Friday, August 26, 2016

Doing Good Is Simple: Review and Reflections and a Shout Out to my Mama!!!

So, I was really excited to be part of the recent book launch team for "Doing Good Is Simple: Making a Difference Right Where You Are" by Chris Marlow. Normally, I don't pay attention to things like book launches because we live in South Africa and people don't want to send presale books overhere (shipping and all the hassle I suppose) BUT my friend Rebecca was going to be heading our way soon and Chris Marlow is the founder Help One Now, which is one of our Take Action Ministry partner organizations, so I thought I might as well try to be part of the launch team.

The book came, and I read it. I highlighted a lot of good stuff. It was practical and easy to understand. One thing I realized is that doing good IS simple, it really is, but making the choice to do good is somewhat more difficult. There are so many great organizations out there, so many needs and so many ways to get involved, which can lead a person to become overwhelmed by the choices. I think for many of us, we also worry about stepping out into something new because we are worried about future committments of time, money and other resources. Or sometimes we don't want to say "yes" to this opportunity because another opportunity to get involved might come up next week and if I send my money to this opportunity, I can't help out with that one.

I would highly suggest picking up this book, reading it on your own, as a family, or in a small group. After you read it and see the ways other people have been able to do good, pass it on to a friend or donate it to your church library. Through simple things like holding garage sales and giving away the proceeds, using your gifts and skills to help an NGO with things like finances, web design, or other areas that are necessary, but not always easily funded, starting a babysitting co-op so all the moms out there can get a break, even when they don't have a lot of money, or whatever other way you feel called to get involved. You can order the book here.

Doing Good does not mean everyone needs to pack up and move to another country (although we'd love to have you here!), but to do good, you need to make a decision to DO. After reading the book, I decided to send a copy to my mom and dad. My parents have always been people who have done good things. I remember my mom making up plates of food for a few of the neighborhood "bums" on occassion when we lived in California and my dad would sit out in the backyard with them, under the plum tree, share a meal and give of his time to these wanderers. Some people will say "Well your dad is a pastor, so that is kind of like his job", but if that is the case, a lot of ministers aren't doing their jobs and if being a pastor isn't a prerequisite to doing good, then a lot of laypeople aren't doing their jobs!

Last year my mom collected Socks and Undies for South Africa. They came out for a visit in March loaded down with treasures from their church in Oregon. So many socks and underwear!! Our living room was covered. It was such a small act, really. One woman, bringing a suitcase to her church with a sign that said "Socks and Undies for South Africa". The burden wasn't on any one individual to fill that suitcase, but the church joined together and each pack of undies and socks purchased was an act of doing good.

This year, my mom challenged her siblings to buy blankets. This challenge grew into something bigger, as other family members, a church my dad spoke at and other individuals made the choice to join in. So far we have been able to purchase 35 blankets, which are being given out by our community partners in the Hammanskraal and Maubane area. Blankets are such a gift, especially nice, soft, fluffy warm blankets! Yes, we could have gotten more bang for our buck if we bought a smaller blanket or a cheaply made blanket, but we have been able to bless families and individuals with the kind of blankets that give dignity and truly show love.

25 Blankets
Thank you to everyone who has participated in this endeavor. Your generosity is overwhelming. Your kindness is overwhelming. And your choosing to do good...was it simple? For some of you, I know there was a cost. Your finances are tight, and giving to one more cause is not always an easy choice. I am not trying to downplay that at all, but for about $20 US, you were able to do good, and you didn't have to leave your home. Each blanket given has had and will continue to have an impact, far beyond the 4 cups of Starbucks, 3 McDonalds extra value meals, or 2 for $20 meals at a local restaurant would have had.

The first 10 blankets went to Maubane Rivoningo. Pastor Norman and Terry handed these out to 8 families. We recently purchased 25 more blankets and gave 7 more to Rivoningo, 7 to Reagoboka and 10 to Mlambo. The centre leaders are SO eager to pass out these blankets. They see the needs around them daily. A blanket isn't just a small thing to these families. It is warmth and security and it shows that they are loved and cared about by somebody.

Jou and Tintswalo
On Thursday we dropped off the second batch of blankets at Maubane. While we were there, I saw William. William is a familiar face at the centre. He loves to come and hang out, and he especially loves being a part of the activities on Sunday. William does not stay nearby, and thankfully another young man has taken it upon himself to go and fetch his friend and bring him to Maubane Rivoningo when he needs/wants to be here. I asked Terry if he thought William needed a blanket and he said yes. Thanks to all of you who gave, I was able to open the back of the car, grab out a warm blanket and give it to William. He was so appreciative of this gift! 

Elizabeth and Gogo Elizabeth
This is Gogo (Granny) Elizabeth. She used to start up and manage many daycare centres in her area, which are now being run by others. The only one she hung on to was Reagoboka, which she kept on running in her home until her daughter Elizabeth was prepared to take it over. Gogo may no longer be running the creche or drop in centre, but this does not mean she isn't involved! Oh no, this wonderful woman spends her days sitting out on her stoop, reading her Bible and praying for her community. She has the official title of "spiritual counselor" because everyone, young and old alike, know that they can go to Gogo and she will sit with them, pray with them, and offer them a word from God's word. 

Gogo Elizabeth
After we had given the blankets to Elizabeth, I asked her if her mom had a nice blanket and if I could give her one. Elizabeth thought it was a wonderful idea, and so I did. I wish I had a video so you could have seen the way her eyes lit up and so you could hear how many times she said "Oh my God" spoken as a prayer and "Thank you Jesus" over and over again. She told me that she was so excited to have something so lovely and so warm and she was already planning how she was going to sit under it and keep her feet warm that very evening. 

Thank you thank you to everyone who helped my mom with her small endeavor, which turned into something much bigger than she had planned on!! You all have done a lot of good! Stay tuned for the next "small" thing my mom has up her sleeve, and remember, you too can find simple ways to do good!

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