Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas fun

We are blessed to have a pond in our back yard which is perfect for skating. We enjoyed a little Christmas Day skating. And yes, this is the same pond that Katie and De got married in front of last summer:)

Girls with skills.

Blaine sets up a big light and we even skate at night. So much fun!

MJ doing great this year on his skates. The minute he gets off the bus after school, he begs to go skating.

Blaine and MJ.

Aliya is terrified but is learning. She's never been on skates or rollerblades ever. Scary!

De and MJ.

Mihiretu the risk taker...his pants give away how many times he fell!

Blake and Reno.

The hunting thug in his jammy pants:)

We always have to do the traditional "family with the birthday girl" pose. It's not easy getting everyone together in a picture so I take every opportunity I can!

We had a wonderful Christmas this year with family and friends.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Heavy heart for my friends today

Remember the beautiful house by the trash dump I wrote about recently? This is what it looks like now. Our friend, Biruk went to visit them yesterday and was absolutely shocked at what he found. The trash dump has completely encroached upon this property and they were forced to take down the bedroom end to make room for the trash. You can see just how close it is to the house now.

Just the living room portion of the house is now left.

Wendimu and his parents. Just 2 months ago this was a little paradise next to a trash dump. My heart is broken and the looks on their faces say it all. They are staying just a few more days in hopes that the government will help them find a new home. Not sure if that's going to happen or how that works.

I absolutely cannot believe that in the period of 2 short months this could happen. It was inevitable at some point, of course but this is so soon. I am thankful to Biruk for sending these pictures to us so we can be praying for this family.

With all the internet awareness of Korah and the trash dump now going all over the world, the government has decided to clean up the dump adjacent to the main road so it "looks" better to the average passer-by. It really does look nice, all covered in grass now. But one needs to look a little deeper, come off the road and walk into the community of Korah and see where the garbage has gotten pushed to see how it's impacting real people. I suspect that is why this has happened over the past 2 months. It should have taken much longer for the trash to encroach on their property but looking good to the "world" is so important.

I'm struggling with the inequity of it all today. I just returned from the grocery store where I filled my cart, loaded it all in my SUV, drove to my house and loaded it all into my pantry and refrigerator, on the way home stopping for a car wash. All the while, holding back tears and my heart feeling like it weighs a ton because I know that on the other side of the world, this family is in imminent danger of being homeless.

Sorry this is not going to wrap up into a perfect little platitude today. Of course, we are praying that the Lord will provide them with another home and we have already seen that He is faithful in their lives.

I understand...if you build your house near the edge of a trash dump, eventually you will lose it to the trash. I'm not down on the dump people. I'm just upset for my friends.

And today my little mind just cannot wrap itself around the inequity of it all.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The BIG news!

I won't keep you in suspense any longer.

Our friends who we traveled with, Kevin and Denise have begun the adoption process for an older sibling group!!

They told us a couple weeks ago but I wanted them to have the chance to share the news with everyone they wanted to tell before I blabbed. It's been hard news to keep quiet!

This is a couple who's youngest child is Blake's age-21, and they are complete empty nesters. They love to travel together and do a lot of biking in the summertime. Currently, their time is theirs and they have all freedom.

But not for long:)

And they are giving it up by choice.

They knew that when God brought them on this trip with us to Ethiopia, that He would require something of them. They weren't going to visit this place and forget it. They weren't sure what their long term commitment would be but they were open and willing for whatever God had for them.

Within 2 weeks of being home, they were certain that adopting was in their future. God confirmed it when Kevin asked for a sign that this was the direction they were to take. They have been our friends for a long time and they remember back 6 years ago when God gave me a dream and showed us we were to adopt. Well, God did it! The next morning was a Sunday and as soon as Denise turned on her phone, she had an email announcing that it was Orphan Sunday! They had no idea that it was. Great confirmation the very next morning!

They are moving full speed ahead. They're signed up with a great agency and busy taking their pre adoption classes, learning what it means to adopt older children.

And through this they are simply giddy with excitement! They remind me of a young couple expecting their first baby:)

We are, of course THRILLED beyond words for them. It's fun to be able to share in this journey and walk along side them.

I am secretly hoping for a couple/few new friends that are my kids ages. Yes, I said few as they are open to 2 or 3! How fun would that be?!

Never, ever doubt that God can change your desires to something the world simply can never understand.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wendimu's invitation...the blessing we received

Habtamu is one of Katie's special friends from Korah. I've shared pictures of him before. He now attends the boarding school in Sheshemene. Katie has a bond with him and still communicates with him through a friend there who has Facebook. She sent him a gift bag last fall with some presents and photos. Needless to say, he was really happy to see her when we showed up at the boarding school. The two of them were inseparable and she and De even went back to visit them the next Sunday with Sumer on her regular visit.

This is Habtamu's family - Dad, older brother Wendimu and his beautiful mother. Wendimu came to the clinic and stayed and visited with Katie and De all day. He came back the next time we were there. His English is great and he's a very sweet guy. He knew of the connection with Katie and his little brother and graciously invited all of us to his home to meet his parents, have coffee and to see that they still had the pictures Katie had sent to Habtamu.

We got permission from Sumer and off we went through the streets of Korah on our way to his home.

Always with children in tow.

Wendimu leading the way...we just followed. Along the way, he told Katie that he lived near the dump. She was unfazed and said, "Ok." He said, "No, I live really near the dump. You can see it from my house."

As we crossed over into the dump, I began wondering just where he was taking us.

A little farther into the dump.

Over some trash.

And into this beautiful, lush oasis we walked.

With a gate to help keep out intruders.

It soon became clear that we were in a little haven.

Most people in Korah have no land in which to plant anything but this family had found a small piece of fertile land, built their home and planted several types of crops.

The front door faces away from the garbage dump, which is not far behind the back of the house. The air was fresh here...it was so pleasant.

We were warmly welcomed by his parents. They seated us and his mom began preparing coffee for us. Their house with its high ceiling was so clean, bright and well cared for.

She had roasted barley for us to snack on.

And prepared some wonderful coffee for all of us.

After a nice visit, we expressed our thanks and said our goodbyes.

His parents followed us out and you can even see his mother standing at the end of the line, watching us leave. So sweet.

Wendimu is a 3rd year engineering student at the University of Addis Ababa. He is a very bright young man with a great future ahead of him. We asked him how he affords college. In Ethiopia, he told us, if your grades are good enough and you can pass the National Exam, you can get into college. When you graduate and get a job, then you begin to pay back your tuition. Awesome opportunity.

We were all so impressed that adjacent to the huge Addis Ababa city dump stood this lovely home and grounds. Inside this home lives a beautiful family, so full of hope now for their sons' future. (There is a middle son who also attends the boarding school)

Seriously, what we would have missed had if we had not made this friend and accepted his invitation. As I said before, the homes we visited were highlights for all of us. It's then you can see how people really live.

I think about the experiences and relationships we miss out on in our lives because we don't step out of our comfort zone. Our lives are so much richer for this experience and we have a much better understanding of the culture there.

Who would have thought? We had no idea that we would find such beauty, hope and joy just yards from the garbage dump.

I keep thinking, "What if we hadn't gone? What if we'd gone to New Zealand as we'd always dreamed of doing for our 25th anniversary?"

Denise, Kevin, Blaine and I all agree...we had more fun - not just a more fulfilling time, but more FUN in Ethiopia than we could have had anywhere else in the world.

So glad we all went. No regrets...not a single one.