Chase Fireflies


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Learning How to Walk in Heels

I am pretty certain that I left all my resolve at security.  When our ID’s were requested and photo badges created, I got all weirded out.  Who knew that we couldn’t just waltz in.  Poor Amy left her ID in the parking garage, so she ran like mad to get it.

Pastor Charles waited for Amy on the ground floor of the tower, so I went up to the Senator’s office alone.  I punch in 14 on the elevator and get off at 7.  I have no idea why I got off at 7.  All of a sudden I am dizzy and lightheaded and question my ability to walk in heels.

In the lobby, I meet Patricia and Erik.  Patricia is an older woman who looks just about as scared as I feel.  Erik is straight out of college and quietly confident.  Turns out we have mutual friends.  Life is weird that way.  Pastor Charles and Amy come in no time with Joanna.  Noone knows anything about Joanna. 

So we are welcomed into an office lined by hardhats.  Mr. Pope conducts the meeting in the absence of the Senator.  An intern sits in to take notes.  We are assured that everything will be conveyed accurately. 

Further introductions are made.  Through them we learn that Joanna has worked to protect the rights of bonded slaves in India.  She has witnessed the work of International Justice Mission firsthand.  Her story trumps any statistics we can rattle off.  I love her immediately. 

The presentation doesn’t rock.  It’s actually kind of awkward, but everyone knows their stuff.  I check my notes more than I would like.  Amy rattles off Senator’s names.  (She is awesome.)  Pastor Charles is as articulate as can be.  (As usual.)  And our newest friends fill in every blank and then some. 

Mr. Pope is certain that this bill will line up with the Senator’s ideology.  He provides positive feedback.  We should know definitively by August 21st.  We receive contact information and head out the door.  I think I catch Patricia skipping. 

In the bottom floor of the tower, we talk about where to go from here.  Joanna shares stories about India and I think I could listen to her for hours.  We ask questions and laugh and pray.  Somehow I know that I will see this crew again. 

As we wave and walk away in our own directions, I can’t help but smile in a giddy kind of way.  I hadn’t realized I would meet friends today.  I hadn’t anticipated anxiety getting the best of me.   I hadn’t prepared for such a favorable response. 

And in the midst of cringing about a blister on my toe, I realized that I can expect God to do incredible things.  I can expect Him to surprise me with joy.  I can expect Him to speak through a stutter.  I can expect Him to heal brokenness wrecked by trafficking. 

Please pray that He will.

Thanks friends,
Kristin


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We’re at the Senate Level

Hey guys.

I am heading to our Senator’s office tomorrow to advocate a particular bill called the Child Protection Compact.  As some of you may remember, I met with Congressman Altmire last year for this same purpose.  After consistent pressure, the Congressman decided to cosponsor the bill, which helps it to proceed to the next level. 

To be brief… the bill allocates 30 million dollars over three years to the Trafficking in Persons Office.  Its’ purpose is to prevent and prosecute trafficking and provide aftercare for victims.  It is dispersed through non-governmental organizations like International Justice Mission to select countries who display a willingness to combat the problem.  (I sound like I know what I’m talking about, but don’t be fooled.  I am learning as I go and cramming along the way:) 

I’ll be heading there tomorrow with Pastor Charles, Amy G. (one of our college students), and three other advocates that we have yet to meet.  Please pray that God gives us a clarity of thought, articulation, and wisdom to explain the bill.  We are meeting with the Senator’s chief of staff, so please pray that the significance of the act gets clearly conveyed to Senator Specter.  We are asking for his cosponsorship and praying towards those means.

I believe that God’s heart is so tender towards His children… an unfathomable thought that He could love His children more than I love my own.  I believe that the injustice of trafficking tears  at His heart.  I believe that this pandemic can be abolished in my lifetime with a concerted effort of voices, compassion, justice.

Please, please, please pray with me.  If you knew how tongue tied I can get, how inept I can be, how little I know about politics, you would be appalled.  Pray that God would use me despite me;  all of us despite ourselves. 

Much love and so many thanks,
Kristin

(And thank you especially to Courtney, who has made me passionate about this issue because she is.  I think the world of you, my friend.  You inspire me more than you know.  I love you!)


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Trip to the Dominican (and New England)

Hey ya’ll!

