Sunday, October 29, 2006

21 Nets

I'm proud of my family: my wife, my children -- and 150 of our spiritual relatives from our church family here in Amsterdam. Together, we raised €163.37 (EUR) -- which translates to $208.23 (USD) -- which translates to approximately 21 mosquito-proof bednets for children in sub-Saharan Africa.

That's pretty sweet.

The idea started with Marci. She heard about an initiative to fight the spread of malaria in Africa through an organization called Millenium Promise. Basically, for a $10 donation, you can ensure the distribution of one malaria prevention kit including a specially treated bednet that has been proven to limit the spread of the mosquito-borne disease among children in Africa (one of the most susceptible populations). And since our church has been recently striving to get more involved with meeting some of the massive physical and material needs in Africa -- and since we want to strive for the same as a family -- and since our children have an basic understanding of the problems associated with mosquitoes and bednets (because their fair skin and overactive immune systems give them fits with Amsterdam mosquitoes in late summer and early autumn each year) -- the Millenium Promise malaria prevention program seemed like a good way to connect our kids' hearts with the needs in Africa.

It turned out we were right. More right, in fact, than we expected. Elliot especially latched onto the idea of doing chores around the house to earn coins here and there, to add up to mosquito nets for kids in Africa. Over the last couple of months, he's nickled and dimed his way toward the purchase of two malaria prevention kits (€16). And still that wasn't enough. He wanted to help get more mosquito nets for the kids in Africa. We had to start getting creative in our thinking of how kindergartners could earn some money... And that's where we came up with the idea of a good ol' fashioned American-style bake sale.

Over the week of their fall vacation, Elliot and his friends from church -- Tobias, Caden, Amelie, and Shay, in particular -- worked together with their mothers (and, let's be honest: it's the mothers who really made it all happen!) to bake cookies. And brownies. And more cookies. And more brownies. And then we brought them to our church worship gathering at De Poort, so we could offer them afterwards in exchange for a donation toward the Millenium Promise malaria prevention program.

We thought it could be a neat way to connect our children's ministry with our heart to minister to the needs of the less fortunate in Africa with the general population of our church family... But honestly, we had no idea that it would be nearly as successful as it ended up being. We never made an exact count of how many baked goods we had to sell, but it was probably a couple hundred or so. In any event, we easily averaged between €0.50 and €1.00 per item -- and to come out with a total "profit" of over €160 was beyond our most optimistic expectations in a church full of students, the unemployed, and the underemployed (especially considering that we also solicited a very generous offering for the costs of renovation in our new church facility earlier in the afternoon). It was very encouraging for Elliot to know that we're going to be able to get 21 bednets for children in Africa.

It was encouraging for me, too.

Instead of the normal "Halloween" season of greed and gluttony (these words are too strong -- and I don't intend them as a judgment of children who participate in the American ritual of trick-or-treating -- but I think you know what I'm getting at), our kids got to dress up so Superman and The American Football Star could serve treats to the rest of the church, in exchange for the opportunity to treat dozens of children in Africa with an improved opportunity for health and well-being.

I'll say it again: That's pretty sweet.


At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Linda said...

Sweet indeed! May the Lord continue to provide the young and old alike in our community of faith with hearts of compassion toward the impoverished, needy and less fortunate. We know that's His heart!
Praise God for 21 nets!!


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