"But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day." Habakkuk 2:3

Monday, August 30, 2010

Another amazing Gotcha Day video....

This is from one of our All God's Children adoptive families The Strobels
and they just got home with their beautiful daughter from Ethiopia-enjoy!
Then below is a great song-and amazing how they make the sounds!

Meeting Ava Ethiopia Trip July 2010 from melanie Strobel on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


After being told last week that we wouldn't hear any news on court dates until AFTER courts reopen in October, we got a surprise call today from our caseworker, Kiersten. She told us that she had great news for us-since our file was already open in the Ethiopian court system, the courts decided to give out a few more court dates-and we got one!!
Abigail's court session (where several different people have to show up to represent her-an AGCI staff member, a member of the police force, a social worker, etc.) will be on
We will then leave around Nov. 15th and arrive for OUR court appearance on NOVEMBER 19TH and arrive home around Nov. 21st from our FIRST trip to Ethiopia.
We are sad that it is about 3 months away, but excited that we FINALLY have a date to look at! We are going to call and get flight quotes in the morning and see what they look like....we then have our caseworker review any that we find (our itinerary) and when they approve it, we can book it!
Please pray as there are several documents that need to be at the court in order for both Abigail's part and our part to be able to pass. One is the MOWA letter-and many times it isn't there when it is suppose to be-so PRAY!
Pray that the judge and all the Representatives of Abigail will be healthy and let nothing stop them from coming to work on Oct. 20th and Nov. 19th! After these 2 courts are done and passed, Abigail will be legally ours in the eyes of Ethiopia courts!! But, we have to wait for her visa and passport to be ready and that is what the next wait will be for-so that we can then go on the 2nd trip.
Continue to pray for Abby's health as she lives in the orphanage.
Pray that we will get a quick Embassy date after our 2 court dates.....after we pass court-we hope that the trend continues that has happened with the last group (they are there in Ethiopia, just now there picking up their kids)-they only had to wait 3-4 weeks from their court appointment to their return trip and embassy appointment-which is where we can BRING ABBY HOME! This is the part we want to get to as soon as possible. There is still a chance that we can have her home by Christmas-so pray hard!!! If not by Christmas, it will be January.

One less orphan...

I had to share this great testimony to adoption, orphan and widow care-one of our All God's Children's fellow adoption moms is in Ethiopia now and wrote this as she is sitting with her new baby girl.....it really touched my heart!!!

Melanie Behr Strobel Facebook Note-on Monday, August 23, 2010 at 2:43pm
"I am in Ethiopia and since this is my second trip in one month, I can tell you it feels a bit like coming home. There is something here that has stolen my heart. First and foremost it is the birthplace of a little princess who sleeps next to me so sweetly and peacefully. She was born in this beautiful land of great history, beauty and friendly smiling people. She was also born into circumstances that surpass all understanding for many of us. She was born into poverty, perhaps cultural shame or maybe to unhealthy parents who would not be able to care for her. The total circumstances of her birth we may never know but we do know that God perfectly orchestrated her survival and her safety. Of course I cannot explain why her and not all the children we see who endure so much, but I find myself feeling such gratitude to God, who rescued our daughter, first adopted her, and then connected all the many dots to make her our child.
Ethiopia has also stolen my heart because there are so many children who still wait. From newborn babies through young adults, we have seen the staggering numbers who wait to find their last best hope. Maybe it is their hardship that makes me want to pray over each child and ask God to connect with each individual child's heart. They are so innocent in there hardship. I wish I could do more for the children I have met and sometimes it feels strange to know that I return home to fresh food, running water, wonderful schools and many simple comforts. After seeing all that I have seen in such places as Korah or on several of the streets of Addis Ababa, I just know there is more we can all do. International adoption for me has brought me an awareness that I always hoped I would find. Adoption is a feeling of hope and redemption. It is a feeling of being stretched to see the needs of million of children right in front of us. It seems that we as a family have now been entrusted with this priceless little gift and all God asks in return is to pass along the knowledge we have gleaned. I feel that this path has lead me to encourage others to better understand the plight of the orphan or the call of the widow. Help the child who remains behind with sponsorship, help with an education, personal letters, prayer, a visit to he or she through a mission trip or very simply by sharing your own testimony with others.
Tomorrow we head back to a shopping area of Ethiopia called the Post Office shops and I cannot tell you how eager I am to revisit the orphaned children who sleep across the street under the bus station. They are orphans and beg to survive. Not only do they beg for money to eat but one child begged me to bring him to America. His question haunts me yet I find myself giving a wink and a nod to God every time I think of it. Helping one child at a time when there are millions is all we can do. Just BE THE CHANGE for one. Help one. Pray for one. Pay for one. Think of one. Adopt into your hearts or perhaps your homes just one. And all the while thank God for first adopting YOU!
This is my fifth child, Tedessa, who for five years had to dig in the trash dump in Korah in order to survive. With the help of www.p61.com, Tedessa will begin boarding school outside of Korah this September. Education equals hope and it the lives of children such as Tedessa, hope is everything!!!!! Sponsor a child and change a life for one!
This is a link to the Strobel Family's wonderful blog-


Thursday, August 19, 2010

This Week-superheroes, baby registry, Locks of Love, and court info.

This has been an eventful week-as you will read below-one thing that we loved-was we had a superhero visit our house and he is talented in that he can become MORE than one superhero in the blink of an eye!! Check it out...

My mom made Abby this adorable onsie skirt dress-out of a onsie and some material!!! I love it! check it out-too cute!! Thanks mom!

