Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Walk to Beautiful

I wanted so badly to visit the Fistula Hospital when I was in Addis and I didn't. I am reading Catherine Hamlin's book, Hospital by the River. It is riveting (warning: it is very graphic when describing medical procedures). I am in the middle of about 5 different books and this is the one I most want to finish. It is the incredible story of Christian doctors Catherine and Reg Hamlin and their life work in Ethiopia with fistula patients. Over 30,000 women have been healed at the Fistula Hospital and go on to live a normal life. At the airport in Addis when I was departing, I met two women from Afghanistan. One was a OB/GYN and the other a nurse. They had been in Addis for 40 days learning to do the fistula repair surgery at the Fistula Hospital.

The documentary, A Walk to Beautiful, will be released on DVD on May 11. To find out more about the Fistula Foundation go to To find our more about the movie, go to

The website is full of information about the fistula hospital in Addis and ways you can give to help.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I really don't like writing post like the last one. I like light and fluffy post!

When I write things like that for all of my 3 loyal readers to read, it holds me accountable. But what is a girl gonna do when the God of the universe is trying to teach her something.

Have you ever heard the saying "Put your money where your mouth is!" One of the things I find, is that I want to do something, I just don't know what to do. This morning I found a great way for me and anyone else that would like to join me to do just that.

There is a really awesome organization called Children's HopeChest. You can read all about it here They provide God's hope and care for orphaned children around the world. Daniel at Children's Hopechest has suggested a way we can get rid of the stuff that is weighing us down and give to some of the world neediest children. Please read and consider if this is something you should do. I am going to do it and I hope I can get my husband and kids to join me. He includes some promo materials if you want to do this church wide. Give the money to whatever person or organization you desire. I am going to give to Children's Hopechest. They are trying to get started in Ethiopia!

what i have (daniel's post)

May 11 is The Day of Pentecost. It is 50 days after Easter Sunday and 10 days after Ascension Thursday. It is the day when the Church around the world celebrates the Holy Spirit coming in power so that we may be witnesses to the new life of Christ.

Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. - Acts 2:45Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. - Acts 3:6

The early church was known by their generosity. Christianity was even criticized as a "religion of widows and orphans." As we celebrate the church on the Day of Pentecost, let's seek the same criticism and live with the same life-giving generosity. There are millions of orphaned children waiting for you to give them what you have. Give what you have.

1. Choose a personal item of value (a leather coat, an electric guitar, a video game system, a canoe, jewelry, furniture, a collector's item, etc.)2. Sell the item. You can use whatever method is most familiar to you: eBay, Craigslist, a yard sale, a consignment shop, or the classifieds.3. Collect the money.
1. Go to; choose "GIVE" and fill out the form or follow this link.2. Write "What I Have 2008" in the Notes/Child Reference Number field.

Click on the links below to download promotional materials for use in your church, small group, or school. There are several versions of the poster formatted for different sizes and usages. Feel free to re-post this information all over the Internet too (on Facebook, your blog, MySpace, or wherever your online home is.)

What I Have powerpoint slide - POWERPOINT SLIDE

What I Have 11X17 poster - Download what_i_have_poster.pdf

What I Have 8.5X5.5 bulletin insert - Download what_i_have_bulletin_insert.pdf

What I Have 8.5X11 flyer - Download what_i_have_8.5 x 11 flyer.pdf

These funds will be directed toward the most urgent and strategic programs in holistic and long-term orphan care in Eastern Europe and Africa. Some of those outreaches could include:
Feeding programsEducational initiativesHealth careCommunity developmentSpiritual discipleship

If you have any questions, email me or call me at (719) 955-4009.
Children's HopeChest is a member in good standing of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Reality Check

While visiting the picturesque countryside we were taken on a tour of another local orphanage. This place is operated by Catholic priest and given the resources they have, I am sure they are doing the best they can. Children, elderly and mentally ill all live here together.

The conditions were very poor. The rooms where the orphans slept were a mess. The elderly were sitting or lying on their rusty metal beds. They looked so lonely, but some managed a weak smile and wave as we walked by.

The children were lined up and accepted the gift of a lollipop. These children didn't have the same joy and energy of the children at the transition home in Addis. The children in the transition home have hope that they will have a family, even if the wait is long, they have hope. I don't think the children here have that hope. They were very somber and respectfully bowed as they received their lollipop as if they were receiving some great and meaningful gift.

At the orphanage, ladies spin their own yarn and weave handmade blankets to sell. We all bought something to take home with us and remind us of this place.

