make a difference

Si, se puede. We Have a Voice.

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Kris and I were in Washington DC all of nine hours, six in meetings and three speed walking through the monuments before darkness settled in. I am so thankful for those little moments when you are afforded an opportunity to see the world a little more deeply than you did before.

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What I know more deeply:

I’m really proud of Kris and the work that World Renew and the Office of Social Justice does to speak up for the most vulnerable.

Regardless of your political positions, those that make decisions on Capital Hill work incredibly long, difficult hours. They truly do care about making a difference.

We have a voice. Every piece of mail you send or phone call you make indicating your heart about issues is recorded and filed. It really makes a difference. I think I did not grasp that before I witnessed it first hand. Knowing who your congressional representatives are and communicating with them is important. This is a directory to find the contact information for those in government positions.

Everyday their are powerful people {because they have money} lobbying for their causes. The most vulnerable in our society do not have these resources and we need to work so hard to give them equal voice.

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Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a little timid. I was able to speak at the meetings we had by God’s grace. I hope those we talked to were able to better understand the vulnerable place immigrants find themselves in. I hope we can grow to extend grace to those that come to fill jobs no one else much wants in our society.

When we first arrived as part of the Evangelical Immigration Table, we faced a huge crowd of families. They came on six buses as the National Alliance of Evangelical Latino Christians. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Si, se puede they chanted.

Yes, we can.

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There we are after two hours of sleep and six hours of meetings.

And wait for it… right after I dive bombed the cement in my heels smack dab in front of the Capitol. The knees of my pants ripped a little, there was a small amount of blood, and I realized I had fulfilled my awkward moment. But, it didn’t matter. I was just thankful for the opportunity to see deeper.

Where have you traveled that inspired you? 

Freedom.

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In the United States we will be celebrating the 4th of July. Freedom.

My Grandfather often told us the story of his big brother who died in World War II. Clem was a gentle young man who shared candy bars with the family dog Lady. His payed a deep price for my freedom and my children’s freedom. There are many who have done the same.

 

I blog for The Exodus Road. An organizations that provides rescue for global girls trapped in modern-day slavery through sex trafficking. We can’t travel to these places and snatch these girls to freedom ourselves. There are trained people who can. People who often work for free, tirelessly to save innocent lives and we can make a difference.

The search fuels the rescue. And by investing in our teams, you would be putting boots on the ground, sending eyes to search for the enslaved. 

 

Here is the link to learn more. For the Search and Rescue FAQ page click here. To join a search and rescue team you commit to sponsoring $35 a month. This funds one night of search and rescue a month. You can choice which team you join Alpha, Bravo, Charlie or Delta. Being a part of the team, you will receive up-dates, specific ways to encourage volunteers on the field and a welcome packet.

I’m excited to share this opportunity. It is a way to dig deeper into a cause that needs our voices.

Joining a search and rescue team is a tangible way to bring the freedom we ourselves have to girls that are enslaved.

“Tell me how many kids you want to rescue, and if I have the resources, I think our team could make that happen.” – Exodus Road Coalition Partner

 

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Photo Credit: Ellie Van Engen

100 Ways to Give Back over Summer Break.

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1. Summer Reading to Make a Difference: 5 Ideas.

2. Read The Lorax and Plant a Tree.

3. Gather up your loose change all summer and pick something from a gift catalog to give.

4. Be inspired at amybosma.com. Her son Daniel is raising money to buy a clean water well.

5. Finish up an afternoon of sprinkler with some WaterAid Kids Activities!

6. Prepare ahead of time to complete an Operation Christmas Child Box.

7. Free Printable Activities from Heifer International for kids.

8.  Ideas to care for families with disabilities.

9. Explore Citizen Kid Global: a website that help young minds learn about the greater global world.

10. Fill a sports shoe box through Sports Gift.

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11. Watch The Good Bird’s Club a special Sesame Street Video about bully prevention.