We also finally got to go and register this week at Target for our baby registry!
We didn't keep anything from Logan so are pretty much starting from scratch-but thanks to my sister-in-law, we have gotten some things from my niece that she is done with-I have to say that it is amazing in the last 5 years what new gadgets and stuff they have come up with! BUT, I also have to say that having my sixth child (that feels so weird to say) :-) I also know what you NEED and what you can live without-it isn't like having your first-but some things are really needed and some do make life easier too! :-)

We got our photo book for Abigail together that our agency lets us send over to Ethiopia for her to look at (mostly chew on) it has pictures of adam, I the kids and a couple of her in it...it will be sealed with a big kiss from us that is for sure. It is all we can send her until we pick her up!
As I was going through some totes in the garage this week, I came across these two baby doll twins that I got when I was just a little girl and the cabbage patch craze was going on. I dressed and undressed so many of my babies, but NEVER these-they still have the original everything down to the diaper. I still dont remember WHY I got them or asked for them way back then, but now I know-because someday God knew that I would have a little girl that needed them and would put them to good use! Amazing! I can't wait till she plays with them one day. They are the "preemie" ones -hence the patch of hair on the girl-and are "twins" (so ya, it's also funny that I eneded up having twins too in real life).

This doll below, my mom happened to see at a garage sale near our house while I was selling cinnamon rolls-it is a handmade doll and was only $5! I snatched it up. If you are wondering why I am so excited about finding black baby dolls, you have to remember we live in Oregon-where when you go to a local store, there just are not many if any black babies....so yes, it is a good find! We want to try and find some more for her small and large and different ones. I really want to try and find her a handmade small African rag doll too.

Another adventure this week was-LOCKS FOR LOVE-I finally grew my hair out long enough to donate to Locks for Love that makes wigs for kids with cancer who have lost their hair....I got it chopped off today! Figured that I would do a pre-trip haircut and not change much after she gets home to confuse Abigail more!! Here is the before and after-go here for more information on Locks of Love-and YES you can have colored and highlighted hair, just not bleached-it needs to be 8-10 in. but if it isn't, you can still donate and they use it for bangs or to sell for fundraising. http://www.locksoflove.org/

BEFORE AND AFTER!!!! Don't mind the NO MAKE-UP look! :-) Oh and END Of DAY Look Too! O'Well
Finally about court-we got an e-mail this week from our agency that let us know that they have been notified that we won't hear our court date until sometime AFTER the courts re-open in Ethiopia sometime after September 30th...so again we WAIT-and sometime after they re-open, we will get our court dates (the first two) which will be one for Abby's representatives to go to and then the other for us to travel the first time and go to court. We anticipate this being in November sometime, and then traveling back to pick her up hopefully in December-BEFORE Christmas-is our prayer! But if not, then January.....waiting stinks, but we do get pictures regularly from other All God's Children families that are one of their two trips, and this keeps us going and we know that she is in excellent hands-probably the best that their is actually in Ethiopia as far as orphanages go-from what we have seen, heard and experienced. So we continue to wait and trust that the Lord is watching over her when we can't....it is a true walk of faith, but that's not surprising as this whole path has been! She is 10 weeks old this week!!! Time is going by and yes, we are missing it all, but we are looking at the bigger picture and that is we know she will be here soon TO STAY!!! We pray for and think of her pretty much constantly and you know, it is funny-but it is just like we think our kids that are here constantly-you know even when you are not with them, how they are in your minds pretty much all the time to some extent-they are a part of you-well, Abby is already there! We love you Abbs! Hurry home so we can kiss those ever-fattening cheeks!!!
Here are some eyes that I can't wait to see in person!!! Wish I could share her whole face-but we have to wait!!! So enjoy these precious eyes!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Church is the HOPE

I just finished reading one of my all time favorite books-Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren. The wife of the famous pastor-Rick Warren who wrote A Purpose Driven Life. She has committed her life to helping widows, orphans and especially those stricken with AIDS. http://www.kaywarren.com/pages/
I think that every Christian whether guy or gal should read this-it is amazing! Here is a quote from the book that I love and is so true and challenging: Below are 7 video links about Dangerous Surrender for you to watch.
"I know it sounds crazy, but the church-with all its warts and flaws-has advantages over every other institution in society. More than two billion people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ-and this means that NO organization is bigger than the church. No government, no relief agency-no single country, in fact-is bigger than the church. These churches are scattered in nearly every country on earth, and there are more churches than all of the McDonald's , Wal-Marts, Starbucks, and Macy's COMBINED. Some places have few or no hospitals or universities or libraries, but they have a church!
The church around the world is growing at the rate of 60,000 new converts a day. To stop the HIV/AIDS pandemic requires something growing faster than the 14,000 new infections every day-and the church fits the bill. The church has been around for nearly two thousand years; it certainly isn't a fly-by-night operation. It has a track record of caring for the sick, helping the poor, and leading people to Jesus Christ. Jesus himself told us to go in to the world and do his word (see Matthew 28:19-20; John 17:18)-there is no stronger authorization than that. The church offers love as the motivation for everything we do; the highest call on our lives is to love as Jesus loved(see John 15:12-13). Governments and the private sector cannot love in the name of Jesus: only Christians can do that.......As strange as it sounds, God has put all his "eggs" in one basket, namely, his church. He has no other basket! His strategy has always been to work though his people-first he reminded the people of Israel that they had been blessed to be a blessing to others and gave them specific instructions on how to care for those made vulnerable by poverty, sickness, and injustice (see Exodus 22:22; 23:11); Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 24:17-19).
What I am suggesting is not new! A thousand years ago, this is what the church was known for, and it is what we should be known for today. God has commissioned those in his eternal family to be his hands and feet in the world, to be his choice of love, to speak truth, to act justly, to combat evil, and to do good. Our job is to push back the encroaching darkness and be God's light in a desperately dark world. Our mission is to care for the sick, the widows, the orphans-and to heal in Jesus' name. We are to preach the Good News of salvation and to disciple the nations, bringing all into fellowship with him and each other. The Lord of all calls us to live lives of love, mercy, and grace, thus making the invisible God visible. It's not a matter of one or the other; we must care for both body and soul. We are Christ's ambassadors. If we fail, he has no plan B."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our File is OPEN in the Ethiopia Court System!

