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Ethiopia is forever in my heart…

Can’t believe October is almost over. I am terrible about this blog thing…like really terrible. One month leads into another and before I know it Christmas is around the corner again.

I will give a quick recap of the last 6 months. School started back with a bang. Ali is a junior and working hard to keep her GPA up. She finished up her sophomore year with a 3.8 GPA. She takes the ACT for the first time in December…she’s not thrilled about that prospect. We wanted to allow plenty of time for her to retake it down the road. I can’t believe before long she will be researching colleges and majors and…I think I will go cry now. She has an idea what direction she wants to go, but has to decide exactly what she wants to do with it. Next in the line up is Hana…she is doubling up with school this year and trying to complete 2nd and 3rd grade all this year. We would like her to be ready for 4th grade next fall. She loves school so I think she has a good chance of being ready. Clark is in 2nd grade and doing fine. School doesn’t come as easily as it does for Ali and Hana…but he manages with the challenges that he has. He continues to meet with a tutor every other week to help with his reading skills. Living with dyslexia will always be a challenge. Haile started doing kindergarten work this year. I believe he will do well with school.

Ali is still swimming all the time. We were blessed with the opportunity to join a brand new homeschool high school swim league that is competing against local public high schools. She is loving it. All of her friends from her year around team were on their local high school swim teams and she felt she was missing out. This was a perfect fit. She is starting to get to know the other kids. They had their first meet this Saturday. God is so good to send things our way when he knows we need them. Ali is so happy to be on this new team…the HCYA Warriors (Houston Homeschool Christian Youth Association). The downside is that Houston is so HUGE and we live south of town. All the meets are an hour away. Oh well, it is worth the drive to see her in her element. It is so refreshing for her to NOT have to explain and have people ask questions about her being homeschooled.

Hana is taking dance again this year. It is a homeschool class and the teacher is fabulous. She loves it. It’s a combo ballet/tap/jazz class. We hope that we can find time in our schedules for her to play soccer eventually. She would love to.

Clark is at the gym all the time. He trains 12 hours a week, but loves every minute of it. Competition season begins soon.

Haile had been taking a gymnastics class for months. We wanted him to improve with listening to the teacher and participating. He made great strides and ended up actually doing quite well. We pulled him out of the class for a while so that he can play soccer. He has had about 3 games so far.

So that’s the quick version for you. As you can imagine, we stay very busy. It usually takes TC and I both to pull off all the practices. Ali will be ready for her drivers license in the spring, so that will help. She got her permit a little bit late so she can’t get her license until a couple of month after she turns 16. She loves to drive, so I get chauffeured quite a bit. 🙂

I wanted to blog about my recent trip to Ethiopia….more for my own memory. This was my 3rd trip. My friend, Kristy, went with me. She lives in Ohio and she and her husband adopted from Ethiopia last year also. We were gone for 12 days, but spent one night in Dubai on the way there. When we were in Dubai we took a desert tour out in the sand dunes. I had taken the same tour twice before, but it is amazing every time!! The next day we headed out early for the airport to catch our flight to Addis Ababa. The 4 hour flight to Addis felt like nothing considering the 15 hour flight we had endured the previous day. (and I don’t sit still well…like at all…so that flight is painful for me!!)

Once we got into Addis, we got settled into our room at the guest house. (Ethiopia Guest Home,  just in case anyone was planning a trip to Ethiopia anytime soon haha) I can’t say enough great things about that guest house. Anyway, our friends and connection to the Kore community came to our guest house for dinner. Their names are Tesfaye and Helen. Tesfaye grew up in the Kore community (around the city trash dump) and he now knows the Lord has called him to minister to the people there. They married this past year and are such a wonderful couple. Tesfaye has so much love and compassion for his community that it’s so inspiring. That night we discussed our weekly schedule and what all we would be doing.

The following morning Tesfaye met us at the guest house and we took all public transportation back to Kore. It was such a great experience and saved us a lot of money in the process. It is cheap to ride public transportation…but $10 an hour to hire a driver from the guest house….that’s a no brainer.  We got to ride in the Ethiopian blue vans (let me explain…small 10 passenger vans….crammed with anywhere from 15-21 passengers! Awesome! I laughed so much through all of those rides. We also rode in a bijaj several times. (small 3 wheel jobs like they use in India, etc.) Once we made it to Kore we had a lovely craft time with about 90 children from Tesfaye’s church. We read a Bible story, handed out coloring pages, and also made paper bag puppets. The children had a blast and we LOVED watching them. What amazed me was how the older ones helped the younger ones. After our craft time, we headed out to start spending all the wonderful money that friends and family donated to this community. God ended up blessing us with $1700. Amazing!!! We spent about $800 on baby formula for children in his church, he was then going to buy some tarps to repair the church “roof”, buy some additional plastic chairs for church, repair the toilet area (it was a squatty potty and was broken into about 5 pieces and the small children were having difficulty balancing on the broken pieces), $300 was given to Helen to help them with hospital expenses (she is pregnant and due in March…being able to afford a hospital birth is almost impossible), and he also was able to take a 2 year old child with pneumonia to the hospital and buy her medication. The money was such a huge blessing to them and their church. Thank you so much to everyone that gave.

