A few weeks ago, my mother died. Although she had been chronically ill for a number of years, I was not ready. I was not ready for the void she would leave behind. During this same period of time, my daughter Vanessa was preparing to graduate from medical school and move to Maryland for her residency. Honestly, I struggled to summon the appropriate emotion(s) for the events our family had planned and attended. My tear ducts stopped working. My normally extra energetic, energy level slowed down to a crawl. I asked myself, “What is happening to you?”
For the first time, Trinity Church will partner with MAP International for what we are calling our 1st Annual MAP Disaster Relief Packing Day. The purpose of this event is to pack disaster relief backpacks for victims of future natural disasters within the United States and raise funds for Trinity Church’s upcoming Cambodia Medical Missions Trip. The disaster relief backpacks will contain all the toiletries people desperately need after a natural disaster.
In January 2017, I submitted a proposal to The Children’s Trust in response to their request for proposal for summer youth enrichment summer camp programs for under-resourced youth. I was thrilled a few weeks ago to be notified that the proposal was funded. GENERATION2050 is an innovative program that immerses middle and high school youth in a multi-disciplinary learning environment with the goal of inspiring them to be ready for leadership in the future. For the few weeks I was writing the proposal, I became a futurist. I tried to imagine what types of knowledge, skills, and abilities youth would need to lead our communities in the year 2050.
Clothed with Compassion
Last year, I had the privilege of becoming a Board Member of Map International. If you aren’t familiar with MAP International’s work around the world, you should be.
In 2016, MAP distributed $500 Million of medicines to 100 countries to serve 10 million people. In addition, Charity Navigator gave MAP a 4 Star Rating for the second consecutive year. Only 49 non-profit organizations out of 8,000 received a 4 Star Rating from Charity Navigator in 2016. Not only does MAP serve people around the world with compassion, MAP serves with efficiency and effectiveness.
After a very busy weekend at Trinity Church’s Girlfriends Conference 2017, I got on an airplane and flew out to Walla Walla, Washington, to visit Monteillet Fromagerie. This visit is the first stop on our journey to Cambodia this month to continue work on the Eco-farming project with Cambodian Care Ministries.
We are making cheese from a blend of goat milk and sheep milk. If the animals are not healthy, the milk won’t be good and the cheese won’t be good either. Joan and Pierre-Louis have spent a lot of time talking to us about the animals and how they take care of them. It’s just plain honest, hard work filled with their love of farming.
This idea of touching Eden first came to my mind on while I was in Cambodia for the first time in 2013. This trip reignited my passion for the environment and made me think about how we have drifted so far away from living in collaboration with the rest of God’s creation. The 2014 Cambodia Biogas Digester Project was the beginning of my journey into eco-farming, urban gardening, and now beekeeping. I believe the value of urban gardening extends beyond the production of local fruit and vegetables, beyond environmental conservation, and into our spiritual and emotional well-being.
To learn more, join me at Trinity Church’s Girlfriends Conference 2017. Register here.
2016 has been an amazing year filled with new ideas, opportunity, adventure, and victory, as well as unexpected challenges and disappointments. Yet, throughout the year, God continued to provide a clear thread of hope, goodness, and powerful collaboration with both old and new partners.
And finally in 2016, my passion for developing a sustainable eco-farming program in rural Cambodia led me to register for a certified beekeepers course in October. I am happy to report that both my intern, Michele, and I passed the final exam. I am looking forward to how God will continue to weave the threads of hope I have experienced in 2016 into 2017.
As 2016 draws to a close, I am busy studying for the final exam in the certified beekeeper class I am taking. When I enrolled in the class, I had no idea I would be immersed in honeybee biology, honeybee diseases and pests, and an expanded understanding of how our environment is changing. I have been loving every minute. Yet at the same time, I am coming to understand that some of the changes occurring in our environment, like the decline of the honeybee, will impact my grandchildren more than it will impact me.
Without mitigation, the continued decline of the honeybee will result in a decrease availability of the vegetables, fruit, and nuts our diet relies on.
I am really enjoying bee-ing a student again in the certified beekeeper course. A few days ago, we learned how to transfer honey bees from a NUC box to a full-size hive box. In the photo above, we were just finishing this process. One of the most important aspects of the transfer is ensuring the queen bee has been safely transferred to the new box. She is the heart and soul of the colony.
I am loving these honey bees!
Since 2004, my Peacemaker Family Center (PFC) team have been intentionally mentoring young adults in our community, infusing them with positive messages. We have been providing sexual risk avoidance education to youth and young adults in Miami-Dade County, Florida, with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
In September, we were notified that our PlanBe_ program was selected by HHS to begin providing these services in the community surrounding Trinity Harlem, our church in Harlem, New York.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about my budding interest in honeybees and beekeeping. Since that time, I have been able to begin a certified beekeepers course offered by the Broward Beekeeper’s Association, along with my intern, Michele. Not only is the class engaging and fun, we are learning more about the status of honeybees here in America. According to the USDA, 44% of all US honeybee colonies died off over the past year. The reasons for this die off have not been fully determined. Some researchers believe a combination of climate change and pesticides are to blame. Whatever the reason, the reality of honeybees on the decline does not bode well for us. The fruit trees and plants we grow for their fruits and vegetables require pollination by insects.
Recently, I had a conversation with someone who questioned why I would travel half way around the world to help children in Cambodia when there are so many children in need in the United States. Honestly, I don’t think my answer was a response that person could understand or accept.
The truth is I could have never planned becoming acquainted with the children in Cambodia. Yet, through a long series of events, my ability to help intersected with children at Cambodian Care Ministries’ Light of Future Schools who needed the help I could give.
One new adventure on the horizon for me is a trip to Monteillet Fromagerie in Walla Walla, Washington. Founded by Pierre-Louis and Joan Monteillet, Monteillet Fromagerie was the first farmstead artisanal cheese facility in the Walla Walla Valley of Southeastern Washington. I will be traveling with a few friends in January 2017 to participate in the Monteillet’s 2-day farmstead cheese workshop. We want to learn more about goats, goat milk, and how to make farmstead goat cheese. I have never made cheese in my life but I’m so excited to learn, especially because what we learn we will share with our friends at Cambodian Care’s new Goat Bank.
Twenty years ago, I took my first international mission trip (to Mexico). Sixteen countries and 35 trips later, I am now starting a new adventure as a MAP International Board Member. I am going to try not to look bewildered at my first board meeting in Atlanta next week. But I am sure that some of the feelings I had on my very first mission trip — finding out about a whole new level of community need around the world — will be similar. And I will have even more reason to keep my suitcase packed and ready to go to another country!
For even more news, read the November 2016 Newsletter!