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A Birthday Wish for Water

Posted by on Jan 20, 2014 in the "Better Together" blog | 0 comments

Like most teenagers, 15 year-old Morgan loves her birthday. She loves the crazy fun of friends gathering, the mismatch of her favorite foods all in one place. She revels in the mystery of scavenger hunts planned by her mom – adventures that typically take Morgan and her friends all over town before they land back at her house and munch more treats and laugh until their sides ache. This year was different though. While she greatly anticipated her special day, Morgan had other ideas of how she wanted to celebrate – and give – for her birthday.   “It started when I went to the Give-a-Well celebration before Christmas. I learned so much. Then afterwards, my mom and some friends hung out for a late night snack. And as we went around the table and talked about ways we could help make a difference, I thought, ‘I think I know; I’ll use my birthday as a way to share.’” For Morgan, exposure to everyday female life in South Sudan was an eye-opener. The idea of girls her age becoming mothers, the fact that women and girls had minimal access to health care, education and opportunities to sustain themselves and their families felt life-changing. So was the idea that girls typically spent their days fetching water, often from contaminated sources. “All I could think was whenever I wanted water, I just turn it on,” she reflects, “and so many times I accidentally leave it running. Girls there have no water to turn on. They have to go miles to get it – and that can take up huge parts of their days.” So the ninth grader went to work. She asked her parents to include an idea on her party invitation: instead of gifts, Morgan asked for donations she would share with Sister Effect. She decided she wanted her gift devoted to giving clean water. “Water affects everything,” Morgan offers, “If people don’t have clean water, it’s really hard to survive.” When the evening of her party rolled around, Morgan and her mom, Staci, shared with Morgan’s friends a little about how Sister Effect comes alongside women and girls in South Sudan. Then they played Sister Effect’s intro video so the girls could see for themselves what female life is like. “I think the video was a good idea because I’d been telling my friends about South Sudan. But something clicked when they saw for themselves what people there face every day.” After a wild scavenger hunt that twisted and turned all over Houston, the girls’ final stop before heading back home was meeting up with part of SE’s team, where the girls shared their life-changing gifts and heard stories in the context of South Sudan’s searing heat as they shivered in Houston’s abnormally freezing weather outside Morgan’s home church. “I think it was good,” Morgan says, “I was hoping my friends and I could help make a difference. And I think we really did.” ### We couldn’t agree more, Morgan! You not only cared about sisters in South Sudan, you chose to take action and share their story with other friends. Those friends learned and began caring with you. We’re so convinced this is how deep and lasting change happens in the world – one life at a time, caring about those things that matter to God. And then passing this caring onto others. We couldn’t be more thankful for you. Happy Birthday, beautiful...

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South Sudan: A Prayer for Peace

Posted by on Dec 23, 2013 in the "Better Together" blog | 0 comments

Our Beloved Community, First, thank you for the outpouring of concern you’ve shown regarding the current conflict in South Sudan. Your inquiring emails, calls and messages have been beautiful reminders that we really are a human family – and God’s love in us moves us to deeply care for the suffering of others. I’m so grateful for this. As I write, South Sudan is, in fact, conflicted and aspects of the clashings have escalated in some of the nation’s states. Unfortunately, shifts in this region have long-occurred, especially prior to the formal end of civil war in 2005 between Sudan and what became South Sudan in 2011. The violence you’re hearing about has deep history and context – and it’s our heartfelt prayer that a holistic solution and formal steps toward a more comprehensive peace will soon make a lasting end to the conflict. Meanwhile, we grieve with and for those impacted by this situation. The current clashing began less than two weeks ago when what is speculated as an attempted coup occurred in South Sudan’s capital city of Juba. Thought to be fueled by existing and unaddressed ethnic tensions, and further intensified by deteriorating economic conditions, violence erupted and has continued to spread, in particular, along the nation’s two major tribes. Casualties have occurred and thousands of civilians have been displaced, many being sheltered by U.N. presence in the country. The South Sudan regions where Sister Effect serves by way of local partnerships have, fortunately, not been affected, and work in these areas continue. As we prepare this week to celebrate the birth and life of God’s greatest gift to mankind, let us join in praying for the lasting peace and reconciliation Christ offers – both to us and to those we love in South Sudan. Please pray wisdom and guidance for those leading peace efforts. Pray for conflicting parties’ hearts and minds to be receptive to transcendent ways of transforming conflict. Pray for ceasing of violence throughout the country and for national healing along ethnic lines. Pray for stability in South Sudan and protection of the nation’s people. Again, thank you again for caring and for being on this journey with us. It’s a privilege to partner with you as we together come alongside of those we dearly love in South...

