Friday, November 30, 2018

Thursday November 29, 2018

Our last day was jam packed as we wrapped up at three different locations.  We started the morning with an hour long drive back to Holeta.  We helped the kids write to their sponsor families and complete an art project.  The were so well behaved.  We had 36 seven-year olds in one small room.  They all worked quietly and diligently to complete the project, sharing the supplies with each other.  

Our sponsor child Desta was in this room, so we got to spend some time with her as well.

Then it was lunch time, Orange Mirinda soda and sandwiches.  The Mirinda comes in glass bottles that have to be returned.  Knowing this, many of the kids returned to the care point with plastic bottles from home and then poured their soda into them so they could take their drinks with them and savor them or perhaps share them with a sibling at home.
 All of these girls go to school together. 

After this, sweet Lomi sought us out to say goodbye.  She was much less shy today and it was nice to see her smiling and more comfortable. The fact that we were spending time with her at all was an answered prayer. We learned just before our trip that Lomi had moved away from the care point further into the country side about a month prior and was no longer in the program.  I was so disappointed to hear this. The kids at our church have formed a bond with her and have been so eager to support her through sponsorship.  We prayed that we would at least get to meet her while we were in Holeta so that we could tell her in person how much she is loved, even if it would be for the last time.  Well, God worked out a little miracle and shortly after arriving to Ethiopia we found out that her mother decided that the school in Holeta was better for Lomi and they had recently moved back so she could again be in the sponsorship program. Her home is still a 30 minute walk to the care point, but Lomi does not seem to mind the walk and appears thrilled to be back in Holeta.

After saying goodbye to all of the kids, we headed back to Korah to pick up the rest of our crew and say our goodbyes there.  I got to see Ato, the elderly man that required medical attention earlier in the week. He looked so much better and smiled and praised God for his recovery.  We are praying he will be back on his feet and fully recovered soon.

Then it was off to I Care to meet the 21 kids who do not have sponsor families there. We got some great pictures of these kids and got to know a little about each one.  I’ll be posting details on how you can sponsor one of them and be a part of the great work that is taking place at I Care.  Ayne then generously gifted us with beautiful traditional Ethiopian dresses for the girls and shirts for the guys.  They are some of the prettiest designs I’ve ever seen.  She has great taste.

We stopped and picked up dinner at the best restaurant in Ethiopia, Bake and Brew.  It’s a newer restaurant owned buy a guy from UK and it has the most delicious breakfasts, sandwiches and desserts.  It’s completely up to code and you can even eat salad there (although I still didn’t branch out too far, I did have the avocado toast a couple of times and spinach and mushroom omlette).

We wrapped up our day relaxing and packing at the guest house before heading to the airport. From the time we got dropped off at the airport until we arrive back at home it will be about 32 or 33 hours of travel time.  As I type this, we are on hour 4 of an 8 hour layover in Turkey.  The girls are working on math homework, Nick is sleeping and we are chilling in a quaint cafĂ©. I was dreading this layover, but it has actually been rather nice to hang out here.  Next time we fly this route though we will plan on staying in the airport hotel which has an hourly rate.  Our next flight is almost 12 hours to DC and then just a short hour and a half flight home.

We are so thankful for our time in Ethiopia.  Thank you again to everyone who made it possible.  I always say that I have to go back periodically to reset my focus.  To have distraction free time in a home with 8 children is a complete luxury. It  is always a blessing for me to get away to the place where God meets me so closely. So, until next time, “Chow Ethiopia, ameseganalo!”

Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land. Proverbs 25:25

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wednesday November 28, 2018

Today started out very early.  We woke up at 5 am to beat the traffic and go to Trees of Glory. It was the first time we were on time for our departure all week.  We even were a little early, you’re welcome Fekadu.  We tell him we are on Habesha time now because we are always running late. Today he was proud of us.
After a rather eventful drive (a long traffic jam due to an overturned beer truck and several near death experiences-thank you Fekadu for only making them near death and not actual death experiences), we arrived in time for breakfast with Simret.  It was a delicious traditional Ethiopian breakfast with almost all of the ingredients coming from her farmland.

