Of Passions… for Football and Tea

I don’t have a man in the game, so the Super Bowl doesn’t have a lot of meaning or excitement for me. Sure, I’m enjoying eating brie and apples and Chex Mix and chips and guacamole and all but I suppose I don’t need a football game to do that. The game is on the TV, my son is in the tree house pretending it is Hogwarts and he’s a wizard, and we’ve all spent 30 minutes watching the skies as the F15s fly overhead; after all, the Super Bowl is only 20 miles from here. 20 miles from here, there is a huge stadium full of people partying and whooping it up, gnoshing and celebrating and who knows what else. Millions of people. And we’re nestled in our home, TV on, quiet and taking a Sabbath in a way. So, I feel it appropriate to share a little story with you.

It’s a story of a man who played football, whose passion was football, whose every aspiration revolved around football. But God had a slightly different plan for him. This is the story of Zack Follett, one of our newest customers and owner of the Fresno-area coffee shop chain Kuppa Joy.

58883_436897763034413_804870141_n 582175_402778863112970_1970622533_n

As Follett shared with Marek Warszawski of the Fresno Bee newspaper, “’If it didn’t involve football or girls,’ he says, ‘I wasn’t interested.’”

Warszawski continues: By all accounts, Follett was successful at both. At Clovis [High School], the Tri-River Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 was known as “Zack Attack.” At Cal [Berkeley], where he played from 2005-08, he glossed himself “The Pain Train.”

Both fit his aggressive, reckless, shot-from-a-cannon style.

“I had an anger and a rage to me,” Follett says. “The football field was a place where I could let all that go, and it was cheered and admired.”

Football was his consuming passion. He watched games on TV, memorized stats, collected cards. Besides partying and girls, there was little interest in anything else. Especially religion.

Dewayne Coleman remembers.

Coleman and Follett met as sophomores [at Clovis High]. By senior year, they became friends. They hung out, played video games and created art in Follett’s garage. Which helped bridge the primary difference between them: Dewayne was deeply religious, and Zack had no time for that stuff.

Many times during their high school years, Coleman would encourage Follett to attend Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings.

Follett would sometimes go, mostly out of respect to his friend. He rarely stayed long. The football star showed up, gobbled a few slices of free pizza and bolted.

“If I tried to talk to him about God, he would look me in the eye and say, ‘D, football is my life. That’s all I care about,” recalls Coleman, now a youth and young adult minister at The Word Community Church in Fresno.

“I could never have that conversation with him.”

While at Cal Berkeley, Zach bought a $10 print of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper” from Ross Dress for Less. He didn’t know why he bought it except he thought it might bring him good luck. Suddenly, however, after an evening with his cousin Adam, that painting took on meaning. According to Warszawki: The evening of March 8, 2008, began just like any other night. It happened to be during spring football before Follett’s senior season at Cal.

Zack and his cousin, Adam, along with two young ladies, piled into Follett’s black Hummer H2 and headed across the Bay Bridge for an evening of wining and dining in San Francisco.

Things did not go as planned because the two men ended up alone in Follett’s Berkeley apartment. They sulked for a while before Zack invited his cousin into his computer room to watch a funny video and lighten the mood.

That’s when Adam, a Christian, spotted “The Last Supper” hanging on the wall. He was surprised to see it — and a little angry — knowing Zack wasn’t the slightest bit religious.

“He said, ‘Do you want to know about this picture?’ ” Follett recalls. “I rolled my eyes and thought, ‘Oh, no. More Jesus talk.’ ”

Adam started talking. And talking. He spoke for 2½ hours about God, creation, and Satan. He spoke about Jesus, the apostles, and the Eucharist.

Only this time, Follett listened.

“A light bulb went on in my head,” he says. “All those people I’d made fun off for loving Jesus, finally I understood.

“The Holy Spirit was talking through my cousin that night.”

Coleman remembers being awakened by his ringing phone. It was almost 3 a.m. He was living in Sacramento and attending theological college. He and Follett had stayed in touch through social media but didn’t see each other.

Coleman recognized Follett’s voice; just not the words coming from his mouth.

“To be honest,” Coleman says, “I thought he was drunk.”

The next morning, Coleman saw a missed call from Follett. He called back, and Zack repeated the same things he’d said in the middle of the night.

“I never had a hint it was coming,” Coleman says. “I’d never heard the words ‘Jesus Christ’ come out of his mouth unless it was swearing or used as a derogatory word. That night changed everything.”

 Follett’s awakening came swift and sudden. It seemed like each time he had a question, the Bible provided an answer.

Heading into his senior year at Cal, Follett was more enthused about football than ever. He felt like God had given him a new energy, adding to the considerable zeal he always brought to the field.

