Monday, October 18, 2010

I can't pretend to know...

I NEVER thought the day would come when God would ask me to put a donation meter on my blog with the top number being $22,000, but He did. It all happened on Friday. Do you want to hear the story? You do? Good :)

I got a message from a Facebook (FB) friend asking if I had any children available for sponsorship. I kinda freaked out a moment because we JUST built the new school, as you might recall from this post, and hadn't discussed the details for the 100 kids that we could now find sponsors for. In that same post, I told the story about how I found sponsors for 23 kids while I was in the village. We came up with a rough, impromptu figure of $50/year, which turned out to be less than what we needed. The $50 paid for their tuition for an entire year, a meal while at school, and uniforms, but it wasn't enough to cover shoes. And don't think I found that out the easy way. You see, George doesn't tell me everything. A couple of weeks before these 23 started school, I was talking to George when he let it slip that we didn't have enough money to cover the shoes. I guess our trusty, rusty calculations were just that - rusty. So I had to come up with about 30,000 shillings (roughly $15) per child and get it over there quickly so they could get new shoes for school.

So here I am with a message asking me about sponsorship and I had 100 kids needing sponsors but I didn't have an amount to give her. Right then, George signed onto FB. I told him about the email and asked what the new sponsorship amount should be. I didn't even allow him to answer before I started blabbing about how $50 was too low. Don't forget about the shoes. What about medical? What about dental? Remember how you had to hire someone to take the kids into Kampala to get their feet measured for their shoes? You had better add that in there this time. What about de-worming the kids? What about the white sores on their heads? Doesn't that just require ointment? How much is THAT? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Poor George. I bet he wished his power would have gone out during all that :)

About 15 minutes later, he finally responded. He said, "I was hoping to discuss this with you when you got into the village." I thought for sure I had just put too much in his brain for him to sort and that with a little more encouragement, he would agree to discuss it right now. If you know me, then you know I pressed on. "But if we can talk it out, I can go ahead and put the need out there and have people praying about it. Why do I need to be in the village? What's going on?"

It started with "you promise not to get upset?" Yeah, something about HIM saying THAT always ends with me sobbing my eyes out for a good 15 minutes. But today was different. I had gotten up early that morning and oddly enough, I felt like I was ready to take on the world. Believe me, that was one of the mornings where you look back and you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God went before you. He knew I had just spent the last few weeks preparing for my move to Uganda, only to find out the Saturday after I booked my flight that my Daddy has to have open heart surgery. He knew that I had just suffered through 3 weeks of having an exposed nerve in my tooth decide it was going to show its ugly side. It was shaping up to be my worst month yet in my new relationship with Him. But God had different plans.

A little side note . . . On Tuesday, I had to go with Daddy to have an abscessed tooth of his removed. I was in horrendous pain myself and had to get up and walk out of the dentist's office so I could cry without anyone seeing me. There I was, the very day that I had planned to leave for Uganda, STILL in the States, at the dentist's office with my Daddy, getting his teeth worked on with his fancy, schmancy insurance covering most of the cost. But me? Oh, I have no insurance. So instead of raising money to get a root canal, I hid the pain from everyone (as best I could) and secretly popped a few Ibuprofen (I'm SUCH an anti-medicine kinda girl) as often as I could without it doing damage to my stomach. I was going on 2 hours of sleep because, well, it's hard to sleep with the side of your face feeling like it's about to throb off. So there I was in the parking lot of the dentist's office, crying out to God to just take the pain away. I was begging Him to just make it stop. I told Him that I had already canceled my trip, like I felt Him telling me to do, so I could be with Daddy during his recovery. I told Him that I didn't have the money to get it fixed and I was going to do His work, but was asking Him how effective I could be with pain that severe. When we got back to his house, Melinda called. She said that Mom had called her (I have very limited cell phone reception in Alex City) and said for me to call because my friend Lisa had booked me an appointment in Warrior, AL (2 hours away) and they were going to do my root canal FOR FREE. I wondered how in the world she pulled that off. Bet you're wondering, too :) She called her family dentist and he agreed to do it for half the cost, if she would come up with the other half. But she's unemployed, so that wasn't an option. Did she contact me and ask if she thought we could raise half? Um, NO. The girl Googled "Alabama Dentist God" and called the first place that came up. So Mom and I got up, left Alex City at 7am and made the 2 hour drive to Warrior, AL. And guess what? I got the root canal, and walked right out of the office without being tackled and having the police called. Amazing, huh?

Back to Friday morning. God knew what was about to unfold, so He went ahead of me and got me ready for the day. So when George said, "you promise not to get upset?", it was different. He began to explain to me that the organization that had helped him raise funds to build the other school buildings is not renewing their contract to sponsor the children. I couldn't be shocked or caught off guard because I didn't have the slightest clue what he was talking about. I knew that there were 120 kids in school when I got into the village but I never asked how they were able to attend school. I assumed the parents were paying their tuition. As I learned more about the other organization and how they had paid a certain amount, and George had to figure out how many kids could go using that amount, it hit me. Remember in this post when I said: So I asked George if I could work on getting sponsors for them. He loved the idea and so I asked him how many children we had room for. He told me to see how many we could get sponsored and we'd go from there. I quickly said, "No. You tell me how many we have room for and God will get them sponsored. We aren't doing this the other way around." ??? Now it makes sense to me. The other group gave him a certain amount and he had to work with that. He chose to use the money on school, even if it meant that some of them didn't get shoes. Noooooow I get it. That's why you'll see kids in uniforms with no shoes. As I looked back through the pics, I saw George's heart in every single picture. Like here, notice the ones in uniforms with no shoes?

