We’re the Mestons! An ordinary family living in Calgary, Alberta who love to see what God does when we give our whole selves to him for the sake of others. We’ve been married for 13 years and have three rambunctious kids—Ariah is seven, Judah is four, and Caius is an adrenaline-raising one-year-old.
Like you, we work hard, love our family, serve our church, and try to help others. On our journey together, we’ve discovered a truth that brings deep joy and constantly shapes our family life. Ready for it? We can’t outgive God!
In 2017, together with our church small group, we helped organize a fundraiser called Kilometres for Kids to support a Food for the Hungry’s (FH) Soup for Kids campaign that promotes school lunches in Guatemala. It was an amazing experience! But it never would have happened if our journey in generosity hadn’t started much earlier.
I (Aaron) first heard about FH while going to a private elementary school in Three Hills, Alberta. A speaker shared about what they were doing and asked if anybody wanted to help sponsor a child. I was in Grade 2 or 3 and probably only eight or nine years old, but I thought, “Yeah! Of course!”. I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian family; my grandma used to talk about missionaries, and I heard a lot about what was going on around the world. So it felt really normal to start donating little bits of money. My parents were totally supportive. They let us choose what to do with our dollar-a-week allowance, but they would say 10 percent of this—like a dime—is for Jesus. Growing up tithing is how I personally started practicing generosity and came to understand there are people in the world who have needs that are different than ours in Canada.
GIVING AS FAMILY
Aaron naturally brought this way-of-life generosity into our dating life, and then into our marriage. When we got engaged 13 years ago, we started sponsoring two kids together . We’ve had a lot of experience since then with child sponsorship and I (Kyla) love it! It’s such a positive way to impact a child’s life.
When I talk to people about child sponsorship, I tell them you will not notice this money leaving your wallet—when you’re blessing others you don’t notice that money going. But the impact it makes is huge and we see it in the letters from our sponsor children.
Hearing from the kids about how we impact their lives also puts a helpful perspective on hard times. Sometimes it’s just them saying they loved your letter and picture; or responding to a question about a Bible verse or Bible story; or explaining how they enjoy singing in church and are learning to play drums—all that normal life stuff. They’re just like any child.
They’re so resilient and with a little bit of support they blossom.
GIVING AS COMMUNITY
In our church small group there are lots of people just like us. They have a heart to give actively and make an impact. A few years ago, we started talking about ways we could work together to help others. We started by organizing service evenings to support people in our community, like helping folks with household repairs. Then we thought, let’s try something a little bigger. We shared with our group about our longtime support of
Food for the Hungry and their Soup for Kids campaign. We definitely have a passion for feeding children. I (Aaron) think, as parents, the most important thing we do in our lives is take care of our children and provide for them. In Canada, it’s easy to take for granted being able to feed our kids nutritious meals. But not every parent in the world has the opportunity to do that. So I love what FH and the Gleaners are doing through Soup for Kids—recognizing that painful reality and inviting us to partner with those parents. I think about the level of stress that comes with not being able to take care of your kids, how hard that would be, and the relief to know that with a good bowl of soup at school every day your child is getting what they need to grow up healthy. I love how that can take pressure off of parents. It seems like such a simple thing—a bowl of soup—but it can have a massive impact on an entire community.
Everyone in our small group got really excited about Soup for Kids. A couple of the guys, Aaron included, love motorbikes and a lot of other men in church have them, too. So we put together a motorcycle rally called Kilometres for Kids with a BBQ in the mountains. We ended up having a perfect day!
The lead up to the actual event was just as meaningful for us as the event itself. It was a total community effort. People from our small group took turns standing in our church foyer every weekend spreading the word. It was amazing to have a community of believers stand with us to make a difference.
Even people who didn’t have motorcycles came up and asked how they could help. We had one young girl named Grace who was like, “Mom, I’m gonna help!” So she and her mom baked for three days straight and held a bake sale that raised a bunch of money! Knowing how Aaron’s heart was captivated at such a young age with a lifelong desire to give, it was beautiful to see young people jump on board with the attitude, “How can I help? What can I do?” Everyone wanted to be involved. As a community, we experienced that when we ask God what we can do to help and he gives us an answer he will also give us what we need to follow through, whether it’s finances, energy, time, or others to help us in the cause. He showed up in our church and provided in a huge way!
