Monday, December 26, 2016

100 Christmas Dollies 2016: Christmas Day Celebration

Our Christmas Day celebration was a huge success. The tiny PEMA Church in Mjanaheri, Kenya was overflowing with adults and children alike. Surprise, I was told that I would be preaching that morning and thankfully the Lord brought to mind Isaiah 9:6, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” I asked how many of the parents would “give” their child away after he or she was born. None volunteered. Instead they came to understand what a great gift Jesus is for us and that his birth is not the greatest…instead his death and resurrection are the greatest. For that we can be sure of our place in heaven with Jesus. Picking up on that “Son is given” part, we talked of the dollies as being given as a gift and that every time they see their dollies they should remember God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ.

I explained more about the construction of the roof after which the church broke out in joyous celebration. I continued on telling them that Pr James would not be receiving any money and that I would meet him in town to pay for the supplies needed. This explanation is necessary so that members don’t accuse him of keeping money for himself and so that we help him avoid that temptation. Complete transparency.

Despite the seemingly African style smiles (or lack thereof), the children bounced around with their dollies all afternoon—even the boys. Follow this link to see each child with his or her dolly.

Our traditional Christmas meal was made up of goat’s meat and rice. Unfortunately, the first goat was stolen or ran away (not that I blame him). The second goat, though, was slaughtered as the service began and four hours later we were all enjoying our Christmas meal.

Thank you to each and every one of you who gave sacrificially to make this project happen. May you always find food on your table and love in your hearts.

Pr James and Pr Ephantus introduce one another.





The Kenyan dolly maker -- Pr Nathaniel -- just happens to be a member of this church.
No one had any idea of this connection until the Monday before Christmas.
All this work Pr Nathaniel and his two lady workers have been doing
has been for the benefit of his own church.
Pr Nathaniel's mother on the left and his wife on my right.

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100 Christmas Dollies 2016: Dolly Giving

The children of PEMA Church in Majanaheri, Kenya received dollies for Christmas along with a traditional Christmas meal. Thank you to all our sponsors, we could not have done this without you! As always, the younger children are challenged to smile "cheka" in the photos. Some of them had real personality, though. Take a look.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

100 Christmas Dollies: #GivingTuesday

Have you heard about #GivingTuesday? Giving Tuesday was created to unite us all in a day of generosity, to make a difference in the world any way we choose to at the start of this busy holiday season. Every year Surprised by Hope officially launches its 100 Christmas Dolly campaign on #GivingTuesday and we’d like you to join us.

What is the 100 Christmas Dolly campaign?
We identify a pastor and his or her church members who are applying what they learned from our Entrepreneurship Series in actively constructing their church. You join together with us in sponsoring unique, handmade dollies for children from that church and the surrounding community.

Notice that Pr James is slowly adding layers to his walls
in preparation for adding a roof.

This is the original PEMA church building.
Isaiah 54 in practice. THAT is faith!

On Christmas Day, we share a holiday meal with the church and community members, and we share the story of the nativity with the children. Each child receives a dolly—perhaps his or her only Christmas present—to remember the free gift we received in Jesus Christ. Finally, your giving allows you to join hands across the ocean in adding to the construction of that very church building.




What should you do?

What will Surprised by Hope do?
  • Provide a Christmas meal for PEMA Church families.
  • Share a child-sized story of the Nativity.
  • Match one dolly per child from that church.
  • Send you a picture of the child with your sponsored dolly.
  • Provide funds to PEMA Church to build a roof.
  • Post follow up stories as the construction proceeds.

  

Join us on #GivingTuesday and give a gift with lasting meaning.

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100 Christmas Dollies 2016: Building Churches

Every holiday season, Surprised by Hope launches its 100 Christmas Dollies campaign and the most commonly remembered message is that children receive dollies for Christmas. But the program is so much more than that.

Those dollies are indeed a lovely gift but, even more so, the money raised from dolly sponsorship is gifted to a church who has applied what they’ve learned from our business teachings toward building their church. The funds are used to advance their building progress—not to build a church for them—but to advance what they’ve already started for themselves.

In 2013 Mountain of Glory Church received iron bars for the windows of their church.


In 2014 Grace Abundance Church received a partial payment on the land they purchased for their church.


In 2015 Victory Christian Center received walls to sit on the foundation they’d built.


This year is no different. PEMA Church will receive a roof to set atop the walls they’ve constructed. Join together with our brothers and sisters in Christ and sponsor a dolly to add a roof to PEMA Church in Mjahareni, Kenya.



We are leaving little bits of love and legacy around East Africa by sharing our resources not with people who are waiting and expecting, but with people who are working hard and completely surprised by hope!


What should you do?

What will Surprised by Hope do?
  • Provide a Christmas meal for PEMA Church families.
  • Share a child-sized story of the Nativity.
  • Match one dolly per child from that church.
  • Send you a picture of the child with your sponsored dolly.
  • Provide funds to PEMA Church to build a roof.
  • Post follow up stories as the construction proceeds.




