Sunday, October 9, 2011

They Call Me the "Ice Cream Man!"

Gloria's Ice Cream Face

They call me the Ice Cream Man.  Not exactly a Super Hero name, but that’s what they call me.

It was the day of our groundbreaking celebration and everyone was excited to go see the land that Dream of a Better World had raised the money for.   I was excited to see the land, but he kids were really just excited for ice cream and cake.  But ice cream... well, that's really special.  And they knew that the path to ice cream included a trip to the land.  So the sooner that was over with, the closer they’d be to… ice cream.

Sweet Potatoes 

The land is impressive, 4 acres of fertile land with lots of things already planted and growing.  We picked sweet potatoes and Jack fruit and walked through field where the maize was just harvested.   The foundation for the dormitory has been poured and, as Holly walked over it, she showed each one of them where they would eat and sleep and learn and play.   I didn’t think the land would be that BIG and I was very proud to be a part it… like we’d accomplished something big and meaningful.   Honestly, it made me want to DO MORE!

Giving Thanks 
On the ride home, we stopped at a house to pick up the ice cream.  The kids, maybe for the first time since I’d arrived, became still and quiet.  This was serious business… ice cream.  I jumped at the chance to do more and pulled out my wallet while asking Holly if I could buy the ice cream I had promised the kids.  It was 80,000 shillings, which is about $25.  I had one of those “WOW” moments when I later learned that that’s about 2 - 3 weeks wages for the average worker in Jinja.  And, we spent it on something so… small… so everyday.  Can you imagine spending the equivalent of… say… 2 or 3 thousand dollars for ice cream?

Thank You All!
I feel a bit bad when I think about all the “things” that I have. Things like my R/C Ferarri that could possibly feed someone in Africa for a whole month.  After that, I promised myself that I will try not to take for granted the small things in life… like ice cream, like swimming in the ocean, new clothes,  clean running water,  meat for dinner,  screens on the windows, or especially, having both a mom and a dad.

Now I’ve become still and quiet.  No wonder they call me: “The Ice Cream Man!” 
       - aka, Jack Button

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bags By Lydia of Africa...

When I asked William about Lydia, tears swelled up in his eyes.

Lydia is quietly the sweetest smile in the back of the room… always helpful and always watching.  She aspires to be a successful tailor and is in school to reach that goal.  But, it is her faith and her story, that makes her so remarkable. 

Lydia lived far from town.  At age 8, both her parents died of AIDS.  They left her in the care of her brother, who preferred that she would quickly die and be less of a bother to him.  What was the point?  She was HIV positive and would die anyway.  At age 10, she was very sick and managed to get a neighbor to help her to the Children’s Hospital in Jinja.  They gave her medicine (ARVs) and food and put her on a monthly treatment schedule.  She would have to find transportation each month.  So Lydia, without a family or ANY resources would sell the food they gave her, in order to be able to return each month for the life sustaining ARVs. 

For 3 years, she managed to sell the food and return each month.  She was alive, but just barely, when the hospital lost it’s funding for their food program.  Without the food, there was no way for Lydia to return.  So, on her last trip to the hospital she quietly said goodbye to the nurses who grew to love her.  “This is my last trip to see you as I must die soon.”  

The nurses contacted Our Own Home, which found her near death and took her in.  Her liver and kidneys were failing and there was swelling around her heart.  At age 13,  she was alone and “ready to go be with God.”  But, Lydia recovered.  At Our Own Home, she was put on a strict regiment of LOVE and PRAYER and new medicines.  Lydia will be 16 in December.

She is happy, thriving and quietly ambitious to start her tailoring business.  She says: “God brought me all the way here," and she is going to make the best of every minute HE gives her!  So, she has started making beautiful shoulder bags...

             FOR SALE! 

Her skill as a tailor is still improving, but I can't imagine anyone else in Jinja putting as much "faith, hope and love" into their sewing.  These are the ingredients of Lydia's bags that we will help her try to sell... at least, we hope to get her started!  

She calls them: 

"Bags By Lydia - From Africa."

She sews from a corner of the older girl's room at Our Own Home.  We have purchased fabric and materials and promised to buy her first inventory of purses!  

