Friday, October 25, 2019

Aviana's Elves

Dave and I were talking about the ways Aviana’s Elves has changed and evolved over the past nine years with hospital care packages, the homeless shelter, Acts for Avi, hospice, Aviana's Peeps, and caring for the students within our community. Your empathy, love, and kindness has touched the hearts and caused ear-to-ear uplift to more people than we’ll ever know. Most of all, our hope for these gifts and cards is an underlying, “we see you. We care. You are not alone.”

Over the past couple years, matters of the soul coupled with sizing issues caused internal stir. Who felt the sway? When the heart speaks, the brain and body should follow. 

Starting with Guatemala, it’s been a dream to take Aviana’s Elves international. After looking into the details, translation and safety caused us to postpone for the year.

The week before a January trip to Laos and Thailand, we wondered about this year, but everything happens if you let it, and happened it did.

Have you been to Laos? Visiting a predominant Buddhist country was a dream fulfilled. Of all our travels, Dave and I have never been so graciously moved by a country and culture. Through hotels, restaurants, stores, and coffee shops—there were kind quiet voices. In the midst of busy outdoor markets, there was tranquility, along with warm smiling faces. What a difference in never being asked to purchase a product. Actually the opposite, I inquired about bamboo straws and a beautiful girl with a glowing smile (and being) answered my question then followed with, “… but you don’t have to buy them.”

 The kids are bright-eyed and eager to learn. They proactively engage for the sake of conversation and thanked us for letting them practice their English. 

We couldn’t stop thinking of and talking about the inherent good in the people and their children. Our minds spun with the pride they have and take in their heritage, food, each other, and environment. Dave and I spoke of how we’ve never experienced an undercurrent of such peace and love, which is mind-boggling in light of their history and extreme poverty. 

If not familiar with The Secret War:

- from 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped the equivalent of a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, 24-hours a day, for nine years, making Laos the most heavily bombed country per capita in history.

- 30% of the bombs dropped did not explode and to this day, 40 years later, are armed and active. Tens of thousands of Laotian people have been killed or maimed. Because the bombs look like toys, they are tossed around before exploding, so 40% of the victims are children.

- since 80% of the people depend on their land to eat and live, the Lao people have no choice but to risk their lives working in the fields covered in unexploded bombs.

Extreme Poverty:

- 44% of Lao children under 5 years old are affected by stunting, a highly common condition in Laos.  Stunting is caused my maternal undernutrition before and during pregnancy. 

- this video is older, but still speaks about the state of the children in Lao orphanages.

- one of the main people helping the children in Laos is Andrew. He's an everyday angel who's done wonders. I frequent his sight and have been in direct contact inquiring about target needs.
 I lay awake thinking about what I read, then those we met along the way. These people have and continue to experience daily hardship. Basic needs aren't being met, yet as a culture their attitude reflects otherwise. 

Being in their country is otherworldly, as smiling, treating people with respect, a light heart, and a wicked sense of humor is second nature. We carry their positive energy, presence, and easy going way of life the best we can. Because of their continual love, this year’s Aviana’s Elves came clear, so I researched how to give, then asked around. We and our close friends Dave and Kim visited four days but wished to stay, revisit, and above all help.


Need is high this year and stretch borders. Some believe we should care for those within our country first. Because Aviana was from outside the United States, our pull is to help those we see in dire need when traveling internationally, but of course, within our community too.

We have an influx of Guatemalan refugee families in our town. We're grateful to have three for Aviana's Elves, so far. You're familiar with one very special family from last year. Yes, the mother and two sweet little girls =) 

We have lots of meaningful change happening—making for a more effective Aviana’s Elves. I've decided to meet with our mom's to help determine exact need, so hopefully zero donations run amiss in sizing. If that means taking mom and the girls shopping (lack of transportation) and so on, we'd love to.

I'm sorry to take so much of your time, but we value and think deeply about how and where your/our donations are best utilized.

There's so much need in the world, so with each change, understand the want or desire to follow in another direction. Goodwill is goodwill and sharing love continues to make our world spin in an uplifting way.  

Boy is it time to end this post. I have more informative donation details but after the haunting holiday!

✨ ♥️✨ 

Jen & Dave

P.S. Can you believe we got started right after last year's end and this email is this late? Change can be a ton of work.