I am not going to cry while I write this post.
I am not going to cry while I write this post.
I am not going to…. forget it. I’m teary.
You may remember back in February when we had a big fat goal for our month to raise $10,000 through Mocha Club for the New Dawn High School in Nairobi, Kenya. The classrooms in the school had no interior walls or ceiling and the cement floors were cracking.
And a few weeks ago, I got the pictures of the classrooms totally redone. (I showed you a mid-construction update in May.)
You guys. Like, we really did this. We really each made small sacrifices so that one month of our combined donations could lead to a massive change for the students at New Dawn!
I MEAN YOU GUYS!! Look at those walls! ceiling! GORGEOUS floors!! It’s AMAZING!
And that hugging picture between our staff and theirs? Get outta here. I cannot deal.
All four classrooms are now temperature controlled so those poor high schoolers aren’t just baking away in the heat of the metal walls and ceiling.
I hope these pictures show you a tangible view of exactly what you did to help New Dawn High School!!
And it doesn’t have to stop there!
You can still be a part of what we are continuing to do for New Dawn, like helping fill the classrooms with supplies and raise teacher salaries, by joining my Mocha Club team! If you donate $9/month, I’ll send you an autographed copy of Let’s All Be Brave. If you join at $18/month, you get a whole lotta stuff.
I’d be honored if you would join us. I love love love the stuff we get to do to help this high school and I think you would love being a part of our team.
(By the way: Our trip to see the classrooms in Nairobi was delayed in May due to safety concerns, but we are hoping to reschedule.)
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We had the best time on Thursday night.
It was like being on The View, but I have a very very husky voice.
(Medical update: I cannot figure out what the situation is, but for the last three nights, I have been coughing / hacking up a lung anytime I am horizontal and attempting to sleep, and I lose my voice every day. My throat isn’t sore or hurting, I have no runny nose or itchy eyes. But my voice is husky like a dude. What is my deal, doctors of the internet?)
But if you’ve got 47 minutes during this holiday weekend, watch us discuss all manner of things Mocha Club and New Dawn (and deal with my voice sitch).
We believe so much in what New Dawn High School is doing in Nairobi, Kenya, and we would love to be able to continue to support it. Here’s the facts:
Last night, we had 19 people sign up. So we’ve got 11 spots left for you guys to get the fun package of goodies if you join us!
. . . . .
We’d love to meet our goal of 31 members to pay for a teacher’s salary this weekend. Will you consider joining us?
Thanks for loving Mocha Club and me and understanding our week. I’m really really grateful.
Have a great weekend.
Well here we are, our Kenya team, all except Nish and our videographer Adam. We gathered all the gals in Nashville and went to an Ingrid Michaelson concert last night. It was magical. Truly.
And today, we are all at the Mocha Club office. We’re brainstorming and dreaming and skyping with New Dawn and getting ready for TONIGHT!
Here are the two options. We want you at both!
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For anyone and everyone, we have a LIVE ONLINE EVENT FROM 7-8pm CST! We’re going to be talking about the school, giving away lots of fun stuff, and being awesome. There could be surprise guests and skyping people in… who knows! So we’d love if you would join us!
Follow along with the #kenyamocha hashtag for all the details! 🙂
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(Then. If you want. Feel free to come to the Mocha Club office with us and be there live for the livestream. We’d love that!)
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So we’ll see you tonight, yeah?
After our team and the Mocha Club staff decided to postpone our trip to Kenya, we got an email from the Irene, the director of New Dawn.
Just as a quick reminder, our goal when raising $10,000 was to be able to remodel four classrooms in the high school, making for better learning environments for the 160 students at that school.
When we reached (exceeded!) the goal, the folks at New Dawn were ecstatic and they got to work so quick.
And this weekend, Irene emailed us pictures of the first classroom under construction- walls being added, ceiling being put up.
I saw these. All nine of them. And I just cried.
Because YOU made these pictures possible. YOU donated, each of us making small sacrifices that together have made a huge impact. And you can SEE IT. You can see the impact right here in these pictures.
