Tuesday, June 29, 2010

They're back!!!!!

This is a picture of De, Zach and the little girl Zach loves named China. She is darling, isn't she??

Here are Blake and Zach leading in worship. You can see Alisha in the front lending her beautiful voice to the singing. The other boy playing guitar is Biruk, the 16 year old who helped the kids all week with translating. He's the one who was attacked by the angry shop owner.

This picture is of Katie's sweet Faskia, Katie and Sammy's sister.

We are so glad to have the kids home! We watched most all of their video and saw almost 1000 photos they took!! I will post a few a day for a while to help put the stories that I've already shared into perspective. They are doing great and have lots of stories to share.

Blake has an all day new student orientation at the U tomorrow, which starts at 8am! It lasts ALL day so hoping the poor guy can stay awake tomorrow.

Thank you so much for your prayer and involvement for Korah. I had a wonderful phone call from a friend from church who wanted information on sponsoring a child for the boarding school! She said she had been reading my blog and wanted to do something to help a kid get out of the dump and send them to school! Praise God for the way He speaks to the hearts of His people!!!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Korah-Day 13 saying goodbyes

You have to click on this picture and blow it up. Do you see what it says? "Jesus Christ is here." It was taken in the dump. If it doesn't speak volumes, I don't know what does. Yes, Jesus IS in the dump and in the face of each person suffering there. I believe that with all my heart. If we really believed that...that Jesus is actually in that dump...would we leave Him there?

The kids went to the dump this morning for a short visit but Katie said it was long enough. She said that the pictures and videos we've seen of it don't even come close. She said she couldn't believe how tall the mounds of garbage are and that there are deep valleys between the mounds. She also couldn't believe how many dogs were there. They apparantly fight the people for the food, pulling it out of their hands...uhg. It made me wonder why they don't kill the dogs? Just too many? Don't know how? Or maybe there is just a healthy respect and if they let the dogs have what they want, the dogs won't attack the people? She said that the garbage trucks were arriving and the people scampered to get there first to see what good stuff might be coming that day. How sad.

They were not allowed to take any pics there because it seems that the 'powers that be' are not requiring Sammy to get a permit to allow people to take pics of the goings on in the dump. It really doesn't reflect well on them for the world to see how people are living there, does it??

They did get to go to Korah and say their goodbyes but Katie couldn't find Fasika or Habtamu and she is so sad about that. She told Kayla (an American girl working as a missionary) to please tell them that she tried to find them but couldn't. I thought that maybe it is for the best. It was those 2 that would have been the hardest to say goodbye to and who would take it the hardest. Maybe it was God's protection. Katie will write them and is going to sponsor Fasika. Habtamu, it turns out already has a sponsor but Katie wants to stay in contact with him anyway.

Katie said that she gave away her 2 pair of shoes, the one she brought and the one she bought there. I can't remember who she gave the ones she brought to...I think Fasika. The ones she bought while there she gave to a sweet woman who does all of the mudding of the huts, a job no one else would do because they were afraid of getting cut by the broken glass in the mud. She did the work joyfully alongside her husband. Neither spoke a word of English but the husband took his hat off to the kids every time he saw them;)

A few days ago, when the kids were working alongside her, the woman motioned that she needed some water so De went and got her a cup of water. Her hands were covered with mud as well as her face as she was working on a hut at the time. She motioned to Katie to get the pills out of her pocket and give her 4, so Katie did and put them in her mouth with De following up with a drink of water. She was thankful and continued with her work.

One of the leaders of the church told them that she was HIV+ and so was her sweet husband and these were her antiretroviral pills to keep that keep the disease at bay.

This really had a big impact on the kids and became very personal to all of them.

It seems she gets the medication from the hospital in Korah, which really surprised and thrilled me! Thank you Jesus for the ability for some of the people to get the medication they need to live. I just didn't know any people in Korah had access to such medication. Oh, Lord please provide it for the ones who don't currently get it who need it. I need to figure out how to go about donating to that fund!

Well, in an hour the kids will leave for the airport. Katie must have eaten something that didn't agree with her and was up all night, feeling like throwing up. She does feel somewhat better today but please pray that she won't feel like that on the trip home. Throwing up on an airplane...no thanks!

They are all excited to get home and I have a great dinner planned for tomorrow night...burgers topped with guacamole, potato salad (De's favorite) and lots of fresh fruit and a little lemonade!

Katie said to me, "Mom, I am really ready to come home but you don't know how much I DO NOT want to get on that airplane."

"Yes, I do honey. Yes, I do:)"


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Korah-Day 12

I can hardly believe the kids' time in Ethiopia is coming to an end. They leave tomorrow at 10pm Ethiopian time, which is 2pm Central time. They arrive at 1pm on Tuesday. Let's do the math...yep, it is 23 hours of travel time-ugh.

The kids went to church this morning in Korah and Blake and Zach played their guitars in worship, which went well.

They are going to try to get to the dump in the morning and then to Korah to say good-bye to their wonderful friends. Katie already realizes how difficult is going to be. Friday, she told Habtamu that she'd be back on Monday to tell him good-bye and he got tears in his eyes.

She is asking for prayer for all for all of them to get everything done that they need to get done tomorrow, like going to the dump, having time to go the Korah and find all their friends, get all their packing done and get to the airport.

I asked Blake if he was ready to come home and in typical Blake style, he said, "Part of me wants to come home and part of me wants to stay."

Katie, when asked the same question, said "It is going to be REALLY hard to leave. But I really want a shower and to be clean, to breathe fresh air and to smell some puppy smell;)"

We are all anxious to see them! I'll share some of their pics here when we get them downloaded and go through them.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Korah-Day 11

This is the Addis Ababa city dump. It is directly adjacent to Korah. Many people live here. Not sure if these birds are actually vultures but they are the birds Katie was referring to when she said, "You can always find Korah and the dump from around Addis Ababa by the vultures flying overhead."

I think this picture speaks for itself. Click on it to enlarge.

