Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Eden. My Apple. My Heart. Africa!

Yesterday in my Leaving Eden post I hope I made you think about the questions Brandon Heath posed to us on his Leaving Eden Tour and thus I posed to you my friends.

What is your Eden?

My Eden has been the moments after each of my children were born.  The calmness, the stillness, (with the exception of the wailing newborn..lol), the first touch, snuggle and kiss.  That moment right after they are born, they are placed in my arms, my heart jumps out of my chest with joy and pride.  That is my Eden.  My children, as much as I sometimes pull my hair out at their daily antics, they are my world.  I would not be where I am in life at this moment without them.  They hold my heart in their hands.

What is your Apple?

Fear of the unknown. I am a planner. I am a leader.  I am a creature of habit.  I like stability.  I didn't have a whole lot of stability growing up and as an adult you can tell but some of my habits.  A little OCD at times, seriously, not making light of that by any means.

What is your Heart?

Besides my children who I am overwhelmingly passionate about.  I know GOD is calling me in other directions.  I am a giver.  (I am a mom so that often times is synonymous with giving of oneself). I have always been passionate about helping others in one form or another.  I just have not figured out exactly where he is fully leading me YET so I am exploring my options. 

One of those options has recently presented itself with an invite on a humanatarian trip to AFRICA!  Ethiopia to be exact with GHNI.  The trip is scheduled for February 23rd 2012 thru March 3rd 2012.  This has been one of my lifelong dreams so I am in awe that is is finally, crossing fingers and praying daily, that it comes to full fruition. 

But here is the thing (I know always a but), I need YOUR help.  Any help will do quite honestly.  I don't typically ask for help on my blog but rather ask you to help others but in this case I need your HELP to be able to HELP others. 

I want to share this journey and dream with each and everyone of you.  If I can make it on this trip I will be sharing daily posts from the field as well as pictures of the village that WE are helping in various ways. 

Here is where we will be going:


I  cannot make this happen without your help.

Please, if you have it on your heart, won’t you donate to help send me to Ethiopia with GHNI?  Every little bit helps! 

May God continue to bless you and yours with health, happiness and love.

ALL Contributions to GHNI are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. GHNI is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. (EIN/Tax ID# 75-3088613)

When donating please make sure to designate the funds for:  Feb 2012 Ethiopia STT.  OR you can send donations via PayPal to the info@ghni.org email address.  Again, it is very important that you designate the funds towards the Feb 2012 trip so it goes into the correct account.


  1. Love the Leaving Eden post - I may need to do my own post for this. Your 'much hoped for' trip to Ethiopia - how incredibly exciting for you.

    I've contributed my bit, it's not a huge amount but I figure if every one of your followers contributed as much as me (or even a third of them did) then I'll be reading about your adventures real soon.

    I'm so sending all of my positive energy your way and hope that your dream becomes a reality

  2. How is someone contributing to your trip tax deductible?

  3. Because it is not being given to me per se but rather to GHNI.

  4. Sorry to be posting anonymously. I don't know how to post in any other way...
    Um. You might want to check into this organization a little more carefully. I have been burned by them in the past. They are humanitarian in that they host "come meet us" tours of parts of Africa. You aren't doing anything for them per say. Just gawking at them. They made a big to-do about how they were getting water to these folks and it turns out the GOVERNMENT in the area paid for it. Not GHNI. GHNI didn't even help install it, they watched the villagers install it. In addition, if you look them up, a great deal of the $ the collect goes to running the organization, very little goes to the areas they claim to help. AND! If you really want to help, don't you think getting the $ over there that all these folks are paying to GO there would be more helpful, especially since you aren't doing anything helpful when you get there other than eating their food and being paraded around? Sorry. I just have a very sore spot for this organization. There are many other places that truly help. Please do your research and reconsider.

  5. Beggar! You sound just like Jennifer McKinney, looking for a handout to take a vacation! Shame on the both of you!!

  6. Give me a break! I'd like to know exactly how you going to Africa is going to help someone. To top it off, you want strangers to pay for it. If you can't take care of yourself (buying your own ticket and expenses), you have no business going to Africa to gawk at the poor people.

    No one can deduct a donation to you either. Paying for your airfare isn't a charity.

    I have questions about any charity organization that is involved with Mckmama. I don't see how they could be legit if she's involved.

