Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Psalm 82:3

What if there are children who will suffer somehow because I failed to obey God?
What if my cowardice costs even one child somewhere in the world his or her life?
(excerpt from The Hole in Our Gospel)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Made it home; final thoughts and pics

I've been home for two days now - my luggage for 1 1/2. I slept through most of the first day and today I think I'm starting to feel a little more normal again. There are many pics I cannot post because of adoption laws. Therefore, if you truly want to see other endearing pictures (and there are many!) you'll have to invite yourselves over to see them :)

I don't think I'll ever be able to truly put everything I saw, heard, smelled, touched and loved into words. I do know that I will go back...someday. I also know that some of the emotions I felt were only the tip of the iceberg of what God must feel for these children. Despite the conditions they live in, every single child I met smiled. Every single child I met had hope. Every single child I met was thankful for what very, very little they had. And every child I met had a name and an incredible story to tell. I enjoyed every hard-to-breathe, hard-to-fathom, hard-to-describe, moment. And, as much as I hate to cry, there were many times I had to will myself not to.

As I re-read the posts that Kyle had to make for me, I noticed a few type-o's. Oh well! Not going to fix them. It took a lot of effort on his part to retrieve them from e-mail and then re-type everything after a long day at work and being a "single dad." (note to Kyle - you did a great job managing everything and having you post for me made me feel like you were there with me - I love You!)

I will end this little adventure with a few more photos that can be shared. I hope you will not only look at them, but will allow these images to remind you to pray for children 1/2 way around the world. Children I met, children I held, children who captured my heart. And, mostly, I hope you will DO someday...whatever it is God calls you to DO.

African Proverb: Pray...but when you pray, move your feet!

"Moving you feet" may cost you something...vacation time, a paycheck, time away from something you love, etc. But nothing you or I sacrifice will ever compare to what Christ sacrificed for us.

Our VO Team in Korah.

Summer & Cory and their three boys.
They sold everything they had to move to Addis and start P61.
The girl on the right is Ashley. She lives in Addis now too. She oversees the orphanage we did a "make-over" for and works with Summer.

This would be the hands of a 13 year old boy praying for me after I prayed for him. He wants to be a Pastor someday. How sweet is that?

A random photo of somewhere in Addis.

Goats on their way to market. No kidding; 100+ goats were squished in there!

Entodo Mountain- a view from above.
These women walked to the top of the mountain to gather their firewood and were heading back down. I've never seen such strong women in my life...and there were many of them making the trek!

An entry way into a home in Korah.

The kids at New Hope know Jesus. They sing to him every day and loved the little projects we brought for them to make. Of course they wanted us to keep them (but we ended up talking them into keeping them - finally!)

A little boy thrilled with his "Jesus"
A street in Korah...they are filled with children.

One of the "Extremem Make-Over Orphanage Edition" rooms we painted.

When all the kids saw their new rooms they were kissing our knees! No joke. They were so happy to have such a fun place to call their own.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Packing up & Heading Home

Well, we were back at Ashley's orphanage today. I changed diapers, played with older kids, fed babies & played with older kids again. The orphanage has been without water since last Sunday (when we landed). Can you believe that? They are bringing in water somehow, but babies have not been bathed since we did that last Sunday night. Older kids are somehow scrubbing up with whatever water they can pour on themselves. Bottled water is there, but staff is busy trying to keep it stocked. Overall, though, that place looks 100% better. Nannies loved having us there. So much was done - like an extreme make-over orphanage edition!! You won't believe the pictures. The kids seem happier, the staff definitely seems happier and most of the babies bottom's are no longer raw and bleeding (that was a HUGE problem when we got there!).

I'm glad to be heading home. However, I feel like I am leaving a little piece of my heart behind. I guess when you get to know the kids personally (not just show up once, do a project and leave), you start to feel connected to them. Again we got hugs and kisses galore and it took us 20 minutes to get out of the gate.

Looking forward to seeing my family...I wonder how sleep deprived I'll be by the time I get home?

I'm sure I'll have some final thoughts about this little adventure, but right now, I can't seem to sum it up. So, for now, let's just say it's been amazing, beautiful, depressing, wonderful, terrible, heartbreaking and fabulous all at the same time. I am so thankful for this experience and the husband who supported this crazy idea from the beginning. I Love You!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Feeding a Thousand

We fed 1,000 homeless people today. Holy Cow! That was an experience! The food was definitely "interesting" and it was terribly sad to see the "soup" people took home in plastic bags for family members. I won't go into the gory details or anything, but at least they get food every day thanks to someone who started this feeding program. It takes $60 USD to feed 1,000 people one meal a day. Can you believe that? [Kyle's perspective, advertisers will spend $100-200 to reach 1,000 people, advertising in industry-specific publications.]