I talked with the kids today. Blake answered and they were out at a restaurant. I asked Blake how he was and he replied, "Well, I'm kind of grossed out right now." This kid Ben (an American) was with them and eating a dish that was goat fat and what looked like fish eggs. They kept telling him to stop eating it and he just kept on. Hopefully Ben won't be up all night with a intestinal problem!

Anyway, the kids had a down day today and went shopping in the market...the Post Office for those of you who know that spot! Katie got a few things. They ran into that guy, who when they were shopping the last time hit and kicked Biruk in the head. He yelled at Biruk to "get out of here!' Then he began glaring at De. That's just one thing not to do to De. So De began staring him down. The man growled, "What are you looking at?!" De replied, "What did you say?" This is not a question of curiosity like in, "I'm sorry. I didn't hear you. What exactly did you say?" No, it's more like, "What did you just say to me?!" De's not one to back down but Katie is and so she pulled him away and they high-tailed it out of there.

Tomorrow they will attend church in Korah. I'm sure that will be a neat experience. They they are going to ask Sumer if she would take them or arrange for them to visit the dump. I really don't want them to miss that experience as they will never see anything like that again and it is a reality for hundreds who live there. We as Christians should NOT close our eyes to the suffering of others. I, for one, want it burned into the eyes and hearts (and noses) of my kids forever. I don't want them to EVER forget. I don't want them to be consumed with stuff and I always want them to "consider others more highly than themselves."

I told Katie to begin getting their things packed up so they don't have so much to do on Monday, when they want to be at Korah, saying their goodbyes. Jill, I know you have memories of me packing up the in the last minute on the last day before we were to attend the coffee ceremony and leave for the airport! I will admit...that was C-R-A-Z-Y of me to think I could do it all in 30 minutes or less. So I officially apologize for that moment of insanity! But I'm trying to get the kids *not* to repeat that day so hopefully...

Thanks again for your support and prayers!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Korah-Day 11

Wow, how time flies! Are they really on day 11? I truly think these 4 kids have lived a years' worth of adventures in just under 2 weeks.

Katie got some really good news today. It seems that she will able to sponsor the 4 kids she has developed relationships with! She was a little worried that the kids needed to be on an approved list in order to be sponsored (she'd overheard someone say that) and really started praying that she'd be permitted to sponsor the kids she loves so much. Today, Sumer told her that anyone could sponsor any kid to go to the school in Korah. One of the kids, Robel is on the approved list to be sponsored for the boarding school in Sheshamane. She is so happy!

The kids painted a hut today...the first hut they plastered and mudded when they first arrived. It was hard work but they did a great job. Somehow they were able to get some blue paint...real blue paint-the thick stuff. They painted most of it blue but the bottom foot or so they wanted to be painted a black stripe. So, they watered the black paint down with diesel gasoline...no idea why or if it was a mistake. Katie said the fumes were so strong that even the most wild, crazy kids became mellow. They were teasing those kids, saying "Maybe this is good for you crazy kids!" They dizzily replied, "NO, this is NOT good." Not sure how good of an idea this was but anyway, everyone survived.

Tomorrow, they are going shopping with their beloved and hilarious Mastie. Katie says he is the "MOST hilarious guy you've ever met!!" He's spent lots of time with the kids, going to dinner and hanging out as well as working along side him that I really think it's going to be hard for them to leave such a good friend. If you don't know De, I can tell you he is a very funny guy and always has a smile on his face. Katie told me that Mastie is even funnier than De...but when you get them together...it's constant laughter! She's got some video of them telling jokes:)

I have to admit, I really (we really) miss our the kids. We can't wait for them to come home on Tuesday at 1pm! Hope they're not *too* tired because I want to see each and every picture, listen to every story and watch every minute of video. I will be dying to see everything but I know it will all come out over time.

Have I mentioned anything about Miss New Puppy yet? Well, she is cute. There are moments when I think, "I'm going to lose it." That is most of the time, actually. But there are times I think this is good for the kids. Mihiretu is being so sweet and responsible in caring for her. Aliya is warming up to her and doing a better job tending to her needs.

I did have a melt down today, loudly called a mini-family meeting and *think* it is now understood that 1) The puppy cannot nap continuously because you need a break, kids 2) When the puppy does wake up from a nap in the kennel, you must get your shoes on, open the door and pick the dog up and CARRY her outside or else she will pee on my new, lovely rugs (AGAIN!) and 3) When the puppy pees on the carpet (which shouldn't happen because she is not allowed on the carpet, you must tell Mommy so it can get cleaned up and not let it dry into the new carpet.

Ugh, what I don't do for my family! I'm a glutton for punishment, huh?

Many blessings,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Korah-Day 10

I talked with the kids today and got a great report from Katie...she is feeling MUCH better! Her throat still hurts but is bearable. Everyone is doing well today. They were at dinner when I called at an Ethiopian restaurant that has Ethiopian dancing. They were there with some of the leaders of the church in Korah. The music was playing so loudly that I can't believe they could hear me at all!

Last night, it seems that the Ethiopian Chinese food did NOT agree with Blake and he was up all night with diarrhea and throwing up. Yuck! So he stayed back from Korah today and slept and felt much better after it all was out of his system tonight. He said he should have suspected something when all the employees were in "straight up Mandarin Samuri costumes" in Ethiopia! He was laughing about it but said he will not be eating Ethiopian Chinese anymore. Good call, my son. The weird thing was that Zach ate exactly the same thing Blake had...hmmmm.

So the 3 others spent the day at Korah. They painted again and worked on the huts. The kids club has started but only for 1/2 days until all the work is complete. That *should* be on Monday, which is the day the kids are leaving:( They still have a whole kitchen type hut that needs to be built to cook for the kids who will be spending the summer in the newly built huts with bunkbeds. The boys have been playing for the kids everyday and leading them in singing.

Katie's sweet friend, Habtamu watches over her all day. He makes sure that no other boys mess with her. He's her little protector! Several days ago, she wrote on his hand, "I love you, Habtamu. Love, Katie" and every night he traces over it with a marker so it doesn't disappear!

