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The Gift by Sara Goff

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Sara Goff

Sara Goff

I am very excited to introduce my friend Sara Goff to all of you.  Sara is a fellow writer and the founder of Lift The Lid, a charity that sponsors schools for the underprivileged. I’ve had a wonderful time getting to know her and her heart for children.

The Gift by Sara Goff

Friends of mine want to start a family, but they are unable to have children, and they feel overwhelmed by the process of adoption. As we spoke over dinner, they had so many questions and doubts, including whether or not they would even be good parents!

I told them to take the first step, make the phone call, and see where it leads. They don’t have to know all the answers; we can’t know all the answers. “The idea is there,” I told them. “Follow it and see how far you get.”

This advice has taken my life down rough and yet rewarding roads that have led me far beyond my own wishes or goals. One example was in 2006 when I applied to a writing workshop in Kenya through Summer Literary Seminars. I’d never been to Africa before. My husband and family thought it was risky, and for the first time in my life my grandmother told me not to do something. But the idea came to me to apply and I figured, why not? See what happens.

I was accepted into the program on a partial fellowship and booked my flight to Nairobi. My only expectations were that I would be working with writers from around the world, and I would feel like a foreigner. Vaccinated and my passport up-to-date, I followed the idea to Kenya.

Two weeks into the workshop, I took a break from critiquing manuscripts and joined a tour group at the last minute to see what life was like outside of the city.

The bus stopped on a windy cliff overlooking a gently sloping valley, a picture of paradise. Below the animal-shaped clouds and shifting sun, a cluster of Maasai children and a few women sold handmade jewelry. One young girl with a slender face and big eyes, who I later learned was seven years old, stared at my long, curly hair with pure fascination and some trepidation. I held out a lock for her to touch and very cautiously she did and smiled. She wore a dress similar to a burlap sack and was barefoot, and like all the other girls, her hair was shaved to her head.

She said her name was Marjorie, and she lived about eight kilometers in that direction. (I think she gestured east.) So about a 5-mile walk. Barefoot? When I asked if she attended school, she shook her head no. I bought what jewelry I could from her, imagining her arranged marriage the day she turned thirteen. She continued to show me more jewelry, and I showed her my empty pockets. It was also time to go, so I reluctantly boarded the bus.

“Ms.,” she called out in her sweet voice. Turning around, I found her warily climbing the steps of the bus, holding a bracelet I had admired. “I’m sorry,” I told her, again opening my shilling-less pockets. “No money.” She could’ve sold me the world, if I had brought more cash. She held out the bracelet. “For you,” she said. “Gift.” Speechless, I reached for the bracelet and then watched her carefully step off the bus. I found my seat, buried my face in my hands, and cried like a child. My life at that moment was changed.

The following year I returned to Kenya to visit rural schools and orphanages. A few years after that I founded Lift the Lid, Inc., a charity that sponsors schools for the underprivileged and encourages the students to express themselves by publishing their poems and/or personal essays. Their voices give us endless inspiration. Am I glad I attended the workshop? Well, that one idea continues to shape my life.

I hope that my friends who are considering adoption, a dedicated and loving couple, will experience the ultimate joy of sharing their life with a child. If they can set aside their fears, they just might.

An idea is like a mystery seed; you have to plant it to find out what will grow.

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Sara Goff is the founder/director of Lift the Lid, Inc., a nonprofit that sponsors schools in the developing world and encourages creative writing. She has published nonfiction in “Epiphany, a Literary Journal” and in the “SoHo Journal,” and has contributed to Crosswalk.com. She has attended Sewanee Writers’ Conference and has received fellowships to Summer Literary Seminars in Kenya and Russia. Before leaving New York City to spend time in Sweden and now London, she led writing workshops for the homeless and in inner-city schools.

