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Faces from the Equator Part 1

Jenny and Rosa

Jenny and Rosa


I want to introduce you to Jenny and Rosa. Rosa is the 20 year-old mother of Nayeli, who is a 21 month old enrolled in Compassion’s Child Survival Program. Jenny is here CSP promoter. The Child Survival Program was created after Compassion realized that when kids would get involved in the sponsorship program, (beginning at 4 years old) the kids’ development from birth to 3-years-old was not where it needed to be. So CSP was introduced in part to help empower mothers to properly care for their children so they develop correctly. Each mother and daughter has a CSP promoter, who meets with the mother once a week in a one-on-one scenario, and then again once a week in a group setting. You can read more about the specifics of the program here, but trust me, it’s making a huge difference.

Tuesday, we were able to visit Rosa and Nayeli at their home.

Rosa's house

Rosa's House

Rosa and her husband Byron, and little Nayelly live in a 10×10 room that was clearly unclean from the moment we walked in. It was complete with a queen-sized bed, a homemade wooden crib, a homemade dresser, and a stove. That left about 3 feet of empty space on the floor. That was it. The 3 of them in what, by American standards, would be considered a tiny room. Rosa said (through her translator) her only prayer for her daughter is that she would “grow up to serve Jesus and be in ministry to give back to Him for what God has given to her.” That was it. Not a prayer for her own bedroom. Not money for toys. Not more comfortable living. But Jesus. Only Jesus.

Nayelly

Nayelly

Jenny also gave examples of how she helps Rosa and Nayeli develop as mother and daughter. She helped Nayeli build a tower with blocks and taught Rosa what to eat so that Nayeli would be fed the proper nutrition. Jenny walked Rosa through her questions and discussions. Rosa explained how her relationship with Jenny has grown into more of a sisterhood and best friend over time. They are like family. It’s life-changing to see how Jenny has helped this family grow and develop and set a foundation of faith in Nayelly’s life. Through Jenny’s compassion and love, Rosa, though with next-to-nothing, has a joyful spirit. They were all excited for us to visit them, when really it ended up being more of a blessing to us to see God at work.

Three years ago, Jenny was in Rosa’s position. The local church invited her to be a part of the Child Survival Program and once her son turned 4, he became part of the sponsorship program. Now that he is 6, Jenny’s son’s teachers say that he is the smartest kid in the class because of his early life development. After CSP changed her family’s life, it wasn’t hard for Jenny to decide that she wanted to be a part of the CSP team and become Rosa’s promoter. She now mentors seven other mothers and daughters too.

That’s the way God designed the church. Reach out to help somebody. They take what they learn to help others, who take what they learn to help others…and so on. When people know they are loved, they share that love. It’s infectious. The world will change because of it.

Yes, this is an amazing story…and yes, there are plenty more. But stop reading now. Pray for Rosa, Nayeli, Byron, and Jenny. Pray that God would empower Rosa; Protect Nayeli; Make Byron into the Christian man he’s called to be; And continue using Jenny in powerful ways.

Nayelly, Her grandmother, and Emily

Nayelly, Her grandmother, and Emily

Oh and one last thing: When we asked Rosa if she had a message to share with everyone she said, “Thank you to the people who sponsor us. I pray that because of this Nayelly will fall at the feet of Jesus.”

If you want to read more about or donate to the Child Survival Program, click HERE.

Ecuador Video

I don’t really have time to tell any one story from here. We’re still trying to process the lives that have been changed and the lives that need help. I am going to start telling a story a day next week so I can share about the amazing people here in Quito and Otavalo. One thing I have learned…the Kingdom of God is alive and well in this world.

Yesterday we visited Compassion Project EC-429 in Otavalo. The 11-12 year old class, knowing we were all musicians, prepared a song for us. Here it is:


Keep checking back for more updates, photos, and videos.

Ecuador Blog #1

Hey everybody…first of all thanks for checking out this blog.

Internet signal has been spotty, as you might imagine, so I haven’t been able to upload pics, videos, and blog. But We have a few minutes before we head out for the day and I have uploaded some photos to share. I also have some amazing stories that will have to wait. It will take a little while to write and figure out how to describe how God is working here in Ecuador. I will just say that the kids are amazing and Compassion is doing an amazing job reaching them and their families. Now, here are a few photos. Thanks to my beautiful wife, Emily, and Sami Rigelsky (our new friend from Wisconsin) for the photos. Tons more to come.

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Wammies Update + Ecuador

The Wammies were a lot of fun. Unfortunately I did not win in my two categories, but I did see a lot of great bands and musicians. DC has a lot of unbelievable musicians who are mostly unknown nationally.