Follett was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection as a junior with 12½ tackles for loss and 6½ sacks. And when the Bears switched to a 3-4 defense, it was like the new scheme was designed for him.

As a senior, Follett led the nation with 23 tackles for loss to go with 10½ sacks and five forced fumbles. Heading into the draft combine, his bio on NFL.com contained phrases like “plays with reckless abandon on every snap,” “forcefully takes on blocks with impressive pop” and “looks to intimidate his opponent.”

But at the end, there’s this: “Tackled with his head down too often in 2007, leading to some missed tackles and, more important, putting his spinal cord at risk.”

Follett missed nearly three games of his junior season with a neck stinger. Concerns over the injury probably were the reason he slid into the seventh round, where the 6-foot-1, 236-pounder was drafted 235th overall by the Detroit Lions.

It didn’t take long for Follett to establish himself as a special-teams ace, especially on kickoff returns. One hit on Rams return man Danny Amendola was particularly fierce. He appeared in 10 games as a rookie, recording 10 tackles.

Follett quickly became a fan favorite in Detroit, both for his style of play and colorful personality. When his father, Bob, died suddenly and unexpectedly, his faith only deepened. In year 2, Follett cracked the starting lineup for two games until his season abruptly ended after a helmet-to-helmet collision with the Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul on Oct. 17, 2010.

Laying motionless on the turf, Follett appeared to grimace as he was strapped to a backboard and taken off the field on a motorized cart. Giants fans gave him a standing ovation.

No one knew it at the time, but those were the last football cheers for Follett that he would hear. Unable to recover from his injuries, he retired the following August during the start of training camp.

Two days before the announcement, Follett sent his then-girlfriend the following text message:

“Playing football no longer makes me happy. Preaching Christ is what brings me joy. Praying God reveals his plan for my life.”

That revelation didn’t come in Detroit. Nor did it come in Clovis. It came in England, of all places, where Follett traveled in January 2012 to speak at churches and schools and also serve as a studio host for Sky TV’s coverage of the NFL playoffs.

Follett remembers sitting at a coffee shop in Marlow, a town of 14,000 in southern England, sipping cappuccino, when the epiphany hit him like a bolt of lightning.

He had his Bible with him, of course, and was reading the following passage from Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.”

“As I took a sip of that cappuccino, I thought, ‘This is a cup of joy,’ ” he says. “The Holy Spirit connected with me at that moment.”

The voice inside Follett’s head told him the next step: Move back home, back to Clovis, and open a coffee shop.

 

With the same passion he had for football, Follett tackled coffee, despite the concerns of his family and the economic situation of the Fresno-area. In December 2012, Follett opened his first Kuppa Joy in Old Town Clovis. Warszawski continues: It took a while to find the perfect location on Clovis Avenue, an old building with a brick interior that used to house a flower shop. To remodel and open the doors[,] he used his own savings without borrowing a dime…. All the decorative touches, from the naturally finished wooden tables and benches to the ornate throne representing King Jesus to the behind-the-counter wallpaper made from coffee bags, are Follett’s.

299999_454348497956006_1659176188_n11099172_904454082945443_4517463876887007635_n998193_551482954909226_1436844087_n

The setting is warm and inviting. It’s [a] place to sip fine coffee drinks and socialize — or tap tap tap on the computer keyboard.

“Coffee is the medium people use for connecting and conversation,” [Follett] says. “I love everything it represents.”

The only evidence that an ex-football player owns the place [is the] five helmets sitting on a high shelf. They are… Follett’s actual helmets from Cedarwood Elementary, Clark Intermediate, Clovis High, Cal[Berkeley,] and the Lions.

“My whole life I’ve been Zack Follett the football player,” he says. “I’m definitely proud of my past, but there needs to be much more.”

Longtime friends like Coleman are astounded at the transformation.

“Honestly, it’s like two different Zacks,” Coleman says. “It’s like a whole different operating system in his mind.” 

DSC_0468 copy DSC_0466 copy

Last December, Lee and Anne Kennedy of Compassion Tea visited Follett at his Clovis store and introduced him to Compassion Tea. Follett’s enthusiasm for sharing tea and saving lives reflects his passion for serving Jesus and His people. And thus begins a beautiful relationship, if you don’t mind me waxing poetic. This past week, Follett opened his second location of Kuppa Joy, this one in downtown Fresno.

12646959_1023048841085966_4559845413675958138_n 12642748_1023049044419279_6394878604746651288_n

God certainly grabbed ahold of Follett’s heart. His motto is to “Love God, Love People, Love Coffee.” We’re thankful for this change of heart and we’re hopeful that Follett will “Love Tea” as much as we do!

