Posted in Charity, Ethiopia, Missionary

charity:water

We believe in a world where every single person has clean and safe water.  (Scott Harrison)

Clean water is one of our family’s passions.  Loving others with no strings attached is another.  I’m shouting out today to an organization that combines both and changes the world one “cup of cold water” at a time!

Rachel’s college essay captures the heart and passion of Scott Harrison, the founder of charity:water!  This organization changed our lives and hearts.  I pray their story will change yours.

One individual who has influenced me profoundly since I was a young girl is Scott Harrison. He first came to speak at my church when I was eight years old. He told the congregation his story, shared his passion in its entirety, and truly won my heart.

Harrison’s story is not what one would expect of someone who is now devoted to serving those less fortunate. Harrison grew up in a Christian home and went to a Christian school until he convinced his parents to let him go to public school. While attending public school, Harrison joined a band and began straying from the Christian faith. At the age of eighteen, he moved to New York City with his band and played gigs at various clubs until his band broke up. Harrison then began working to promote the same nightclubs where he played. He spent the next 10 years flourishing in this business and used his money to excessively “party.”  He used alcohol and drugs to numb the boredom of his life, while constantly searching for the next big thing, eventually becoming morally and spiritually bankrupt.

At that time, his father gave him a book called, “The Pursuit of God,” by A.W Tozer.  He had a crisis in his conscience that sent him on a path to rediscover his faith and reflect on his lifestyle.  He posed the question to himself, “What would the exact opposite of my life be?” (charitywater.org)  Shortly thereafter, Harrison went from making lots of money promoting clubs and alcohol, to serving with Mercy Ships as their volunteer photojournalist.  This organization is a fleet of floating hospitals that provide medical care to those who don’t have this crucial need. During this time, he met another volunteer on the ship who also had a passion to dig wells in his spare time for communities who had the worst water resources. Harrison began to ask questions about the link between dirty water and the very diseases the ship was providing treatment for.  He discovered that 80% of these diseases were caused by dirty water. He decided to devote his life to removing what he deemed the biggest obstacle facing the poor: access to clean drinking water.  

Harrison’s vision became one of bringing clean drinking water to the 663 million people who walked miles every day to fetch dirty water for themselves and their families. However, he realized there would be obstacles, one being that people have hesitations when donating to charity, primarily because they don’t know how much of it is going directly to the work and and how much is funding the overhead of the organization. To ensure people their money was being used for their designated purpose, Harrison decided that 100% of the money that was donated to the charity would be given to funding clean water service projects. He personally would have the challenge of raising the money for the administrative side of the organization. He even took it one step further and told the donors that he would track each dollar using GPS so they could see exactly where and how their money was being used. On his 31st birthday, in September of 2006, Harrison decided to use his skills and connections to throw a huge birthday party for himself in New York City and charged $20.00 to all 700 of the people he invited.  He shared his passion that evening, built three wells with the money and sent the pictures of those wells to each person who came. Less than two years later, Harrison came to my church and shared his vision, inviting those who had September birthdays to follow his lead and use their own birthdays as a way to raise money for charity:water.

As a soon-to-be nine year-old girl with an upcoming September birthday, I caught Harrison’s vision for a world where everyone has clean drinking water.  I was so excited and decided that I would have a birthday party and instead of asking for gifts, I would ask for a donation for charity:water.  I am sure that the money I received was not nearly enough for a well, but my heart was changed.

The mission of charity:water is something that effected my whole family. We have gone into the charity:water headquarters, been to their fund-raising Christmas galas, run in 5Ks to raise money and awareness, and currently, we have three pictures sitting on our counter of completed wells in my mom’s birth country of Ethiopia.  Last Christmas, my siblings and I pooled our resources and donated our own well. I will be excited when it’s the picture of our well on the counter along with the others.  I am so glad that Scott Harrison came and shared this need with our church, and that I have had a part in meeting it.  He not only won over my head, but my heart.

Scott Harrison is changing the world one well at a time, and in turn, one heart at a time.

