So…things don’t always go as planned. Testing cancer free past the one-year mark seemed to suggest that Shaun was “in the clear,” but February 9, 2018 (day 520 post transplant) proved devastating. Shaun’s cancer had returned. Shaun is currently back at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital where he is receiving treatments.
Hey there little loved ones… Can you believe our summer is coming to an end? This is our last full week of no commitments. Except Annie and Nelson… I know you’ve been working so hard already these last couple of weeks with your volleyball and football teams. I hope you know how very much I admire your hard work and dedication – Those early morning lifting sessions, long practices and grueling conditioning. You haven’t complained once. I’m so proud of you.
Nelson & Jackson, it was your first full summer home. So many firsts… your first roller coasters, water parks, swimming pool passes, lake time, water skiing, boating, tubing, too many trips to Dairy Queen… you even dabbled in baseball. I hope it’s been fun for you. I know it has been fun for me and dad to watch you do those things. And Joey, you’ve been dribbling that basketball around constantly. I admit at times it drives me a tad bit crazy, but I do love how you are striving to get better with that left hand.
I know dad and I have had to work quite a bit (And Annie, I’m SO thankful you’ve spent 20 hours of each week up at One Mission with us. You’ve been a quick study and an invaluable addition to our team this summer. And Sara, you learned how to jump in and help around here too! I love that so much!)
To all of you, on those days when I wasn’t able to be home, I appreciate you completing your ‘Love Jobs’ around the house, and I appreciate you helping take care of Tommy and doing fun things with him, like taking him fishing at the Quarry, or taking him to the pool, or the golf course. He’ll always remember those times… I promise you it’s time well invested.
Recently, the words ‘I’m bored” have crept into your vocabulary, and I know that you feel like you sometimes don’t have anything to do. It’s probably a good sign that you’re ready for school to be back in session. But the good Lord knows we do plenty of running!! I think sometimes he gives us the gift of chill time,which I yearn for, actually. I hope you learn how to be okay with it too, and eventually really learn to embrace it.
I really will miss you when you head back to school next week. And even though you are exceptionally great kids, I still want to you to remind you of few things… it’s pretty important stuff:
Please be kind and respectful, work hard and have a good attitude. I hope you are brave and have courage, and if given the opportunity, please stand up for those who need it. And sit with kids at lunch who are sitting alone, okay? Don’t forget to go out of your way for the new kids – make them feel welcome. Most importantly, let your little lights SHINE. Know that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to be YOU, it’s okay to let others be THEM. Love them, be compassionate and caring towards them. Be gentle with people, really gentle. Basically, be a good kid, okay? And do your part in making your school a better, safer, more loving place, because really, you CAN make a difference.
I think that’s the biggest thing I want you to know… what you do MATTERS, your actions matter, your words matter, and you CAN make a difference.
I love you so much.
And P.S. for anyone else reading this – Most of these messages? Yeah… you can find them on One Mission Tees. 🙂
We see a lot of really cool things happen here at One Mission, but this was especially fun to witness and be a part of. In a nutshell, this is the story.
A crazy cool custom tee was designed for a man loved by many. As a secret birthday surprise from some friends, a One Mission Fund was created and shared within a private Facebook page for all of this man’s friends. Right there on his Fund Page was the option to purchase this tee. We were shipping maniacs for several days over here. Seriously, the tees were going out in droves! Then, on his birthday, alllllll these people from around the country posted pictures of themselves wearing these t-shirts, all shoutin’ a special birthday message. Imagine waking up on your birthday with all your friends posting on your wall, wearing a tee with your face on it, showering you with well wishes and thanks, simply for just being such an awesome person.
And then the bonus? Since you can’t buy anything at One Mission without 40% being donated to help someone else, and since this man’s fund had generated just shy of $2,000 just from t-shirt sales, HE got to choose which cause/charity got to receive all those donations. And his choice: Iowa Writer’s House.
I could go on and on about the ‘promising young gent’ who is Leighton Smith, but Andrea Wilson has so eloquently put to words a beautiful tribute to this influential, people connectin’, world changin’ man, that I’ll simply leave her words below.
