Sunday, March 25, 2012

Introducing Our Board Members

We have been blessed with a truly amazing group of diverse people who rally around Awake and Alive. We thought you might like to meet some of them!

Keith Sarber - Has over 15 years of professional experience in relationship development among corporate and non-profit accounts. Most recently is serving as Assistant Director of Community Investment at the United Way of St. Joseph County. Priorities include cultivating key relationships, funding impact, annual giving, major gifts and managing the organization’s events with staff and volunteer committees. I love to paint large murals, draw, sing, dance, swim, read (nonfiction), play with my kids, wife, and dog not necessarily in that order. I am very happy to be near completion of my Bachelors degree at Goshen College. Awake & Alive is very important to me because I believe in the mission, leadership and goals. I can be super critical of hypocritical Christians who sit around and complain, whine and condemn the current state of affairs. I think (and sometimes say), “Why don’t you do something about it, why don’t you work toward a solution.” And Awake & Alive is actively working toward the solution.

Yemi Mobolade - I'm a local missionary in Colorado Springs. Originally from Nigeria, I have both a local and global calling. I'm a co-founder and pastor of theMovement church, a new network of missional communities (simple churches) on a Christ-centered mission to bring healing, reconciliation, wholeness, and “shalom” to the people of Colorado Springs. I am working on completing my M.Div at A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary while anticipating beginning my Doctorate degree in Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary. In my spare time I am working on completing my first book: The Way of the Cross: Reimagining the Cross as a Kingdom Lifestyle. I'm excited to be a part of Awake and Alive because I acknowledge the calling and passion that God has placed in Jolene and Danielle and I'm honored to be a part of this Kingdom work on my home continent!

Meggan Armburstmacher – I live in Michigan and have been married for almost 10 years to Ryan. We have adopted 2 children from Ethiopia. Rylee is 4 and Ezzie is 22 months. I am a Hair Stylist/Salon Manager at an AVEDA salon part time and also spend time as a “31” consultant. I also am an advocate for people who don’t have a platform to speak up for themselves. I am so excited to be a part of Awake & Alive because after returning from Ethiopia on both of our trips, I hold true to the saying "I need Africa, more than Africa needs me"!!! I have been forever touched and changed by the country and its people! I can't wait to dirty my hands and get more involved as an advocate for the children of Ethiopia!

Justin Lugbill - I live in Chicago with my wife of 5 years, Erica. We are both business owners. I own an online Christian bookstore and a Marketing consultancy. Erica owns an interior design firm. Both being self-employees, we live pretty unique lifestyles. We get to spend a lot of time together with two home offices! We both love to spend time outdoors. We also have a passion for travel. In fact, our pipe dream is to live in cities around the world, for a few months out of each year. I am excited to be a part of Awake and Alive. There is such a need for what Danielle and Jolene's non profit is doing. I believe that, for the first time in history, we have a legitimate shot at alleviating the sorts of poverty and destitution we sadly see around the world. Study after study has shown that one of the most important factors in social mobility, is education... and that is what Awake and Alive is all about! I plan to help A&A with their online presence (website, social media, marketing, and PR). One unique thing that we've been able to do so far, is set up a fundraiser with my bookstore, where 6% of sales go to Awake and Alive when you use the fundraiser code AwakeandAlive at checkout. In addition, the code will activate free shipping (over $25) for you! With a price match guarantee, free shipping, and 6% of your purchase going to Awake and Alive, you'd be crazy not to at least try it out! :)

Eyob Zeleke - God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, Melat Yilkal, and two adorable sons Lewy (4) and Lukas (18 months). I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and came to the U.S about 12 years ago for college. We have made Goshen, IN our home. I work for Dexter Axle, a manufacturing company, as an Application Developer. I am also the prayer team coordinator for our church and help organize periodic and annual events for Ethiopian youth and students in the Midwest region. Some of my hobbies include, playing guitar and keyboard, playing basketball, but most importantly playing with my boys :) I am excited to share the burden and passion of Awake and Alive as the ministry strives to help the kids in Kechene for a better tomorrow. I hope to contribute to the growth of the ministry one way or another, including teaching Amharic :)!

