A Dream So Big: Our Unlikely Journey to End the Tears of Hunger
an inspiring book
Steve Peifer was a 2007 winner of the CNN Heroes Award for Championing Children. But the story started ten years before.
He begins his book arriving at the Nairobi international Airport with his wife and sons, seven and ten. Their family had recently gone through a painful time Ã¢ÂÂ an at risk pregnancy and a son who lived just over a week. Friends had suggested that a change of scenery as short-term volunteer dorm parents at the Rift Valley Academy would provide the time and opportunity to heal. They had no idea what they were getting into.
Steve shares the change in his life, from a management position at the Oracle Corporation to living in the midst of poverty. His wife served as the elementary school librarian. He was assigned the task of implementing the new accounting software in the business office as well as running the elementary school computer lab. While his computer background helped prepare him for those responsibilities, it did nothing to help him teach driver's education. (His experiences are hilarious.)
Steve relates many of the emails he sent to supporters while in Kenya. He shares their experience that first year: delivering toys to an orphanage, visiting remote Masai in the African bush, riding an ostrich, enjoying safari during spring break, and teaching computer skills to first graders.
As that year was coming to an end, Steve realized what he had been doing was unexpectedly one of the most rewarding things he had ever done. Ã¢ÂÂI have won million dollar accounts before in my corporate career,Ã¢ÂÂ he writes, Ã¢ÂÂbut watching third-graders high five each other because they learned how to sort on a spreadsheet was every bit as satisfying.Ã¢ÂÂ
A week before their scheduled flight home, he and some RVA colleagues visited an elementary school in the Karima community down the valley, delivering food to the families of students. What he saw there - children lying on the dirt floor because they were too weak to stand because of lack of food Ã¢ÂÂ changed his life. He knew he could not walk away from Africa. It took a while, as he returned to the Dallas area and a good job with an Oracle consulting company. But it wasn't long before he knew where he really belonged.
He chronicles their return to Kenya, the adoption of twins, starting the food program for Kenyan elementary schools and its growth, then solar powered computer labs, being college advisor at RVA and having students accepted at every Ivy League college, and much more.
Peifer writes with wit combined with feeling. Reading his stories make you feel like you are along with him in the family adventures and their cross-cultural challenges. And you can't help but chuckle from time to time. Yet the seriousness of his heart for Africa comes through loud and clear. Steve writes, Ã¢ÂÂAfrica can break your heart, but it is full of people who have made something beautiful out of so little.Ã¢ÂÂ
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
May 11, 2013
Challenging and so beautiful.
I read for a day and put it up not to read it again until I had been through a discouraging week.
God knew I needed to read A Dream So Big. I needed the stories of hope, desperation, helplessness (which was actually filled with hope and help through Christ and His children).
I needed to be reminded that life is still not about me.
Steve Peifer takes us through a beautiful (though not always in the usual sense of the word) journey of his family and the tragedy that helped them see their future in Kenya.
I laughed a few times through this book, but I cried more and was convicted ever more than I cried. How often in America we forget how truly blessed we are and how we can use those resources to glorify God and help the least of these.
I could write a really long review about the stories I read that will break your heart or about the passion that God reminded me I have to do mission work all over the world (including the U.S. which is often neglected because people assume since we have so much poverty must not exist... well it does.), but I just really want to encourage you to pick up this book and read the stories for yourself. Allow God to let you feel the pain and then may we not numb ourselves to it, but let the Lord use it to propel us into great works for His kingdom and the lives of so many precious people on earth.
May 4, 2013
Personal tragedy leads to an unlikely journey
When Steve met Nancy she was determined to be a missionary, but Steve wanted nothing more than to live his life securely on American soil. Somehow, even with their differences, they were convinced God brought them together for a purpose and though Steve still assured Nancy active participation in missions was never to be, he would still contribute to missions financially. Whether Nancy thought things would ultimately change or not, she married Steve and together they created a family.
When Nancy found out she was pregnant at the age of 40, she and Steve were both surprised and excited at the same time. However, their excitement would soon turn to concern when they were told their child would be born with trisomy 13, a genetic disorder with an extra chromosome on the thirteenth pair. Most pregnancies do not make it full term or the baby is stillborn, and those who survive live two years at the longest. Stephen Wrigley Peifer lived eight days.
Seeking to flee the pain of their loss, Steve and Nancy Peifer signed up to be dorm parents at a school in Kenya for a year. But this one-year experiment became a 13 year journey to end the tears of hunger.
Ã¢ÂÂA Dream So BigÃ¢ÂÂ is the re-telling of the events leading up to and including this monumental decision to be an unlikely hero living life in the center of GodÃ¢ÂÂs Will after the excruciating pain of losing a child. It is a story of what can happen when God puts two people together to live life in a world filled with pain and sorrow and how those two people can make a decision to give their lives to help others when they have suffered loss. It tells of how their hearts became broken for the kids who desperately needed help in order to survive. Their son, Stephen, through his death, saved thousands of kids in Africa from dying from hunger. What a marvelous picture of what God did for usÃ¢ÂÂallowing His own Son, Jesus, to die on a cross to save the multitudes of sinners who would later turn to Him in their spiritual hunger so that they could have eternal life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÃ¢ÂÂs 16 CFR, Part 255: Ã¢ÂÂGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.Ã¢ÂÂ
April 30, 2013
Impact your world
Since I myself served on the mission field I found the story of the Peifer family one I could connect with. Despite Africa being a continent apart from where I served in Ecuador, little seems drastically different. In A Dream So Big by Steve Peifer you experience the personal tragedy and sorrow of the loss of their newborn son, but also journey with them as they heal and see exactly what it is that God has called them to do while this healing takes place. You see triumph as they reach and make huge impacts on thousands of Kenyan schoolchildren.
I enjoyed the candor with which Steve spoke and the humility he shared. He knew that he had so much in the spite of giving up so much in his life to serve in Kenya. He realized that he often overlooked all that God had blessed him with as thankful children made him step back and understand what it truly means to be blessed. Steve does not hold back in admitting when he has come into a situation with the wrong attitude. He would also be the first to admit that none of the work they had accomplished would have been possible without the Lord and those whose hearts were touched enough to give.
If nothing else this book can encourage you to make a difference in any small way that you may be able to. We each can touch others if we first recognize that itÃ¢ÂÂs within our ability to do so.
This book was provided by Booksneeze. My review was my own opinion.
April 25, 2013