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With a Grateful Heart…

Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in the "Better Together" blog | 0 comments

With a Grateful Heart…

As this holiday season begins, I’m so grateful it does so with Thanksgiving. Not only is Thanksgiving my favorite holiday, it reminds me just how powerful is the heart overflowing with appreciation and gratitude. “In everything, give thanks…,” God prompts us. In all circumstances, all life seasons. In times of light and laughter and wonder. In stretches where the music of our worlds grinds to a halt and everything around us fades to black. And in those infinite moments in between. Being grateful matters. Choosing the way of thanksgiving sets us up to enjoy lives of contentment, lives focused on the abundance of God’s always-present goodness and grace. Because when we’re truly thankful, our perspectives change. We see all we we’ve been given, all we have within us to give. We realize the things of this life are passing. But people and relationships are lasting treasures. Before long, the thankful heart sees obstacles as God-opportunities. It celebrates the beauty and uniqueness of others. It overlooks imperfections. And it registers human suffering in our midst as a call to personal action because such a heart realizes God’s love for this world makes us a human family – and when one of us hurts or has unmet needs, coming alongside to help and empower is just and transformational for all. I want to live a life like this, a life that stretches wide and deep to love wholly – both in local and global communities. I long to be full of thanks regardless of circumstances and seasons. And this Thanksgiving season reminds me of this and, among countless other blessings, how grateful I am to be serving alongside of incredible sisters and brothers like you as we work for peace and lasting change in South Sudan. On a similar note, I want to be sure to invite you to our upcoming Give a Well, a time of thanksgiving and celebration on December 19th. Amid the holiday hustle and bustle, come rest in the company of friends – old and new, sample tasty treats, listen to live music, hear stories and even browse a little market for meaningful, last-minute gifts. Finally, remember with us the meaning of Christmas as we share the empowering gift of clean water with sisters across the world! Download the invitation card or click the image above, and plan to join us! 100% of Give a Well proceeds will be donated to bring clean water to a South Sudan village. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Our team couldn’t be more thankful for the privilege of serving our great God and loving others with you. Without doubt, our lives are far richer, more complete for being on this journey with you. With love, Elizabeth Hankins Executive Director, Sister...

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Jillian

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 in the "Better Together" blog | 0 comments

Jillian

Meet Jillian. Still a couple inches shy of five feet, this eleven year-old dynamo is one of our greatest champions for female life change in South Sudan. The busy fifth grader totes around a notebook of ideas, which she regularly tries out. From saving up her allowance to advocating the story of women and girls at her school (and then in after-school group) to putting together weekend garage sales with her mom, Jilli has embraced “doing her thing” in ways that keep bringing change to South Sudan – and to the community of people who know and love her! More than five years ago, Jilli’s mom began sharing with her about the people of South Sudan. She explained just how much the people there were like the people Jillian knew. These friends lived far away, but the children there liked to play and have fun like Jilli did. They liked to eat when they were hungry, sleep when they grew tired – and they loved to learn new things. But Jilli’s mom explained some other things to her, some things that evoked a passion for both justice and deep compassion. When Jillian learned that girls like her often spent days helping collect water instead of going to school if one was available, she felt sad. But when she learned the water they collected was often dirty and caused children and families to get sick, Jilli wasn’t just sad. She was inspired to help. And she also wanted to help bring better health to communities without access to medical care and small business opportunities to women in local villages viagra generique ligne. So she got busy. And she’s stayed busy, continually coming up with imaginative ventures that share the story of female life in South Sudan and benefit the work of developing communities. Jilli explains it’s something she and her mom like to do together, and a glance at her frayed-about-the-edges notebook suggests she’s got more plans in the works – all kinds of ideas, she says, that are fun and hopefully helpful to women and girls in South Sudan. We’re so thankful, Jilli! You’re an amazing girl with an enormous heart and dazzling mind – both of which you’re always using to share God’s love and grace with others. We love you and thank God for the treasure of your life and...

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Joy

Posted by on Oct 17, 2013 in the "Better Together" blog | 0 comments

Many times, I am asked the question of why I love the South Sudanese people. A related question is why Sister Effect works among the South Sudanese people. There are many reasons, but one jumps at me regularly. Joy. It’s joy… in the South Sudanese when they realize God loves them. It’s joy… in the South Sudanese when they realize you love them. It’s joy… in you when you realize they love you in return. Peter Swann It’s joy… in the people’s faces when they get their first gulp of clean drinking water… ever. It’s joy… in new friends when they get desperately-needed medical care. It’s joy… in the villages when economic opportunity arrives for the first time. It’s joy… in the country when they receive a fresh dose of hope. It’s joy… in you when you point them to Jesus, our eternal hope. It’s joy… in you when you recognize the gift of being a part of God’s plan. It’s joy… in you in just getting to be with the people you love so much. It may be easy at times to think of this type of ministry as tough, and demanding, and exhausting. At times it is those things, but 搬瓦工 it’s also radiating with joy. It’s a gift, and a cherished one. God lets us in on what He’s doing, and there’s no better place to be. So, out of the joy in us, and for the joy of the South Sudanese, we engage them with all that we have for the glory of the One who is Himself our greatest joy....