This post was taken (with permission) from Iowa Writer’s House Facebook post on June 20th, 2017 – written by Andrea Wilson, fellow Southeast Iowa girl and the brains behind Iowa Writer’s House. Their mission is to provide writers with the support and necessary tools to to bring their literary dreams to fruition. From lectures and inspiration on first putting pen to the page, to seminars on tips and how-to’s for the publishing world and everything in between, the Iowa Writers’ House exists as a writing launchpad for all who seek it. They truly believe the world needs your story.
This week something amazing happened and we have to tell you the story…
There once was a man named Leighton Smith, a promising young gent with a glint in his eye whose youth was spent in Holstein Iowa knocking over men, football practice dummies, and maybe even cows– Legend only knows! Life took Leighton on its path, off to the big city of Chicago for law school, then marrying his sweetheart Sarah, and finally coming home to Iowa to settle and raise a family.
Now Leighton may have spent his days as a banker, but this was no ordinary banker. This was a man on a mission. With the valiancy and altruistic plight one might expect of a television super hero, Leighton was determined to use what powers he’s been given for good. Those powers included (but weren’t limited to!) the ability to fear no crowd or social scene, to draw together groups of influential people with a single flick of his emailing wrist, and the uncanny ability to barrel hug everyone in his path, even the villains, until their hearts cracked open and they too joined in his plight. Substances and situations that were kryptonite for normal folks, for example, copious amounts of oak barreled whiskey, were no match for Leighton who legend says still jumped out of bed every morning with his mission in heart and hand. (Sarah’s legend may say otherwise)
And so as the story goes, this is where we come in, dear writers and friends. For when the Iowa Writers’ House was founded in early 2015, Leighton was one of the first people to hear about our plight to make Iowa the best place in the country for all writers, and to help all people tell their story. “Why not make it the best in the WORLD!” shouted the fearless Leighton, and after some time, we started to believe him that we could.
From that point on, Leighton added the Writers’ House to his “LIST”, and we were suddenly part of a special group of organizations he was determined to help. For years, Leighton nominated us to be the recipient of donations through a wonderful organization called 100 MEN Who Care and each time other organizations were deservedly the blessed ones. And each time, Leighton would remind us not to lose hope. And then one day, it was to be Leighton’s birthday and a woman named Laci Lower and her cohort Vanessa MacDonald and an organization called One Mission Fundraising made a t-shirt with Leighton’s famous face on it, pledging that 40% of all proceeds would go to Leighton’s charity of choice. Soon people all over the state, even the country, were buying this shirt! And on the day of his birth anniversary, the photos were posted from far and wide– Leighton in Times Square, Leighton on the California coast, Leighton in the Texas heat! From Holstein to Cedar Rapids to his hood of Arlington Ridge, people from his past shouted his praises from the rooftops. Because, you see, after a man pays it forward for so many years, well eventually some of that love energy just has to find its way back to him.
And so my friends, you might imagine where the story goes from here. Of all the donations we could have received, being the recipient of all of Leighton’s Smith’s lifetime mission of making the world better, is the best one we could imagine. The world really is a magical place after all, and some of that magic is because of people like Leighton Smith who never stop believing it can be.
Iowa Public Television has this really great series called ‘Iowa Entrepreneur.’ Have you seen it? Those of you from Iowa just HAVE to tune in. Do you realize just how many awesome businesses are going on right here in our home land? Seriously cool stuff! I am SO proud to be from Iowa… that’s for sure!
Anyway, last spring when my childhood friend called me telling me that One Mission needed to be on this show, I was intrigued. I had never heard of it. She took the initiative to email the show and let them know a little bit about our story. Low and behold, after just a few weeks, we got an email from the show asking if we’d be interested in setting up a phone interview. Then at the end of that call, we were offered a spot on the series, just like that! Whoa!
The production team was really hoping to come to Mount Vernon and film our story after we had brought our boys home from Haiti. As it turned out, we weren’t able to bring our boys home until the end of July, 2016. Needing to get production wrapped up by the end of July so that the editing team could get to work, we settled on a mid-July video shoot.