The next day was so humbling that I will never forget it. We attended Tesfaye’s church. God taught me that even though we didn’t speak the same language that we serve the same amazing God. Those people love the Lord and it is so evident. We have much to learn from them. Tesfaye told me something to this effect when I gave him the money…this building doesn’t matter, the people matter, and we will use the money to help my church people. Isn’t that the truth? In America we spend so much money and put so much importance into our church buildings….millions and millions is spent on it every year. For what? To impress those that walk through the doors? What true difference is it making for eternity? I digress….    After we attended church we went with Tesfaye a 2 other men in his congregation to make home visits. We were blessed to get to visit with 6 families in all shapes and sizes. One beautiful family consisted of a husband and wife that both suffered from leprosy. They have both lost both legs and most fingers. They have 2 absolutely gorgeous children. They have resulted to having to beg due to the inability to work. Another older lady has been in bed for 18 years. Can you fathom that…18 years? They tied a chicken in her bed to keep her company. Another family was a sit of spunky twin 5 year old girls and their 9 year old sister. Their parents drink often and don’t properly care for them. They lost their hut some months back and now live in a stick and tarp (and anything else they can find to protect them from the elements) little make shift house. We visited them several times in our week stay. They stole our hearts. Those precious girls would climb the stick structure and we were reminded that kids are the same whether in opulent America or in the slums of Africa! Tesfaye works for an organization called “Adoption Ministry 127” Click it and check it out if you are so inclined. They still need quite a few families sponsored. It is $40 a month and it is very similar to Compassion International. A lot of the people are widows…so it is not just sponsoring children. It provides rent money, basic staples, soap, etc. It is a wonderful opportunity to bless someones life. It changes lives! I saw it…I got to hear the stories. The families are so grateful for the sponsorship. My friend, Kristy, got the meet the child she sponsors. I’m reminded yet again of the money we waste and how easily it would be to scrape together $40 a month. Skip a night of eating out, a movie, Starbucks, etc.

On day 3 in Ethiopia we were able to work with Mission Ethiopia. It is a program that the guest house started. They provide employment for mostly widows. They make jewelry, belts, artwork, rugs, etc…then sell them to mission groups that come through. It provides income to people that couldn’t find employment. We worked with a small team to set up a “jewelry store” to showcase their items. It turned out great and was a lot of fun. We also were able to help serve lunch to a large group of school children through Project 61. I got to spend a lot of that day loving on kiddos that came through. It’s amazing what a simple hug, touch, hand holding will do for a child. Just writing about it makes me want to book another flight…seriously.

Day 4 was a first for us…….watched the slaughtering of a sheep. Yuck..yuck..yuck..not enjoyable. Kristy provided lunch for all of the children in the congregation. We helped feed 150 children. We bought a live sheep (actually put it in the trunk of the taxi..imagine this..listening to the bah bah bahs all the way back!!) So many volunteers in the church cooked such a lovely meal for the children.

Day 5 was a special coffee ceremony with the widows of the church. We loved on babies, had coffee, and spoke a little with Tesfaye translating. We also were able to get the little twins registered for kindergarten. Kristy and I decided to sponsor the twins for kinder so that they will not be home alone all day. Guess the cost……………..$16 a month. That’s it, for 2 children. It could potentially make a huge difference in their lives. So once they were registered we were off to buy school supplies and uniforms. It was all worth it when we saw their excitement and pride when they carried their new backpacks. God is good. And God is there in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia…and in the slums of Kore. God is there. Tesfaye reminded us that God planned this before the foundation of the world. When I would tear up and have my heart broken yet again, he reminded me of this truth. God is there. He is real. I don’t understand it. But I don’t have to. He’s just called me to love them…and show them that people love them. It’s hard. It’s so easy to question the poverty..and the how and why and it’s not fair. But, then that’s questioning God. So I will love them.

Day 6 we took for a fun day. We were kind of numb and exhausted. We hired a friend of ours, Yonatan (whom we both met on our first trips to Ethiopia and have kept in touch with since then), to take us to a town about an hour away called Debre Zeyit. It has a town with about 5 lakes. Gorgeous! We spent several hours at a resort right on one of the lakes. We had lunch, went kayaking, checked out the spa, etc. We took Helen along to spoil her for a day. (she isn’t able to do such things usually) We made her get a manicure at the spa and she was so thrilled. She was happy all day…LOVE! When we returned to Addis we had Yonatan help us shop a little at an area called the “post office”…a bunch of small shops in a row. It was such a fun day.

Day 7 was our last full day in Ethiopia. We were fighting tears most of the day as we weren’t really ready to say goodbye. We went to Kore one last time, said goodbye to our twins, and then we were invited to Tesfaye and Helen’s home for coffee, a meal, and exchanged little gifts. It was such a blessing and wonderful way to end our week. We were able to meet Tesfaye’s mother, brother, and sister. I have told Tesfaye and Helen that I now count them as part of my family and they said I was apart of theirs. My Ethiopian family forever!

Kristy and I are already starting to talk about TC and her husband, Britton, going to Ethiopia next year. With 7 children between us..it’s the easiest way to do it. The guys can do more physical work that Kristy and I weren’t able to do. They will be such a blessing to that community. God willing it will work out. So if you weren’t able to donate to the Kore community for my trip..there’s always next year!! 🙂

Here is a slideshow that TC made of some of my pictures.
click here

Here are some photos since my last post…

1 comment

1 Kay { 11.07.12 at 11:29 am }

Rachel that sounds like an awesome trip! I sort of wish I could go along just to be a part of that, but what to do with my kids and husband…

God is amazing and good all the time and in all countries. I am personally thankful that God has laid this on your heart for you to go be a part of this place that gave you your children.

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