photo from Impact for Jesus

If you don't know about the earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12th, you must have just returned from another planet. It's been all over the news and internet. It's highlighting just how rich we here in the United States really are and hopefully challenging our perceptions of what is really important.

As a parent, I want my kids to understand that disasters happen and I want them to learn compassion. We've discussed (at age appropriate levels) how God doesn't create storms or earthquakes or other perilous situations. He created the world and has power over all things but He doesn't always intervene when we feel He should. I've tried to find ways to include the kids in helping the people of Haiti. That's not always an easy thing.

A few weeks ago, shortly after the quake happened, I challenged Boo and Bug to take cold lunch at school every day for the next month. Each week they are allowed to eat hot lunch 3 times if they'd like. I told them for every hot lunch they would normally eat where they take a cold lunch instead, I'd give them the equivalent money to donate to help the many children in Haiti. The hope is that this will help them experience a small amount of sacrificial giving. This has been much easier for Boo than for Bug, who is still excited at the novelty of hot lunches at school!

Another way to get children involved is to assemble health kits for UMCOR. If you are not familiar with UMCOR, it stands for United Methodist Committee on Relief. They may not get as much press as other relief agencies, but they are one of the first responders when disaster strikes, either in the states or internationally. They have a 4 star rating with Charity Navigator and an A+ rating with the American Institute of Philanthropy's charity watch publication.

These are the supplies collected by our church group, to make 45 health kits!

Speaking of our church, we have several strong connections to Haiti. We've sent short term missions teams to help support the Lazarus Project and Grace House of Hope for Girls. One of the members of our congregation, a member of Impact for Jesus took some money and relief supplies and headed Haiti to help evaluate what needs to be done. He's blogging about his experiences. Chip will be joining other members of our congregation to help rebuild the orphanage and school in June. We are also participating in a container project called Hearts for Haiti, where we will fill several containers (cargo size) with supplies to be shipped to our mission partners in Haiti. If you live in the Chicagoland area and would like to contribute by bringing items to fill the container or by donating financially, please check out the Wheatland Salem Church website.

Don't forget that organizations such as Feed My Starving Children are working hard to get healthy food into areas like Haiti. They can always use more volunteers!

Whoever you are, wherever you are, I hope that you are able to help, whether it's the people of Haiti or the people next door.

"Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get." - Matthew 7:12, the Message.

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