Looking backwards and forwards

Lioness looks to a mountaintop in Samburu National Reserve in Kenya. In some ways January is like standing on a high ridge line with vistas of two beautiful valleys. The valley on one side is where we have been. We look down and remember intimately the challenge points and the places where we stopped and examined the flowers. The valley on the other side of the ridge is where we are going. In that valley we see a beautiful unknown and a place to anticipate exploring. Are you there with me? Let me share what I see from up on this ridge of January 2014. Heights reached in 2013: Made strides in my 2012/13 resolution to reach more youth with our message for positive change in Africa. You can listen to the presentation about SIA’s grant program that I shared with a crowd of students at Illinois College in November. This generation is driven to figure out the best ways to serve the world! I’ve mentioned it before, I know. I’m still just so excited that we partnered with the new Small Business Fund coordinator in Nairobi, Wambui Nguyo. It happened in an authentically SIA manner. We began with prayer. We met her through our extended SIA network. She was willing and able to serve others in need. And two other excellent SIA coordinators were able to orientate her to our way of working. Reached our fundraising goal for 2013! Thank you to the 122 individuals and groups who generously supported SIA programs! We were so grateful to welcome support from 4 church groups last year. Steady climbing by all our amazing African partner organizations (CIFORD Kenya, Samro Polytechnic School, Shape Lives Foundation, MAVISALO) and all the families who are starting businesses and diligently working toward prosperity. It is a privilege to witness their encouraging successes throughout the year. Girls having fun at a CIFORD-Kenya sponsored empowerment workshop. The path before us in 2014: Continued support of youth education. Marketable job skills help youth provide for themselves and their families. A new SIA Community Grant will support a sewing and tailoring school in Meru, Kenya, run by the excellent Community Initiatives for Rural Development (CIFORD Kenya). Look for updates in 2014! How do we know what parts of our Small Business Fund really help families? And are the businesses successful in the long-run? This year we’ll look into new evaluation methods that will help us gather stories and information about what’s working. We’re ready to add another new Small Business Fund Coordinator to help more families work their way to a more stable and prosperous life. Visit SIA projects in Uganda, Malawi, and Kenya! Can you believe it’s been almost 3 years since I last visited our partners in Africa? I think it’s time again to meet with them and review the projects in person. Please keep this trip in your prayers. Nice views down both valleys, huh? Thank you for joining Spirit in Action on this journey of action, faith, and growth. I look forward to walking the path with you in 2014! View from the top of Dedza Mountain in southern Malawi. #Gratitude #SIAGrants #SuccessStory

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