Thursday, April 3, 2014

About That Trip To Africa

Like I mentioned in my last post, I took a quick trip to Ethiopia in February.  I am always eager to return to Ethiopia as it holds a huge piece of my heart and I don't know if many days pass that I do not think about it and the people that God has allowed us to meet there.  My four beautiful Ethiopian children also serve as constant reminders of this amazing country.

Through a string of pretty difficult and unfortunate circumstance, our friends Travis and Robin learned that the little girl they are in the process of adopting had been moved without notice from the care center she was in. 

 Without going into detail, lets just say that this was a very alarming bit of news to receive via email, particularly because they did not know where she had been moved to.

Let just stop there.

You have a child that you love and are doing everything in your power to bring home and suddenly, they are "lost" in a country on the other side of the world......a country that you've never been to and know relatively little about.

Scary, right???

The way they saw it, they had a very small window to locate her and determine their next course of action.

So they did what any logical person would do.....they decided right then and there to GO!

Now, I love this part, because it's completely illogical and full of love.....just the way God loves us.

I recently read this amazing quote on a missionary friend's (well virtual friend) blog and I love it:

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

This was basically a needle in a hay stack operation and a costly one at that ($9000 for 5 they had saved and fundraised to complete their adoption)......and several people thought they/we had lost our minds.....but never underestimate the power of a parent's love coupled with the prompting of the Lord!

So, they did what only made sense at the time and called me up and asked if I would go with them.  

They figured I'd be helpful since I'd been to Ethiopia 5 times in the past 4 years and had built quite a few relationships there and would at least know how to generally navigate the city (which is an ironic statement on many levels because I get lost in the city I've lived in all of my life and if you've ever been to Addis, it's a wonder anyone can navigate it at all :-)

So I looked at Nick and asked if I could go (it helped that they offered to pay my way) and without hesitation, Nick said yes and within a few short hours, I was on a plane to meet them in DC!

The whole flight there, I searched scripture for verses on God preparing the way and going before us.  I kept replaying that verse out of the book of Ester, "for such a time as this" the whole time, knowing that all of my trips to Ethiopia and time spent there and friendships formed were all for "such a time as this." I could have never known God would use my experiences to help our dear friends, but the things that we were able to find out and the people we were able to speak with and meet with on this trip are nothing short miraculous.  He surely went before us!

Within a few short hours of landing on the other side of the world, we found their precious child here:

In a very rural orphanage of traditional mud construction in the middle of no where an hour or so outside of the city.

We were overjoyed to find her and completely in awe of God's goodness. 

The meeting was bitter sweet on many levels, the conditions the children are living in was one of them.  I do not intend to criticize or judge in any way when I say that the conditions, although better than most people likely live in for this area, are not exactly what we are used to here and certainly a bit heart breaking to think that your child will be left in them.

The staff appeared to be kind and concerned and all basic needs of food, clothing and shelter were at least minimally met, but their needs are significant....even for the basics.

The Kitchen

The Bathroom

This orphange is no longer receiving funding from any US agency and thus their needs are great.  The first day we arrived they had nothing but teff flour (the flour used to make their main food of injera) in stock for food (NOTHING else), not one thing (books, notebooks, pencils, balls......not ONE thing) for them to do or play with, the shoes on most of their feet,  if they had them any on at all, did not fit and we noticed that their little girl, we'll call her "M," wore a pair of sandles on the first day and then was barefoot the next day so that her little friend could have a turn wearing them (so sweet, but in this dusty, rough environment, shoes are really a necessity to keep feet safe and healthy).

This region doesn't even have the luxury of daily water service and while the orphanage does have a faucet, the water is only turned on once weekly so that it can be collected into a barrel and doled out for the rest of the week.  

We were able to stock the kitchen with enough food and purchase enough other basic supplies like soap and cooking oil and a few extras like drawing pads and pencils and some basic preschool type books.  These supplies we were told would last about 2 months.

That was 6 weeks ago.

I have awaken many nights since leaving these precious children wondering if they have everything they need and knowing that they probably do not.

While I know that there are millions of orphans in the world, God has chosen to make me, and now YOU, aware of these 7.  I can only believe that it is for a specific reason that they have been brought to our attention.

This blog is called "defending the fatherless" in hopes that it will make a difference in the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children.  Each of these children are actually fatherless, many double orphans and all in need of the love and care of a family.  

I do not want to leave them without the basic necessities and the knowledge that they are loved.....even if it is from across the world.

We have contacted the orphanage director and asked for a list of supplies.

When we were there, he had asked for a refridgerator so that perishible food items like meat could be purchased.  This seemed to be a big concern for them (as you and I could imagine).  A small sized refridgerator costs about $350 there.

I would LOVE to be able to purchase this along with the other items on the list like flour, oil, soap, clothes and shoes.....for the orphanage.

We are awaiting the cost breakdown of the various items, but for now, I'd like to fundraise specifically for the refriderator.  I'm hoping that as with past fundraisers, God uses this blog to far exceed my goal of $350 for the fridge so that we are able to meet all of the the requested needs.  Anything raised above the $350 will be used to purchase the other items on the list as well as to pay the approximately $100 fee to hire a driver to deliver the items to the orphanage.

I had to block out their sweet faces to protect privacy. "M" is in the orange shirt in Robin's arms.

So lets DO this! (like my kids say) and work together to meet the needs of these kids!

I have a few lovely Ethiopian "love" bracelents (love is written in Amharic) left and I'd like to offer them for  a donation of $20 each.  If I  can sell all 16 that I have left, that will get us to $320 and we'll be just about to our goal for the fridge!!

I have 7 black and 9 red bracelets remaining.  Simply click on the bracelet fundraising link at the top left of the blog to indicate your preference.   A $3 shipping fee will be added at check out.  I will refund the fee if you are local and I can send up to 3 bracelets in one package, so if you order multiple bracelets, I'll refund the additional shipping as well.

I also have a "donate" button at the top left and ANY amount that you can spare to help these kids is so greatly appreciated as their needs will be ongoing and we would like to help ensure they are well cared for.  

Like my friends Travis and Robin said while we were there, no amount of pictures or stories can convey the true level of desperation, injustice and extreme poverty that exists until you actually see it.  

And yet in the true spirit of Ethiopia, this is the sign that hangs above a doorway of the orphanage.  Such an amazingly grateful and resilient community of people and one of the reasons why I love them so dearly.

"M" and her mom and dad.

Until they can have her safe at home, lets help care for sweet "M" and her friends from afar.

****This blog only reaches a small audience, so please feel free to share this link to help get the word out about these children in need of our help.****

The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these 
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. 
Matthew 25:40

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