12. Help the kids in your life become comfortable writing their stories! Check out my Student Speak Pinterest Board.

13. Deliver a surprise to someone in need of a pick-me up. Need ideas? Gifts to Give on Pinterest.

14. For the crafty check out all of Leslie’s at Pink Stripey Socks DIY’s!

15. Head over to Operation World and choose a country to pray for together.

16. Keep clipping those Box Tops for when you return to school in the fall!

17. Become a Free a Family sponsor through World Renew.

18. For all those who can wield needles download a free pattern for Knit for Kids from World Vision.

19. Read digital editions of Quest for Compassion and Explorer for kids from Compassion International.

20. Read Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand (digital video)  about fighting childhood cancer.

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21. Read this beautiful photo journey of Children’s Human Rights through UNICEF. (Great for the whole family)

22. Got Teens? Check out DoSomething.org. Participate in the Peanut Butter and Jam Slam this summer!

23. Walk, Run or Bike with your whole family with the free Charity Miles app!  Exercise for a cause of your choice!

24. Support a family’s micro loan through Kiva!

25. Give through Feeding America’s On-line Gift Catalog.

26. Sign up for Milkshake, a daily email with ideas to give back.

27. Take the GROW METHOD challenge with your family this summer from OxFam.

28. Try a new recipe with the kids from the GROW METHOD cookbook.

29. Take the Can You Imagine Quiz through Ryan’s Well about what it might be like without clean water.

30. Try out a Half the Sky Movement mobile game app.

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31. Do you use Diaper.com? You can refer a friend and support Shot@Life, providing vaccines to children.

32. Consider bringing TerraCyle to your school. Recycle and earn education money for your school.

33. Host a School Tools Event hands-on service through World Vision for education.

34. Host a Journey to Jamaa Movie Party through World Vision. Connecting Children who Care with People in Need.

35. Send a Wounded Warrior a thank you note through facebook.

36. Use free Girl Rising Curriculum to educate your girl about courageous needs of global friends.

37. Recycle those old running shoes with Reuse-a-Shoe by Nike.

38. Donate your old eyeglasses and sunglasses through Lions Club International.

39. Doing some home improvement donate your home supplies or purchase at Habitat for Humanity Restore.

40. Old Cell Phones? Try these options.

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41. Play some Recycle City at the Environmental Protection Agency.

42. Watch these fun digital shorts at the Story of Stuff, great to teach kids about waste and recycling!

43. Download a free curriculum for faith-based teens about a Spirit-filled Response to a Consumed Crazed World.

44. Explore how your family can incorporate fair trade purchases into your household.

45. Submit your story to CausePub and support Blood Water Mission.

46. Download a toolkit from UNICEF with 20 Ways to Fight Human Trafficking.

47. Download Live58: free ebook about how to live generously in 2013.

48. Watch these videos about clean water from WaterAid family appropriate.

49. The Adventures of Super Toilet from WaterAid. What kid wouldn’t read that on-line comic book?

50. Download this flyer for expectant Mom’s to make sure they get a PulseOx Screening for new babies.

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51. Make sidewalk chalk messages that encourage!

52. Deliver an ice cream treat to a shut-in or someone that has been feeling under the weather.

53. Surprise someone with a full car wash. Kids love to help with this, any excuse to get wet!

54. Remember your local food pantry. Many kids get the majority of their meals from school and when school’s out they experience food insecurity.

55. Use Goodsearch a penny is donated to your cause or school with each search.

56. Goodsurvery’s donates a dollar to your cause for each survey you take.

57. Are you a computer or facebook gamer? Try Goodgaming for every three times you play a penny is donated to your cause.

58. Try one of these 134 acts of kindness from Anna at And Then We Saved.

59. Save your pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

60. Check out this great list of items to donate such as toys and games to your closest Ronald McDonald House.

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61. Three places to send a get well soon card to a child that is receiving long-term hospital care.

62. A summer hair cut? Try Locks of Love.

63. 100 tips to conserve water this summer!

64. Try some of the challenges in the book Clean House about youth entitlement.

65. Walk or use your bikes in the nice weather whenever possible. Bench that car! Shut off car pool!

66. Directions on how to make an infant care kit through the Mennonite Central Committee to be used in refugee camps.

67. Adopt a Classroom: Fund a project for a specific classroom.

68. Patterns to make blankets for children and babies through Project Linus.

69. Host or attend a block party for your neighborhood.

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70. Do you know a young person serving at a summer camp? Send a care package.

