Friday, October 17, 2014

Let Your Light Rise!

I'm about a week behind on posting more kids for sponsorship.......never enough hours in a day.    

So far, the team has found sponsors for 12 of the 150 kids at I Care For The Nations including Elshadai Desse and Hani Arga featured in my last post!

So exciting!

Now, just 138 to go!

Here's a short video to get you excited about making it happen.

I can only reach a very small audience with this blog and many of my readers already sponsor a child or two (or three :-)

So, please SHARE THIS POST and video to get the word out.

If you're interested in sponsoring a child through Children's HopeChest's care point at I Care for the Nations, email me and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have and connect you with the sponsorship coordinator to get things rolling.

 and the love of a sponsor change lives!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Let's Get Ready to Sponsor!

I Care for the Nations serves as a center of support to approximately 150 children and their families.  Most of these children come from single mother led households.  In Ethiopia, there are few opportunities for women to provide for their families.  If a father is involved, he would typically provide for the family while the mother cared for the children and household responsibilities.  In cases where the father has either died or left the family, mothers are faced with the daunting task of providing for their children by working low paying jobs as clothing washers, cooks, maids and sometimes turning to the streets to make money to feed their children.  Being a single mom anywhere is a huge job.  But in Ethiopia where there is no infrastructure of support like daycare, food assistance, free is an overwhelming task.  Many of these mothers are also HIV + which adds to their challenges as they are outcast from their communities.

I Care is working to break this cycle of poverty which often times results in children being unable to attend school, have enough nourishment and in some cases be placed in orphanages when the mothers simply can't provide.  These children have mothers that in general want to take care of their kids, but because of the circumstances they are in, they just can't do it without help.  This is one thing that I love about what Children's HopeChest does.  It enables families to stay together by joining hands to provide basic support and bridge the gap between desperation and opportunity.

They have also specifically chosen to focus on providing nutritional counseling and nutritious food to the children who are HIV+.  This is making a big difference in the health of these children and allows for their medications to be more effective, giving them a better shot at a healthier life.

I Care not only works to help provide school supplies and support to the children, but also to educate and empower their mothers.  I love this!

The director of I Care is a women who saw the needs of her community and decided to act.  She has asked friends and others in her community to join in her efforts and has thus far supported this care point on those donations.  She is a visionary and has many ideas about ways to further assist the children served there.  For example, due to limited funding, I Care is only able to provide food assistance to the approximately 17 children who are HIV+.  They have chosen to feed those most at risk, but lets be honest, ALL of the children at I Care would benefit from improved nutrition and more food.  This is where we come in.  We have the opportunity through sponsorship to join together with her to increase the capacity of I Care to serve these children. 

When the team was in Ethiopia, they had the chance to play games with the kids, sing songs, teach bible stories and do crafts.  As they spent time with the kids, connections were made and little bits of their personalities and stories were revealed.  Today I'm going to introduce you to 8 kids that stuck out to Nick while he was there.  Tomorrow, I'll post some more cuties that stole my heart through their pictures.

Introducing the Great 8

Up first is a sweet little girl, only 3 years old.  She showed up in many of Nicks photos.  Her name is Elshadai Desse.


Next up is Surafel Belay, an 8 year old little boy who Nick said was really a sweet kid and loved musical chairs and craft time.

Nick said this next girl was so tiny and frail and so sweet too.  I just think she is adorable and has the most beautiful eyes.  Meet 5 year old Simegne Alemeshet


This is Dagim Chekol and he is a 7 year old boy who loved all of the games that the team played with the kids.  Nick said he was super competitive.  I just have to say, there's nothing like watching some of these boys plays sports and games.  They really go after it!

Nick said this next little guy, Nathnael Debebe was such a good kid and he remembers he needed a little extra help during craft time.  I just love his smile.  Such a cutie!


Nick went on and on about how smart this next little girl is.  He said that after hearing all of the team members names just once, that she was able to identify them all by name.  He said she was a natural leader, knew lots of English words, was a great helper and just pure joy!  Meet 10 year old
 Hani Arga.

pictured here with one of the team members

This next precious girl caught our eye first because of her name "Rahel."  She actually resembles our Rahel when she was that age.  We have one picture of our daughter Rahel around the age of 6 wearing a pink wind suit that resembles this Rahel.
Meet 6 year old Rahel Abera.

our Rahel age 6 years

And finally, I've saved my favorite for last.  This is 7 year old  Mikiyas Jemal.  The top picture is one of the first pictures Nick sent me while he was in Ethiopia.  Mikiyas is the little guy in the front.  He just stole my heart.  He has a lazy left eye.  Meron came home with a lazy eye and we were able to patch her eye, retrain her brain to use that eye and restore her vision.  This is something that if taken care of early, can usually be corrected.  I'm praying one of our friends will sponsor this little one so we can follow his progress.  Perhaps he will even be able to get treatment for his eye condition.  We have lots more pictures of him that I'd be happy to send to his sponsor family.  Nick said he had the sweetest personality.

with his mother

So there you have it.  Eight precious children who have through no fault of their own been born into some pretty rough circumstances.  But their stories don't end here.  These kids have hope of a different kind of future and
their hope is YOU.

I've talked to many people over the years about orphan care, adoption and sponsorship.  So many people will say, "Oh, I'd love to do that some day." Or, "I've always wanted to do that but......."  fill in the blank.  There are many reasons one could give to not sponsor one of these children. 

 But, when it comes right down to it, nearly all of you who will read this post have the means and ability to make the $38 per month commitment to change one of these children's lives.

The $38 per month sponsorship provideds food, water, basic medical care, education and discipleship.  To read more about HopeChest's model, click here.

If you have any questions about any of the kids I've listed or about HopeChest or I Care for the Nations, please email me at

And if one of these kiddos caught your eye or made you think, hmmm, maybe I'm supposed to do this sponsorship thing, please email me and I'll connect you with our sponsorship coordinator.

Once a child has a sponsor, I'll update this page.  I'm hoping to be able to mark SPONSORED by each of these kids' names by the end of the week.

Stay tuned.  I'll be posting more pictures tomorrow.

Time to take that next small step!

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**