Update (back to Esther):  our family has another well in the works for 2017 in Tigray, Ethiopia.  25 years ago, more than 3.2 billion people had no access to clean water.  That number is now 663 million.  One well may not seem like very much, but if each of us does our part, the number could one day be zero.

Posted in Family, Missionary, Taboo

Living in a Fishbowl

Living your life in the public eye is a greater burden than most people can imagine. (Justin Trudeau)

“For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.” (Psalm 92:4)

I promised you that we would dive into stuff that might be a little taboo.  Elephant-in-the-room things.  Behind-closed-door chatter.   You may want to click away if you don’t want your world shaken a bit.  Or feel free to stay here and get some nuggets of the true struggles and joys behind the world of those who live their lives in a fishbowl.  Maybe you are that person and you need the encouragement that you are not alone.

Whether it’s a pastor, a politician, a missionary, a CEO, a professional athlete, a musician/actor or even a small-town leader in the community or church, his/her spouse and family have many eyes on them (and cats ready to pounce…I am referencing the cute cartoon picture above).  Having grown up as a missionary kid where my parents and us kids felt the pressure of being role models and living (or appearing like we’re living) mistake-free lives, my heart has a special place in it for those who are living the dream (or the nightmare).

I came across a brave pastor’s wife who peeled back the curtain so we might catch a glimpse of what it’s like to live in this place.  (Obviously, there are pastors’ husbands out there as well, so don’t get all up in your grill…it’s the principle, right?)  Here are some excerpts from her blogpost entitled Things Your Pastors’ Wives Wish You Knew.  Please welcome Everyday Natalie to the Dolly Mama.

I find the role of a pastor’s wife to be both marvelous and challenging. Pastors’ wives carry a heavy load of responsibility as we care for our families and the people in our churches, and participate in activities of the church and community. There are high expectations for our families and us.

I posed an open-ended question to some pastors’ wives I know who live all over the USA, from different denominations, with various years of service to get some answers. I asked them how they would respond to this question: What do you wish people knew about being a pastor’s wife? I received varied responses about the secret struggles and joys of ministry.  I promised anonymity for all who answered, and was so thankful for their honesty.

Here you will find the things we wish you knew but can’t say out loud:

Struggles of Ministry

  • Friendships are hard for me.  I don’t feel that I can fully be myself. I have trusted and been betrayed, so sometimes I choose loneliness for safety’s sake.
  • There’s no way a pastor’s wife can fulfill the high standards people put on us. There is this pressure to be perfect.
  •  My husband has to be a husband and father before he is a pastor.  It seems that people want him to have a healthy family life while giving the church all of his time.  Both the family and the church need to show grace to one another while we live in this tension.
  • Because I minister to many, keep many confidences, and am very busy, it may seem like I don’t want to be as close to you as you want to be to me. But really, I am often lonely and desire to have a close friend.
  • I don’t enjoy being visible and up front. I only do it by the grace of God.
  • Almost every day I’m afraid of screwing it all up.
  • We taught our children to make good choices, but sometimes they don’t.
  • I am a people pleaser and worry/know others are judging my clothes, my hair, my family, the car I drive, and my home.
  • I don’t enjoy living in a fish bowl. There are some aspects of my life I prefer to remain private.
  • I enjoy talking about other things besides Jesus and church.
  • It is very hard not to take church criticism personally. It hurts, especially if it is toward my husband. At times, they come from people that I think I trust and feel safe with, people that I love. This makes it often difficult to trust anyone.
  • I find it hard not be resentful towards people who expect my husband to be available 24/7.
  • I do not have a thirst for power or even a desire to lead.
  •  My life is not perfect. My husband isn’t perfect. My marriage isn’t perfect. My kids aren’t perfect and most of all, I am not perfect.

Joys of Serving

  • I love my job, and I love my church.
  • I have been so blessed by gifts, money, love, and much prayer.
  • Let your spiritual leaders know how you are doing- it is an incredible encouragement!
  • Jesus is the answer to everything- really, He is!
  • It is an honor to minister alongside and I take it seriously. I want to love people as Jesus does.
  • It is a blessing and privilege to be trusted with other people’s secrets, joys, and intimate details.
  • I love when my when my husband shares insight from his study/sermon prep time.
  • I am challenged every day to depend utterly upon God.