Another boy, Mohammed gave Katie a necklace-a "gold" one this time. All the kids know which necklace was given to her by which child and come up to her, point to one and say, "Faskia" and point to another and say, "Bayza" and not to the gold one and say, "Mohammed." She is proudly wearing all of them and the kids LOVE it!

Thank you for your prayers. Thank you God for taking care of my kids so far away!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Korah-Day 9

Isn't this girl adorable? She has such a sweet and inquisitive face. I wonder if she is coming to the kids club?

I talked with Blake and they were out at a Chinese restaurant for dinner! Does that sound strange to anyone else? Anyway, Katie and De stayed back as she is not feeling at all well.

As you know, she has had a sore throat but the other day ate some pizza and thinks the crust scratched her throat badly. I have my doubts but she is totally convinced it is that. She had told me several days ago that some of the Korah kids had strep, so I suspect that is more likely. She feels feverish and exhausted. She and De stayed at the Guest Home today and didn't go to Korah. I know it killed her to do that and that it was a decision that was hard for her to make. I told her to start immediately on her Cipro (antibiotic) so hopefully tomorrow she notices a difference. She said she will NOT stay back tomorrow, no matter how she feels. So pray she feels better, ok??

Blake said they had a good day today at Korah. They did more of the same: painting and building. Zach and Blake have been playing for the kids everyday and the kids LOVE to sing. Some of the songs they play are in Amharic and some in English. They taught the wordless story and made the wordless bracelets today. The kids LOVED them!

On the home-front, we picked up our new puppy just a couple hours ago. We've named her "Tia" but since it sounds so much like Aliya, I'm not sure how long it will last. She really is cute. If I had a camera, I'd take a pic of her but the kids have the camera with them. Aliya is still a little scared of her and thinks she will bite her. Mihiretu has really been good with her, holding her and taking her outside to go potty. I'm really proud of him. Misganaw thinks she's cute but isn't too sure if he can trust her yet not to scratch him. Blake and Katie are sad they aren't here to see her. I think she's cute but ask me tomorrow morning after our first night with her:)

Thanks for your continued prayers for the kids!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Korah-Day 8

Just a quick post to say I talked with Katie today and they are fine. They did more painting today...yellow for the inside of the huts, blue for the outside.

Sumer's group is leaving tonight. They had a hard, emotional time saying goodbye to the kids. Tomorrow our 4 will continue painting and doing whatever work is needed to complete the huts.

Katie said that her friend, Habtamu has a dry, scaly patch behind his ear. It really bothers him and he doesn't know what to do about it. People keep telling him just to keep washing it but he told Katie, "But our water is dirty!" I told her to give him the tube of hydrocortisone cream that they brought. Thank you to the ladies in my moms persecuted church prayer team who packed the wonderful and very complete medical kit. Habtamu is now the proud owner of a big tube of hydrocortisone cream, thanks to you! Pray it works for him.

Katie also told me that Fasika came up to her and asked her, "Only 7 more days until you go back to United States?" Katie told her yes. She put her hands over her face and began sobbing. Katie told her, "You can't cry while I'm still here. Let's not cry now, ok?" She kept saying, "Ok, Ok I will try...Ok, Ok." Habtamu, watching on was trying to be a brave guy but he just put his head down on the table. It is going to be really, really hard for her to leave these kids:(

Remember Bayza, Katie's friend who I mentioned earlier? She came skipping up to Katie, pulled her out of the hut she was working on and handed her a little package. Inside was another silver necklace with a little water jug pendant.

Katie asked her where she got this. She giggled and said, "My mom gave me the money and I went to the market and bought it for you."

Now she is proudly wearing 2 precious gifts given to her so sacrificially by her 2 new friends. I can hardly believe these girls did this. Neither can Katie believe how sweet they are and loving.

Katie is really good with kids. They love her deeply and bond to her quickly. I think she is just so genuine and they see that in her. She truly loves them and they see that. She looks them in the eye, listens, cares and also jokes and laughs with them. What she has really is a gift because I haven't often seen it in others to the extent I have seen it in her. Even Mihiretu, Misganaw and Aliya are this way with Katie...they really, really want to please her. Why can't they be that way with me??:)

Many blessings,

Monday, June 21, 2010

Korah-day 7

We just talked to the kids. The all reported that they all felt so much better after a day of rest and good, long night sleep yesterday. Blake has lost his voice but at least he is rested.

Today, Blake and Zach did guitar lessons again. He said the 4 guys they are teaching are doing really well. They are learning "Amazing Grace." They also did more mudding and plastering houses, made tables and painted more houses.

Blake said that today while they were charging his computer, they began to hear a sound and then there was smoke and the smell of electrical fire. Ugh, the charger is fried but the computer is fine, thankfully! However, with only 15 minutes of battery left, they will not be able to download their pictures from the day on it. They are taking 500 pics a day so now they will just have to delete the bad ones on the camera. Not a big deal.

Katie told us a little more about her friend, 13 year old Habtamu. He has been hanging around her every day, but is very quiet and always looks so sad. She had talked to him previously about if he wanted to be sponsored. He told her he didn't want anyone to sponsor him. To Katie, he seems like a wounded child and has been hurt and therefore has his defenses up.

Today, he opened up to Katie and asked her, "Would you please sponsor me?" This is a big step of faith for a child who has lived a life of such disappointment. He wants to trust someone and after a week, Katie has earned his trust. She sadly had to tell him that she was already sponsoring Fasika but told him, "Maybe my family would sponsor you." She said he had a smile from ear to ear and was so happy for the rest of the day. Hope is a powerful thing.

So family...Katie told me that she has a few other kids that she's developed a close relationship with and when she gets home, be prepared to be hit up by Katie! And you know she doesn't back down:) Blaine and I are praying about sponsoring Habtamu. I'd sure love for her to tell him while she's there. Blaine and I are already invested in a significnt way in Korah but there is always more we can do. Lord, show us Your will with Habtamu.

