beautiful. And I want more of it.
So...if you're reading this, chances are that you want to be on board too. How can you get involved??
For starters, you can become aware of the problem of lack of access to pure drinking water. Second, you can pray for those who are without that access and for those who are trying to change that. Third, you can give. It's no secret that it takes money to do this work. In Ethiopia, a clean water system can be set up at this time for approximately $2500 that will give clean water to limitless people in a community.
So far, One Child teams have set up 5 systems, and are planning to set up 3 more in May, so your donations are ALWAYS welcome! (go to www.onechildcampaign.com to give). Finally, you can go. Nothing teaches you quite like seeing firsthand te need for clean water. Check out One Child's website and sign up for a trip. There are still a few spots open for our trip in May too! But whatever you choose, do SOMETHING. Lives are at risk here, and there is no time to waste.
I believe with all of my hear that this is God's work in progress. And I believe that it is about to open wide and blossom far beyond our wildest dreams. Thanks be to God!
Written by my dear friend and someone whom I admire, Holly Prosser. Follow them at http://hollybirdswords.blogspot.com/