Uniting Distant Stars (UDS) experienced this invaluable lesson last year. It all started on November 19, 2014, when the boxes for the 4th Annual School Supply Drive started their long journey from Minnesota to Liberia by road and sea. We expected these to arrive sometime in January or February 2015 based on past experiences with the same shipping company.
|14-cubic-foot boxes filled with supplies taped and shrink wrapped to be shipped on a sea cargo container.|
When the calendar turned over to January 2015, the calls started to the offices in both Minnesota and Liberia, but no one answered. As we entered into February, still no communication or delivery of the standard letter from the shipping company about our supplies. When March arrived, our investigation intensified on the whereabouts of the boxes, but produced no results after several weeks of personal inquiries and online searches of the company’s status. In April, our supporters received an email about the unknown location of our boxes filled with donated supplies. By the end of May, we believed the boxes were lost and gave up any hope of seeing them again.
July rolled in and it was time to launch our next school supply drive. This year we opted to only accept financial donations to purchase the supplies in Liberia since there was no point of repeating last year’s disappointment. The goal was to raise $2,000 to purchase supplies for our 250 students at Russ Wood Christian Academy, who we have served since 2012. The campaign started off slow, but gained momentum with an anonymous challenge grant offered on August 2. The grant would match the first $500 donations if received on or before August 16. This prompted both current and new donors to take advantage of this opportunity to double their impact within the first few days.
Then something unbelievable happened on August 6. An email appeared on my phone from Kelvin Fomba, UDS Co-Founder and Country Director in Liberia, stating “Photos of boxes received”. In total dismay, I thought to myself “what boxes?” I opened one of the photos on my phone, but could not believe my eyes. I then viewed all the photos on the larger computer monitor and still was baffled with what I saw. How could this be? After nine months of no communication or any information about the fate of our shipment, the boxes were now being off-loaded from a truck by our team in Liberia. The boxes and supplies arrived unscathed and with everything intact.
|Left to right: Boxes being off-loaded from truck and supplies unpacked and stacked at our site in Liberia.|
Without a doubt this was a Miracle! The shock remained as we continued with our current campaign. Only $130 was needed to receive the challenge grant. This was unlocked the following day on August 7 by one of our sustaining supporters. Wow! Within two days, the unexpected supplies from 2014 were received and this year’s campaign was halfway to goal. These blessings clearly had to be shared with more than one school.
The decision was simple. The supplies from 2014 would be given to the 250 Russ Wood students, the intended beneficiaries. The original plan for these supplies were to fill the 250 backpacks made by our youth during our 2014 pilot project. The 2015 campaign, which raised $2,035, would be shared by two schools–City of Joy and Rogma International. The combined total of these two schools is about 250 students. UDS went from supporting one primary school to three in a matter of days.
|City of Joy School in Congo Town, Liberia. Kelvin visited in February 2015.|
|Rogma International School in Paynesville, Liberia from Kelvin’s visit in February.|
We are happy to announce the supply distribution will occur during the first two weeks in September. Each school will hold an opening program for the 2015/2016 academic year starting with City of Joy on September 6. Kelvin and the UDS volunteer team have been invited to share in this day and present the supplies to the students. Photos from these programs will be posted on our Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter pages as they come in. A blog post will follow highlighting the festivities and stories from each school. All three schools are overjoyed and send their blessings to all our supporters.
In closing this post, Uniting Distant Stars teams in Liberia and Minnesota are extremely grateful for the continued generosity and support from our donors! UDS is equally thankful for the important lesson learned of letting go and receiving what is meant to be. We now know with certainty that Miracles do happen!