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Monday, 16 May 2011

Another Great Blog

In the absence of my blogging (more is coming, I promise!), go on over and visit my mom's blog about our adoption - Road to Addis. She just updated it after a long break!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Day Six Part I

    Day Six was spent in a variety of different ways - everything from holding babies to feeding monkeys. The monkeys were pretty cool, but the best part by far was meeting the director of the two orphanages we visited and hearing her vision. Stephne is a South African woman who moved to Ethiopia because her husband, a dentist, was going to do some dental work in Ethiopia. Stephne wasn't looking for a job, but she was soon asked by an organization if she would run their orphanage program. After the initial reserves and concerns resided, Stephne agreed and has since, by the power of God, run an amazing program.
     She met us at our hotel on the morning of Day Six and took us to one of the orphanages that she runs in Awasa.




The orphanage in Awasa

     She, together with her assistant, Hanook, told us about the history, vision, and current news about their orphanage. We were absolutely captivated.
Hanook and Stephne
     They each shared their stories (Hanook quit his successful job to join Stephne - he now specializes in maintaining a fabulous relationship with the government, a relationship crucial to running an orphanage), their desire to help the community (the organization they work for views adoption as the last option - their desire is that orphans stay in the community with close relatives and the organization invests a lot in community work), and the joys and struggles of running an orphanage. When talking about working with abandoned and orphaned kids, Stephne said, "We cry here more than we laugh. But there will be rejoicing in heaven." 
     After hearing their stories, we walked through the orphanage and snuggled the adorable little babies. Due to privacy restrictions (these kids will be adopted out of Ethiopia) we weren't able to take pictures. However, just imagine about the cutest baby you possibly can, multiply it by five, and you've got the baby I held. 
     Finally, we detached ourselves from the babies and joined everyone out in the courtyard for a delightful time of drinking more coffee and hearing more stories. 
One of the caregivers performed the coffee ceremony for us. It was amazing.

Tamara and Stephne clicked right away.


One of Kenny's many cups of Ethiopia coffee. 

     One of the stories Stephne shared with us is that Ethiopians drink this powder made by crushed grain dissolved in tea. It's highly nutritious, and it's commonly used for pregnant women in hospitals. After much research, Stephne has developed her own mittin, as it's called in Amharic, made from eleven grains native to Ethiopia. She kind of stumbled upon the mixture by accident, but after sending it to a nutritionist back in the states she discovered that her mixture is the perfect blend of grains resulting in the best possible amount of nutrients and vitamins. They have started making it by hand at the orphanage and feeding it as a supplement to the kids. The results are obvious - the baby I held had clear skin, shining eyes, and made my arms sore to hold! Always a good sign. Stephne is in the process of patenting her mittin and is hoping one day to open a facility to produce it. And that's where her vision really kicks off. Her dream is make a self-sustaining village dependent on the mittin sales which would employed by handicapped people. All the proceeds will go to fund an orphanage in the center of the village. Tamara asked her if, once this village is up and running, she would consider having high schoolers or college kids come and help out for the summer. She said yes. Hmmm, something to think about...
     Even though that was all the interaction we had planned with Stephne and Hanook, we were all too fascinated to be done. Very graciously, they both agreed to take us to the other orphanage about ten minutes away. We again held babies and chatted with Stephne and Hanook. By then, it was early afternoon, so we all went out to lunch together.
     Before we left for Ethiopia, Tamara and Darlene (both veteran missionaries) went out and bought gifts to give to the people we met in Ethiopia. How glad we all were to have something, even if it was small, to offer to these two!


Tamara picked out the towels to give to an American missionaries - she knew how much they're coveted overseas. And she was right!

I absolutely love this picture because of the faithful woman who's reading the book. 