We had great news from our Caseworker at AGCI today-our file is OPEN in the Ethiopian Court System-this can usually take 3-6 weeks under the new 2 trip policy and ours only took
3-1/2 so that isn't too bad!
Now within 1-3 more weeks we should hear what our first set of court dates are (the birth family (police, social worker in her case) and ours-they are usually 2-3 weeks scheduled apart form each other. We are praying for OCTOBER-pray people!! We don't want to have to wait until November or there will be a slimmer chance of getting her home by Christmas-which would be the best Christmas gift ever!

Ordinary Hero visits Korah Dump in Addis Ababa Ethiopia-WATCH!

Ordinary Hero~ A day in the trash dump in Ethiopia from Kelly Putty on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blessings from Ethiopia: A question I get asked a whole heck of a lot...

Blessings from Ethiopia: A question I get asked a whole heck of a lot...: "QUESTION: Do you think it's a mandate for all Christians to adopt? [I just got asked this question again on Facebook today. Here's my resp..."

Just say YES....they are waiting!!

No News Yet

Well, we are still awaiting a 1st court date-bummer, it is getting hard, but tomorrow is our travel call with our caseworker, Kiersten and I hope she will either give me a travel date, or tell me when to expect it. It was 3 weeks on Monday that we got our referral and by now, most people have travel dates I think.......On a happy note we have gotten several pictures of our baby girl these last 2 weeks as families who were on either their first or second trip for their adoptions, come home from Hannah's Hope. Baby Abigail is now 8 weeks old and getting cuter in every picture that I see-she is amazing!!! We can't wait to hold and kiss her!

Ok-well, another buddy from our AGCI listserve group posted some great statistics on Ethiopia-and I wanted to share them-thanks Angela http://withlovingarms.blogspot.com/
She has been at #1 for 3 weeks now and we are praying that her referral comes quick! :-)
Here is what she found and her thoughts and statistics about Ethiopia:
Available Care. In the U.S., most children are well cared for in family homes (permanent or foster). Over 2/3rds of all infant adoptions in the U.S. are domestic; healthy domestic infants are easily placed in good homes. Institutional orphanages, which are harmful to a child’s development even if they provide a safe and otherwise nourishing environment, are nearly non-existent in the U.S., and young children living on the street are generally accompanied by their primary caregiver. This is often not the case in third-world countries, where over 70% of children are in institutional care facilities (aka orphanages) prior to being adopted. http://www.aspe.hhs.gov/

In a domestic foster care adoption, we are uncomfortable with the reasons that a child may have been removed involuntarily from his/her home - if the reasons are not severe, we would not approve of the removal, but if the reasons are severe, the child may have ongoing challenges to overcome as a result.
After a lot of thought, we have concluded that there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to adoption, just the right choice for our family. If you are led to adopt, adopt! Adopt an infant. Adopt a teenager. Adopt a healthy child. Adopt a child with special needs. Adopt a single child. Adopt siblings. Adopt domestically. Adopt internationally. Adopt with love in your heart, making the best choices that you can, and recognizing that the result - like everything else in life - may be unpredictable and unprecedented.

Ethiopia has a rich Christian heritage.
Fascinating tidbits:
*Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest countries in the world (over 2,000 years).
*The three colors of its flag, adopted in the late 1800’s, have been copied so much by other countries that they have become known as the Pan-African colors.
*The coffee bean, adored by my husband along with tens of millions of other coffee addicts-aka-connoisseurs, originated in Ethiopia. With its rich soil, Ethiopia continues to be the top coffee producing country in Africa.
*The country’s diverse terrain includes breathtaking waterfalls, some of the highest mountains in Africa (4,500 meters), and one of the hottest places on earth (Dallol). It also has the distinction of having the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa.3
*There are various accounts of a romantic relationship between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, whose kingdom included what is now Ethiopia. Some believe the Song of Solomon refers to their relationship; the imperial family of Ethiopia is thought to be descendants of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
*The Ethiopian Empire was founded by Menelik I, said to be the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.8
*There is credible evidence that the Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia.
*Ethiopia is in the midst of ongoing crises. Poverty, political conditions, and disease continue to increase the number of lost children within the country, while challenging the resources that are available to care for them.
*94% of births do not have a skilled attendant present; 4% of women will die in childbirth.2
The infant mortality rate is still nearly 7%.2 Of the children who survive birth, another 1 in 16 will die before their 5th birthday.2
*The total mortality rate 0(birth)- 5 years old is over 12%.2,4
*Nearly 5 million children are orphans.2 Child (5 - 14 years) labor is over 50%, as is child marriage.2
*40% of children under 5 are moderately to severely underweight, and 50% are moderately to severely stunted.2
*Only 45% of children attend primary school2, and nearly 60% of the population is illiterate.1
*The GDP is less than $900/year/person.1
*Nearly 40% of the population is below the poverty line, living on less than $1.25/day.2
*70% of children adopted internationally were previously living in institutional group homes (aka orphanages).6

Ethiopia values children as much as we do. Some countries place political considerations ahead of their children, imposing exceptionally restrictive requirements and extended processing times on international adoption, while the children wait. Other countries place little or no requirements on adoption, at times making adoption appear to be state-sanctioned child trafficking. Ethiopia, in contrast, has reasonable requirements and time lines, consistent with the Hague Adoption Convention, that place the welfare of the children first and foremost.

