Friends, I've just received some specifics on what the Burundian portion of any funds that we raise will go towards. (Original post here) This is from my friend Kelley in Bujumbura... please pass the word. Thanks.
Any chance you can manage to pack some No.2 pencils? We have 40 Batwa secondary students and 50 Batwa primary students who all will start school in Sept, and we are trying to assemble items and/or funds for school kits. I thought bringing about 200 pencils might be an easy one between the three of you!
We hope to get some funds to purchase composition books / writing tablets for all the students, as well as crayons for the younger kids and (this is a dream) small backpacks for the primary students. (Emma and Justin have these Jansport 'half pint' backpacks that have been perfect for them, and we'd love to see if we could get something like that for the Batwa children!)
We are also trying to raise funds for uniforms for the primary students... if you happen to know anyone who might be interested in helping.
Really, any school supplies you can bring from the west would be great for the primary and secondary students... it is hard to come by good supplies here. Paper we can get (with funding) but other things are harder.
This is just an idea for you as you pack and talk to people.
I'm on my way to buy pencils right now. If you would like to participate, just click the magic button below. Thanks again.
As usual Richard Rohr gets right to the heart of the matter:
What is the future of organized religion? Whatever it is, I hope that we will have the courage to stop rewarding and confirming peoples egos and calling it morality, ministry or church. I hope that we will have lower expectations of leadership and the institution and therefore less need to rebel against it or unnecessarily depend upon it. True leadership is quite rare in my experience and cannot be “ordained” or created by title, office, or costume. Many people are upset with the Church because they expected too much from it. Accept it for what it is and for what it isn’t.
More than anything else I hope that the future church can be a people who have entered into Mercy and allow others to enter too. I once saw God’s mercy as patient, benevolent tolerance, a form of grudging forgiveness. Now it is apparent to me that Mercy is a divine understanding, a loving allowing, a willing “breaking of the rules” by the One who made the rules, a loving wink and smile, a firm and joyful taking of our hand—while we waste time clutching at our sins and gazing at God in desire and disbelief.
Some of you may recall that last year in preparation for one of my trips to Africa I offered you the opportunity to participate. When I go I like to be able to put some cash right into the hands of people who can make the most of it. No "middle man", no "overhead" or "administration", just resources delivered right to those who are facing the needs directly and making a difference. Think of it as grassroots philanthropy.
On August 17, Pete (the other Delta House guy) and Daniel (Pete's 14 year old son) and I leave for Burundi and Kenya. Why are we going? Several reasons, really. First and foremost we want to introduce Daniel to Africa. This is a continent that means a lot to us at Delta House, and it's time to introduce Daniel to some of our friends there, and also expose him to some of the realities of our world. Hopefully this will give him cause to think about our life here, just as he's at that point in his own life where some of this stuff is starting to gel. In Burundi we'll be hanging out with our friends Claude Nikondeha and Kelley Johnstone (blog), the masterminds behind Amahoro. This will be a return trip for me to a country that I fell in love with last year. Such incredible beauty, such wonderful people, and such deep needs. In particular Amahoro is currently facilitating many relationships on behalf of the Batwa people in Burundi, which you can read about here. The Batwa people are also close to Brian McLaren's heart, and you can read a reflection Brian wrote following a visit to a 'Twa village.
In Kenya we'll be spending time with my friend Edward Simiyu who pastors City Harvest Church in Nairobi. If you're a Christian you'll be glad to know this is a church. And if you're not, then you'll be glad to know this church understands the critical importance of transformational development, and they are doing some very exciting work in various parts of the country. In particular they are very active in Kibera, where up to one million people live. There they operate the Kibera Transformation and Development Program, and I suspect this is where we'll be spending most of our time.
So in Burundi we're talking about the Batwa, and in Kenya it's Kibera, although we're always flexible and will look to see what pops up in our path. And as always, we're not talking about expenses. Our trip is paid for; this is simply extra money to bring along and give away. And finally, same as last year, we're committing to letting you know where your money ended up.
If you have a few dollars you'd like to throw into the hat, or some spare change clanging around the bottom of your PayPal account, we would be grateful for your participation, and would consider it a privilege to act as your agents on the ground. Please spread the word!
