Jun 16 2009

The Twinkie Project

Twinkie project Do you ever feel as if you are on the cusp of something big? Do you wrestle with restlessness in your spirit that you can neither calm nor pinpoint a reason for? It’s as if you feel that you, your life, is on the brink of something, a major change or transition; like something is about to happen and you have a big part in it – you just don’t know what or how.

That’s where I’m at. And I’ve decided that, despite the mystery of it and the frustration that comes with the not knowing, I’m excited anyway.

If you don’t remember or if you are new here, I have been sporadically writing about a program nicknamed the “Twinkie Project,” which has been in development since last August. I have tempted and beaten around the bush for months about what it is and when it will come to light. And I’m still doing so. :-)

But … it is now time my friends to tear off some of the wrapping and let you see a little of what this thing is about. Just a glimpse though. It’s really an out-of-context look, but then again it’s also kind of in the context. ;-)

The “Twinkie Project” is about giving an up-and-coming generation, my generation, the opportunity to know, understand and feel who it is that we (Compassion) are, what it is that we are doing, why it works, and how they can become a part of it.

And to help with all of that, we have a pioneer. A guinea pig if you will. Her name is Morgan and she’s basically my hero.

Morgan left for the Dominican Republic on June 2 and will return home June 29. She is living with a family … in poverty. A family that doesn’t speak English or have electricity or running water.

Morgan is also serving at one of our partner churches, teaching the kids English and Bible stories at school, and loving some seriously lovable kids.

Of course, she has invited you along on her journey.

http://www.morgan-givetolive.blogspot.com/

Morgan is a good photographer, but she is a great writer. Be careful when you read her posts because she will hook you before you know what’s happened, and then you are a goner. You’ll be sponsoring another kid before you finish reading.

Telling you about Morgan hardly seems sufficient. Words cannot describe just how incredible this young lady is and how perfectly she fits this role. Not a stranger to international travel or less-than-comfortable living conditions, she craves situations and settings like those our kids live in.

She is the most naturally gifted person I have ever met, and she has a heart that oozes Jesus and His love. Her passion, in a nutshell, is simple obedience to the Lord. And He is using her in a big way to be a light, a beacon of hope, and an awesome source of love and encouragement to children and their families who are thirsty for truth.

One of the most humble and unassuming college students I have ever met, she gave up a month of her summer to be a part of the “Twinkie Project.” Simply because she wanted to. She quit her job in order to participate.

Yeah. Like I said, she’s my hero.

I hope you enjoy the peek. There’ll be more to come in the future.

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21 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Amy Wallace
    Jun 16, 2009
    at 5:31 am

    Whatever the Twinkie Project is, it sounds really, really exciting! The suspense is killing me!

    (And I’ve never eaten a Twinkie)

  2. Lindy
    Jun 16, 2009
    at 5:56 am

    This is exciting,Meredith! I can’t wait to read more!

  3. Jun 16, 2009
    at 6:05 am

    Been following Morgan–recommend you check out her site.

    BTW, what is the current twinkie status?

  4. Jun 16, 2009
    at 9:02 am

    I sponsor two girls in the Dominican Republic. Reading Morgan’s post of June 10 made my heart and my stomach flip over. I’ll have to wait a while before reading her earlier ones.

    But my hat is off to her. I could never have done what she is doing.

    I’m curious to know how the family she lives with is being compensated for hosting her for a month. Are they given supplemental nutrition, money, or…??

  5. Jun 16, 2009
    at 9:22 am

    I learned of Morgan’s trip last week, and read her first few entries. She becomes even more amazing to me, when I look at who I was when I was in college.

    I can’t wait to learn more about the “Twinkie Project” and will continue to follow Morgan’s blog.

  6. Jun 16, 2009
    at 9:38 am

    I love it! I’m looking forward to reading Morgan’s posts this summer. What an amazing experience it must be! I’ve got my kleenexes ready…and my checkbook…

  7. Jun 16, 2009
    at 10:21 am

    @ Vickie- Great question! We took the housing of another person for the host family into great consideration. We also consulted with the pastor of the local church partner to make sure that:
    (a) Morgan would be a blessing to the family and that her presence would be neither a hindrance to their daily life nor a burden to any member of the family. (The family that she is living with consists of a mother and her two older daughters. She has been more than welcome!)
    (b) The family that she stayed with would be compensated through a stipend for the increase in food and home supplies. Given that the home she is staying is has neither running water nor electricity, there has not been a great increase in expense.
    The pastor has assured us that her presence there has been an enormous blessing and that he wants to “adopt her” as his own! I told him her parents might not be crazy about that idea :-)

  8. Barbara M.
    Jun 16, 2009
    at 1:47 pm

    I have not been able to stop thinking about this post since I read it early this morning and then read Morgan’s blog. It’s “The Bed” issue. Male persons sharing a bed with vulnerable children…….I have two girls in Ethiopia and the affect of their facial expressions always leaves me wondering. One child just had a baby and the other child spent the birthday money I sent her on clothes and special food. She sent me a thank you note and a photo of her standing amidst it all and the look on her face was like all her looks…..sad, blank, not present. I cannot help but wonder. I will continue to write, encourage, and pray, but reading Morgan’s post about this situation was extremely unsettling.