I wanted to be standing in that room this week. I wanted to touch it and smell it and use a hammer and stand there in awe of what you did in February with the Purpose Project.
The pictures just made all of this all the more real. I mean, the pile of clothes that were ready for a suitcase made it real. The PASSPORT! that I worked so hard not to forget made it real. But seeing these pictures really pushed it over the edge for me- the line between not crying and crying.
My other emotion?
Thankfulness. I am so deeply thankful that we are making an impact on these students’ educations. I can’t believe that our couple of dollars each have pooled together to buy that wood and hire those people to make better classrooms for teenagers.
It played into the tears for sure.
Thank you for your kind words yesterday. Thank you for understanding our decision. Thank you for respecting Mocha Club for making a tough choice to postpone our trip. (Honestly, those comments were my favorite. In a world where non-profits are plentiful, I’m so honored to partner with one that uses their brains and their hearts and wisdom to make every decision. I respect that staff so much.)
And thank you for being a part of what God is doing for teens on the other side of the planet.
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We have some ideas this week, ways that we can continue to share the story and offer fun ways for you to continue to partner with us as we continue to help New Dawn High School as much as possible. So stay tuned for that.
But again, for today, just thanks. And tears. And I’m sorry we’re not there to show you this first hand. But mostly? Thank you.
Ugh. I hate even typing that.
But it’s true. And I’m asking you to please read this blog post from start to finish to understand why.
. . . . .
We aren’t going to Kenya today.
The past couple weeks have seen an increase in violence in key Kenyan cities, including Nairobi, exactly where we were headed. On Friday, May 16, a twin bombing in Nairobi heightened ongoing international security concerns. (As in, the UK evacuated all their tourists. Whoa.) Because our team’s safety was Mocha Club’s biggest concern, it is in everyone’s best interest to postpone the trip.
This was not an easy decision to make. The Mocha Club staff has kept a close eye on the events that unfolded last week in and around Nairobi, as well as maintained constant communication with partners on the ground. Following the State Department’s release of a travel warning and honest discussion between all team members, the team collectively decided to remain in the United States and pursue the trip at a later time.
As you can imagine, the phone call connecting our team and the Mocha Club staff on Friday afternoon was full of awkward silences and lots of disappointment. It felt terrible.
But it’s the right thing to do.
The goal of the trip was and is to share the stories present at New Dawn – particularly the ones YOU made possible.
We feel that were the trip taken as planned, those stories and our ability to share them with you would be marred by questions of why we went, what was happening regarding the attacks and subsequent security alerts, and ultimately – fear.
The students of New Dawn deserve full attention, both ours and yours. We would rather wait and tell the story right than go and relate a story peppered with fear or uncertainty. We’re still incredibly excited to share with you and bring you along on our journey – it will just be at a time other than this week.
I have lots of emotions, as you can imagine. I’m frustrated to live in a world where terrorists make decisions for me. I’m angry that this is the everyday life for our friends that are students at New Dawn. I’m confused about the timing and why this happened NOW instead of last month or next month. I’m sad that our whole team, and all our readers, will not have the experience this week that we expected. I feel very sorry that I’ve spend five months telling you about THIS WEEK and now THIS WEEK will be lived in Nashville, Tennessee instead of Nairobi, Kenya. I’m brokenhearted for sweet Lizzie, who donated to the school, filled out an application to go with us, was randomly chosen and perfectly fit with our team.
We do plan to reschedule. We hope to reschedule.
I want to go to New Dawn so badly; it makes me feel physically ill to know a plane takes off today which I had planned to be on that would take me there.
. . . . .
I have lots more to tell you tomorrow, particularly about the part of this decision that made me cry this weekend. But for today, I kinda don’t have any more words.
Our trip is postponed. I’m so disappointed.
Right now, I have a load of clothes in the washer, a load in the dryer, and I’ve got two more to go.
I’m doing what you’ve probably already done this spring- switching out fall/winter clothes for spring/summer clothes, giving away the pieces that I don’t want anymore, packing away what I won’t need until October.
