I'm up early this morning, the house is quiet but I am still a little under the influence of sleeping pills so I'll do my best! I can't sleep anymore...got about 8 hours last night.
I have so, so much to say that I don't know where to start except for telling you about the main reason we went to Ethiopia...Aliya. She no longer wants to be called Tarikwa, but Aliya.
I promise to post pics either today or tomorrow.
This girl has definitely been hand picked by God Himself to be in our family. She 'gets' our jokes AND laughs at them! She's very intuitive and seems to know when to be quiet, when it's appropriate to joke around, when to be serious, etc. It's amazing to me. We spent such wonderful time all together in Ethiopia, us girls!
Katie and Aliya bonded immediately. They walk around holding hands, poking at each other, and teasing each other. She is pretty independent and was not at all afraid of sleeping alone in her new room last night. It was so cute... she went up stairs, took the few belongings she had and made her room her own. A teddy bear here, a table scarf (from ET) there, jewelry tin and books and journals in her bedside stand drawer. She has definite opinions on how she likes things.
We thought size 12 clothes were going to fit her so that's what we brought her, but size 2 is more like it, juniors size. She is actually the exact same size and very similar body shape as Katie. So she ended up wearing her jeans the whole time there! Can I just say....ADORABLE??????? When she puts some new clothes on she gets this cute little hop in her step and just bounces when she walks. I can hardly stand it!
So needless to say, on Monday Mall of America here we come! Her super cute Nikes' we bought her are also too small. Shirts seemed to fit perfectly.
Remember when I told you about how fun it would be to see her "firsts"? Well, let me tell you about them in the last two days. At the Bole Airport in ET, they have an escalator and you have no choice but to go up it. We both had to explain what it was, what it did, hold her hands and count to 3 to step on! She kept making a face and little sounds like, "Oh, my gosh, what am I doing? This is crazy." Incidentally, when we got home, Mihiretu asked her if she wanted to go to the Mall of America and go on some rides. I told him, "Honey, I think the escalator was enough for a while!"
Then while we were sitting for our plane, occasionally a flight attendant or pilot would pass by wearing their uniforms and she'd sort of in a scared way ask Katie, "Who is that??? What are they doing???" When they'd announce something over the loudspeaker, she would jump and look up at the ceiling saying, "WHAT'S THAT?" We just couldn't stop laughing at her. She was a little afraid of walking down the walkway to get into the plane but after we showed her how it worked, she went like a champ.
Our flights were long, but does that actually need to be stated?? They were good and everyone did get some sleep. She asked about each leg, when we'd get there, what we'd be doing there and when we got back on to go again. This girl is very, very smart and observant. I left my water bottle in a shop while we were paying for a bandaid for Katie's huge cut finger in Dulles, and I asked, "What did I do with my water?" We all thought for while and then Aliya says, "Market??" Yep, that's right girlfriend, I DID leave it in the shop. Jill, I know you are laughing right now at that one because you know how much help I need in the organization and remembering field!
As was expected, Mihiretu and Misganaw LOVE her (so does Blake but he actually does quit talking to her at times). In the car on the way home from the airport, sweet, sweet Misganaw asks her, "Aliya, did you fart? Or is that how your gum smells?" Dead serious and without any ill intent, he just smelled something and was wondering. It actually was neither, thank the Lord, but was just the smell of the river or something outside. She laughs at him.
She and Mihiretu were kicking the soccer ball around her room and this girl, as already witnessed with her friend Lilly, can play soccer. She can really be a great teacher to Mihiretu!
We did and saw so much in Ethiopia. I knew this experience would be very different than our last one when we picked up the boys. But it was in every way just as wonderful and life changing.
I will be going into this a LOT and I mean a LOT more but I just have to tell you about Sammy from Korah. Someone already mentioned him in a comment earlier and I'm so glad there are other people who've met Sammy and have been to Korah.
God has anointed this 23 year old man with a love and passion like I've never or rarely seen. He loves the Lord and serves Him with gladness. It was truly one of my greatest honors in my life to be in his presence, hear his story and follow him through his neighborhood. As in the times of the Bible, the Orthodox Church members believe that lepers are outcasts and therefore cannot live anywhere anyone else. So many years ago, the government established a leper colony way outside of town, but it is now right in town as Addis Ababa has grown.