Fast forward to July 2017 and our feature on Iowa Entrepreneur aired. We are so, so grateful to get this exposure in Iowa. Our biggest challenge to date has been getting the word out about who we are, what we do and how we can help people raise money for good causes. So thank you, IPTV and Iowa Entrepreneur for offering us this opportunity.
If you know anyone who is involved with a good cause that has fundraising needs, would you kindly be an advocate for us and reach out to those people, share with them what we do and how we can help. Word of mouth advertising has been so key for us in expanding our reach. We would be so very grateful.
If you haven’t seen our feature, you can watch it right here! And then share, share, share away, will ya please?! 🙂
This post was written recently by Jackee Austerman, and I asked her if I could share. It is wonderful, so truthful and incredibly heart-felt. Jackee and her family have a fund that they promote here at One Mission. Their goal is simple. They want to raise awareness about PKU and help fund raise for a cure. See what she has to say about having two kiddos with PKU.
Written by: Jackee Austerman
Well that hit me like a ton of bricks! Shane happened to call me and thought something crazy had happened! So many tears! I was completely sobbing! Two of my friends posted about PKU Awareness Month today. Totally unexpected. Totally out-of-the-blue. For our kids. For our family. For me.
PKU Month is something I have totally championed the last couple years. I post pictures and videos. Fundraisers. Thoughtful stories of my kids. PKU Month is so IMPORTANT for spreading awareness!
But this year, I’ve just felt overwhelming guilt. I haven’t been creative. I haven’t been vocal. I haven’t had great ideas or posts. I haven’t even shared last year’s awesome videos, pictures, and awareness spreading!
Like every other Mom, I really want to do this job right. I’m confident that I can mess up a lot of things in my life, but I do not want to mess this ‘mom thing’ up. I will try my hardest to give absolutely everything I have to my kids.
But I have to tell you.
I’m so tired.
Not like ‘I’m tired today’ or ‘I’m tired this week’ …I’m like 7.5 years tired.
I remember the exact moment when Zay was 6 days old and I held him at UofI Pediatric Specialty Clinic. I tear up every time I recall my exact thoughts…I looked at my brand new baby and thought…’We made a broken baby…this baby, that is ours, is broken’ Do you even realize how hard it is for me to admit that I had those thoughts? I described my own son as ‘broken’ when he was only DAYS old. Newborns are flawless and innocent and perfect. How in the world could the word broken come to my mind. But all I knew was what the doctors were telling us and we couldn’t fix this problem with our baby. We just had to learn to live with it. A reality that I still wrestle with 7.5 years later.
I’ve spent so many days since that moment trying to help everyone else in our world understand what I didn’t understand that day. What PKU is. What it means for our family. What it means for Zay and Ellie. The research. The setbacks. The hope. The struggles.
From the moment I became a Mom, I became a PKU Mom. I know nothing different. But I think most Moms are tired. I’m just going to throw it out there that sometimes PKU Moms are reeeally tired. And then we cry a lot…or maybe that’s just me. 😉 (Anyone feel free to tell my husband that it’s not just me)
And Shane… Shane feels the pressure to provide…not in a normal way, but in the way that his job provides health insurance. It’s never just a job and you can find a new one anywhere…it’s undeniably our kid’s lives and health. Our kids would be in an institution without these things. (I will spare you the videos of untreated PKU). I seriously get concerned about the stress Shane endures for our family. He is our kid’s biggest advocate!
There is absolutely nothing I would change about our life. PKU or not, we are so blessed. But today I realized more than ever that I really do need the help of others on this journey. And God blessed us in great big ways in the friend department. I am literally brought to tears that others remember and post and spread awareness for us…especially when I am exhausted and don’t feel like I can do it all on my own. There is no better feeling than a friend loving on your kids.
My heart is so thankful if you are still reading this. If you feel called to help us spread awareness, feel free to share this little part of our story to spread awareness. If you feel called to support, we would be so grateful if you wanted to make a One Mission Purchase through Zay & Ellie’s Fundraiser…everything goes to the National PKU Alliance for Research.
We’re doing something we haven’t done before, and I think I love it! The DeJong Family has a One Mission Fund to raise money for the adoption of these precious twins in Haiti.