That's because George ensured they had an education, even though they might not have shoes. I sooo love this guy :)

We went on to discuss all the things I wanted to do for the children. Like get them medical check-ups:

And dental care:

George and I were bouncing ideas and amounts around and they were anywhere from $75-$100. Then his power went out again. So I posted on FB about how I had just found out that we had 120 more students to find sponsors for and started talking with some friends about it while I waited on George's power to come back on. I told them that I understand that I can't just take the kids and do EVERYTHING for them, as much as I want to, because the parents have to be responsible for some things. But my heart breaks to see them, knowing they are walking around with worms, those white spots on their heads from parasites, broken teeth, etc. I know that there is a line that I can't cross, leaving them dependent on other people for the care of their children, but I am willing to go ALL THE WAY to that line. ALL THE WAY. Then I started discussing it with one of my best friends, Emily. She was with me the day I talked with George about the shoes costing extra. Somewhere in the convo, I decided that $75 was cutting it too close, so I went with $100 as the new sponsorship amount. Right when I said that, George signed back in. I joked with him and said, "While your power was off, I went ahead and made the executive decision to go with $100 instead of $75." His response was, "You are in control Ma'am." And then his power went out again.

About 15 minutes later his FB status update read "It is now official, Christie Cotney is the new Headmaster of the school in the Bugabo Village. You are no longer supporting me but her work now. I started, now she is finishing the work. I do thank God for this because am transitioning into my long sought career of leadership development and a training institute for great leaders. Thank you for all your support and prayers!!!!!!!

WHAT? Headmaster? What does this even mean? I sooo expected to just slide into the village and help out where I could. I imagined myself going in and running the kids back and forth to the clinic while George ran the school. I know absolutely nothing about heading, mastering, or teaching for that matter. I kept Marlie for months and I don't think I taught her a single thing. I'm still not sure why George (or God, for that matter) thinks I can do this. And how did asking about sponsorship land me a job? And not just any job. THE job.

So within an hour or so, I find out that I am the new Headmaster at the school in the village AND now have 220 children depending on me to find sponsors so they can attend school. Ironically, 30 minutes earlier, I had posted THIS on FB:

JUST realized that since all the kids at the school will now be my responsibility (as in not relying on another organization for their sponsorships), we can change their uniforms and finally rename the school. Oh, this is going to be fun. I admit, I freaked out a little when George told me we have 120 more kids BUT I'm just gonna lay it on the altar with all my other requests. So far, God's pickin' up what I'm puttin' down. Some days I wake up overwhelmingly sad that I'm not there. Other days, I just crawl into His hand and chill there for a while. Today, I'm just rejoicing that He chose ME.

What I love most about the education they receive is that they will be taught about Christianity. I am sooo thankful that God is sending me to a place where I can teach kids about Him. To a place where I don't have to "watch what I say". To a place where I won't be reprimanded for sharing the Gospel. As it stands now, we have a brand new school building but only 23/243 kids sponsored when the new school term starts in January. And I'm the new Headmaster? Talk about inheriting a JOB. I mean, what am I supposed to do? I will do all I can do, and that is to put the need at the altar. I am asking you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to step up and help me with these kids. 220 kids is A LOT of kids. $22,000 is A LOT of money. But to God? Pffffttt, that's a drop in the ocean to accomplish His plan.

I am not a parent, so I can't even pretend to know how it feels to have a child of my own. I can't pretend to know how it feels to have someone have to sponsor them, just so they have a fighting chance of getting an education. I can't pretend to know how it feels to be told that THAT sponsorship will be over in December. I can't pretend to know how much it would hurt to have my child ask me why they aren't getting up and getting ready for school come January. I can't pretend. My heart aches for these children. And I'm about to have 220 of them. 120 that are having their sponsorships no longer paid by the organization that has been sponsoring them for the last 3 years. Then another 100 that we all JUST built the new school for. Prayerfully consider sponsoring one of these children for just $100/year. Yes, I said PER YEAR. As soon as I get into the village, I will be getting pics and profiles of each child available for sponsorship and will list them on FB so you can comment on the one that you and your family choose to sponsor. Is giving any one of these children HOPE FOR A FUTURE worth $100 to you?

You can sponsor by clicking on the "Donate" button in the right column or by sending a check to:

Ekubo Ministries

PO Box 2156
Alexander City, AL 35011

Paypal deducts 4.2% from each donation, and while that's not a lot from one donation, it really adds up over the course of the $22,000 that is needed. It's actually almost $1000 in fees. To help cover the fees, some friends have donated $105. Thanks, guys. What a blessing that has been!!!
I want to encourage the parents out there who are buying teacher gifts to pool the money and sponsor a child in honor of your child's teachers. Your sweet one can choose the child for the teachers and give each teacher a picture and profile of the him/her. What better way to give the gift of education to a child in the village while also giving a gift to the teachers that educate YOUR child :) Who's game?