Danielle BlackI live in Elkhart, Indiana with my husband of 12 years, Karl. We have four incredible children by birth and adoption: Braden (10), Kole (8), Owen (6), and Selah (3). Before kids, I was a high school English, speech, and drama teacher at both a public high school and later at an alternative school. I know how much an education matters! These days, I seem to have even less free time between mothering, working in the education field part-time, and helping run Awake and Alive, but I do enjoy rare moments reading, playing the guitar (learning to!), and connecting with others. I also really love drama—the legitimate theater kind—but haven’t had much of an outlet for that as of late! Being a part of Awake and Alive is like a kiss from God for me. I get to do what makes me feel alive—anything that involves the continent of Africa and the beautiful people from there—and I get to live out God’s heart a little better by advocating for orphans and widows.

Jolene Shrock
- I live in Goshen, Indiana with my husband of 7 years, Darin. We have 3 precious children, all adopted from the beautiful country of Ethiopia. Claire is our radiant 3 year old. She is super sweet, a natural born leader and loves to dance. Benjamin is our rambunctious 2 year old. He loves banging on stuff, throwing balls, and wrestling with his daddy. Stella is our sweet and spirited 2 year old. She is very curious and passionate about everything she does. I love being a stay at home momma but also love working one day a week at the fRiNgE SaLoN. During my down time I enjoy reading, watching movies and spending precious time with Darin. Awake and Alive is an amazing channel for me to pour my God given passion into. There has been lots of learning and lots of prayers during the start up of Awake and Alive, but to be in God’s will and know that He is in control, it is the only place I want to be!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Survive...or truly live?

First of all, I have NO IDEA how it came to be that it's been a month since we blogged!! Yikes! I could tell you, our more-faithful-than-us readers that we've been TOTALLY IMMERSED into the beginning stages of planning for the mission trip September 6-16th. I could tell you that we've been making some kickin' plans with some amazing people about the cinematic future of Awake and Alive. I could tell you that it's now March and the natives are gettin' restless, and we need to be good mommies first and foremost....but the truth is:
We dropped the ball.
And as I learned in Kenya (Kiswahili), we wanted to say Pole Sana. We are very sorry. Well, we're at least sorry. But we don't want to dwell on it, because more than being sorry, we're VERY excited about the connections Awake and Alive is making and what is transpiring. Pretty incredible stuff. Okay, enough grovelling, now to the other thing I wanted to share with you:
Anybody recognize that girl? Well, that's me the very first time I went to Africa--Summer of 1995. (I recognize some of you reading this might not have been alive then.) And that's James that I'm hugging. I think Julius is beside him. I still remember their names. THAT is when Africa first started getting under my skin. And you know what? It's still there--
Stronger than ever!
This close-up to our left , I think, is when I went back to Kenya to the same location to go to Daystar University and work with the same street boys for 4 1/2 months. You might not be able to see it, but my heart is so full. While I've been a Midwest girl my whole life, it is on African soil that I truly feel home.
I could honestly go on and on about how much I love this beautiful, tragic continent, but I think it would be more powerful to end with a story told to me that first time in Africa about a little boy.
His name was Survivor.
He was six when I met him, but he had already earned such a name.
(He's on the right (in red) up in the tree with me and his buddy Charles.) You see, in the capital city of Nairobi, Kenya when I went in 1995, there were thousands upon thousands of children living on the street, many of them orphans. In fact, according to the US State Department, in 1999 (2 years after I was there the second time) it was reported that "there were over 50,000 street children in Nairobi, and the government estimated that their numbers grew at 10 % per year." It made for a very unsafe environment because these kids were hungry and often sick without adults to care for and protect them. And it definitely didn't make the government look good. So, when a major political event happened a year (or a couple of years?) beforehand, the government came through and "swept the streets." Instead of taking these tens of thousands of children somewhere where they would be well-cared for, they put them in prison. Yes. In prison. Survivor was one of these kids.

But he made it through and ended up at this boys' home created because Youth for Christ Kenya saw the need, and acted. It was a place where there was hope and care and love. Perhaps, over time, Survivor learned that he didn't just have to survive anymore. There was more to life than what he had experienced. I hope this wonderful place was the beginning of a new chapter in his life, but I really don't know. I know there aren't always happy endings. Nonetheless,

Hope is real.

Thank you for being a tangible gift of hope...and faith...and love to children and families in Kechene, the latest chapter in my personal story and some of yours, we hope, as well. May all the "Survivors" in the world--both here and thousands of miles away--know someplace deep in their souls that there is more than what they're currently experiencing and living for. And may we all learn what it means to Truly live.