It’s amazing how God allows us to be blessed by being a part of sharing his love. When you’re ready to be used by him, his blessings pour into every facet of your life. We did have our struggles with that rally, but ultimately, we look back and we know God was doing something good through us and helping people elsewhere.
|Kyla on a trip in 2018 to the partner community of Acul. Kids welcomed them by showcasing their
talents and pride for their culture with songs, dances, and flowers—followed by games that had Kyla
running and smiling!
I decided to travel to Guatemala to see how the soup mix from the campaign was incorporated into school meals. It was cool to be on both ends—helping raise the money to ship the soup mix and seeing kids enjoy it. The mothers who volunteer to cook had massive vats cooking over open fires and it smelled great. The women love being involved in feeding the children in their community. When the school kids came with their bowls, as a mom, I was wondering “Are they gonna like this or are they gonna be like, ‘No! I’m not eating this!’?”. But they were excited—you could tell it was a satisfying meal for them.
As donors, we’ve seen the numbers and we know FH’s work is making a difference in the battle against malnutrition. On my trip, I got to witness FH’s involvement in the entire community, not only in the soup distribution; I got to see the real impact they’re making. For our family, FH is the perfect place to give.
We don’t have to wonder about where the money is going— we’ve seen that it’s going where it needs to and it’s working! As I visited Guatemala, I prayed for God to show me my role. I (Kyla) felt confused—if I wasn’t going to work with my hands, what was I going to do? I was surprised by the power of simply being present. Of showing the families we cared enough to meet them and see how impressive they really are.
In this instance, God was asking me to give my time, attention, my presence.
I did have the privilege to offer a bit of practical support to one mom we met. Her youngest was having health concerns that sounded like colic—lots of crying and irritability. I really wanted to see the baby; in my experience as a pediatric nurse if I can see the baby then I’ll have a good idea of what’s going on. Overall, he was a healthy, well-fed infant. I prayed the whole time, “God help me to find something if there’s a problem”. But what I felt like telling the mom were some basic things about reflux and abdominal discomfort, and some feeding and sleeping techniques. These might sound simple, but if you’ve had babies who are easygoing and all of a sudden you have a child who cries all the time and you feel like he’s suffering—I’ve experienced that as a mom and it really weighs heavily on your heart. With the interpreter I was able to do some teaching and then encourage the mom that she was doing a good job. Of course she should take the baby to a doctor if she was concerned, but she should also feel confident trusting her instincts and her ability as a mother. Then I prayed for her and the baby.
And that was most of the trip—being supportive and affirming, focusing on being present and listening. The people were so proud of what they’ve accomplished, and rightly so. And they were proud that Canadians like us would come just to see what they’ve done and support them in prayer.
|Creative fundraising—like riding motorcycles for Kilometres for Kids!—is a great way to build
community. Aaron and Kyla (centre) celebrate with their community group and event committee at the
ride’s final stop outside Canmore, AB.
In our personal experience, prayer is the most important gift a person can give. Beyond finances, prayer is ultimately the thing that’s going to change lives. And, boy, do the people in Guatemala get that! Everywhere we went they wanted to pray for us! When we prayed together, instead of encountering the poverty and pain we expected, we encountered joy and fullness and fulfillment through our fellowship. We realized that, although material poverty exists, we’re not just the “haves” in Canada and the “have nots” in Guatemala. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ, all being reconciled, all being redeemed.
It was so beautiful to have a community of people we thought we were taking care of turn around and care for us.
We want to encourage other Canadians to consider making generosity a central practice in your families, whether you can give a little or a lot, whether you can give money or something else. Give generously either way because God is going to bless it. There are opportunities everywhere to give our time, our efforts, our passion to educate others on important issues, or even simply our presence. We’re confident if we all keep asking “How can I help? What can I do?” God will show up.