Our hope, as pastor’s wives, is that you would understand we are regular people just like you. We are not special or unique. Please keep all the above responses in mind when talking to us and about us. We try our hardest to love God and love people the best we can.

www.everydaynatalie.com 

Please feel free to comment below and share with those who might need this encouragement today!  I already shared it with one of my pastor wife friends.

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Posted in Childhood, Ethiopia, Family, Missionary, Third Culture Kid

Ethiopia Tikdem!

“Narnia taught me we must all grow up and leave our childhood behind, but must never forget it.”  (Some place on Pinterest)

In my young years, I heard this shouted and chanted: “Ethiopia Tikdem!  Ethiopia Tikdem!  “Ethiopia First!  Ethiopia First!”  Sitting at one of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants earlier this week, it came to mind as I ate injera ba wat and savored every bite.

The year is 1966, the month is February and a little girl is born. Not in a hospital, but in a back-woods clinic in a tiny town called Deder, Ethiopia. I, Esther Joy Maret, was born the fourth child of missionary parents who wanted to serve God.  Having three older brothers, I was the answer to my mother’s prayer for a girl.  Much to say, I did not have your typical American childhood (I guess that has to be left to author Annie Dillard and many of you to describe).  Here is a peak at my Ethiopian childhood…

  • I had a Somali nanny who didn’t speak much English during my preschool years (see picture above).
  • I went to a local French kindergarten because I was wide-eyed, early reader at four years old.
  • I was in boarding school at just five.
  • We memorized Bible verses each morning at 6:45 am. Our end-of-the-year prize was going to the airport for a luncheon if we memorized all of the verses.
  • I knew “O Canada,” “God Save the Queen” and the “Pledge of Allegiance” because our school was filled with people from all different countries.
  • We learned the local language of Amharic.
  • I saw my brothers in passing as they were much older.  I never saw my oldest brother because he was away in Kenya for his boarding school.  We spent vacations and holidays together.
  • I played outside unsupervised after school with my dorm mates (it was like being a college student when you were seven).
  • We had field day, sporting events, Halloween parades, chapel, piano lessons, school plays and homework. Sometimes, parents showed up to these.
  • I stood in endless lines waiting for vaccinations. Gamma Globulin was the worst. It was hard to sit for a week.
  • We listened to the Chronicles of Narnia being read by our dorm mother each night after we were fed and washed up.  (And here’s a little secret: I loved Aslan, the kind, loving and gracious lion in the stories more than I loved Jesus. He seemed like the kind of Savior and friend that I wanted and so desperately needed, very different from the one I had learned about or conjured up in my head, the angry one who might just send me to hell if I didn’t behave or believe the right thing.  I still love Aslan.)
  • I saw my parents on random weekends and vacations or if I was sick (which was super fun because I got to listen to The Wizard of Oz on reel-to-reel and drink tea).
  • I lived in guarded and walled compounds when with my parents, being frequently robbed for our clothes and plastic, even our Kerplunk game.  (We got a kick out of that because when the thief got home, he or she would find that the plastic was filled with holes and useless for whatever his purposes were.)  So much for the guard and the wall.

A communist coup came in 1974 that brought the death of King Haile Selassie, many of his children and grandchildren.  War ensued.  There were communist marches and guns fired in the streets.  Famine came.  After two long years of brewing hatred for foreigners, my parents decided that they would leave all their belongings behind and take their four children back to the United States.  Not your typical childhood.

But like each and every one of our childhoods, it was filled with good and bad, happy and sad, ups and downs, boring and interesting.  These are the things that make our childhoods sacred and unique and form us into who we are today, the beautiful and broken and complicated and messy and wonderful us.  And probably like you, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Would love to hear what things made your childhood typical or completely unique?  Is any childhood typical?  Who are you because of yours?

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