34% (1.6 million) of Ethiopia's 4.8 million orphans are "maternal" orphans who have a living father. 52% (2.5 million) are "paternal" orphans who have a living mother. (The remaining 14% are "dual" orphans who have lost both parents.) Yet 32% of maternal orphans (525,000) do not continue living with their father, compared to 20% of paternal orphans (508,000):

widowed fathers give their children up more often than widowed mothers. While I have had it in my mind that my daughter will either be abandoned or relinquished by a single/widowed mother, if she is relinquished, her surviving parent may well be her father
It is not necessarily more likely that relinquished children who are living in orphanages/available for adoption have a surviving father, despite the statistics: 90% of children who do not live with the surviving parent go to live with extended family, but that may break down differently between mothers/fathers.

For example, perhaps fathers generally rely on extended family more often than mothers, and more often send their children to live with relatives as a matter of course, but children who end up in orphanages/unrelated care more often have a surviving mother without extended family support?

I also imagine that a higher percentage of children under the age of 12 months (our parameters) are relinquished by their mothers rather than their fathers, because a mother who gives birth to a healthy infant is less likely than her husband to die of i.e. AIDs or malaria within the first few months. The statistics do not break down into this much detail... (Statistics published by UNICEF, Africa's Orphaned and Vulnerable Generations, http://www.unicef.org/adolescence/files/Africas_Orphaned_and_Vulnerable_Generations_Children_Affected_by_AIDS.pdf) -----
(1)Central Intelligence Agency - The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html(2)UNICEF, http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ethiopia.html(3)Wikipedia.com, Ethiopia, citing various sources(4)World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/countries/eth/eth/en/(5)U.S. Department of State Office of Children’s Issues, http://adoption.state.gov/news/total_chart.html(6)National Survey of Children’s Health, http://aspe.hhs.gov/, http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/09/nsap/chartbook/doc/intro-p.1-8.pdf(7)Based on resources cited by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/s_adoptedhighlights.cfm; http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/s_place.cfm (8)www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/learn/world-vision-ethiopia

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Move Over Cinnabon!!

Well, we did our Cinnamon Roll Sales this weekend at our City's Homer Davenport Days -and it went well. It didn't go as good as it could-the weather was cooler on Saturday and 1/2 of Sunday it rained, so we ended up not even attempting to sell them on Sunday....plus as a side note, Sunday started off really bad as our kids had found a stray dog-a nice looking black lab mix-running around the park and brought it home Sat. night to try and find it's owner....well, we had it in and out of the house and Sunday morning, while I was on the computer trying to put ads on the local newspapers and Craig's list to try and find the owner and my husband came running in-the stray had busted open our guinea pig cage and killed it! I am not a huge animal lover, but it was sad-as this little guy was such a sweet heart and we have had him about 3 years and he is SO tame, never bites, etc....the kids were all crying-not a good way to start a day...so we kicked the dog out of our house and stayed home and picked up, read, etc. the rest of the day-just were not in the mood to sell and with the weather, it was yucky.
POOR Louis!!!

So, between my mom, myself and a good friend Kristy, we made about 12 DOZEN cinnamon rolls and ended up selling a little over 5 dozen....so not too bad for 1 day when we planned on 2. We made $150. So, lets just say that the people at my work the next two days will be happy with cinnamon rolls to scarf down! :-)
We got a "travel packet" from our agency and it came with this cute stuff-(Sorry that I have to black out her face in all of the pictures-the Ethiopian government has a rule that until you legally become parents at court, you can't post their picture on line and our agency even asks us to wait until we get her home to post pictures anywhere on-line. Showing them in person is fine, but we can't post them on blogs, Facebook, etc. They have really tightened down and don't want their children exploited when they are not legally ours-which is reasonable with how much Internet access has become so crazy).
So pray hard that this week we will get our first court appointment dates-we are praying that we will get the October court dates and not have to wait until November. Some families that are just getting back from their court appointments, are getting to go back in as little as 3 weeks for their embassy/visa appointment-where they bring their kids home-not sure if this will change after courts reopen in the fall, but we can hope!

My Mom made Abby her very own security blanket-which is under the sign-I LOVE it!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010



Korah-The Dump In Addis Ababa Where We hope to go

This is painful to read-I read it on another lady's blog that just got back from Addis and visited the Korah Dump-I wanted to share with you all-This is one place that we hope to visit during one of our two trips to Ethiopia-it is heart wrenching and sad-but something I just have to go do and see.
After Jody's description of Korah, at the end are a couple videos that show how the people in Korah live and I like what Jody said on her blog:http://talkissheep.blogspot.com/
It is long-but I think it is important for us to know and hear what actually goes on and how people all over the world are forced to live-it is incomprehensible to us as Americans but it goes on all over the world, not just Africa. I can't believe that for a mere $700 a year, a child can get out of that place and attend school-and not just school-live there-get food, clean water, education! Geesh, we spend that at a trip to Costco! People spend it easily here in America without a thought-and yet it is life changing for them-ONE person at a time-that is how to change this-it will change the world for that ONE and that is the world to them.
I am guilty too-don't get me wrong-but I think that we are so sheltered here in America that we have no idea what goes on in other countries and we are so caught up in our own lives, it is hard to research or even care what is going on, but I keep telling myself that each one of these precious people-adults and children matter and that they are each God's child whom we are basically doing nothing for while they live in poverty. That is a hard pill to swallow!
Adam and I are really having our hearts stirred-not sure where this will lead us or what God has in store. We just want to make a difference-and so after we get precious Abby home and are settled, then we can figure out what God has planned.
Adam and I are looking toward what our plans are after this adoption and how we can help and what we can do. There are several organizations we are looking into and many ways to get involved in helping orphans, widows, poor, homeless, on and on and if each of us did just one thing-the world for at least that person, would be profoundly different.
Right now we are concentrating on getting our adoption done and then hope to jump in with both feet at changing people's lives and I don't really have a plan and we don't know what the future holds, but it has to just be something-do something, ACT..... I know that if we don't, for us, we are just unsettled..during this time, we have been studying poverty and Ethiopia and different countries that are so poor that we honestly don't even have it in our brains to understand-and we just know that something has to be done-we are just one family, but we can make a difference.
Thanks Jody for the great insight into the Korah dump- for information click here:

