Asking For A Favor

I don’t know. Being 40 something is an interesting period of life. It’s kinda a mid-way up the mountain, mid-way down the mountain kinda thing. Like, if I look down, over that edge over there, I see the news that another peer/friend/colleague has lost a parent, a spouse, possibly even a child. On that side, there’s a soul harvest going on. And then, overwhelmed by it all, I spin halfway and face the uphill side of the mountain and there along the path to the sun I see the photos of new babies, newlyweds, my former students hitting that “prime-of-life” period of finding a spouse, starting a family, growing a family, becoming the worlds’ busy and crazy, the standard bearers of culture and civilization marching to the front. And I’m just slouching through another day. Someone cue Casting Crowns Thrive right about now!

But if I reach way back into the recesses of my brain, I do remember planning my wedding. I may be whacky, but I remember thinking that I wanted our guests to walk away with something that was unique and different, not just a cup of nuts and candies or a small bottle of bubble solution, but something that might grow and mature into its own constant reminder. We gave out packets of pine tree seeds. You know, grow your own pine tree by which to remember our marriage. Here, my memory is foggy. Did I try to grow a tree from one of those packets? Or did I simply dream it? I’m pretty sure I still have a few packets in a box somewhere. Any bets as to whether or not 19-year-old seeds still have life in them?

IMG_4937 IMG_4938 IMG_4933I think Mike and Alisa are on to something here, however! Mike is wrapping up his MDIV and Alisa is finishing her medical schools studies at UCSD. She will start her residency in July in Santa Rosa. Alisa donated her otoscope to Village of Hope Uganda this summer and she has a big heart for medicine in the least served parts of the world. They will both graduate this summer and then get married and start life together from there. They wanted something unique to give their wedding guests, something that gives immediate pleasure, that is an enjoyable reminder of the day, and that also gives something bigger… in this case, hope for the world’s least served.

We at Compassion Tea are so excited to help Mike and Alisa celebrate their special day. And we’re so grateful to them for trying out our new favor-sized pouches. With our special printer, we can personalize the pouch, and with our over 100 flavors of high-quality tea, we can guarantee a flawless cup of tea. The favor pouches are $2.50 per pouch and they hold 3 tea bags of one flavor. (To place an order, email us at info@compassiontea.com)

How adorable would these be for a baby shower! Or add a photo of a grad and hand them out at graduation parties! They are perfect for bridal showers and wedding favors, as a special thank-you to employees, co-workers, teachers, or anyone whose work or volunteering you wish to recognize. Tis the season of banquets and good-byes and starts to new lives… why not mark it with a gift that gives back, too!

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Tis the Season… to Donate?

A friend of mine from high school recently lamented on Facebook that everywhere she turns she is hounded by someone expecting her to make a donation. Would you like to add $1 to your purchase to help XYZ charity? Put money in my kettle! Hi, I’m calling from XYZ to ask for your support this holiday season. I’m a hired telemarketer but can you please help XYZ with a financial contribution of just $25. The cacophony of pleas for help is overwhelming. I was amazed recently when the audience at The Lion King in San Francisco was asked to sit after the curtain call and an actor (ironically, you might say, the one playing Pumba, the smelly warthog) asked the audience to support a charity through monetary donations as they left the theater.

Yet, as someone who works with a non-profit, I felt torn by my friend’s post. I’ve been mulling it over for weeks actually, praying for clarity. But this is a muddy pool, people, and anyone willing to consider it ends up smelling like something. On the one hand, I completely understand my friend’s complaint. The telemarketer phone calls are so inconvenient and pushy. Are you like me? Do you only answer your cell phone these days because it isn’t “safe” to answer the landline? Odds are it is someone selling something or asking for a donation. At least the political phone calls have ceased for now! Sometimes the group or individual asking for the donation does not take no gracefully. Leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Oh, and, one simply can’t give to every organization out there. The need is great and there are so many organizations out there asking for and seeking help. Intended or not, guilt often comes creeping along after one of these encounters. Enough already!

Ahhhh, but the need is great. Full stop. And if we’re living, breathing, compassionate beings, we do feel called to help somewhere, somehow. In an effort to set a good example for the kids and to show the kids another side of life so very different from their enchanted existence, together we’ve supported several families through the Giving Tree, donated coats to One Warm Coat, donated food to food pantries, filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, and purchased holiday gifts through Compassion Tea.

Each time we do one of these things, one of the kids asks why. Why are we doing this? And the answer is always because we have plenty and because the Bible calls us to love our neighbor. We love through helping; we help through loving.

And then they go back to dictating their list to Santa. For Joseph, this is all-consuming. It’s part of childhood, right?