DSC_0472 copy

 

To read more about Zack Follett, go to: http://www.fresnobee.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/marek-warszawski/article19527702.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London Fog

For a long time, I thought London Fog was simply the name of the brand of windbreakers my dad always wore. And then, when I was in college, I had the opportunity to travel to London with a group of college students from around the US. We had a week in the city before we were whisked up to York to begin our semester of studies. The most vivid memory I have of that week was the boat ride on the Thames. As we slipped past Parliament and under Tower Bridge, my attention fixed on a gentleman in a trench coat leaning up against the side of the cockpit smoking a cigarette. He wore a bowler hat from under which his graying sideburns peeked. Tall, sophisticated, debonair, he seemed to exemplify for me at the moment the English gentleman. Add to it the fog rolling around us, sweeping in wisps past the bow and the damp cutting into my fingers and you start to sense the mystery of that moment. On particularly dark rainy days and on those foggy mornings when it hangs thick over the house, veiling the neighbor’s front door and the views of the freeway, my mind takes me back and I’m standing on that boat again, a small-town girl for the first time in London, experiencing the richness of adventure and the mystery of other places and times and cultures.
Now, I can find this in a cuppa! Earlier today, I headed to my favorite coffee shop, Inklings, and asked Devan to make me a London Fog. More than just cream and milk, this is a delightful way to enjoy a cup of Earl Grey.
L28A3685 L28A3687 L28A3686
Here’s what we recommend:
12 ounce cup:  10 ounces of steamed milk, three pumps vanilla and two Compassion Tea Earl Grey teabags, steeped for 4 minutes.

16 ounce cup. 14 ounces of steamed milk, 4 pumps of vanilla and two Compassion Tea Earl Grey teabags, steeped for 4 minutes

Vanilla in the cup first, then teabags in place, pour milk directly over teabags to saturate them.  Steep 4 minutes. Or, if you’re using loose tea leaves as Devan did, you can make it an art form. Behold.

L28A3698 L28A3700
L28A3720
L28A3710L28A3729 L28A3727 L28A3725
L28A3732L28A3736
As they would say in London, “Cheers!”

The Economy of Eternity

We’re counting a lot these days. It’s November, so we’re counting blessings with joy and thanksgiving.

We’re always counting the lives saved and transformed in Africa, like the 21,388 men, women, and children in the Durban, South Africa area, who visited and received medical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual care at the 1000 Hills Community Helpers clinic between the months of July, August, and September, and the roughly 900 people who received care at the Tanzania Christian Clinic during that same time period. And we’re counting the 10 new children who have been sponsored at Village of Hope in Uganda in the past month.

We’re counting coffee shops joining our partnership and celebrating the third-of-the-way-there-mark we passed this week.

These are all brilliant things to be counting. No doubt.

But when God is your CEO, as He is ours, you find yourself in the midst of counting other things – like “divine appointments” and “God moments” and flat out miracles!

Our Director of Sales, Wendy Bjurstrom, travels around the country making presentations to coffee shops and bookstores inspiring them to add “tea with a cause” to their inventory, to “share tea, save lives.” Says Wendy, “I have learned to listen to them, learn about their ministry, and then leave the results up to God.”

Her travels have introduced us to many people and causes. And those travels have also been amazing testimonies to God’s faithfulness and care. Her most recent trip to Colorado is one such example.

Writes Wendy, “My day started with a meeting with Mary from the Rock Church in Castle Rock, CO. We had a great visit together since Mary grew up in Puerto Rico and Ed and I had also lived in Puerto Rico. At the end of our visit, we said our goodbyes. I was headed to my car when Mary handed me an envelope and told me not to open it until I got into my car. She said the Lord had impressed on her to give this to me. I didn’t know if it was money or perhaps a scripture to encourage me, but I felt personally encouraged. I put the envelope in my coat pocket and quickly headed to my next appointment, forgetting about the envelope until much later in the day.”

Mary explains, “I have been practicing obedience and that morning I was digging through my purse and remembered that I had that money in my purse as a payment that I had received for participating in a coffee focus group!  I felt blessed that I still had that money and tucked it back in my purse. As Wendy and I were talking in the coffee shop and she gave me the assortment of teas, God started prompting me to donate the money to Wendy and CompassioNow. I was trying to ignore Him, but the prompting got stronger at which time I asked Wendy, “Do you want money for these samples?” And she turned down my offer.  I heard myself telling God in my mind, “Are you happy? I asked and she turned me down.”  But the prompting feeling didn’t go away.  As I was walking away, God said, “Really? You love money more than me?” And that is when I knew I needed to be obedient and go back and hand Wendy that envelope.  Only God knew what was to follow. I’m just glad that God used me to be a part of that blessing. And so you know, it hasn’t been burdensome.”

Are you eager to hear what happened next? Are you curious about this money? Read on!

