3 Years - What Have I Learned?

Today marks an anniversary of sorts for me.   It is three years ago today that I woke up on a work day for the first time in over 20 years and didn't go to the bank.

I wasn't a banker any more.   Instead, I began setting up an office to work for GLA.    That's right, today marks the three year anniversary of my first day on staff at GLA.

I thought I would take a few minutes and look back at the last three years and share a few thoughts on what I've learned during that time.   I hope you'll join me (in random order)......

  • Fundraising isn't about asking for money.   90% of fundraising is sharing a mission, sharing a vision and inviting people to care about the same things you do.
  • "Haiti - the land of unlimited impossibilities."   That's a quote from John McHoul - a friend and long time veteran of living and working in Haiti.   Nothing is easy, nothing is predictable and nothing happens under the schedule you would expect it to.
  • The World is full of amazing people.   There are some people who are doing amazing things and other people who want to do amazing things - if you ask them to.
  • The World is full of ordinary people.   The majority of the good that is being done in the world is done by ordinary people.   Yeah, the Bill and Melinda Gates of the world make a huge difference, but it's the people who are doing the $30 a month sponsorships that are the true heroes in my book.
  • Miracles can happen - January 19 will mark the 3 year anniversary of when Dixie e-mailed me and said, "Tom, we have this little girl with a heart problem."   Her name is Sonia and she has touched the lives of so many.  I was talking to her adoptive mom yesterday and she's hoping to be able to travel to GLA to bring her home by the first part of February.
  • It's okay to fail.   I have heard it said before that if you don't fail that means that you haven't taken enough risks. There are efforts we've tried to encourage people to support the orphans in Haiti that haven't worked out as we planned.   But that's okay.   Because God said it's our job to care for the orphans and as long as we keep trying and we learn from our mistakes, we're good.
  • The devil is really really angry at efforts to provide a good  life for the children in Haiti.   I haven't seen and experienced spiritual warfare as intense, overt and violent as I've seen and heard working on behalf of the kids in Haiti.   In the first world, the devil uses things like greed, materialism and complacency.   In Haiti, he uses things like child slavery, malnutrition, disease, sexual violence, corruption and poverty.
  • Everyone who works in and on behalf of Haiti isn't perfect.   We all have our shortcomings, we all have our failures and we all make mistakes.   
  • If someone can't help meet a need, they probably know someone who might be able to - if you ask them.

I've often said that I've been given a front row seat to watching God at work.   I feel that more now than I did 3 years ago.   There are so many God filled people and God filled miracles happening that there is no other way to describe it.

Has it been easy?   Not a chance.  But the last three years have been some of the best, difficult, spirit filled, painful and God led years and I wouldn't trade them for anything.   I've got what I feel are some ambitious "God filled" goals that I'd like to accomplish this year for the kids at GLA.   I hope you'll join me in making it possible.


On behalf of the kids,

E-mail Me

P.S. I've had a number of people tell me, "You should write a book and tell your story - it's amazing."   Well, I'm not writing a book, but I did set up a personal blog at www.tomvanderwell.net and I'm in the process of writing my story (on my own time) and I'll be sharing it over there (starting back with our decision to adopt - not back to embarassing high school years!)

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