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I love Africa. I love my friends in Africa. These are some of my friends in Ghana who have started a Days for Girls Sewing Center this last month. The first time Bernice Ankrah saw a Days for Girls kit a few months ago, she understood the need and saw the vision. Since that day, we have sent several hundred kits to her and she has distributed them in many villages and to many groups of beautiful young women. Last month we sent supplies to her to start a DfG Sewing Center. Here are some photos we received this week of our Ghanaian sisters making feminine hygiene kits. They are beautiful women and girls.
Pictured below are Bernice and her husband, Prince Ankrah. They are an amazing team making miracles happen.
Yesterday we learned of a container leaving today for Ghana. We were told there were 10 empty feet that we could fill with DfG supplies to send to Bernice. We went right to work preparing cotton, flannel and PUL fabric, Ziploc bags, underwear, soaps and cut pieces ready to sew. Then we contacted our friend, Gino Rich from Sew Much Hope http://www.sewmuchhope.org/ and he helped us get 28 sewing machines he had outfitted with hand cranks (no electricity needed) that can be sent to women in rural areas.
Right now all of these items are safely packed into a container heading to Ghana to friends I love. These are miracles. The joy of it all keeps me awake at night. I can’t stop smiling.
Today I attended the funeral of a dear friend, Paul B. Ellis.
I helped the kids buy text books yesterday for the new semester. Not only are they Very Expensive books, they are huge, heavy and frightening. As Claire found the ones she and Adam needed, I held the pile until it almost knocked me over. Chemistry books and work books, Calculus, Stats, Biology, Lab books, Psychology–all these very hard things to understand and learn. I flipped through each of them as we tried to find clean used copies, and it gave me a stomach ache. I told Claire I’d rather DIE that have to study, learn and understand Chemistry or Calculus or Statistics. She looked at me and rolled her eyes, like it was no big deal.
Here’s a random page in one of them:
Understanding stuff like that IS a big deal, and I was so happy to head over to JoAnn’s after that outing to buy a little more flannel with my 60% off coupons. Now that’s something I can understand!
This photo came with Aaron’s letter from Chile today. He had divisions with these 2 new Elders from the Chile MTC for a day. They had a long day, with many doors slammed in their faces, which is not the norm for the good people in Chile. Below is his report. It sounds like he’s also learning some very important principles. Not something you pick up in a text book. I’m so proud of our 3 kids and the things they are learning.
From Aaron: “I have never been rejected so many times with doors slammed in my face, so i think they got a pretty good feel for Chile :) haha but really. Door after door got slammed. Probably the fact that we were 3 gringos walking around, but either way, it was a very fun experience to be with 2 noobies and give them there first real taste of Chile as a real missionaries. They are going to the East Mission. That was a long day. But at the end of the day, I always ask myself, was I obedient today? Did I work hard, and give it my all? and if the answers are yes, then I know that the Lord is pleased, and that means that He will give us our success according to His time and needs. Not ours.”
This is Ann Dee Ellis, my friend. She writes books. She also does Days for Girls. And she is the whole reason this blog even exists. On 29 August 2012 I made my very first blog entry because Ann Dee told me to. She was teaching a Memoir class at BYU. I took the class and in the first week we were given an assignment for the semester: start a blog and write on it for 8 minutes every day.
I look back now at more than 400 blog entries made only because she told me to, and sometimes I feel like I want to kiss her feet. 400 thoughts or experiences that would have been lost or unrecorded or buried in the blah blah blah of my personal journal. Instead they are here, preserved and shared. There have been almost 100,000 views on this blog from more than 120 different countries! It’s astounding to me. Not only that, but in my Family History Classes, I have been challenging everyone to write in their personal journals for 8 minutes a day. That’s the very most important assignment I give and I tell them all that. Thousands of students have taken the challenge and are writing. Writing for 8 minutes a day could change your life. I promise. Give it a try.