It is fitting that Lydia’s Uganda name, which I can’t even begin to spell, means: What God has prepared for the poor will not go to waste.

In the story of the good Samaritan, we really don't ever know what happens to the man who was laying naked and half dead in the road.  We know that someone cared enough to cloth and feed and nurse him back to health.  But, what became of him?  Of course, the story is not about the man.  It's about compassion... it's about OUR role in this world filled with suffering.  But I still have to wonder:   Did that man turned out as wonderfully as Lydia?

Here are a few more photos, a video of her new "Daddy William" who loves her dearly and of Lydia using her manual Singer sewing machine.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Is my faith real enough?

Moses at a clinic

Wow… today was incredible.  Not only have I seen real poverty, I’ve also seen how God can use people in big ways.  It has really made me think!  I’m seeing how so many people over here are stepping out in faith and doing things that are SO incredible.  They see these tragic situations and people in need and actually do something about it. 

Feeding the Little Ones

My dad and I are studying the Bible’s book of James while we’re here and there is verse that has really stuck me: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it?  So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.”  If you think about that for a minute, how does this relate to our lives?  I know it’s different for each of us.  For me, it means charity.  For someone else, it might be taking care friends or family.  But, for Holly and William, it’s creating a home for children without parents, suffering from HIV/AIDS and giving them faith, love and a real home.  Most of these kids will lead productive lives… and some, will simply feel loved for the time they have remaining.


I know that I’m only 13 years old, but when I see people over here like Holly and William and their volunteers,, it makes me wonder how I can do more.  The way they are giving everything they have to make a difference is incredible and challenging.  Is my faith real enough to do what they do?  

                Sincerely, Jack

We've Made It Home... Our Own Home in Uganda!

Home With Moses!
After two days of traveling, we made it home… to “Our Own Home!”   Home to 52 wide-eyed, smiling, singing, shouting, running, laughing children.  We made it home to our Moses and home to a very BIG DREAM that is making a world of difference to some of the “least of God’s children.”  It was amazing to see the results of our support and to see the smiles on EVERY one of the children's faces... to hear them shouting... Uncle! Uncle! Uncle!  Even Jack is "Uncle" here in Our Own Home.  In fact, he is a bit of a hero to the younger kids.

There are so many things to share with all of you, most that words just won’t express… like the faith and strength and humility of Holly and William, who started this effort.  Like the injustice and indignity of HIV/AIDS and the over crowded, ill supplied clinics trying to deal with it.   There are so many stories that need to be told, that need to be captured and shared… stories of faith and courage and determination.  And not just the BIG stories… everyday life and living.  Children who are excited to have a friend and to sit in someone's lap and have book read out loud.

We are amazed at the happiness of these children who take such joy in the simplest of life’s pleasures.  I watched one of the children explode in excitement and joy at the prospect of having cake at our upcoming ground breaking ceremony.   CAKE! Hands in the air… shouts of joy… bouncing up and down like fireworks!  What wonderful, unassuming, grateful, full-of-life children!

At the moment, I’d like to share one success story that really is a “THANK YOU” to everyone who has supported Dream of a Better World.  The best way to thank some one, is to share the results.  Last year, the “Dream Team” raised the money to purchase a van for Our Own Home and then early this year, they raised the money for 4 acres of land for a new, permanent (rent free) home.  Now, they’ve helped raise the money to begin the buildings.  Now that’s not even the story I’m talking about!

Here’s the story!  The moment the land was purchased… the older kids went to work on a plan to feed the orphanage!  The soil is fertile, but the land needed work. They cleared trees and bush and dug and tilled the land.  Of course, they needed the van to get it done!  They purchased seed and began to plant.  They planted maize and potatoes in their own land, with their own hands.  They harvested and husked and sent bags off to the mill.

I’ll let Holly tell you the rest…

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bye Dubai... Hello Entebbe!

We had a layover in Dubai... an amazing place.  Nearly all of it is new and luxurious.  It was a fun place to visit, but now we are focused on the children of Our Own Home and heading their way.