  7. I wish those who are commenting here anonymously that I can respond to you personally and Susan I can't find a link back to respond to you either so I will just respond here. I am sorry Anon you had a bad experience with GHNI. I have done my research and have talked to many principals at GHNI and feel comfortable to involve myself with them and their humanatarian trips. To the other anonymous who called me a beggar. Have you ever even read my blog, again I find it funny that this cause gets peoples feathers all ruffled. If you don't want to be involved, then don't. Don't read my blog, don't donate. Don't read Mckmamas blog, that is your choice. And Susan, I am going to pay for a big chunk of it myself. The donations that are made directly to GHNI go towards the trip not into my bank account and since they are a non profit, it is tax deductible. I am not necessarily asking total strangers, alot of my blog followers, readers I have built relationships with. I obviously do not know you, or don't think I do and again as I said re MckMama to the other anon comment, if you dont like her or me for that matter, that is your choice and you can chose not to read, not to support, not to donate. I really don't want to make this negative and hope that people can refrain from posting derogatory comments.

  8. If this is a lifelong dream, why haven't you been saving towards it? Wouldn't be more satisfying to work towards/save/earn the money for your trip yourself? It's not like Africa is going anywhere if it takes you longer than "right now." But apparently, finger crossing, praying and panhandling are what god wants you to do? I'm sorry but it is selfish to expect people to support your "humanatarian" (try spellcheck) trip. Please read the "trip" notes listed on the GHNI site, there is nothing "humanitarian" about this trip.

  9. I have traveled on many mission trips. Trips that I paid for myself, many with money raised from garage sales, or simply saving up for a year so I could go. I too looked into a trip with GHNI, and unfortunately found their humanitarian work a rather pompous to do about nothing. For the life of me I don't see that they do anything but stand around and gawk, taking a few pictures, and gawk. They eat the village food while the villagers, they are supposedly there to help, stand and watch. I have never been on a trip where this was the case, in fact we've always provided our own food and we're usually too busy working to take a meal break until dinner, which we prepare and feed not only ourselves but the people we are there to help.

    If you are truely heart lead to do mission or humanitarian work in Africa, or any country, please look into voluntering with Habitat, World Vision, Compassion International, or many other solid reputable groups that do good work to meet the needs of the people they are there to serve.

    This particular group raises a huge red flag for me. Recently they have begun selling coffee to fund their travels. They are taking could have been a way for them to help a village develop a sustainable income producing business selling coffee beans grown in their own region, and turned into a money making travel fund for themselves. This is simply wrong and their selfish actions are raising red flags in the humanitarian world.

    In the end you will do what you decide which organization you choose to travel with. My hope is that you will reconsider your current desision and go on a trip with an organization that actually does to humanitarian work, and not simply a snap and shoot group.

  10. Also, you may wish to let your followers, readers and people you've built relationships with know that donations made to a charity that are earmarked are NOT tax deductible. If they make a donation to someone's specific expenses, that is effectively paying for your trip directly but funneling the money through a non-profit. If GHNI is issuing tax documents stating otherwise that is fraud, and all the more reason not to become involved with that organization.

  11. I help support a woman that has to travel 500 miles every 3 weeks for cancer treatment. The treatment she needs to stay alive isn't available in Seattle so she has to go to California for it. Asking for donations for a trip to Africa is an insult to other bloggers that have legitimate donation needs. You need to do a little more research on GHN1. I believe they are scam artists. But hey, it's your blog and your life. If you want to beg for money for a vacation, feel free.

  12. I know that you don't want anonymous comments, so I am posting here under my real name. I am curious, how did you find out about GHNI and their trips? what exactly is it about the organization, and their purported work that appeals to you? I think, before asking anyone to support your goal (which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing) you should be willing to offer as much information as possible, otherwise the likelihood that people will people will accuse you of wrong doings is great. If the trip and everything that GHNI stands for is important to you, wonderful! shout it from the rooftops! but beware of damaging those precious relationships with your blog readers - should that happen if people feel that GHNI as an organization is not fully on the "up and up" then your reputation will be forever damaged. sincerely, Caroline

  13. I have recently stumbled across your blog and find your posts quite beautiful! However, at risk of offending you (and please know that is certainly not my intent) I was a quite concerned to see you mention the particular organization you wanted to partner with to do work in Africa. Please, please research further and for a VERY eye opening experience, ask to see their annual financial statement. This is truly written out of love and concern and NOT out of spite or hate. I wish you all the best with whatever you decide. I do feel that previous commenters have suggested some reputable and beneficial organizations to affiliate with should your heart desire.

  14. I wanted to chime in on the IRS issue, as donations will NOT be tax deductible. According to IRS regulations, contributions made to a 501(3)(c) organization are not tax deductible if they are earmarked for an individual, regardless of the charitable nature of the payment. See here for an excellent summary of the IRS rules: http://www.case.org/Documents/Books/28239/IRSRulesandRegulations.pdf

  15. I applaud those who have commented under their real names - bravo for you. To those cowardly persons who comment anonymously to avoid comeback - find somewhere else to spill your poison.

    I donated because I felt like it. Not because Jenn begged, pleaded or anything else and certainly not for the tax deductible benefits. We are all free to choose who and what we donate money to.

