CARDS -for- GHANA: the process of asking

This is Rugged Echoes’ 50th post! (I didn’t even realize that until I posted.) A milestone post about a milestone moment. Enjoy!

I’m going to Africa this summer to do a product development  internship with a fair trade company called Global Mamas in Ghana for a whole month! I’m super excited about this. It’s a huge dream of mine and I’m so passionate about it I can’t stop smiling when I tell people. All that smiling in the video was genuine. Nobody was telling jokes, I was just that excited.

The trip will cost a few thousand dollars, and from the get-go I was prepared to pay for it out of my own pocket. It would cost more money to count as study abroad, so I didn’t do that. I found, contacted, and will be staying with the company all by myself. So this is a definite solo mission. (I talked more about that process in an earlier post.)

But now I want to talk to you about begging. About asking. About how I tossed and turned as to how I would allow myself to ask people for help. I’ve been immensely blessed so that I could pay out of this trip with my budget for college, so the trip is already paid for. I’m not dependent on any of you to get me overseas, as I have already dug dark-ocean-level deep into my own pockets, leaving me pretty dry. The money from selling cards will help to balance out the heavy cost of the trip.

I’m a hard worker, which builds up a tall pedestal of pride in one. I am emotionally attached to the money I earn and where I spend it. A few months ago I pridefully wanted to pay for the whole thing myself without asking for help. But we are not put in thriving communities only to live in isolation. I struggled with the balance of personal investment and asking for money. I wanted to give deeply to this adventure, knowing it will give deeply back to me. But as I told more and more people about it they were eager to help and support me, though I wasn’t even asking them to. I was taken aback and touched that they would love me enough to give me money and prayers at a moment’s disposal. I was humbled. I didn’t understand what compelled them to want to help me.

Then one day I was walking into Starbucks when I saw a friend of mine standing outside. I offered her a drink, which she shied away from at first, until I offered it again. “What’s $3?” I asked. “If it means I’m spending it on you, it’s worth it.”

I do this often because I love people. I love giving them something just because I love them, just because it means that in the short time we’re together enjoying coffee I’ll get to hear about their life, to support them, to invest in them.

I realized later that this is how those friends that want to give to my work in Ghana feel about me. They love me, and they want to show it. If they were going on a trip, I would want to give to them, why wouldn’t they want to return the favor? So I instead of feeling like I was begging for money, I realized I was simply asking people if they wanted to be involved, if they wanted to join me.

(A brief shot-out to a TED Talk video by Amanda Palmer, who introduced me to this concept.)

So my mom came up with the idea to sell cards, since it’s wedding and graduation season. My cousin and sister helped me shoot a video, and in one day I’ve been given over $200 for my trip.

God is good. His people are good. And tears are streaming down my face as I’m writing this because I’ve never seen anything more beautiful, more pure, more effervescent than the love of His community rising up around me.

The mother of one of my best friends slipped my dad a sealed card on Sunday. I can just imagine her bouncing up to him and saying in that candy-sweet voice as she clasped my dad’s hand with both of hers, card snuggled inside, “give this to Maddy, will ya?”

I opened the card alone in the kitchen. She had written a whole paragraph about how she had seen the video and was so excited for me. There was a folded check, and when I read that it was for $50 I started sobbing uncontrollably.

For those of you that have given prayers, who have shared the video on Facebook, retweeted, liked, bought, donated, I cannot be more thankful. You have filled me so full of love that my heart is working to carry it all. I hope it makes it through customs. 🙂

I cannot wait to pour out that love on the people of Ghana, on my host family (I found out today my host mom is named Sarah! How fitting, since that’s my mom’s name), and on you.

I thank God every time I think of you. 

OH, and here’s the video:


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