Wendy writes, “At 2 pm, I met James from Heavenly Grounds Coffee House in Littleton, CO. Heavenly Grounds is a nonprofit coffee shop that raises funds for Haiti and also does medical mission trips to Haiti about 4 times a year. Our meeting began on quite a sad note as James had lost his 38-year-old sister as well as his uncle on September 28. It was SO hard to know what to say or how to comfort!

James and his Aunt Robin had started Heavenly Grounds in honor of his father who died of a massive heart attack in 2010. His dad loved to help the people of Haiti, so James and his aunt opened Heavenly Grounds to continue that work. I realized that God had sent me that afternoon to try to comfort James, but I was at a complete loss as to what to say and was praying silently for wisdom and the right words.

James was leaving on a medical mission trip to Haiti on November 4th and was feeling discouraged because he had set out a suitcase for donations in his store for the trip asking for medicines, clothes etc. and all that had been donated so far was a few pairs of shoes. I told him that CompassioNow would be happy to help him by donating some medicines, so after our meeting, I drove over to a nearby Costco. There, I picked out items such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, antacids, etc. These are the usual items that we would take to a clinic in Africa. The total cost for CompassioNow was $102.28. I knew God would provide donations to cover this cost.

When I got back to my car after leaving Costco, I remembered that I had not looked in my coat pocket to see what Mary had put in that envelope. To my shock, there was a $100 bill! I drove back to James’ store to tell him the good news that God loved and cared about him so much. James was also amazed at the donation and couldn’t believe how Mary had started her day in obedience to God and He used it to bless James. Only God knew the $100 would be used to buy medical supplies for Haiti later that day! I prayed for James and his family. There was finally a smile on his face when I left.

This is what makes life ‘on the road’ for Compassion Tea exciting!”

Yeah. We’re in the business of counting – wholesale customers, profits and donations, inventory. We’re in the business of sharing tea in order to save lives. And we’re counting lives touched, people saved, God’s work. This is the economy of eternity.

Known

It has been a full moon week and it is the week of Halloween and it has been beyond words. I am sitting here with a dying chicken wrapped in a towel on my lap. In the next room, 4 4 day old chicks peep their breathy life. Olaf has been steadily failing over the past month, but today she is lifeless, cold, struggling to catch her breath, her comb shriveled and grey. I could just cry over her. Oh, to be a chicken tender.

unnamed-15 unnamed-4

unnamed-33 unnamed-32

But it isn’t just the chickens this week. There are real struggles out there over relationships, health, decisions, finances, treatments. There are those in the waiting place. There are those staring death in the face. There are those who just heard that they have been spared. There are those sitting with opened scars, scars they hid under a pile of band-aids. But as a child experiences similar scars, the adult finds those scars exposed, raw again, still festering. And how do you lick your own wounds while your child is bleeding too?

I had a conversation with a gentleman yesterday. He told me about his wife, how she died of breast cancer when their son was 9. “We were both grieving,” he said. “I couldn’t lose him, too. I had to put my sorrow aside sometimes to help my son. He never gave me any trouble and he turned out fine. He’s 35 now and on his own. Those were tough times. But we got through them.”

“He never gave me any trouble.” And I think of my kids and their epic rant last night in the car. “It’s the kids who cause problems who get noticed. They get rewarded for good behavior while those of us who always behave are ignored. It’s not fair.” I was speechless, feeling band-aids I’ve applied carefully and tenderly over gnawing wounds get ripped off, skinning and tearing those raw places. Yes. It’s true. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

This morning’s prayer call with my team of sweet ministry friends… it was just 2 of us this morning… 2 and the Holy Spirit… and it turns out my daughter. I was praying over this, praying for the words, finding the words, our worth is what God says it is, not what the world says. I was praying hard, eyes closed, rocking in my earnestness. I didn’t hear her stomp into the bathroom. Usually, I hear. But I finished praying, spent my words, and then I hear her clear her throat in my doorway. She was there listening to me pour out in prayer my heart for her. I couldn’t have timed that better.

Right. There’s the beauty. There is beauty. There are blessings in the agony. And there is agony in the beautiful. The butterfly in the cocoon. The baby being born. The healing process. The waiting.

12191568_912406088830142_5412492799665025859_n

My Olaf girl doesn’t open her eyes when I shift position. I can barely see her breast moving. But there is beauty in this moment. Putting things on the back burner for a bit to sit with her, to reflect and to pour out things. Dreams delayed, un-realized, denied. My head-of-the-hen-house girl cut down in her prime.

So, who knows? That is the question Mordecai asks Esther. “Who knows but that you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Sometimes the “just such a time as this” feels like a death sentence. It wasn’t what I had in mind. It wasn’t the dream I had or the outcome or the …. No, this time and this place feel like a death sentence… saying the hard things, doing the hard things, putting up with the hard things, facing the hard things, healing from the hard things.

