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!