Monday, December 14, 2015

Last Minute Gift Idea That Changes Lives

Our Change Their Story fundraising campaign has been a huge success.  We have currently surpassed our original goal of raising $15,745 to help create job training for 30 women whose children are served at I Care for the Nations!!

This is absolutely amazing and we are so grateful.
This is the first step in providing lasting solutions and life changing opportunities for these families.
As we approach Christmas, we know that many of you will be searching for that just right gift
or last minute gift idea.
So why not give the gift of empowerment this year?
We still have 2 weeks left in our "Change Their Story" fundraising campaign and we've been inspired to work towards our next goal of getting more women trained.
Phase 1 allows for 30 women to be trained in either COTTON SPINNING or
For less than $4000,
we can fund 4 more training opportunities and
help train another 35 women to be

To break that down, for every $115 raised, we can support another woman's ENTIRE training!
My talented friends and teammates have designed these STARFISH ORNAMENTS, beautifully packaged with details of the empowerment program they help support. 
The starfish are symbolic of "making a difference for one" as depicted in the story below:
For a minimum donations of $25 each or more, you can give this life changing gift that will continue to impact this community in Ethiopia for generations.

***In order to ensure that your starfish can be delivered before Christmas,

To order your starfish ornament and give a gift that will truly CHANGE THE STORIES of these women and their families please donate here:

AND message me ( the number of starfish you need
along with your name, delivery preference
and address (either free local delivery or shipped to you)

All donations are tax deductible, so if you don't need an ornament but would still like to get in your end of the year donations, this is a great option that will have a lasting impact!


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Change Their Story

This past June, a group of friends and I jumped on a plane and headed to Ethiopia for what proved to be a life changing trip for all of us.

As we spent time with the children and staff at I Care for the Nations, we began to learn more about THEIR STORIES.
Most of the children come from single mother households and have experienced much hardship and suffering in their short lives.
The common theme we heard was that opportunities are limited for girls and women (particularly single mothers) to be educated and be able to earn an income and provide for their children.
There are very few social services available so most of the children at I Care have endured chronic food insecurity, inadequate housing, lack of medical care, increased stress and risk of relational breakdown within their families.
Thankfully there is hope and through I Care fort the Nations and Children’s HopeChest the children and women at this care point have begun to receive educational support, discipleship, supplemental food, clothing and relational counseling.
Helping to meet these basic needs is vital at this stage of development, but it is not the long term solution.  The ultimate goal is for these mothers and care givers to be able to provide for their own families and to gain independence through self-sustaining employment.
We’re inviting you this Christmas to join us in making an impact in the lives of hundreds of children. We joined HopeChest’s Change Their Story campaign this year because we believe that every child deserves a life full of joy, love, empowerment, and dignity and every mother deserves the opportunity to raise and provide for her own children. 
So, help make these dreams become a reality and CHANGE THEIR STORIES.
OUR goal is to raise $15,745 to lauch the
“Empower I Care Income Generating Project”
to train 30 women in either COTTON SPINNING or
Any amount will help us reach our goal. 
Click on the link below to find out more and give to this life changing project. 

Give more this Christmas. Join us in giving joy, love, empowerment, and dignity to the kids and women served at I Care.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Something Really Cool Happened......

So many of you know that a group of friends and I took a little trip to Ethiopia this past summer.  God showed up big and did many amazing things during that trip.  One of the really cool things that happened on the trip is that there will soon be one less child waiting to be adopted in Ethiopia.

No, we're not adopting from Ethiopia again,
but our friends are!!!!!

Carl and Aimee

About two years ago, while spending time at the baseball field, we became friends with Carl and Aimee and their two boys Brayden and Blaise.  I'm at the fields so often that it's always nice to get on a team with fun parents as this is my main social outlet these days.  Their son Brayden and our son Colton were placed on the same team for several seasons and as we talked our way through the innings, of course Ethiopia came up.  It's hard for us to get too far into new conversations without that happening.  Our beautiful children are an instant source of curiosity which often leads to talks about the beautiful country of Ethiopia and it's amazing people. 