I’ve had another dilemma this Christmas season. The kids, early on, made a plan. For their Christmas presents to each other this year, I would drive them to the pet store and they would buy (meaning put it on Mama’s credit card) rabbits and the accompanying gear for each other. The rabbits would live on the floor of the playroom, near the already abandoned hamsters, and yours truly would have another dependent or two. You can imagine that I was not keen on this idea. With the chickens, the dog, the fish, and the hamsters, I feel quite sure we don’t need rabbits. However, I didn’t want to set the kids loose in a toy store either. Then I read this blog.
The Grateful Christmas Project: 7 Ways to have more Grateful Kids this Christmas
And I praised God for His amazing inspiration. On the way to horseback riding yesterday, the topic came up again. Can’t we PLEASE get rabbits? Why won’t you let us get rabbits? (Because, surely, I’m the meanest mom on the planet?) I offered a quick prayer silently that my words would come out correctly and they would fall on receptive ears. “We don’t need rabbits. We have enough pets to love and take care of. We don’t really need any more toys either. In fact, you kids have toys you never play with. I have a suggestion and you have a choice. Instead of exchanging toys or rabbits this year, let’s do one of these two things. 1. I would drive you to a pet store and we would load up on pet food… dog food, cat food, kitty litter, the works, and then we would take it to the local animal shelter and donate it OR you could buy each other an animal through the Heifer Project.” After a little more discussion and web-based research, the verdict was that Clara was buying Joseph a goat and Joseph was buying Clara a trio of rabbits. And the beauty is that these animals are not coming to my house to live but are being given to families in poorer parts of the world where the animals can provide sustenance (goat’s milk, cheese, yogurt) and fertilizer. The joy on the faces of the kids as they picked out their animal was miraculous. Truly. Better than opening a toy? Maybe not. But much better than I expected. It opened the door to a long conversation about our responsibility and joy as Christians, as blessed Americans, to reach out to God’s people (because we are ALL God’s people even if we don’t recognize Him as sovereign Lord). I am so excited for my kids. As they get older and as toys become more electronic and expensive and worldly, this is a gift I would like to make a tradition. When I’m old and grayer than I am now, I hope my kids buy me goats and rabbits. Or pouches of Compassion Tea!

Compassion Tea is running a campaign right now called our 30 Days of Giving campaign. You see, on top of selling high-quality tea, we are giving our profits to CompassioNow and that non-profit is using the money to help people in Africa. Each day for 30 days we are highlighting a way in which the money from the sale of tea is providing life-saving medical care to someone or someones in Africa. It looks something like this:
Day 1: Your gift of tea will help stock the shelves of Tanzania Christian Clinic with crucial meds for treating malaria, giardia, and infection.Day12Meds.162535
Day 2: Your gift of tea will provide funding to Chalabesa Mission Hospital for a new well so that workers at the clinic will have fresh, clean water with which to treat and refresh patients. (“Cold Shower Water”)

Day 3: Your gift of tea will provide grandmothers with eyeglasses to see and take care of their orphaned grandchildren.

Day 4: Your gift of a Holiday Tea Caddy will cover the cost of a clinical visit, evaluation and any medicines needed for a mother and a child at any of our clinics.Day7nurseJoyceatKareroclinin.160848

Day 5: Your purchase of Ajiri Kenyan Black Tea will provide a child in western Kenya with much needed school supplies.

Day 6: Your gift of tea will help fuel the plane for Mission Medic Air to serve those in remote areas in Zambia.Day6MMAplanewithgreeters.104954

Day 7: Your purchase of a Holiday Four Tea Gift Box will help fund our clinic in Karero, Kenya. Located in a remote area near the southern border with Tanzania, the clinic is staffed by three healthcare professionals, a Nurse, a Lab Technician, and a Receptionist. Your gift will help fund the entire operation of this clinic for a day.

Day 8: Your purchase of Berry Berry tea will add merriness to your holiday and will help the children of Lily of the Valley orphanage and clinic in South Africa, a part of the world where AIDS is rampant.

Day 9: Our Tanzania clinic is located in the northern part of the country near Mt. Kilimanjaro and primarily serves the nomadic Maasi people of that region. Due to poor nutritional practices and large families, this clinic frequently treats malnourished children. Your purchase of a Holiday Gift Pouch will provide nutritional support for one child.

Day 10: Your purchase of tea will provide malaria meds to children like this one. (“Every 6 Seconds”)Day9634Yohanna.111858

30 days just barely scratches the surface of what a small purchase can translate into for a person in rural Africa. (Join our email list or become a Facebook fan or Twitter follower to hear the rest of the 30 days.) We are blessed in this country. And we can use our purchasing power to make a difference. I come from the belief (Puritanical perhaps) that abundance is God’s blessing. And what a joy to share that with others!