Sunday, July 18, 2010 -JODY WROTE:
Korah Day
"*THIS POST IS LONG AND GRAPHIC-consider yourself warned!!!*
Korah. It means 'cursed child'. And that sums up where we went today so very well. Korah is the community IN and surrounding the city dump of Addis Ababa. It is approximately 130,000 people, who are the least of the least in Addis—it used to be a leper colony and there are still folks living there with leprosy. They are a community shunned by the people in Addis and considered forgotten. We began our day by getting things ready to head out, packing up donated items to meet some of the needs of the children in Project 61.
Project 61 is a ministry of a woman named Summer, who came to Ethiopia for the first time in January and went to Korah, was moved in her heart and called by the Lord to do something about it, and returned in March to nail down the ministry plan with some locals in the Korah community. She then moved with her entire family (hub and 3 young children) here in June, after selling everything they had. Yes, for real. And I have met her and she is normal and friendly and sweet-and amazingly humble. The folks in Korah love her and say she is an angel sent by God.
We stopped on the way to Korah to buy some sheep/goats to feed the kids at the project lunch today-turns out the $ we had bought 4 goats--which were purchased from a herd on the side of a street, lashed by the feet and tossed, alive, on top of one of our vans. Grocery shopping, Ethiopian style :) We got to Korah and got out to the sound of children singing off in a building through a gate. The walls and gate to the church shelter are painted bright, bright blue and this place stands out in stark contrast to the squalor around it. We got a quick tour of the dorms in the shelter which houses 26 children. They were relatively clean and well kept, yet very sparse and not anywhere even close to a "dorm" in the US. The doors were low and some of the guys had to duck to get inside and the walls were made of mud strengthened with straw. After a few minutes of meeting some of the children who swarmed us in the street, we got split into 2 groups, one going into some of the "homes" around Korah to visit and meet the families, and one going into the actual dump to meet a family who lives there. I was in the second group so I can only report that side of the story. And finding the words to do so is not going to be easy. But, it needs to be told....
We began walking down a rocky path off a side street, which itself was muddy and trash-covered. There were people everywhere, especially coming out to look at us ferengis (white foreigners) walking through there. They were mostly friendly and welcoming when I would smile and wave. We could tell when we were getting closer to the dump by the smell. A team-mate offered me some vicks vapo rub to put up my nose but I told her no. It was horrible, but I thought I could stand it. It wasn't until we started into the edge of the actual dump, beside the rapidly cascading streams of raw sewage and walking through the squelching, trash-laden mud, that I finally began to gag and could not stop—I managed to squeak out yes to the vicks, please, and promptly coated the inside of my nostrils. I never thought I would love that stuff so much. The stench was indescribable, really. Trash of every sort all over the ground, in the weeds, with a narrow trodden path through the middles of it that we were being led down. I was informed we were not actually yet IN the dump at that point, just on the outskirts-um, WHAT? How could it get worse?? We traipsed down down down a grassy trashy hill and finally arrived at our destination-the home of a boy who is in the sponsorship program at the church shelter where we had first arrived. We all ducked through the low tin door of this home, which consisted of mud and straw walls, corrugated tin/cardboard roof, and a dirt floor. There was a narrow bench running along the back wall on which all 12 of us tried to sit, but some spilled over onto the floor. There were large posters of Jesus and Mary on the earthen walls and a scraggly plaid curtain hanging from a string in the corner, and I'm still not really sure why. There was this main room and a small sleeping room off of it, which had a filthy blanket on the hard floor, I presume where they slept. This whole place was about the size of our dining area at our house,which is not big by American standards. The family of Haptamu had set out the items to do a coffee ceremony for us-which pained me for them to make popcorn and coffee for us when I knew they had nothing. Not "not much", nothing. The father rose and spoke to us via translator. He thanked us for coming and helping his family, explaining that he is too old and weak to work and his wife used to pick through the trash for metal that she would sell, but she was too tired to do it anymore. He could not provide for his family, but the church/school (part of Project 61) was making it possible for his children to have a good life. He told us how he had lost one house there in Korah and the one they were in now could be gone at any time as it was on government land, technically, and if they decided they wanted to bulldoze it or dump trash where it was located, they certainly could and he would have no home. One of his sons is actually going to the University in the fall, which is truly a MIRACLE, along with Haptamu's schooling that will begin in September. He was so thankful, I felt so unworthy of his thanks as we had done nothing really but come visit at that point. Summer asked Kelly if someone from our group would feel comfortable sharing about the Lord and why we were there so Kelly stood up and, with the help of a translator, told him that we were sent there by Jesus to help them b/c they were loved by Him. And that we are grateful for what we have so that we can share it with their family. She also shared with them that in heaven, where we will see Jesus, there is no sickness, and no poverty-we will all be free, and we will all be brothers and sisters, no difference, no outcasts. It was a holy moment in that mud shack.