It didn't take long for me to share about our involvement with Children's HopeChest and child sponsorship.  When our church partnered with the I Care for the Nations care point in Ethiopia last year, Carl and Aimee were the first of our friends to sign up to sponsor  a child.  God used this sweet girl to plant a seed in their hearts.

This is their sponsor child Elshadai.
Earlier this year, I mentioned that I would be going to Ethiopia and casually asked Aimee if she wanted to go.  She said she did, but lots of people say that. 
A few days later, she texted me to say that she really did want to go and was totally serious. 
She threw herself into trip planning and her family even felt led to sponsor another child at I Care prior to our trip.
She was able to meet both of their sponsor girls in June.
On our trip, we were surrounded by the beauty of Ethiopian culture.  Until you go, there's just no way to fully understand what I mean by this, but these are some of the must kind, humble, compassionate and hospitable people I've ever met. 
We were also confronted with the harsh realities of life that many of the people 
there struggle with daily.
God used experiences over the past few years to gently nudge Carl and Aimee towards the idea of adoption, but this trip gave the final push for them to ask,
"What are we waiting for?"
I think these cute kiddos may have had something to do with this as well.

Shortly after we returned home, Carl and Aimee started the process to adopt a child from Ethiopia.  They quickly worked to get all of their paperwork completed and they are now waiting to be matched with a child in need of a family.
We couldn't be more excited for them!!
But, we also know that adoption is a very costly process. 
Carl and Aimee are trusting God to provide all of the funds that they need to complete this process. Having experienced God's faithfulness to provide throughout all of our adoptions and witnessing this with countless other families' adoptions as well, we know that He will do the same for them.
We also know that God often uses others to be his hands and feet and support those who have been called to bring a child into their home and family.
We all may not be called to adopt, but we are all called to do something.
Here's where you come in.
Aimee and her cousin have designed and created these awesome signs to help raise funds for their adoption.
These signs are a great way to display pictures of your sponsor kids and remind you to pray for them.
You can visit their etsy shop here to purchase one.  They are available for a minimum donation of $25 (of course you could always donate more) and can be picked up locally or shipped for a small additional fee.
What a great way to keep those sponsor kids on your mind and help bring a child home to their family at the same time.
It takes a village people, so lets all put our hands in for the Schuster family and be a part of this life changing story.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:16


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ethiopia 2015 Day 6.....Finally

I was on such a roll with my Ethiopia trip posts, and then back to school happened and now it's September.  But, better late than never (that really is my motto now, because as much as I don't like to be late, with 7 kids, it just happens).

I really want to share this day for all of my Trees of Glory (TOG) friends.  Trees of Glory is a care point about two hours outside of Addis in the beautiful countryside. I always love riding out there and taking in all of the beautiful scenery.

TOG is where our first sponsor child Meseret is served and where my dear friend Simret carries out her amazing vision of bringing hope to these kids and the surrounding community.  Trees of Glory is my happy place.  It is so tranquil and the mission of loving the most vulnerable is so clearly carried out here.  I absolutely cherish every minute that I've spent there.  I've especially loved every minute that I've spent with this special lady.  Simret is such a beautiful person and so full of joy.  Her love for the kids in her care and her love of Jesus is why TOG has thrived.

 One of my favorite parts of visiting TOG is the tour of the compound that Simret proudly gives upon our arrival.  Every time I go there are new things to see and so much progress has been made.

Having just spent the previous day with Ayne, visionary of I Care for the Nations, Semri suggested that it would be a good idea for her to get to meet Simret and see how things are done at TOG.  Trees of Glory has been established for many years and started much the same way that I Care for the Nations did.  So Ayne came along with us to meet Simret and explore TOG.  Simret and Ayne have so much in common it was as if they were old friends when they met.  They seemed to have an instant connection and understanding and linked arms as we walked around the compound.  I am praying this was the start of an ongoing relationship as I believe they both have wisdom and experiences to share with each other that will benefit the two care points.

 We toured the new gardens.

There is now a large honey project.  We were lucky enough to get to sample this delicious honey at lunch time.  So good!

This is the new apple orchard.  Simret used the profits from the sale of her chickens to purchase the supplies for the orchard.  The apple crop was profitable this year and they were able to purchase more supplies to expand the orchard.