71. Send pictures and letters to friends and family that live far away.

72. Do you know someone going through a difficult time? Step them up through Take Them a Meal.

73. Watch the video the Power of Ten. Plant trees and employ others through the Eden Foundation.

74. Giving through your coupon skills by moneysavingmom.com

75. Speak up for what you believe in. Our combined voices are powerful.

76. Shut off social media for extended times during the day to be present with your kids.

78. Awesome ideas from the ever gracious Amy Sullivan.

79. Shop with purpose visit pinterest boards from about proximity and Amy Sullivan.

78. Kaboom Playground active body activities.

79. Kaboom Playground active together projects.

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80. Kaboom Playground active mind projects.

81. Follow the non-profits you support on twitter, facebook and pinterest.

82. Donated your gently used coats through One Warm Coat.

83. Ideas for earning service learning credits through The Humane Society.

84. Support survivor care of victims of human trafficking through Love 146.

85. Become a church ambassador for Exodus Road.

86. Use social media for good. Learn more at Social Good Moms.

87. Teach your kids about hospitality by having friends over.

88. Support your local library by participating in their summer reading program.

89. Free lessons for kids about gardening and the environment.

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90. Do you have a history lover? The National Park Service has an enormous list of ideas for service learning projects.

91. 55 Service Learning ideas from Youth Service America with links.

92. Check out Learning to Give a curriculum division of Generation On compatible with Common Core Standards.

93. Family Service Ideas from Generation On!

94. 65 ways to get started through Generation On!

95. Resource Database of Service Learning and Community Involvement from the New York Times.

96. Check out Faces Magazine from your library ages 9-14.

97. Teaching Tolerance Magazine is free to educators and youth directors.

98. Book list for Anti-Bullying and Conflict Resolution.

99. Spend time together.

100. Take time to do nothing at all 🙂

 

I’ d love to hear what you tried off this list. Guest post? I love your voice. 

Dear Anna

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Photo Credit: “Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department” 

a mother in Mumbai, India, who is looking for her lost daughter.

 

My monthly post for Exodus Road from the perspective of a mother.

Read Anna’s Story here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

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Image courtesy of  papaija2008/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear Anna, 

You have been gone for 365 days. I have watched the seasons pass over the River Neva. The waters are ice-covered again and all around lies in winter drab. This is how my heart feels, dear Anna. We ate a tula gingerbread on your sixteenth birthday. 

I stand on the water’s edge at sunset and sunrise and pray that you might return to us. Pray is not the right word, I plead. 

You left for me, for Pavel, for Pyotr, for Petya to help us have a better life. 

There are whispers on the streets that the people you left with were dishonest. That you may be in great hurt and danger. It’s like the ice cracking across the river through me. You were only trying to bring us hope.

I did not know. I am so sorry I did not know. 

Pavel has began telling the story of the Firebird and the Grey Wolf to his brothers as you used to each night. In the end when Prince Ivan regained all he had lost. This is what I plead, that you might regain all you have lost. 

If you could read my heart, you would know I would come for you if I knew where you were. I would trade spaces the very second I could. I would give everything to go back and not allow you to board that bus. I hope you are not cold.  I hope you are not alone. 

So I will continue to plead as the river changes. I will keep telling mothers, to hold their daughters close. No matter how bad it becomes, we cannot let this happen anymore. 

Love, Your Matushka

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Sometimes a family can lose their daughter to human trafficking under the veil of the promise of work.

Other times family’s find themselves in the position of selling their daughters into slavery. This seems beyond our imaginations.

Read the following story by Laura Parker How Can a Mother Sell Her Child? 

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Understanding that truth places us in the proximity of making difference.

That First Moment

That first moment:

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Dear Ellie and Josiah,

We hoped for you. We prayed for you. Then you were there with us.  All amazing hope and grace flooded our hearts. You looked up at us like we had known one another forever. A new life and suddenly our lives had the most amazing purpose. All you were and would become was wrapped up in that single moment. Our hearts cracked open because we knew we could never love anything like we loved you. 

Love,  Mom and Dad. 

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I remember feeling so scared. The weight of the responsibility of bringing a life into the world did not fall short on me. But, the moment I looked at my daughter and then my son all my fear faded away. They looked at me like they knew I was their Mom. All my insecurities and inadequacies seemed small in that moment.

I am so thankful we had good health care to guide us in those first moments. I was completely awkward that first day (and honestly, the awkward parenting moments keep coming.) Neither birth was without its challenges, but I knew we had the assurance of amazing health care to guide us through.