Kate DeJong, their mama, writes her story so beautifully and how lucky are we that she has shared it with us!!? This mama’s heart… it’s a good one. Read on, dear friends!
Guest post by: Kate DeJong
Once Upon A Time
Our adoption journey began 35 years ago. I was five years old and happily living out childhood in Michigan. Meanwhile, across the ocean, a little boy in Bangladesh was born and placed in an orphanage. In time, that little boy became my beloved brother. Yet months before a dear nun placed him into our arms, my heart swelled for him and my understanding of family grew deeper. Adoption gave me the gift of my brother and so much more as it enriched my soul and influenced my approach to life.
God’s hand in my brother’s life set the foundation for our own adoption journey. Nearly twenty years after his homecoming, my husband and I met while serving as missionary teachers in the Dominican Republic. At one point during our years in the DR, we took a weekend trip to Haiti. That trip stirred our souls in such a rich way. The groundwork leading us to our Haitian-born children was being built upon. Reflecting on specific moments, it’s evident that God was preparing us. Mark’s heart was also drawn to orphans. Consequently, when we entered marriage, we knew that in God’s timing our family would grow through adoption.
After ten years of marriage and three biological children turned us into a family of five, we officially began the process to bring our children home from Haiti. That was four years ago. Back then we couldn’t have imagined the beautiful, though sometimes hard lessons God would teach us through this journey. At that time, it was all about faith, family and paperwork. Since then it’s been faith, family, paperwork, hope, perseverance, waiting, grace, trusting, provisions…. and so much more!
When we began our adoption journey in 2013, we knew the expenses would be overwhelming. Yet as the numbers came in, our limitations became quite apparent. Despite financial doubts, we proceeded in obedience to God, trusting our provider and following our hearts to our children in Haiti. While His hand has always been evident in our adoption journey, we never could have anticipated how He would reveal himself through fundraising. Upon humbly sharing our financial needs, His loving affirmation and provisions poured in from our community. Fundraising has taken several different forms in the past four years. Most recently, our fundraising has featured two logos dear to our hearts: the One Mission logo and our adoption logo. These two logos featured together on quality apparel has eased our hearts, provided much-needed financial support, and lifted our spirits during some pretty tough times in our waiting. Turns out there may be something to retail therapy. 😉
The Beauty Behind the Logo
Within the first year of our adoption journey, a talented friend created our adoption logo. Michelle, owner of The Wordsmiths, artistically united a Haitian metal piece, scripture and an old hymn that were each meaningful to us. The strength and artistic talent behind each piece of metal art is inspiring. So is God, the artist of our adoption. The particular piece we were drawn to was a tree with birds. A tree symbolizes life, strength, seasons and growth. The birds represent our family members. The birds in the tree represent the five of us here, waiting for our two in Haiti. Those two sweet souls are depicted on a branch that isn’t yet connected to our tree. Likewise, the birds serve as a reminder of how God holds His creatures. A portion of Matthew 6 speaks to my often anxious, waiting heart. There is so very little that I can do to physically care for my children while they are in Haiti. Likewise, there is little I can do to move paperwork along in the system. But Jesus calms my heart with his words.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g]28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
In my prone-to-worry nature, I am calmed by the truth that He provides for each of us each every single day. In His infinite wisdom and perspective, he sees the five of us here in Michigan and our two children in Haiti at the same time.
In addition to scripture, an old hymn has been a beautiful reminder of the promises we can claim in this adoption journey and beyond. His Eye Is On The Sparrow by Civilla D. Martin brings peace to my hopeful heart and mind.
Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely
and long for heaven and home,
when Jesus is my portion?
My constant friend is he:
his eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me;
his eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, (I’m happy)
I sing because I’m free, (I’m free)
for his eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me.
“Let not your heart be troubled,”
his tender word I hear,
and resting on his goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears;
though by the path he leadeth
but one step I may see:
his eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me;
his eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me.
Whenever I am tempted,
whenever clouds arise,
when song gives place to sighing,
when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to him,
from care he sets me free:
his eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me;
his eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me.