Katie told me that today, Fasika came up to her with a little package wrapped in paper in her hand. She handed it to Katie and told her it was something for her. When she opened it, a beautiful silver necklace with an Africa pendant popped out. Katie was flabergasted! She asked Fasika, "Is this yours?" She replied, "It is not mine."

With Biruk interpreting, Fasika told Katie she had bought it for her!

Biruk told Katie, "It's not a big deal. It was only 8 Birr. She only got it for you because she loves you so much."

Katie told Biruk, "It IS a big deal! 8 Birr is a lot for a kid from Korah."

8 Birr is less than a dollar but I'm sure this girl could have used it for something else but I'm sure she doesn't want Katie to forget her. How amazingly sweet is this?

Katie said it is really beautiful and she loves it! Complete selflessness from a girl with almost nothing. Lord, help me to be as selfless.

All the guys LOVE De and are trying to be like him. Biruk is going around saying, "Yo, dude!" Funny!

I had sent a couple little battery operated fans along with the kids for the airplane ride. When the plane stops in Rome, they shut off the plane and it gets very claustrophobic in there. So the little fans help. Well, since De and Ismacho were the ones making the fire to boil the water to make the paint, De thought the little fans would be great to help get the fire started so he brought one. It worked great and the guys were so impressed with this that they exclaimed, "This is good technology!!"

Laughing, Sumer replied, "This is not technology! It is a little battery operated fan!"

"No, this is GOOD technology!" Haha:)

Ismacho has already burned one of the blades off but maybe De can leave him another one.

Remember all the soccer balls and Frisbees the kids brought with them? Well, they were given to the kids in the countryside to play with but sadly they were stolen by the thugs with sticks:( Maybe the next person or group who comes can bring some more.

Well, the small mouth bass are biting off the dock so I better go catch one!

Thanks for your continued prayers.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

If you want the whole story, talk to the girl!

Remember in my post yesterday when Blake said the trip to the countryside was "disappointing?" That was his word..."disappointing." Well, Blaine talked with Katie today and got the WHOLE story. Here it is...

They all did take a trip out to the countryside. They filled 2 buses up with a lot of kids from Korah (Blake thought a couple hundred...not sure on numbers). The Americans (our 4 and Sumer's group) all rode in vans.

When the arrived in the village where they were to spend the day, one of the bus drivers said, "I am not staying here" and he proceeded to empty his bus, turn around and leave! I have no idea why.

There was supposed to be a nice place for the kids to play soccer. There wasn't. Then there wasn't enough food for the kids to eat. Sammy was very, very disappointed. Understandibly so! I'm sure they spent a good deal of money renting these buses, with the understanding of a fun day and food for everyone. Sammy felt terrible!

As evening approched and it was time to leave, some older boys appeared (Katie doesn't think they were drunk). They were carrying big sticks and began chasing the kids from Korah and hitting them with the big sticks! It was total chaos.

Someone yelled, "Get into the vans!" and De immediately picked Katie up and threw her into the van before she knew what was happening. (Do you see why we LOVE this young man??!! Saving Katie first...LOVE HIM!) Sammy was running telling the kids to follow him. Katie said it was so hard to be in the van and hear the kids screaming and getting hit:(

The kids all got onto the one bus and they took off. Oh, my goodness...how scary!

Thank you, Lord for protecting everyone and that no one got hurt severely.

The boys did want the American's cameras but they did not get any.

Today is Sunday in Ethiopia and the kids were to go to church in Korah but I think, wisely decided to lay low and stay back. They are all exhausted, emotionally and physically. Katie and De have a bad sore throat but are functioning. But they did need rest today and I'm glad they got it. Katie said the kids at Korah are going to chew her out tomorrow for missing today because she promised that she'd be there but I told her they will understand that you were sick.

She and De, Blake and Zach did take a little shopping trip to the market today for a bit. They took Biruk, the sweet 16 year old translator. Katie was shopping for 5 bracelets for some of the kids and the shop owner wanted 300 Birr...too much she said. So Biruk tried to talk him down. The shop owner got angry and took the bracelets out of her hands and told her he would not sell them to her. She said, "Fine, bye" and they walked out. They looked back and Biruk has disappeared. They went back to find him and saw the tail end of this man hitting and kicking him (hard) in the head! He was angry that Biruk had 'cost' him the sale. Oh, my! Katie said Biruk was really hurting.

I don't know if I've mentioned this but my kids travel with armed guards all the time...it's just that they're not usually visible. Thank goodness for guardian angels! Thanks for all your prayers for protection!

Tomorrow it is back to Korah for more construction, painting and such. Sounds like the kids who are attending the boarding school will be able to move into their new mud hut dorms on Tuesday!! But lots of work to do before then so pray for continued strength for everyone. Hopefully, Wed. the kids club will officially be able to start. You know...the best laid plans... You just have to be flexible!

Katie has pretty much decided to sponsor a 12/13 year old girl named Fasika. She was along on the field trip to the countryside. I asked Katie why she chose to sponsor Fasika and not one of the other sweet kids she loves and she said, "We pretty much bonded when we went pee together behind a hut in the countryside."

It seems that they both felt nature calling and Fasika said to Katie, "Come on!" and she began running so Katie followed her. They ended up behind someones home. Fasika looked around, saw no one and proceeded to do her business. Then she told Katie, "Go." Katie said, "That's easy for you to say. You have on a skirt!" Fasika looked around and once again, more urgently said, "GO." (She's going to kill me for telling this!) So Katie very quickly did her business with Fasika trying to cover her with her skirt. Katie said she kept thinking, "I'm sure mine is the whitest butt you have ever seen!" It's a bonding experience!

I have no pictures today to share because I am not home. Blaine and I are away at the cabin celebrating our 24th anniversary, which is tomorrow. Awwwww, I know! Some lovely family members have the 3 youngest and Blaine and I have already buzzed around the lake on the jet ski and now Blaine's getting the boat ready for a night of fishing. He keeps saying, "Man, it is quiet."

Yes, it is:)

Please keep praying. As you can see, they need your prayers!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Korah-Day 5

This is Pastor Anthony directing the children in their singing in the Great Hope Church in Korah.