After this, the family made line outside their home where they shook our hands and hugged us and thanked us again. My heart just hurt for them to think that they live in that dark mud house, in the midst of filthy trash, and here they were graciously serving us coffee and hugging us just for being willing to come where they spend every.single.day. We trekked up the hill and turned left to head into the heart of the dump. I re-loaded my vicks after another round of gagging and sheer willing myself not to vomit. We walked along a very narrow path that was muddy and every now and then covered in crazy swarms of ants (which very quickly crawl up your shoes and bite, and hurt, btw) There were streams of brown, repulsive water flowing from several points, all the drainage from the mountains of trash. Although my jeans were rolled up, they still ended up smeared with the oozing mud, particularly after a wrong step sent a blob squirting up the back of my uncovered calf-yes, it was as disgusting as it sounds. We made a precarious leap over one of the streams of trash water and at that point were "officially" in the dump and were no longer allowed to take photos. I will try to give you a word picture then.
It was unreal. Swarms of human ants, all over the piles of rotting trash-bones, old shoes, tires, torn fabric, old food, and on and on. Big black vultures circled over-head. One of the girls showed us one of the plants on the ground that people there eat, growing right in the middle of all the trash. The women were all clad in belted gowns of trash bags. They carried MASSIVE sacks on their back as they would leave, filled with scraps of plastic or metal that they had found by digging through the garbage. They were covered head to toe in the same mud we had walked through, and yet when Summer would see them, she would walk up, embrace them and kiss their face without hesitation. They are the mothers of the children in the project. Some came to check us out-a few were sponsored children that will go to school in September. One gave me a big hug and in the process her mud-covered sack slid across my bare arm, leaving it covered with....I don't even want to know. I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible as I wiped it on my shirt so as not to appear ungrateful for her embrace. We walked on a bit more and for some reason, the 2 large pigs surprised me-I had never seen pigs here in Ethiopia before! They were doing what pigs do best, being gross in the mud, right nearby to a woman digging through some trash. I walked a bit with one of the guides and he told me the small bunches of animals we saw-some goats, a few oxen, pigs-were part of farms. Farms? In the DUMP?? He told me yes, and they plant vegetables there to eat and try to sell. No, do not think of a nice tidy community gardens area or a pretty rolling green Virginia farm, think of a foul-smelling, disease-laden pit of filthy rotting garbage-and the animals standing atop small piles of trash and some sort of scraggly plants growing here and there-a farm in Korah. I shudder to think what is in that soil, and therefore their food. This is why there is disease, this is why they die, this is why children here have no mothers and fathers.
We finally came to the end of our "tour" through the dump and walked and talked on the way back with Summer and one of the guides about their project. The one boy who came as a guide used to "work" in the dump (read: pick through garbage to make a few cents a day) but now comes to the project's summer camp in hopes of getting sponsored and then sent to the boarding school. The sponsorship, which is $700 per year, covers everything for a child: for the rest of the summer, they go to the summer camp where they get one decent meal a day, and then in September they will go to a boarding school which is 3 hours away. They will have covered: room, board (3 meals a day), books, tuition, hygiene needs, uniform, and transportation to and from school when needed during breaks. They have room for 200 at this school and have 130 sponsored already. The boy who was working as guide told me "sponsors-this give us hope, a great lot of hope!" as he patted his chest. Summer explained that the children literally view their sponsors as saviors b/c it means they get to get out of Korah. She said many of them refer to the sponsors as mama or abat (dad) and she and the staff (all Ethiopian except her, most from the Korah community as well) try to cultivate that relationship between sponsor and child, rather than it just be $$ coming in. We passed another group of mothers of the children from the summer camp and she was greeted warmly by all the ladies-the boys in our group from the project said "Summer, she is our strong sees-ter!" to which she simply giggles a dismissive response.
We arrived back at the church alley and as I walked up to the group of other team mates and swarms of little brown-faced kiddos, a dark mahogany-skinned girl I had not remembered seeing before came up to me. She stopped in front of me and pointed to herself and said in a tiny sweet voice "my mother?" and made the gesture for sleep with her hands by her head. I had a feeling she was not telling me her mama was napping and she confirmed my fears when she repeated "mother? mort (dead)". I told her I was just so sorry and I hugged her, and then I felt something I had not yet had happen to me-this broken little child was clinging around my middle and crying in my arms, for her dead mother. And then this broken-hearted white mother was crying too, and holding that girl for dear life, telling her I loved her and I was just so sorry. I knew it must have been recent since she was still openly crying about it. She and I became inseparable from that point on and I made some inquires as to her story and status in the program. It turned out she had just been there 2 days around the project and her mother had died and she had held her mother's dead body for 2 days before she was told that her mama was dead. Her grandmother, who she now lived with, is crippled (and possibly had leprosy? Not totally sure) and had dragged herself (I was shown a gesture of pulling herself with her arms) to the church to see if they could help in any way. Well, to make a long story short, guess who now has a sponsor and is headed to boarding school in the fall?? My girl Nesenet!!! (Oh and Pat? guess what honey!? Another girl for us!) We went right into the office that minute and got it squared away and I was just not prepared for the men who worked there to get up and kiss my cheeks and tell me, "thank you thank you, God bless you, sister". And the news spread like wild fire-those kids know the word sponsor and they all kept coming up asking "sponsor?" while patting my arm and pointing to Nesenet. They were so excited for their friend, it was so humbling to see them rejoicing for her. I felt so humbled and so ungrateful of their attention-b/c really, in the grand scheme of things, $700, for a year of completely covered everything, that would change her life forever???? Even with a tight budget, I knew that would not be a terribly big deal to come up with since it was God put that little girl in my life (hmmm, Etsy shop has a new focus I'm thinkin').
