Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas from Maine!


Six months after our big trip, the Omasombos are happily settled in to their new home in Maine! We got to spend a few days visiting them in October.  All the kids are loving their new schools, and their home is MUCH safer than the home they left behind in Nashville.

A few days ago the family saw their first ever white Christmas! With the help of some Angels in Boston, MA, the whole family received new clothes and other essentials under the tree! Thanks so much to everyone who has encouraged, supported, and prayed for this family. 

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well"
So proud of this little Tiger.
The whole family after Church on a snowy Sunday.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Our Trip Comes to an End! Thank You!


Friday night we arrived in Hingham, Mass., just outside of Boston.   Our short, seven-hour drive from Baltimore turned out to be an eleven-hour drive because we had stop-and-go traffic all along the New Jersey turnpike.  In true Omasombo fashion, there was lots of laughter and no complaining.
After our long trip, we were excited to arrive at the Lussier home, where we were welcomed with a warm meal and new friends.  We sat around the table and laughed about where we’d been and where we were going. 
Sitting around the table after dinner, laughing with the family I’d come to know and love over the last year, I began to realize just how hard the next 24 hours were going to be.  I looked at each of their faces and thought back to the time we’d shared together.  Up until then, I was able see my friend David whenever I wanted.  Even though the Omasombos had lived in a dangerous part of town, I always felt like I could offer them some sort of protection because I was only a phone call away.   For the first time since we decided to embark on the adventure to Maine, it hit me that the van was going to be empty on the way back.  No more Emmanuel babbling the ABCs, no more Louise and Esther giggling over a whispered secret in the back seat, no more Poya giving a reassuring smile when I got us lost in a new city.  As the weight of this revelation began to sink in, I decided the time would come to say goodbyes and be sad, but our next 24 hours were about having fun and cherishing the precious time we had together before we turned the van around and headed home.  
We woke up early the next morning and the Lussiers had a surprise for us:  Everybody put on shorts, we loaded up two cars, and then headed for the beach!  Nobody in the Omasombo family had ever seen the Atlantic Ocean, and they’d asked about it almost every time we passed a river or lake on the interstate.  The only word I can think of to adequately describe the next two hours is “heavenly”.
At one point, I stopped in my tracks and surveyed the scene unfolding around me.  I marveled over the joy in David and Esther’s eyes as they recklessly crashed into and jumped over wave after wave.  I looked to my left to find Germaine, Alan, and Emanuel expertly filling buckets to make sandcastles.  I caught Louise and Deborah laughing and throwing a football out of the corner of my eye.  Finally, I saw Omasombo embracing his wife Poya in ankle-deep water as they smiled and watched their family laugh and play.  The gravity of the moment hit me when I remembered back to the night before, when the couple had recounted their story of escape from Congo to us at the dinner table.   Here they were, eleven years after they were separated, certain one another were dead, standing on a beach together, on their way to a better life, watching the children they love laugh, play, and live life to the full.  It was heavenly.
Before long, we were back on the road.  We had only a short three-hour drive north to their new home, Lewiston, Maine.  All the prayers, financial support, and planning were finally coming to fruition!  We pulled into Lewiston around five o’clock Saturday evening.  It is a charming little town with cool architecture and a picturesque river running through the heart of town.  I thanked God as I thought about the different life Lewiston afforded my little buddy David and his family.
I will spare you all the details of our last two hours together.  I will simply say this: we cried, we prayed, we cried some more, we said we loved each other, I made a teary-eyed promise to fly up on my fall break, and we eventually stopped hugging long enough to get out the front door and drive off. 
As we drove away from the family I love, the tears kept coming.  I was overwhelmed at the thought that I couldn’t be there for them anymore.  I would soon be 1300 miles away back home in Nashville, and I couldn’t simply run across town to take them to the doctor’s office or buy some diapers.  And then, a few miles down the road, it hit me: I was never the one controlling the Omasombos’ fate.  I didn’t have anything to do with them miraculously escaping the turmoil of their native Congo, and I didn’t have anything to do with them getting from Congo to Nashville.  God was always the one in control; He just let me have a front-row seat to watch His love unfold in what He was doing in the Omasombos’ lives over the past year.  He let me play a part in His greater story, and (at least for now) the time has come for me to step back and trust that He will continue to protect and bless their family just like He has always done. 
In the same way, each one of you has played an integral part in God’s plan for the Omasombos.  Your prayers, financial support, and encouragement have been a constant reminder of God’s goodness.  We literally would not have made it to Lewiston without you.  In all, we were able to give the Omasombos just over $8,000.00 after travel expenses for the trip.  There lives are on a completely different path than they were six weeks ago because of your generosity and God’s provision. 
From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of the entire Omasombo family,
Thank you.
 Habakkuk 1:5 "Look at the nations and watch--and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."

