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

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