*     *     *


     A couple weeks after ago, Tamara heard some news about Stephne. An outbreak of measles and pneumonia swept through the orphanages and took the lives of six kids. We had probably held some of them. So if you think of it, pray for Stephne and her orphanages. 
Is not this the fast that I choose... to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him... Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.' ... if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."
Isaiah 58:6-11

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Day Five

     Can you believe it? We are now officially halfway!! This is kind of a big deal for me - hey, I haven't even finished my scrapbook from last year.
     Day Five was mainly spent leisurely traveling down to Awasa, a sizeable city outside of Addis. After a pretty intensive Day Four, our team leader, Mike, graciously let us all sleep in a little at our compound before cramming into Land Cruisers, yet again. Since the drive to the village was so squished and hot, we decided to take our time with this trip. After attending the MAKBC staff devotions, which Kenny led, we came back to the guest house to pack and eat a quick lunch before setting off. About halfway into the trip, we abruptly pulled off the road and into a sunny, grassy little hotel. One look into our scary, colored eyes surrounded by pale white skin and the staff were all too glad to let us invade their outside dining patio. We used the reprieve enjoyed breathing in the fresh air, drinking the strong coffee, and laughing with each other.

(L-R) Mike K., the guy who made us laugh, and Mike M., the guy who made our trip happen

Elise

(L-R) Pastor Kenny and Binyam (Alemnesh's son, our translator and friend) enjoying a story
Dave enjoying his coffee and his God

     There was an interesting building in the back of the hotel, but the guard was adamant that we not take pictures of it. I'm not sure why all the caution was needed since I'm pretty sure it was just a bar.
     After our coffee break, we hopped back in the car, stopping once more for some wildlife along the side of the road... Camels. Of course. 


     Although the car ride was pretty long, I was able to use to journal, steal Elise's copy of Future Grace, and think about the fact that I was within driving distance of the town that Lizzie and Sadie were from. After such a success with finding Sami (no idea what I'm talking about? click here for enlightenment), I was entertaining the though that maybe, just maybe, I could find their birth father. We knew a man in Awasa, Adhanom, who had found the birth father and brought him to Addis when he needed to appear in court to finalize the adoption, and I was hoping Adhanom could find the father again.
     During the car ride, however, I was content to look out the window at the rural villages whizzing by and imagining that one of them might have been Lizzie and Sadie's. I marveled at the fact that the old man walking along the road might be the man who gave life to my sisters. And I got teary when little girls covered in dust waved to us as we drove by - they might have been Lizzie and Sadie had God not called us to adopt.
     We arrived to a rainy Awasa around seven that night. We all ate supper in the hotel's restaurant, thoroughly enjoying the Western food and TV. None of us had any idea what was going on with all the revolutions, so we were all surprised to read the expanded list of countries in revolt. Adhanom, who's nephews and nieces my dad had helped bring to America, came over to eat supper with us, and told me how much he loved "Mr. Joel" several times. I think he was rather hurt that I was staying at a hotel and not at his family's house. He made me promise that the next time my family was in town, we'd stay with him. I talked with him and Alemnesh about finding the birth father and they both agreed that it was crucial that I find a phone number or address for him. I tried to call Mom and Dad several times on our team's cell phone several times until finally the network wasn't overwhelmed (it was almost impossible to get a call through in Ethiopia from 6-8 because so many other people were making calls). I got several names of other people to call to try to find out info, but nothing concrete. I went to bed discouraged, but trusting that if God wanted to me meet the birth father, he'd make it happen.














































Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Button Clinic

Family owned since about two weeks ago, Button Clinic is a local, privately owned medical practice located just outside of Stillwater. We specialize in big, painful shots and vague operations in the stomach and intestinal area. We provide quality care while at the same time making you feel like a part of the family. Come see us today! 

The Staff
 
Emma is the only practicing doctor at the Button Clinic. Known for her quality care and ability to solve any problem, Emma as been sought from countries as far away as Ethiopia. 





 Zeke is the nurse who can usually be found assisting Dr. Emma in shots. He specializes in check ups and is known internationally for how precisely he weights his patients.






 Levi is the Button Clinic's medical counselor and although he is often busy with other duties, including an intensive bike training routine and a comprehensive reading program, he offers the world's best care when you or your loved one is going through a medical problem.







Sadie was our X-Ray technician, but was recently terminated as a result of unprofessional job behavior, including jumping on the bed. We are currently searching for a replacement.







Our Patients
The Button Clinic has successfully treated thousands of life-threatening diseases, as well as many distinguished patients including the Crown Princess of Ethiopia and Buzz Lightyear. 






So stop in and see us today! You won't find better quality care anywhere else!


Successfully treated for a huge mass in her stomach, Sadie is now fully recovered.

Nurse Zeke treats Sadie as a medical student observes.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Day Four Pictures


For the complete (well, almost) set of pictures from Day Four, click on the picture to be taken to the Picasa album!