Beyond the care given to the sparrow and us, another theme has also been foundational in our adoption. Love. It is because of a mighty love that we persevere. It is because of a gracious love that we have the privilege of being parents to all five of our children. We’ve drawn on this love and have celebrated this love as described in 1 Corinthians 13:7. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
And so, our adoption logo was gifted to us and always brings to mind the scripture and hymn that have sustained us in the past four years.
When One Logo Met Another Logo
Last year the One Mission logo (also a tree) entered our hearts along with our adoption logo. Of course, as God works, the union of these two logos (or missions) really started over 30 years ago in a small town in Minnesota when two third grade boys became friends. Who would have thought? The short of it is that these two besties have remained close and their wives fell quickly into a deep friendship. The wife of one bestie is from Mount Vernon, Iowa. She knew all about One Mission and shared it with the wife of the other bestie (that would be me). And the rest is history!
A year ago John and Amanda (the amazing beings behind One Mission) turned our adoption logo and verse into a design for apparel. We were thrilled. I vividly remember opening the email with the draft of their design and bursting into tears. They perfectly understood and envisioned how the logo, hymn and verse would work together on a piece of clothing. With ease we set up our One Mission profile and the orders came in. Family and friends began placing orders and in no time, we were seeing this dear-to-our-hearts design in our day to day lives! Each order and donation has felt like a huge embrace of love and encouragement.
There’s something both beautiful and powerful about walking into an event and seeing one or more “love” shirts being worn. All five of us have come to quickly spot the different One Mission apparel and designs. Whenever we see someone sporting these goods in order to support our adoption, our hearts are flooded with gratitude. Our biological children have even commented on this. It blesses their hearts to know we aren’t alone in longing for our family to be complete. Seeing others wearing One Mission clothing or seeing One Mission art prints in homes brings on a rush of sincere thanksgiving to the friends and family member who gifted our adoption with their funds. It’s gratitude for their faith in this calling. A close friend once said, “We may not be called to adopt but we are called to support those who do.” One Mission has created a meaningful and fun avenue to receive support and encouragement from our community. Yet ultimately it comes from our Heavenly Father. It’s His sweet reminder that he’s holding our children, providing for our family and in a journey of much unknown, He is in complete control.
Putting the Fun in Fundraising
Last spring we had some fun with our One Mission fundraising. For one month, we held a “spread the love” campaign. It was a way for us to raise support while also giving back to the village that has blessed us abundantly. We asked our supporters to post their One Mission purchases (with or without our adoption logo) and our profile link on Facebook. Each post would earn entries into a drawing for One Mission gift cards. Each purchase posted would earn an entry and each link to our profile would earn another entry. At the end of the month, we were able to gift four members of our village with a One Mission gift card. This “campaign” was a success in several regards. The funds raised during this time were significant. Likewise, the encouragement gifted to us through this time was vital. We were in the throws of deep hope for our legal referral to come through and feeling a bit lost. The timing couldn’t have been better! The letter we wrote to our village to explain this campaign is included at the end of this blog post. If you’re inclined to have some fun in the same way, feel free to use and/or modify our letter!
Long Awaited Referral & Belonging
Several months after the “spread the love” campaign ended, we finally got our long-awaited referral. God has chosen to complete our family with twin three year olds. We have a son and daughter in Haiti. In August of 2016, we met our youngest two children. When adopting from Haiti, adoptive parents get to spend two weeks bonding with their child(ren) shortly after the referral is issued. Following those two weeks, we adoptive parents know something incredibly hard; saying good-bye to our children without knowing when they will see them again. There are countless memories of those two weeks that we hold dear. One moment we hold especially close to our hearts was when we gifted One Mission “love” shirts to our twins. We had worn our “love” shirts to the orphanage on that particular morning. After settling in with the twins, we pulled out a purple “love” shirt for our daughter and a blue one for our son. While we greatly appreciate the beautiful meaning and stories of support behind the shirts, our children saw one thing. Their shirts matched their papa and mama’s shirts. Belonging. We belong together. We couldn’t get those cozy One Mission shirts on them fast enough. That was over six months ago. They recently outgrew their 2T “love” shirts and we’ve sent down larger ones. How we pray that we will have them home before they need the next size!
