Some families are called to a regular suburban American life. Some families are called to adventure in far away lands. Some families get to do both.
At this very moment, the DZ Family is in Ind*a. (Due to the nature of their work we can’t share their full name or even type out the country name. We live in complicated times.) The six of them are doing compassion work all together for many weeks. When I read her updates I feel curious, excited, scared, hopeful, thankful and tired.
I admire Carrie so much. She is a hard working mom with 4 very boyish boys, and a husband that is often overseas for long stretches. She is real, creative, industrious, and steady. She seems to be the right kind of person for the life they’ve been called to. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?
I asked Carrie to share her story, and she generously agreed to despite sick kids, leading a team, and sporadic internet in the developing world. I’m so grateful. I’ve learned more about life in Ind*a, how to change someone’s life for $1, and some new story ideas for the kids.
Introducing the DZ Family!
Joe and I met and married while in college. We were just babies and could have never guessed where our lives would take us. We are thankful that the Lord let us grow up together in our 20’s. It has been quite a ride. Parenting has been our greatest tutor, by far!
I am sorely outnumbered in our home! With 4 boys, ours is a life of wrestling and (much to my mother’s chagrin!) potty humor. Isaac and Wesley are 9, and the most opposite twins I know! An engineer and an artist, introvert and extrovert, short and tall. You name it, they are opposite in it! But they bond over their love of Minecraft and Legos (though Isaac builds and Wes creates complicated scenarios with the mini figures!) William is 6, all love and snuggles and feels the “middle child injustices” very deeply. Ezra (aka “Ezzie”) is our 3-year old bundle of joy and sass. Strong-willed is an understatement, but we are praying he grows out of that just in time for adolescence!
How does your family practice compassion?
We work full-time for a non-profit, m*ssions organization. We run training programs and sometimes get to take outreach teams overseas.
We took our first trip to Ind*a as a family in 2008. The twins were two and we packed 600 diapers for our 10-week trip. (We totally ran out!!) On that trip, we fell in love with the people and knew we were going to come back. We asked an Ind*an leader what kind of tools and trainings he would like to see our teams bring with us next time. He suggested basic hygiene seminars.
We weren’t quite sure about it at first, but when we got back to the States and did some research, we were amazed at the statistics. The number one cause of death for children under the age of 5 in Ind*a is dehydration caused by diarrhea. And most often, this diarrhea is totally preventable! So, Joe, using information from the World Health Organization, put together a Disease Prevention Seminar that we have used in a variety of settings for the past 5 years. Slums, villages, children’s homes, public and private schools, and even a juvenile prison once!
Over 5,000 kids have received basic training about germs and how they spread, the importance of hand washing, purifying water, brushing their teeth, not playing where you poop. All basic things that we typically learn by 2nd grade in the States that just aren’t common knowledge in these impoverished communities. We teach to the kids, but parents and community leaders surround us as we teach and are getting the information too. When we teach the material, we introduce ourselves as followers Jesus. We share that one of His greatest commands was to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor is as ourselves. Sharing this knowledge about how to stop the spread of disease and sickness is a simple way that we can love our neighbor!
How did you choose your plan of action?
As we were dreaming and planning to take the teaching back to Ind*a the first time, we knew we wanted to get our people here in the US involved. We also thought it would be fun to give a “hygiene starter kit” to all of the kids who attended the training. That’s where Kits for Kids started. We can put together 6 essential items for about $1. That’s it! Only $1! As a family, we started a Kits for Kids jar that we would put all our loose change in and invited our friends, family and church families to join us! We’ve been able to buy kits for over 5000 participants with basically pocket change! We have a sewing ministry from one of our partnering churches that sews little cloth bags that we can put the supplies into. This year, they sent us over with 1200 bags! (We buy the supplies in-country, but bring the sewed bags with us).
Every season looks different for our family. We haven’t always been the ones to go and do the teaching. I’ve had two more babies since that initial trip, so not a whole lot of international travel during those newborn years… But we have always stayed connected. We have trained others to be able to run the seminars without us, so it happens regularly, whether we are in country or not.
Right now, our whole family is in Ind*a. The kiddos love to pack up kits, help demonstrate at the trainings and hand out kits to excited kiddos. (They also hate sitting still, being quiet, and enduring long jeep rides to remote villages, so there’s that!) They love telling stories to people back home. When we had to do a family presentation for our homeschool co-op at the beginning of the year, the kids were the ones who wanted to share all about Kits for Kids and invite their friends to participate! They have seen firsthand what the need is, and what a difference it can make.
Why are you doing all this?
Though we spend most of our time in the US, we are doing our best to raise kids that are aware of the world beyond the suburbs. We read a lot of books about Christian Heroes. My favorite this year was about George Mueller. His faith as he took in street children in Bristol was crazy inspiring! Finding those stories that inspire your kids about what is possible is priceless.
Food pantries, after-school programs for kids in inner city Dallas, road trips, you name it! So far, they love it. We want them to feel like this is their ministry too, not just that we are dragging them along. (Talk to me again in a few years when we are dealing with teens and I’m sure this will all change!!). On this trip, we have had the privilege of meeting true world changers who have recently opened a children’s home for railway kids. It is wrecking all of us in a similar way as our first trip to this nation did, and we know we will never be the same as a family again!
What’s the hardest part?
Sometimes, it is feeling like what we are doing just isn’t enough. The poverty, injustice and heartbreak here is just too much. When we work in particularly hard places, it feels a bit like “putting makeup on a pig.” But I have to remind myself, if we save the life of one child, isn’t is worth it? We trust that God is using this little tool to change lives, ours most of all.
Do you have any advice for other families interested in becoming World Changers?
Sometimes all it takes is a redirection of your pocket change. Sometimes your entire life will shift!
- Find the thing that your family can do and do it well!
- Read books that inspire your kid’s imaginations.
- Don’t stifle their ideas about how they can help the world. (I have one child who currently aspires to be a m*ssionary “internetainer” when he grows up. This way he can make people laugh, travel the world AND tell people about Jesus all over the Internet. We are just going with it for now…)
- Some families (like Aimee’s) have big sit-downs and decide together a course of action. Our littles were too little to have much of a say when this all started. But because they have been a part of it for their whole lives, they take ownership of it. It is working for us for now.
How can we join you?
We would love to have you involved with Kits for Kids!
- Set aside that pocket change for a week, a month, or even a year. It will buy more hygiene kits than double shot cappuccinos, that’s for sure!
- You can give online here and this money will go directly toward hygiene starter kits.
- You can also join in the greater ministry of our family through prayer and financial support. Check out our blog for more information on that!
- Also, I would be happy to answer questions, brainstorm ideas, or even give tips on taking littles to the developing world. Never easy, but totally worth it. Contact info available through the blog.
What about you?
- World Changer Wednesday – The Powell Family – a family’s love for Kenya
- World Changer Wednesday The Farrell Family – a family’s love for the Ukraine