Monday, February 28, 2011

Nuru International and One Days Wages Work Together To Empower Farmers Out of Extreme Poverty

What started last spring with conversations between staff of Nuru International and One Day’s Wages while attending the !deation Conference in Long Beach, has culminated in $15,000 being raised through the grassroots efforts of ODW to help 70 families take the first step to lift themselves out of extreme poverty through a loan of high quality agricultural inputs from Nuru.  This loan of agricultural inputs, along with training in proper planting and harvesting techniques will allow these families to produce a harvest large enough to feed their families, to pay back their loan, and to sell their surplus for a profit.  They will no longer go hungry during the hunger season, and they will be able to grow in financial freedom as well.

We are excited about the people that ODW has given an opportunity to join Nuru in the fight to end extreme poverty through their movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty.

You see, every single one of us have a contribution to make toward the goal of ending extreme poverty. Maybe you will be like Naomi and her family, and donate your birthday for a cause.  This little girl and her family had a goal of raising $500 for Nuru’s work, but ended up raising $1500. Or maybe you can be like Esther, who raised over $2000 for Nuru as she ran a marathon.

At Nuru most of our videos end with a simple statement. Be hope. Be light. Be Nuru. Nuru is a Kiswahili word that means light and has a connotation of hope. We love seeing people take steps to tangibly be Nuru in this world that needs more hope. We applaud the efforts of ODW as they provide individuals with great tools to be Nuru. We need more Esther’s and Naomi’s in this world.

Our recent grant with ODW has been fulfilled, but there is still a great need to be met in Kuria, Kenya. This winter, we are expanding our programs to over six hundred new families. Will you join us in this effort?  Here’s a few ideas to help get you started. Together, we are ending extreme poverty, one community at a time!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blood Screening

As part of the Daniel Plan starting point, it was suggested that we get some of our baseline numbers to know how much of an impact this diet has had on our health.  Jamie and I drove down to Fairmont General Hospital to take advantage of their general blood screening and lipid screening tests.  The plan also suggested getting a starting point number for height (not anticipating a change) weight, blood pressure, and waist size.

We both have some great numbers to start with.  Our fasting glucose is in the eighties, and our cholesterol is rocking too.  My total cholesterol is 156, but I need to make some advances in HDL mine is only 39 (Jamie’s is 62!!!).

We both are feeling good about the baseline numbers we have, but we are curious to see what a year of healthy eating will do.  When I started the Daniel Plan, I weighed in at 197, and my waste size was 39 inches (taking the measurement an inch over the navel).  My blood pressure was 120/80, and I’ve been rocking out 6’2” for several years now.

The funny thing about getting bloodwork done was that there weren’t many young people doing it.  Most of us wait until we start having health issues, or questions about some of our numbers before we get our blood tested, but it’s a good idea to get work done to know your numbers in advance.  I had work done three years ago because my mom had breast cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and I thought that if I could discover early warning signs and work proactively to prevent similar problems, then I wanted to do it.  In 2008, my cholesterol was 175, so over the last three years, I’ve made some significant improvements.

When was the last time you had your blood checked?  I know it’s not super exciting to wake up early to go to a community blood screening and get stabbed with a needle, but it’s worthwhile to know how your health is looking.  I know I was dreading the numbers when I went to get tested, but I knew that if my numbers were not great, I was in a solid place to begin some lifestyle changes.  Will you do yourself a favor, and check your numbers if you don’t typically do so? Maybe you will see some early warning signs that could prevent problems later. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Daniel Plan

Ok, so I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around different diet and wellness plans, but I’ve latched hold of this one as a tool to help me in my pursuit of fitness, weight loss, and overall health goals.  I included a video from one of the physicians who shares some basic information for why a healthy lifestyle is important.

The plan was initiated by Rick Warren and the congregation of Saddleback Church in an effort for Rick to lose 90 lbs in a healthy way, and encourage people of faith to pursue a healthier lifestyle.  The plan has three top notch physicians (Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman, and Mehmet Oz) sharing their wisdom and encouraging participants toward a healthy lifestyle.

So what exactly is the Daniel Plan?  It’s a fifty two week lifestyle change that starts with six weeks involvement in a small group ton encourage the continuation of the plan.  The plan consists of exercise, relaxation, rest, and eating natural whole foods.  The exercise so far hasn’t been that intense--walking 30 minutes a day, like you are going somewhere, and like you are late.  The relaxation and rest?  Taking a few seconds at the start or end of the day, to just breathe deeply and do nothing.  Personally, I’ve incorporated these deep breaths into my prayer time.  I’ve also been diligent to be in bed before 11PM (sometimes even earlier).  I try to get up early in the morning, stretch and get some weight training in (as a supplement to the base of the plan).