One of our translators hooked us up with this for the day - he volunteers there, too. I tell you, our guides and translators are very well connected and have a servant's heart if ever I saw one!

Then we went to the orphanage. This is the first orphanage that we have sort of adopted this trip and keep going back. We are going to fix up rooms for the 4 "kids" (the twenty-somethings) that are staying behind for a couple of months. Their room is so great! All the rooms there are painted now, all the kids have clothes now, all the bathrooms are clean now, all the babies have diapers and food now, it's been totally transformed! Ashley even brought hospital disinfectant cleaner and the place was cleaned down from top to bottom for probably the first time ever!

I will tell you the boring details later, but I have to go wash who-knows-what off me now before we head out to dinner.

By the way, There are only a couple of us who are not sick, not recovering from being sick, or starting to get sick. I was only a little congested this morning, but DayQuill took care of that. Keep praying for me to stay healthy, please! And the rest of our team could use some divine healing before our flight tomorrow night. One is really sick and can't sit up for more than five minutes at a time. If you could pray for Denise, especially that would be great! She was my roomie in D.C.

I'll be home soon!


News from the homefront.

Sunday went pretty well. We got up on time to make it 6 minutes late to the first service! After church Chelsea and I baked a desert for the church BBQ that afternoon.

Luckily it wasn't too windy at the BBQ or there would have been food flying all over the place. Wait, I meant to say, I wish it wasn't so windy at the BBQ. There was food flying everywhere. Only 1 kid of mine got injured. That's a pretty good ratio of injuries to kids for as many as I brought. Of course, that one kid got injured 3 times. But whose counting? Corey wandered off with Scott for the whole afternoon. I think I saw him eat a cupcake and a cookie. Hopefully there was a hotdog in between the two. MJ was at the park with Abbey. Jared, Chelsea and I played football. We danced, we kissed, we schoozed, we carried on, we went home happy. Afterwards, I got everyone home in one piece and into bed at a respectable hour. It was a school night you know.

Here is MJ tearing off one more day closer to mom coming home.

Corey doing his reading Monday night.

And, finally a picture of Jared...schooling the high-schoolers in the game of basketball. The shot I missed on camera was the one where he had just stolen the ball and pulled up for a jumper inside the 3-point line and swished it. Instead, I got this rebound, action-shot. Stupid camera.

Only two more wake-ups before mom is MJ calls it. Yeah!

Oh, and Angie, if you are reading this before you leave, it was 55 degrees today...brrr! It won't get above 60 all this week, and mostly rain! Welcome back to Utah!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beza International Church

Today we went to the Beza International Church. It was awesome to say the least. Todd would love the worship I saw and experienced today! Dang, these people know how to praise God. Sort of a Southern Baptist / Pentecostal meets James Brown thing.

We went to the English service. While I was in church, half of our team went to take 8 new babies to see the doctor with the girl that runs the orphanage here now. They were all pre-mature and malnourished. They showed up on her door step last night. One baby weighed 5 lbs and was found in a hotel after being for 2 days by himself. I haven't seem the babies yet, but of them are now at the orphanage. A group of us are headed there in a few minutes to do whatever we can, paint, bathe babies, play with kids, clean up all the puke, take out the trash, wash diapers, etc.

After church we took a bunch of "street kids" out for pizza. These kids live on the street or in the room behind their parents' store at the local shopping area called the Post Office. Some of the kids will go to school and others don't. Most kids still show up at church every Sunday, despite the walk! Can you believe that? Their parents are not with them because they are working. I asked the girl I hung out with what she does after school. She said, "I sell bubble gum and shine shoes." Her father is dead and her mother works at a store somewhere. I don't think they have a home of their own, or even a room somewhere. It sounded like she lives in or under whatever she and her mother and sisters can find. She is only 11 years old. She is in 5th grade and speaks English fairly well. I have a picture of her and I at lunch. It is very sweet.

We also gave these kids new flip flops. You'd have thought we just handed them gold! As we dropped them back off at the Post Office, she gave me a necklace she made; one she could sell but wanted me to have it. She said, "You remember me now, Okay?", and then gave me a hug.

The most amazing part, though, was that these street kids take care of each other. As we waited for pizza...and waited...and pizza would come out and the kids would start giving it to the other kids. None of the, "I get the first piece!" that I hear at home. These kids have nothing, yet they give everything even if it means they will be hungry a little longer. The girl I had lunch with saved two pieces of pizza at the end saying, "I take these home for my sister." I knew she was still hungry, but she refused to eat any more.

Only 1-1/2 days left before we head out. Our flight leaves Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday at around midnight local time (3pm Tuesday MDT, for those that are time-zone challenged.) I arrive back in Salt Lake City around 3:30pm Wednesday. That is 24.5 hours of traveling.