But who knows. Who knows? Who knew?

We ask this question flippantly, like no one could have imagined, anticipated, foretold. And yet. There is one, the ONE.

Isaiah 46:10 He tells us to be still and KNOW that He is God. Who is He? He who KNOWS us!

Psalm 139: 1-18

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

He KNOWS us, every intimate part. He KNOWS.

Matthew 10: 29-30

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

He knows the hairs on our head. He was there at the creation; He laid the foundation. He knows the end; He has written that too.

And if He knows that, if we are KNOWN in Him, that is the worth that counts, that is the final word on who we are, there is the comfort in the unknown. That is the beauty. To be loved and known. To be held.

Who knows when Olaf will draw her final breath. It is seems likely it will be soon. Oh the awful, glorious, horrific beauty of it all.

ICYMI

In 2005, after several trips to Africa for business, Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom founded CompassioNow, then called Care Now Foundation. Their goal was to provide medical care to the “world’s least served” now instead of waiting for bureaucracy and government to step in. AIDS, malaria, typhoid, parasites, tuberculosis, and infection could all be controlled or cured with the proper medication and care. But in the bush, in the hard to reach villages, in the impoverished rural places, medicines and care other than a witch doctor’s potion are hard to come by. So, CompassioNow began partnering with small, rural, Christian clinics already in place in these impoverished areas. Over the years, we have watched these clinics grow and flourish in their abilities to reach out and care for the local peoples.

1000 Hills in South Africa, for example, began as a simple feeding center. When CompassioNow helped them build a medical clinic, they were able to transform an entire valley. Today, 1000 Hills sends trained volunteers out from the clinic into the neighboring areas to provide in-home care, to check on those who are home-bound, and to troubleshoot minor medical cases before they become major life-threatening problems. Villagers who need more urgent or aggressive medical care are then brought to the clinic for help. Many turn to the clinic for AIDS testing, family planning, and diabetes help.

unnamed-6 copy 2 image-2 image-1

During the April to June quarterly reporting period, 1000 Hills saw 19,446 patients in their clinic and were able to treat them for $1 or less each. Dawn Leppan, founder and CEO of 1000 Hills, shared this case with us: On May 24, a 29 year old female was attacked by four males who wanted her cell phone. When she refused to give it to them, they struck her on the head. “She sustained a very deep cut on the head,” Leppan reports. “Fortunately it did not involve the bone but the wound was already septic within 24 hours. Since we always get a number of injured patients who prefer to come to us rather than going to hospital, we are now doing the suturing of minor wounds and we have the Antitetenus Toxiod to prevent the notifiable diseases e.g. tetanus. We managed to care for this patient without sending her to hospital and she has healed successfully. The patient is very thankful.”

In 2011, Ed and Wendy, along with CompassioNow board members Jack and Chris Faherty and Lee and Anne Kennedy, founded Compassion Tea Company with the express purpose of selling a high-quality tea product in an effort to boost the fund-raising efforts of CompassioNow. Today, through the help of funds raised through the sale of tea and the support of the 20 cafes in 12 states who sell Compassion Tea products, CompassioNow supports the medical work of Tanzania Christian Clinic, 1000 Hills Community Helpers, Passion Center for Children in Malawi, Village of Hope in Uganda, and Mission Medic Air in Zambia.

The Passion Center for Children in Zomba, Malawi, is the newest clinic to receive our support. In June, Ed and Wendy visited the clinic and learned more about their operations.

Ed reports, “Originally, the main complex of buildings at the Passion Center were supposed to be for administrative offices and staff apartments. However, the need to house children who had no-where else to live became apparent and the buildings were converted into dorms/residences for the rescued children. Currently, there are 32 boys and 25 girls in these buildings…. It is interesting to note that when the Passion Center was built in 2005, it was remote with nothing much in the immediate area nearby. The construction of Passion Center brought in electricity and water. As a result, the property immediately around the Passion Center became much more desirable. There was a land grab and people bought up the surrounding parcels of land, including speculators. Nearby is a primary school, which has over 1100 students. Approximately 180 kids are Passion Center kids, rescued or supported by the Passion Center, about 50 are resident in the dorms and 130 live in the village. The Passion Center feeds these children 2 meals a day and ensures they are in school.”

passion center dorm

Back in February, heavy rains and subsequent flooding left thousands of families displaced. In an area that is largely agricultural and impoverished, the floods threatened the livelihoods of most of the local peoples.