Literally, the paved road ends where Korah starts. Police won't come there nor will ambulances to help the people when needed. If a person is ill and in need of medical treatment, the leaders from the church (and I'm talking about young men Blake's age as the leaders of the church) will carry him on a gurney for miles to get him/her help.
They have so many needs that I cannot even begin to go into them right now but I need to tell you they need our help. The Lord has raised up mighty leaders there and I can guarantee that GREAT men and women of God are there, learning, growing and in God's timing will become some of the greatest Christian leaders, evangelists, missionaries, care givers that this world has EVER seen.
First, they have no wells, nada. The women walk 45 minutes ONE WAY to get water in a jerry jug, on their back (looks like a plastic gas can) for their families, and this is by no means clean water.
The Addis Ababa garbage dump is right next door to their little town and this is how the people eat and get whatever little they have. There is really little option for them as they are outcasts and no one wants them around. Some do go outside of Korah and beg but this is basically their only income.
They also have a little shop where they make handicrafts and sell them. Think I bought anything there??
We passed by a woman who was trying to sell a pile of mangoes, covered in flies. Sammy told us that she'd picked them out of the dump and was trying to sell them.
These people are smart, beautiful beyond words, ambitious, and desire work but they are the lowest of the low in everyone's eyes. God gave Sammy, who learned perfect English from Young Life who came to visit when he was a 12 year old and spent a year with him. They led him to the Lord. God has a great purpose for this young man, wise beyond his 23 years. He had originally wanted to join the Army because there at least, he'd get food. But even they rejected him as too scrawny and worthless. All in God's plan, all in God's plan.
A mere $35 a month will allow a child of Korah to attend school and get a meal a day, learn about Jesus. $60 a month will take a child who literally lives in the dump and get the into a boarding school in Sheshemane (where Aliya is from) and give them an education and a future They badly need pastors to go train the leaders there and encourage the pastor they have so they can learn and more.
These are truly a forgotten people.
They were honored by our presence. Can you imagine??
As we were leaving on Saturday, I had saved some money that I wanted to give to Sammy. But when I received my end bill from our guest house stay, it needed to be paid in cash (I'm thinking I could use my credit card...don't know why I thought this!) and I had very little to leave him. I was so devastated by this that I could not stop bawling. They were all asking me what was wrong and after I was able to compose myself, I shared this with them.
Listen to Sammy's response..."Your presence in Korah was more than enough. You did something no one else does. You came to Korah."
I will NEVER forget this as long as I live. And I pray you won't either.
So for Mother's Day this year, hear this friends and family...no pedicure for me, no flowers, no gifts...only money for Koreh.
Jill and I (Jill the organizer!) are commited to helping the people of Koreh. Within about a month, they will have their first well built, with many more to come. 75,000 people live here with no water! Jill has connections to many people who will help with this, including publishing a book that we will sell with all proceeds going to Koreh. It would take about $1800 per day to feed 75,000 people one meal of rice and beans in Koreh. That's ridiculous!! Otherwise they don't eat of eat things from the dump that are NOT fit for a dog to eat.
These are children of God, the least of these. If we do for them, we do for Jesus, and not just for Jesus but for the ONE who sent him...God Himself.
Much more to come on this...can't wait to see what God will do!
This was an amazing trip to share with Katie and Aliya. We did and saw things that we should and will never forget. Korah even shocked Aliya, who said she had never seen anything like that before.
The day we were to go to Korah, I woke up at 2am and God and I had a long conversation. I told Him that I knew we HAD to go see this place, but that I did not feel I had the strength to be broken anymore. He has broken me so much in this past year with the house fire and Blaine getting sick and paralyzed that I cried out to Him to spare me this. I just could not take it.
But you know what He did? Yes, it was a 'breaking' experience to see Korah but God issued me a challenge... a challenge to be an advocate and do something to change the way life is for these precious people. I was inspired and humbled, but not broken into little pieces all over the place as I have been before. I needed to be strong for my girls and God did give me that strength. Praise His holy name!
I have much, much more to say (I'm sure you all know that!) and wonderful pics to post.
Please do say a little prayer for me as I have come down with a cough and don't want it to frighten Aliya, who is afraid of sickness as she has seen loved ones die who were very ill, which included coughing.
Continue with your prayers please, much more battles to be fought for Ethiopia!