I talked with Blake just now. He's tired, sick and very hungry. So keep in mind, this post comes from that perspective:)

It's noon here and 10 pm there. They were riding in a van, coming from the countryside where there were today. They took about 200 of the kids from Korah out to play in the countryside and visit a man who has a ministry out there. It took them about 3 1/2 hours to get there but Blake didn't know the name of the town or village.

Blake reported that the day was a little disappointing. It seems that the man who has the ministry cooked up a whole ox to feed everyone but it ended up not being enough. The kids were hungry and our 4 have had nothing to eat all day. They have about 2 more hours before they get back to the guest house and can get some of the snacks they brought. I can't imagine they didn't bring any of their snacks but when I asked Blake that, I got cut off and never got the answer to that.

Blake and Katie both have sore throats and raspy voices but no fevers, thankfully. Please do pray for them as it is not so fun to be sick far away from home.

They also had an incident today while on their journey to the countryside in which one of the buses broke down and some seemingly drunk guys with sticks began throwing rocks at it. To protect the kids, the adults got all the kids onto the other bus and they all piled on there to get away. The guys wanted to steal their cameras. Ugh. Thank God they all got away and (Blake thinks) no one was hurt.

There is a couple who is in Korah with the kids right now. Their blog is www.thebestofallenworld.blogspot.com
You HAVE to check out their entries for the past few days. They have sponsored a girl, Tigist who will moving on Tuesday from some deplorable conditions into one of the mud huts that our 4 kids are working building right now. She will have her own bunkbed. Best of all, she will be safe and not alone anymore. You have to read their entry from yesterday. Oh, my goodness. Your heart will break, I guarantee it. They have some very moving pictures. Please check it out.

I asked Blake if he knows these people and he said they were in the van with him right then. Blake, Katie, Zach and De were there at the time these pictures were taken, even thought they are not in them.

Can I tell you how glad I am that they saw this? I'm sure it was heart breaking for them (because it ruined me for the day just seeing it on their blog) but one of my prayers is that they would become even more compassionate and that they would have a heart for hurting people. Our teenagers and young adults need to see how others in the world suffer so they can have the heart of Christ for people. If they stay in suburbia, how can they develop this heart?

I thank God that for the giving people who supported the kids and made this trip possible for them. I know they are being a huge blessing to them.

The kids' plan tomorrow is to go the church in Korah and Blake and Zach will lead in worship.

Praise God for His good gifts!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Korah-Day 4

I spoke with Zach and Katie today. Zach sounded great and said they taught guitar lessons today and it went REALLY well! They are teaching 4 guys who are leaders in the church.

The I talked with Katie who was very talkative! The bummer is she said her throat is beginning to hurt:( She's not sure if she's getting sick or if it is the bad pollution. De is coughing (sounds like asthma...dry) like his throat of lungs are irritated. I'm sure he is not sick by the way it sounds. I told him to take Katie's inhaler...so hopefully he will improve.

They were hoping to have someone take them shopping for some new work boots tonight. It seems that Katie's new shoes are falling apart and De's aren't too good either. They really needed work boots but chose not to bring them;) It has been raining every night so when they get to Korah, it is so muddy. Katie said it's like she's wearing around platform shoes. They when they go somewhere else, she doesn't have any decent shoes to wear. One of the church leaders, Mostie (who grew up in the dump) is planning on going with them to help them.

The kids spent the day again constructing mud huts, painting and building bunk beds. Katie said it is very hard work, but fun:)
She gave me the recipe for homemade paint and here it is.

They buy a block of something that looks like rubber tire material. At this point De chimes in that the black block is actually fried cow skin! Katie freaks out and now understands why it smells so, so bad! Anyway, they mix the fried cow skin in boiling water over a fire that De and Ismacho made. Once it melts, the cow fat floats to the top. Then they add the color packets (that they buy) and it makes a nice but watery paint. It doesn't smell once the color gets mixed in. She said it's nice paint to work with because if it gets on your clothes, you just scrape it off as it turns to powder.

She is also having fun with the material they use to smear on the mud walls. Katie says it looks and feels just like hummus and is fun to work with.

They are not officially starting the kids club until next week. There are still too many preparations to do. They are putting together classrooms for the kids who will be going to the boarding school.

The guys went today to Sammy's house to do a 'bench off' (weightlifting, that is!) Sammy has an "African style" weight bench. She said the guys are strong and Berhanu won with 200# benched! They met Sammy's mom and sister who also live with him. She said they were so sweet and friendly!

For some reason, Katie must be an easy name for the kids to remember and say because she said that as they pull up now everyday, the kids all come running calling, "KATIE, KATIE!!" Then they grab her hand and say, "How are you doing? I love you!" Even when they were a few blocks away from the church at Sammy's, kids were still seeing her and yelling, "Katie!" She said that it's funny to be known all over Korah!

They did get a toilet installed now in Korah! It is in a little hut and from what I can understand, the "toilet" is hooked up to a tube which runs out of the hut directly into the dirt. So the result is the same as those who live there and simply go outside...it's just the Americans get to do it in private! It all ends up in the dirt!

She has made a few very special connections. One is a girl, about 12 or 13 named Bayza. She is the one who is with her everyday, kissing her. She told her, "I am going home with you in your backpack" and she calls Katie "her sister". She is not an orphan and has a baby sister of her own. Katie really wants to sponsor this girl to go to the boarding school. She's praying about how to go about doing this and asking God if He would provide the $700 per year to do this.

But it's not only one child that she has connected with. It is 3! There is a boy, Habtamu who is about 12/13 who is so sweet and helpful. Then there is Robel, who is about 10. He is a great helper, winks at her all day and calls himself, "Katie's husband!"

Oh, how she wants these kids to have the opportunity to go to school!! If any of you feel led to sponsor one of them or another child, please let me know. She said, "Mom, I KNOW these kids and I want to help them!" Yep, that's one of the many benefits of a trip like this...the children are not numbers or simply names. They are your friends, real people with real hopes and dreams who need a hand up.

