Friday, October 30, 2009

Back to Ethiopia!!

How does God continue to see fit to take an ordinary suburban couple- a homeschool mom and an insurance/surety bond underwriter guy and continue to plunk them down across the world... where they are privileged to look into the eyes of some of the most amazing and humble servants of Christ and take even a small part in some of their work? Where they can visit some of His precious children in some of the direst circumstances any of us could ever imagine? Give them the privilege of seeing first hand what our great and mighty God is doing in this world? HOW is this possible? As I write this today, I am again humbled and astounded at the opportunities which lay before us as we prepare to leave today for a week in Ethiopia. We will be gone from today (the 30th) through next Saturday (the 7th). We are packing a LOT into just a few days, and we will praying that God will stretch our time. He will make it work!

Originally another friend and partner in our non-profit was going to go with Luke, but praise God, their adoption travel dates to China have moved up and he must save his days off of work. Luke and I began to pray about the possibility of me going instead, and God miraculously provided the funds necessary... so here I go! I've been busily packing, getting the boys packed and their schoolwork ready to stay with our amazing friends (the family whose dad was originally going to travel with Luke), Bethany ready to stay with her amazing aunt, putting together packages for the kids in the orphanages we will visit, preparing my school plans and menus for when we return... all the "mom" stuff and all the mission stuff at once. Our God is so faithful to provide me with the energy, brain cells (!) and resources to do the things He calls me to do. ALL of this is SO far above me, and so far out of my comfort zone. Yet, here I go! Amazing. Glory to God. (Oh!! And He also knew we would need 3 pieces of our heart necklace, so we can each have a piece while we are separated- one with me, one with the boys, and one with Bethany. He is a God of little details!!)

We have been privileged to serve on mission teams with some of you reading this. Many of you have been with us on these trips in just as real and tangible a way through your prayer support and contributions to our church and non-profit ministry. It is an unspeakable blessing to us to know you and work along side you on this side and on the other side of the oceans, making known the great name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom and through Whom are ALL things. We love you all!

Some have asked what we will be doing during our week on the ground in Ethiopia. By God's grace, and keeping in mind that "man makes plans, but the LORD directs his steps" (Pr. 16:9), here is our itinerary for the week. We humbly ask that you pray for the names and ministries below with whom we will be meeting, and that God would provide even more "divine appointments" as we seek to minister to all with whom we come in contact as well as prepare to bring future teams in 2010.

Getahun Tesema - founder/President of Bright Hope Organization (a.k.a. Buckner/Bright Hope) a large, effective NGO involved in nearly a dozen ministries. We’ll visit at least a couple of these projects. Getahun’s wife, Tegist, is the director of Buckner/Bright Hope’s children’s home – their combination orphanage & transition home (where our son Minte lived) We will also visit this home during the week.

Joe & Karen Bridges - leaders in Ethiopia for their 501(c)(3) out of Tennessee called The Foresaken Children. From their website: “...exists as an advocate for Ethiopia’s children at risk by building sustainable financial support for Christ-centered Ethiopian organizations working with children at risk, and helping these organizations to develop into strategic, long-lasting interventions.” Joe & Karen moved to Ethiopia last year, along with their two children. They work closely with their Ethiopian NGO partner, Children’s Home Ethiopia, to run both a boys’ home in the Lafto area (near the guest house) and a daytime drop-in center in the Mexico area. (another area of Addis…)

Wondwossen (Peter) Abera – founder of Compassionate Family International, an Ethiopian NGO which operates two drop-in centers we will visit. One is within walking distance of the guest house in Lafto and the other in the Kechene area of the city. Peter is just an outstanding, humble, joyous servant who has blessed us just by his friendship, let alone the way he cares for those in need.

Ephrem Hagos – Ethiopia Guest Home manager and leader of his own soccer/sports ministry to street children. We’ll visit the site of the soccer ministry which takes place nearly every afternoon, and probably take some of the kids out for a very special meal that evening (for us and them). With one or two of them on each of our arms, we’ll visit the local Ethiopian version of Starbucks/cafe and spend some time with them… giving them a voice while we hear their stories.

Beza Entoto Outreach – through Beza Int’l Church in Addis, a multi-faceted outreach program primarily aimed at the HIV/AIDS community on Entoto Mountain. Aspects of the program include: job creation; Self-Help Groups - like life groups with a micro-finance twist; weekly children’s ministry; health care. We’ll visit not only the Outreach center but also the Entoto community as well.

Win Souls For God – a ministry based in the heart of Addis and run by a small group of energetic, giving young men. We’ll hear about their ministry and visit at least two of their projects: a shelter/home for women rescued & rehabilitating from prostitution; and a vocational training center where boys rescued from lives on the street are learning a trade – in this case weaving very intricate fabrics.

