Sunday November 11th
One of the best days of the whole trip started early Sunday morning the almost 2 hours drive to Trees of Glory. It was our first time really being with the HopeChest team and we really enjoyed the ride getting to know everyone and catching up with our HopeChest friends.
When we arrived, they had the whole place decorated--a true celebration was in store. Singing, drums, beautiful children everywhere--it was amazing.
I don't know what it is, but every time I hear children singing it makes me tear up. Magnify that by about nearly 200 and I was a watery mess.
Prior to our last trip, we raised money for books and bookshelves. We weren't able to purchase the bookshelves while we were there, but we left the money with Simret and this is what was waiting for us just three months later--a wall to wall bookshelf with the books we had ordered on them. Simret is hoping to fill the shelves with more and more books for the kids. So THANK YOU to everyone who donated to the TOG Back To School Fund back in August--you really helped make a difference for the TOG school!!
Just so you can experience the pure joy these children have, click the videos below to get a glimpse of the welcome celebration.
This one really got me--"I Have Decided To Follow Jesus"--in Amharic. Just beautiful and you can tell, these kids mean every word they are singing. I want to follow Jesus with the same pure heart as these children do.
My dear friend Simret--I just love her!
This trip, my friend Devin (who traveled with me in August) sent curtains that she and some of her friends sewed for Simret. We had asked her when we were there if there was anything she wanted or needed. She immediately said curtains. It sounds like a simple request and what I love about it is that it was something that we could bring to her that was for her. She has literally given her life to help the kids and community of TOG and this was a simple way to show her that we appreciate her. Devin had asked her what color she would like--she said PURPLE! So she got her purple curtains and LOVED them (so much so that she requested curtains for the whole compound ;-)
Then the best part of the day--spending time with the kids. We are lucky that so many of our friends and family sponsor kids at TOG and that we have been able to visit three times so far. We now know quite a few of the kids and I always love seeing them and how they have grown. The difference in these kids is unbelievable from the first time we saw them in their profile pictures until now. Sponsorship makes a difference here--no doubt about that!
|Nick and his little brother-his parent's sponsor child.|
|Sweet Muse-the Lesley's sponsor child.|
|Fonosa-Devin's sponsor child.|
|The Bracken's sponsor child-they are also adopting a little girl from|
Ethiopia and will hopefully get to meet him soon.
|One of the cutest girls there-my Aunt Debbie's little girl Muri.|
|My little sister--always wanted one--my parents sponsor Zewditu.|
|The Armstrong's sponsor child Tigist-such a sweet girl.|
And then, the most special one to us-our precious girl Meseret.
She looked so sad in the first picture we saw of her in 2010. With each update, she emerged a little more. Even the first two times we met her in person, she was so different. Shy, reserved, very quiet and definitely a little unsure of us on our first visit
|Meseret summer 2010|
|Meseret November 2012|
|Meseret in the green jacket.|
We have watched this girl open up and become such a beautiful, happy and hard working girl.
|It was so great for Caleb to be able to finally meet Meseret after years |
of praying for her and hearing us talk about her.
Before we left, we helped Meseret put on the new tennis shoes we had brought her. I had traced her foot the last time I was there and I was so glad that they fit her perfectly.
Her little feet had been crammed into these shoes that had to have been a few sizes too small. They were even swollen around the edges from all the walking she had done that day in them.
After one final picture, she literally jogged off with a spring in her step we had never seen.
Such a beautiful girl and such a beautiful day.
There are currently about twenty new kids recently enrolled at TOG who are waiting for sponsor families.
Up next, Kind Hearts.