Katie reports that the pollution in Korah especially is absolutely horrible. She said when they were walking to Sammy's house, made a comment about it to De and also about the really bad smell. Biruk, their 16 year old translator told them, "What you are smelling is dead animals and dead things." When Katie and I were there before, we didn't notice any bad smell in Korah. But now that it's warmer, there is a strong and constant smell of feces and urine, and apparantly, death there.

She said that vultures are flying over Korah and the dump 24/7. The kids tap her and point to the sky and say, "Ooooohhh" in fear of them. She said that when you are in Addis Ababa you can always know which direction Korah and the dump is...look for the vultures and it is directly below. That makes me sad.

Tomorrow they are all going to the countryside or to the mountains to play with the kids there. They are bringing soccer balls, singing songs and playing games with them. Should be a wonderful day, once again to serve the underserved.

Thanks for your prayers and for reading this novel! Please pray for Katie with her throat and for De with his coughing and generally for safety for the whole team.

Also would you pray for those who live there in that pollution, day in and day out who cannot get away from it? Pray for the ones who live under the vultures.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Korah-Day 3

This is one of my favorite pictures of a little girl in Korah. Look at her feet. She is wearing one crock that almost fits her and a huge pink womans slip on shoe. I really don't know how she kept it on her little foot. This picture speaks to my heart so loudly. I have a child about her age. I cannot imagine him not having decent shoes, especially on such rough, rocky and not-so-clean terrain. Breaks my heart big time.

Here is her sweet face. You can tell she is malnourished because of the light, orange color of her hair. To be honest, I have thought about this little girl a lot since we got home. She brings up a lot of emotion in me. I wanted to finally share her with you.

I had an opportunity to talk with Blake today. It was about 11pm their time. I had tried 3 times before but no one answered. The reason...they went to a MOVIE! What?? Sorry, but I didn't realize there were movie theaters in Addis Ababa. Guess I hadn't thought about it! They get a lot of Indian movies there so I wondered what they saw. Yep...A TEAM, a current American movie. Go figure. They went with some of their new Ethiopian friends.

They had another good day in Korah. Blake said that built mud huts today. They are needed because more kids have been sponsored and they need boarding school training rooms (training how to make beds, etc. and to serve as a transition for the kids from the dump to the boarding school). Katie thinks it's pretty cool that she actually knows how to completely build a mud hut now! They also built bunk beds and painted. Blake carried mud on a tray for the mud hut construction.

They did start the VBS summer camp today. Blake and Zach led the worship music in the church. They played some music in English and some in Amharic. The church was full and overflowing with kids outside.

The boys have had little time to teach the leaders of the church much guitar. They are still so busy with their preparations for the summer camp. Blake said the good new is that a couple of the guys do know something about guitar. How, I don't know. But that will help a lot. They are planning on starting more teaching tomorrow.

Katie said that 3 people had to go to the hospital today. It seems that there is broken glass in the mud they are smearing on the mud huts and a couple people got their hands cut and one guy (Katie thought an Ethiopian guy) got bitten by a dog. So we need to begin praying harder for the safety of the kids as well as the other workers there! Katie said that they weren't doing any of the mud smearing so they didn't have any trouble. She said they are all fine.

Blake, however thinks he's been bitten by bedbugs. He has little red bites and they are itchy. I'm wondering about fleas instead since the place they are staying is CLEAN so I sort of doubt the bedbug idea. However, he's sleeping in another bed tonight, just in case:)

The leaders of the church evidently LOVE De! One guy (the really tall guy for those of you reading this who know him...can't remember his name??) always asks Katie when he sees her, "Where's De?? I miss him! He's my best friend! He's such a good guy and a good worker!" Yes, all these things are so true of De...glad they see it, too. How sweet is that?

Katie has made a special connection with a little girl there. She is always kissing her and telling her, "I love you!" She follows her around all day and is teaching Katie a hand clapping game. Aliya does the same game. She said this girl tells her she loves her about 100 times a day. Precious!

They are doing great, working hard and showing the LOVE of Christ to so many.

Zach has discovered a new love...Ethiopian food!

Thanks for your prayers!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Korah-Day 2

This man is known in Korah as "Creeper" because of how he manages to get around on his hands.

He plays the flute out on the streets of Addis Ababa. He is better off than most in Korah as he does get some income from begging.

This is the inside of his house. Remember, he is better off than most. The terrain is so difficult for a leper who has lost limbs to get around on. I would SURE love to find some all terrain-type wheelchairs for these people, some with big wheels that could go over the rocky roads in Korah. It is just so degrading for human being to have to creep along on the ground like this man does. Any ideas??

(Remember these pictures were taken when we were there in January;)

I talked with Blake and Katie today. They were waiting for Sumer's group to pick them up and they were all going to dinner together.

The summer camp did not begin today as planned. They still had work to do to prepare. Today they painted benches and built bunk beds. They spent time playing with the kids and once again, Katie received many proposals for marriage. One boy, after asking her to marry him, must have gotten a little hungry because out of the blue, he bit her on the arm! "Sort of hard," she said. She scolded him and he said, "But I want to marry you." Hmmmmmm.....not a cultural thing I've ever heard of in conjunction with a marriage proposal:)

She's fine...don't worry, Mom!

Blake and Zach had the opportunity to lead worship for the church today. I'm not sure who was gathered there and why but he said the church was full of people. They also began their guitar lessons with the church leaders and Blake reported that it went well!

Katie is assuming that the summer camp will begin tomorrow but was going to ask Sumer at dinner when they went tonight.

Katie's story of the day is that she told me that she held a monkey today! I'm like, "WHAT?" Aliya tells stories of feeding wild monkeys and she tells us that they are M-E-A-N! The story is that Alisha, Sammy's fiance who is in Ethiopia right now bought a monkey on the street today for 100 Birr (Ethiopian money). This is just over $7 (I was wrong on facebook...sorry, I looked it up now;) Katie got to hold it and feed it a banana. She said it's the cutest thing ever! She's keeping it as her pet and named it Rafika. Oh, my goodness!!