Day Four Part III

I'm sorry. It has been forever since I've blogged about Ethiopia. And I wouldn't be surprised if some of you have completely lost hope of ever hearing about my whole trip. But, school is finally wrapping up and I finally have a day off from work, so I have some free time. I'll try to be better!
     Well, in this overcast, somber, chilly weather, I feel like sunny Ethiopia is a long way away. It really is, isn't it? That's why I love blogging (sporadically!) about it - it makes the trip seem just a little bit closer. I'm going to try to make my posts just a little bit shorter because it seems like each ends up as a novel. If I start rambling, feel free to dump a bucket of cold water on my head and remind me that this is a blog, not a book.
 *     *     *
     It was with much gratefulness and relief that we all piled out of our hot, stuffed Land Cruiser into the somewhat cooler, dusty air of the village. All around us were dirt fields covered tall, sharp, yellowed grass surrounded by mountains in the hazy distance. After we had time to stretch and exchange reactions about the giant "god" tree, we followed our guide through the outskirts of the village and around a small clump of trees which gave way to a mud, straw, and stick building. This was the church.
    
     The villagers eagerly invited us inside the dark, small, dusty little church. The sun shining through the opening of the building illuminated the church's pews - skinny wooden planks protruding from the wall. 

     Pastor Kenny laughed to himself, "If anyone ever complains about a church plant again..." 
     After everyone had filed in and completely filled up the benches, Pastor Kenny stood up shared a quick encouragement from Acts 4, when the believers pray for boldness. 
{Dave (left, yellow shirt) was filming and the church planter (right) was excitedly taking pictures}
 At one point, he asked if anyone had a Bible. A a frantic whisper spread throughout the church until the translator turned to Kenny. "They only have one Bible," he explained. A woman jumped up and sprinted away. Two minutes later, she came back and proudly handed a worn Bible to her husband. He stood up and softly read the verse in their language, Oromo. (Note: Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, but many more people speak Oromo). After Pastor Kenny's message, a few of the twenty members came to the front and shared their testimonies. I regret to admit that I was unfortunately distracted by the persistent flies landing on my feet and the crowd of staring kids (and teenage boys) outside the church. There is one, however, that I remember (most of it - some of the details may not be totally accurate). A young man stood up and shared that the village witch doctor had killed his parents and siblings. He fled to Addis, to the home of his Christian sister. She challenged him not to end up worshiping and dying for the tree like his family, and he accepted Christ. He came back to the village where he and twenty others now live as followers of Christ, not the tree.
     After the testimonies, we all gathered outside of the church to hug, talk, and take pictures. 
{One of the two church planters and a church member}

{The other church planter, Ashanafi (left) and our amazing driver, Sami (right)}


{Tamara discusses "healing crusades" with Ashanafi}

{Mike K. showing pictures of his family to the enraptured kids}

{Dave totally loving the fellowship with his foreign fellow brother in Christ}


    Finally, as the blazing sun started to sink, our team, the church, and all the other assorted people who had gathered to watch this spectacle made our way back to the land cruisers. While crossing a stream, I slipped and my dirty feet ended up in the even dirtier stream.

      I couldn't help but think of the verse, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."   
      We said goodbye to the miraculous church and staring villagers, hopped in the cars, and drove back to Addis, passing by the big tree once again.










Saturday, 23 April 2011

Good Friday Spillover


     I discovered the beauty of this prayer last night at 10:30. By the time I realized that I wanted to blog about it, it was a little on the late side. So I'd like to post this as a reflection of Good Friday, even though it's a day late.
     This is taken from "The Valley of Vision," a collection of Puritan prayers:

Love Lustres at Calvary

My Father,
Enlarge my heart, warm my affections, open my lips,
supply words that proclaim 'Love lustres at Calvary.'
There grace removes my burdens and heaps them on thy Son,
made a transgressor, a curse, and sin for me;
There the sword of thy justice smote the man,
thy fellow;
There thy infinite attributes were magnified,
and infinite atonement was made;
There infinite punishment was due,
and infinite punishment was endured.
Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
cast off that I might be brought in,
trodden down as an enemy
that I might be welcomed as a friend,
surrendered to hell's worst 
that I might attain heaven's best,
stripped that I might be clothed,
wounded that I might be healed,
athirst that I might drink,
tormented that I might be comforted,
made a shame that I might inherit glory,
entered darkness that I might have eternal life.
My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,
groaned that I might have endless song,
endured all pain that I might have unfading health,
bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem,
bowed his head that I might uplift mine,
experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,
closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,
expired that I might for ever live. 
O Father, who spared not thine only Son that thou mightest spare me,
All this transfer thy love designed and accomplished;
Help me to adore thee by lips and life.
O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise,
my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my enemies crushed,
Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed,
sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood,
hell's gates closed, heaven's portal open.
Go forth, O conquering God, and show me
the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save.  