Something Phil Liggett said yesterday during the Tour de France TV coverage caught my attention when he made reference to being with Lance Armstrong in Canada in September.
Here's what I found in the Globe and Mail, with some links added:
KITCHENER, ON, May 7 /CNW/ - Cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) is returning to southwestern Ontario to offer cyclists a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride alongside him and unite in the fight against cancer. On September 12, up to 50 cyclists will take part in the 2009 Ride with Lance, a cycling fundraising event benefitting Kitchener-Waterloo's Grand River Hospital and Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
Joining Lance will be the voice of cycling and of the Tour de France, Phil Liggett. Liggett (@philliggett) is arguably the best known and most popular journalist/TV commentator in the cycling world. Canada's greatest cyclist of all time, Steve Bauer will also ride and be an important part of the fundraising event.
Participants will ride approximately 100 km with Lance, Steve and
Phil on the scenic roads surrounding the Kitchener Waterloo Region.
Read the rest here. The entry fee is a bit tough: you need to raise a minimum of $20,000, so good luck with that.
A lot of flashbacks came with this story. If you've been following me on Twitter (@miketodd07)the last three weeks you'll know that I'm part of that sophisticated fraternity that understands that the Tour de France is indeed the greatest sporting event on the planet. And if you've read any of my story you'll know that riding was a passion of mine, and even played a part in a very formative chapter of my life.
Here's some other tidbits that you won't know. When I was in my late teens I operated a mail order business out of our house dealing in cycling-related books, posters, and other paraphenalia, which I called True North Cycle. In fact, somewhere in a box in somebody's basement I have a personal letter signed by Phil Liggett himself, in response to a letter I sent him. Phil is simply the best in the business. Furthermore, I was a huge Steve Bauer fan, and sometime during that same era I went as far as to send a resume to the now-defunct Steve Bauer Bike company. (Steve now operates a bike tour company.)
Anyway, there's some useless Mike Todd trivia for you.
And when the G8 won’t renew its 2005 commitment to universal access; when the G8 cynically uses the financial crisis to threaten cutbacks to AIDS funding; when the G8 once again, yet again, always again subverts its own promises and in so doing compromises the health of millions, then it’s time for science to speak with one powerful voice of accusation. And when the Global Fund faces a shortfall of several billion, you would do the world a tremendous service by simply finding a way, collectively, from your positions of authority, to remind the political leadership of how they used precious public money to bail out the banks, so that Goldman Sachs could make a profit of $3.4 billion in the second quarter of 2009, JP Morgan Chase could make a profit of $2.7 billion in the same period, and with obscene contempt for the human condition, pay bonuses, yet again, beyond the dreams of hyperactive wealth. You spend every day of your working lives to make life possible, and the power brokers devalue your work with the fraudulent plea of destitution. Don’t let them get away with it.
I hardley need to say it again, do I, friends? Those of you who have been hanging around here for any length of time will know what I'm thinking. But, I'll say it anyway, for the benefit of any newcomers, and for the benefit of my sanity:
Where is the church?
Surely if we are to serve any purpose at this point in time, it is to speak out against such "obscene contempt for the human condition." Don't the hands and feet of Jesus come with a voice, or is the Body of Christ mute?
With only believing in Jesus and not “the Christ,” we had no understanding of the indwelling Christ that we are. To believe in Jesus Christ is to make two distinct faith affirmations, one in the historical Jesus, and the other in the Christ of space and time, which we are a part of! Most of history argued about the historical Jesus instead of experiencing the Christ now. Salvation is simply conscious experience of our union with God and the lifestyle that proceeds from that conscious union. But at any rate, it happens now—“in Christ”—as Paul says over 200 times. Paul never knew Jesus but he knew Christ and believed in Jesus as the revelation of the Eternal Christ Mystery. (Think about that!)
We are all sons and daughters of God and at the same time sons and daughters of earth. We’ve got to stop running from our “earthiness”; hating it, denying it, projecting it onto other, so called, unworthy people. For some wonderful reason, this mixture of heaven and earth that we are, and that all creation is, is what God loves and where God dwells. You cannot get better than that!