Thursday, May 17, 2012

Project Presence Deadline is in 2 Weeks!

Have you ever been somewhere that you just knew you belonged? When this picture was snapped in 1997, I could not have been filled with more joy! I was sitting under a plastic roof getting ready to worship with some of my favorite people in the world: a group of once-street boys in Nairobi who had come to live at Taraja Home. Just a ten-minute walk from the University where I studied, I spent a lot of time at this amazing place, even going home with the "counselors" who often lived in the slums themselves with their own families. Now, 15 years later, I still smile when I think about the time I spent in Kenya and the relationships that I built there. James, Seti, Bob, Survivor, Charles, and Daniel are just a handful of the boys that I remember for their great senses of humor, dancing skills, and ability to make me laugh. They will be in my heart forever.

But my relationships with these boys and their counselors didn't start in 1997. In fact, they started less than 2 years earlier when, during the summer of 1995 right after I graduated from high school, I went on a Youth for Christ mission trip and stepped onto African soil for the first time. It was there that I first fell in love with this amazing place and its people.

We wanted to bring this up right now because on June 1st, applications and the money for plane tickets - $1800 per person - are due. We have been praying a lot about who's supposed to go on the trip, and the truth is: that someone could be you. We are trusting the Holy Spirit to guide and direct each one that's supposed to go (as well as those who aren't but may be going next year...or the year after that...or the year after that!) We totally trust that you'll know. It's a big commitment to the tune of about $2,800.00. The dates are September 6-16, 2012. We have the application ready to send to you, if you're interested. Just let us know. And while you may not come away from the trip loving Ethiopia as much as we do (because, honestly, is that even possible?! :) ), we do know your life will be impacted and changed.

Our goal is to be a presence in the slum community of Kechene. We want to be a blessing. We hope this will be accomplished by meeting the 30 precious children and their families (widowed moms) and hearing their stories. By doing a VBS for even more children in the community over the weekend. By making final preparations at the school, including potentially painting a mural and putting up artwork on the walls. By celebrating on the opening day of the school on September 12 with the staff and children. By participating in the filming of a documentary by a professional filmmaker. And by spending a day at a local orphanage and loving on the children there. It is true that we want to be a blessing and, Lord willing, we will be. However, we also know that we will be blessed. Far more than we would have thought possible. Because that's what happens. That's what makes the old adage "It is more blessed to give than receive" so true. It is in blessing that we are blessed. Project Presence is no exception.

Are you ready to go beyond wishing and go?!?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A very personal letter to friends.

To our dear Awake and Alive readers: This is the letter that Darin and Jolene sent to their friends and families this spring. Please read and become Alive.

Awake and Alive: Bright Future Academy
Dear Friends and Family,
Darin and I are writing you to be a part of something we believe has the potential to be life changing! We would like to invite you to partner with us & Awake and Alive to build a school for young children in Kechene, Ethiopia. Our prayers are that this school can be the beginning of hope and change in this slum community. Will you partner with us to bring hope to those who need it most?  
As you know, last March Darin and I traveled to Ethiopia to bring home Stella and Ben, who have blessed our lives beyond measure. But what you might not know is that while we were in Ethiopia we visited one of the poorest areas a slum called Kechene. 
While we were there we noticed the population was very young.  We found out that this was because of the living conditions that come with living in an extremely crowded, poor and disease stricken area.  We went into homes of orphans and widows; homes that are, at best, an 8X8 shack with dirt floors, no running water, no electricity, and a tattered roof.
We heard stories of extreme hard ship, loss and pain. 
We hugged and kissed children who know loss and feel the pain that comes from HIV/AIDS.  We spent time getting to know the widows who have to leave their young children at home to go make a living. We found out the children are left with no one to protect them. They are at risk for dangerous situations, abuse, child trafficking, or who knows what else!  Most of the mothers can barely afford to provide enough food for their families yet alone an education. So this cycle of poverty will continue for these children and their families.
Since that experience, we have not been the same.
Upon returning home the God-given opportunity to start a school for these vulnerable children showed itself!
My dear friend, Danielle Black and I have founded a Nonprofit Organization called Awake and Alive and our 1st project is to open a school in Kechene, Ethiopia! The cost is $44,000 to start a school that will remove 30 of the most vulnerable children from the streets of Kechene! 

Darin and I are wholeheartedly committed to this project so we are giving 10% of the school cost. We are asking you to come along side us in supporting this wonderful cause - giving children a brighter future. All money given is tax deductible and 100% of your gift will go to the school.

This fall I will take a trip to Ethiopia to help the project and see the opening of the school. I will come home with amazing stories of hope and redemption from the children who will have a safe place to learn and grow because of your generosity!

Our children have turned our lives upside down. Bringing them home from a third-world country has blessed our lives beyond explanation.  It’s impossible for us to look at the young children in Kechene and not think of our own children.  If our children were on the streets we would stop at nothing to change their situation! It is very real to us! Let it be very real to you as well. And PLEASE – Go beyond wishing it was different and let’s DO something about it! 

Thank you for giving a life changing gift!
Darin and Jolene Shrock

 "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

We are praying for 44 partners to come alongside us and make a onetime gift of $440.00, which would enable us to have enough upfront funding to open the doors to our school in Kechene for the first year. This level of partnership is not for everyone, and there are many ways to help. Thank you.