Sincerely,
Tee Hassold

P.S. We will continue to update the blog with updates on the Omasombos and their lives in Maine.  The money raised on the blog over the last few weeks puts them in a great position to start their new lives, but we will continue to operate the PayPal link in hopes that more people will donate and we can continue to support their family.  As always, we appreciate your financial support and spreading the word to family and friends who you think might be interested in supporting the Omasombos.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Made it to DC! Headed to Boston

If you are visiting our blog for the first time please check out the full Omasombo story here
(We would love for you to post a comment if you have seen us on the road!)

Please consider donating by clicking here:
It was a long day on the road yesterday. Made it DC and now headed to Boston. Please enjoy some pictures and videos from our trip!

Cute Germaine wide eyed and bushy tailed at 5am 

Gorgeous Sunrise

 Here we go!

Headed to the White House

video
Tee and David taking a crucial pitstop to roll down the grassy hill

Way too excited!?


video
Emmanuel straight harassing truck drivers! 

Best effort to get David in front of the White House
(Terrible traffic. David and Will ran to get a picture at the red light. Total chaos!)

Our little "Road Warrior" Emmanuel feeling much better Day 2

After a good night sleep and a fresh haircut... David got to make his own waffle for breakfast this morning!


Some other fun happenings so far: 

God is SO on Team Omasombo. He provided for us quickly for us when we needed a van. We were losing hope with about 5 different rental companies that were within 200 miles telling us "sold out". We prayed. Called Budget. They had a 12-passenger van. In Nashville. Much cheaper :)
ALSO we needed to change hotels to a different location. Booking.com said absolutely no refunds. We prayed. Full refund :) 

David has an infatuation with "Spy Cars" since we started driving. Quotes include:
"Mr. Hassold, how much does a spy car cost?"
"Does this can have turbo boost?"
"Does Honda got spy cars?"
"Maybe I will fix cars when I grow up so I don't spend lots of money and just get a spy car"
"If you tell a spy car to turn into a dirty car, will it turn into a dirty car?"

We are playing the license plate game. We only need 13 more states!

Someone drove by us waving with Congo to Maine pulled up on their iPhone. It was awesome!

Bringing 3 iPads to entertain the kids... Clutch call.


More updates to come... Thanks for visiting! Keep praying. God Bless!




Thursday, July 19, 2012

And We're Off...

Headed north en route to Maine!

Team Omasombo left Nashville this morning at about 5am. We picked up the van ("The Silver Bullet") which you all have generously provided for us with your donations. The van was definitely an answered prayer (we'll include that story later).  Packed the van completely FULL last night then wrote all over it to advertise our blog.

We hope someone who has seen us our van visits this blog (if you have seen us on the road and found our blog THANK YOU... please leave a comment!)

All went smoothly getting on the road except one small hiccup. About 45 miles out of town sweet little Emmanuel threw up his breakfast. Could have been the Somali food he was munching on at 6am. No big deal....  Omasombo cleaned it right up! What a trooper.

We will keep you updated! Look out for more posts with pictures once we make it to DC.

Please keep praying for safe travels. THANK YOU SO MUCH! We could not make this trip without you.

God Bless,

Team Omasombo
David ready for a road trip!

Little Emmanuel (the yaker :)

The whole road trip crew! (Minus Will)


Will, Tee, and David

Maddison helping with the bags!

Josh, Tee, Will and the Omasombo ride


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Over $7,000 raised! 

Wow! Thank you so much for all of your prayers and donations thus far. We have been completely overwhelmed with your generosity. We wish each and every one of you could see the smiles on the Omasombo's faces when we told them the total amount of donations. We are all so very grateful. Please continue to pass along the word about this wonderful family. We are over half way to our goal of $10,000! God is so good.