     May your Easter weekend be filled with wonder at the incredible transfer that God designed from before the foundations of the world.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Spring has Sprung

Minnesota Spring (n) - the long-awaited season of the year when winter finally breaks and a pure euphoria fills everyone as snow melts and flowers bloom; also the ability to celebrate the Minnesotan spirit by making sure that the Vikings' colors bloom first.


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Day Four Part II

     Here's a depressing fact for your day: By the time the average American is 75 years-old, he or she will have spent nine years of his/her life watching TV (Myer's Psychology). That is crazy. And sick. Just think what you could do with nine extra years if you stopped watching TV.

Anywho.

     As if Day Four wasn't exciting enough with seeing Fikre Addis and Mekdes, God decided to throw in a little extra surprise because He hadn't done enough already. Let me go back just a little...
 
     Last year, several guys from our team raised money to pay for a well to be dug in a little remote village about an hour away from Addis Ababa. Everything was going well until the well drillers hit a stubborn layer of rock. Without the money or the tools to blast through the rock, the well digging had to halt, and an unfinished well sits there to this day. Even though that progress had to be stalled, something even better was going on. MAKBC, the church we spent most of our time working with, planted a smaller church in another district of Addis. In turn, the smaller church sent two evangelists to plant an even smaller church... in the village.

     That was the story Mike and Fikadu shared with us during lunch that Saturday. As we bumped along the gravel roads up to the village, crammed into the Land Cruiser, our guide decided to share a little more about the village. I guess they figured that now that we were stuck in the car with absolutely no possibility of turning back, they could tell us the whole story. He turned around to look at us sweating in the back seat. "So, they worship a tree." I guess he decided that was the best way to break it to us. Whaaaaa? "You will see a big tree as we enter the village - that's the one they worship. There's a witch doctor in the village who claims that the tree speaks through him. He is possessed with a demon and goes into rages in which he goes out and grazes in the field by the tree. After his fits, he claims that what he said was the tree speaking through him." Um, whoa. I bet the Travel Channel has never seen something like this.
The rest of my journey up to the village was spent wallowing in self-pity and sweat. I was intrigued about the village, but I was, I regret to admit, too distracted by the heat and the squished-ness of the Land Cruiser to think any more of it. I was broken out of my selfish reverie by the sudden appearance of a giant, lofty tree in the middle of a field. "That's the tree," our guide said.






Monday, 28 March 2011

Another Blog

Hello folks! I should have shared about this wonderful blog a long, long time ago, but it kept slipping my mind. Finally, I have remembered to let you in on a marvelous, well-kept secret. Elise, the other teenage girl who went to Ethiopia, writes a blog where she crafts stunning posts filled with gorgeous, breathtaking photos from the trip and short, sweet summaries of each day. I obsessively check it every day (even though I was on the same trip) just to see and read the unique perspective she has to share about each day of the trip. If you have a minute and want to be blessed by a truly amazing blog, click here or visit www.hiswaysarehigher.wordpress.com.



Just to let you know - I am risking Elise's bitter wrath for daring to post a  picture of her (she wouldn't even let me tell people when it was her birthday!!). But you have to see for yourself what a gorgeous, godly, loving young woman she is. :) Sorry Elise! Don't be too mad.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Day Four Pictures

Day Four, Part I

You know, each time I write about a day, I want to say, "Now, this day was my favorite!" But then I start writing the next day and I realize that one is truly my favorite. Until I start the next day...