    The important thing here is Jenn has a dream and some of us have enough faith and belief in her to help. Not huge vast amounts of money - small and manageable - less than I would spend on a coffee and a muffin in a day.

    Those of you 'anonymous' commenters should perhaps find somewhere else to go because surely you don't understand Jenn or her motivation, those who are genuinely concerned have at least put your names to comments.

    Truly appalled that such hateful people exist in the blogosphere.

    Jenn - I wouldn't waste my time responding or defending your dreams to these people. We all have a choice to read, to contribute or to turn away - that's what life is all about, choices.

    Belief in yourself is all that matters here.

  16. Susan, I think what you are doing for that women is AWESOME. If only there were more caretakers such as yourself. Giving of themselves 24/7. And I truly mean that. I am sorry that you do not feel humanitarian work is a legitimate reason to ask for donations. Again I have done research on GHNI that allows me to be comfortable with going on their trips.This by no means is a vacation for me.If I wanted a vacation I think I would choose Hawaii over Africa anyday.

    Caroline, Thank you for asking those questions. I chose this group as someone to affliate myself with because they go there to help them become self sustainable not just giving the people of the village a hand out. They help provide means to an end of poverty. We can give them money, just send it over there and then what? Often times they have no real leadership to help them know what to do with it, how to build it for future generations. I am as transparent as they come and people can check out their website to learn more about GHNI if they so choose.

    Heather,Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your concern.

    At this point, I have decided I have answered as many questions/concerns as I feel fit. If you are a regular follower and have questions/concerns please contact me at my email address. If you are just a visitor for this particular post, please refrain from commenting any longer, the request to donate was not to you. If you don't want to donate, by all means, don't. If don't want to read my blog, by all means, don't. Thank you.

  17. Fi, thank you! I needed to hear that. I was getting a bit discouraged.

  18. Sorry, I commented anonymously because I didn't see the "name" option and I don't have any accounts under the other 2 option. (Yes, my name is Jenny. I was born when that's what everyone named their daughter.)

    Fi, that's great that you donated despite the deductibility, but do you agree that it is at the very least disingenuous to claim something is tax deductible when it is not? That may be a factor for some people, and it's just plain not true.

    I also wanted to say that you open yourself up to opposite opinions and criticism by posting on the internet. You made a public post on a site owned by Google and you can't reasonable expect to control the behavior of anyone who finds it. I sincerely urge you to look into Google's public blog policy, and if you don't agree, move your blog to a site that allows you to turn off anonymous comments and/or moderate comments. Or make your blog private.

  19. It makes me sad to hear people being so unkind. I don't know anything about this organization. It is ok for people to nicely express concerns (and there are enough being voiced that they may be legitimate), but there is no reason for people to be rude. So, don't let those who being so harsh discourage your desire to help others.

    With that said,I do want to (kindly) echo Heather's concerns about the tax issue. I started working with an adoption agency that set up donations this same way. I was advised by a very reputable CPA that this is essentially fraud. To say that money is not being earmarked when it really is, is dishonest. I stopped working with the agency (who, by the way, called themself a Christian organization).

  20. Wow, what an amazing opportunity!! I wish I could help right now but we're cutting the budget pretty close this month with christmas but maybe after the new year we can help you on your mission! We just had a friend come back from building a school in Malawi Africa and he said it was such an inspiring mission trip :)

  21. I am the first anonymous poster. I apologize if I came off as unkind. I absolutely in no way meant to be. I prayed and really felt that I should warn you about my experience. And no. The donations, if earmarked for your travel expenses, are not tax deductible and if they are telling you they are, that should be the first big, red major flag for you. The second should be all the people who, quite kindly I thought, have tried to warn you about this organization. You seem to have more people trying to warn you than supporting you. You quite honestly should be getting discouraged. If just going to Africa to walk around and see the country is what you are after, great. But if you want to actually make a difference in the lives in this area, please, please find another way.
    I again, I apologize if I came across as rude. I just know if it was me about to make this major decision/trip, I'd sure want people to share with me what they knew.

  22. To the first/last anonymous post. Thank you for coming back and apologizing. I really do appreciate all the concern. I have actually received quite a bit of positive feedback as well those are just choosing not to use this forum so you are only seeing a snapshot unfortunately many have been negative. Just like anything in life, "you can't be everything to everyone". This speaks true I think for charities/non profits. The model is not always going to fit every persons expectations. Again, thank you for everyone who has voiced their concern but again I feel comfortable enough to continue to move forward. I don't think by going over there one time that I am going to change the world or the village for that matter but rather be involved in something bigger than myself and give of myself to the village as God sees fit. If that means I simply immerse myself in their culture building a relationship with them, then that is what I will do. And again to make it clear I am prepared to pay a huge portion of this on my own so no worries if nobody donates however I have a great group of friends, family, collegues that have chosen to support me.


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