 

We received a chance to make it into the world together.

That was a blessing I don’t take for granted.

It is a blessing many Mom’s in this world do not receive. 

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The Global Team of 200 is working with Save the Children to bring awareness to maternal and newborn health care.

  • Watch this touching video about celebrity Moms and their love at first sight moments and our global needs. Video
  • The State of the World’s Mothers (SOWM) report is Save the Children’s signature annual publication, which compiles global statistics on the health of mothers and children. Here is the infographic for the report. I’ll be pinning it on my Pinterest Causes board.

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Maternal and Newborn Health is a cause we can get behind. We have all been mothers, or daughters, or aunts. 

How can you be involved:

Beautiful Images from Save the Children: 

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Liberia: Newborns

Newborn daughter of Wilma Francis, in the Mvolo Primary Health

What was your first moment like? How do you support maternal and newborn health? 

Not Today

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The film Not Today is coming to Holland, Michigan!

None of us are free if one of us is enslaved.

 

Click over here to watch the film trailer.

This film is about human trafficking, specifically trafficking immersed in the caste systems of India.

This film is about making a difference.

(Visit the website to see if the film is coming to a theater near you, or how you can bring it to your area.)

 

Ruth Ann Doane of Manna Global Goods and Better Way Imports is hosting this film in Holland. (Ruth was a guest here and shared about how Manna Global Goods came into being.)

The film has some amazing partnerships you can read about those here. They include Focus on the Family, YWAM and Live 58. The film also won Best Justice Film at the Justice Film Festival.

 

If you live in the Holland area how can you see the film?

  •  The film will show at AMC Star 8 Theater in Holland the weekend of May 17
  • To reserve a ticket contact Ruth at ruthanndoane@gmail.com
  • Tickets will also be available to purchase at Better Way Imports next week. The address is:

201 W. Washington #100
Zeeland, MI 49464
Phone: (616) 648-0900

I will provide an update on the exact date and time on About Proximity’s Facebook Page. 

The film will offer some great ways to follow up and be involved in the fight against human trafficking.

 

The Tulip Time Festival is this week in Holland. When you are out and about head over by 

Manna Church on the corner of 9th and Central Avenue to check out Manna Global Goods and make a difference. 

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And Action!

This is my monthly update for The Exodus Road.

You Can Make a Difference! 

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Exodus Road staffer, Kelley J. Leigh, wrote an article at Burnside Writers Collective about the gap we can feel between sex trafficking and our safe suburban lives.

She writes:

One turn at a time.  One seed of holy unrest, watered.   One humble step. One choice to say “Yes” to the One true God who has a heart to rescue us all, one soul at a time.

Start small.  Water the seed. Let it grow.

Be a hero in this larger story.

Join the rescue.

Read the rest of her story Entering the Bat Cave here.

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I’m With Lincoln:

Watch the powerful video here.

You can sign a petition here to tell your senator that ending human slavery is important to you.

Following the Made in a Free World blog  and The Exodus Road blog keeps you up-to-date on ways to respond.

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Trade of Innocents

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A big welcome to our guest writer, Diane Harvey. She’s a super woman at placing herself in the proximity of renewal. She’s also our steady friend from Australia full of insight and encouragement. 

I saw the movie, Trade of Innocents last night, starring Dermot Mulroney and Mira Sorvino, which focuses on the worldwide problem of human trafficking. It was powerful and distressing just like I thought it would be. It was a thriller. I felt my heart beating in some places, and spent most of the time with my hands gripping my tissue packet.

The movie is set in one community in South East Asia. The American husband and wife were played by Dermot Mulroney and Mira Sorvino. He was a detective and they were both trying to come to terms with the kidnapping and loss of their own young daughter in an idyllic American suburb.

There was resistance to the investigative operation. The police chief argued that the problem was too big to fix and that they were only after one man, that it was better to agree with the community who see and remain silent. We later found out that he was being paid off and was himself part of the problem as he was gaining financially by tipping the trafficker onto raids and turning a blind eye.

The disturbing trade is highlighted in the interaction between the American tourist, who appeared to be a married businessman and family man, but who wanted to use really young girls, and the brutal trafficker who agreed to supply ‘freshly picked flowers’ for him through kidnapping.

