October 17th is a significant day for two reasons. It's my wife Kisten's birthday as well as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
That may seem like an awkward pairing, but it's not. Let me tell you why.
Kisten cares about the poor. When she turned 50, as a part of that celebration she asked friends and family to donate rice to the hungry in Vietnam as her birthday present. Her goal was to give one ton of rice for her birthday, and she did! In the photo at right, you can see her holding a 25lb bag of rice. She's standing in a little "cage" I built to show visually what a ton of rice would look like.
So once again, I invite those of you who know Kisten to celebrate her life by helping her to bless people living in poverty.
Any way you choose to do that is fine of course - follow your heart! And you don't need to tell us about it, although that's a delight and an encouragement to hear. If you want, you could post an anonymous comment on this blog for that. But if you do want a suggestion, here are two that I know are close to her heart.
Our friends at the Catalyst Foundation work tirelessly to bless the poor in Vietnam, and Kisten has served on one of their Aid Expeditions. (Our family is going on the Fall 2010 expedition together.) Among their projects is a focus on whole communities that live in garbage dumps like Kien Giang and often lose their daughters to the sex trade. But that is slowly changing as Catalyst builds schools there and works to develop those communities to break the cycle of poverty. You can give to them directly, or in connection with America's Giving Challenge here.
Closer to home, Kisten and our family have provided Christmas gifts to financially troubled refugee families through the Southeast Asian Ministry (SeAM) of the Saint Paul Area Synod. We've done this each year for several years, and it's been an amazing blessing to us as we are able to meet and spend some time with the families each time as we bring the gifts. To hear their stories and receive their hospitality is priceless. If you live in the Twin Cities, I encourage you to take part in this great program. They are taking registrations now to match families with donors in time for the holidays.
So there you go - a birthday celebration gone global in the best way. I hope you can join the party. And before I forget...
Happy birthday, honey! I'm glad you're here.