The Year in Review, the Year Ahead
It was an amazing 2014 for us at Hot Sauce 4 Good and our friends and we know it's going to be an even better 2015 for us and for them. Here's a quick trip down memory lane and a look ahead to all the wonders that are in store for us.
February 2014 brought us to the far reaches of the globe - Ethiopia. It was an adventure of a lifetime, not just because of the exotic location but mostly due to our getting to meet four families that have done incredible things with the loans they received from World Vision Micro. We traveled with a team fromWorld Vision Micro and Leadercast. The highlight of the trip for me was meeting Neguse Yemane and his family. We spent the day, broke bread and had an opportunity to get to know them. We were even introduced to the cow that we were able to fund through a micro loan. The team from World Vision produced a short documentary about our trip and the impact a micro loan can have on an individual, a family and a community.
Our '14 continued with a major production run of our hot sauce in preparation of the 2014 Leadercast conference held in Atlanta GA. Leadercast is a world-wide gathering of leaders who yearn to be great. Simulcast live around the world to over 150,000 viewers, it brings together some of the best leadership minds in the world as well as individuals that inspire us to be not just better leaders but better humans. Our friend Tripp Crosby hosted the event and we were honored to be part of the day. World Vision Micro was the charity that the event focused on our short documentary was premiered. During the event Tripp and I spoke about our excursion and we raised over $60,000 for World Vision Micro. It was a blessed day.
Speaking of Tripp, 2014 was a very big year for him. The success of his production company's YouTube videos, especially "A Conference Call in Real Life" and the book he co-wrote with his partner, Tyler Stanton as well as a ton of incredible hard work has led him to Hollywood, CA where he is following and achieving his dream of directing. Follow him on Instagram (http://instagram.com/trippcrosby) - both funny and enlightening.
Our trip to Ethiopia brought together an eclectic bunch of folks, not just our family (Laurie, Luke and me) but also the team from Leadercast (Brooke Wright and Tripp Crosby) and the World Vision Micro team (Karen Larsen, Nathan Shain, Ben Chandler and Brian Tucker). Putting this group in our path and allowing us to spend time with them was a true God send. I continue to pray for each of them every day. I have also been blessed to be able to continue to work with Brian at Hot Sauce 4 Good. He has helped us with his knowledge and expertise and continues to be an inspiration. Nathan's work as a video producer for World Vision astounds us - we were awed by the World Vision commercials that aired this year - very inspiring and uplifting. Another one to follow on Instagram - Nathan's photos will astound you! (http://instagram.com/nathanshain/).
World Vision Micro continues to change the lives of hard working entrepreneurs throughout the world. You can read more about what they do in our interview with our good friend Karen. You can see the list of 47 entrepreneurs we were blessed to be able to fund but that it just the tip of the iceberg - thousands of loans were provided around the world by World Vision Micro.
As 2014 marched on we were able to again partner with World Vision Micro at the Collyde Conference in NJ. Tiffany Bryant and Amy Hadley, Laurie and I were able to fund close to 100 micro loans at the one day conference. Collyde has been an important part of our life and our ministry and it is wonderful to see the impact it can have. Jinu Thomas and the Collyde team are changing lives. We are honored to be part of it!
In other areas of life, our good friend PJ Anderson released his fourth studio album and it is by far his best. We had PJ in for a weekend to do a concert at our church and run a retreat for our youth group. We are so blessed to be able to spend time with him every year and I pray that we can continue this in the years to come.
We are thankful to the farms that grow our peppers - we really couldn't do what we do without you. Hillsboro Farm and Norz Hill Farm are more than suppliers, they are partners and we are blessed to have them.
Personally it was a very special and rewarding year for us. When I left my job in May I knew it was the right thing to do but I couldn't have predicted the amount of peace and joy that it has meant to me and my family. Money is certainly tighter - but that is overshadowed by the benefits. Our younger son, Luke, has been struggling over the past few years but 2014 brought many positive changes, it's hard to put into words just how proud I am of him. Same for our older son, Andrew who is now engaged. While we are very happy for him and proud of him, as a parent I worry that he is 'not ready'. I wonder if our parents said the same thing about us when we got married 26 years ago? To end the year, Laurie was named Educator of the Year at her school. It's an incredible honor. We are all so proud of her!
2014 was big, how can 2015 possibly top it? Well, that's easy. Each of the people mentioned in this little retrospective is going to do incredible and amazing things. We know it's going to be a big year for Tripp and for PJ. With a DGA (Directors Guild of America) commercial under his belt, the universe is opening up for Tripp. PJ is starting to get noticed in the Christian music circles (even though we 'noticed' him years ago). Karen and Tiffany are doing amazing things at World Vision and are opening more doors and providing more opportunities every day. Nathan and Ben are producing inspirational and moving videos that tell not just the World Vision story but the stories of those that World Vision supports. Brooke went out on her own too, working with Tripp and others.
Brian has started his own company (Focused) that is going to change the way non-profits market themselves. You can tell by the name that his approach will be to focus - a skill many of us, non-profits, companies and individuals don't do so well.
And Hot Sauce 4 Good? Well, we are definitely moving forward. We are in the initial stages of working with a very well respected grocery store chain and hope to get it on the shelves sometime in 2015. We are partnering with as many local food stores as we can and we continue to focus our efforts on the good we can do with the money we make.
Say a prayer for us in 2015 - and remember, life is better when it's spicy.