Bole Bulbula – an impoverished rural village that lies literally right behind/next to the airport in Addis. Our non-profit has taken steps to sponsor some of the children there and to provide vocational training opportunities for some of their parents. We’ll visit the village along with Pastor Abdissa Bente Leye of Addis and the local leader in Bole, Pastor Gezahegn Megenassa.

Kids’ Care and A-Hope – two larger orphanages located in Addis. In contrast to the smaller Buckner/BHO children’s home that serves as both orphanage and transition home, Kids’ Care is a large orphanage where children are waiting to be adopted through one of at least four different agencies (from the U.S. and several E.U. countries). Typically, when children have been “referred” or matched up with adoptive families, they will move from the orphanage to that particular adoption agency’s “transition home,” a smaller facility. A-Hope is one of the largest orphanages serving predominantly HIV-positive children.

Elolam orphanage – serving a small rural area near Debre Zeit, south of Addis. Our organization has been working with this orphanage to facilitate the paperwork needed for children at this home to be eligible for adoption.

Additionally, Luke and I are personally going to visit the home of Minte's extended family and take this opportunity to update them once again with photos of Minte. Luke had the opportunity to visit them last January and all of Minte's relatives and neighbors were most overjoyed by a tangible reminder of how loved Minte is and how we regard them as important in his/our life. It is an amazing privilege and opportunity to maintain this connection.

Again, thank you for all of your prayers, interest, and participation in our work. God is doing a mighty thing in this generation! May He bless you richly, and we pray you will return with us to Ethiopia at some point in the future. "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." (W. Carey)

I'll update when we get back!

Eph. 3:20-21!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Go Make Disciples

I know we're not in full time missions, but as I'm zipping up bags this week for another trip (by God's grace!!) to Africa, I really needed to hear this this morning. Amen and amen!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Menu and an Ethiopian Recipe

Happy Monday!! Has it really been a week already since last Monday? Time really does fly when you're having fun. Yes, it is fun raising kids and all that it entails!

Speaking of "flying" that's what I'll be doing Friday. My husband and I are leaving for Ethiopia for a wonderful missions opportunity with our non-profit! Isn't that amazing? SO, since I'll be away from my kitchen for over a week and won't be here to deal with leftovers, I am only cooking for two nights this week. Then it's "YO YO" ("You're On Your Own") nights for two nights so we can eat all the food and clean out the fridge. The kids love YO YO nights. They can eat whatever - leftovers, sandwiches, breakfast for dinner... anything they want to make and clean up after. (Having a posted menu helps on nights like this, so everyone knows what leftovers are available.) I'm also planning on how brain-tired I'll be when we get home from a week in Africa, so I'm making extra enchiladas and putting them in the freezer. This serves a double purpose: it helps me when I get back and also satisfies our desire for Tex Mex which we always get when we travel to other parts of the world. Like, outside Texas, LOL.

Since we'll be apart for a few days, I decided to cook two of our family favorites this week, one from each continent.

Monday: Chicken Enchiladas, black beans, corn casserole
Tuesday: Y'Assa Wet (Spicy Ethiopian Fish Stew) <-- and="" below="" lentils="" recipe="" see="" span="" spicy="" style="font-weight: bold;">Wednesday: YO YO
Thursday:YO YO
Friday: Ciao! Off to Ethiopia! (Kids to their fun friends' and aunt's houses)

Here is the recipe for the Ethiopian dish I'm making this week. ALL of the Ethiopian food I make (which I try to do weekly, you can read more about why here) is with ingredients that can be purchased at Wal Mart or any grocery store. The only things that can't are the bere bere spice, and the injera bread with which you scoop up each bite. We don't even use utensils on Ethiopian food night. Isn't that fun? So, please be encouraged! If you can find an Ethiopian market somewhere to purchase the bere bere and injera, the rest you can do yourself. I know some who make their own injera, something I want to tackle someday! If you don't have access to bere bere spice, you can order some online at a site like this one.

So, here's my recipe, which is adapted from the book Exotic Ethiopian Cooking.


Ye' Assa Wet (Spicy Fish Stew)

3-6 medium fish fillets (I typically use frozen tilapia)
2 cups chopped red onion
1 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup water
3 TBSP bere bere spice (or 4 if you're feeling brave)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 tsp. black pepper
sea salt to taste

Cut the fish into small pieces and place into grill pan. I use my kitchen scissors (like I do for everything!) and this is super easy! You can also use a small skillet. Brown the fish without oil.