Happily Ever After
God is continuing to write the story of our adoption. We realize that even once our beloved children are home and the seven of us are finally together we will continue to learn and grow. Like our Heavenly Father’s adoption of all of us, our family’s adoption story is one that will last a lifetime. In His grace, our story will go beyond what we know here and into the chapters of eternity that only He can write.
****************** “Spread the Love” Campaign Letter ******************
Note from One Mission: This is the letter the DeJong’s used for their “Spread the Love” contest among their village of supporters. And guess what? They said you can use this/adapt this for YOUR cause!
Our dear village, because we have been so blessed by you all, we want to give back a little something while spreading the word about our fundraiser (with a little social media savvy). When you share with your friends on FB, we see the direct impact it makes for our One Mission fundraiser (plus seeing the awesome products others are snagging is fun too!).
Spread the love! Purchase, post and enter to win! For each purchase you post (either on our FB page or your FB page) you get an entry into a drawing for a One Mission gift card valued at $25. There will be four $25 gift cards to be won! Use the gift card for more great products for yourself or gifts. Think of upcoming celebrations like birthdays, Mother’s day, graduations and teacher gifts.
You get one entry for each product (t-shirts, jewelry, artwork, note cards, etc…) posted. If your sweet face is in the picture, you get an extra entry in the drawing. If your kids are sporting shirts and are in the picture, you get an entry for each child sporting a t-shirt.
Bonus! If you share our fundraiser link on your FB page, you get another entry. That means you don’t even have to make a purchase! Just share the love by posting the link.
Please be sure to tag us in your post so we can keep track and enter you as many times as possible. We’d love for you to have fun with this too! It means SO much that you’re joining us in this. THANK YOU!
The drawing will be ________. Posts will be entered in the drawing through _______. (Most purchases are shipped within 7 days. If your item doesn’t come prior to end date, you can use a stock photo from One Mission’s website.)
If you’re not on FB, no worries! You can send your picture to me via email or a text. Please be sure to let me know if I can post your photos on FB.
You don’t have to have an online One Mission Fund to fundraise with us, ya know.
Candle Fundraising just took a whole new twist. The One Mission Change Challenge: It’s unique. It’s a little bit different approach to fundraising. It’s fun. It’s easy. And hey, it involves a free gift for all supporters. We like to call it a ‘Game Changer’. In the right situation, it can be such a great little tool to really boost the funds you need to raise for YOUR cause.
Let me explain how it started, how it works, and how one local church used it to raise close to $4,000 in just a few weeks.
First… it started as a sturdy packaging to keep our candles safe during shipping, strong cardboard cylinders with metal end caps. Perfect solution.
But, why not make it useful? We had slits cut into the top metal covers, and the change bank was born. Save your pennies and “change” the world. Why not? It *really* is that simple!
So how does the change challenge work? We like to think outside the box and customize the challenge to fit your situation.
But, THIS is how it worked for St. John’s Catholic Church in Mt. Vernon: Since there were 110 families enrolled in the faith formation classes, the Director of Religious Education ordered 110 candles at wholesale from One Mission. Of course, each candle comes packaged in our sturdy change bank.
The candles were set out on display after church one Sunday and over the course of a couple of weeks, each family with a child or children enrolled in classes were encouraged to take one candle… as a gift. Yes, a gift. The genius of that? These families were asked to keep and use the candles, but then bring the change banks back full of change. All of the money raised was going to be used to purchase water filtration systems in Haiti.
So, kids scurried home and emptied their change jars at home into the change bank. They looked for change in their cars, under the couch cushions and anywhere else they could find spare change lying around. Some kids took the banks around their neighborhood and explained that they were raising money for clean water in Haiti. Some families simply wrote checks and put them in the banks.
Just a few short weeks later, the families were asked to bring back their change banks to the church. The kids counted the coins, the dollars, the checks (good math lesson, right?) – and then guess what happened? After they counted ALL the money they had collected together, and deducted the wholesale amount of the candles that the church purchased. They raised right around $4,000. Whoa! Pretty amazing, don’t ya think?
