My blog is fairly new and I haven't been trying very hard to get much traffic. I decided I'd post the link to the t-shirt store in a short post and figured I might be able to get a couple extra entries from friends and family.
And I did.
The first person to buy a shirt off the link in my blog was my older sister Aliyah. I was excited and thankful but I knew my chances at winning this contest were still pretty slim. Still, I kept my spirits high and knew that win or no win, I'd find a way to Swaziland this summer.
The next day after Children's HopeChest tracked Aliyah's purchase from my blog, their president, Tom Davis, wrote an article about my post. I was very moved by his article and in the following days I received many messages of encouragement from people I had never met. I began to realize that regardless of if I won the contest, the support I was getting was a true sign that I was on the right path. It gave me more drive to make sure this trip happened for me.
When the t-shirt store closed, I kept talking to my friends and family about ways to fundraise money for my trip to Swaziland. It seemed pretty unlikely that I would win the mission trip contest. After all, 676 shirts had been sold and I only had a few entries. My sister told me not to lose faith and reminded me that even if it seemed unlikely, it was still possible. Still, I felt there was almost no chance my name would be selected. And I ended up being right. My name wasn't selected. I didn't win the mission trip contest.
My sister did.
My sister who had bought a shirt off my blog so I could get an extra entry into the contest, my sister whose purchase drew attention to my blog and subsequently provided me with an incredible amount of encouragement, my sister who told me that winning this was always a possibility no matter how unlikely it seemed, won the contest.
But Aliyah didn't keep the prize. She gave it to me.
When we were kids and I had to share with my sister, I always wanted "the big half" and Aliyah never complained. She let me get the most of anything we had to share because she knew someday I'd learn better. She knew someday I'd understand my mistakes and turn from greed and entitlement.
So, yesterday, when I learned of the prize she was giving up to me I screamed, laughed, and nearly cried, but most of all, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Aliyah gave up her prize to me. She gave up "the big half" so that I could give it back, not to her, but to people in desperate need.
I didn't win this, I was given a gift from my sister. Aliyah's purchase brought others to my blog and miraculously, her purchase gave her the winning entry into this contest.
676 t-shirts were sold. Aliyah bought just one. She bought a single shirt but it's going to change far more than just a single life. I am beyond thankful, I am in awe.
And though I am grateful for all of the heartfelt congratulations I have gotten upon receiving my sister's gift of this prize, I hope nobody forgets about the 675 other t-shirts purchased by people who want to create change in the world. Personally, I want to send my congratulations to them and I pray that each person who entered this contest continues on in their quest to better the lives of others.