Sunday, October 5, 2014

One Small Step

I am so excited to share more about Nick and Hermela's trip to Ethiopia.  This whole trip was full circle for a couple of reasons.  Not only did Heremela get to reunite with her birth mom, but a long term dream of mine also came true on this trip.

Four years ago we returned from Ethiopia for the first time with our girls. Our worlds were rocked.  I mean, I've said it before, you know there are "starving children in Africa" (and other places for that matter), but until you actually see it, it's easy to dismiss that fact and go about your own busy life.

God leading us to Ethiopia is one of the things I am most thankful for in life.  It was a truly defining moment for our family.  It gave us a perspective shift and a passion to bring awareness to the plight of so many who struggle to survive in this beautiful country.  Ethiopia is a land rich in culture.  I have never met more hospitable, generous, kind and loving people in my life.  Even those who struggle beyond what most of us can imagine have a spirit of resilience and amazing strength that is just contagious.  I literally crave time there because my soul is the most awake and alive when I am there.

When we returned from our first trip in 2010, I knew God wanted us to do more there.  I researched different organizations and programs that were working in Ethiopia and came across Children's HopeChest. I knew we wanted to sponsor a child from Ethiopia, but at the time, our budget was stretched and savings depleted as we had just adopted our first two girls.  Nick and I discussed it and decided we would wait until we got everything in order financially and then we would jump right in. 

Here's where the beginning of the circle starts.

That very next Sunday in May 2010, our pastor taught out of the book of Haggai. The message was about priorities and how everything we have is God's, yet we live our lives using up all that we want and then giving God what is left over. Then we say that following God is our priority, when our actions prove otherwise. He said that one way that we disobey God is to say, "I'll do that later", "I'll give when everything is in order", "I'll do that when I'm 40, 50, 60"...... We don't actually say "no", but we do "no" through our actions and over time, we miss it.

"There will never be a time when generosity will be convenient or easy. So when God asks you to do something, it is your actions that show where your priorities lie."

Well, of course we knew that message was speaking right to us and we signed up that night to sponsor our sponsor child Meseret. This was the first picture we ever saw of her.

Meseret 2010

One small step of obedience.

As we learned more about Meseret and the care point she was at (Trees of Glory), we were compelled to tell others of the difference that sponsorship was making in her life.  A simple gift of $38 a month was enough to keep her in school, provide a meal each day, discipleship and most importantly to allow her to know she is loved by God, valued and has hope of a future. 

The difference sponsorship makes.  Meseret 2012

Click here to see more of the kids sponsored at Trees of Glory.

Over the years, we have been able to visit her and see the amazing progress that has been made at Trees of Glory. Through fundraising for livestock, water wells, libraries and farming projects, the care point has become more self sufficient and an enormous asset to the surrounding community.
When many people join together to give a little, it makes a big difference.

Last year, our church called me to talk about my experiences with HopeChest.  Because Nick and I had been able to travel to Trees of Glory several times, we got to see first hand that HopeChest was doing what they said they were doing in Ethiopia.  When we raised money for cows, cows were purchased.  When we raised money for a well and sanitation project, running water flowed from kitchen, bathroom, laundry and shower facilities.  Meseret and our friends' and family's sponsor children thrived.   It has been truly amazing to watch. Click  here to see for yourself.

Often times when people hear of sponsorship programs, they are leery of getting involved because they "don't really know where the money goes."  Our first hand accounts with HopeChest have reassured us that HopeChest works very hard to ethically use the resources they have been entrusted with for the benefit of the children they are intended for.

A vision trip was taken in 2013 and our staff felt led to partner with I Care for the Nations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  This is the care point that Nick and Hermela worked with on their trip.
So how does all this relate to coming full circle?

Well, our pastor who preached the above message in 2010 is no longer with us.  Our church was one of the fastest growing churches and this pastor had an amazing gift of conveying the word of God.  Everything on the outside looked great, but on the inside, he was under attack.  After a series of really bad choices, he passed away last year.

As Nick and Hermela were preparing for their trip, the thought hit me that God had used his words to move us to sponsor Meseret.  That one small step of obedience in response to that one pastors message was followed by many of our friends and family sponsoring children, our trips to Ethiopia and Trees of Glory, our church inquiring about our experiences with HopeChest and the staff taking a vision trip that ultimately led them to I Care for the Nations.  Lots of small steps strung together to lead us in the direction God has called us.

Now, I'm not saying that our actions had anything to do with this. 

What I want to express is how amazing God is and how he continues to use broken, imperfect people to carry out His will, even when things don't end up how you'd expect, even when sin seems to have won, even when that vessel he has chosen is no longer on this earth and I think that's just amazing!

So, my dream was to be a part of a community of people, right here where we live who are partnering with a community of people in Ethiopia to serve orphaned and vulnerable children and families (mostly widows) to meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

That dream is becoming a reality through the privilege of our church's partnership with I Care for the Nations and the 150 children that are served there.

Following this post, I'll be posting pictures and stories of some of the kids that need sponsors.  These are real kids in real need of someone to step up and, for the price of a few dinners out or trips to the movies, bridge the gap and make a tangible difference in the lives of these children.

So get those feet ready to take one small step in the right direction and partner with us to find these precious children a sponsor..................YES, I'm talking to YOU!!
**tune in tomorrow to see the kids**


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