110 families. Filling 110 change banks with pennies, coins, dollars and checks. Making a difference for people in Haiti. Giving them a system for making their water clean.
Save your pennies and “change” the world? Heck ya.
Eric was born with a complex heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries. It was almost a 100% guaranteed death sentence for babies like him; the cyanotic, or so called ‘blue babies’, born even just a few years prior to 1969. Eric was a seemingly happy and healthy 7 lb baby boy, but his parents quickly discovered that, even at 2 or 3 days old, his lips, fingers, toes, and even around his eyes, would turn blue..almost a purple plum-like hue when he would cry. And even though they had no idea what Transposition of the Great Arteries was at the time, they knew something wasn’t quite right.
The only thing that saved him (as well as the other ‘blue babies’) during those first few weeks and months was a hole in the heart, within the chamber walls, that allowed at least some oxygenated blood to mix and get sent out to the body.
Around the time he was born, new surgical techniques were just beginning to be attempted and perfected throughout the world and remarkably, at a hospital near Eric, at The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. These techniques were still incredibly risky, but as the doctors told his parents, it’s the only hope he’s got. There was a 20% chance of survival to 3 years, and even that was optimistic. The reality was, he might not even make it off the operating table.
Eric’s parents and the doctors thought it was worth the risk, given the alternative of almost certain death. Over the next two years, surgeons would skillfully craft his heart, then the size of a strawberry, and the surrounding vessels (the size of a drinking straw) into somewhat of a makeshift, redesigned, modern marvel of medical advancement and surgical prowess.
The first of those pioneering open heart surgeries was performed in 1970 when he was 6 months old, called the Blalock-Hanlon procedure. Subsequently, the Mustard procedure, performed in 1972, gave Eric, a real honest to goodness chance at a relatively normal life. His tiny heart and body responded well, to say the least. Now 47 years and 3 months, Eric is one of the longest living survivors of of these pioneering techniques.
Eric has absolutely enjoyed a relatively normal life. It has, however, been a life time of doctors visits, of implanted cardiac pacemakers and ICDs, and of expensive surgical procedures, just to keep him going throughout those years. And he has been limited in his physical activity, especially as he entered his 40’s.
In the fall of 2013, when he was 43, things really started to change. At his next scheduled heart checkup the docs noticed his heart function had begun to markedly decline, and they wanted to start monitoring things a bit more closely. And rather suddenly, he was starting to have a lot of trouble making it through the day. After some more tests, he was told it was time for him to think about a heart transplant. That was February 12, 2014. 10:17 am.
A One Mission Fund was created to directly support Eric and Tammy as they await the call for Eric’s new heart. All funds raised will go directly towards the medical costs and financial support while Eric is on his transplant journey. Right now, as you are reading this, Eric is in the hospital waiting for a new heart. He is first on the list now, after over 900 days of waiting. Over Nine. Hundred. Days. He could really use prayers right now. And we know this is a really tough thing… because the beautiful gift of a new heart means another family out there is struggling with a new loss of their loved one – and they could use prayers too.
If you’d like to support Eric in his ‘New Heart, New Start’ transplant journey, or to learn more about his story, please visit his One Mission Fund Page.
Custom donations and product purchases, alike, have been made in support of Eric. Maybe we have a new tee that you just have to have, or maybe its one of our other great One Mission products… I mean, if you need to shop for those things anyway, either for yourself, or to gift to another, you might as well make a difference with your purchase, right? You can’t buy anything at One Mission without 40% of that purchase being donated to help someone else. You really CAN make a difference.
It takes just one thought, by one person, to do just one thing, for one family in need. And I tell you what… it’s a pretty darn cool thing when, unexpectedly, some come forward and say ‘yes, sign me up to go with you and help’ and when others buy into the vision and say ‘yes, let me donate to your cause.’ And then suddenly, all these world changers are coming together to *do something* to make this vision happen. 5 men went to build (individually covering their own costs to get there and stay there), but over a hundred people donated (for all the materials and the hiring of Haitian laborers needed for building). Each person, a world changer for this family. Each. And Every. Person.
