September 2010

Hello, my name is Ryan and I am one of the lucky new staff challenging the city of Spokane to make a difference in the lives of 2600 children for the city-wide campaign called Count on Spokane. We have been showing this community about the realities of many who live in Africa, and giving the opportunity to be a part of the work World Vision is doing with an exhibit called The Village. The Village is designed to be interactive so visitors can see, touch, and feel the need to tackle poverty one child sponsorship at a time. As we are nearing the end of our time here at the NorthTown Mall (today!), I can’t help but reflect on one activity that has brought a lot of life to the exhibit.


Drums! For better or worse, the colorful sound of African drums (jimbay’s) continue to bounce off the walls near Sears and Mrs. Fields filling the NorthTown Mall with curiosity. Drawn by the sound of the drums, curious mall walkers approach The Village and beg the question, “What are you doing here?” Curious store owners beg the question, “What are you still doing here?”

One thing is for certain, and that is drums bring excitement and a curious fascination to the Village. We have seen the same group of wandering after-school teens make multiple visits to gather around and pound on the drums together. Young children’s reaction to the drums always seem to be different – they will sometimes run up and unabashedly swing at the drum. Other times an invitation to play will only warrant ear muffs and a quick retreat to the safety of mom and dad. However, the most curious encounter yet has not been from the youth, but the elderly. We had an unexpected visit from an assisted living community in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho. As they made their way through The Village, the 70+ year old tenants insisted on gathering around the drum circle and getting pictures as they all gave the animal-skin drumheads a workout. The most ferocious of them all was a 97-year-old woman insistent on playing from her wheelchair.

Although our courteous neighbors in the mall might no longer share the same excitement as this 97-year-old about the drums, all the commotion has certainly been advancing our goal of 2600 lives changed around the world. We always need to remember why we are here at the NorthTown mall and that is to give children a hope and a future. We have seen many children’s lives changed as a result so far and if drums continue to help us in achieving that goal, then by all means… Boom, Boom, Pow!

— Ryan

Hello, my name is Matt and I’m one of the new staff for The Village at the Northtown Mall in Spokane, WA. Before joining the World Vision team in Spokane, I interned in Seattle this past summer after graduating from Eastern Washington University. We have been in Spokane for three weeks and it’s been a great experience talking with people about World Vision, Count On Spokane and child sponsorship.

I have spent a lot of time in The Village presenting a 7-min movie entitled “Brenda” in our mini theater and challenging visitors to consider getting involved through WV child sponsorship. (to learn more about it, click here) ‘Brenda’ is an uplifting and inspiring story of a little girl in Uganda featuring the power of developmental progress done by WV in her community. The five main areas of development are: clean water, food and nutrition, education, health care, and economic growth. As I watched Brenda’s video over and over I started to notice subtle images that opened my eyes about life in Africa and other parts of the world. Brenda collects water three times a day, but I can’t imagine having to do this even if it was just down the street. Throughout the video she doesn’t wear shoes, even when carrying heavy jugs of water down dirt roads. Everyone in the video is always wearing the same clothes (except when they’re at school,) and their clothes don’t look very clean. Yet Brenda says in the video she is always happy. A pretty bold statement when you think about it. She has so little but yet God has given her so much joy through her friends, family and sponsors that love her — she is happy with the life she has.

It made me think how much of a blessing sponsorship can be for a child. I have been giving a child sponsorship challenge to visitors after every video, talking about how it can make a difference in a child’s life for about a dollar a day. I’ve also talked about sponsorship dollars going towards development within communities; and that World Vision’s goal is to build sustainable communities so these children, as well as future children, have a better chance in life. After watching Brenda’s story so many times and seeing how happy and blessed she is through her sponsorship, and knowing that World Vision really is making a difference — I started looking at kids on our Sponsorship Wall and I considered sponsoring a child myself. That’s how I found the child, “Innocent” and chose to sponsor him. He lives in Rwanda with his mom, two brothers and two sisters, and just had is 14th birthday this month. I’m excited to hear how World Vision is helping his community that has been severely affected by HIV and AIDS and how sponsorship will change his life.