The kids and I are hanging out in New England for the week.  It’s been bliss already!
Red Sox Games, Clamcakes, Carousels, Parks, Parades, Beaches, Dell’s, and mainly hanging with the fam.  Time together is sweet:)

While we party, relax, and eat too much seafood (our kids love octopus!), Paul heads to the Dominican on a missions trip.  EEEK!  He has been planning this trip for months.  It’s hard to believe it’s here. 

He and the team will be visiting old friends, supporting the Dominican church in Santiago, providing a VBS for kiddos, and heading into Haiti, among other things. 

I would really cherish your prayer for them.  For safety, growth, flexibility, wisdom, creativity, LOVE LOVE LOVE.  Everything, really. 

Our favorite man is there, which is why we’re here.  (Trying to keep occupied.)

Follow their stories here.   They will be incredible, I just know it.

Much Love,
Kristin:)


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A Love for Kenya

ashley kenya

Remember 19?  Her name is Ashley.  She’s one of our students living on the other side of the world.

Months ago, we met over coffee.  She told me her story from college to Kenya.   Here is an excerpt from our time together:

(I listened) To a heart that loves Jesus. In one hand she holds a ticket for Africa; in the other those words of life. And she’s going to change the world. It’s in her giddy rambles and the excitement in her eyes. She’s fearless and alive and in love. In love with the One who has redeemed our fall. 

Well, she’s there now, teaching preschool.  Loving children.  Learning Swahili.  Gaping over zebras and hippos.  And relying on God.  Can’t wait to hear more from one of the most sensitive hearts I know.  This girl is incredible and such a riot.  Love her!

Till then, Compassion Bloggers have headed to Kenya.  They’ve got a bunch of incredible, compelling posts here.  Check them out if you get the chance.  And please take a moment to pray for Ashley also. 

Thanks and much love!
Kristin


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Disturbed to Love

Thirty-some teenagers came out for small groups tonight, but we didn’t have small groups. 

Instead, there were disturbing images and numbing statistics on Haiti.  It was uncomfortable, raw, heart-shattering into millions of pieces.  I couldn’t stop wiping away tears from my seat in the back, almost embarrassed at such visible emotion. 

Paul prayed that we would be disturbed.  Disturbed to do something.  Pray.  Give.  Mobilize. 

LOVE.

30-some students and leaders in one cramped room in one night raised $1200.  What? 

$1200.  Kids these days…

The devastation cannot be fathomed.  And no amount of dollars can heal that kind of hurt.  But there will be food and clean water and the compassion of strangers from a little white country church.  And that’s as good of a place to start as any. 

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in..”

The students have set the bar.  Our turn.  If you would like to give, we have seen the outstanding work of Compassion International first-hand.  Click here to donate. 

May all of us continue to be DISTURBED.  May all of us continue to LOVE. 
Gotta start somewhere.

UPDATE AS OF 1/17:  Students have upped their own pledges, giving more money than they had initially committed.  The total is now up to $1, 450.  Can you believe it? 

This is crazy sacrifice.  None of the students or leaders have access to much.  So so so proud of their huge hearts, compassion & sensitivity.  The church today was challenged to match their giving.  And match they did:)  Incredible. 


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12 Kids and Pennies

a need: A typhoon hit the community where Rodean lives (our youth group’s sponsored child.)

a lesson: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was the real deal for the Israelites, except with Manna. Today, God provides for us so that we may provide for others. (Our Children’s Church lesson 1st-6th grade)

a response: 12 children + 6 weeks + pennies = $73.64 + $73.64 (our church board matched their total- yay for them rewarding a child’s faith!) = $147.28

*the best is that these kiddos gave what they had and for some it was just a quarter they found at McDonald’s and nickels from school*

Yeah! The students almost tripled their goal with their Compassion Cups! I wish you could’ve heard their cheers (and little happy dances!)

The total was sent electronically last week, so it may be in his family’s hands now.
Looking forward to hearing how God continues to supply Rodean’s family’s needs…
Thanks to all the kids, their parents, Pastor Charles, and the board for allowing us to do this.


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Autistic/Artistic Creations



Meet Lipid the Lover.

We bought Lipid from Nate, an amazing young guy with one proud dad. And proud he should be.