The big thing is food though.  But the food portion of the plan doesn’t feel all that gimmicky.  It involves eating whole, natural foods.  Here are some of the basic rules of the Daniel Plan.

Don’t drink your calories (no soft-drinks or juice).
Don’t use canola or soy oil to cook (or shortening).
No high fructose corn-syrup.
No hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Stop eating sugar (and splenda, and aspartame, etc).  [the reason behind this is pretty fascinating].
If it’s got more than five ingredients on the box, then don’t eat it.
If it contains ingredients that your grandparents wouldn’t recognize as food growing up, then don’t eat it.

So what can you eat?  Fruits & vegetables, fish, chicken, whole foods, nuts, and much much more.  Here’s a great list of foods to eat.  Think about eating foods that are located around the edge of the supermarket. Jamie and I have been changing our eating habits, and we can both tell a major difference in how we feel.  We have more energy, more focus, and we have lost weight—at a fairly reasonable pace. 

I just thought I’d write a little bit about it, because I’m very impressed with the videos and information that Saddleback Church has been sharing with the world so everyone can improve their health!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SustainU Clothing

Change your clothes. Change your world. from sustainU on Vimeo.

Not too long ago, a few of my friends embarked on a pioneering journey to encourage people to think about the clothes they wear, how the production of those clothes impact the environment, and how it could all change for the better.  Out of this journey, SustainU clothing was born.  SustainU is a company who specializes in making clothes here in the United States and they work specifically to produce their clothing line from recycled materials.  This company is headquartered in Morgantown, WV and many members of their team are from this great state.

Right now, they are embarking on a campaign to save about 150 tons of clothing from landfills through a campaign called the ONEshirt campaign.  They are encouraging college students across the country to participate in a clothing drive to reduce waste, and encourage all of us to think a little more deeply about our choices when it comes to what we wear.  There are currently over 100 campuses involved in the campaign.  By the way, did you know that 10% of the content of landfills is clothing?

Take a little time, and watch the video, and think about how changing your clothing just might change the world.  Maybe it's time to get rid of some of those clothes you haven't worn in the last two years.  Let someone else give em a try.  And maybe, next time you are looking to purchase clothing, consider making a statement and grabbing something from the Sustain U catalog.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Storytelling—Nuru On Tour

Nuru On Tour from Nuru International on Vimeo.

I love this video, I love the music that was donated by MGMT for the video, but more than that I love the people who make up this video.  Three recent West Virginia University graduates, Derek Roberts, Tiffany Newcomb, and Lisa Hough, decided that in lieu of pursuing jobs in Accounting, Aerospace Engineering, and Civil Engineering respectively, they would drive around the country in a Ford conversion van and tell people about the greatest humanitarian crisis of our generation, and how they could join Nuru in our efforts to end extreme poverty, first in Kuria, Kenya, and then moving forward to some of the most poverty stricken and unstable places on earth.

I first met Derek in a Bible study on the campus of WVU.  He was a competitive triathlete, and passionate about pursuing justice and serving others in this world.  In fact, about a year after I met him, he left competitive cycling and triathlons emphatically by selling a bike and giving the proceeds of the sale to Nuru.  He shocked his fellow triathletes, and left many of them wondering what had happened to radically transform their fellow competitor.  Derek put his career on hold to challenge others to get engaged in the fight to end extreme poverty, and before graduating, founded Nuru’s first campus chapter at WVU.

I’m not even sure where I met Tiffany, but I know I heard stories about her passion for advocacy for a long time.  She left a great job at an engineering firm and took a job waiting tables while serving the homeless community in Morgantown, West Virginia before joining Derek and Lisa to tell Nuru’s story on college campuses, in churches, and in coffee shops in cities all over this country in the winter of 2010.

I was at a costume party at my friend Cameron’s house when I first met Lisa.  Lisa not only served as a diligent student, but also competed as a scholarship athlete in volleyball at WVU.  After her final semester, her friends Derek and Tiffany talked to her about career options, and invited her to join them in sharing Nuru’s story.  She did not hesitate to accept.

Many people found out about Nuru through this tour.  Maybe you are reading this blog post because you found out about Nuru through these three brilliant individuals.  Maybe you are reading this post and wondering if you might be able to make a contribution toward ending extreme poverty.  I can tell you for sure that you can.  I can tell you that I am of the conviction that every person on this planet has a contribution to make toward ending extreme poverty.  It could be as simple as sharing Nuru’s story with a friend or as complex as a career or degree change.  It could be as easy as making a financial contribution toward Nuru’s work, or pursuing a career in advocacy for the one BILLION people who live in extreme poverty.