We’re in our final week here at the Village, if you know anyone in Spokane make sure to send them our way!

— Matt

Hello, everyone! Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Rebecca, one of the “newbies” to the Count on Spokane tour team (click here to learn more about Count on Spokane.) After three months as an intern with World Vision, I am very thankful to have the opportunity to be spending this month on staff with World Vision for Count on Spokane. It’s been an incredible experience thus far, and here’s a little taste why:

The other day, a four-year-old boy was sitting in the front row of The Village mini-theater, watching the story of a girl named Brenda, from Uganda. I was standing in the back, he was with his Mom and baby sisters, and had blonde-blonde hair, blue-blue eyes and eyebrows that were so light, they were more like “suggestions” of eyebrows.

Inside the "mini" theatre

Inside the "mini" theatre

Now, for those of you who haven’t seen the film, there’s a point at which Brenda explains that she carries water (barefoot, might I add) three times a day. The moment he heard that, this boy spun around in his seat on the bench, looked right at me with wide eyes, and exclaimed loud enough for all to hear: “THREE TIMES A DAY!?!?” In the moment it was humorous to me, and I tried to quietly control my laughter. The more I thought about it, though, the less it was funny and the more it was sad to me.

You see, I’ve been here with The Village nearly two weeks. In that time, not enough people have had the reaction my little blonde buddy did. I haven’t even had that reaction as much as I should. If he – at approximately four years old – understands, and is outraged by, Brenda having to carry water three times a day, why aren’t more of us who claim to be “older and wiser?” If only we were all as quick to recognize and react to the fact that there is something wrong with that picture.

This past Saturday’s Caregiver Kit Build (here at the NorthTown Mall with The Village) was such a success! God led such an abundance of people to the build, that they assembled 500 kits in 45 minutes! For me, that is encouraging as we press on in the second half of our time here, and continue to count on Spokane. Thank you for all the continued prayers and support!

— Rebecca

Hello, from sunny and beautiful Spokane, WA.  Leading up to this past holiday week, we hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day and hopefully a great time with family or friends.  As for the team, we were on day 10 of a 6-week effort in Spokane, WA called “Count on Spokane.”  It’s an effort to sponsor 2,600 kids in the Spokane area through a variety of World Vision events.  Beyond the experiential portion, (which I’ll explain more below,) other activities include a Kenny Rodgers concert, Art Walk, Caregiver kit build, and viewings of the much anticipated ‘Journey to Jamaa.’  As for our team, we are perched between a Mrs. Fields Cookies and a Champ Sports at the NorthTown Mall.  Yes, indeed, I’ve been at a mall more in the past 10 days, than in the past 10 years.

We have set up The Village: A World Vision Experience in the space normally taken by cell phone kiosks, Super Shammy demonstrators, Santa Claus, or hand-woven beads (sunglasses, rugs, calendars, DirectTV – you name it, it has been sold in these areas!)  Our exhibit truly does surprise those who walk by, whether they are at the mall to window shop or go directly to buy the latest Air Jordans.  The Village shares the reality of life for many families living in Africa and other parts of the developing world by focusing on the core necessities needed for sustainable development: clean water, food and nutrition, education, healthcare, and economic development.

As you can imagine, it has been a unique time to visit with people not familiar with the work of World Vision.  As a humanitarian organization, we strive to end the realities of poverty and hunger.  We aim to stop the 26,000 children who die each day from lack of nutrition.  We want to eliminate the walk many children and parents make each day for water, and replace that with an education, or an economic opportunity that provides for their families.  This is what sponsorship provides: the tools necessary to develop and maintain self-sustaining communities, rich and motivated by opportunity.

As our 2nd week continues, please lift up in prayer the community of Spokane, the team, and all we connect with.  Whether they are jamming in the drum circle, or learning how WV distributes food, this truly can be a time used by the Lord.  For kids needing sponsorship, it’s time to Count on Spokane, but also, the time Spokane can count on us.

Half of our tour staff will be staying in Spokane for the month of September while the other half travel to the next tour stop in a week: Springcreek Church in Garland, TX!  Click here for more info!

Until next week, thank you.