Again, don't worry Mom! Sammy wouldn't let Alisha buy it if it wasn't ok.


They were all exhausted and will hopefully get a great nights sleep for all the work that is to be done tomorrow!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Great first day in Korah

I had the opportunity to talk with De and Katie today. They were at a restaurant eating dinner with Zi and it was so loud! 3 of them were eating cheeseburgers and one eating Ethiopian food...guess which one was having Ethiopian food...yep, De the Ethiopian:)

They reported to me that they had a GREAT day today in Korah today. They spent time dancing with the children. The boys worked on moving some rocks and then they all did some painting. Katie said they actually made their own paint! They boiled water and put some black stuff in it, then put some coloring in it and they used it to paint! Crazy, huh?

Katie said that they had kids crawling all over them the entire day, holding onto them, hugging them, kissing them and just generally loving all over them. They LOVED every second!

Katie laughed when she told me that she was inundated with numerous 15 year old boys who kept telling her she was so beautiful, asking her if she was married and holding her hands everywhere she went! Not to be left out, she also said the boys were constantly surrounded by girls telling them how "hand-a-some" they were!

I could hear the joy in her voice and in De's voice about the time spent with these kids, just loving them and being the face of Christ to them.

Just some background on what they are doing...there was some land across the street from the church in Korah rented so that the summer camp could accomodate the 760 kids who were coming. The land needed some improvements and the men of the church have been working on them for the past several weeks and it looks great. Today they were just finishing up these improvements.

Remember Sumer visited Korah and the garbage dump in January? When she saw the horrible condition that so many children were living in there, she found a boarding school in Sheshamane that would take the kids, providing that they could learn how to hold a pencil, learn some English, learn to wash their clothes and learn to make a bed. Given that they have no beds in the dump, only one set of clothes and no where to wash them and no means to learn English or reading or writing, attendance in the summer camp program is required for admittance into the boarding school. The improvements on the new land include some dorm-type rooms with beds and desks for the children to learn the skills necessary for school.

Then if you remember, sweet Sammy opened up the summer camp up to all the kids who they (the church in Korah) has files on (who have or need sponsorship to attend school there in Korah...see hopemongers.com). This is what brought the number of summer camp attendees to over 750 kids!

So that begins tomorrow. I'm sure the anticipation is very high among the children and the workers! Will you pray with me for the kids and workers? Pray that the Lord would show up in the faces, voices and loving hands of the workers. Pray that the kids would know and see the love that they so rarely see from outsiders. And that they would KNOW that there is a God in heaven who loves and adores them and thinks they are precious.

Look at those faces in the picture above (that we took in Feb). Is there any question that they are precious in His sight?

Gorgeous kids!


Monday, June 14, 2010

It's 10:15 in Addis Ababa... *update at bottom*

So why have the kids not emailed yet?? :)

They should have landed at 7:00pm their time. How fun! I can just imagine them going down the escalator, then through the Visa line for their Ethiopian Visa then on to collect their bags (which can take a while!) then through the x ray machine and through the doors to see Zi and Sammy.

Sumer's group of from her church were on the same flight! So they had lots of bags to gather up, load up and get back to the Guest Home. Then get to their room, get situated and get their cell phone which is given to them for their use while a guest at the Ethiopia Guest Home. Best place to stay while in Addis Ababa, by the way!

Then to the office to use the computer to email me the phone number of their cell phone so I can call them. Hmmmm....this could be the problem. With 15 other people who want to do the same thing for their families who are waiting at home and with the slowest dial up in the East ;) it could be tomorrow before we get to talk to them.

I spoke with Sumer a couple days ago and she told me the church is SO excited to have the guitars! She also told me that the summer camp starts on Wed. and on Tues. they will be painting and working on last minute things to get the site ready. She reported that the additional land that was rented for this reason by Korah looks wonderful! It needed some improvements made to it, like some buildings built, bunk beds and desks built to get ready for the kids who are coming to the summer camp from the trash dump. Can't wait to see pics of that!

She also reported that the latrine/toilet that was to be ready is not quite ready. Maybe they can get that completed on Tues, too. I asked her where she was going to the bathroom in Korah and she didn't answer that one! There are no bathrooms there otherwise. Oh, well...when in Korah...

I meant to take pics of the stuff the kids bought to give away but didn't get a chance. They bought 4 soccer balls, 4 frisbees, those little parachute guys, matchbox cars, soccer ball pumps, recorders (like a flute), etc. The plan for these things is that they will probably give them individually to a child who is all alone or in a small group, like the 2 boys we saw playing soccer with the ball they had made from old plastic bags and string up in the Entoto Mountains. (picture above) There are just not enough for all the kids in Korah and if they give to one child, there will be so many sad kids. Can you imagine their faces if you pulled out a brand new black and white soccer ball and gave it to them?? Ahhhhhhhhh, have I mentioned how badly I want to be there?? There is pretty much nothing I'd rather do than that right now. It just thrills my heart!

I will update when I speak to them, probably tomorrow.

Thanks for praying for them.


Don't you just love Facebook?? I was on and Zi came on so I got the kids' cell phone number from him. So I talked with them and they all sound like they've been up for 2 days...oh, I guess they have been practically! The flight was fine but no one slept much. So they are exhausted. They are staying in the same guest house we stayed in while we were there in Feb. (there are 4 separate houses there)

They put the boys in a room and Katie in another room. She was freaked out so they moved all their luggage into that room and she climbed in with her brother in his bed. So hopefully they will be out cold and get rested.

They need to be up for breakfast by 7:30 and ready to leave by 9am for Korah. Should be an exciting day!

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

They're on their way to Ethiopia!

Katie and De after graduation celebrating at TGIFridays with some dessert. Don't they look gorgeous?

The oldest kids at graduation. We left the little boys at home. Need I explain that decision??

Just 2 nights ago they were graduating and today they leave for Ethiopia! We don't do things half way, do we? We're gluttons for stress!