Our time here was short, no time for a game of London Bridges with the children. No time to hug the necks of the elderly people. It was a place where we didn't do much to help, but a place where our eyes were opened to the harsh reality of being an orphan child or an elderly person in rural Ethiopia. And as bad as this place seemed, the truth is they have a bed to sleep on and food to eat. For others, all over the world, these basic needs are not being met.
These are photos of my kids rooms in our former home in Texas and a photo of the children's bedroom in this orphanage. It is hard for me to look at them side by side. But, the awesome thing is God is calling me out of this crazy, selfish existence of striving to live a perfect, comfortable life. I hope he is calling you out, too. It was never his plan for Christians to live wrapped up in a cocoon of luxury and comfort. Am I saying having nice things is bad? No, I don't think so. I am saying that if our lives are spent getting more and more for ourselves and turning our back on hurting, hungry, and thirsty children and adults...that is bad. We are his hands and feet on this earth. There is something we all can do.
...once our eyes are opened we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act. (Proverbs 24:12)

No Flannel in Doha

I got a "bee in my bonnet" to make some baby burp cloths today. I saw on someones' blog the very easy directions and I found myself wanting to make stacks and stacks of cute, coordinating burp cloths.

I drove to the fabrics souqs by myself and wandered around store after store of fabric. There is no flannel in Doha. I don't even think they know what flannel is! Makes me crazy!! Of course, I did find some other fabrics to add to my fabric collection.

Only 54 more days til we go home for the summer. Home to stores that sell flannel baby fabric....yea!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ethiopian Countryside

Time spent at the transition home/orphanage and time spent at Hanna's orphan home was precious to me, but I am so glad I got to get out of Addis Ababa and travel into the Ethiopian countryside. It was here that we saw how beautiful the country really is.

We traveled down a smooth, winding road north of the city through several small towns to our destination. We traveled past donkeys laden with eucalyptus branches being driven into the city. We passed by "neat as a pin" farms with round houses with thatched roofs. We drove through small towns with locals playing Foosball at roadside establishments.

When we reached the small orphanage about 2 hours from Addis, we were greeted by 6 children. These children spoke only Omoro, the language of this area and it was a bit harder to communicate with them. I have picked up a few Amharic phrases and words from M. and they did me no good with these little children. But, the children were happy to receive beanie babies we had brought them. And, later they really warmed up when we started playing games with them like London Bridges and Duck, Duck, Goose. They caught on really fast and I smiled when some whispered their first English word, "duck".

Most of our team got busy painting the interior of the 3 room orphanage. It didn't take them long to discover that the building was built with the traditional straw and mud walls. They reported chunks of the wall coming off as they painted. I saw the finished product and they did a good job.

This was the day that I got to go pick up the baby I wrote about in an earlier post, so I missed some of the excitement of painting.

When we returned with the baby, we were able to eat lunch (injera, wat, and vegetables and delicious dabo-yeast bread) One of the ladies working at the orphanage even made fresh ground coffee for us. I didn't get any coffee, because if was my and Tina's turn to ride in the cart and buggy. They really wanted all of us to get a ride. I guess you can imagine the spectacle we were riding through the town. I felt like we were in a parade. I am sure we were a hilarious sight for all the locals.

This is only part of the story of this amazing day....more to come and pictures I promise.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I don't know what came over me, but I bought these traditional Ethiopian clothes for my kids. They looked so cute and M. loved seeing them all dressed up.

Itty Bitty Baby

One of the most meaningful moments for me during my time in Ethiopia was going with the social worker and another volunteer to pick up a tiny baby boy that had been found on the streets.

The baby was 2 months old, and maybe weighed 5 or 6 pounds. We first went a government office and waited for the paperwork to be completed. Then we drove to a small house and several people came out. One was carrying a purple satin and lace wrapped bundle. I think they must have wrapped him in the best blanket they had. Inside was this itty bitty baby with skinny little legs and arms and great big eyes. He was malnourished and soaking wet. He wasn't wearing a diaper, just a little white onesie. They handed the baby to us and we climbed back in the van and drove away.

A little way down the road we pulled over and we cleaned him up and put a diaper on him and clean clothes and a clean blanket.

It was there, at that moment, that I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. And I knew I wanted to keep on doing it for the rest of my life.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Where there is VISION, there is PROVISION...Hanna's Orphan Home

My friend, Angel, was asked to meet this person, Hanna, while we were in Ethiopia. She didn't know much about her, but arranged to meet her. She came back and couldn't stop talking about Hanna and the good work she was doing for orphan children in Ethiopia. She talked me into going back with her and I am so glad she did. This amazing 41 year old woman (and her husband)are "parents" to over 100 orphaned children. They buy small two room "homes" and fill them with children and a house "mother". She and her husband, with God's grace and provision, provide a home and education for the children. She takes in children that have had a rough past, street children, and children that have been in prison.

Hanna is not content with helping the children she has now, she has a vision for helping many, many more children.

