It’s Not the Music That Blows Me Away

The last time Holt adoptive mom Amanda Carter volunteered at a Winter Jam concert, she thought she was prepared. Then Eddie Carswell took the mic.

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Amanda Carter with her family at Sleeping Bear Dunes, an attraction in Michigan.

I had no idea what to expect the first time I volunteered to sign up sponsors for a Holt Winter Jam concert, but I learn from experience. The next year, I went prepared. To be more honest, I was as prepared as one middle-aged mom could be. I was prepared for the powerful thunder of music that pounded in my ears and reverberated in my head long after the concert ended. I was somewhat more prepared for the powerful emotions I felt as the speeches and all the little faces on the brochures pleading for sponsors tugged at my heart.  And, I must admit, one can never be prepared for the awesome, overwhelming, mind-boggling, heartwarming onslaught of teens, parents and adults — young, old and in-between — who swarm the Holt tables at intermission, asking for sponsorship forms.

Yep, I was as prepared as I could be; and even then, the experience still blew me away just as much as it did the year before.

I’ve heard some volunteers worry they won’t hear the music if stationed at the tables in the hallways. Oh my, that’s funny. All the Winter Jam artists are awesome and talented musicians, but, wow, are they loud. I personally prefer to come prepared with dual protection of earplugs and earmuffs (you know, the kind one wears at the shooting range). I get a lot of smiles and thumbs-ups from sympathetic concertgoers for doing so. Even so, the beat of the music still thumps through my body, and I peek in at the concert every so often to witness the enthusiasm of the crowd and the energy of the bands.

But as far as I’m concerned, the music is never the most powerful part of the evening. The powerful part I really wasn’t prepared for that first year I volunteered came right before intermission.

Amanda said she became a sponsor at a Winter Jam because she understands the effect sponsorship can have on a child in Holt’s care overseas. Here, Amanda is pictured with her daughter, Emily. Emily was born in China.

A veteran volunteer had told me all about it, so I was actually expecting it, even anticipating it. I kept popping in to the concert as intermission was approaching. I asked the security guard to come to the hall and get me as soon as NewSong finished playing. It was the reason I was there, and I didn’t want to miss it — but I had no idea how moved I would be by it. Finally the part of the evening I was waiting for arrived, when Eddie Carswell from NewSong explained to the crowd why I was there — okay, why I along with a bazillion other volunteers were there.

I thought I could handle what Eddie would say, but as he began to speak, I remembered myself seven years ago, praying and waiting. All I could do for my daughter seven years ago was pray. While Eddie showed photos on a giant screen of precious children from NewSong’s recent trip to an orphanage in China, my throat tightened up and tears streamed down my cheeks. He paused on the photo of one particular girl and told the now silent crowd, “For $30 a month, you can become a sponsor and change the life of this child forever.”

As Eddie shared with the concertgoers how they could become Holt sponsors, I leaned over to the security guard and pulled a photo out of my pocket. She had seen me crying.

This is the first photo Amanda and her husband received of their daughter, Emily, prior to finalizing their adoption.
This is the first photo Amanda and her husband received of their daughter, Emily.

“This is my daughter, Emily,” I said. “She’s at home tonight because she’s only 7.”

“She’s beautiful,” the security guard exclaimed. “Is she from China?”

“Yes, she is,” I smiled.  “And before we adopted her, she had a sponsor through Holt. All those beautiful children up there on that screen need someone to care about them, and my sweet girl had someone. We prayed and prayed that she would be taken care of until we could adopt her, and after we came home, we found out she’d been blessed with a Holt sponsor almost the entire time she was in China. That’s why I’m here tonight.”

“I wish I could sponsor them all,” she responded.

Yeah, that’s why all the volunteers are here. If only we could sponsor them all.

Amanda Carter | Sterling Heights, Michigan

Sign up to volunteer at an upcoming Winter Jam concert!

Better yet, sponsor a child! Or do both!

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