Today, in the spirit of Derek, Lisa, and Tiffany I simply want to ask you, will you share Nuru’s story with someone?  Not sure where to start?  How about liking our “Do Something” page on the Nuru website?  There are lots of ideas to get you started.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No Excuses

Ok, so I thought I'd send a little sunshine your way.  I took this last fall while hanging with my brother near Newport Beach.  I'm not there now though, I'm chillin' in Morgantown.  Just thought a little sunshine image might correspond well with the unseasonably warm weather we are experiencing in the land of the Mountaineers.

So I haven't blogged in a bit.  Right after committing to a goal of 3-5 posts per week I fell off the wagon.  I could blame back-to-back-to back-to-back losses for WVU women to Pitt, Steelers to Packers, WVU Men to Pitt, and WVU Women to UConn, but I won't.  (Although that streak left me pretty down).  I could blame the flu that I had last week, but I won't.  When I finally took my temperature, and a day off, I had a fever of 101.7.

This morning I realized it had been a while when somebody asked me about my blog.  I had a "D'oh!" moment, and figured I'd make a quick post.

There will be more later this week...maybe even later today, but we will see.

Hope everyone is having a great week, and sorry I fell out of the habit so quickly.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Nuru Regional Training Center

Regional Training Center from Nuru International on Vimeo.

I love this short video featuring Nuru Kenya’s Chairman, Philip Mohochi.  It’s amazing to think how much change has taken place.  As of fall, 2010, 7000 people have participated in Nuru’s programs in Kuria, Kenya.  Seven THOUSAND!!!  In September 2008, there were NONE!!!

This year, Nuru is expanding to provide tools and trainings even more people.  Right now, over 10,000 people will benefit from Nuru’s work in Kuria.  And we are still growing and scaling.  It’s truly amazing to think about the future, and what this work will mean for fighting poverty everywhere.

The Regional Training Center in Kuria, Kenya will help even more leaders receive the training they need to help their communities to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.  Leader by leader, community by community, family by family, we are ending extreme poverty, together, one community at a time!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Three Life Goals Brought into Focus

My old friend JR Woodward once wrote a  piece for the curriculum of a doctrinal training program called Great Commission Leadership Institute.  In it, he shared a story of a survey given to people who had lived into their 80s and 90s.  They were asked one question of particular interest.  If they had their whole life to live over again, what would they do differently.  The responses varied, but overwhelmingly three responses were consistently shared by these folks.

They said that they would risk more, reflect more, and give their lives to things that would go on long after they died.  I find myself often revisiting these wise words and reminding myself of the need to put these three ideas into practice.  As a result of reading that article several years ago, I…

Risk More. Ten years ago, I was an analytical chemist for what was then the world’s largest generic drug manufacturer, Mylan Pharmaceuticals.  I had a great job, great benefits, and a bright future at the company.  I left it all and began raising financial support to serve God on the campus of WVU and in the city of Morgantown in a career in ministry with Great Commission Ministries.  Nearly three years ago, the wheels began turning for me to make another career change, and I joined my friends Jake and John as they started Nuru International.  I have no regrets for those changes in career. I believe that we were made to dream and take risks for things that matter in life.  The career changes are big milestones, but I’ve made a discipline out of trying new things, and boldly attempting (and often failing) as I try new things.  Don’t settle for the mundane—work hard and take risks.  The world needs dreamers and risk takers.

Reflect More.  I’m probably in a minority when it comes to this practice (and I’ve actually gotten a bit out of practice), but I strive to regularly carve away time to remember events, to share memories with friends, and to reflect on the kind of person I’m becoming.  It seems like we put a lot of emphasis into the places we live, the jobs we have, and the like, but the most important thing about us is the kind of person we are becoming.  In the past I have spent entire weeks in solitude to reflect, refresh, and rejuvenate.  Everyone has the ability to take a few minutes, and to be honest, those may be the most important minutes of your day.

Give my life to things that will continue after I die.  There are two practices that we all have an opportunity to engage in, loving God and loving others.  Jesus said that these were the two greatest commandments.  I tend to think that a life spent in service to God and others (regardless of your vocation) is the best spent life.  For me, my focus has honed in on serving the poorest of the poor by encouraging people to get involved in what I believe is the greatest humanitarian crisis of our generation.  Do you want to leave a legacy?  Give your time talents and resources to issues of substance and work to make a difference in this world.  Seek to orchestrate beauty and harmony in places where you see discord. 

I don’t know if you make the time to reflect on your day, your week, or even your previous year, and I don’t know if you are by nature a risk-taker, but my hope is that 2011 will give you ample opportunity to dream and to reflect more, and this year will be a deepening or a beginning of giving your life to things that will go on after you have left this world.