  9. Chuck Guth
    Jun 16, 2009
    at 7:03 pm

    What an awesome story. I am going to link to it and follow. This is great!

  10. Dana
    Jun 16, 2009
    at 7:19 pm

    This sounds like an amazing project! Thank you for sharing this blog with us. I will be following it in the coming days and weeks. Although I don’t sponsor any children in the DR, this blog makes me wonder about my own children and what their living conditions might be like and whether or not they share a family bed.

    The blog brought up a question, though. If Compassion discovers a situation such as the one Morgan shared about in regards to a family bed, how is it handled? What support is provided to the family to ensure that children are protected?

  11. Barbara M.
    Jun 17, 2009
    at 1:49 pm

    I would also like to know the answer to Dana’s question about how the bed situation is handled once someone becomes aware of what is happening? What IS done to ensure that vulnerable children are protected. I am sure the DR is not the only place where this is happening.

  12. Mike Stephens
    Jun 18, 2009
    at 12:32 am

    In Hong Kong, having just met my sponsor kids yesterday in Manila!!!!!!! Doing some twinkie projecting of my own ;) Did you know there are fish that nibble all the dead skin off your feet? It was a fun experience at the Water Park in Manila!!!!!! Pictures to follow.

  13. Tambor
    Jun 18, 2009
    at 9:29 am

    Sexual abuse is not simply a “one bed” issue. It is not a DR issue. It is not a poverty issue. It is an issue of human dignity and respect. It is a sin issue. It is most often fueled by alcohol and substance abuse. Compassion’s church partners bring God’s light to this issue and lead children’s families to an understanding of sexuality as God intended. This is not a problem that is solved by adding a bed.

  14. Jun 18, 2009
    at 11:38 am

    I wanted to respond properly, with all the correct information, to your concerns about situations like those that Morgan shared about on her blog.

    All Compassion employees, church staff, and volunteers receive training on principles and guidelines of child protection. All country field offices are required to develop local “plans of action” for situations in which children are believed to be in danger physically, mentally, or emotionally. All complaints or suggestions of child abuse are handled with strict confidentiality and investigated immediately.

    I read about a similar situation that occurred recently and even I, an employee, was impressed at the way it was handled. The child disclosed the circumstance to a Compassion staff member and they took immediate action. First, the child and their family were visited by Compassion staff as a part of a routine home visit. Suspicions were confirmed and the child was promptly removed from their home and taken to a Christian shelter. Compassion staff then contacted a local social services agency who provided legal and physiological assistance for the child. A police report was filed against a member of the family and they were taken into custody. The child was then later placed into the care of extended family members. Several years have passed since the incident and the child is still a member of the Compassion sponsorship program and is doing well.

    Compassion field staff are taught to recognize signs of unusual of behavioral differences in child behavior and to act on any suspicion for the sake and safety of the child. Frequent home visits help to monitor relationships between family members and shed light on living situations.

  15. Dana
    Jun 18, 2009
    at 11:01 pm

    Thank you for the reply, Meredith. I am so glad that Compassion is there for the children to listen to them and support them, especially in situations like like that. I know that in Canada, those who work with children are legally obligated to report any abuse or any disclosures but I wasn’t sure how it was handled in other countries.

    I am so glad that Compassion is there for the children and that they can receive all of the love and support that they deserve and need in order to reach their fullest potential.

  16. Mike Stephens
    Jun 19, 2009
    at 5:35 am

    I must say I am jealous of all Morgan is getting to experience and learn about Compassion, which is great!!!!!!! I am amazed at all the things going on with Compassion from the Twinkie project, to sponsor tours, to people riding across the USA to raise money for Compassion etc. It is great to see all the good that is being done.

  17. Leesa Favela
    Jun 19, 2009
    at 8:59 pm

    New to Compassion.
    How do I find more on the
    twinkie project?

    We should all spend time in others shoes!

  18. Jun 20, 2009
    at 9:11 am

    @Leesa Favela – Welcome to Compassion, Leesa!

    This post contains all that we are going to know about this project, until “they” are ready to reveal more. It clearly is not a finished product.

  19. Jun 23, 2009
    at 8:44 am

    @Vicki- Thanks for responding and filling Leesa in on the lack of details!

    Leesa, welcome to Compassion! I’m so excited that you are interested in the “Twinkie Project.” For more reading, you cn click on Morgan’s url and read her blog or click on my name at the top of the page to catch up on how we’ve gotten this far!

  20. Rachel
    Jun 24, 2009
    at 1:09 pm

    How interesting! I hope to learn more about her! What do you mean by calling her a “guinea pig”?!?

  21. Morgan Gihring
    Jun 25, 2009
    at 10:21 am

    Hey all, get more info, and here some of the stories on my blog- http://morgan-givetolive.blogspot.com/ …or find me on facebook to see videos and pictures :)

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