And guess what happens then? A family… a single mother with 7 of her own children in her care and 1 other child that she’s just taken in because no one else would, gets a sturdy home of her own, for the first time in her life.
We’ve heard stories from this mama. Stories about moving place to place, mostly because they couldn’t pay the rent and were forced out. One child remembers a
landlord kicking them out of one of the homes in the middle of the night, and he remembers that it wasn’t very comfortable sleeping on the rocky hill where they settled until the morning light arrived. Can you even imagine?
In 2013, this mama was able to acquire some land of her own, with the help of a friend. They built a tarp-walled structure with a tin roof that has served as their home for the past several years. Of course, there is no electricity, no plumbing. In fact, in order to get water, the young children have to walk with 5 gallon buckets down to the river, which is quite the jaunt. It really makes you appreciate your kitchen sink, and toilet… and shower, doesn’t it?
Anyway… thanks to this mission crew and thanks to ALL OF YOU who purchased products through One Mission, choosing to give 40% of your purchases to THIS CAUSE, and all those of you who gave cash donations, this family now has a brand new, cinder-block home. It’s solid, it’s secure, it’s a safe place to live. Six beds were made, mattresses were purchased, sheets and bedding were donated and brought down in suitcases, and these kids were able to sleep in beds for the first time in their young lifetimes.
And here it is… their new home. We love that we are able to partner with people doing such great work and get to witness so many people stepping forward to say ‘YES, I will contribute.’ So many of YOU did this. So many of YOU made this happen. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU… for making such a difference in the life of this family. You are a world-changer – don’t you ever forget it!
Much love to you all!
Amanda + The One Mission Team
PS – Just in case you’d like to take a look and learn more about this One Mission Fund, please click here.
Meet Community Health Initiative. This program is an ongoing, non profit organization, led by project leader Chris Buresh, that is committed and focused on improving the quality of life- especially the quality of medical care- in the rural communities throughout Haiti. Recently they have started a new recycling center, latrines, and a water treatment center, providing jobs, education, and safe and sanitary resources for community members. If that’s not world-changing work, I don’t know what is!
CHI is using their One Mission Fund as a supplemental way to raise funds for their cause. They are working steadily at achieving their goal, and they are doing great!
Keys to success:
They offered TWO custom T-shirts, made in house at One Mission of course. (Sold out of both designs) – What better gift to give than a great, comfy T-shirt, from which quite a large portion proceeds (40% to be exact) go directly to better the lives of others.
They promote creatively and WELL, especially around the holidays. A tip from Chris and his team for a successful fund such as theirs? “Just promote it a lot. Get it out in front of people!”
CHI is all about the gift of giving- giving better medical attention, sustainable solutions, and community projects- that change the lives of so many people in need. This group and all of its members who are committed to missions and to helping are truly incredible! Have you ever thought about going on a mission trip to Haiti? CHI just might be your group to travel with. Several people who have gone on mission trips with CHI have also set up One Mission Funds for their trips and have had success. We can help you, too! To set up your own One Mission Fund, click here.
To learn more about the efforts behind Community Health Initiative, please check out their fund page: One Mission Fund – Until the Work Is Done (Named this because they will continue going to Haiti… until the work is done). Pretty cool work, eh?
Adding two teenage boys to an already established household of 6 (only just 5 1/2 months ago), we have realized, provides quite a few challenges and requires a great big dose of patience and GRACE. Don’t get me wrong, though… bringing these boys into our family has been beautiful and wonderful, and I am fully aware that it was only by the GRACE of God that they are home. I am forever grateful. They really are a true gift to our family.
But, the reality is that eight of us now share our space and our things. Eight of us are learning to be consciously respectful of each
life has changed dramatically, for all of us, and that there are times when moods take over, sometimes for no reason at all, and we have to learn not to take things personally. Eight of us are learning to love more, especially when things are the hardest. It’s a lot of hard work… and it takes a lot of GRACE. GRACE for those around us, GRACE for ourselves, and knowing and keeping close at heart John 1:16 – “For from HIS fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
So… what’s a great way to literally keep this message close to heart? Wear it! 🙂 I’m really excited to share this new message with you. And 40% of each purchase goes towards helping someone else. I love that.