So what. Remember that muddy pool I was talking about? The pushy people asking for donations? Yes, they can be obnoxious. I suppose we all can be obnoxious about something we feel passionately about. Whether it’s our grandkids or our hobby or our political party, we can drive people crazy talking about it. For people in the not-for-profit/charity world, their charity is what they feel passionately about and they are willing to run the risk of being obnoxious to get the word out. Grant us a measure of grace, be amused by us, or better yet, find out more about what we are so almighty strung up about. It might turn out to be a great cause you are actually happy to support.

I think my new standard reply to the clerks at the grocery asking for a donation or the telemarketers on the phone will be something like, “Hey, thanks for the offer. Currently, I am supporting other charities that do similar work. But I will look into this one and see if I can help another way or another time.” We all walk away a little less smelly.

Compassion Tea’s Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas

Holiday Gift Pouch available now at http://www.compassiontea.com/gifts

Holiday Four Tea Gift Box highlights four of our most popular teas.

I barely got the Thanksgiving dishes washed and whamoo Christmas lights were up all over town. One day, the grocery store aisles were designed to steer you toward all you would need for a Thanksgiving Day feast and overnight the stuffing and cranberries disappeared and were replaced with chocolate, peppermint, baking supplies, and holiday cheer. In the blink of an eye it became “the most wonderful time of the year.”

My reaction reminded me of my husband. In the early years of our marriage, I discovered a penchant for moving furniture around, always searching for a better arrangement, more floor space, better TV viewing, something a little more chic. It got really bad in our first apartment in Amsterdam when I had a lot more time on my hands and a lot less furniture. This was difficult for Matt who operated by memory many mornings, stumbling toward the coffee pot with eyes at half-mast. When there was a new piece of furniture in his way, well, he had multiple stubbed toes as a result. He grew to hate change of this nature. I felt the same way about the rush of Christmas this year. I was really enjoying being thankful, quiet, deliberate; with Christmas upon me, I look more like a chicken with its head cut off.

At any rate, the holiday season is here and we will continue to hurdle toward it rapidly. We survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday and I just noticed that Green Saturday is coming up. If perchance all of this consumerism hasn’t helped you work your way through your entire holiday shopping list already or if you just discovered a few teachers or colleagues you forgot to add to the list, I proudly present the TOP TEN TEA GIFTS available now at Compassion Tea Company!

1. Holiday Four Tea Gift Box
2. Holiday Pouch
3. Holiday Tea Caddy
4. Gift membership
5. Donate directly to CompassioNow in honor of someone
6. A gift certificate so the person on your list can pick out his or her favorite tea flavors
7. A pouch of tea with a recipe for your favorite cookies, muffins, or marinade
8. A plate of homemade cookies and a pouch of tea
9. 2 cup teapot with a pouch or two of tea
10. Make someone tea, share the afternoon, and send them home with a pouch of the tea you made.

There! Easy peasy lemon squeezey as the kiddos say. You can order all of these gifts at www.compassiontea.com and to donate directly to CompassioNow, go to www.compassionow.org.

Gentle disclaimer:  Purchasing tea gifts from Compassion Tea Company will do untold good for people in rural parts of Africa where medical care is scarce, where medical supplies run out quickly, where people are malnourished, fighting infections without antibiotics, leaving broken bones unset, and living with diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and yet don’t have any medical care or have to walk miles to receive care. To learn more about what your gift of tea can do, join our email list (info@compassiontea.com), follow us on Twitter (@CompassionTea) or become a fan on Facebook. We share teas to save lives! So can you!

Happy shopping! May your toes remain unstubbed!

Friends!

Made by friends. Given to friends. Helping friends.


You may recall that Compassion Tea got started when a group of friends met with the purpose of discussing a better way to raise funds for their work with CompassioNow. This group of 3 couples had been friends from church and already had a long history of connection and community including group trips to Africa where certain members acquired the nickname “Lovey” (these people shall remain anonymous to protect the innocent – HA!) and the rigors of large bugs, shady food, and third world living were shared together. This was a group who was already in prayer for each other. By creating Compassion Tea, Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom, Jack and Chris Faherty, and Lee and Anne Kennedy further ensured their friendship; now, even though they are scattered around California, the meeting schedule, prayer schedule, and work schedule guarantees time together either through amazing modern communication or face-to-face time.