Alright, so day four was definitely my favorite. Just like day three, and day two, and day one. Day Four I finally got to see my sponsors girls. Last year, our team interviewed over fifty kids in two communities and then came back to the states to find sponsors for them. I fell in love with Mekdes, one of the first girls I interviewed. Unlike all the other little kids, Mekdes was the only one not completely terrified of me. She looked me in the eyes, laughed at my lame jokes, and answered my questions herself. I came back to America completely taken with Mekdes and started sponsoring her. It was really neat because at the time, I didn't have a job so I was kind of worried about paying each month without draining my savings account. However, each month, God gave me some weird opportunity like babysitting, taking care of dogs, or working outside. He kept that up until I got a job, so I've been sponsoring her for a year. My family is sponsoring another girl named Fikre Addis. She is the cutest, sweetest, prettiest little girl I've ever met (besides Mekdes of course) but what really sealed the deal was her name, of all things. Before we changed her name, Sadie's original Ethiopian name was Fikre. Weird right? But there's more. Addis is the name of the girl who inspired our family to adopt (for more about that story, visited roadtoaddis.blogspot.com). In honor of her, Sadie's middle name is Addis. I think that was a pretty clear sign that our family was supposed to sponsor her. When my mom went to Ethiopia to pick up the girls, she was able to visit Fikre Addis' home and buy her groceries. Fikre Addis was wearing the same coat when my mom saw her and when I saw her. I blogged from Ethiopia about Fikre Addis here but I didn't get a chance to blog about Mekdes.
{I'm just going to copy this more or less right from my journal}
It took us about thirty minutes to get from MAKBC to Gulele after teaching the childrens' "Saturday" school. When we pulled up, we were greeted by yet another crowd of children. A quick glance revealed no Mekdes among the crowd. I absentmindedly shook hands with some of the kids, but there was no Mekdes and I was tired of getting excited to meet my girls only to find out they weren't really there. I had some shred of hope that maybe all the sponsor kids were somewhere else, so I asked Derege, the coordinator. "Is Mekdes Reta here?" He grinned, "Yeah of course! All the kids sponsored by Bethlehem are here!" I'm pretty sure I squealed at that point. We all followed Derege behind the church and entered a dark room in their offices. Before my eyes had time to adjust to the dark, I heard Derege ask, "Mekdes Reta?" Immediately, a little voice answered, "Yes?" and all of a sudden - there was my Mekdes. Unlike Fikre Addis, there was no shyness. I enveloped her tiny frame into a ginormous bear hug and said hi. After the whole team came in, we all sat down while Derege explained the sponsorship program. I was half-listening because every thirty seconds, Mekdes would glance up at me and just beam. Just a little distracting. :) After the overview, I gave Mekdes a plastic bag filled with presents. For Christmas, Leeann Chin gave all its servers $120 giftcards to Target. I felt like I should use it for something significant, so I used a big chunk of it for Fikre Addis and Mekdes. Mekdes loved the presents and positively gloated over showing it to her friends (I had to force her to share her tic tacs). Although that part was fun, by far the best part was something she said during our videotaped interview.
Last year, as we interviewed each kid, we asked what religion they were. Most said Orthodox, some said Christian, and a few said Muslim. Mekdes was one of those few. I was a little disappointed that she wasn't a Christian, but I started being really intentional about talking about Jesus  in a couple of the notes and letters I sent. For the first few months after being home, I prayed for her a lot too. This year, Dave taped us being interviewed again and this time when we asked Mekdes what religion she was, she replied, "Christian." I glanced at her in surprise. "Wait, ask her if she loves Jesus," I told our translator. He conversed with her and then looked back at me. "Yes, she says she loves Jesus." I'm getting shivers just typing it. Although, I must admit that I do feel a little ashamed because of how little I pursued her faith. During the summer, I basically just sent in the check without much more thought. I guess it just goes to show how much God can do even when I'm not doing anything. Still, I should have been more involved.
After our interview, all the sponsor kids went home while our team met with Derege again. Mekdes and I were still having a grand time with her friends though, so I dragged her into the meeting where the social workers very graciously let her stay and gave her Fanta and cookies. When it was time for our team to leave, Mekdes and I hugged about three times and waved until she was out of sight.
I am sure that I'll see her again - my dream is to bring her and Fikre Addis to the States for a couple weeks when they get older. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, don't even get me started.
Pictures coming soon.





Thursday, 24 March 2011

Yum

video
I thought now that we're three tenths of the way done with our Ethiopia series, it might be nice for a little break. And that break is in the form of 42 pictures of Ethiopian coffee. Set to music. Does it get much better? Well, maybe drinking those 42 cups of coffee. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Day 3 Photos, Expanded



I've added the rest of the Day Three photos to this Picasa album. Check it out!