Read more »

Monday, November 28, 2016

100 Christmas Dollies 2016: Child Recipients

Gifting children on Christmas day is perhaps one of my favorite activities. Take a look at just a few of those happy faces and then read more about each story.








The children of Victory Christian Fellowship received 100 Christmas Dollies in 2015. They made quite a procession out of that wonderful gift giving day. Gathered under the tree, and out of the hot sun, we shared the Nativity story and reminded the children to thank Jesus for his gift.

The children of Grace Abundance Church received 100 Christmas Dollies in 2014. Only 30 or so children attended that church and so they were each sent out to bring one other child back in each hand. This Christmas gift was given across all faith systems after hearing the Nativity story and enjoying a giant Christmas dinner.

The children of Mountain of Glory Church received 100 Christmas Dollies in 2013. The children gathered for their story time and gift receiving ceremony with just a few dollies leftover who were distributed on the nearby beaches of coastal Kenya.

If you would like to sponsor a dolly:


What will Surprised by Hope do?
  • Provide a Christmas meal for PEMA Church families.
  • Share a child-sized story of the Nativity.
  • Match one dolly per child from that church.
  • Send you a picture of the child with your sponsored dolly.
  • Provide funds to PEMA Church to build a roof.
  • Post follow up stories as the construction proceeds.



Read more »

Sunday, November 27, 2016

100 Christmas Dollies 2016: Select Your Dollies

More than 100 adorable, handmade dollies are waiting to find their new home with boys and girls in Kenya. Every year the 100 Christmas Dollies program unites these dollies with new families who are associated with the selected church. This year the children of PEMA Church will receive the dollies because Pr James and the church members faithfully applied what they learned from our Entrepreneurship teaching toward building their own church. Not only will the children receive dollies, but the church will receive a financial award to push their construction to the next phase, in this case a new roof.

Here are just a few of the dollies you can chose from. To see the full selection, click here.

Dolly 14

Dolly 27

Dolly 54

Dolly 87

Dolly Boy 117


What should you do?


What will Surprised by Hope do?
  • Provide a Christmas meal for PEMA Church families.
  • Share a child-sized story of the Nativity.
  • Match one dolly per child from that church.
  • Send you a picture of the child with your sponsored dolly.
  • Provide funds to PEMA Church to build a roof.
  • Post follow up stories as the construction proceeds.


Read more »

Saturday, November 26, 2016

100 Christmas Dollies 2016: Dolly Makers

Every year Surprised by Hope gives 100 dollies to children in East Africa for Christmas. In the process of that giving, we share the story of Jesus’s birth with 100 children closely gathered around. The gift of these dollies to the children is very much like the gift Jesus is to all of us, and the children learn to love and thank God for that gift.

The first dolly maker—my beautiful mother—never knew her first four dollies would turn into 100 dollies every year. Engaging the help of Bible study friends, she sewed her fingers to the bone. And then another lovely woman stepped in to help, and wow are those dollies gorgeous.

2015 was the first year about half of the dollies were made by a woman in Uganda who had become a dear friend. Soon after she became a widow, I happened upon her in the market ready to make me a new dress. She was the first woman in East Africa to make such pretty dollies. While Shakira is a great dolly provider for the 100 Christmas Dollies 2015 gift which was given in Uganda, our 100 Christmas Dolly recipient this year is on coastal Kenya and so we set out to find another local dolly maker.





















I met Pastor Nathaniel in Nairobi and learned he was a tailor and a teacher of tailoring. Once we reconnected on the coast, he began making these beautiful dollies in preparation for 100 Christmas Dollies 2016. Not only did he make these dollies, but he taught two other ladies to make these dollies too. We are so excited to shift our dolly making to the local community, where it should be, and to have found a pastor-tailor who understands the importance of teaching others as well.


Here’s how it works:
  1. Read the story about the beneficiary church—the church that will receive your dolly sponsorship money to help continue construction.
  2. Select the dolly you love—dollies made by Mom, Kathy, and Pr Nathaniel and his two trainees.
  3. Sponsor your dollies for $25 each through PayPal or by writing a check to Surprised by Hope—don’t forget to tell us which dollies you chose.
  4. Watch the Christmas celebration at Pr James’s PEMA Church in Mjanaheri, usually posted Christmas evening.
  5. Expect to receive a picture of the child who received your dolly, usually posted Christmas evening.
  6. Watch PEMA Church build a new roof because of your gift, posted as progress is made.




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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

100 Christmas Dollies 2016: Beneficiary Announcement

Pastor Ephantus proudly wore his new Surprised by Hope shirt to a community meeting where he represented us well. Before the meeting began, however, Pastor James excitedly introduced himself and said, “I know that lady! I know that lady!” while pointing to the logo on Pr Ephantus’s shirt.

Pastor James attended our first ever business workshop in Watamu, Kenya almost four years ago. Though it seems those who remain closest to Surprised by Hope did not maintain contact with him as he is located a bit far from that venue. 

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