Friday, January 31, 2020

Make A Difference in the Life of a Teen

Haddis Ministries Bridge Program

On our most recent trip to Bridge of Hope in Gondar, Ethiopia we were
able to spend more time with the older children who live in the orphanage.
  Most of these kids have been raised at the orphanage since a young age and
are either totally orphaned or their parents are no longer able to care for them. 
For these teens, the staff and other children at Bridge of Hope
have become their family.  


But as they opened up more to us, it became apparent that even in this family
environment, they all have a sense of insecurity that comes from growing
up without the direct support of a mother and father. 

Although the Bridge of Hope orphan care model strives to provide a home-like
setting with nannies serving in motherly roles, it‘s just not the same as having your own
parents who are dedicated to your well-being and future success. There is a profound
sense of uncertainty as they approach the end of their high school years knowing
that they will soon leave the orphanage to attend university or join the workforce. 

The transition between childhood and adulthood is difficult in the most stable of
circumstances.  But can you imagine what it feels like for an orphan? There is no safety
net. They are truly on their own.  The orphanage does what it can to support these teens
and young adults as they complete their schooling, but they have lost a majority of their funding
in recent years and it is becoming increasingly more difficult for them to do this.  

Haddis Ministries already partners with Bridge of Hope to provide sponsorship
to four of the teenage girls.  We have been so blessed by our relationships with them.
They are truly grateful to have sponsor families. Sweet Banche, sponsored by the Mercer
family, when asked how her life has changed since being in the sponsorship program
said, “I feel secure because in the future I will have a family.” She genuinely views her sponsors
as her family and is so thankful to have a family of her own to support her during this next
phase of life. When asked what the best part of being a part of Haddis Ministries was she said,
“Haddis Ministries is teaching us to help others and I want to do this with my life.”  Banche
plans to attend university in September and hopes to become a lawyer so that she can fight
injustices in her country.

And Tirehase, sponsored by the Dunn Family, said this about her sponsors,
“I feel like someone is beside me and there to take care of me and love me.  It makes
me motivated to do well in school.
It is a big change for me.”

You see children who age out of orphanages are at extreme risk.  According to one
study, they are 10 times more likely to become involved with prostitution, 40 times more
likely to have a criminal record and 500 times more likely to commit suicide compared with
the average teen.  Bridge of Hope and Haddis Ministries are committed to rewriting these
statistics for our older kids. Currently, the teens at Bridge of Hope are supported throughout
their college years. The goal is to guide them throughout their schooling and prepare them to
join society as they reach adulthood.  As mentioned above, a loss in funding has made this goal
increasingly difficult to achieve. In response, Haddis Ministries is coming alongside Bridge of
Hope to help ensure that these teens do not become another
statistic and instead have the best chance for success.

In January 2020, we had the pleasure of meeting 18 teenagers living at Bridge of Hope
Orphanage in grades 9-11.  In Ethiopia, you begin school in Kindergarten regardless of your
age, so we may have a 9th grader who is 17 due to the fact that they started school at an older
age. Kids in our teen program range in age from 14-17 years old and it is our hope that they
will remain in the program until they complete university. In response to their need for support
through the high school and college years, we are launching the Haddis Ministries Bridge
Program.   A bridge is meant to connect two things to one another and reduce the gap between
them. This program is a way to fill in a critical gap in care between adolescence and adulthood
for these orphaned teenagers. During this crucial time of transition, we are praying for people just
like you to join us in supporting our teens. Your $38 monthly sponsorship of these teenagers will
help to provide improved nutrition, basic medical care, and educational support through the college
years. Most importantly, it will provide relationships for these kids to know that they have
someone in the world supporting them and cheering them on as they make their way into adulthood.

Our team was so moved as we interviewed these precious teens that three of them were
sponsored on the spot. All three of these guys had such giving hearts and we are thankful that
they now know that they are not alone.  We pray that they will feel encouraged by their new
sponsors to keep pushing towards their goals. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to
harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Go to to sponsor one of our teens.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Spring 2019

Spring 2019 kicked off with track season. 