This past weekend was one of those face-to-face times. The kids and I traveled to Clovis via train (which has its own blog topic just waiting) in order to meet, work, and share in the community that is Compassion Tea. The beauty of the weekend was that we were working on assembling our holiday gifts. Boxes needed to be assembled, foam cut, pouches stuffed, tins shrink-wrapped, stickers applied, bows tied. None of this was particularly taxing – except perhaps for the foam cutting which required Ed’s engineering expertise to extract the most foam supports for the gift boxes as possible, and except for the heat of a hand-dryer on a hand while shrink-wrapping. On the contrary, our tasks allowed us to chitchat. As a relative newcomer to the friendship, this was great fun for me! At a certain point in the day, as Chris and I were finishing up a lively discussion about schools and teachers and expectations (oh and yes, we were labeling pouches), Anne and Wendy popped in to say, “Let’s switch partners when we start the next task!” While I worked with Wendy, I had the opportunity to hear about her experiences volunteering at the Care Harbor event recently held in LA. (Another blog in the making!) We finished the day off with a meal and fond reminiscing over our year together.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did I lose you somewhere? Were you distracted by the comments about putting together holiday gifts? Was your holiday shopping radar going off? Would you like to know more? WELLLLLLL! Yes, we’ve got holiday gifts and yes they are on sale and ready to go out. (So, really, now is a great time to order… www.compassiontea.com/gifts.)

The holiday gift boxes are full of great things… a silver teaspoon for measuring the 4 loose teas tucked into reusable tins. The teas included in this gift are Monk’s Blend (flavored black tea), Bourbon Street Vanilla (flavored rooibos), Jade Cloud (green tea extraordinaire), and Iron Goddess Oolong (exceptional oolong). This is the kind of gift the tea-lover in your life would go nuts over!

Back in July, we were trying to discern the best way to package our next gift. It was a several hour conversation that wove its way through our entire meeting that weekend. This past weekend, we saw the fruition of that process! A satin red pouch filled with two round tins of Monk’s Blend and Bourbon Street Vanilla loose teas. There’s just something about those round tins all stacked up and waiting to ship out that is elegant, orderly, and compelling. The two tins collectively hold approximately 50 cups of tea, which makes this a lovely gift for just about anyone! I’m thinking friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, staff, employees, vendors, administrators, teachers, assistants, service providers, my kids (who ask for these two teas by name)….

The other really great gift for the above-mentioned folks is our black teabag caddy filled with pyramid tea bags. You can choose which tea you want in the caddy and the choices are as follows: Green Peach Apricot (flavored green), Caramel Rooibos (flavored rooibos), Egyptian Camomile (herbal), Earl Grey (black tea), and Provence (herbal rooibos).

Of course, we have our gift memberships for the gift that truly keeps on giving. I remember several years ago (like, decades ago) I was struggling with what to get that “someone who has everything” and I discovered a mail-order flower service that would send flowers on a monthly basis. How fun it was for my mother-in-law to receive bulbs and fresh flowers every month! I don’t remember how many months it ran but I loved the concept. This is what our gift memberships do; instead, we send 2 pouches of tea each month. You choose 6 months or 12 months of tea delivery, the variety changes every month, and every month your friend, spouse, family member is reminded of you and your loving gift. Ahhhh! Isn’t that great!

So, I’ve covered the “Made by Friends” part and the “Given to Friends” part. But what about this “Helping Friends” part? I saved the most important part for last. Remember, the mission behind Compassion Tea is to share tea and SAVE LIVES! We do that by donating 100% of our profits to our parent organization, CompassioNow. CompassioNow uses those funds to purchase medical supplies, to ship pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to Africa, to pay staff salaries at some of the clinics in Africa, to support projects such as buying a new engine for an airplane so people in the far away parts of the bush may receive medical care or such as digging a new well and providing the piping to supply a clinic with a fresh supply of water so that people don’t have to walk several hundred yards to a dirty river to procure water for the clinic. Through our sale of tea, we are helping to give grandmothers eyeglasses, which help them to see and better provide for their families. We are helping to provide antibiotics to treat infections that could become life threatening otherwise. We are supplying wound dressings for a man hit by a car and who was turned away from the government–run hospital because he couldn’t pay for his treatment. We are supplying vitamins for children growing up malnourished. We are helping a woman who for 20+ years was considered a drag on the community because she is crippled and we are giving hope to young children with cerebral palsy, HIV/AIDS, orphaned and malnourished.

I know that the economy is a hot topic these days. I’m not sure one can get away from the topic, actually! By most reports, it isn’t where it was four years ago. Could it be worse? Is it not good enough? Those are questions for the politicians to debate, and debate they are! What counts is what is in your pocketbook/budget for this year’s holiday spending. While I want to emphasize that our gifts are reasonably priced, I more so want you to think about the power of your spending. You will buy gifts for certain people, right? And I think we all know at least one consumer of fine tea. You could go to a certain local tea store or a coffee stand that sells tea too. They’re on every corner. You could buy your tea there. You could. OR you could make your purchase matter. Your purchase could make a difference for someone else… a friend in Africa.

What was that website again? www.compassiontea.com/gifts Make your holiday gift-giving count.