It’s been a month since the 2014 Boston Marathon and my unforgettable race day experience. In the months leading up to it, I had been living life at full speed with very little margin, and believe me, I was so completely ready for a “normal” life again.
I can’t tell you how freeing it has been to have a weekend with absolutely no plans. Zero. Nada.
I’m able to finally try to make our new house feel like our comfortable home; the laundry isn’t as piled up; the counters remain (mostly) clutter-free.
I see my kids for most of the weekend instead of just fractions of it.
Yes, life has moved on, and I’m grateful that I can now relish it.
I had mostly filed away the buildOn fundraising and marathon experience and moved on, until the other day when I was caught off guard by a simple manila envelope that arrived in the mail.
Here’s what was in it:
Fifteen handwritten thank you notes from the buildOn teens who leave for Malawi, Africa in less than a month. Each letter is filled with gratitude, excitement and love.
I stood at the counter completely in awe and nearly in tears reading each of the notes.
This is why I sacrificed all that I did. This is why you sacrificed all that you did.
Because you’ve accompanied me on this journey, and no doubt financially and otherwise supported me, I wanted to share some of these words of gratitude with you. They belong to you as much as they belong to me:
“My name is Alaine….I am 18 years old and I am from Haiti. I want to thank you because you are making one of my biggest dreams come true. Since I was little, I heard that my ancestors are from Africa and I was always wondering where Africa is. (sic) And now because of your generosity, I can get the chance to go to Malawi, Africa this summer…”
“My name is Joan…I believe its (sic) truly amazing how you decided to fundraise for our trip to Malawi this year. Not only are you giving us, students, the opportunity to help others in need, you are giving us the chance to make something truly amazing for Humanity (sic). I appreciate your effort.”
“My name is Orman…I was born in the Dominican Republic and my parents moved to the U.S. so my siblings and I could have more opportunities for a better future. BuildOn is one of the opportunities that I came here for, and you made possible. Thank you for your hard work and generosity.”
“…Growing up, I have always known the importance of education and the change it has had in my life. Through your help I pass on the power of knowledge and open the doors of opportunity. The work you have done is amazing and I am honored to represent that work and our program. Once again, thank you!”
“I am from Honduras…this trip is my first opportunity to see and live in another country to build the foundation to a school for children wanting to change the world with the most powerful weapon in the world, education. I am excited to have the opportunity to build a school for children. This is the most beautiful gift. Thank you very much for your hard work.”
“…This is going to be my first time seeing another country. Kids should have the right to learn and make something of themselfs (sic) just as we do. The school you have fundraised to build will help do just that. Thank you so much for your generosity.”
“…Everything you have done really matters. Since you have fundraised so much money, you are allowing me to get an experience of a life time (sic)! I haven’t ever left the country, I was born in America and stayed here my entire life. Most importantly, my first time out of the country involves giving back to my world community. Thank you from a 17 year old teenager who is getting an opportunity she won’t ever forget.”
“…Thank you for running to raise money for BuildOn…We will build a school, bring children knowledge and we will break the cycle of poverty!”
So, once again, THANK YOU. Thank you for praying and pouring into us as we raised money not only for a worthy cause, but to impact the lives of these students who are on their way to Malawi, Africa very soon. I know this will be a life-changing experience for each of them and I pray that this impacts the course of their lives so they give back and see the world for the great opportunities and needs that exist today and always. May they become leaders who create a mighty ripple effect to truly change the world for the better.
Please continue to pray for the students as they head out on this Trek in June. They’ll be in Malawi for about 10 days and believe me, this will not be a picnic. No electricity. No bathrooms. Hours and hours of flying, riding on a bumpy bus and then settling into huts. The elements, the rodents and the realities of Africa will certainly provide a big dose of culture shock, but I hope they also deliver change.
God bless and thank you again for all that you’ve done to support me and to support these kids.