I'm so proud of all that these girls (and Meron) have grown as athletes and teammates.

We celebrated Easter a little unconventionally by heading to the lake after church.  It was the first weekend that was sunny and almost warm enough for a lake day, so we packed our Easter dinner up and ate on the boat.  We were the only ones there which was amazing.  We took in all of God's beauty around us and enjoyed a relaxing day as a family.

We hosted a friendly game of survivor among the kids.

Nick is the most fun dad.

It was one of those great days we will all look back on.

May continued with two birthday celebrations. 

Hermela turned 15

    And Caroline joined the teen team celebrating 13 years

These guys took to the road 

And our lake days continued. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

January 15th

On January 15th, 2010 Nick and I set off on our first flight to Ethiopia and ten years ago today we met our daughters Hermela and Meron for the first time.  For all we knew it would be our only trip there.

January traditionally is a month of new beginnings.  We commonly look forward with hope to a fresh start as we resolve to do better and be better in the new year.

It was on New Year’s Day last year that I sat dreaming with my friend Heidi about what God had in store next for us. We both have hearts for serving orphaned and vulnerable children and we felt like God was calling us to do more.

The very next day, on January 2, 2019, our friend Misikir messaged me about possibly helping the children of Gondar and Bridge of Hope Orphanage. I didn’t know how exactly we could help, but felt like God had been preparing us for such a time as this. Nick and I made plans to speak with Misikir on January 15th, 2019 to see what we could do.

On our call with him we realized the most immediate need the children at Bridge of Hope had was for food, so we asked him to please find out how much it cost to feed the children and we committed to pray in the meantime..........

If you’ve followed along this past year, you know that God has worked in amazing ways to establish Haddis Ministries, bring us supporters and begin to change the lives of the children in our program

Just last week, on January 11th, 2020, almost 10 years to the day from our first trip to Ethiopia, I landed back in the country I love  for the eleventh time with co-founders Jeanie and Aimee and our first official Haddis Ministries’s team.

While we were in Gondar, Jeanie, Aimee and I had the chance to meet with Tsion, the director of Bridge of Hope Orphanage, over dinner. She began to tell us of their struggles. As she spoke, she told us that unbeknownst to us, on January 15, 2019, at the very time of Nick and my call with Misikir, she had initiated a day of fasting and prayer for her staff. The situation had become dire and there was no more money to buy food for the children. They were out of options and were petitioning the Lord for help.

She told us that following our phone call, Misikir had gone to her and told her about our conversation and how we were inquiring about feeding the children. She said it was an answer to their prayers. 

As she recounted the story, I was overcome with emotion as I realized the significance of this information. To know that God had appointed me, Jeanie, Aimee and our families to help meet this need was overwhelming. It made me feel so special to think that the God of the Universe used me to be a part of this. 

I realized in that moment that it was actually January 15th, 2020. It was one year from the day that the staff had prayed for help and 10 years to the day of my first trip, and now here we sat, in Ethiopia marveling together at what God had done. 

As I look back at the way God has weaved this story, I am truly so amazed and humbled that He chose me to be on this path and be connected with the beautiful people of Gondar, Ethiopia.

I do not believe for one second that all of these events happening on January 15th are coincidences. I without a doubt believe that God still speaks clearly to us. I believe that he has used this date as a way of confirming His call and I will be forever grateful that He has fulfilled this desire in my heart to care for orphaned and vulnerable children.

God is continuously revealing his plan. In the midst of each day we tend to only look at our present circumstances.  This past week I feel like God gave me a glimpse of the big picture and how every meeting, every event, every interaction has a purpose. God is always with us and faithful to guide us. 

In college I had the verse Proverbs 3:5-6 posted on my computer. I saw it most days as I worked on my studies. 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. 

Even when I do not fully understand or know exactly how something is going to work out, I know that I can trust God to guide me and when we follow His lead we find that He writes the most beautiful stories.

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