Red Letters

Red Letters

Hello Beliefnet

In August 27, 2006, I penned my very first blog entry. Over the past four years, so much has changed. I went back to my first post, and thought it would be fitting to start my Beliefnet blogging experience with those same words. I’ve put in notes the things that have changed.

While much has changed, one thing is ever-constant. God has called me to use my voice to motivate others to protect and care for orphans around the world. It is a sacred call, and I privileged to share that with you here on this new Red Letters blog on Beliefnet.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend. Do something fun with your extra day off.

World Here I Come!



Well, I’ve finally made it to the blogging realm. Better late than

The whole
point of maintaining this kind of site is four-fold:

1. To connect with
friends near and far

2. To share our lives together

3. To discuss the
life of publishing and to talk about what it’s like to write a book

Continue to share the needs of orphans around the world and find ways
for others to help in practical ways.

So on that note, Hayden (who is now 9) and I just returned from
Swaziland and South Africa. An amazing place filled with overwhelming
sorrow. I loved the country, a beautiful place. But the reality of death
there is too much to bear. In Swaziland, the HIV infection rate is over
60%. There were 20 of us on the trip, and it was extremely difficult
for all of us to think that over half of the people we were meeting
would be dead in 5-7 years.


Here’s a small part of what I wrote in my

From a natural standpoint there are no
answers. There is no hope. Darkness pervades, and though the light of
the sun breaks across the horizon, this place dwells in darkness. In
many ways it is darkness. It is heavy, sobering, unreal. I want to run,
to hide, and never come back. I want to pretend like I never came to
this place. I don’t want to face the reality of what this side of the
world faces every single day.”

Have you ever felt this way? Maybe even
about your own life?

The truth is that God has called me there and I must face the
challenges in that part of the world with faith. The strange thing about
being in Africa is that I felt so much hope. Hope that God would, and
is, doing something miraculous and incredible.


That Children’s HopeChest gets to begin
ministry in this place that has such great need. There is no answer but
God, and I’m glad to be right smack in the middle of it! By the way,
I’ll be doing another trip in March if you’re interested. More to

Author’s Updated Notes: Hayden is now 13. He’s been to Swaziland one other time, and will go back to South Africa this summer to catch some World Cup matches with me. His soccer team won the Colorado State Cup, and he’ll also travel to Sweden with the U.S. Olympic Development Handball Team. I’ve been to Swaziland many other times, including spending the entire month of June 2007 with my family living with the people there. At the time this was written, I had not written Red Letters. In fact, Red Letters was born out of many of my experiences in Swaziland. That book launched 5 for 50, a fundraising campaign that provides food for children in Africa. HopeChest now works in four African countries (Swaziland, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Africa) as well as Russia, Haiti, India, and Guatemala. I’ve seen my two adopted daughters get married, and I am part of a rare group of people known as “grandparents in their 30s.”

Comments read comments(3)
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Matthew Monberg

posted May 28, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Tom, I remember the day we set up your blog back at the HopeChest office. So excited to see you move to Beliefnet and continue advocating for orphans.

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hannah leman

posted May 28, 2010 at 6:40 pm

love your first entry tom…
it’s so good to stop and reflect where you have been. i love looking back on old journal entries that i wrote years ago– sometimes we don’t realize how we have grown or what we have accomplished until we take a second to stop and reflect. Excited to fill in the next few blank pages along with you.

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