Friday, January 28, 2011

Today is yesterday's tomorrow

I love this quote by John Wayne: "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. It comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."

Everyday we're given is an opportunity to do what we wanted to do yesterday and somehow didn't get to do. We might have run out of time, out of resources, out of courage, out of steam. But we can wake up on the day that follows that day we didn't do what we wanted to do, and there before us are upwards of eighteen usable hours at the ready - unspent and waiting - and even more if we are willing to lose a little sleep.

It's comforting - empowering - to know that the good that I wished to do yesterday, I can still do today. This tomorrow I've been given is hopeful that I will. And hope is a good, good thing.

What will you do with this tomorrow you hold in your hands today?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where it began. . .

Every endeavor begins as an idea; the same is true for Oasis Haven, the wonderful organization I wish to help in my Jubilee Year. Eleven years ago, Lorna Campbell Salmon started Oasis Haven, with Jacky Viljoen, Graham Campbell Salmon and other key members of New Creation Family Church in response to the staggering numbers of orphans on the streets of Johannesburg. They bought the first Oasis Haven home with the intention to find adoptive families for as many abandoned babies as possible.

The government had implemented a moratorium on the establishment of babies’ homes, as it was believed that the large warehouse-type government-run orphanages were sufficient for dealing with the orphan problem. But the leaders of Oasis Haven knew more could be done. They registered as a foster parent-based ministry where key people would be registered, employed and financially supported as foster parents and the work began to find forever families for little ones who had no one, many of whom are HIV-positive.

Seven years later a second home was leased to accommodate older children and to maintain the limited size of the first Family Home. 
By the end of 2008 sixty babies and children had passed through the Oasis Haven homes. A significant proportion of these children have been placed into adoptive homes across the globe. Some have returned to their extended family and a small number have passed away while in Oasis’ tender care. 

In January 2009, Lorna Campbell-Salmon retired and a new leadership team was instated. With this new team, the organization was poised for growth. Oasis Haven restructured around more of a family-oriented approach, resolving to provide a loving family for those who have been utterly abandoned.  This means for those children who are not placed in adoptive families, Oasis Haven makes the long term commitment to be their family. Always.

I love that. A family no matter what. No matter what.

“Family faces are magic mirrors.  Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.”  ~Gail Lumet Buckley

Monday, January 17, 2011

They have a dream

It seems appropriate on this day we honor the life legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr to talk about dreams. Not the kind you have at night which may or may not make any sense at all, but the kind you have when you are awake and imagining something in the future that seems a bit - or a lot - out of reach. These are the dreams that make you stretch for something good and wonderful on the horizon ahead of you.

Most of us had aspirations as children that may or may not have come true in our adult life. I once wanted to be an airline stewardess. And then a figure skater. And then a dolphin trainer at Sea World. I am none of those things as a grown-up but I am okay with that. I like being a writer. The point isn't that I had dreams and they didn't come true but that I dreamed. 

A few days ago when the CEO of Oasis Haven, Beth Gillig (pictured above with her godchild), and I had coffee during her Christmas break here in the states, she told me many of the children who come to Oasis Haven have never dreamt of the future. Day-to-day survival was the only thing on their minds. In fact, she said, some African dialects have no word for "dream." There are little ones in South Africa who never dream of the future because they can only imagine getting through today.

That's why I am so excited to raise money during my Jubilee year for the therapies these children will have at Oasis Haven as they are restored to wholeness. At Oasis Haven, these kids are introduced to the marvel of dreaming about the future, about imagining life as a grown-up - a concept that is as normal to most American children as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but that is foreign to the orphans of Johannesburg.

Hear this from Beth: "Regularly we depend on the generosity and expertise of medical professionals to help us care for the needs of the children at Oasis Haven.  General practitioners, virologists, and various specialists have enabled us to make sure that no illness, no medical concern has gone ignored.  They have helped us ensure a bright and unlimited future for our children. 

After visiting the pulmonologist with Lerato (not her real name) for the third time this month, I decided to take her for a milkshake.  I asked about her dreams, what she wanted her life to look like some day.  Her reply: “I want to live in a purple house…and my husband will be a prince with triangle hair.”  An adorable story of hope from a child who has a full future ahead of her."

I love that story. It makes me smile. I can imagine a purple house and a prince with triangle hair. Can't you?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What I know of love

Today, January 9, is my birthday and I am 50 years old. This is the year of my Jubilee. This year I turn a page, turn a corner. I am halfway to one hundred. Halfway through. Halfway Home.

As my birthday approached I knew I wanted it to be something that would not make me think about how old I am or young I am not. I wanted my year of Jubilee to be something bigger than the subject of years counted. Bigger than me.

I didn't have to look very hard to find what my heart was searching for. Oasis Haven is an organization in Johannesburg, South Africa whose passion is to rescue abandoned children and place them into forever families. It is not an orphange. It is a place that leads to home. They take in abandoned little ones who literally have no one and nothing. Most of them are HIV positive. Most have expereienced more upheaval, pain and trauma than you and I will see in a lifetime.

A year of Jubilee is a time to celebrate yes, but in biblical times it was a time to set aside, to cease doing one thing and do something else. In this year of my Jubilee I want to set aside my personal desires to raise funds so the children at Oasis can have the therapies they need to overcome the hardest of obstacles. These little ones need everything from psychological therapy to deal with grief and abandonment issues to occupational therapy to play therapy. Some of them have never had the luxury of play or even of dreaming of the future. (see the video at right. . .)

I will settle for raising $5,000 but wouldn't it be great if you and I together could raise $50,000 over the next 12 months? Check out the Oasis Haven website (just click on my yellow house logo at right) and see for yourself the need and the opportunity we have to meet it.

God's heart is bent toward the orphan. And actually, caring for orphans is more than just an opportunity; it is our responsibility - and the evidence of our faith. (James 1:27). We can't all adopt an orphan, but we can rescue them from the streets and dumps. We can care for their bodies and souls. We can restore joy to them while they await placement into forever families. We can do this. We must do this.

It's all I want for my birthday.

Here's the link for the donations page. (When you give, write "Jubilee for JoBurg" in the memo line or write /Jubilee for JoBurg after your name if you use the online giving option. You can also send your donation here: Oasis Haven US, P.O. Box 28362, San Diego, CA 92198.

Join me on the Jubilee journey! Come back to this blog often for updates, stories, and pictures! Email me if you have any questions at susan [at] susanlmeissner [dot] com.