Share Tea, Save Lives

These summer mornings have become quite precious. Later bedtimes mean long sleep-in times for the kids, but not for the dog. And consequently, I’m up early with him. This makes for a great time to read emails, catch up on Facebook, and most importantly to spend some time in God’s word. I am now subscribed to a number of daily devotionals including Girlfriends in God (go to www.kkla.com and sign up for this daily devotional and see an advertisement for Compassion Tea!) and GodTube. Today, there was a very moving video about Rachel Beckwith, a 9 year old who donated her birthday money to help people in Africa have clean water. She was tragically killed in a car accident before she made it to her 10th birthday, but in her name $1.2 million has been raised to drill new boreholes in Ethiopia. Watch:http://www.godtube.com/charitywater/

What a kid, huh!

I also received an email this morning from Chris and Jack in South Africa. They have been there for a week visiting the two clinics that CompassioNow supports in that country… Lily Medical Centre and 1000 Hills Community Helpers. This email was about their experience at 1000 Hills with Dawn Faith Leppan, the founder. From their writings:

“Jack hadn’t been to Thousand Hills for six years – when it was still at an abandoned Catholic church. We found the new campus to be an oasis in the middle of exceptional poverty. It was very well kept, with gardeners and workers (volunteers from the community who work for the two meals a day offered) busy at all corners of the site. Dawn Leppan met us with warm open arms. She gave us an extensive tour through the various infant, toddler, and pre-school rooms. All of this was very clean & colorful. There were kids everywhere but no chaos. It was remarkable and encouraging. We also toured the kitchen where cheerful volunteers were preparing meals for the numerous folks waiting patiently. We also visited the well-baby clinic that was taking place that day (every Tuesday). We saw about ten pair of mothers (or grandmothers) and infants waiting to be seen and numerous others had already been seen.

They have a craft store with merchandise produced by locals as well as a trauma center that Dawn’s granddaughter staffs as she is a licensed social worker on the government’s payroll. Dawn recounted some tragic stories of some of the locals who had been abused sexually and otherwise and how they’ve tried to help them recover and move forward.

Dawn took us to a local community [this is the Claremont Camp I wrote about in the Olympics and the Temporary blog] where they’ve established a “safe house” and daytime crèche (daycare). The housing there was appalling with waste smell in the air and outdoor bathrooms overflowing. There were exposed live electrical wires running on the ground throughout and barefoot children nearby. We saw one encouraging house that had a small garden – modeled after the garden at the safe house. We ended this visit by touring the safe house that was part of this neighborhood. The house had the cleanliness of the Thousand Hills Clinic with about twenty kids sitting well behaved at clean, bright plastic tables. Just beyond them was a fenced in garden that would be impressive in any U.S. suburb. The contrast between the safe house / crèche and the surrounding shacks was extraordinary and a real testament to the impact that this group can have on a community.

We ended our visit with the distribution of the four duffle bags we brought there. Dawn was very moved by the supplies provided; commenting regularly about how certain items would be helpful. It was very moving.

We returned on Thursday morning as we were so impressed with this group’s impact…. [W]e gave Dawn the gift of Compassion Tea that we had brought for her and her staff…. We also got to witness some of the impact of the supplies delivered. Dawn gave a pair of reading glasses to a grandmother there. She was very happy but her glasses started steaming up. Dawn asked what was wrong and the grandmother replied that she could finally see well but she had no money to pay for them. Dawn said that they were free and the grandmother was overcome with joy.”

Whether it be fresh, clean water or a pair of eyeglasses, we can change lives. We at Compassion Tea believe that by sharing tea, we can save lives. Please join us!

Air Entitlement

Air travel is so delightful, isn’t it? Between the disgrace of pat downs, the grossness of walking through airport security shoeless, the jostling for position in the boarding line much like sheep through a chute, and the cramped quarters on-board, flying has become a necessary evil — convenient in the sense of time, but extremely uncomfortable. Last night as I boarded the plane in Ontario/LA, I threw up a prayer asking for safety and patience for us all and for wisdom for the pilot and crew. The instruction came to fire down electronic devices and I figured we were heading up. Turns out it wouldn’t be for another 2 hours. A screw on a wing panel was missing. Due to a lack of mechanics and screws, the process took 2 hours. People who might miss connections were rebooked on other flights. Those of us who were committed to a flight to Oakland were allowed to deplane and find sustenance. And yet, there were complaints. They ran the gamut of “how could this happen to me?” to “what are you going to give me for this inconvenience in my life?”