On to the main thing…today is the day we leave for Ecuador. We can’t wait to get there and start soaking in whatever God has for us. Keep up with our trip through the blog and please pray for safety and good health.

keith

The Wammies

WAMA, BMI, and City of Falls Church present
24th Annual Wammies
Sunday, February 28, 2010
at the historic State Theatre,
City of Falls Church, Virginia.

Ok so what are the Wammies and why am I nominated? Some would simply say they are the Washington Area Music Association Awards…some would say they are the Wanna-be Grammys. Maybe it’s some of both…I have never been so I don’t know. However, we will be going tonight for the first time because I am nominated in two categories: Inspirational Album of the Year and Inspirational Male Vocalist of the Year. I don’t know if it will be closer to the Grammys or the Dundies, but it will be a great experience. I do feel very honored and humbled to be nominated. Why am I nominated? God is good. Other than that, I have no idea. I definitely feel undeserving as a fairly new “artist”. Who knows what will happen, but one thing is for sure…Emily and I will have a great time and soak up the experience.

American Idol

American Idol is becoming a regular thing in the Elgin house this season. Maybe it’s because we’ve been singing more ourselves lately? Maybe it’s because we have DVR now? Maybe it’s because we’re dorks? Who knows. But either way, we have watched all the episodes and [like nerds] try to predict who will get the boot and who we think will win. (The people we chose 3-4 weeks ago are still alive – move over Randy and Kara.)
We’re hooked. Are you? Who do you think will win? Who do you like best? Do you think it’s stupid? What do you think?

Why Ecuador?

Some of you know that my wife and I are leaving the country a week from today. Destination::Ecuador. People have been asking where exactly we’re going, why we’re going and what we’ll be doing there. So here it goes.

Within the last year, I started working with Compassion International. Compassion is an international relief organization focusing on releasing children from poverty and developing them holistically…all in the name of Jesus. It’s a great organization (check it out compassion.com). It has given me the opportunity to promote Compassion at events, concerts, churches, etc, and invite people to sponsor a child of their own. (Again, to read more details on what “sponsoring a child” means, check out their website).

About 6 weeks ago, my Compassion artist rep, Paul, called and invited Emily and I to go to Ecuador with Compassion in March. Doing something like this is something we have always had the desire to do, but never really the opportunity. Needless to say, we jumped at the opportunity. Through Compassion, God has hand-delivered the chance for us to do something amazing. How humbling? We will be leaving next Monday and visiting two main cities in Ecuador, Quito and Otavalo. We will be spending most of our time doing two different things…the first is visiting the child development centers to see how the kids are educated and to spend time loving on them. Secondly, we will be visiting the homes/families of children in the program in order to have a better understanding of their life as a whole. The idea is for us to have a more accurate idea of the need for children to be sponsored in order for us to have first-hand knowledge of how Compassion’s child sponsorship works.

Our prayer has been, and will continue to be, that we will experience whatever God wants us to experience. If it means changing our perspective on life, then so be it. If it means playing soccer with kids, then so be it. If it means observing from afar in order to come back and share what we saw, then so be it. We don’t know exactly what to expect, except that God will show up and do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.

So check out my blog next week as I’m planning to upload pics and tell stories so we don’t experience this thing alone. Let’s go together.

Who are you?

I am at a conference in Lynchburg, Virginia. The speaker, Derrick Parsons, is focusing on who we are and what defines us. So I ask myself and you…who are you? We are not: a pastor, a musician, a worship leader, an accountant, a teacher, a doctor, a student, etc. That is merely what we do. Not who we are.

So I ask…Do you know what defines you? Who are you?

For real this time…

I am going to start blogging regularly. I want to get to know people. I want people to get to know me. I want to share what’s going on in my life and I want to know what going on in the lives of the people I meet along the way. We can learn amazing things from other people because we all have unique experiences and stories. We can apply things we learn and in the end we all help each other. Basically, we’re all on the same team. So keep checking back and keep in touch.

***Specifically, my wife and I will be traveling to Ecuador with Compassion International next week. I’m going to be blogging about what we experience. That seems to be the easiest way to keep everybody up-to-date at the same time. I’ll be posting pictures, videos, and stories…and though Emily and I will be there, I hope it can be a trip that others can experience through us.

Top Ten Tuesday: Michael Jordan dunks

Well here is my 2nd edition of Top Ten Tuesday. In honor of the NBA playoffs, today’s top ten is a video of Michael Jordan’s top ten dunks (according to nbatv). I’m sure some of them are up for discussion, but some of them are just flat out ridiculous. Check them out.

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