I'm actually not even sure how to start this post. I started crying just thinking about the whole thing and then Zach looked at me funny because he's had one eye on my sanity for the last few weeks.
But the event was last night. And it was amazing. In my opinion, it was actually better than last year in many ways. And more successful in some ways.
In the end though, we raised just a hair over $10,000.
This is amazing to me.
I wasn't really expecting that because it's been a bit of a rebuilding season for Water for Christmas. Plus, I never have any real idea what to expect with these kinds of parties.
But it surpassed even my pretty great imagination.
I think one of the things I was happiest about was the different people from last year. There were a lot of people hearing about the water crisis for the first time. The movement is heading east, and the Quad Cities is abuzz with what they heard last night. This is really exciting to me. The more people that hear about it, the more that can be done. It really feels like it's just beginning a bit in the community I live and work in.
Can I just tell you that God is good? Ok, because He is. When I felt a little overwhelmed or stressed or like maybe, just maybe, I might delve into the wine at noon, He was there. And He constantly reminded me why I was doing this. To bring Glory to Him, to do His job down here. Be the place where heaven and earth collide. And truly, I think anyone who was there last night saw a little bit of heaven in a nearly empty space in Davenport. This community has heart, and it has soul, and despite what a lot of people think about Iowa. We are super cool. And this tiny state, just gave a nation in Africa 2 wells. Which is beyond words cool.
But I know you guys just come for the pictures. So first with the set up. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that to make this space what it is, it takes nothing short of 15 hours of set up on my part and fairly close to that to the people who love me beyond words. Family and friends were setting up with me from about 9am-5pm on Friday. Then some came back on Saturday and set up for another hour or two before the event.
The space is completely bare. No lighting (the only outlets are in the hall), nothing. So to make it have an atmosphere, we bring the atmosphere with us. In this case, by "atmosphere" I mean "almost 50 extension cords". Thus, me and my favorite little brother extension cord-ing the hell out of the place.
Leslie set up all the deserts and wine. And gave me emotional support and joy when I needed it. And set up all day Friday. Chrissy was, as she puts it (and properly so) my assistant. She did whatever I asked of her, and more. With a sinus infection. And strep throat. She put the backs on Africas, she set up and tore down and put thousands of pins in the wall. I've told you you need a friend like Chrissy and I'll say it again. She's the friend I don't deserve, she's the friend God knew I needed. She.is.a gift.
I still don't really have the words for last night. So I'll let the pictures do the talking.
We auctioned Africas again this year. I think they actually turned out better than last year in many ways. I also decided to auction off other pieces of art this year and was so happy about that decision.
One of my favorites, "When Did You See Thirsty?"
My beloved and me.
Some more Africas. These beautiful backs of heads were actually friends from outside of Chicago. One of them is a fellow Holt Ethiopian adoptive mommy. She brought 3 of her friends to the party, stayed out at camp and was, in general, amazing. I love getting to meet people I had only known through the interwebs.
Oh, here they are again. Talking in front of the merchandise table.
Jess who came all the way from Wisconsin. I was supposed to finally meet her a few weekends ago but it didn't pan out. So surreal when she stepped out of the blog and into the party. She was great, and beautiful, I only wish I would've been able to talk with her more!
The media came, which is always an interesting experience. I didn't actually see what part they aired but I know they interviewed me.
Camp Abe Lincoln are second to none. He's one of them.
Becky and Will stood (freezing) the entire night. Becky is beautiful (which we hate) and generous and kind and terrific (which we love). I didn't get a picture of her last night but she seriously looked like a model (which, again, if you're keeping track, we hate). :)
Water for Christmas is, etc. Undoubtedly my least favorite part of the night.
And the people. Over 200 people. Did you read that? Over 200. That's more than last year for sure. I actually didn't know everyone there. This I liked, they were here for other friends or just to hear about water. Which I really like. (These people I actually do know). :)
But none of it would have been possible without "my people". These people who told everyone they knew. Who begged, bribed and pleaded to get people in the door. Who stood by the africa bid sheets and bid people higher (sneaky little devils), who encouraged the Woodfire Grill live auction higher. Who were everything you could want in people. Who are a few reasons I know God exists. Because there's just no way people this amazing just sprung into life with hearts this big and joy to match.
My family. Mere hours before this photo we were in sweats putting the final touches on the space. Mere hours before this I was on my knees praying and praising that I have family who isn't afraid of a little sweat and blood. That I have people like this, not only willing to help with the fun stuff (setting up) but the crappy stuff (tearing it all down). That's them. And they are beautiful.
Of course my Chrissy (who also did my hair that night, she is a jack of all trades).
And then this guy. Not only was he the best looking man there (that is no exaggeration) but he is the very best man, period. He loves me, in the "you guys are really gross because you're so cute" kind of way. He did all of the technological things, all of the marketing stuff and, probably most importantly, was my support team. While the rest of the community got Tesi-with-makeup-hair-done-dress-and-heels, he came home to someone who sprinted into her matching gray sweatpants and proceeded to snarf down Cheetoes and chocolate chip cookies. But he still looked at me the way he did a few hours before. If I haven't mentioned it here before, he makes my heart flutter this one. The perfect example, the perfect reason to believe in God. There couldn't have been a better person to compliment me throughout life. Especially one who looks so good in pastel green pants and a bow tie. Love you, babe.