That's all for now. I will be heading to the orphanage for the rest of the night.

Final words from the worship Pastor at church today. "If you praise God only a little, how can you ask Him for big blessings? You give your all for Him, and He'll give you all you will ever need and more."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shashamene and Korah

Got back from Korah and I decided I wasn't going to go shopping or watch the guys play b-ball. I'm tired. I've felt faint all day long. We are going to a traditional restaurant for dinner tonight. That should be interesting. Not sure what I'll eat there - if anything. Here are some pictures I was able to email.

Arrival at Ethiopia airport.

Here would be our group milling around after arrival. All three vans looked like clown cars. Luggage for 24 people, the 24 people plust the 6 men to help and drive. Can you say claustrophobia? Thankfully it was only a 30 minute dirve. Imagine those vans piled high with bungi cords holding everything down on top - and nothing fell out! Each team member brought 100 lbs of donations. 3 of us brought 150 lbs of donations. What's the math on that? (That's 2,550 lbs of donations, for those of you that are mathematically challenged.)

This is our group. Yes, I know everyone here and what state they are from. Someone is missing, though I can't figure that out at the moment.

This is my room. Top bunk would be mine.

Me on the edge of the Trash Dump. It goes on for a couple of miles.

The trash dump again. In the back would be where people are burning some of the trash.

Typical shoes in Korah, or Africa for that matter. That is if one is lucky enough to have shoes.

These are the lucky ones who get to go to school because they have a sponsor or whose parents send them (usually one member gets to go while the other kids "work" at the dump.)

A street in Korah and there are hundreds more just like it.

Kids playing with something. They really are creative.

Our group delivering food for our home visit in Korah.

Two brothers "working" at the dump.

The woman we met with in her home.

The little boy that was sick and was throwing up.

What if you had HIV and had to choose between breast feeding (which transmits the HIV virus), and hoping to find enough formula to sustain your child's life - hoping they don't have HIV already? What if your husband left because he didn't want twins?

A dead chicken, most likely picked up by someone for dinner.

Here is my Saturday update.

Since being stuck here in Ethiopia we've been winging it from day to day. Yesterday we visited Shashamene which is where the boarding school Project 61 kids get to go to. If you haven't looked at the link on my blog for Project 61, please do!

The girl, Summer, came to Ethiopia last year, fell in love with Korah, had her heart broken, to say the least, went home and packed up her kids and husband and they sold everything they had to come and live here. In less than a year they found sponsors for 250 children in Korah so they could go to a boarding school for education, 3 meals a day and basic healthcare.

This boarding school is 3 hours from home and these kids leave their families for 10 months so they can have a chance at a better life for themselves. Kids as young as 5 years old go to school there. Can you imagine sending your 5 year old to another city for a year...over and over again so they can get an education?

The best part is that when we were there, the kids aske us, "Do you know Jennifer?" Or, "Do you know Thomas?" Or whoever their sponsor's name was. We are white Americans and their sponsors are white Americans, therefore we know them, right? They also ask me if I'm from Tennessee. They ask all of us if we're from Tennessee. Why? Because Summer is from Tennessee and that's were A Lot of sponsors come from. Her church really backed her and her whole community did as well. Nobody had heard of Utah. Not surprising, eh? I think I may have to change that...somehow...?

We went to Korah and held church with the kids there. Stickers, bubbles, foam crosses - all were treasures and we were mobbed, literally, for anything and everything. However, unlike mobs in the U.S., these kids said please, hugged us and thanked us over and over and over again no matter how little they got. Most just wanted to hold one of our hands or be held. Seriously! Every time I go there, one or more kids become "my kids" and they spend the whole day following me, holding my hand, playing with my hair, talking to me, helping me...just to be with me.

I've never felt more sticky, sweaty, grungy, dirty, smelly or loved all at the same time. The smell in Korah will be something I won't soon forget. Sometimes I couldn't take a breath without feeling like I was "losing it", but praise God I never did. How people live like this day in and day out for their entire lives is something I can't fathom. How people live like this and love Jesus with all their hearts astounds me! They talk about Him as though he is right here - in Korah. And he as to be! They say they talk to God about their problems an dknow God hears them because of all he's done for them. All he's done for them? Most don't have parents anymore. Some have one parent left. None of enough to eat. I look around and see trash everywhere. I see kids with flies swarming their little bodies. I see sores, colds, hungry bellies and kids roaming the streets all day long looking for something to eat. But despite all of this, I've seen more happiness in this community than I've ever seen anywhere. How is this possible? Only God, that's how.

I have pictures from orphanages we've visited earlier this week, but since they are working to help those children find families, we aren't able to post them online. Guess if you want to see them, you'll hve to come see them personally when I get home.

