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.

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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.


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.



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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”


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.

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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!

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!

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

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Margin is a hot word in my house these days.

There’s the margin of business, of getting the most buck for your bang. It’s the fine line between squeezing the most money out of clients and the most work out of your employees – without tipping either side of the equation. And big margins are good, sought after, applauded. Margin.

Then there’s the margin of life, the blank space, the whitespace that circles the words of our chaotic lives. Margin is space to breathe, to create, to still and listen, to put down the phone, the TV remote, the computer, the calendar, the to-do list 3 feet long and just… be. Margin is time for the kids to play and be kids. Margin is time for mommy to soak in a tub or for daddy to unwind from the day and connect with someone in his family… or vice versa.

This kind of margin keeps perspective, holds the balance, allows for God to be heard, for healing and health and reconciliation and emotional stability.unnamed-23

unnamed-40But is this margin applauded? Don’t we prefer to applaud the family that can pile the schedule with sports and arts and homework and busyness? Don’t we marvel at the mom juggling all 10 balls marginally well and wonder skeptically at the efficiency of the mom who only juggles 3 very well? Or the husband who works all day, serves on boards, and coaches little league… don’t we marvel at his dedication? But we don’t ask where his margin is, do we?

Is there an assumption that the more margin we have financially, the more margin we’ll have time wise? That the striving and squeezing and pinching stops when the bottom line looks good? Or does the striving and squeezing and pinching just pick up in other areas, cluttering our lives with the trappings of affluence?

And I’m wondering this morning, as I’m flailing in the struggle of creating margin in a world that demands we keep running without margin, what margin looks like in Africa.

Like in Zomba, Malawi, where Passion Center for Children is located. Where is the margin in life when floods have destroyed your house and your crops? Is there rest, blank space, stillness when there aren’t mosquito nets and pots and pans and food and when children are sleeping in the open because there are no beds, no walls, no roof? When there is no monetary margin, no buck for the bang, when life is hand to mouth, where is the margin?10378274_812999028771587_6202102954853020024_n

10923281_812999078771582_747795061580541710_n10917445_812999052104918_3699448331697225328_nOr in Uganda where Village of Hope is located, where 9 new sponsors for children this week is celebrated! And the bottom line says that there are 200 more that need sponsors. And the bottom line reads like this: “Dear friends… this is Cindy. We really need your help. As you know the last couple of years have been hard on me physically. So I have not been able to go out and ‘friend’ raise. Because of that… we are running $20K short each month. We have added a Skill Training Center and another 50 kids to our Villages. Those things add up. So we, our 340 children, need your help. Every dollar helps!”

How do you build margin into your finances, into your life, when there are 340 kiddos who depend on you for life – food, education, healthcare, nurturing, shelter – because the alternative to this is child-run families, sleeping in the open, abuse, days without food, a tentative survival, and no upward mobility. Where is the margin?10299080_10152398008179763_3795027765915466660_n 11015953_10153109834269763_317411810080949687_n 10352939_10152674151649763_6536344923481152464_n

Or in the Valley of 1000 Hills, South Africa, where 1000 Hills Community Helpers is located, where some 5000 people this month will attend a medical clinic of some sort and will be treated effectively and well for the unimaginable cost of $1 per person. Where that same number of people or more will gather for meals, where children will meet daily for schooling and care, where mommies and daddies will learn skills and grannies will meet and sit under the canopy or gather around a table and sew. Where the safe house had to close because there wasn’t funding to keep it open. And where the bottom line says we’re running this amazing operation on nickels and dimes, we are doing great good, but we’ve got no margin and we’re not meeting our financial needs to keep all these balls in the air.1011836_10151711910730854_1547028917_n 10628167_10152865178225854_4632364125688208242_n 1800479_10152895399445854_1985007257085480745_n 10628268_10152895404295854_8499036510535850559_n

Where is the margin when it all sounds so dire?

The margin is in the whitespace. The margin is in being still and listening for God to speak, being still and knowing that He is God, being still and knowing that He is at work, that He has built up these relief centers, that He has begun a good work, and He will fulfill His promises to His people, and He will finish those good works.

And margin is in the whitespace created when we take a moment to savor a cup of tea. Whether we’re members of Compassion Tea and we amble into a pantry well-stocked with a multitude of tea flavors or whether we buy our favorite flavor every other month online or whether we shuffle into our favorite coffee shop, favorite because it carries tea with a cause, how ever we come to our cup of tea and with whomever we share it, when we create this pause in our day, we are creating margin in Africa.IMG_7536

And that’s the bottom line!

