If you’re reading this, it must mean that you’ve endured 4 months of endless badgering about Team World Vision on various forms of social media, so thanks for putting up with that! And thanks for choosing to read even more about my immeasurable passion for these kiddos and this organization!
I just wanted to share what God has done in my heart over these last few months. It’s been a crazy, exciting, life-changing journey, and I am so excited to share it with you!
For those of you who don’t know, I participated in the half marathon for Team World Vision last year. But unfortunately, I didn’t really take it seriously. I trained when I could, enjoyed the weather, and posted a few times on Facebook, bringing in $520. I ran-walked the half-marathon because honestly, I was afraid to run. I thought I was taking the easy way out by run-walking. But, as I learned the hard way, run-walking is hard. It’s physically exhausting in ways that running isn’t, and it presents a mental block that is so, so hard to overcome. And I never did overcome it. As a result, I didn’t like training. I didn’t want to do it. But I had already signed up, so begrudgingly, I did the half-marathon. (And now my BIGGEST props go out to people who run-walk- it’s an underrated gift that few people can master. Trust me y’all. It’s hard.)
On that race day, for reasons I don’t know and in ways beyond my comprehension, God broke my heart for people in Africa who lack clean water. I crossed the finish line in tears and resolved to do the half marathon the next year with my heart beating for those kids in Africa, and my eyes looking to the cross.
This year would be about sacrificial running. I would have to conquer my fear of running. I’d have to build some self-discipline, and I’d have to push hard to get donations for those kiddos.
And friends, let me tell you, these last 4 months have been hard. I’ve never considered myself a runner. I’ve always hated running. And for the first 3 months of training, I complained endlessly about running. God bless my poor roommates who heard everyday how much I hated running and how I didn’t want to go for a run, I didn’t want to train, I didn’t want to sacrifice my time and energy to run.
About a month ago, it became very clear to me that all along I had been trying to make this about me, when in reality, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Around that time, one of my best friends from middle school passed away and my world shook. Her name was Brianna, and she was one of the kindest, most loving, and genuine people I’ve ever known. She had a heart to serve and a gift with kids. And when I found out about her passing, after countless tears, prayers, and difficult conversations, I knew that I had to run in honor of her.
This race was no longer about me. It was about bringing sweet kids clean water for life in honor of Brianna. It was about sucking it up and running, even though I hated it, because a few months of hard training in exchange for lives, in honor of a life, is worth it. It was about carrying on Brianna’s legacy as a soul who cared so well for others. It was about giving kiddos a chance to go to school, a mom the peace of knowing her kids were safe, a family the assurance that today their loved one’s would live because they have clean water. It was about living out the Gospel and sacrificially serving God’s people.
A fire started within me unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I began spending my free time researching the devastating effects of drinking dirty water. In my down time, I watched easily over a hundred videos about the hardship in communities without clean water, and the incredible impact of bringing them clean water. I was living and breathing Team World Vision, and with every passing moment, my heart broke more and more for these people.
Two nights before the race our Eau Claire team had our team dinner and I looked around the room at the joy and life that surrounded me and all I could think was “How did we get so lucky?”
After the dinner, I spent some time in prayer and in tears overlooking the river, staring at the water, begging and pleading with God to help me understand why I am so fortunate and others have lived a life of loss, pain, heartbreak, fear, and exhaustion, because they don’t have clean water.
I wish I could tell you that God revealed His reasoning to me, and now I know why we have clean water and others don’t, but I can’t. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll ever know.
What I do know is that I didn’t do anything to deserve my circumstances, and unless I pick up and intentionally move to a place without clean water, there’s not much I can do to change them. And the 783 million people in the world who don’t have clean water didn’t do anything to deserve their circumstances, and there’s not much they can do to change them.
But there is something I can do to change their circumstances.
And if there’s something I can do- anything I can do- I must do it.
And just like that, it was race day again.
Race day was HOT, y’all. Like, real hot. And for a bunch of Wisconsinites who began training in January- in sub-zero temps, a balmy 83 and sunny was not something we had prepared for.
Water stations quickly ran out of water.
There wasn’t much shade.
The morning wore on, bringing an even hotter mid-day.
And as we ran, our team saw several people collapse with heat stroke. Spectators began handing runners their own water bottles. Houses along the race route brought their hoses and their own kitchen cups out, handing them to runners.
And it struck me, as our Team World Vision team ran for water (in more than one way), that as we saw runner after runner collapsing with heat stroke, there wasn’t one among us, runners or spectators who, if they had water, wouldn’t give it to that poor, dehydrated soul.
Not a one of us could look at that person, shrug our shoulders, and carry on. We could not overlook that runner who was collapsing with heat stroke because they didn’t have enough water, so how can we overlook 783 million people who are dying because they don’t have clean water?
The Lord has broken my heart for communities without clean water, and my life will be forever changed because of it. I hope and pray that He continues to break my heart and that I never, not even for a second, become complacent with the fact that people are dying because they don’t have something as fundamental as clean water.
My hope and prayer is that God will break your hearts as He has broken mine.
By the grace of God, I was able to run the half-marathon for Team World Vision this year. Through injury, impatience, intolerance, and discouragement, I have endured- because of the kids, because of Brianna, and through the strength of the God I serve. To the glory of God, 43 kids were given clean water for life. In memory of Brianna, 43 kids will live, and in doing so, preserve her legacy. Through no talent or ability of mine, $2,165 were given by gracious donors.
I am overwhelmed by thankfulness for everyone who donated, prayed, encouraged, and cheered me on this year. Words cannot express how grateful I am. However, our work here is not done. There are still lives to be saved and races to be run.
It’s not too late to donate for this year. I think it’s fair game that, for as long as my muscles ache, I should be allowed to accept donations! So please consider helping transform lives in Africa. I challenge you to donate, and not have it change your life, too.
Click here to donate and learn more about the work Team World Vision does: http://www.teamworldvision.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=9204
If you’re interested in running a race for Team World Vision in the future, please don’t hesitate to ask me about it!
With that, I want to offer my immense gratitude for the support I’ve been given this year. Thank you all for your love and encouragement!