That's all for now! I'll refrain from sharing my internal dialogue about promoting adoptoin within my social circle (it's hard, believe me!)


News from the homefront:

Jared and I stayed up way too late after the softball game last night. MJ and Chelsea tossed and turned and stole my covers last night. Breakfast was eggs, english muffins and fruit. Then we worked our tails off to clean the house, do some laundry and mow the yard. Then it was lunch and off to Corey's soccer game. The storm clouds circle the field but the rain stayed away.

Here is Corey in action again.

After the game, it was back to the library for Chelsea's book report book. Penguins!
The kids stayed home while I went to the grocery store to get some much needed supplies. Back home and Chelsea went to a frined's house for the night. MJ said she wasn't tired, but from the looks of this picture, I think she took a cat nap while I was cooking dinner.

After dinner, it was back to the computer to get caught up with Angie's trip. I'm all caught up!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Church in Korah

8 hours of our day (Thursday) was spent driving 120 km (that's 75mph for you metric challenged folks out there.) dodging in and out of traffic, stopping for cows and goats to cross and anything else "Africa" you could possibly think of. It was hilarious and a little scary all at the same time. Went to the boarding school where Project 61 kids attend and they just loved having us there. There were 250 of them and 24 of us.

At the boarding school (Project 61)

Cattle crossing! There were lots of these that slowed us down. There are no speed limits and people just drive like they do in China, only FASTER when on the straight roads...Holy Crap! I felt like I was in a racecar. And there were 4 vans in our caravan. The drive was 8 hours there and back. Notice the "Jesus Take the Wheel" hanging from the mirror? That was so true!

Going to do a church service for the kids in Korah today. I guess there will be 250 kids there, but about 6,000 live in Korah. Korah is the place of the trash dump. That is a lot of kids who survive on the dump. Then we are going to go to the first orphanage we went to earlier to fix it up and clean it out again. I hate to say it, but I think we need a bigger house someday. 4 bedrooms may not be enough :O (Kyle doesn't know what think after typing that. She knows the rules.)

HIV education

This diaper photo was at one of the orphanages with 200 kids. I'm not sure how many babies, but that clothes line is always full! And I thought I hated changing diapers. Look at all of those.

This is a hut that the lucky few in the country side live in. They are everywhere.

Here are our translators/drivers/bodyguards. They are really funny, and very protective of us.


News from the Homefront:

MJ got to spend the day with her friend at Wheeler Farm. Watching and feeding the ducks and posing on the tractor and horse saddle. MJ didn't like the smell and wanted to go home.

Work did not go well for me today. I had writers block that made me really late in getting home. Dinner even arrived before I did. The kids love the food. I fixed the washing machine so now I can get back to the laundry that seemed to pile up out of nowhere. I played softball and did ok in the outfield but had a terrible time at the plate. We'll just leave it at that. The other team's catcher was a bit too close to the plate and took a bat to the forehead. The paramedics arrived and she will most likely need stitches. Our prayers are with her for a quick recovery.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

No plans, just winging it

I thought I would give everyone an update on why the posts have been lagging behind. Wednesday night's post was interrupted by a maintenance update from Blogger. I had to retype about 1/2 hour's worth of editing. Of course it had to be the long big update from Angie. The next day, Blogger had problems with their maintenance update and Blogger was in read-only mode all day and into the evening. Friday morning, Blogger was still in read-only mode. To fix the bug issues, they had to take down all posts on Wednesday and they were in the process of restoring those posts. Friday night came around and Blogger was again ready for posting. However, I had no time until now, Saturday evening.

But you say, hey, the date on this post reads 5/12. Ah, the power of post-dating, pre-dating or any other kind of dating. Now back to your regularly scheduled Africa update.

Update from Thursday.

Today felt like I was on vacation. No ministry, just museums and the Ethiopian version of Starbucks after sleeping in.

Looking at Kampala reports, there were riots, so the call to stay in Ethiopia ws the right one for sure. Heading to Shashamane in the morning. This is the boarding school where Project 61 kids get to go to. Going to do our HIV education there and get some medicals done (height, weight, check ears, etc.) We do have an RN and a retired vetrinarian on our team after all!

News from the Homefront:

All has been pretty good. Our evening, however, had a "twist". After showers, I was checking work email and getting some other stufff done, when MJ slowly made her way into my room. She said it was stuck. To my surprise, MJ had curled the comb up her hair about 4 times, very tightly. I was scared to death that I would have to cut the comb out of her hair. It took about 25 minutes to slowly go through this mess. As you can see, Chelsea played the part of social worker and kept her calm and from crying.
Notice the nice tight wrap. She has done this once before, but never this tight and this many twists.

Is Chelsea concerned here?

Almost untangled.

All better now. And no scissors necessary.

And here is Chelsea counting down the days for Mom to return.