Never in a million years.
I had dreamed it perhaps, twirled the thought around between fingers perhaps, but never in a million years, did I expect what happened.
I wasn’t even sure if all the seats would be filled. So when I returned to see a line spilling out into the hallways, when I saw extra chairs being moved into the hall, I thought another event might have been going on.
Never did I dream there’d come a day where security guards and fire marshals had to lock the doors of a hall because it was at full capacity.
Never in a million years did I dare expect to be speaking at the largest function hall at Hopkins on Sarah-Faith’s first birthday, launching our first social venture.
It all happened because of a series of miraculous events, catalyzed by prayer, and fueled by the love of a community, at Hopkins and around the world, who gave us a chance to dream.
I confess, I had dreamed a little dream, prayed a little wish several months ago- that with people whom we loved and who loved us, we could celebrate these two milestones together.
As I walked down the filled hall with Sarah-Faith on my arm and took the crowd in, I stood in awe, at how that little wish which found its shaky confidence only in the walls of a tiny classroom with homemade cupcakes had grown into what it had become.
The wide hall, the banquet seating arrangements, the video-recording crew, food, decorations, flowers, cake… all would have cost thousands of dollars in total.
Yet, through the generous love of faculty, friends and anonymous donors (I still don’t know who they are), this had all been sponsored, this was all happening.
The previous day’s event had the tables and chairs in the format I could only dream about, and so we avoided the set-up cost which would cost hundreds of dollars. The hall had actually already been booked for another event that evening and the facility supervisor said “I don’t do double bookings for this venue usually” but said she would make an exception for us. A large school-wide biostatistics concentration meeting was supposedly scheduled for the same time but my professors announced it would be cancelled for our event. Someone offered to video-record my talk without charge- “I’ll edit it for you for free too, because when I bless you, I feel I’m blessing the people who are blessed by your work too.”
It was as if an entire community stopped time for a moment for us. It was as if God had had it all planned, all before I even knew it would come to be.
Entitled “A Chance to Dream,” the day mirrored the theme of my talk as I talked about Kitesong, in that it reminded me, who are we to despise the day of small beginnings?
“Our dreams, no matter how small, can sometimes have unimaginable endings.”
I was nervous. With my personal faith being so entwined to my journey in global health, I wasn’t sure how people would respond. I was also speaking to a hall of some of the most distinguished people I respected and admired, some of the world’s top leaders, in the present day and future- why should they have anything to learn from me? What could I say that they didn’t already know? Worse, I was nervous that the books on Amazon had all been sold out and couldn’t be restocked in time for the event. What would they think?
But never in a million years, did I expect the outcome.
” I cried about five times.”
” It was so moving, my entire table teared.”
“You gave me chills as you spoke.”
As a way of thanking everyone at school for being such a family to us, for welcoming Sarah-Faith and I into lectures and seminars every day, for believing in me as a mother and student- that I could have the same opportunities as everyone else and not less, I decided to give away 100 copies of the limited edition first print of my 4 titles.
Even then, we were out-blessed.
” When will you release the video-recording?”
” Security wouldn’t let us in- you need to prepare for an overflow room next time. Would you give this talk again?”
” When will the books be out?”
Once upon a time, I had shared, publishers told me the books would never find a market because the books were too poignant to be children’s books and too guileless to be adult books. They were right.
And yet here was there an entire hall of people who overwhelmed us with their love and support to make this social venture even possible.
Such is the testament of the loving kindness of this family at Hopkins. What was supposed to be my way of thanking everyone for the support and love they had given us at school, became yet another avalanche of love and blessing from the community.
Cake on a cart for Sarah-Faith. A thousand candles that couldn’t be blown out by Mama. A handmade kite with everyone’s signature on it. A bouquet from Cliff. Cards, lots of cards. Gifts, lots of gifts. Hugs. Kisses. Book-signing.
Today, Kitesong Global is being set up as an international non-profit social venture that uses the power of narrative through the 4 picture books to catalyze change and transform communities- through education, advocacy, fundraising or otherwise, by uplifting the poor and promoting social justice.
Sarah-Faith, Mama decided to launch Kitesong Global on your birthday as a gift for you, because I want you to know that you, too, can dream big dreams. But they all happen when we first give the littlest of our littlest dreams to God. He’s the one who makes things grow.
As shared in my talk, the world often tells us that there’s no dream too big- but may I challenge us to consider, that perhaps, there’s no dream to small?
When the world said no, thank you for saying yes.
Because of you, Kitesong Global and Sarah-Faith and what and who they are today. Thank you for giving us a chance to dream.
On behalf of Sarah-Faith and Cliff, thank you for being a family to us. Thank you, to our friends all around the world too, for journeying with us all this while.
As shared in my talk, my prayer is that each of you would be set free to dream, and be free to set a million other kitesongs free.
Happy 1st Birthday, Sarah-Faith. Mama loves you.
Waiting to start…
Sharing my heart
The Surprise Cakes from my Program Director
A special kite made by my classmates for Sarah-Faith
So many candles!
Saying Thank You
My sweet professors, and Cliff’s sweet bouquet
Book-signing with Sarah-Faith
100 books were given out as our way of saying Thank You
Gifts and notes for Sarah-Faith
This sweet child
A Day to Remember
“Do not despise these small beginnings,
for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”