Unbeknownst to us, a chain of events was about to change our reality. We made our way out of the auditorium. I was convicted but also a bit annoyed that my soul was rattled as much as it was. A part of me wanted to take on this challenge, but another part of me thought that nothing was going to happen, and kind of wanted to stay in an apathetic spot – which annoyed me even more. (that’s the disease of apathy). One part of me wanted a new existence, and the other part of me was already whining at the idea of uncomfortable change…
Steve and I decided to put something into practice right away, and so we put the idea of our LOVE dollar into reality by signing up to sponsor a Compassion International child. The table just happened to be right outside the auditorium doors. Steve and I sifted through faces and names (how to choose a child when they’re all deserving?). We finally picked one and this was the start of a chain of events that we are still witnessing. It would take a book to write in detail everything that has taken place since that day, and is still taking place. And so, to simplify things a bit, I’ve made an item-by-item list of events that took place that have rocked our world. I have the journey outlined below. First, there’s a visual of the ripple effects of my Love dollar, and proof that small things with great love CAN indeed change the world – then after the pictures is a more in-depth list of what each step entailed.
- We received the LOVE dollar. We decided to sponsor a child right away through Compassion International. Months passed but the message is sank into my soul. Meanwhile we were preparing to go on a mission trip with our youth to India. We decided to include a trip to Mother Teresa’s house in Calcutta while we’re there.
- We go to India. In the plane I finish reading Shane Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution. It’s the perfect prep for my experience in India.
- We experience love with the orphans in India, and my prayer for self to be broken is answered. I realize that it hurts to be awakened to love and have my heart softened, but it’s a beautiful hurt. Those kid’s hearts are intertwined with mine. A piece of my heart is still in India…We visit the Mother House (Mother Teresa’s house in Calcutta) and are able to volunteer there. We also are able to go to an office of International Justice Mission in India and find out about helping those who are victims of human trafficking.
- We come back to the States and I decide to take Mother Teresa’s words to heart: “the world is full of Calcuttas. Find your Calcutta…” I see the poverty of our community and the empires of loneliness and emptiness we suffer from, including a paralyzing apathy that plagues most of us.
- We have an event in April, taking “compassionate action” to the streets in Santa Rosa. We pass out flowers to strangers, put couches on the sidewalk for people to sit on, and provide a hot meal. This is the precursor to a few months later…
- We have the first ever Open Table, taking and being “church” to the Homeless Community of Santa Rosa. It’s an instant hit with all involved. We become alive and experience what church is really supposed to be about – bringing love through compassionate action to everyone. As the slogan says, “At the Open Table, all are Welcome.”
- Steve and I decide to stop spending so much money on ourselves at Christmas and start celebrating by giving, literally, to those in need. So we start what is our tradition now, of volunteering at San Francisco City Impact, the best way to spend Christmas, in my opinion.
- We continue Open Table, which happens at least 3 times a year now, and is growing with ideas from others, including a bike repair station, free coffee from Starbucks, and a toiletries booth, among others.
- I start a “Be the Change, Be the Church” project with my 11th grade class where I give them a LOVE dollar, and they have to come up with a way to change their world, which has resulted in raising hundreds of dollars for IJM (International Justice Mission), feeding the hungry in Healdsburg with leftover food from the cafe, raising awareness about human trafficking, to name a few.
- Went to Africa on a Mission trip, and then to Thailand, twice, where we lived with and worked with the hill tribe people in Northern Thailand. (To find out more, click here: http://www.adrathailand.org) We also had the opportunity to build a playground for a girl’s safe house, which houses and educates girls that are in danger of becoming victims of human trafficking. We fell in love with these people and see them as our brothers and sisters, and they compel us to find out more about how to raise awareness of human trafficking, and how to fight it.
- I and 5 students attend Freedom Summit 2011, a conference raising awareness about Human Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery and ways we can stop it. This compels us to continue to join the fight, no matter what, in stopping the injustice against our fellow human beings. We hear about many organizations and causes to join, including Not for Sale, Call and Response, IJM, Polaris Project, and others.
- We take this back to our school and the students become mobilized to fight against modern-day slavery. A four-year senior, David Kabanje, who has had a dream to be the first high-school to ever hold a REVO event, (short for Revolution) joins his dream with the cause of the students, and they plan and host the first ever high school led REVO event, which they entitle, “Fair for Fairness”. At this event they raise over $1600 to give to IJM to free 2 slaves.
- Through the REVO event we meet our good friends from One World Fair Trade store in Healdsburg, who bring a booth to the event. We sign the petition to have Healdsburg become a Fair Trade town, and this is also the start of a great friendship which has continued to bless us.
- We get invited to join the steering committee to help Healdsburg become a Fair Trade town and accept. We meet amazing friends who also are passionate about justice and compassion in real, active ways, which drives our passion as well.
- We find out more about Fair Trade and how it plays into fighting against human trafficking. We start and are still implementing ways of spending and continue to realize how our dollar carries a lot of power in the way we spend and what we spend our money on. (To find out more about fair trade, check out my husband’s blog at www.afairtradeplace.com). We start only buying fair trade chocolate, coffee, and now sugar, and other products. We continue to become conscientious consumers…
- We go to another event, Not for Sale’s Global Forum on Human Trafficking, where we meet and hear from some great names. We also continue to learn ways of being people of compassion, and learn how great love truly is and how it can, indeed, change the world, including our own souls.
- And the adventure continues! Can’t wait to see where it continues to lead!
It will be fun to see where the adventure continues to take us. It’s amazing to see that in just a few years, you really can live a reality of adventure, justice, love, change and growth. Small things, with Great Love behind them, can indeed change the world. But more importantly, Great Love has and is changing me!