Angel is working on setting up a way that we can help Hanna care for these kids. We were able to sponsor children while we were there, but not everyone can travel to Ethiopia to sponsor a child. I will keep you posted! In the meantime, watch this video (by Angel) to meet Hanna and some of her kids. You will be inspired!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Beautiful Children

Ethiopia's children are beautiful...the children we worked with most of the week are all in a transition home. They are awaiting their adoptive parents to come and get them or they are waiting to be matched with a family. The center is home to over 100 children. It is where they spend almost all of their time. They go to school here, they eat all meals here, they sleep in rooms with other children their age and a room "mother". Their days are fairly scheduled and include school, activities, field trips and chores. Children of all ages live here. There were many older (over 7 years old) children and a lot of them are still waiting for families. The facility is very nice by Ethiopian standards. I found it a little like summer camp (minus all the fancy extras, of course). I went to children's camp last year with my kids and it was great fun, but I can tell the end of just a week of camp, all the kids were ready to go home and sleep in their own beds and see their parents. I know the beautiful children here are looking forward to the day when they too will go home.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I made it home from Ethiopia but not without being changed forever. Ethiopia is a land of extreme contrast, both beautiful and ugly, both rich and poor, both exhilarating and depressing.

My first impression many people. People everywhere. When I arrived at the airport, I had no problems obtaining my visa upon arrival ($20 USD)and exchanging dollars for bir at the "bank". I had no problem getting my bags through security. In fact the conveyor belt was broken and no one was around, so I just walked right through. I was picked up at the airport by Dawit, taxi driver, sent to retrieve me. He dropped me off at the Guest House. He had an easy smile and spoke English quite well. I asked if he would come back for me in 1.5hours and help me deliver the things I needed to deliver for M. and her friends.

The Guest house was not what I was expecting. It is inside an enclosed fence with a guard at the entrance to let you in the gate. It is a home with kitchen, living areas and several bedrooms and bathrooms. The rooms were neat and clean, the beds soft, the pillows not that great. There are creepy crawlies in the kitchen, I learned later when it got dark and I flipped on the kitchen light. I would compare it to probably the worst hotel you have ever stayed in in the USA, although it was clean!

Dawit showed up as expected and he called the number I had and arranged to meet people here or there, on the side of the road to hand off the things I had brought from Doha. First, we found Meseret and delivered her Visa for Qatar. She is coming to Qatar to work as a housemaid and needed her visa. M and I have been trying to email it to no avail, so it was good I could hand deliver it to her. She insisted I take the sim card from her phone to use while I was in Ethiopia. Having a phone came in very handy.

Next we found Helena's boyfriend and delivered some money and photos and letter form Helena.

Next, we went to visit M. home. It was a small compound with a gate. The "rooms" form a square around a courtyard in the middle. I wish I had taken pictures of the outside to show you. Dawit came in with me and translated for me when needed. I was happy to see Emebet, which is one of M's sisters who lived in Doha, but recently moved back home to be with her mother, because her mother was missing her. We were led into one of the small rooms in the compound. Inside was Muna and Emebet's mother. She was very happy to see me, although I think they were expecting me the next day. Inside this tiny room was living room furniture and tv with an entertainment center. Although the room was very, very small the furnishings seemed nice. I got to meet several members of the family, including M's adorable nephew. His mother is working in Doha and I know she misses this little guy. He is cared for my the grandmother and other relatives. M. has another nephew living here, whose mother and father both died. I didn't get to meet him, but I brought him a soccer ball and some clothes. I gave the grandmother some money and asked her to use it to care for these two little boys. She insisted on feeding us. The Orthodox are fasting now, so we had fasting food. We had injera, cabbage and some kind of wat (stew). When fasting they eat no animal products. Although, I had eaten some Ethiopian food before, this did not seem appetizing to me. I ate some anyway to be polite. Of course, they were all fasting, so they just watched me eat. After a while, the small room was getting crowded with relatives and it seemed like time to go. They invited me to come back another day, but I knew that when the rest of the group arrived, I probably would not have time for another visit.

It was so good to meet M's family and see where she grew up. They said this was where she was born and raised. Although, it wasn't fancy, it seemed like they had "enough" and by comparison, they seemed to be doing well.

On the drive to these places, I observed out my car window, many, many, many people. They were walking to and fro, sitting outside on the roadside, herding goats through the town, talking and visiting outside roadside vendors, children were playing, beggers were begging, stray dogs, rows of shanty houses made with with whatever materials that could be found, school children in uniform, people in traditional dress, in trendy jeans and tees, in rags, men in business suits. I felt like the only "ferenge" (white foreigner) around.

I got back to the guest house and fell asleep....the rest of the group arrived late that night and I met Angel for the first time. She is my blogging buddy and the reason I even knew about the trip.