While the fish is browning, brown the onions in the 1 cup of oil in another larger skillet.
Once onions begin to brown, add bere bere.
Once bere bere is stirred through, the onions begin to shrink up a little.
Then add the wine, a little at a time, continuing to stir so it does not burn. Alternate adding water a little at a time.
Once fish has cooked for awhile, it will become white and flaky.
Simmer the sauce for about 15-20 minutes to let the wine and spices blend.
Add cooked fish to the spicy stew mixture.
Once fish is added to to the spicy sauce, here is what it looks like. This has become one of our favorites, and it is very quick to put together. It is light, spicy and a wonderful taste of Ethiopia!

Serve with rolled up injera bread. An easy side dish with this is boiled lentils with a dash of bere bere spice in them and maybe a few red onions as well. I highly recommend the Ethiopian Cooking books in my sidebar for lots more recipes and side dishes that compliment this recipe.

For more menus and recipes, visit Laura at Have a yummy week!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Works for Me: Not Saving Steps

By now you may have read or heard the recommendation that you should take at least 10,000 steps per day. I first heard of that while we were on a trip to China back in 2007. Our friends were wearing pedometers and keeping track of their steps. Over there where we walked everywhere that was absolutely an attainable goal! Once I got home, I bought a reeallly cheap pedometer by the register at Walmart, and I was amazed to see that I, too, took close to 10,000 steps per day, even though I was at home all day or driving around town! Then I realized that it was SO cheap that it counted 3 steps each time I sat down in a chair. It registered 4 steps when I was, um, in the restroom. Well. Hmph.

Anyway, I've never invested in a better pedometer, but I have started the habit of taking as many steps as I can during the day. Just now I was hanging some clothes in our master closet and laid them all on my bed. I would walk to where the clothes were, pick up one article of clothing, walk through the bathroom into the closet and hang it up, and go back for the next one, rather than take the whole pile into the closet. It didn't take that much more time and gave me a few extra steps.

So, that's what works for me... a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom who doesn't have that many steps built into my day. I do work out and have a treadmill, but I like to build more steps into my daily routine to reach that 10,000 goal. Every step counts!

To read more "works for me Wednesdays" or to share something that works for you, visit We Are That Family. Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday's Menu and Minte on the Mend

"...and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
Acts 14:17

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. We FINALLY, after weeks of rain (which we desperately needed) had some very welcomed SUNSHINE. Oh how I loved having my windows open, moderate temperatures and sunshine and breezes going through my house! Last week my sweet son Minte had his first illness since he's been home with us (adopted from Ethiopia a little over a year ago.) Poor thing! So, I got a chance to get in touch with my inner "germaphobe" and not only disinfected everything I saw, but used the "down time" to deep clean, move furniture, clean baseboards, etc. It feels so good... and now he does, too. He was much better by Saturday. I feel like we are ready to have a clean, healthy start to our week. At least I hope so.

With the onset of flu season, and especially the H1N1 strain, I have been reinforcing the hand-washing at our house big time. Even older kids need to be reminded! (The main two who need reminding are 11 and 13 year old boys. Need I say more?) I put a big pump bottle of hand cleaner gel in the kitchen and every. single. time. they enter the kitchen they have to "scrub in." Even if they just washed their hands a few minutes earlier in the restroom... I want them in the habit of cleaning their hands upon entering the kitchen. I know, this may be the start of some OCD-like tendencies for them, which I sincerely hope not, but I need visual confirmation that they've cleaned their hands before they start rooting through the fridge or pantry or touching utensils and cups. Hopefully we are keeping the flu virus at bay!!

With his first US illness (which is amazing considering he's been here a year) he got the full treatment... a "nest" on the couch, movies, card games, read alouds, lots of gatorade and juices, popsicles, and nonstop Mommy-love. Last week I shared a soup recipe I had made up on the spot, and that inspired me this week with a sick one. So, I did it again. SO simple! I know I'm the last one on the MPM list almost every week, and probably the last one reading this who has ever made up their own soups, but I'll share what I did... SO fast, and so much healthier than premade canned soup (less sodium, for sure).

1 boneless chicken breast
1 can low sodium chicken broth
1 cup "rainbow rotini" (multi color spiral noodles)
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables

I just boiled the chicken until cooked, then removed the chicken to cool a bit on a plate. While the chicken was boiling I boiled the pasta. Once the chicken was removed from the pot I added the extra chicken broth for flavor, and also the vegetables. I brought those to a boil while I shredded the chicken I had removed. I added the shredded chicken back to the soup pot and added the pasta. He really liked it!