So Today, I woke up at 5 o’clock for Entebbe, took another 7 hour flight and a 3 hour long and bumpy ride to Jinja.  I got to see a lot of what East Africa looks like… the rich and the poorest of the poor.  We saw the President’s house and other huge expensive homes on the way, but mostly we saw shacks made of sticks and tin roofs, tarps to plug the rain holes and odd pieces of recycled wood.   There was lots of open space and then a small town would pop up.   The roadside was lined with small businesses… people selling things like fruits and vegetables and sometimes glasses or shoes.   Kids were everywhere, playing with used water bottles, sticks and string.  Life looked rough, but the people seemed to be happy with what they had.

Holly and William had travelled this road many, many times.  They were very nice to take this long drive to meet us at the airport.  They picked us up in the van that Dream of a Better World bought for them a year ago.  William had grown up in one of these small villages.  He said that he would cut down sugar cane as a boy for his family’s money.  He would earn just pennies for a huge bundle of sugar cane.   Holly came here from America and she must have seen this in the same way I did the first time she came.   But she also must have seen something extra special to be doing something as BIG as she is doing now!

We finally made it to our hotel in Jinja, home for the next 9 days.  Already the power has gone on and off 3 times and we’re using mosquito nets that are hanging over our beds.  Life is very different here!  I can’t wait to see the orphanage and meet all the kids, especially “baby” Moses!

OK… gotta go… bye for now!  Jack

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I've Never Been SO Excited!

I Can't Wait to Meet These Kids!
I'm so excited.  It's finally time to take my trip to Africa.  I have been working with an orphanage called Our Own Home for a year now... fundraising, doing stands and taking in as many donations as possible.  I know it's going to be a long hard trip, but I know that it will be worth it when I meet Holly, William and the 55 children living there.  I know that God will have many things for me to do and learn while I'm there.

Stay tuned to the blog for UPDATES and pictures over the next three weeks.   Thank you for your support!

Bon Voyage, Jack Button


My head is a blender full of emotions!  It's making an excited, nervous, happy, sad smoothie!  As I sit down to write this, my brain flashed to the "Bass-O-Matic" skit from Saturday Night Live.... Dan Aykroyd dropping bass into the blender.  I love fish, but I'm not sure about this!  It's that weird blend of emotions that I deal with every time we head off on a "mission trip," leaving family and friends behind... especially Diane!  Please pray that all of the everyday "chores" will go smoothly for her!

I am anxious that Jack and I will be traveling over 27,000 miles, requiring nearly 100 hours of round-trip travel time, including flights, layovers and buses.   Our time there will be spent working in an HIV/AIDS orphanage (Our Own Home) in the middle of East Africa.  So, please pray for travel mercies and safety.  I am excited, in large part, because I have NEVER seen Jack so excited.  He will be seeing the incredible beauty and unimaginable poverty of God's REAL world.  And, he will see his own hands making the world a better place.  Diane and I are VERY proud that he, Carly and Hannah care enough about a needy world to do something about it.  Finally, we are very, very THANKFUL for YOU... our family, friends and supporters who also care deeply enough to pray, give and help.

We are just $1,000 short of the kid's goal for completing the first dormitory and mission house.  That's after having raised the money that purchased the land.  The many bake sales, yard sales, car washes, farmer's markets, donation letters and proposals have successfully shared the vision of Dream of a Better World... that you're never too young or too old to make a difference!

Finally... I have to say, that God and Diane have made this ALL possible!  God is the author or our lives and of our work with Our Own Home!  Diane... thank you SO much for the way you love us ALL and work so tirelessly to make the kids dreams a reality.  You are amazing and inspiring!  You are my hero!  I miss you already!

Thank you ALL for caring about us and for helping our kids dream of a better world!

Mark & Jack - Off to Africa!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yard Sale..Bake Sale..Everything Sale!

This week, we raised over $1,000 at our yard sale.  We also sold “Special Delivery” cookbooks, baked goods, and we even sold organic vegetables from our garden! We’re working hard with Our Own Home to raise the building money and we are well on our way to reaching our goal of $40,000 in the next two months.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

We've Purchased the Land! Now For an Even BIGGER Dream!