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What We Really Own

Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 in the "Better Together" blog | 0 comments

By: Elizabeth Hankins Sometimes I think about this, this idea of what’s really ours. Especially as a mom trying to filter and pass along lasting values to my kids. And as a disciple of Jesus trying best I can to wrap my brain around what’s in his heart. After all, how many times a day do I say things like “my this” or “my that”? And is it just me, or does it not seem like the more and bigger our “my” collections grow, the more impressive and important we seem to others? Like millions in our Western hemisphere, I’ve spent years rolling out of bed and pulling on clothes before docking in a school carpool line where I coax sleepy children to unload themselves and do good things for the next seven hours. Then I’ve gulped coffee, done some work, shopped for stuff before retrieving those noble kids and coming back to a home complete with running water, electricity and the sacred chatter of people I love and do life with. It’s a great life – and I’m seriously grateful… But back to the question about what is it I really own. What do I have that belongs to me?I’ve pondered this most often upon returning from South Sudan. The contrasts are starkest then. I have clean water. Mostly my sisters and friends there don’t. They typically walk miles for it. I sleep in a bed in a house with rooms. They often lay on mud floors of teensy, crowded huts atop reedy mats. I have a closet of clothes. In most villages, garments, when present, are sparse, ragged. The list spins on. So do my thoughts. I live in a world of universal excess. And my sister-friends and their families don’t even have what they need. But more I think about it, what comes clear is I really don’t own what I call mine. Oh sure, I claim (much to my kids’ mortification) the clankety, (mind you, paid-for), Suburban that prevails despite two wrecks and daily-more-pungent odors from toting toddlers-that-somehow-became-sweaty adolescents over the eToro past decade. And I’d say the usual JC Penney jeans and major on-sale t-shirts I pull on nearly every morning were mine, mostly because they fit but also the conversation about what’s really ours maybe should stop short of disowning what covers us. That could get a little scary if we got literal in that department. But my point is I don’t own any THING at all. Not really. I was squeezed and stretched into this world, a wailing and empty-handed little alien. Someday I’ll pass out of here taking nothing in these same hands that now touch and hold a zillion things and people all the time. Nothing really belongs to me. Not my beautiful, loving, patient husband (when I get to heaven, bet I learn he was this earth-grounded archangel who did really adventurous and cool things before being commissioned and then pre-awarded major celestial kudos for enduring me). Not our awesome one-of-a-kind kids. Not our precious friends, our house, our church. Not my car, my computer. Not any of the people or things we pretty much count on to always be there. “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”* Yep. We don’t really possess a thing. Human lives, objects, whatever – they’re for sure within our reach, in our midst. We may treasure them, hold them, watch over them… give them away. But since we didn’t tote them in and we won’t be hauling them out, we don’t really own them. Which...

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Suffering: Who Wants It?

Posted by on Sep 9, 2013 in the "Better Together" blog | 0 comments

Suffering: Who Wants It?

Peter Swann Suffering… none of us want it. In fact, we avoid it at all costs. Headaches get medicine, hunger gets food, and fatigue gets sleep. Whatever the symptom, we have a remedy. Few times are we unable to repair our issue. We have an aversion to suffering, and for the most part, an inability to meet it. The South Sudanese have no such mindset. For them it’s not if they’ll suffer, it’s how much. There is little medicine for headaches, not enough food for hunger, and sleep – that’s tough on hard ground. Some South Sudanese have more these days, with medicine or food or a bed. But they are the blessed ones. What we take for granted here is a cherished blessing there. This incongruency is one of the hardest parts of what we do. I grew up in Africa. I know their suffering well. But half my life has been in America. And here we know what it means to have much. At the same time, we feel there is never enough. They want for survival; we want just to want. Yet there is hope. There is truth. There is transformation. It’s seen in Scripture, where Jesus models suffering. He wants not, He suffers well. He longs not for comfort, nor for possessions. He longs for souls. His passion is the Father’s passion. His heart is pure, his motives are clean viagra ordonnance belgique. And all around Him are changed. That’s the heartbeat of Sister Effect’s ministry. It’s not about alleviating suffering by getting just one more thing. It’s not about accumulating more stuff. It’s not about what’s coming in. It is, however, about what’s going out. It’s about valuing purpose rather than comfort so others may have purpose and comfort in Him. In the process, the South Sudanese are being changed. In the process, we are being changed. Suffering… none of us want it. But it’s worth it for the sake of our King, and worth it for the sake of those He...

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