After some time hanging out (which included several thumb wars-did not know that Ethiopian kids knew that but turns out it is international!!) with my new daughter who will live in Ethiopia, I got to watch the slaughtering of the goats we had purchased earlier. Oh my word, I cannot say enough how grateful I am once again for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for me so that I still do not have to offer animal sacrifices like they did in the Old Testament. I did not think it would bother me as much as it did, but wow, after a few seconds of when they began to pour the blood out of it's neck into a bucket, I needed to be done watching. (I also got to watch some of the skinning and let me tell you, you praise the Lord every time you walk in to Kroger and buy a nicely wrapped package of meat) Those 2 goats ended up being cooked into an enormous amount of stew for all the children and we got bread as well. We were not sure if it would feed them all since they had also brought in any of the street children that had been hanging around the group so I got out my Bible, read the story of the feeding of the 5, 000 to myself and prayed for the same-and those children all got full tummies today. Just for the curious, we did not eat the goat stew, we ate rice and bread that had been packed for us by the guest house-not sure if the stew would have been good or too traumatizing, haha
After lunch, Nesenet came and found me and sat on my lap while we had another coffee ceremony. Oh how I love the bunna here. We all then left the compound of the church and headed to a "field" to play soccer. We walked down through muddy streets running with some sort of murky whitish water that again had me fighting back gagging. There were people everywhere living in places that defy description, some round huts made of hay (like in our cartoons), some in piles of tin arranged to make some sort of lean to, some just in the dirt with their things in piles. Small children just stop and go to the bathroom in the street (which is made of rocks and mud) and so many of the children have no shoes or shoes that bear no resemblance to actual foot protection. I walked the whole way with Nesenet glued to my side, holding my hand, arm around my waist, while 3 other children also held onto various fingers of mine all at the same time. We went down a very steep rocky hillside that I found challenging in my top of the line hiking shoes, and down which these children ran like it was a flat grass path. We arrived at the bottom to the most beautiful area-an open space of dirt surrounded by Eucalyptus tree skyscrapers all around. Nesenet got very excited and tugged me over to this hillside saying "water water" and I looked over the very step edge to see a rushing brown muddy river-it was amazing! She told me "koshasha" which apparently means "dirty", which fit. Some kids were playing in it and a girl tried to get me to go down and go in it with her-no way, jose!!
We spent the rest of the afternoon there just playing soccer, sitting and loving on the kids, etc. Nesenet wanted to see what was in my backpack so I showed her and when I showed her the band aids, another little girl grabbed her friend's feet and thrust them toward me. Both of her little ankles had small open sores on them where her ill-fitting shoes had rubbed. I cleaned them off with an alcohol wipe and put band aids on them, only to turn around and be brought another older girl with a large sore on her leg. I took a deep breath, asked God to help me out on this, and wiped her off with another alcohol wipe, took out some first aid tape I had and a stack of tissues and taped them over her wound securely. (FYI, I told the director Sami and he will be getting them both taken care of at the church, just for you Mom and Tracy, since I know you are reading this and yes I was careful and yes I cleaned my hands afterwards.) I had several more kiddos come over for me to check spots on their faces to see if they too needed band aids-seems like it is universal for kids to want band aids!! They were all ok and too soon it was time to walk back up the steep steep hill and head toward the bus to leave.
Leaving Nesenet was very very hard-she has had enough loss, I didn't want to add more. I gave her a special stuffed bunny to remember our day together and told her we would write letters and she would too, from SCHOOL!!!! And I cried, a lot. She stood outside the bus waiting the whole time for us to leave, moving at all times to make sure I was in her eyesight and giving me a big grin and a wave any time our eyes met. My heart was so full, and so aching. Any of those children there could have been my daughter Zoe had God not brought her to our family. Between that and leaving Nesenet, my heart had had a workout. Then Sami (who himself grew up in the trash dump) got on the bus to tell us thank you and God bless us and that no one comes there to Korah, not even people from Addis-it is a forgotten, shunned commuity-but we gave them hope that they are not forgotten. Oh my heart! We came back, ate a very small supper and met and talked about what was next for Korah. Kelly and Shane had met with the directors for a bit asking how we could continue to partner with them. It was explained to Kelly and Shane that no one comes there, not even ambulances if people are sick and when Kelly asked how they get the help they need, they were told "God sends us angels like Summer, and your group." Apparently we were the first group to stay and play with the children and feed them-others had come and toured, taken photos, and left. We had no idea and so we are all committed to letting people know about these beautiful people so that they WILL NOT be forgotten. We are their voice and want them to see that God's people take seriously the command to love people. If you want any information about getting involved, please let me know. We have some goals in mind to work toward for them, one of which is filling all the possible sponsored child slots at the boarding school.
The rest of the evening was an uneventful wrestling match with tortoise speed internet and a chilly walk back to the guest house where I sit, trying to sum up a day that defies description in hopes that I can be a small part in helping these people to have hope that others care and think they are worth every minute and a million more...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This was so well written from a family that just got home from Ethiopia