Day Three, Part II

     Okay, I'm facing a dilemma. I thought I had the perfect two songs picked out for my slideshow... but then I found another really good one. And another. And another. So now I have six songs that are amazing, but I can only use two. Unless I made it thirty minutes long. Ooh, there's an idea...
     Unfortunately, my poor, weak, American stomach couldn't handle the food we were passing out to the HIV people, or I totally would have eaten a big plate full. Once everyone was happily eating and chatting, our team headed back to the guest house for lunch. After lunch, we all piled into our blue and white mini van (a theme throughout our trip) and headed up to Mount Toto. Mount Toto is a mountain just outside of Addis that has one of the oldest Ethiopian orthodox churches at the top. The mountain is also very heavily forested (or it was) so it attracts many women who strip the trees of their bark and leaves, strap it to their backs, carry it all the way down the mountain, and sell it in Addis for about 18 birr (the exchange rate while we were there was 16.5 birr = 1 dollar). Once we got to the top of the mountain, Helena, our fearless driver, discovered that the gas attendant had filled up our tank so full that as our van drove up the mountain, our gas leaked out. Oh yes, good times. Our team last year had toured the church and the museum, so I stayed back with Dave E., who had also gone last year, Helena our driver, Alemnesh, and Binyam, Alemnesh's son. Dave handed out a track put out by Desiring God called "For Your Joy", which people were really excited about. However, we attracted too big a crowd which made the guards nervous and mad so they told us to stop passing them out. Alemnesh got kind of worried that there were going to get even madder at us, so we ended up camping out behind the van. Once the rest of the team's tour was over, we headed back down the mountain but stopped a couple times to snap pictures of the view, interview a wood carrier, and give the van a rest when it's brakes started smoking. The women who carry this wood generally come from homes where the man is absent or an alcoholic, so it's up to the woman to provide for her family. In a country with an unemployment rate of 50%, people have no choice but to take drastic measures to feed  their family. It was hard to drive down the hill, almost effortlessly, while watching woman after woman staggering down under the weight of the wood, which would sell for about one dollar. According to the National Geographic "Typical Man" study, 46% of the world lives on less than a dollar a day. The "typical" American lives on ninety dollars a day. Wow.
     There is a family living in Stillwater who has adopted a girl from Ethiopia and has been over several times because they support several schools there. While in Ethiopia two years ago, they met a boy named Sami who sold gum in a market. They fell in love with him, but were not able to get any contact information. When they found out I was going, they gave me his name, where he worked two years ago, and three huge laminated pictures of him, and asked me to try to find him. I was really excited to look - it felt like a really important, nearly impossible mission. However, our Ethiopia guide was less than enthusiastic about it. "When was the last time they saw him?!" she asked when I told her. Our team leader very graciously let us stop at the market and try to find him, even though I could tell that not many on the team were very optimistic either. After we got down the mountain, we made our way to the market. During the fifteen minute ride, I looked out the window and prayed and prayed and prayed. Helena pulled into the entrance to the market where there was a group of boys standing around. He and Binyam pulled out the pictures of Sami and showed them to the boys. "Sami?" the boys asked. "Yeah! He's right over there!" And sure enough, fifteen feet away, there was Sami! Poor kid. One minute everything was normal and the next, he in a van surrounded by white strangers (we had to bring him in the van because the moment people saw white faces they surrounded the van to ask for money). Through Alemnesh, I was able to find out all his contact information, if he was in school and attending church, and give him money the family had sent with me. It was so cool. After about 10 minutes, I had asked everything I needed to, so we snapped a quick picture and left. As we drove away, all the Ethiopians in the car stared at me with huge smiles. "You know you're so lucky, right?" But it totally wasn't me. Only God could have protected Sami for two years. Only God could have made sure he was at the market on the day I'd be there. And only God could have him be standing fifteen feet away from our van. I ended up seeing Sami twice more after that, and the second time he told me that he'd already emailed and talked to the family. Coolest thing ever!
     Ciao! (Thanks to the Italian invasion, I have retained one Amharic word). 

