Monday, November 29, 2010

Project Hopeful

We are going through photographs from the trip and processing all that happened over those nine days, but I wanted to post this and advocate for these dear, dear children. There are SO MANY beautiful older children all over this world who have been orphaned due to HIV. Many of them are HIV positive, but with medication, are living normal, vibrant lives. I encourage you to watch this video of Carolyn Twietmeyer as she talks about ALL of her children - 7 bio and 6 adopted. Some of her children are HIV+.

Please pray for these children and for what your love could mean to them. There are so many ways to get involved. Visit Project Hopeful's website for more informaion.

Be sure to pause the playlist at the bottome of the page . . .

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Update from Ethiopia - Part 4

From Rob's email: On our way back yesterday we visited Kind Hearts for the last time. They waited for us about 1 1/2 hours past their typical departure time and greeted us like rock stars! I think we got some good pictures and when we left you could have ripped my heart out. Eh wed eh shah loh, Eh wed eh shah loh's all around. I love you, I love you, I love you . . .

The time at Trees of Glory has been bittersweet for us all.  This is where 'A', the little boy we sponsor, attends.  We had big hopes for what the days there would look like with him.  As it turned out, it didn't go as planned.  We had hoped they could spend a lot of time playing with him and holding him.  Here is a little of Rob's email about TOG and little 'A':

I just got up. Last night the power went out during dinner so we ate by candlelight and flashlight. It sent us to bed early which was a really good thing as we have all been exhausted. I have to make this quick because there are people in line behind me. We met 'A' yesterday and got video of us giving him his care package. He is very shy but has a great little smile. He kept his head down most of the time and I couldn't see it but he was smiling. He does not speak Amharic, but Oromifa, which  they speak in the countryside. After meeting him, Simret, the founder of Trees of Glory, told me that he was found on the streets in the village up the road, abandoned, and both of his parents are dead. He is now living with an old woman in a different village near TOG. When I heard this, I had to take a walk to regain my composure as I was devastated and wanted to put him in my suitcase and bring him home. We were only at TOG for 2 hours yesterday and handed out care packages so we didn't get to spend any one-on-one time with him but we are going back today to hang out for a lot longer. I plan to spend a lot of time with him and let him know that we love him and will come back to see him again.

'A' is very afraid and speaks very little.  We got some pictures today but he would not really interact.  He smiled as I was playing with some kids on a merry-go-round but he cried when I picked him up.

So . . . I am heartsick for this darling child.  He was 4 years old when they brought him to TOG.  Simret is the incredible woman who cares for these children and she is looking after him when he is there with her.  But, my mother's heart cannot stop weeping for him.  I look at my little boy who is the same age and cannot begin to describe the depth of grief at the thought of him alone on the streets and wandering.  Looking for food, safety, warmth, his mommy and daddy.  So many questions . . . did he see them die, what has he endured in his short life, how long was he alone?  When I tuck my children into bed, I walk away and weep some more. 

Father of the fatherless, please protect him, hold him in your hands, comfort his tiny heart . . . 

Update from Ethiopia - Part 3

This trip was spent for the most part at two schools - Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory - which have been founded and are supported by Children's Hopechest.  All of the children who attend are sponsored by families and their kindness allows these children to receive an education and one good meal a day.  They would not have access to an education otherwise and many would not have a decent meal either.  Especially at Trees of Glory which is located about 65 kilometers outside of Addis Ababa and is in a very economically poor region of Ethiopia.  This travel group had the incredible privilege of delivering care packages to each of the children at both carepoints.  Most included gifts, clothing, photos and letters from their sponsor families.  These photos were taken by Karen Wistrom (she is heading up the trip) at Kind Hearts school.   Rob's computer is, in his words "fried", so he can't download his photos.  They have taken hundreds so we'll be able to post more and hopefully a video when they get home.

Is he not the most precious little guy you've ever seen? Rob is reading his letter while the gentleman on the left (he works and teaches at the school) intreprets.

This trip has been life changing for Rob and our kids.  For us all, it has made everything 'real'.  Real people, real poverty, real beauty.  Such incredible, loving, kind people.  Such an amazing culture.  They have all been journaling A LOT and we hope to share once they get home.  Here is O---a helping act out a story for the kids:

And playing with the kids at Kind Hearts.  She is the consummate big sister.  At almost fifteen, she is such a beautiful girl inside and out.  I look forward to watching her grow into adulthood.  Big things ahead for this girl.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Update from Ethiopia - Part 2

Hubby and oldest two kiddos are setting out with Children's Hopechest on Day 3 to Kinds Hearts school. It has been a great experience so far and they are loving the time they get to spend with the kids. Here are a few photos from today (yesterday - this time difference is so confusing!)

A little "tatoo art':  

Some very sweet lovin':

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And here is a little from the emails we've received so far:

We have been gone since 8:30 a.m. after not so much sleep last night. The kids slept pretty well but the Orthodox Christians have a call to prayer really early like 4:30 and the horns were blowing. Went to Kind Hearts, went and got goats to slaughter for lunch tomorrow, went to the Transition House and held the babies!!!!