CONGRATULATIONS! But, our job is not over!  We have the opportunity to make a life-time of change for many HIV positive children living in Uganda. So, we are looking for donors who are willing to join Dream of a Better World and our partner "Our Own Home" in building a permanent home for their care, and love, and dignity and hope.

YEAAH!!! Last month, we completed the first part of this dream by funding the purchase of 4 acres of lush land on the outskirts of Jinja, Uganda!

Thank you EVERYONE who helped and a very special thank you to!  But, now it's time for an even BIGGER dream! Now it's time to build a home!

Approximately $500,000 will be needed to complete all phases of this dream.  So far, $110,000 has been raised or pledged and $390,000 is still needed.  We realize that this is a BIG dream, but we’ve learned that you’re never too young or too old to make a difference.  And, this dream will make a big difference in the lives of some very needy children.  Now, we need your help!

Why?  Some people think that HIV/AIDS kids are not worth the effort or money.  But Dream of a Better World is made up of kids who want to help kids.  How would we feel if we needed help, just like they do?  How would anyone feel if they had lost both their parents and were abandoned because of their own illness, because they had HIV/AIDS?

We believe that the answer is two fold.  First, everyone deserves to be loved.  It’s true that many of these children will have a short life span.  But everyone is a treasure and everyone deserves the love of a family, and the hope that comes with it.  Secondly, many of these children have a very bright future.  If they receive the current treatment options available today, they could potentially live well into adulthood; and treatments are improving all the time. They all have hopes and dreams of finishing school, attending college, and even marrying and having children of their own one day.   Instead, many of these children are cast aside as if they were already dead.  No one deserves to be treated like that!

"Every laugh, every smile, every hug, every game of tag is a gift,
Every life, every breath, every moment is a treasure...
And that is true for all of us, every day…never forget."
--Mommy Holly

PLEASE... Won't you join us in this effort by donating.  All proceeds will go to the building fund for "Our Own Home."  We promise that it will make a BIG difference in the lives of these children.

- Jack Button, Dream Team Member and Global Collaborator

Miss Hawaii - 2nd Runner Up Miss America!


Last MONTH, Jalee became the 2nd Runner-up for Miss America!  Wow!  That just goes to show that Jalee's hard work and commitment continues to pay off!

Last YEAR, Dream of a Better World helped Operation Backpack by providing money for 61 backpacks filled with school supplies.  Guess who was there to help?  Yes, that's Miss Hawaii... Jalee Fuselier!  She was there to help and to inspire all of the kids.  It was great to see all of the smiles when each child received a brand new school backpack filled with supplies.  We handed out coupons for fun games, rides and LOTS of good food too!

WAY TO GO JALEE!  And, thanks for all your community service.  Thanks for the cool photo too!

- Jack Button
Dream Team Member & HTA Global Collaborator

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Loving Animals & Helping Others!

There was a huge fire at Sugar Creek, a stable for Special Needs kids.  They lost six horses and most of their equipment.  We need to help them.  I felt so sad when I heard about this.  I ride horses too and I would feel terrible if my horse, Zippy, had the same fate.   I don't know how I would feel exactly, but I know it would be a REALLY terrible feeling.  I tell Zippy all my troubles and he will let me pet him for a while.  It helps me to feel better too.

Those kids need their horses even more than me!  Let's help them get back riding again.  Let's help them recover... it's our turn now!  PLEASE donate! Here are two ways to donate:

#1  Just click on the Sugar Creek DONATE button and follow the Paypal directions. 

#2 Make checks payable to “Dream of a Better World” and mail to P.O. Box 455, Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712.  Be sure to note SUGAR CREEK on your check.

Donations are tax deductible and 100% of your donation will go to Sugar Creek Equinapy.  Here's a flyer that we put together with more information:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Beginning of a New Year

It's a great start to a great new year.  We are working hard toward our goal of $13,000 dollars for the land that will be a permanent home for the over 45 HIV+ children of "Our Own Home" orphanage in Uganda.  We are excited that two new boys have moved in and are now getting the love and care that they need.  It makes me feel grateful for the things I have and I am committed to helping these children, and to building a better life for them and for more children to come.

- Jack Button