CompassioNow has been actively involved in supporting the relief efforts managed by the Passion Center for Children and the local Community Health Network. In June, Ed and Wendy carried over 90 lbs of medical supplies including CompassioNow drawstring backpacks filled with stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and other supplies the CHN volunteers will need during their daily visits to patients in nearby villages. CompassioNow also donated the funds for the CHN to purchase another bicycle ambulance to help carry patients from the villages to better medical care.

unnamed-17 copy Ed bikemedical supplies ed sorting supplies unnamed-18 unnamed-17 unnamed-15 unnamed-13 copy 2

CompassioNow also donated funds to rebuild pit latrines at Mungunzi Primary School where many Passion Center children attend. During the February flooding, the pit latrines at the school were destroyed. Due to the lack of private and sanitary bathrooms, many children, especially girls, were staying home and not attending school.

school unnamed-13 copy unnamed-12 copy

Said Wendy about their trip, “The trip to Malawi was an amazing experience. We are always encouraged by all the wonderful work being done by the people on the ground. And we find such joy in meeting with and working with the women and children and families being helped. There is HOPE for Africa!”

There are many child-headed households on the Zomba Plateau. One handicapped young man heads his household, which includes his 7 siblings. The home of 14 and 16 year sisters, another child-headed household, was badly damaged during the February floods and CompassioNow is helping to fund repairs to the home.

sisters 17 old chh

Ed reflects, “The sobering fact is that once the poor are able to be taken to a government hospital, the usual wait to see a doctor is 4 days!!! In the meantime, there are usually no pain medicines, malaria medicines, IV’s or anything to be given them by the nurses. The government hospital rarely even has Tylenol in stock. This is a fact that we have not been able to begin to comprehend. We are so blessed here in the USA.”

CompassioNow and Mission Medic Air, Zambia

Our support of Mission Medic Air, Zambia is unique. There isn’t just one clinic, but a steady offering of doctors, nurses, surgeons, dentists, and even orthopedic specialists who are flown or driven into the bush for open air, 2-3 day clinics and are often the only western-style medical care available to the villagers for miles around. Mission Medic Air also offers relief and supplies to poorly funded clinics in rural parts of Zambia and transport of patients who need immediate and complicated surgery or care.

Recently, Mission Medic Air came to us and presented a problem — the instruments on the airplane were old, corroded, and unsafe. CompassioNow was happy to raise the funds to replace the instrument panel. Several years ago, we also provided the funds for a new airplane engine.

unnamed-2 unnamed-1

Recently, we learned that the new instrument panel had been installed, the plane had passed all necessary inspections, and the first clinic had been held. Wrote Iqbal Malik of MMA, “I… wish to thank you for making it possible for the upgrade of the avionics suite on our aircraft. It has definitely given it a new lease of life! It now also helps, in that we can begin to use the aircraft during the rainy season (first we need to get trained on how to use all the new equipment!). May all the donors remain blessed.”

unnamed-4 unnamed-3

Mr. Malik went on to explain, “We will soon require a replacement vehicle for Zambulance, as it has just had an engine overhaul, but it does not sound that good. This vehicle generally goes into areas where there is no airstrip (or where the local populace have not cleared the airstrip) & we are now concerned about its reliability – generally it carries medical personnel who do not really have much of a clue on mechanics. Before the engine overhaul, we had to send a mechanic to go rescue Nellie & team in Luapula province!… Zambulance truly has helped us work during the rains & when the aircraft was not operational (it has probably done close to 200,000 km whilst with MMA). We used both Zambulance & a borrowed vehicle last week, to ferry all the supplies to Mambilima Mission, when a team of 16 American doctors/nurses/helpers spent 3 days there. I flew them in, Geoff, Mr Chonde & Nellie brought in all the supplies by road – over 300 people got treated.”

A little bit about Mambilima Mission. It is both a small hospital and a school for children with disabilities in the rural town of Manba, Zambia. In significant portions of Africa, having a child with a disability is considered a curse on the family. Because subsistence is so difficult in the rural parts of the country, those who can’t add to the farming or other procurement of food are a burden to a family. They are often sent off to school or abandoned. Mambilima strives to provide schooling, love, and medical care for these “cast aways.”

unnamed-5

Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom joined the Mission Medic Air team in 2009 for a trip to Mambilima.

Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom joined the Mission Medic Air team in 2009 for a trip to Mambilima.

unnamed-3 unnamed-4

During a recent trip to the school through Mission Medic Air for an orthopedic clinic, Dr. Shadrick Lungu and Dr. Martha Lungu treated 31 patients. Drs. Lungu shared that 9 children from the school will need “various forms of surgery” and 4 children will need artificial limbs to be replaced as they have outgrown theirs. Plaster of Paris, they report, is needed immediately to help set castings. They are also seeking orthopedic instruments in order to carry out more of the necessary surgeries there at the hospital, rather than send the children to a government hospital.