This was posted on the blog of another AGCI family who just got home from their 1st trip of the two to Ethiopia. It was very thought provoking and I want to share it on our blog for some "food for thought" It really made me think and I know that we will come home with some of the same thoughts as we are already feeling them. Thank you to Kristin for this great and challenging blog post-here is their blog:
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Africa Reflections
Since I couldn't blog during our trip, I wrote a journal entry daily on MS Word that I will try to edit for posting here over the next several days. Because I hope to put this this blog in a book format someday (somehow people do that), it will be pretty detailed because I want to remember everything. SO, I apologize if I bore anyone reading! For now though, I wanted to get my immediate thoughts down after this life-changing week. I'm in a bit of a fog right now because of the jet lag (3am now Addis-time), but I feel tremendously grateful and blessed by all that we experienced last week and now here at home. I really don't think I can put it all into words, but I feel the need to try somewhat lest the experience not fully sink in. And I want it to melt into my heart, blood, and soul. We went to Ethiopia to meet our son (he is an awesome little guy and it kills me he's not with us!), but God had even more in store for us to encounter. I cannot walk away from life so drastically different from my own and not wonder, "What am I doing here?" I don't know that I feel called to leave the comforts of our home and community in PA but I do know that I'm a bit uncomfortable with it after seeing some of Africa. I truly believe that people everywhere-- rich, poor, good, bad, happy, sad-- need the same thing: Jesus Christ for a fruitful, fulfilling, and eternal life. To that end, I know that God will use me wherever I am. But, is my life focused on His will or am I motivated by my own perceived needs and desires for comfort?This past week, we did without many of the luxuries we take for granted and that give us "fulfillment" at home (and we stayed in a pretty nice hotel). God met the needs He knew we had. Without our wonderful community of friends and family, we made a new community of terrific people that I'm so glad we met and now can't imagine not knowing. We were so thrilled with our agency and the way that everything was handled for us as adoptive couples having to make this 1st of 2 trips. Hannah's Hope is a lovely place, and we saw that our children are in great hands. With regards to culture, this was a first experience for me in being the minority, and by minority I mean the only 2 white people among thousands of black people at times. Often we were stared at, sometimes we were smiled at, and a few times we were glared at. In addition, people in desperate need surrounded us whenever we left the confines of our hotel-- children carrying children, barefoot, begging for money, tapping on our car windows, kids in the street constantly selling things to us, wanting photos taken of them (for Birr), and some just wanting a hug. Yet they were often smiling. We saw the huge gap between the rich and the poor with no one in the middle. We saw people working very hard, whether shining shoes, plowing fields (old wooden plows with donkeys), or working construction (scaffolding made of thick sticks!). Our taxi driver who is doing "well" by Ethiopian standards lives in what we would consider a shack with no running water, heat, stove, bathroom, shower, etc. with his wife who also works and has a university degree and 2 sons. Yet, he invited us over to his home for a traditional coffee ceremony and time with his family. Our adoptive children came to the orphanage starving because they had little to no food and now, their bellies are big and round as they've tried to make up for so much missed nutrition and growth. We ate almost every meal in our hotel, rarely leaving except to go to the orphanage, museums, shopping, or short walks. The hotel staff, museum guides, taxi drivers, orphanage staff, and everyone we met in Ethiopia was unbelievably gracious, kind, warm, and friendly. We all wanted desperately to "help," to make a difference for those we met-- how hard can it be to get our taxi driver his own car so he doesn't have to split his pay with a boss? How hard can it be to get every child shoes, get them off the streets, out of the city dumps, to give them an education and hope for a future? How hard can it be to prevent and treat malaria so that parents aren't dying and their kids wandering the streets? At home, I go back to eating fruits and vegetables which we couldn't eat this week, to drinking tap water, Diet Coke, and Starbucks, to going to the grocery store and Target to get whatever I want whenever I want, to exercising several times a week because I can, to signing my kids up for camps and lessons because they're available, to driving my car on very good roads without breathing in tons of exhaust, to using a washing machine, dishwasher, oven, shower, etc. I know I cannot do these things anymore without thinking about how insignificant these things are that often consume our thoughts, conversations, and time while much of the rest of the world is focused on survival. I can't help but think that perhaps if more of our conversations were spent talking about plans to help others, more of our money spent on making those plans feasible, and more of our time and energy spent on putting those plans into action= being the hands and feet of Jesus, the world would be a different place. Instead of letting culture dictate what defines and drives us: beauty, wealth, education, skills, reputations, and stuff, we let God define and drive us. At home it's easy for me to get caught up in American culture and let God in where it's convenient. In a third world country, there is no convenience: God is #1. I believe that Americans are in a position where much has been given and much is expected BUT not without much blessing in return. It's not difficult to turn off the tv, so you avoid seeing the poverty worldwide, to drive through impoverished communities to get to luxurious all-inclusive resorts for vacation and never leave it, to change thoughts when it occurs that perhaps we could do something. But what if you researched a little, started asking questions to others and God about what you could do, visited a 3rd world country or inner city projects, served at a homeless shelter, sponsored a child so that he/she could go to school, or looked into adoption. What if you established a relationship that would require something of you that you didn't know you had. There is risk involved and you could be stretched, but if you keep your eyes on Christ, He promises to be your strength, shield, guide, comforter, and rock. You will grow, and oh, you will be blessed. As we continue to seek God's direction for our lives in coming home from Ethiopia and preparing to return again for our precious son, I am overwhelmed by God's faithfulness and blessing for us each step of the way. I am excited about seeing where God takes us as I think of all the wonderful possibilities there are. Whether involvement in one or many organizations-- Wiphan, Lifesong, Project 61, Childrens Hopechest, Visiting Orphans-- or Galen's continuing education toward his MBA in Microfinance for developing countries. The future, long and short, are unclear right now but one thing is for sure: I am the sheep on Jesus' heels, His robe between my teeth so that I stay right where He's leading. If I go astray, I pray He takes His staff around my neck and pulls me right back in behind Him!

Also, here is a video that really put the number of orphans 143,000,000 in perspective for Adam and I-

I Think We Washed Every Car in the City!!!

Well, our car wash was a huge success and great fun! We washed just about 30 cars in 6 hours! The weather actually cooperated well-warm but not hot. Thank you to everyone that came to get their car washed and especially to the people that volunteered their time to help wash-we love ya! Thanks to you all, we raised $363 !!
Got new pictures of our baby today-she has certainly chuncked out and if I didn't know it was her, I wouldn't recognize her! What a doll-I can't stop starring at them!

Our Airport Homecoming for our 2nd Adoption~

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Our Journey up to our Referral

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Seble's Referral Video

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"Although it may not always be obvious to us, there seems to be one distinct moment when God begins a new story in each of our lives. He writes words on our hearts that long to be spoken and strain to be lived out. Then with His own great hand, He begins to write the script. Experience by experience through seemingly ordinary days, He supernaturally orders our lives. Only when we look back and reflect on what appeared to have been the ordinary events of life does it become clear what a miracle the Lord has performed." Jan Beazely

LUCY LANE-AGCI-ADOPTION VIDEO! This inspired us to follow our dream!


What Adoption is About! What a Testimony! Lundy's Adoption

We Love this family and this video is inspiring!