Except for a few of my favorite wintery things.
Next week, in Kenya, the high is 77 degrees and the low is 55 degrees. So a few long-sleeved items will be going along with us for the trip.
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I have lots of feelings about next week, about this trip with Mocha Club that will give us all a front row seat to the amazing things going on at New Dawn and the updates to classrooms that YOU GUYS made possible.
Mostly, I’m beyond excited.
But I’m also a little afraid. Timid. Worried.
I’m not afraid of Africa. I’m not worried for my safety of my health. We are in very good hands and a relatively safe environment.
(I’m going to get super open with you here, because I want you know what I’m feeling and processing.)
I don’t feel very pretty in Africa. I’ve been there twice before, and I always feel uncomfortable and a little out sorts. I work hard here at home to fight the lies I hear in my head about my looks and how God made me. I cling to truth and do the things I’ve learned to do to hear God louder than my insecurities. For some reason, when I’m out of my element, out of my systems and schedules, my confidence goes down the tubes.
The challenge in Kenya is that our photographer and videographer will be at every turn, capturing the best (and maybe worst) moments of our trip.
So I will fight the lies in my head during the day, then sit down at night, write about the day right here on the blog, and have to edit and use the pictures and videos from that very day.
I’m scared I’ll feel ugly every day and worried that I will care more about myself than the people I’m there to meet and serve and love and be with.
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I know. That’s so selfish and gross.
But it’s where I am and the battle I am feeling.
I cannot wait to see the school. I can’t wait to partner with Nish and teach a few writing workshops to the high schoolers. Lindsay and Jessi are teaching an art class in which I will hopefully be a student. Marisa is leading the trip, and she’s also my first and longest standing Nashville friend, so having a bestie with you is never a bad thing, and the same goes for our video guy, Adam. I love him to pieces. (You remember Adam, right? We had a contest at Sweet Cece’s a few years ago.) And I can’t wait to watch Lizzie, the reader who got a spot on the trip because she donated towards the Purpose Project, see the very thing she helped build.
I’m excited. I’m proud of us. I’m stressed about getting packed- especially since I’m headed to speak in Spring, Texas this weekend– and making sure I don’t forget anything but also don’t bring too much (which is such a possibility). And I’m asking God to do big things- in me, through us, around us, TO us.
Will you pray for our team, for me, for the students at New Dawn?
And tune in next week… ready or not, we’re going to Kenya, y’all.
In 2 1/2 weeks, I head to Kenya with the Mocha Club to see New Dawn High School, the school we are helping to renovate thanks to your donations raised in February- over $12,000!
On Monday, I got this tweet from Curtis, a Mocha Club staff member, showing a classroom that has begun being updated this week. I was SO excited- I mean, it’s really happening! The school is becoming a better learning environment because of you and it just makes me have ALL THE FEELS.
And then I saw this video from Char and Matt when they visited New Dawn a few weeks ago and y’all. I just plain teared up. I cannot believe we are lucky enough to be part of this story and part of this school. Please take three minutes and watch this video- it is amazing.
Now all I can think about is WHAT WILL WE DO NEXT FOR NEW DAWN!?!
Seriously. I cannot wait to show y’all pictures and video and stories from New Dawn and see the improvements that you paid for. I’m giddy about it.
So you’ll recall that in February we partnered with Mocha Club and raised $12,355 for New Dawn High School in Nairobi, Kenya.
(That sentence still blows my mind.)
The thoughts behind Mocha Club’s purpose projects is to raise money in a month and once you hit your goal, to make yourself do something that you wouldn’t otherwise do. For me, I’ve always wanted to take my friends to see New Dawn! So everyone who donated $25 or more filled out an application. We read them all (OVER FIFTY!) and then piled ’em up.
Watch the video below to see what happens…
So sweet, right?!?!
Also. I interrupt too much and make weird faces and have officially overworn that grey sweater this winter.
So in two months, we head over to Kenya with a handful of other amazing gals (and a video dude!) and you’ll be able to follow along and SEE for yourself all the amazing things that your sacrifices were able to do!