Me? I hunkered down with my Bible study. Through my church, I’m working through C. S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters.  Screwtape, a demon worker of Satan’s, is writing letters to his nephew Wormwood and trying to advise him on ways to distract and coerce his “patient” away from a newfound Christianity and back to the ways of the world. In Letter 21, Screwtape advises Wormwood to focus on the patient’s sense of ownership. If the patient believes time belongs to him, then he will feel peevish at the imposition of others on his time. If the demon acts just right, he can convince the patient there is little distinction between “my boots” and “my wife” or even “my God.” Screwtape concludes the letter saying, “And all the time the joke is that the word ‘Mine’ in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything.” He explains, “They (humans) will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong – certainly not to them, whatever happens.” The study material itself reminded me that all we have is a gift from God… our time, our resources, our talents, our possessions, our very lives. The study material says, “The truth is God gave us life, then the liberty or freedom to pursue happiness…. God did not give us the right to make demands upon others to feed us or clothe us or to provide shelter for us or to give us a job or even to pay our medical expenses or provide an education.” Rather, “[Our] objects are all gifts from God. God would have us treat these gifts well” and “[t]he time we have is a free gift from God. How we spend that time in some measure will reflect how we will be judged [or rewarded].”

I could hardly contain myself. Rarely does Bible study and “real life” coincide so dramatically.  Here I was on a plane with a cross-section of humanity, many of whom felt that they had been abused in some way. Their sense was that they were entitled to some sort of gift or reward for putting up with the inconvenience. But what if we had flown with that lost screw, what if the wing panel had wiggled off? What about the safety issue here? It wasn’t like the airline had unscrewed the screw just to spite their clientele. Maybe it was entirely a God-thing… a protection for us all from injury and/or death. In fact, I believe completely that’s what it was. When I reunited with my family and the kids asked what had happened to delay Mommy’s return I explained just that… that God had protected the people on the plane and me from injury. Screwtape and his friends very well could have distracted the crew from noticing the lost screw (is anyone else enjoying the further coincidence of the lost screw and the author of the letters, Screwtape?).

Let’s take this a bit further. If God gave us time, money, energy, everything, then we have some very important choices to make in how we spend our time, money, energy, lives. I’ve heard it said that what we spend our money on reflects where our heart lies, what we value. How we spend our time, especially our “free time” also reflects what we value and where our heart lies. Do we make room for God’s work in “our” time? Do we use “our” money for God’s work?  Or do we simply use our time and money for our comfort?

Have I mentioned the beauty of Compassion Tea in light of my ramblings?  Indulge me for a minute! You see, when you purchase a membership to our tea club (www.compassiontea.com/memberships) you spend roughly $12 a month depending on the membership you choose. The after-tax profit from that money may purchase eye glasses or Band-Aids or Neosporin or blood pressure cuffs or Novocain or surgical gloves or medicines which will then be sent to a clinic in rural Africa where it may treat a small child, a mother, a grandmother, a father, a brother, a son, a daughter… someone who does not have regular access to health care, doctors, even basic first aid. It may be used to ship supplies to Africa. It may be donated to a clinic to build a well, buy a solar panel, fix an airplane engine, pay the salary of a medical worker, host a clinic for first aid education… somehow improve the conditions of life for people in rural parts of Africa. In fact, we have Compassion Tea directors leaving Thursday to take supplies to the clinics we support in South Africa! (Stay tuned for exciting stories from the bush!) Taking care of God’s people, teaching them ways to provide for themselves, spending money to help others… all while also enjoying marvelous teas. (Sneak preview… we’ve got new teas coming… more on that later!)

Buying a Compassion Tea membership does in fact provide for our own comfort, but it also saves a life. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!