Ann Dee understands the importance of Words. So do I. She has put some very important words into books. I have two of her books with me here at the beach and I read both cover to cover without coming up for air. I’ll read the third as soon as I can get my hands on it when I get home. Excellent Young Adult Fiction about things that matter.
A few weeks ago Ann Dee invited us to come do a Days for Girls event in her neighborhood. She rounded up about 60 or 70 friends and we all went to work. We had a fabulous evening. I’ve been sitting here at the beach thinking about Ann Dee and the good one person can do, and how that good can continue out in the world way beyond anything you might imagine. It’s like a ripple that explodes out of sight. I want to be that kind of person. I want to surround myself with those kinds of people. Together we can help change the world.
Thank you Ann Dee for the idea of it.
You may want to read these books. Or read them with your teens. You won’t be sorry.
This last month we have been participating in an international fundraiser sponsored by CrowdRise called Operation Girl. Dozens of non-profit organizations from all over the world interested in making things better for young women in all sorts of ways participated. Each week there were different competitions–for the most donated, for the most donators, for the quickest to donate, etc. Days for Girls hovered in the top 3 through most of the month. We won a bonus for the most donated in one of the weeks, and then, yesterday morning in the final minutes of the competition, we pulled into the lead to win the grand prize! It was a thrill.
Thanks to all of you who shared your means with us. The grand prize is $50,000. Our Utah Valley Chapter pulled in $6290 plus the $4000 bonus to equal $10,290. That will help provide feminine hygiene kits to 100s and 100s of girls. We are thrilled.
Here is the news that was sent out from headquarters announcing our wins:
You just got this message from
YOU are our hero, and a hero for girls and women everywhere. Because of you, Days for Girls won #Operation Girl today. You helped us raise over $85,000. Combined with the $50,000 grand prize and the weekly bonus challenge we won, that’s over $139,000.
That’s tremendous. When one kit costs $10 in materials, today adds up to a really big win for girls everywhere. You are one of hundreds of individuals who pulled together to make this happen. With the power of your commitment, passion, and energy combined, girls across the globe won today. And they have you to thank for that.
Thank you, thank you for your tremendous support, and for ensuring that girls win.
We spent the day at Newport Beach again today. After settling in with our chairs and towels and umbrella and our books and Fig Newtons, I took a look around me–at the never-ending waves rolling in, at children around us playing in the sand, and at a lady setting up camp not far from where I was sitting. She was alone. She came by herself, with her chair, her umbrella, her towel, a beautiful Vera Bradley bag that had a magazine and book in it, and with a grocery sack from Pavilions, the local grocery store. That bag held a water bottle, a carton of coconut water and a package of cookie crackers.
There was something about her open face and manor that captured my attention. She was probably a few years older than I and she was a bit larger, but seemed comfortable in her light blue suit as she settled into her chair and tried to keep her umbrella from blowing away every time a gust of wind blew past us. Her graying hair was pulled back in a ponytail. Her skin was fleshy and white, and her face was calm. She stared out to sea for a long time before pulling out her Newport Beach magazine (the kind you might find in a hotel room) and a book I could never make out the title of. She sipped her water, ate quite a few cookies, and had a bit of the coconut water.
I watched her over the top of my book, and found myself wondering who she was and why she was here. What was she thinking? Did she have family? Did she like being alone? Was she escaping to the beach, or going to find rejuvenation? She seemed so calm and at ease and comfortable with her little world around her under her umbrella. I was dying to pull my chair close enough to visit with her and hear her story.
As I watched her and wondered about her situation, I thought about every other person on the beach (100s of carloads of them) and all of their stories. I’m sure some of them are very interesting people I would love to know better (and some not). How interesting it is that we leave our homes and congregate in a place like this where we don’t really communicate with each other–we just escape into our books or music or wave watching, as the cares of our individual worlds seem to slip away.
After several hours, the lady at the beach packed up her things, and with her bags, chair and umbrella, she walked slowly across the sand, back to find her parked car somewhere on one of the streets. I watched her go until she was out of sight, feeling like I’d missed out on something today. I think we could have been good friends.