In June of this year, another trip was made – this time to the Falawi Mission and the Mulungwe Rural Health Centre. Both clinics are remote and are providing the best medical care possible with very little funds and few staff. The doctors who made the trip split into two groups to maximize their time and efforts. The group who went to Falawi Mission treated 49 patients and provided dental care and eye exams. The group who went to Mulungwe treated 35 patients; they felt attendance was low because most of the villagers were at church that day.

The new post at Mulungwe Rural Health Clinic

The new post at Mulungwe Rural Health Clinic

Sister Biemba, left, presents items donated by Mission Medic Air to Sister Katembo, the head nurse at Mulungwe.

Sister Biemba, left, presents items donated by Mission Medic Air to Sister Katembo, the head nurse at Mulungwe.

Sister Biemba holds a mattress in the maternity ward of the clinic. Mulungwe could use some new mattresses and bedding.

Sister Biemba holds a mattress in the maternity ward of the clinic. Mulungwe could use some new mattresses and bedding.

Sister Biemba attends to a patient at Mulungwe Rural Health Centre.

Sister Biemba attends to a patient at Mulungwe Rural Health Centre.

Your support of Compassion Tea and CompassioNow will enable us to continue to help Mission Medic Air to provide medical care and supplies to remote parts of Zambia, including places like Mambilima, Falawi, and Mulungwe.

God Knows

I stood on the red rock, transfixed. Before me was a puzzle I couldn’t solve. Some prehistoric creature, three-toed and massive, had left footprints there in the rock some 200 million years ago. Roughly.ry=400-56 ry=400-55 ry=400-57 ry=400-58

Had the rock been mud at the time? Was I standing in an old riverbed? What creature had passed here? Where was it going and why? Was it in a hurry, trying to escape or to catch something? And the smaller tracks nearby? Were they the marks of a baby? Or another creature?ry=400-61 ry=400-62

I came to Africa looking for answers. I was hopeful, prayerful, that this trip would provide concrete answers.

Instead, I was asking more and more. I traced the print with my finger. A little further down the slope, more tracks lined up. Going a different direction? A different time? Or were all of these creations moving at the same time, fleeing some major catastrophic event? And was that the print of a large cat-like creature?ry=400-60 ry=400-51

Naphtali, our guide, paused, fingering his chin. He squatted and scratched his head. I wandered closer to see. A heel? And toes? Earlier that morning he had pointed to tracks in the dust and asked us to identify them. Little feet, like a child’s, but oddly non-human at the same time – I was stymied. Baboon. Now, we squatted together over the markings in the rock. Was this the print of an early human?ry=400-54

“I just don’t know,” Naphtali broke into my musings, his words echoing my thoughts. And then suddenly something slipped into place.ry=400-52 ry=400-53 ry=400-59

“We think we know so much, but we don’t,” I responded. Yes. This place and this time and these people and these events and these opinions in the here and now. The accumulation of knowledge, of facts and data and talking points and stories… we think we know. But what we know is so fragmented, so incremental, so small.

“God knows,” Naphtali smiled. My fingers went to the cross around my neck. “Amen.”

And the striving ceased. These questions… God knows. Our questions… God knows. So when Hubby asked me to define our trip to Africa, the word “peace” was the first definition. God knows.

Four years ago this month, a group of friends opened an online store to begin selling tea to provide medical care for people in rural parts of Africa. CompassioNow had been around for 6 years working with clinics in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya. But this group of friends wanted a steadier stream of donations, a more reliable funding option to ensure the continuance of this support, to make it easier for the clinics to know what they could rely on from CompassioNow. So, Compassion Tea was born as an online company focusing on gathering members and sharing tea to save lives through cups of tea shared with friends, through stories and a common cause and a common enjoyment – tea.

It turns out that a cup of tea with a friend on the back patio or around the coffee table wasn’t big enough! God knew! And through His leadership, Compassion Tea has evolved over the years.

As of this month, as we celebrate our four years as a company, we are closing down the retail side of the business and fully devoting ourselves to the wholesale business. God wasn’t content with the small; He had visions of large groups of people sipping Compassion Tea and learning the stories of people in rural parts of Africa. So, He led us to Valley Community Church in Pleasanton, CA, and then across the country to Ebenezzer’s Coffee House on Capitol Hill. Our wholesale business has expanded to over 20 different coffee shops, tea shops, church cafes, and gelato shops in a dozen different states.

We are beyond words over the possibilities this is going to open for CompassioNow to serve more and more clinics, to provide more and better care for people in rural parts of Africa, to expand our support of current clinics and to explore new clinic options in other parts of Africa.

And while we see the today, the here and the now, the fragmented, incremental bits of this time and this place and this space, God knows infinitely more how a small band of friends took tea and used it to share stories and to provide “life-saving medical care to the world’s least served” and how that will echo down the stretches of time.