Lift the Lid, Inc. website: www.lift-the-lid.org

Sara Goff webpage: www.saragoff.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sarajgoff

Titter: www.twitter.com/sarajohannagoff

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I hope you’ll take some time to browse the Lift the Lid website and read some of the children’s essays and view their artwork. You’ll be glad you did. Promise. ~Connie

So, what ideas do YOU need to plant?

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    The Conversation

  1. Sara Goff says:

    Connie, thank you for the spotlight on Busy Women ~ Big Dreams!

    Just this morning after dropping my son off at school, I was walking through the English gardens in London’s Holland Park, reading the Writer’s Almanac on my phone, when I came across a particularly fitting quote:

    “To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.” –poet Federico Garcia Lorca (It’s his birthday today.)

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Sara – So excited to have you as my guest today! And I LOVE the quote! Thanks for sharing it!

      Readers, if you have questions for Sara, ask away…and I hope The Gift inspires YOU to plant an idea today. 🙂

  2. Lisa Rayns says:

    Excellent story! Very inspiring. Thank you for sharing that.

  3. Hi Connie,

    I think that if you live long enough, you realize that so much of what happens in life is out of your control, but how you respond to it is in your control. That’s what I Sara Goff special. Please visit http://www.commongroundforafrica.org/lenana-girls-high-school.html

    The link will lead you to Lenana Girl High School, one of the schools supported by Sara’s effort.

    Thank you.

    Joshua Machinga

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Joshua, I agree–it’s all about how we respond to what gets thrown at us.

      Thanks for the link to more information about the Lenana Girl High School, too! Appreciate it!

    • Sara Goff says:

      Thank you as always, Joshua. The work you do for many students and communities in Kenya is truly amazing!

      Sara

  4. Debra E. Marvin says:

    What a great story Sara. I can’t imagine a visit to Africa could do anything but change one’s worldview. Look at all that’s come of that trip!
    thanks for sharing

  5. jeff geisenhof says:

    hi Sara, You are truly an amazing women for what you do and who you are. I always knew you would be someone famous or something like that. just to know you is cool,lol. Your whole family are wonderful people whom im glad I have had the pleasure to know in my lifetime. best wishes to you and your family, and keep up the awesome work! I know, my grammer just plain sucks, sorry. Jeff Geisenhof

    • Sara Goff says:

      Jeff, when I saw your name pop up on Facebook, liking this post, I was so happy. It’s great when one endeavor goes beyond what you hoped it might do and connects long lost family and friends. I’m flattered by your words and will continue to try to live up to them by making a difference in the lives of students who must fight poverty and constraining (harmful) traditions in order to achieve an education. Thanks for the encouragement! Oh, and grammer doesn’t matter…it’s the words that count! Much love, Sara

  6. […] here to read “The […]

  7. Elaine Stock says:

    Sara, you’re a beautiful person tending to beautiful people: forsaken, lost souls. May you be forever blessed. You’re an inspiration.

    • Sara Goff says:

      Thank you so much, Elaine. I’m touched. The hard work you put into Everyone’s Story encourages writers and readers around the world. I appreciate your encouragement.

      Sara

  8. Teri Geisenhof says:

    What a beautiful and inspiring essay, Sara. You continue to make me very proud to call you my sister.

  9. Kristy says:

    Sara,
    What a beautiful story. God wants us to take just one step at a time. I struggle with anxiety and for a long time I let that limit me. Now I’m on my way one “flap” at a time on my flight through life. It started with just sitting down to write a story. I was surprised when a whole book came out! That’s our awesome God for you.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Kristy,
      I love that your story turned into a book! And I love the analogy of journeying one “flap” at a time. What a great way to look at it. Thanks so much!

    • Sara Goff says:

      Kristy, thank you for sharing your story. One step at a time is so true and requires so much patience and self-love! I’m curious, after you wrote your book, was it clear to you what to do with it? Seek out a publisher? Self-publish? Bury it in the backyard?? For some people it takes unfathomable courage to sit down and write, for me it’s letting go of the book.