This is our  awesome HopeChest guide Simri (which is a nickname for Simret).  Simri said that she felt so honored to share the same name with such a great woman as Simret.  

In the middle of our tour, Simret announced that Heidi and my sponsor kids were ready to meet us.
Of course this was one of the highlights of the day.  It was so good to see our sweet Meseret again.  She has grown up so much and is becoming such a nice young lady.

Heidi and her family have sponsored Tigist for as long as we have sponsored Meseret.  I've been able to meet her over the years and bring letters and pictures to her from Heidi. It was so special to be able to see them meet for the first time face to face.

Along the tour, we stopped to spend some time in the new chapel.

I think we all felt like this was a sacred place as we sat in the chapel together.

The school rooms have come such a long way.  They used to just be big open rooms with a few posters and charts on the walls.  Now, they are filled with desks and tables.

They even have several computers in their library which is filled wall to wall with books. I was truly amazed to see kids working at computers.  The very first time I went to TOG, there was no water, no electricity, no furniture, and there were no books.  These changes are remarkable.

We were able to see the dormitories of the children that live at TOG.  Two things stood out.  One, they all now had electricity!  I used to think about how scary it must be to sleep in a completely dark room without the ability to turn on a light.  This is a rural area, so it gets very dark at night.  I am so glad these kids now have power and can turn on a light if they need it. The second thing is that almost all of the kids had pictures and letters of their sponsor families displayed.  These relationships are so important.

And Simret now has a freezer thanks to a generous donor.  A freezer!!!  She will be able to safely store meet for the kids now.  Such remarkable progress.

After the tour we were able to interact with the kids in the dining room.  I was again amazed to see all of these tables and benches.  There was room for all of the kids to sit and eat, something Simret had dreamed off.

They sang for us which always gets me.  I just love hearing these precious kids singing and praising the Lord

After singing and sharing a bible story with the kids, the other team members with kids at TOG got to meet them.

Devin had met Fanosa when we travelled together to meet our sons almost three years earlier.  This picture below is one of my absolute favorites of the trip.  I just love how you can totally see how much these two love each other and were so happy to be reunited.

Fanosa was an orphan child and now lives full time at TOG under the loving and motherly care of Simret and her staff.  She has learned to weave and proudly presented this beautiful basket that she made to Devin.

Cherie also got to meet her sponsor child for the first time.

After a delicious lunch, we once again were able to present every child that was present with a care package from their sponsors.  Many of the kids were not there, but we left packages for each of them and we were assured that the staff would give them out at a later time. 

I've meet these siblings several times.  Such sweet kids.

This is Muse, our friend's the Lesley Family's sponsor child and an adopted child of Simret.

This is Mitiku, my in-laws' sponsor child, which makes him my brother in law :-)

I recognize so many of these kids from my previous trips.  They are all growing up so much!

It was fun for Rahel to finally get to meet Meseret.

I had received a letter from my sponsor child Meseret that said she wanted to be a doctor so I brought her one of my stethoscopes, only now she wants to be a teacher, so we let this boy try it out because he said that he wanted to be a doctor.  I ended up giving the stethoscope to Simret to add to her clinic.

This little one was a baby last time I saw her.  So grown up now!

This little girl is sponsored by our friends and we were so excited to get to hand deliver pictures and gifts to her.

And this sweet girl Genet stole my heart.  She is hearing impaired, but her smile spoke volumes.  She is absolutely pure joy!
Simret has taken in a group of children who are hearing impaired or blind.  These kids had been outcasts in their communities and even kept inside for much of their lives.  They were in pretty poor shape when Simret took them in.  They now live full time at TOG and are being educated and thriving under her care.

 This sweet boy in the video was able to sign for us and translate the letters that these children received from their sponsors.   So some of your letters were translated from English to Amharic and then into American sign language.  It was absolutely beautiful!


We left that day completely exhausted, but so full.  It is always a blessing to be able to spend time at Trees of Glory and see the amazing things that God is doing there.  Trees of Glory is truly a place of refuge and is bearing much fruit.
On the mountain Heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar.  Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of it's branches.
Ezekial 17:23