This past month, I had the privilege of being in Spokane at the NorthTown Mall as part of World Vision’s Count on Spokane campaign (to learn more about it click here.) It was a unique experience for me, and all together as well.  I normally travel as a tour staff with the Experience: AIDS tour, we stay in cities for 10 days at a time — I was in Spokane, WA for an entire month!  Another unique thing was that we were able to create ‘The Village: A World Vision Experience’ and were able to utilize suggestions that we’ve heard from past visitor and volunteers of the Experience: AIDS tour and other events we’ve been a part of.

One of the stories that sticks out in my mind from The Village is from a single father, in his late 20’s. One day he came through with a friend (who was also a single father.) After watching the video, he decided to sponsor a child. The next day, he came back again, this time with his sister who, after seeing the picture of his sponsored child in his car, decided she wanted to sponsor. The next day (for the third day in a row) he came back, this time with his two children. It was precious seeing him lead his kids through The Village and show them the differences between what their new sister has and what they have.

We have officially taken down The Village from the mall, it was bittersweet to see it all done.  As you’ve read in the past few blogposts, we’ve had 4 former interns join our Count on Spokane team, which was fun and we really became a family during our time together. We’ll miss them, especially as we go to our next stop for the Experience: AIDS tour in Fresno, CA.

— Michelle

PS: I also got to celebrate my birthday, and wore this fantastic sash all day!

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This past week World Vision had the privilege of being in Tacoma, WA at the Champion Centre as a part of their Team Church conference. For this event we used the tent exhibit (a modified, smaller version of the main Experience, but portrays different stories): 3 children are featured in the tent: Beatrice, Stephen, and Olivia. Beatrice is a courageous 9-year-old who single-handedly raises her 2 year-old niece in an AIDS –ravaged village in Zambia. Stephen is a 13-year-old boy who was abducted by rebel soldiers in Uganda and forced to kill his own people. Olivia is a 17-year-old Malawian girl who is sexually assaulted twice by the same man.  All three of these stories are incredibly powerful!

We had many wonderful volunteers and most of them served diligently multiple times.  One volunteer, who served with us three different shifts, had seen a child in The Experience whom she wanted to sponsor. Each day she looked to see if the child had been sponsored and he had not. On the last day, she went to show the picture folder of the child to her own children. When she showed them the picture folder, they said, “that’s the kid we wanted to sponsor.”  It was great to see a family excited to sponsor this child together.

Next stop: Brentwood, TN!

-Michelle

Galatians 5:13, “The entire law is summed up in one command: Love your neighbor as yourself”

In Galatians, when Paul urges the believers to take care of others in love, he expressed so much compassion that he compared it to a law. What if it was a crime to not love, when so much love is required? That turns my mind to a new vantage point and demonstration of understanding compassion.

We just completed another Experience: AIDS week in Cincinnati. The gracious hosts, from Vineyard Community Church, created a unique environment surrounding the exhibit. Our week coincided with SOS, or Summer of Service, an outreach event drawing at least one thousand kids from across the states (even from Ireland and the Netherlands), in one place to minister to the greater Cincinnati community. A week full of intense activity focused on serving; To show love.

What a privilege to see God’s hand at work in different lives daily, opening these kids heart to embrace the sometimes harsh reality of today. I was encouraged specifically for the hearts these young people were longing for, to be aching to help people, then acting upon it, and wanting to do it again, and again.

Each SOS attendee was able to visit the exhibit, along with the general public.  Another great opportunity to share worldwide opportunities to get involved, while allowing Cincinnati to be a training ground for the heart.

Through all, may the Lord be honored by the work done by these kids, by the lives of folks who sponsored children, and by the folks who walked through saying ‘I need to do something.’ May SOS be an around the clock phenomenon, used by the Lord to spread His message through love.

And Lord, thank you for the opportunity to be involved, we are grateful.

Have a safe holiday, next stop: Tacoma, WA!

-dean