On Thursday night I went to bed, wondering if posting about clean water on my blog and on Facebook and asking people to contribute was a silly idea. Initially my goal was to raise just $100 by the time John arrived home on Saturday at noon.
On Friday at noon, five times that amount was already raised. To say that my mind was blown would be an understatement. Email alert after email alert poured in, along with notes of encouragement from my friends. People telling me that they were proud of what I was doing, that they'd be praying for me every step I took. I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe how vastly I'd underestimated the response I'd get, and how God would bless this whole endeavor. Before I went to bed on Friday night, more donations came in, bringing the total to about $700. I sat on my couch and made t-shirt scarves that night in total awe. At fifty dollars each, fourteen people would now have clean water for the rest of their lives because others gave.
When I woke up on Saturday morning I realized that I'd set the bar too low. I had a group run scheduled for that day at 7:30 am. I could not wait to share what God had done with my friends! They were of course totally blown away by the news that I'd hit my fundraising goal for the half marathon in ONE DAY. And all I'd done? Is ask for help.
So we set out on the 3.5 mile run. The first mile? I ran in about 9 minutes (this is fast for an out-of-shape mom who usually averages 10-11 minute miles!!). I was so amped about the fundraising day I'd had the day before I couldn't help myself! About halfway in to that adrenaline-fueled first mile the French toast I'd shoved down my gullet on the way to the run started an angry protest. I pulled my long-sleeved shirt off as my body started to overheat. My breathing got ragged and I started to slow down. I hocked a huge loogey on myself and I started to get discouraged. I am ashamed to admit this … I walked a few steps.
And then? I said this, out loud: "NO." And I picked it up again. I owed these miles. People believed in me. They supported me. They were praying for me. And I wasn't going to let them down. I sped back up to a jog. I finished the first half of my run (it was all downhill), slapped the light post at the midway point, turned around and started back up the hill.
Everyone was all spread out and I was on my own. I couldn't see anyone ahead of me. The Trees of Death were approaching.
On this particular run (which I do almost every Saturday) there is a point on the run when I'm nearly all the way to the finish at our local coffee shop, about a half mile out, where there are these trees in the middle of the road. I always tell myself that if I can just get to the trees, then I can walk. This week as the trees loomed in the distance I could feel my body winding itself up for the protest. "Time to walk, Manda! Here come the Trees of Death!"
But this week? There was no way. I picked those trees off one at a time, counting out loud as I went.
Do you want to know how many trees there were? Fourteen. The same number as people who would be receiving clean water. After that, I got busy counting other more important things. I got busy dreaming about how many people could be affected by this project, by me simply choosing to keep going. And before I knew it was at the coffee shop with my feet propped up on the side of the building so that my French toast stayed in my stomach, gushing to everyone about what God had done and how I'd run almost every single step.
I hope it's obvious that now I have renamed those of trees The Trees of Life.
While I was laying there on the ground I decided that my new goal would be to raise $1000 by the time John got home from Africa (half of my total goal for the half marathon and full marathon combined). It seemed crazy to me, but I never could have imagined how much had already been done. So I asked.
And by the time John arrived home at noon on Saturday? We had raised almost exactly one thousand dollars. The last $60 came in while I was picking him up at the airport. Together we saved the lives of twenty people.
Guys? I am so humbled. I am so full of hope about what can be done. Thank you for your partnership. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for running this race with me. I am so excited to share this journey with you!
If you'd like to join with us to save lives through clean water, it's simple. Just click over.
Keep in mind that $50 is enough to provide one person in Africa with clean water for the rest of their life, but remember that anything helps. The most awesome thing about this is that we can do this together. And we're doing it, one person at a time.
Right now? My goal is to get clean water for twenty more people by Dec. 14. I cannot wait to be blown away by how I – once again – underestimated us all.