It is quite amazing to see all the ways that she has utilized her land.  Nothing goes to waste.  In addition to the cows, she now has horses, donkeys and goats and sheep.  We even witnessed two baby sheep just minutes after they had been born interacting with their mother.  She is down to 10 chickens but has plans to expand her flock to 500 once a new chicken house is built.  The previous chicken house is now being used to house the oil press and for processing sunflower oil which they sell for profit.  Another new project that we saw was her fishery.  She turned the old concrete swimming pool into a place to raise fish to eat and also sell. Everything has a purpose.

The children have all grown and are thriving.  Most of them were at school and her own son Mitiku even finished second in his class.  She is now taking in referred children from the government as needed and had several babies and toddlers.  Some of them have medical needs that she is able to coordinate care for. She is currently raising 47 children as her own in the dormitories and said she is praying for 100.

Simret said to tell everyone thank you for your continued support.  She knows that it is God who is working through you to help them succeed at Trees of Glory.  As usual, our time with her was refreshing and we are always in awe of her ingenuity, creativity and resourcefulness. This care point is working towards independence and we pray that goal will be realized soon.

Additionally, we got to spend time with our sponsor child Meseret.  We began sponsoring her in 2010 and she is now 17 years old and in grade 10.  She hopes to become a doctor and her favorite subject is Biology.  A girl after my own heart.  She looked wonderful and has grown up in the past three and a half years since I last saw her.  It was nice to be able to introduce Caroline and Meron to her and for them to spend time at a place they have heard about for so long.

The country side was absolutely beautiful and was a much needed reprieve from the congestion of the city.  Trees of Glory is living up to it’s name and providing a much needed refuge for all of the children that it supports.  Simret sights this verse as her inspiration for Trees of Glory.

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 its branches. Ezekiel 17:23

Tuesday November 27, 2018

Tuesday November 27, 2018

Today was I Care day.  Of all of the care points we visit, I Care has one of my favorite model of support.  They focus on training the mothers and grandmothers who care for our sponsor children so that they will be able to become self-sufficient. This makes the most sense to me because you help the whole family, not just the child in a way that is sustainable and promotes independence.

When I first went to I Care in 2015 it was a much different environment.  The women all have difficult stories and you could see it on their faces.  There was sadness in their eyes and many tears.  Now, after participating in the woman’s support groups, they have all become much more confident and they exude joy.  Ayne has taught them to not have shame and to share their hardships and successes with each other.  We listened to the stories of four women and they all explained how being involved with I Care has transformed their lives.  They have hope now and are able to support their children with the training they have received.  Each of them have used this training to create new businesses and they serve as an inspiration to the other women in the program.

Ayne is a visionary and is helping these women to attain many useful skills.  She is also focusing on the moral development of the sponsor children.  She knows that just providing for the physical needs in not enough, so she seeks to educate them on ways to be healthy, have positive relationships and fulfill their responsibilities in the community.

Over the years, I have built a bond with my sponsor child, Besufakad, and his mother Genet.  Genet is a strong woman who has overcome many obstacles in her life.  Since my last visit, she has had a precious daughter, Edilawit (which means “the lucky one”) and we were all so excited to meet her.

Our kids had a good time playing with some of the sponsor children while we were there.  During our time together at the I Care compound, I had the sense of being at home and amongst friends.  It made me wish we did not live so far away.

The care point has faced many problems with securing a rental space.  In their current space, they use the income generating project room for many uses. The women in the cloth making job have made some of the most beautiful scarves.  The work is of very good quality and you can tell that they are made with love and pride.

We feel so lucky to have the relationships that we do in Ethiopia and we pray for the continued favor of the Lord on all of their work.