Olympics and the Temporary

Part of the operations around Claremont Camp include a Safe House. Leppan and her staff have been supporting 17 children and some moms and grannies in the house — giving them protection, food, clothing, shelter, and a chance at a new life. But this came through on Facebook today from Leppan, “A very sad week it has been had to close down our Safe House ,it has taken a few months to decide on doing this ,with many prayers and tears it was decided to say good bye to our children ,a Mom and her 2 children and Granny the welfare came in and every one has found new homes to go to .It does not take away the heartache ,I have visited them all and will continue to do so ,all seem happy with there new homes. I could not get sponsors to fund our home looking after 17 children plus is expensive ,and that’s my sad news. Next week will be better.” Life is tenuous and difficult. But we can make a difference.


Oh Olympic fever is taking hold! The excitement is building! Opening Ceremonies are on today and I’m thinking about how to best view them and what foods to have at the ready. As I’m typing this, I have a window open to USA Today’s online Olympics coverage where a clock is ticking down the time until the Opening Ceremonies. It’s not long now!

Next to the clock is an article about Michael Phelps in relation to his housing in the Olympic Village.  ( The Olympic Village is of course the temporary housing for all of the athletes and is meant to be cozy, a good place to relax, and designed to encourage friendly camaraderie with athletes from around the world. According to the article, Phelps has a single room in a four-bedroom suite he shares with six other swimmers including his rival Ryan Lochte. Apparently, the village has…

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Rain, Rain…

We’re still doing rain dances here. Every time the weatherman forecasts another storm coming through, there is a collective intake of breath… a community wide inhalation like, “Oh! Maybe this will be the one to get us out of drought!” And then the weatherman inevitably says, “This is not going to be enough to get us out of the drought.” He’s such a Debbie Downer! So, we keep praying for rain. And when the rain comes, we don’t grumble. The inconveniences of rain boots and umbrellas and flooding roads and massive puddles… they are all born with a determination, a stalwart fortitude to bear through this “necessary evil.” The hills are green at last. The stream beds are flowing again. Local ponds are full and wildlife is finding water. We’re not out of the drought, but with each rain we are sighing relief.


And on the other side of the world, the rain won’t stop.


Toward the end of 2014, CompassioNow took on the support of another medical mission outreach program, that of Passion Center for Children’s Community Health Network in Malawi. And this rainy season in Malawi has not been good. Heavy flooding from the incessant downpours has caused countless homes to collapse, displacing thousands of persons and families. According to Eric Sythoff, director of the Passion Center, “In Zomba alone approximately 24,000 households have been displaced and are now living in schools, churches and health centers.”

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Sythoff explains further, “Right now we have children sleeping in the open because their homes are severely damaged. At least four houses (that we know of right now) from our Passion Center extended family have been destroyed and many houses need plastic sheeting and more grass for roofs to prevent further damage from rain, as well as doors and windows to keep the rain out. Also, treated drinking water is a major need as the government is concerned with a cholera outbreak due to poor sanitation and water source contamination. There are still households we can’t get to because roads and paths are blocked, which leaves people in our area who need clean cooking/eating utensils.”


On Feb. 3, the Passion Center staff joined with other relief agencies to provide supplies for displaced families. The PC staff went to the Namachete Primary school along with the Zomba District Disaster Committee to provide emergency relief care packages. “This school is in a remote area, hosting many people who have been displaced. We are working on identifying and helping those in our area. We have a number of pastors from our Passion Center Pastoral Ministry living here as well as one of our Community Health Network groups serving here.”


“The care packages were filled with: 5 kg bag of beans, 20 kg bag of Maize flour, 1 liter of cooking oil, 2 kg of salt and 1 roll of plastic sheeting for damaged homes. While they were going from each designated camps that housed those that have been displaced, they noticed more houses have collapsed due to another heavy thunderstorm. The disaster committee identified the following challenges: 1. lack of bedding, 2. lack of mosquito nets (classrooms don’t have any windows to keep mosquitoes out), and 3. lack of cooking utensils and storage buckets for water.” Sythoff further reports, “During the distribution, our staff prayed with individuals and shared the Gospel message in which 17 individuals gave their lives to Christ. As our team was returning to the Passion Center, another heavy thunderstorm hit and more houses gave way to the downpour.  We haven’t received reports of cholera outbreaks yet and we won’t know the extent of crop damage until the rains subside, but people are already preparing for these problems.”

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Immediate needs are as follows:

“The District Disaster Committee have identified the following challenges and need urgent supplies based on the living conditions of the displaced people:

1.  Lack of bedding (blankets and foam mattresses)

  1.  Lack of mosquito nets – this increases the risk for malaria because the classrooms do not have windows to keep mosquitoes out; the presence of more standing water attracts mosquitoes which carry the disease, increasing the likelihood for deaths from malaria for the young, sick, and elderly people.
  2.  Lack of cooking utensils and water storage buckets – many lost everything in the floods.
  3.  A critical need is fortified porridge for children under 8 years old.”


Please visit the Passion Center for Children website to make a direct donation, or visit the CompassioNow website to donate to medical relief for the children and families around Zomba.