Abundance and Scarcity
Ellery, Callista and Emmett live surrounded by abundance. An abundance of love. Family. Food. Friends. Security. Peace. Money. Shelter. The list continues.
In fact. Brent and I, on occasion, try to create a feeling of scarcity, so our children do not feel entitled or demanding. We adhere to a strict monthly budget and continually draw their attention to it. If it is the end of the month, it probably won't fit into the budget.
But we need to do better. I cringe inside when I hear one of my children demand something in an overindulged tone. We correct on spot but sometimes in their world of abundance it is difficult to fathom true scarcity. Real want. Persistent need.
We often speak of taking our family somewhere. Having a service experience for several years. So they can really understand. We hope to find that opportunity and are always looking.
Bigger than Yours...
Several weeks ago a new friend came to play with Ellery. When we dropped her off, just a few blocks away from our home, her house and street differed significantly from ours. Ellery commented. "Why is your house so small and old?" Immediately this sweet little girl began talking about how she was moving to a new, big house really soon. Ellery asked "Are you really." No, was the answer. I quickly intervened to salvage the self worth of her little friend as much as could. Commenting on the nice color of her house, and how lucky she was to live next door to her grandma. Ellery received a serious censure and discussion after this incident. It was unacceptable behavior. Of course she is still learning. It is a journey for all of us.
Avoiding the Christmas Give Me's
With the Christmas Season upon us, we were struggling to find the right place and way to give. One that would help our children understand the abundance they experience and the scarcity so many others live with each day.
We already keep our gifts simple. 3 presents from Mom and Dad. A want, a need, and something to read. One present from Santa. It became clear this year, with Brent's vision (of course he is always the one with vision) we would do something we never had. It blessed our little family and others half way around the world exponentially.
A Cambodian Christmas
How the Story Began...
In April of 2008 Brent spent a life altering 2 weeks in Hong Kong, China, and Cambodia. The trip origination was as an International experience at the completion of his Masters program. He became perturbed as the trip approached because it appeared to be materializing into tourism. If you know Brent you'll understand he had no desire to sight see. So he began to set up his own "trip" within the official trip. In both Hong Kong and China he set up meetings with his business suppliers. His suppliers often visit the US, but Brent had never been to their factories.
Cambodia proved to be more difficult. Brent had never done business there nor did he know anyone. Undeterred, he utilized the internet and made a contact within hours. Eng (pronounced "Ing") and Brent began to correspond. Eng lives outside Phnom Penh with his wife and two small children. They arranged to meet. From this experience a strong bond of friendship developed. Eng showed Brent around his country and helped him understand the unique situation of Cambodia.
Fresh from the Killing Fields...
Cambodia has a long a sordid history. In fact it wasn't until around 15 years ago this small country emerged from fierce fighting and genocide. The country became embroiled in the Vietnam war in the 1970's creating millions of refugees. This ushered in a reign of communist terror by Pol Pot. During his regime an estimated 2.2 million Cambodians were murdered. Most of them educated males. Cambodia became known for its infamous "killing fields" where hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered and buried in shallow graves by the government Khmer Rouge.
Cambodia was finally freed by Vietnam and has been striving to shake off its past and emerge with a future. The population is young and eager. But there is very little industry and much scarcity. Scarcity of necessities and scarcity of opportunity. Case in point, Eng has a masters degree, and speaks fluent English, however he bounces around from job to job. He is educated with no where to go. Out of the slums but stuck in poverty. Brent and Eng embarked on a joint venture to import cars into Cambodia. However the timing was inopportune as the US economy tanked. Our cautious fiscal natures didn't allow us to invest anymore.
However the last 18 months Brent and Eng stay in contact and Brent searches for ways to help.
A Small Opportunity...
Eng began recently to work for a nonprofit organization set up to help educate young Cambodians living in the slums. It came to our attention none of these children would be receiving Christmas presents this year.
This seemed to us the perfect opportunity to make a small difference in a country which has captured Brent's heart and begins to capture mine. A monetary donation from our family provided Christmas gifts for over 400 students from Cambodia's most destitute slums.
When these pictures arrived the day after Christmas my heart was full. I couldn't help but become overwhelmed by my emotions (and this wasn't even pregancy motivated! thank goodness I am past the first trimester now).
I loved watching the girls faces as we poured over the pictures and talked about what it meant and how our little family had been a part of this. Ellery had donated $2 of her piano practicing money which really meant something to her.
Our contribution also provided gifts and food for Eng's family, neighbors, church members and missionaries.
A Step in the Right Direction...
This Christmas was a small step in the right direction for our family. I wish the children could have been more involved beyond the money and pictures. And so as a family our journey has begun. We are investigating with a lawyer how to begin our own Family Foundation.
We will keep you posted on how things progress and how friends, family, and kindred spirits can join with us to help use our abundance here to eliminate aching, chronic scarcity elsewhere.