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Day Three Photos

Day Three, Part I

     What's kind of sad is that I can't really remember it! I have to check my journal and my pictures to remind myself what happened. Even then, the days are still a little foggy. That's why I love blogging about these days because it forces me to organize everything that happened into each day, hopefully it'll help me remember more clearly!     Alright, Day Three: This was a Friday, the 11th of February, and  every Friday morning, MAKBC (for those of you who don't remember - MAKBC was the local church we worked with while in Ethiopia) has a program called "The Good Samaritan Ministry" where they minister to HIV/AIDS men and women. The church holds a service for them, and then, if the church has enough money, they prepare and serve a huge meal of the traditional injera and weit. A portion of the money each of us raised was used to pay for this meal, so we were able to, not only be able to witness the feeding, but also help serve it! But that wasn't until after the service...
     Kenny Stokes, a pastor for Bethlehem and the man who took over preaching for the eight months during John Piper's leave of absence, was on our team and shared an amazing message from 2 Corinthians 5 about how our bodies on this earth are like tents.
"For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." 
     It was such a blessing to sit in this church, surrounded by men and women who's physical bodies are being destroyed by this virus, and to see the joy on their faces as they heard that this body is just tent - we have a better one coming. Even if I forget a lot of things from this trip, that service is one thing that I will never forget - the looks of joy and hope and happiness on their faces was breathtaking. 
     After Kenny was done, Darlene S. came up to speak about HIV/AIDS. Darlene and her husband have just come off the field after being missionaries in Kenya for twenty years. While on the field, they also lived in Ethiopia for five years. Her husband is a doctor and Darlene ran an HIV counseling center in Kenya. So for the last half of the service, she shared  basic information of how HIV is spread, how to prevent it, and tips for making the HIV medicine most effective. That time was good, but it was also a little sad. One of the ways to help the medicine work is to eat balanced, nutritional meals everyday. When Darlene first shared that, everyone started laughing and asked, "Do you have any idea how impossible that is?" In a country where most people live on less than a dollar a day, it is nearly impossible to get all the nutrition one needs to help the HIV medicine.
     Once the service was over, we all headed over the compound next door where a group of women from MAKBC were busily finishing up all the last minute food details. Once everyone had totally filled the building and then spilled into the courtyard, we began dishing out food. Everyone, even the little kids, got one plate with a full injera (the bread staple - it's a round, thin sour "bread"... you have to taste it to totally understand what it's like) and a generous serving of the red stew called weit and a hearty pile of cabbage and carrots with the life cooked out of them. Once the 200+ people were all fed, there was still enough food for anyone who wanted to have seconds. What a great thing to witness people being able to eat all they wanted! Darlene said that in her twenty years of working with churches and HIV ministries, she has never seen a church that was so involved with HIV+ people as MAKBC.
     That feeding was also where Mike K. and I found the woman who accepted Christ while we were in her home. It was so neat to see her again - and what a difference! When we met her in her dusty, dark house, she was clothed in old, stained, dirty rags. But here in this bright, sunny courtyard she was clothed in a bright blue and purple dress with an equally colorful headband and a huge smile.  What an unintentional but perfect spiritual example! I'm getting shivers just thinking about it.
      Once I pulled out my camera to snap some pictures of cute kids, everyone wanted their picture taken. It was interesting because they didn't know how to pose. They would stare straight into my lense, look nervously off into the distance, or giggle at their friend. They weren't used to having pictures taken of them. American teenagers on Facebook could learn a lot from them. But don't even get me started on that...
     It made for a great series of pictures, though. It was such a sunny day and the walls of the compound were painted a bright turquoise, and the smiles of these people were huge. What a great morning.
     Obviously, this post got a little longer than I thought. I'll try to post Part 2 (which was full of a HUGE surprise involving an intimidating search for a boy named Sami) later today. Meanwhile, enjoy the beautiful pictures of the beautiful people from that morning!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Slide Show

video
Here is the slide show! It's only two minutes because it was made for our church presentation and we had a limited amount of time. So think of this as a sneak peak for the real slide show. I hope you enjoy!

Day Two Photos (Finally)

This actually was from Day 3, but I couldn't wait to post it! This the woman who accepted Christ with Mike K. and me.


The first orphanage we visited. None of these kids will be adopted so it's fine for me to post pictures.

The girls playing their handgames






The amazing MAKBC church leaders. In true Bethlehem Baptist Church form, we gave them John Piper books. :)