You will absolutely love the traditional dancing but probably not so much the traditional food. Is--c tried a couple bites but one bite ended up in the toilet and the other was reluctantly swallowed. They told him it was beef but it was really goat meat which is nothing like a good filet! Ol--a ate a little bit but we all supplemented with some jerkey when we got home.

And, for those of you who really KNOW Rob, this will make you fall off your seat. From oldest daughter:

The goat meat is disgusting. It’s really rubbery and tough. They gave us raw meat and cooked meat with the injera at the traditional dinner. Dad tried the raw meat. :O

Rob has promised to type out his journal entries when they return to the Guest House tonight. I will be sure to post when/if he does. Still waiting on video. If they are able to get it downloaded, I will be sure to post it.

Hope you all have a great rest of the week!

Update from Ethiopia Part 1

Hubby and kids have been in Ethiopia since Sunday.  So far, it has been a wonderful trip.  They are just setting out on Day 3 at Kind Hearts school.  Tomorrow they head toTrees of Glory which is located about 67 kilometers outside of Addis Ababa.  Our sponsor child Abush attends school at Trees of Glory so this part of the week will be extra special.  They will have 3 days to spend with him and all of the 80+ kids at Trees of Glory. 

We attended an Ethiopian Cultural Festival last Saturday night that a local Ethiopian church holds for adoptive families.  It was an amazing experience.  The pastor was so kind and so grace-filled toward the families.  I will admit that at times I have struggled with what the Ethiopian people feel about Americans adopting their children.  Do they resent us?  Are they full of heartache for the loss of so many precious children to a continent so far away?   What do they feel?   I will try to quote something he said that has been on my mind . . . "Ethiopia is a very beautiful, very special . . . very poor country.  It has been hit hard by HIV AIDS, by famine, by poverty.  Some say there are 4 million orphans, some say there are more.  Some say there are 6 million.  I want to say that we support what you are doing.  Adoption is a very beautiful thing.  It is God's plan.  We are adopted by God if we are in Christ.  He has adopted us into His family.  We say 'who are these Americans?   Who are these people that adopt these orphans into their hearts and into their homes?  You are doing a good thing.  It is good.'"  To me, it was the voice of God confirming our decision, casting aside doubt, encouraging my heart. 

The entire evening was so special.  The beautiful women of the church prepared a HUGE spread of traditional Ethiopian food.  It was spicy, textural and overall very good.  I am in search of good Ethiopian recipes for Injera and Doro Wat if you happen across some!  They also dressed in traditional Ethiopian costume and sang Ethiopian praise songs and danced.  It was something to behold.  Let's just say American worship leaves a LOT to be desired.   There were so many precious children who had been adopted and were there with their new families.  The church community really reaches out and DESIRES so deeply to stand in the gap for adoptive families.  They have such a heart to be the thread that weaves together the child's birth culture with their new culture.  I really cannot express the depth of love and sincerity they communicated to us all.  I left full of excitement and utter longing to bring our kids home.   I have worried some about how we could teach our children (all of them) about a culture we had never truly experienced.  I left with a total God-filled peace knowing the community is there and that we will be tied together with these incredible people in the coming years - feeling blessed beyond measure by their willingness to be that real and true link.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Feeling the Love

Day 1 at Kind Hearts and he is smitten already!
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How Do You Fit It All Into a Ziploc Bag?

Rob and our two oldest kids leave for Ethiopia in just 2 short weeks. We are excited, nervous, and just plain speechless at times thinking about what the trip will hold.

We sponsor a little boy at Trees of Glory, one of the carepoints the travel team will be visiting. I cannot put into words the feelings in my heart that Rob and kids will actually be meeting him face-to-face, giving him gifts, holding him, playing with him, loving on him. It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment and for many sponsor families, a dream that won't happen this side of heaven. Incredible.

Each sponsor family has been given the opportunity to send a care package to their sponsor child. The catch? All the gifts must fit into a gallon Ziploc bag. In order to not hurt feelings we have decided to follow suit for our little guy. My dilemma? How do you fit love and hope and the desire to give of your prosperity into a gallon baggie??? Oh, so difficult. What does he need most? What does his little 6-year old heart desire? I hope and pray that the chance to spend a few days with his "American Papa" and a brother and sister will leave them all marked for life. That he will remember their hugs and they his and that he'll have a mental image to keep forever of the family that loves him from so far away. I pray that my kids who return home will never forget their "African brother" who lives such a simple and materially sparse life, who has lost mother and father and so much more.

Kind Hearts school is the other Children's Hopechest carepoint the team will be visiting. All of the children there have been sponsored thankfully, and have been receiving food, schooling and Christian discipleship for several months. HOWEVER, as of this week, over 30 NEW CHILDREN have been enrolled at Kind Hearts. Rob and the kids, along with the team, will be meeting these new children and their profiles will be up and ready when the team returns.

If anyone has ever thought of sponsoring a child, this would be an excellent chance. Visit "Family From Afar" on our sidebar to read more about these children and how to sponsor. Or see the link here: It is an incredible way to make HUGE difference for one child for the cost of a daily cup of Starbucks.

Lastly, THANK YOU to everyone who has given donations for this upcoming trip. Rob and kids will be taking LOADS of photos and we can't wait to share with you all where and with whom your generosity was shared. Know that you have made a difference. Your love gives tangible help, but also hope.