When you talk with Monica you can't help but feel good. In her softspoken voice, she describes her deep faith in God and the humble joy she finds in giving, and it's contagious.
"When I start thinking about what I'm doing, I get very happy," says Monica. "While I'm stocking inventory at work I'm really calculating in my head how much money I've earned that day and how many lives will be saved when I give it away. Then I start to smile."
The Kleman Family: Jay is holding Dante; back row left to right is Tia, Ignacio, Monica, Pearl and Mia
The rest of the year you'll find Monica homeschooling one of the children, managing the household, and caring for her husband, Jay, and their children Mia (15), Ignacio (15), Pearl (15), Tia (13), and Dante (2). Four of the children are adopted and the Klemans are in the process of adopting another child, hopefully by Christmas. Jay works as a pharmacist and Monica, who is a registered nurse, stays at home providing the stability, love and nurturing that children who are adopted after years of neglect so desparately need. Needless to say, money and time are not abundant resources.
The Klemans have attended Trinity United Methodist Church in Ottawa, Ohio for a number of years and became members 3 years ago. Jay and Monica are in a bible study group, the older children are in youth group, and they all participate actively in church events.
"Monica and Jay are amazing people who have created such a loving, strong family," says Rev. Lynda Lockwood, pastor at Trinity. "Monica is one of the most selfless, giving people that I know, a committed Christian who lives her faith every day. If somebody needs something, she's there."
Last winter, around the time of Lent, a series of events deeply affected Monica. It began when Rev. Lockwood played a video about Imagine No Malaria in church and Monica felt a tug on her heart. For the next three months she gave to the weekly "noisy offering" (buckets circulated for change) which was designated for Imagine No Malaria. Then for a Lenten bible study project she had to write a letter to herself about something that was on her heart. That night she couldn't sleep and dreamed about Imagine No Malaria. Soon she was looking at items in her house wondering how many lives she could save by selling them. She knew it was time to act on what God was placing on her heart, so when the opportunity to work over the holidays appeared, she decided to take the job and donate the money.
To understand how she came to place so much faith in giving, you need to know about a turning point in her life fifteen years ago. Monica was a single mom putting herself through nursing school, working full time and caring for her daughter, Mia. She was also going to church and teaching bible study. One day someone in the study group told her of a community scholarship that she could apply for, which she did.
That Sunday, the church service so moved her, that she found herself spontaneously dropping her latest paycheck in the offering plate. As she left church the reality set in that she'd just given away all the money she had except $5 and she wasn't sure how she and Mia would get by until her next paycheck.
Then what she now calls God-inspired events began to happen. First the college finance office called and said she had extra money in her school account that they needed her to withdraw. Then in her mail was a refund check from an overpayment of a bill. The total of the two together was exactly the amount of the paycheck she had placed in the offering plate! Later that week she found out that she had been selected for the community scholarship, and much to her surprise, it paid for all her remaining tuition, living expenses, car payment, and babysitter.
"I've always loved Ephesians 3:20 and those amazing events from 15 years ago confirmed for me what was true. You can't outgive God." says Monica.
Like 15 years ago, Monica believes this gift to Imagine No Malaria has already impacted her own family in many ways. First they were selected from many other families to be the adoptive family of another child, another gift from God. Second, she knows she's setting a good example for her children. They've noticed what their Mom is doing and are finding ways to follow her lead. When she was too sick with the flu to go to church one Sunday, her son filled the noisy offering with his own change, because "Mom always gives. I wanted to do it this week for her." And all the kids have told their parents that they want $10 less for Christmas this year and want that money to instead go to buy a net.
"Today I feel very proud and honored to do this as Christ is really all I need this Christmas. I know this will make a difference." says Monica. " All you need is God to lead you and you can do a lot. You just have to listen to what he puts on your heart."
If you feel inspired to give to Imagine No Malaria like Monica is, click here, knowing that 100% of your gift goes to the people in need, and 110% of the joy comes back to you.