Nate creates little creatures, much like Lipid. Each one comes with its own story. Here is his:

Lipid used to be bored with life. Every day seemed the same.
You can buy more of Nate’s creations here. Enjoy!

But all that changed the day Lipid’s pet caterpillar ran away, for it was then that Lipid realized that everything he had could be lost.

And this is how Lipid learned what love is and the secret to experiencing everyone, and everything, as new.

Now Lipid’s favorite quote is: “The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”Gilbert Chesterton


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It’s a Yes!

Congressman Altmire has decided to co-sponsor the Child Protection Compact Act!

Whoohooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whoohoooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Got an email Friday from his DC foreign affairs staffer confirming his sponsorship. Still waiting to actually see his name on the legal document, but I suppose there is some paperwork to file first. For now, I’ll take his word for it:)

Thank you all so much for praying! Thank you, also, to Pastor Charles and Amy Gerwig for coming with me as advocates. Not sure I was so willing to have gone alone:) And Paul, thanks for getting on my case about calling his office, even though I was intimidated by the lack of prior response. Yay!

Now to pray that the bill gets passed. And that money can go to bring hope, freedom, and healing for children around the world.

Yeah, God! Whooohoooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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I’ve Never Asked for 50 Million

If you threw up a few prayers for me and our crew on Monday, thank you.

It meant everything to me, really everything. To all of us. Thank you.

A moment before walking into Congressman’s Altmire’s office, I couldn’t steady my hand to text Paul. My heart raced. An ugly thought sneered, “You don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

And then we walked in. Me. Pastor Charles. Amy Gerwig.

And I felt peace. And confidence. And strength that wasn’t my own. It seemed like we all did.

We laid a framework for our involvement in the issue.
We provided stats:

* 158,000,000 children are victims of human trafficking (Actually, I blanked on this stat, so I just said a very vague, “UNICEF estimates that there are millions…oh well.)

* Children that are trafficked are engaged in the worst forms of child labor:

* Enslavement that endangers the physical and moral well-being of children, debt bondage, mandatory military involvement, use of children for drug production and trafficking, use of children for prostitution and pornography, etc.

* The US State Dept lists trafficking as the world’s third largest criminal enterprise.

We respectfully asked for his support and cosponsorship of HR 2737:

This bill, called the Child Protection Compact Act of 2009, allots 50 million dollars over three years to the State Department’s Trafficking In Persons office (TIP.)

With that money, TIP would provide grants to a number of different National Government Organizations, including International Justice Mission, World Vision, Amnesty International, The Polaris Project, Equality Now, Sojourners, etc.

With previous grant money received over the last 5 years, IJM has been able to investigate foreign pedophiles, obtain official release permits for children enslaved in work camps, and provide after-care services to children who have been rescued from the “industry.”

(On a side note – in one city in the Philippines – over a 2 year period of working with local law enforcement – IJM has seen a 75% reduction in child prostitution – 75%!!!!!!!!!!) IJM‘s work is incredible.

Though IJM has been supportive of current TIP grant making, the money has been widespread (distributed to 43 countries and over 100 different NGO’s) but not sufficient enough to eradicate a problem of this magnitude.

That’s why this bill is asking for more. The goal is an abolition of slavery in our lifetime.

Altmire’s response:

Lots of questions.
Lots of talk that flew over my head (technicalities of the bill process.)
A friendly and informative conversation, certainly a foundation for future advocacy meetings.

Bad news: He didn’t sign on the dotted line to co-sponsor the bill right then and there.

Good news: It certainly sounded as though he would in the near future, after reading the bill in its entirety. And we have contact information for 2 of his staffers, in the local office and in Washington. We are to check back in 2 weeks if we haven’t heard anything about his support first.

So it’s a start.

Please keep praying. For a commitment to be made on his part. For meetings around the nation just like this one. For the bill to be passed. And for the money to impact millions of children internationally.

Thanks, again, for supporting us if you did.

And keep an eye out for that young Amy Gerwig. I knew Pastor Charles would be awesome with Altmire. He has wisdom and knowledge and a quiet confidence and articulation…

But Amy, man. For 18, she was the bomb! Fearless and smooth. She made the situation personal to Altmire because he thought of his own daughters (with comments she made.) I was so proud of her. You go, girl!

Bet she never thought she would ask for 50 mil either.