A Million Trees


Change a Child’s Life This Holiday Season

I’m torn tonight – not sure how to start writing.  You see my grandmother suffered a stroke, my mother suffered a stroke and today I got the news that my 43 year old nephew Shane is hospitalized after a stroke.  He’s young and I know in my heart of hearts he will be O.K.    I pray that he will be O.K. 

It has left me wandering around my home with a sense of loss all over again. It took me back to my childhood and memories of babysitting him and how he could always smile and get himself out of any fix he found himself in by following his mischievous sister and brother into trouble.   I’ve always been concerned about stroke for the women in our family – this really came out of the blue.  If you believe in prayer please say one for Shane as you read this. 

I decided to write this blog to honor Shane and his recovery by asking you to consider sponsoring a child and changing a life this holiday season.  I’ve had a beautiful and sometimes poignant relationship with our little daughter Ayingene for about 4 years now.  I can’t think of anything that is more rewarding than receiving her letters addressed “Dear Parents” unless of course being about to hug and kiss my little grandsons I have close and safe nearby.

Ayingene lives in AIDS ravaged Rwanda.  I have every letter Ayingene has ever written me.  In our short history of 4 years – her father was released from prison and and I feared for her safety.  Her body language changed, the smile was gone and I felt certain life had changed for her with his return.  I didn’t hear from Ayingene for a long stretch and then I received a letter from Compassion International that her father had been killed in an auto accident.  It was bittersweet news to me.

Next, she lost her sister to disease.  Her sister left behind three young children as orphans and Ayingene’s mother took them in as well.  The letter before last made my heart sink – she had become seriously ill and asked that I pray for her “next time” that she will not get so sick when it comes “next time”. 

I began writing to her about Oprah’s school for girls.  I told her women will become leaders in Africa and she needs to study hard.  Hope is a wonderful gift and it costs you nothing but means absolutely everything to a child in a bad situation.  I explained to her what Oprah was doing and that she is searching all over Africa for girls to come to the school.  Study hard sweet daughter.

The letter I received last week was priceless.  Ayingene reports she is feeling very well and is studying hard.  She asked if I had heard about Oprah .  For the first time,  Ayingene wrote to me about her future.  She wants to be a nurse and help people in need so I wrote her back with words of encouragement to study because she must gain knowledge and knowledge is power.  Study hard my sweet daughter.    

I tell you all of this because there can be no greater gift than to choose to sponsor a child in need this season.  I have two organizations on my blogsite I recommend.  If you have children, skip some of the manufactured toys this year and offer them instead the profound gift of  changing another child’s life forever.  If you don’t have children – adopt one as I have done with my relationship with Ayingene.  You’ll be able to write, send birthday and Christmas gifts of money and even be given the chance to meet your child after you’ve demonstrated steady support and a positive impact in your child’s life.

Please think about what is important this season – before we lost Mom after her stroke she said something so profound I will remember it always.  She said “The only thing that really matters in life is love – the only thing.”  It’s been said by so many but I never really understood until it really meant something to me.  Does that make sense? 

It came home to me because I was losing something that was so very important to me.  So this holiday season – I hope you will reach out and begin a lifetime relationship providing enough food, clean water, medical care, education and support to a child.  I hope you will write them often and give them the profound gift of love and hope.  Just as life can visit profound sadness on each of us – joy and hope will have victory over a child’s sadness if it can just find it’s way to them.  Become a messenger of hope, peace and joy this Christmas  and experience the only thing that really matters in life – love.


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You wrote well. You honored both Shane and Ayingene. And I agree with your mom. It is all about love. Bless you.

Comment by Chris




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