Noun: The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

In all the hullabaloo that is my life, at times I forget things. This is really not good. In fact there are some things that are very close to being saying thank you, is one of those very things.

A few months ago I took a trip that changed the course of my life forever. I'm still sifting through all that was my Kenya trip. My trip has sent me into a bit of a tailspin.. changing my way of thinking, radically forever.

There are just so many layers to my experience, one day I hope to be able to tell the entire story..but today it's not about's about a few pretty dang special peeps that helped me dream big and make big dreams come true.

No biggie.

Let's start with Andrew, he dabbles a little bit in graphic design. So I shot him an email that went something along the lines of, "Hey, I'm going with a small group to Kenya..we are building a school, we want to sell T's to raise some cash..will you design it for me?? (Um for free..of course) Then he came up with this..

and it kinda rocked our world.

A few of my friends bought t's..a few of my kiddo's teachers did too. Then people started asking..they got popular and we sold lots. It was awesome.

Thank You Andrew. You gave us momentum. (and I will be in touch soon about another project..Um for free..of course)

Then some of our dearest friends John and Jill gave me $$. I never asked for it, but it came regardless..the card that accompanied it still hangs right above my computer. I think about the cash, but I see the card every single day.."be a light, shining in darkness.." Words for me to live by, everyday. Thank You John and Jill for your prayers and support, it gave me courage to pursue my dream.

Dear sweet Tippy. Patricia of Tippy Stockton fame sent along a HUGE amount of beads she no longer had use for. A majority of them went to these two sweeties.

They were a few of my favorites. They come from families that cannot afford to send them to high school (secondary school) so instead they are attending a trade school that is run through one of the local churches. They are learning to be seamstresses. This will give them a skill to earn money, hopefully become more self sufficient and in turn create a better life for themselves and their families.

Here is the current facility..

No power so they use old treadle machines, every night they have to store the two machines in one of the local homes to prevent them from being stolen.

This room is also the one of the churches storage rooms...

Everyday they walk MILES to attend school, it is a huge honor for them to be accepted into this school, and they very much treat it as such. At 14 and 19 they have known more heartache than girls this sweet should EVER have to know.

We had fun together, they asked so many questions, wondered why I did not learn Swahilli before I came and mostly wanted to know about my two 14 year old sons. :-D
I could not think of two more deserving girls.

Patricia..what you thought was a small gesture just might have been the biggest thing to have ever happen to them. Let that one sink in for a moment. Thank You.

Wes and Antonya. Wow.

I'm pretty sure when they gave me money they did not realize (I did not either!) the implications of the gift. They only had one stipulation with it.

"Amber, take it, and please give it where you see fit.. identify the need and meet it." was their only request.

At first, that request in and of itself was a little daunting. There are so many needs in the village, I hardly knew where to start.

When I met Mr. Elijah, everything fell into place, I knew that I had found my need.

I can't explain it really..but we very much hit it off right at the start. We found ourselves walking along the village road together and he told me his moved me deeply. Born and raised in Mulundi, he had lost his father at a very young age and now at 19 he himself was solely responsible for his mother, brother, sister-in-law and a cousin (who had lost his father to HIV).

He handled his burden with such grace, humility and wisdom. Far beyond his 19 years.

Me and Mr. Elijah's family..From L-R His younger brother, Me ,(not sure what was up with the squeeze smile) Mr. Elijah (rockin Andrew's T shirt!!), his sweet Mother and Sister in law on the end. This was taken in front of their home.

This was taken inside their home, they invited us for breakfast on the day we left, if you notice Mom, sister and Elijah are putting a hen in a plastic bag for us to take on our journey..Kate and I had to stifle the was pretty flipping funny.

I told Janet that I had found my need, she went right to work on trying to find a way to best help him. We found out that Elijah had already passed his exams to get into university but was unable to go because of the financial responsibilities to his family. Mostly he was paying for his nephew to attend high school. Then Janet posed the question..

"Amber, maybe you would want to pay for the nephew's schooling, to free up Elijah for university?"

And then we made it happen...and let me tell you..I felt a little like Santa Clause..or maybe Oprah on the big give-away show. It was freaking AMAZING.

Every single time I tell the story I cry. Everybody cries when I tell the story. I cry every-time I get an email for Elijah..yes he sends me's just the best stinking thing ever.

He is there. He is already at University. Here he is on his first day. (try not too cry)

Wes and Antonya, I'm sure you did not realize the enormous impact your gift would have, I sure didn't, but it did. You changed a life with that gift..and I'm not just saying that really really did. Today a young man, the first in his family, is attending University because of you. Thank You from the very deepest part of my heart. You both are some of the most generous people I have ever know.

It was pretty cool when I sat down and told them the story, the first words out of their mouths were..

"Well, we need to figure out how to get him here to visit, he is family now after all."


So here is my feeble attempt at putting words to something my heart still feels so blissed out over. There are times my words seem inadequate in comparison to how my heart is feeling and this is very much one of those times.

My only hope is that I can continue the circle, because really, only a few other things in my life have ever felt so right.

You blessed me big.


Anonymous said…
very sweet and beautiful post...I'm going to send Andrew a link {just in case you didn't} :) <3
katie said…
Thank you Amber for reminding us how blessed we truly are and how much we can bless others with our gifts. You have a wonderful gift of writting as well as taking pics. Thank you!
Valerie said…
That is a fantastic story! Of course, I'm here at work (obviously not working) and reading this and tearing up and thinking how wonderful you must feel and how lucky we are to know people like Wes & Antonya... WOW. Thank you so much for sharing that story and for the wonderful pictures of Mr. Elija and his family; especially the picture of him at University. : )
Tippy Stockton said…
Oh Amber - you've made my day. Sobbing . . . What an awe inspiring story of love that knows no bounds. We live in a world where we all take things for granted. We are so incredibly blessed. Thank you for delivering my package to those sweet girls. I hope they find inspiration through beading like I have. God bless you for your time and love in writing about your experience. And if Elija gets to the States, I want to meet him! God is GOOD!
SeaWorthy said…
..and here I sit with a couple a kids that want new xbox games and more Itunes cards...

Perspective..and a good cry, just what I needed this morning.

you and your friends are angels. God bless these beautiful people!
Julene said…
Thank you for sharing Amber and allowing us to see another little glimps of your trip. I agree when you said it was like Oprah's big give-away show. What a blessing this was for me to read your story today.
Shaina said…
Amber thank you so much for posting that story. It definitely puts things in perspective:)
GardenGirl said…
This post is like a breath of fresh air, and lot's of tears...beautiful. Looking forward to having a good cup of coffee with you.
Deb @ Garden Party ;)
His smile says it all! Beautiful...

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