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.

Campaign Promises

Every morning, I run the same drill. Feet hit the floor and the ankles and heels start screaming. I stumble toward the bathroom to grab something warm and my phone and then head outside with the dog to mincingly make my way down the driveway to get the newspaper. I check emails as I go and then glance at the day’s headlines on the way back up the driveway. This morning, I laughed out loud when I opened my inbox.

To Drink More Tea!

There, thanks to Princess Cruises, was the single most clever ad campaign I have ever seen. Concerned that I might be “tired of all the negative news,” Princess Cruises is offering “The Campaign to Escape Completely!” From now until Election Day, the cruise-line is giving away free cruises where you can really and truly escape from the media for a few days. Floating on a big boat, with food readily available, pools aplenty, and no TV or newspapers? Right on! Sign me up!

It doesn’t matter which way you lean politically, there is enough fuel to flame the fires of distrust, self-righteousness, and dare I say even hatred for the other side. When we were visiting Ohio this past August, the Olympics were wrapping up and there were events we wanted to watch, but every other commercial was political in nature. First, one would blame the present administration for not solving our country’s economic problems. Next, the present administration would scare women and seniors into believing that should there be a change in the presidential watch they can kiss their current benefits good-bye. It was emotional; it was fluff; it was ugly. I feel for the swing states these days. You are in the heart of a bitter, media-driven, war of words where no one seems to be 100% truthful, 100% genuine, or 100% tuned into reality. (And right now I may need to wrap my tongue in gauze I’m biting it so hard.)

So, what does this have to do with tea? Not a whole lot, truth be told! I can offer you the chance to relax and unwind with a cup of tea… maybe one of our new flavors? Have you tried Jade Cloud or Bai Hao or Coconut Oolong or West Cape Chai yet? Or the Lavender Sage Rooibos or Lemon Mint Rooibos are fantastic for centering and grounding… as long as you leave your media outlets turned off. Tea is very relaxing. Waiting for the water to boil, watching the leaves steep, pouring a cup, taking the first slurp… all are steps in patience, settling down, calming, breathing more deeply, creating a mood for contemplation. Take some time.

A few days ago, I was reading through one of my favorite chapters of the Bible – Isaiah 40. For us, the weary-worn electorate, this chapter holds great comfort. I’m going to quote from The Message translation because it is just so fun and accessible:

12 – 17: Who has scooped up the ocean
in his two hands, or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger?
Who has put all the earth’s dirt in one of his baskets,
weighed each mountain and hill?
Who could ever have told God what to do
or taught him his business?
What expert would he have gone to for advice,
what school would he attend to learn justice?
What god do you suppose might have taught him what he knows, showed him how things work?
Why, the nations are but a drop in a bucket,  a mere smudge on a window.
Watch him sweep up the islands
like so much dust off the floor!
There aren’t enough trees in Lebanon
nor enough animals in those vast forests to furnish adequate fuel and offerings for his worship.
All the nations add up to simply nothing before him— less than nothing is more like it. A minus.

21 – 24: Have you not been paying attention? Have you not been listening?
Haven’t you heard these stories all your life?
Don’t you understand the foundation of all things?
God sits high above the round ball of earth. The people look like mere ants. He stretches out the skies like a canvas—
 yes, like a tent canvas to live under.
He ignores what all the princes say and do.
 The rulers of the earth count for nothing.
Princes and rulers don’t amount to much.
 Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted,
they shrivel when God blows on them.
 Like flecks of chaff, they’re gone with the wind.

Did you catch that? Nations are like a drop in the bucket. The rulers of the earth count for nothing. In the grand scheme of things, as we like to say, this election process really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. It is much ado about nothing. Chaff in the wind, blown away on the slightest breeze. Our nation is struggling to maintain a way of life. We are trying to maintain a life we believe is built on free-enterprise, hard-work, and freedom. Some of us want it to be more so while some others of us believe in the power of the government to help us reach our goals. But in the end, who is in ultimate control?

During her speech at the Global Leadership Summit, Condoleeza Rice shared that while she was Secretary of State, she would often ask the leaders around the table whether they were more concerned about today’s headlines or tomorrow’s history.  Boiled down, her question is this: Are we shooting for the popular decision or the right decision? Over the course of the next 7 weeks we are going to be treated to a continuing barrage of ire and political mayhem. Then, we will know the leadership for the next four years. What will that tell us? Will it really tell us our future individually or collectively? Probably not. Whichever way the election goes, those grand and glorious campaign promises are going to be promptly broken whether because the promise was just a line to get the vote or whether “the other side” gridlocked the process. Decisions will be made both for the popular reasons and for the right reasons. And one person’s “right reason” is another’s “stupid reason.” That’s the way it is.

Ultimately, it will all work out… because God is on His throne. In the meantime, I suggest a cup of tea and maybe a free cruise.