There is a Chris Tomlin song we sing at church that says this,
How can I keep from singing Your praise?
How can I ever say enough?
How amazing is Your love!
That is exactly how I feel right now while heading into our Bounce for Bulgaria event this Friday—how can I keep from singing His praise?! I had it in my mind to do a blog post letting everyone know how the event went, but God has done so much leading up to the event that I need to sing His praise even now. Let me start by saying that my friend Courtney called me up in the spring and asked if I would want to work together to do a fundraiser for our adoption agency’s “Raise the Roof” orphan advocacy program raising funds to repair the building at the Maria Luisa Orphanage. I was absolutely on-board as I had been telling Andy that I refuse to just sit with my hands tied for the next 3 years impatiently waiting for “the call.” I was already looking for a way to be useful and advocate for my future child and the thousand of others who will never be placed in a home. We had no idea what to do, but we agreed to do something. To be completely honest, I didn’t expect to raise much, maybe $500 or a thousand dollars at most, but I figured every little bit would help.
A week or so later Courtney called and said the gym her girls attend had bouncy- house parties, and maybe we could rent out the building and do a “Bounce for Bulgaria” event. Again, the cynic in me thought, “Can we really successfully do an event that is not in our hometown for a cause that is half-way around the world? Will people really care?” We checked on dates, and prepared to rent the building, but the owner refused to let us pay her. She wanted to help by letting us use the building and facilities for free. (This was the beginning of a multitude of blessing we couldn’t have imagined.)
This began the ball rolling, and I suggested that we order more Apparent Project jewelry to have for sale at the event. We both ordered a crate, and within weeks, Courtney had sold all of hers and I had sold half. She ordered another crate just so we would have enough to display at the event.
I thought it would be fun for our families to have some t-shirts to wear at the event, and designed some. We got exciting news that the Ramseys, another family in the AGCI Bulgaria program, were going to get to come to the event….and we were thrilled to get to meet in person! They wanted the t-shirts too, and I immediately wondered if anyone else would be interested. I called Courtney and excitedly blubbered through the idea of selling the t-shirts as another way to raise funds. We agreed to put out the word to all of the other Bulgaria families through social media, and I began receiving dozens of emails pouring in with t-shirt orders and encouragement. I got to make some amazing connections, hear people’s adoption stories, and meet families who are waiting, traveling or already home with their kids. I placed an order of 74 t-shirts. They came, we packaged them up and shipped them all over the US. Then, I immediately began having people ask if I was still taking orders. I decided to place a second order. We received 30 more orders….people who have no affiliation with Bulgaria or adoption were suddenly contacting me and asking to order a t-shirt. Family, friends from my past, strangers, and people who had already ordered the first time all wanted to help by ordering a t-shirt.
After placing all my orders, I got an email about submitting a picture of people wearing the CustomInk shirts for a contest. I decided it wouldn’t hurt, and submitted a picture of my kiddos in their shirts with a caption about what the shirts were for. The next day I received an email from a lady at CustomInk saying they had read the description and wanted to donate $20 to our cause. I was almost in tears that a random t-shirt company would show such kindness when they clearly did not have too. I sent her a message of appreciation to which she responded that they would be sending $30 to our cause! This came moments before another email from a different lady at CustomInk emailed saying they appreciated us placing a second order and would like to reimburse us $10 for being a repeat customer. (People, if you have to order personalized shirts use customink.com–they are fantastic!)
Last week, we placed an ad in the paper for the event. It was on the front page, and by that night an elderly man had tracked down Courtney’s husband Matt. He builds children’s wooden swings and wanted to donate two for us to auction off. This also opened the floodgates of donations we didn’t expect or ask for. Since then we have had gift baskets, Bulgarian treats, hair products, OPI nail polishes, Mary Kay gift sets, a COACH purse, and more donated to us. This response has been overwhelming to us! We have also had so many friends and church families volunteer to donate baked goods for our bake sale table.
Today, Courtney and I spent the afternoon at Sam’s buying all the food for the event, and we spent hours recounting the many blessings this has brought us. And (we shouldn’t have been surprised) but every single item we had on our list (minus the hotdogs) was on sale ….a lot. Ha!
I promise to you, this is only about half of the beauty we have seen through this effort so far. From very little planning on our part, God has provided opportunity after opportunity, and placed wonderful people around us that have supported and made this fundraiser possible. We hope that you can all make it the event, but if you can’t–don’t worry–we’ll have much more to share when it is all over!