EEP. I’m freaking out I’m so excited!!
(The only hard part? The whole lot of you that don’t get to go with us. Thank you for donating, thank you for applying, thank you for taking time to write out your answers. We were moved by each of you. I’m just sorry we can’t take you all.)
Do you realize that together we have done something that none of us could have accomplished alone?
Do you realize that each of us giving a little bit will absolutely transform a high school in Kenya?
I can’t wrap my mind around it.
I’ve been teary and giggly and talking at a higher volume than usual since we went into five digits worth of giving.
We. Did. It.
I have the best view of this- I didn’t do anything but tell y’all about a need in Nairobi. And then many of you sacrificed and gave and together, we are making a huge impact in the lives of 160 high schoolers, their families, their teachers, and future students.
Phew. It’ll just make you get all weepy thinking about it.
Thank you so much.
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The $10K Purpose Project lasts until Friday at midnight. Everything raised will go to continued improvements at New Dawn. There is SO MUCH we can do to help them make the learning environments better for students- don’t EVEN get me dreaming of what we could do….
Since we reached our initial goal, someone who donates $25 or more will get to go with us! If by some insane chance we get to $20,000 by Friday, two people get to go with us! How do you get to go?
So everyone who donates by Friday will get an email early next week with information and the application for the trip. The staff of Mocha Club, with some input from me, will decide who gets to go with us!
I’m not the only one to do this. Lots of bloggers do purpose projects! The goal of a purpose project is to raise money for Mocha Club in order for you to have the courage or opportunity to do something you otherwise would have never done. So for me? It’s getting to take a friend to see New Dawn.
So what do you want to do?
Raise $500 for clean water and then you’ll run a 5K race?
Raise $1000 for women at risk and then you’ll write your first novel?
Raise $200 for education and then you’ll get a tattoo?
Check out the video explaining it. (Subscribers- there’s a video here. Click over, yo.)
Figure out what crazy thing you want to do. Figure out what project area matters to you. And then pick a month and make it happen. (Also- when you get your Purpose Project started? Please let me know so I can share about it!)
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Thank you again. I am inspired by you, blessed to know you, and honored to walk alongside you as we get to use what God has given us to make this planet a better place for others.
You da best.
A couple of fun clicks to share with you, my friends.
You guys. We’re only THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS away from our goal! (As of lunch time) Please, if you haven’t given yet, would you do it today? We’d love to hit that goal before Friday.
When I was an employee at Mocha Club, running their social media, I wrote about four New Dawn students. Just pick one story to read if your time is limited- I promise you will be so moved by these lives.
Meet Stephen. (My personal favorite.)
Help us finish out this last tiny bit of money– and remember- if you are interested and you donate $25, you will be able to fill out an application to possibly go with us to New Dawn in May! Our team is pretty stellar. I expect lots of laughs and late night convos.
I’ve updated my speaking page with some video clips and quotes and dates. I’d love to see you if I’m coming near you. And- as always, if you are having an event for teen girls or young adults or women or puppies, I’d love to come speak. (Ok, not really puppies. But just about any human group, I’m there.)
If you haven’t heard yet, IF:Equip is a daily Bible reading plan that pushes you not only to read, but also to journal and discuss the text. Also, each day, there is a video of a couple of women talking about the passage for the day. Today, myself and my sweet friend Bianca are talking about John 5:16-47. You know, a short simple passage that has little relevance to our lives today. (SARCASM) I’ve really loved the IF:Equip daily emails and readings. Hope you’ll jump on board.
I’ve written a few posts for Bible Gateway that you may want to know about. I just feel bad when I write around the internet and forget to tell you, my actual people, about it.
Your Light (coming soooooon…. I think?)
Carlos Whittaker’s first book is available for pre-order and the Kindle version is LESS THAN FOUR DOLLARS and you should get it.
Have I mentioned that yet? 🙂
That’s all for today, friends. Got any cool links to share with me?
Also. What are you using to read blogs these days? I miss Google Reader and still haven’t found a decent replacement and I’m falling way behind in blog reading!