God Bless!

Team Omasombo

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Help the Omasombo Family get to Maine!

Congo to Maine: The Omasombo Family from Tee Hassold on Vimeo.

The Omasombos' Story






This is the story of the Omasombos, a family that changed my life, and taught me what it looks like to “be joyful always” (1 Thes. 5:16)…
In 2001, Omasombo, the father of four young daughters (Deborah, Louise, Dembo, and Esther), was targeted by a group of Congolese rebels who sought to kill him simply because he worked as a teacher in his village, and therefore they associated him with the government they opposed.  The rebels came to attack Omasombo in his home, and he narrowly escaped.  In the confusion, Omasombo and his family were separated.  His wife, Poya, was fearful that her daughters would be raped or worse, so they fled via ferry to neighboring Tanzania. 
Omasombo and his girls were separated for a full year, unaware that they had all made it safely to Tanzania, out of harm’s way.  After a year of wondering if her husband was even alive, Poya was elated when Omasombo came walking into her camp one day in search of his family!  They spent the next seven years living together in a tent inside the refugee camp.  During that time, they added four more children (David, Germaine, Emanuel, and Alan) to their family.  In 2010, an American charity organization offered the Omasombo family a loan, and the whole family (all ten of them) flew from Tanzania to America.  America promised safety, freedom, and opportunity –the American dream.  So far, it has proved to be an empty promise. 
This is the part of their story where I come in.  This past year, I had David Omasombo in my class of second graders.  From day one, he was the front runner for teacher’s pet.  In a class full of eight year olds, David stood out because of his million-dollar smile, his infectious laugh, and his kind nature.  As the year went on, I got to meet the rest of his family, and I quickly learned that David’s personality is no accident.  I have never met a home full of people who are so genuinely joyful all the time!  The Omasombo home is filled with singing, dancing, children playing, and laughter…tons of laughter!
The Omasombos live in a government housing project in North Nashville, TN known to the locals as “Dodge City” (an homage to the bullets that routinely fly through the air there).  They receive about $800.00 in government benefits each month ($80.00 per person) and share beds inside their small apartment.  They face racism from the non-African inhabitants (several windows in their apartment have been broken out by neighbors who targeted African families), and the schools their children are zoned for are among the lowest performing schools in Tennessee. 
No one would blame them for a second if they complained about their situation.  And yet, in the year that I have known this family, I’ve never heard a single complaint.  Instead, Poya constantly says things like “Here we have nothing, but in Heaven we are rich!”  I am not exaggerating when I say that every single time I go to their home (about once a week) they will not let me leave until the entire family holds hands in a circle and sings prayers to thank God for their blessings. 
The Omasombos have taught me what it means to truly live a life of faith, regardless of circumstance.  They showed me the difference between feeling happy and choosing to be joyful.  Despite living in poverty, they choose to be joyful about the things to come rather than dwelling on the problems of today. 
This summer, the Omasombo family is relocating yet again, trusting that God will provide for their family.  In mid-July, we will load a 15-passenger van with a few bags, the Omasombos, and their eight children, and head from Nashville to Lewiston, Maine.  There, some family friends, who are also refugees, report much safer living conditions and better schools. 
As you can imagine, moving a family of ten 1,239 miles will be fairly expensive.  We have a quote on renting a 15-passenger van, which will cost $1,249.89 (excluding fuel).  Also, we will need places to sleep on the three-day trip.  Additionally, the loan that they secured to get from Tanzania to America requires monthly payments of $159.00.  So far they have paid off about $3,000.00 of the original $10,000.00 they owed on the loan.
All that to say, we need your help getting the Omasombos relocated and settled in their new home!  We have set a goal of raising $10,000.00 by August 1, 2012.  Please consider supporting their family in one of the ways listed below:

Ways you can support:


1. Click the link below and make a donation.  All proceeds will go directly to the trip to Maine, and any additional funds will be used to pay off their loan and get them settled in their new home.
2. If you have access to a 15-passenger van and would be willing to let us use it for the trip, you can email me directly at tee.hassold@gmail.com.
3. Pray for the Omasombos, our safety on the trip, and their continued faith as they relocate their family to their new home!
4. Share their story with family and friends to spread the word about helping the Omasombo family.