Cherry Rose Tea Popsicles

Have you ever seen such beautiful popsicles? Thanks to our friend Kellie at Le Zoe Musings for inspiring us in another wonderful use for our tea!

http://lezoemusings.com/2015/07/27/cherry-rose-tea-popsicles-cherry-rose-tea-popsicle-maker-cherry-it-pitter-giveaway-ends-monday-aug-3rd/

Spring Babies

My house is full of babies. The dear sweet, grow up super fast animal babies. I’m working at the kitchen table, watching the wind whip across the pool outside, writing notes and answering emails, and listening to the cheeping of the two chicks we brought home two weeks ago. Their down is almost completely replaced by baby feathers, but when they get excited and flap or run or hop, little puffs of down blow off… like the dandelion seeds we make our wishes on.unnamed-23unnamed-22

And aside from the wind outside, all is quiet in here. And I stand up. I’m thirsty and hunger is setting in. It is lunchtime. I glance over to the butterfly gardens where 9 chrysallises hang. They’ve been there for nearly a week now and just this morning I begin despairing. Will they break open and release the new, metamorphosised life inside? Did the metamorphosis take place or did something go wrong in that mysterious process… for all 9? But no! Behind my back, silently, these two were born.

unnamed-21Reborn, really. No longer worms, not even worms with wings, but bona fide butterflies… given a new life, a new purpose, a new form of transportation and of feeding. Completely changed.

And I’m reminded of this amazing story coming from Malawi:
“We had reason to celebrate Martin & Mathias’ first birthday recently. When their mother died shortly after giving birth, most people in their village thought one or both of the twins would follow soon after. That’s the way these situations usually play out in the rural villages of Malawi. With no one to nurse them and scant resources to provide formula during these first days and weeks, it’s usually not long before dehydration, hunger or some opportunistic disease claims one or both of their lives; but that’s not their story!2a76ee_0678066f305b4733b66f4292be6eb11b.jpg_srb_p_284_226_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srb

Their story includes grandparents and aunts turning to volunteers from the Passion Center Community Health Network (CHN) for help. Similar to the Passion Center, the CHN’s activities are focused around the following mission; “Joining God in Rescuing, Redeeming & Restoring the vulnerable in their communities.” As we shared this need with the larger Passion Center family, enough money was raised to provide formula, blankets, clothes and medical care for Martin & Mathias.

Today they are healthy, strong and growing. Though their mother was HIV+, they don’t show any signs of being infected nor will we test them until they are 3yrs or older. But whatever their AIDS status – positive or negative – we’re convinced God has an even more promising future than what they’ve experienced so far! We don’t know exactly what their story will be, but we thank God He’s already writing a different one than what relatives and some villagers were bracing for!2a76ee_99a108ac8a9c4b4db73fd1693e1ce035.jpg_srb_p_284_229_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srb

Hope is more than a concept we share, it’s the result of real, sometimes overwhelming, circumstances changing because God is involved. Those circumstances might be physical, emotional, psychological, educational, and spiritual or a combination of some or all of these. Over the past 10 years we’ve seen God’s Hope altering the lives of hundreds of children and dozens of village; Martin & Mathias are two recent examples of this Hope taking root in fertile ground.” To learn more about the Passion Center for Children in Malawi, go here.
How much of life do we spend as worms? Crawling and foraging? And how much of life do we spend in the glorious hope, soaring and sipping?

Martin and Mathias have been given wings. And we at Compassion Tea and CompassioNow are thrilled beyond words to be working with the Community Health Network at the Passion Center for Children in Malawi. These are the kinds of stories that inspire and motivate us! Won’t you join us?!

Infused Peach Iced Tea + Iced Tea Maker Giveaway! (Ends April 9th)

We are so grateful to Kelli for her support of our mission and tea! Thanks Kelli for helping us to share tea and save lives!

LE ZOE MUSINGS

The urge for hot tea sipping tendencies is slowly diminishing as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer. It’s time to transition back to those iced teas again. When Compassion Tea Co. sent me their ingenious iced tea maker and some packets of black peach teas, I became an expert at making iced tea. For realzzz. The iced tea maker comes with the infuser so everything that you would need to make the perfect glass of iced tea is at your fingertips.

After steeping the black peach tea for the recommended amount of time, I removed the infuser and added a handful of ice along with some colorful slices of strawberries, nectarines, lime, and a few mint leaves. And because I like sweet iced tea, I also added sugar. The combination is robust, energizing, refreshing, and sooo delish!

Infused Peach Iced Tea_Le Zoe Musings 3

If you are a tea lover and love helping others, please check out

View original post 265 more words

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 614 other followers