Here is our menu for the week:

Monday: Baked Pesto Chicken, Italian Pasta Stir Fry
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice, cornbread
Wednesday: Ethiopian food night! Minchet Abishe (spicy beef) and Yeatakilt Wet (cabbage and potatoes)
Thursday: Southwestern Pumpkin Soup, crusty wheat rolls
Friday: Eating out at our church's fall festival

To share your menu or to see more menu plans and recipes (not to mention some wonderful organization tips from someone who really knows her stuff!) visit Laura at

Have a yummy week!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Our TV Debut!

Recently we got to do something so fun! We were able to be part of our ABC affiliate's morning television show, "Good Morning Texas." We have some sweet friends who own a WONDERFUL company called "Adoption Bug" that sells adoption-themed apparel. Our fun friend was invited to be on the show and she needed some models for her t-shirts. She asked if our family would be interested. Since God seems to have taken to having me live my life on just the other side of my comfort zone I said we'd love to! SO... without further ado...

Not that I want you to watch it again (please please no...) I must add a little commentary. I had NO IDEA the host was going to ask me to turn around. Really? Turn around? On TV? Turn around where my backside is? After I got a chance to watch the footage I saw that I did make sort of a "seriously-I'm-supposed-to-turn-around-I-wish-I-would've-spent-more-time-on-the-back-of-my-hair" face. Fortunately for the viewers what they needed to zoom in on was, um, north of the waistline. (Unlike the day before when some women had been modeling leggings. ::shudder::) See the thing is, I totally forgot there was a scripture on the back of the shirt. So for a milisecond I was completely at a loss as to why she would want me to turn around. And the host called me "mom" and I wasn't sure who's mom she was talking to. Plus the hair thing and the lingering thought that the camera adds 10 pounds. Anyway, there's our 23 seconds of fame! (And Tammi comped me this shirt for showing my backside on TV. Well, well worth it!!)

Oh, BY ALL MEANS do click on over to and order some shirts! They are precious!!

And if you haven't yet, I sincerely hope you catch the "adoption bug" in your family. You'll never be the same! Adoption ROCKS!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Soup On The Spot (And Menu-Monday-On-Tuesday)

Well we've sure had our share of rainy, cold weather lately. From looking at the radar, it seems like many of us have! Here are the kids on our annual trip to the State Fair of Texas in front of Big Tex. You can see the gray skies behind him, but the rain held off for a cool, crisp afternoon and evening of fun at the fair last week! In true form, I ate all of the disgustingly awesome fried food I could handle. I. Love. It. This is one time per year that I own up to my fried-food-loving tendencies, and give in to them. Filed in the "Oh Yes I Did" file this year: fried Snickers, fried Oreos, and (OHYESIDID)- Deep Fried Butter. It was actually like a really buttery biscuit ball. Oh, yummo. Add that to the funnel cake our family shared and the tamales I didn't share with anyone, and it was a veritable smorgasbord-orgasbord-orgasbord of gastrointestinal fun.

So, now you may not ever want to read my menus or try one of my recipes again. Ever.

But in case you still do, here's a soup I made up on Sunday! I know this may not earth-shattering to anyone but me but I've never started with just a boiling pot of water and just added ingredients before. It was lots of fun, and turned out yummy! Now that I'm feeling all chef-ish and creative, I thought I'd share! I'll even come up with a fun name:

Cyndi's Sunday Soup on the Spot

chicken (whatever's left in the bag of frozen chicken... 1-3 breasts or 5 tenderloins)
1 cup (ish) frozen corn
1 15 oz. can red beans (drained)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
2 tsp. powdered taco seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. minced onion
2 tsp. parsley flakes

(In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I just added the measurments above. I was just shaking, sprinkling and stirring, so I'm not sure how much of anything I really used. Except the cans.)

Boil chicken in a medium-sized pot. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove and shred. Add tomatoes, beans and corn and minced onions to chicken stock and stir until corn is cooked. Sprinkle in onion, garlic and parsley. Add shredded chicken back to soup and stir until warmed. Serve with crunched up tortilla chips and maybe a dollup of low-fat sour cream.

And now for Monday Menu: Tuesday Edition (which seems to be my new thing, LOL)

Monday: Hawaiian Meatballs, brown rice, stir fry
Tuesday: Out
Wednesday: Ethiopian night! Ye'Doro Wet (spicy chicken), Gommen (spicy collard greens)
Thursday: Baked Spaghetti Pie, green beans, garlic bread
Friday: Black Eye & Vegetable Chili (from Fix It and Forget It), cornbread

For more menus and some GREAT organization tips, visit Laura at Have a yummy week!

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm Sure Bono Would Approve

A few months ago I *almost* ordered U2 tickets, but felt a tug not to... wasn't sure why.

Turns out, the money I would've used is helping my husband and I RETURN IN JUST A FEW DAYS to "where the streets have no name."

I'm sure Bono would approve. :)

(More details coming soon. I'm SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!)