We got a glimpse into the lives of  the women and girls who were already captive, in one scene we saw one lady physically, verbally and emotionally abused by the trafficker who later died of her injuries. The dialogue transitioned to unsubtitled Thai in this scene, which added to the viewer’s feeling of powerlessness, horror and fright.

In the quiet moments we were taken with the sweet American lady (Sorvino) who shared about her story of loss, and helped escaped victims tell their story and begin to heal as they woke up each day in a safe environment. When she began her work, they were wary of her. A local had said to her, “they don’t trust Americans. They come, take their photos and leave nothing (good) behind.”

I have been thinking about this topic for a while so I wasn’t being presented with this grimy reality for the first time. The thing that did shock me was the reference to the practice of sewing girls back up to make them appear as virgins. I knew that women sometimes do this before marriage in some cultures to appear virginal, but it didn’t occur to me that this was being done as part of this evil trade.

At the end of the movie we had various non-profit partners speak to us about what they do in prevention, rescue and rehabilitation and heard some stories of hope. We were encouraged to pray about what part we could play and encouraged that we can act both individually and corporately to fight this trade (which is larger than the arms trade and the drug trade). I signed a petition for our country to have a minister for human trafficking, gathered some brochures, a fridge magnet on a “Walk for Freedom” fundraiser and left with the determination to fight this evil trade.

Will you join with me in my fight to abolish modern day slavery?

The Film Website and trailer

Resource Website

Facebook  and Twitter 

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Diane Harvey resides in Perth, Australia.  She is 36, has been happily married for 6 years, and has two beautiful children. She has studied education and theology. Currently, she is on maternity leave and serving in her church in the areas of women’s discipleship and social justice.

Newborn Health

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New life emerges vulnerable. The loss of a new life is devastating. We can work together to ensure that more families do not have to endure such grief.

I am a Mom to two kids and one life lost through miscarriage. We all have a story to tell. Woman who give life through childbirth find themselves in a  very vulnerable space, good maternal health care ensures the best possible outcome.

When we make maternal health a priority, Mom’s around the world receive a gift of hope.

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Millennium Development Goal #5 is to improve maternal health. The MDG’s were designed to be reached by 2015.

The Global Newborn Health Conference will be taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa April 15-18. The world is joining together to reduce infant mortality around the world. The conference will be streaming live here.

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These are simple ways that maternal health can be improved globally:

UNAMIPhoto Credit: UN Photo/Bikem Ekberzade

What Can You Do? 

  • Lend your signature to the Million Moms Challenge the right for every Mom to have a healthy pregnancy, a safe birth and a strong beginning. 
  • Two Degrees for every bar you buy a nutritional pack is donated to a hungry child. (Think TOMS for protein bars.)
  • Get involved in the Global Team of 200 partner organization Maternity Worldwide.
  • And the organization Shanti Uganda.
  • Pull out those gift catalogs and pick a gift that directly benefits maternal health.
  • You can follow the conversation at Twitter #Newborn2013
  • Watch Girl Rising and help support education to girls.
  • Read about PulseOx Screening for newborns.

Somali Refugees Dollo Ado Refugee receiving Camp in Ethiopia

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

What is your baby story? 

Existing for Others

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A homemade diaper table became a bunk bed. We had been reading Bernstein Bear books and they were enamored with brother and sister bear’s bunk bed.

Sometimes it becomes very quiet in our house, too quiet…

 

Ever have those moments? Panic settles in as you run from room to room to find out what is going down.

A few moments from the Van Engen house:

  • A fashion show where the two kids modeled underwear on all their extremities. 
  • The impromptu science experiment in the basement involving baking soda, vinegar, and other substances.
  • The perfume shop that opened in the kitchen.
  • Josiah’s face and hair smeared with seven layers of lip gloss.
  • Play doh time in a bed
  • Toilet paper… I don’t need to expand.
  • Crayons and a wall.

(Now you are wondering if I watch my kids at all 🙂 )

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God was and is a creator. We are his workmanship. God labored over us with the deepest love.

 

Give your creativity unsupervised space.

To be meaningful, art must serve, must wash feet. Like Jesus, who has been called “the man for others” our art, to have meaning, must exist for others. [p86] Micheal Card, Scribbling in the Sand. 

 

I am so encouraged by the creative ways people are making a difference. Let’s keep adding to the ways we exist for others, letting our art and our talents serve.

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