Many of you are probably wondering what in the world this is all about. This will be a lengthy post so please, please read all the way through to fully "get" the heart behind it.
Since returning home from Africa, this project has been stirring deep inside of my heart and I have been waiting for the right time to "launch" it. This has been such a sweet journey between me and the Lord and until now I have not spoken about it much at all. Ask my husband. He would ask me when I was going to move forward with this idea and I would just tell him that it was still just between Jesus and I. haha poor guy, he was so patient with me.
Anyways, I want to share the story of how I even came up with this idea. First of all, I will say that this idea was not from me but from the Lord. It literally dropped out of nowhere and hit my heart like a freight train. I did not ever see myself doing something like this, basically having a blanket ministry. There is some irony behind it though. Ever since I was a young girl, I have always had a fetish with blankets. My mom can attest to this! She tells me I would literally take all of her couch blankets and sleep with them in my bed. If she couldn't find a blanket in the house, she would immediately know where to look and yes, find it in my room. I.Love.Blankets.
To me, blankets represent so much more than just a warm, cuddly material. Growing up, blankets brought me comfort in tough times. Security when I felt alone. My world was sometimes crashing down around me and I would feel at peace when I would snuggle up with a blanket. I truly believe that God used those blankets to "wrap me in his arms". I find it funny that even when I was a very young girl, my love for blankets was birthing a future ministry! Little did I know! I just love how God works.
This past July I traveled to Kenya and Uganda for two weeks. That trip was full of many life-changing moments. I was taught thankfulness in a whole new way. Words.cannot.describe. I saw heart-breaking things that I cannot even adequately describe. Things you would have to see to believe. I met children that were living in orphanages simply because their parents had to pick and choose which children they could afford to feed. They were not chosen. I held young girls as they wept from the hurt of rejection by their parents. Many, Many of the children we met were orphaned because their parents died of HIV and a good amount of those children were positive themselves. It took everything within me to not weep with them but instead be strong and show them the Love of Jesus.
Out of all the life changing moments I experienced, one changed me immensely and literally shaped my future. This brings me to Project Hazina.
It was our last night in Kenya and we had been staying at an orphanage the whole week we were there. As a special treat, we were allowed to tuck the children into bed since it was our last night there and many of us were heavy-hearted with the daunting task of saying goodbye.
The whole week I had bonded with a certain group of young girls and I was so excited to get to tuck them into bed. I immediately pictured me tucking the blanket under their chin and saying a prayer over them. When we approached the girls' sleeping quarters, I was immediately struck with something I did not expect. My girls had no blankets. No pillow. Nothing. Just a very dirty mattress yet they were so proud of what they did have. I tried to hide my shock as I looked at their bare beds. I began to feel almost "awkward" as I began to tuck them in. Like something was missing and I knew what that something was. Blankets. My heart broke as I watched "my" girls lay down in their bed and that was that. There was nothing to "tuck" in. They laid there and I prayed over them and they asked me to tell them a story. Side note: there are no bedtime books to read so this spoiled American had to come up with a story without using a book. This is a side note but I hope you can picture this and catch the humor as I painfully made up a goofy story. The girls loved it but it was a stretch for me! haha
It was during that moment of realizing they had no blankets that my heart not only broke but leaped because I knew that I could do something about this!!!
I realized that there are so many awesome ministries and organizations out there that focus on feeding children which is AMAZING and definitely the number one priority but I began to ask myself what about blankets and pillows? Was there someone who had a passion for that? That's when it happened. God began to clearly lay out the vision for my project and that chilly, starry night in Kenya I knew that God was calling me to do something to fix this problem. That night, Project Hazina was birthed.
You may think a blanket is not a priority and that this is a silly project but I would kindly challenge you to strip your bed of any and all comforts. No sheets. No pillows. No blankets. Add a cool temperature and limited clothing and tell me how you feel. These children are orphans. They have nothing.
No parents to tuck them into bed, no family to belong to. Can you just close your eyes and picture what a blanket could do for them? It will bring comfort. Security. Warmth.
I laugh thinking about what God is calling me to. I picture myself as the "crazy blanket lady" and guess what? I don't care :) If just ONE child can be comforted from a blanket and feel Jesus' love in that moment, praise God it was worth it.
The word Hazina means treausre in the African language of Swahili and this name literally came straight from Jesus. I was praying about a name for this project for weeks and had come up with nothing. I told God that I didn't just want any name. I wanted a name that HE gave me and that was special and meaningful. I told God that if it were up to me, I would love an African word and as silly as it sounds, would love for the word to have a "Z" in it. Don't ask me why. haha I waited for several weeks and one morning during a quiet time with the Lord he so sweetly whispered the word "treasure" in my heart. I immediately looked up the Swahili word for treasure and that's when I found it: HAZINA. I was soooo excited! Not only was it a meaningful name because we are going to give these children a Treasure and God sees those children as treasures BUT it had my Z!! :) God is good, don't ever doubt him for a second!
I cannot do this by myself.
I need YOUR help! Please don't just read this or see my project and think that I will have enough people already helping me because the truth is, I don't have one blanket donation yet :) I am still working out a ton of logistics and with my full time job and list of a million responsibilities, it takes a long time but I will get there! I have never felt more excited about something in my life. This is what I was created to do. My heart for missions and people all tie into this project and I am just SO excited!
Please "like" Project Hazina on Facebook to follow my journey! If you would like to help me financially, my first goal is to raise $3,780 for new pillows and blankets for all of the children at the orphanage in Kenya. For just $18 dollars a child can have a brand new blanket and pillow! There are 210 children at this orphanage so the total needed is $3,780. These blankets will be purchased in Kenya and delivered to the children! :) I am working hard to set up my official non-profit organization and name so your donations can be tax-deducatble but for now I am just asking you to help me by donating to my personal paypal. I can promise you that every penny you give will go straight to buy a new blanket and pillow. Will you please consider sponsoring a child for $18? Eighteen dollars is all it takes!!!!
I just need 210 people to sponsor one child.
Click the link to PayPal to pay online! :)
Our info to send money via paypal:
firstname.lastname@example.org (note the 3 n's)
OR if you prefer, you can mail us a check(made out to Chris Gunn) and send it to:
P.O. BOX 52124
SARASOTA, FL 34232
I am so excited and I love you all!
If you made it through this long blog post, thank you!!!