Blake, Katie, De and Zach are off on the first leg of their journey. We left for the airport at 4:45 this morning! Of course, we had to make a quick trip back because they forgot their travel pillows. We weren't far from home so no big deal. But when we were almost to the airport, Blake says, "We did get the Baby Taylor, didn't we?" (this is a small guitar he was carrying on) Nope, we did not have it. So Blaine's mom graciously woke the little boys up, loaded them and the other Baby into the car and brought them to the airport. Thank you Grandma!

I guess there IS a benefit to gathering all your luggage and belongings and putting them into one pile so the night before so it's easy to gather them up in the morning;) Hmmmm...lesson learned?? Listen to your mother.

They called from Dulles an hour ago when they landed. De's ears were hurting but Katie has Sudafed so he should do better on the next leg. Zach is coming down with a sore throat, so pray for him. Katie and Blake were doing fine. Blake said that De was already stuffing his face with a burrito so I guess things are pretty good:)

People keep asking me if it worries us to put them on a plane to go half way across the world. I have to say that is really doesn't. We know that God goes before them. He has a plan for them while they are away. He had a plan for them while they were here working and raising funds. He has a plan for them when they arrive back home. They already have been asked by a friends' church to come and share their trip with the congregation.

I know he has a plan for the people they whose lives they will touch in Korah. I know they will be a blessing to the church there. It will be a church with musical instruments, something they've never had before. I wonder how many people in the community will come to the church for the first time ONLY to see what strange thing is making such music. Guitars are not common in Ethiopia. I wonder how many of them will hear the gospel for the first time.

My sister in law, Pam has spent well over a month gathering materials for 760 kids to make a wordless bracelet. She has been to every craft store in our area, coupons in hand, sometimes having to put an item and coupon in her 7 year olds hands, to purchase all the beads and leather it requires to make the bracelets. If you haven't seen a wordless bracelet...they are made with a leather string and 5 beads...a grey or black one, a red one, a white one, a gold one and a green one. Each bead tells a story.

Grey or black represents sin...because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Red represents the blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed to save and cleanse us from our sins.
White represents that when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior, our sins are washed as white as snow.
Gold represents heaven and how the streets there are made of pure gold!
Green represents new life and how we grow in our relationship with Jesus.

I wonder how many children will go home with these bracelets and share the wordless story with their families and they will hear the gospel for the first time. And even though they cannot read a word or speak English, their families will understand about a Savior who loves them enough to die for them.

To be honest, I'm more than a little jealous that they get to go do this and I don't! I'd love to be there but this is their time.

Thank you for your prayers, support, love, interest and encouragement. You have blessed them!

More as I hear...


Saturday, June 12, 2010

They graduated!

Katie and De graduated last night! It was a very nice ceremony and I will share pics probably tomorrow when I get a little more time.

Today will be spent helping the kids get packed up and other last minute things. No they haven't started packing AT ALL! I told them they really need to get the suitcases out and get started but that has not yet happened:) They have been busy getting ready for the trip and graduation so I guess I'll have to give them some grace.

I did want to ask for prayer for De. He has a pretty bad sore throat and is feeling not great. Pray that he will get better before he has to get on a plane for 23 hours and also please pray that no one else will get sick. De never gets sick either. So hmmmmm...kind of weird.

They leave bright and early tomorrow morning and then spend the day in Dulles...a 10 hour layover! It was that or leave a little later and transfer planes 3 times before getting to Dulles. So I chose the 10 hour layover. Better than coming up and down so many times! They definitely have PLENTY of time there!!

Thanks for your prayers as they get ready to go serve the people of Korah in Addis Ababa, Ethioipia! They are getting very excited.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Great open house for Katie!

Aliya wearing her "Remember Korah" bracelet. Isn't she pretty? (Remember Korah bracelets are for sale if you want one!)

Grandma Joani is so clever with gifts! De got a box filled with money, all taped together. So when he pulled it just kept coming and coming! He LOVED it! So funny.

The beautiful graduate and her mommy:)

De, Katie and my mom.

When we were trying to assemble the crew, Misganaw grabbed my face and kissed my nose and Jenny caught it on camera. So sweet!

We finally got a new family picture that includes everyone:) De is included because he really is part of our family.

We had a wonderful open house for Katie. The weather didn't cooperate too well but that didn't stop the fun! Five years ago, rain on an open house day would have really upset me but we've been through much worse since then so now it barely fazed us. This is a good thing!

I have to say a few things about my little graduate, Katie. She has been a parents' delight from birth. She has always wanted to please us as parents and cannot stand to ever let us down. Therefore, she's been easy to parent. She's grown into one of my very best friends, someone I can always confide in, someone who knows exactly how I feel at every given moment, someone who gives me wise advice. She loves the Lord, seeks to follow Him, be a good example to her friends and school (earned a character award this year in her senior class), puts others ahead of herself and is a kind and thoughtful person.

We are so proud of her and thankful that the Lord has heard our prayers over the years on her behalf!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pontoon and puppies

We spent the Memorial Day weekend up north at our cabin. We had amazingly warm weather for this time of year and the kids even went swimming in the lake! Most years, a person would get hypothermia from doing that:) Aliya got a turn driving the pontoon boat and loved it.

So our new puppy was born 3 weeks ago and the other night we went as a family to go visit the puppies. Misganaw is holding one of them. How cute is that? We will wait a couple more weeks before choosing one so we can see more of their personality as they get a little older. Right now, they all seem the same to me!

Here is Mihiretu with another puppy.

Katie with yet another puppy.

After the puppy visit, we stopped off at Dairy Queen for a little treat. Aliya just learned that in eating an ice cream cone, eat from the top down, not from the bottom up! I CANNOT believe it didn't make a huge, drippy mess and it stayed together!

Life is a little crazy right now as we are preparing for Katie's graduation open house here on Saturday. Praying for good weather! Then after that, we concentrate on getting the kids ready for their trip to Korah and getting Katie and De through their graduation in a week. Lots to do, lots to be excited for!