Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 7- A day FULL of God's Miracles in Rural Ethiopia

This morning we got up and went North of Addis to the rural countryside. I am talking REAL rural and REAL countryside. One thing that amazes me is once you get out from the city just how far backwards in time we travel. Farmers are plowing in their fields with oxen and wooden plows just like they did hundreds and hundreds of years ago. The African round mud huts are visible from the road as we make our way North of the city, towards another orphange. There is such a simpler, yet harder life in abundance here.

I am so glad that Kelly took us to the places that are less served. We went to one of the poorest and in my opinion, one of the best behaved orphanges today. Their clothes were definitely more tattered and torn. Their shoes were falling apart. They, of course, were so excited when we got there. From reading my other posts you know what happend next. More playing, more loving, more hugging, more kissing, more crafts and more soccer games. Kelly, our OH leader, went across the street to a local vegetable stand (store) and pretty much cleaned it out. She bought every vegetable, every potato, every pasta and a bunch of spices for the orphange. Every orphange we went to we provided lunch or some time of meal as a thank you for letting us come visit. They were so excited!!!

Now what I was most impressed about this orphange was how well behaved the children were. When we started handing out items there was no pushing or hoarding. If that had already received a toy or a pair of shoes then they didn't accept another. The male agency director seemed like such a nice and caring man to these children. He was very appreciative of us being there. You could tell these children were well cared for even though they had so little. We were surprised to find out these chilren are not being adopted out. He simply cares for these kids with no other expectations. He doesn't currently work with an adoption agency. This orphange is so far off the beaten path and probably has not been approached to do so. He did tell Kelly he would be interested in providing these children a chance to be adopted. His kids were truly amazing. So sweet and so respectful of each other. So gracious.

There were many times on our trip where I prayed hard that the Lord would provide MORE. MORE food as we were serving, more clothes or MORE shoes. This was the day I prayed for MORE shoes. We gave all the kids shoes today and there were times it looked like we weren't going to have the right sizes and I coudln't stand the last few to not get shoes. There were so many that had received shoes and the fair mom in me, offering shoes to children who needed so much with so little, was near panic when it looked like a few would have to go without. They never did. I thought of the fishes and loaves story in the bible so many times on this trip. He always faithfully provided JUST ENOUGH! I can think of 3 times that I prayed for enough and everytine HE provided it! For this I am so thankful!

I want to show you a little guy who stole our hearts here. We noticed him immediately when we walked into the orphange. He had really thick bottled glasses on and I think this was the FIRST child I have seen on this trip in eyewear. He was so small and meek. He was adorable. We were pretty sure he could barely see a danged thing even with the inch thick glass around his eyes. He would hold items all the way up to his eye, forever, trying to make out the color of a bead or a flower pot craft. When it was his turn to have his face painted he just kept looking at the drawings to choose from, but never picked an art choice. Pretty sure he just kept studying the picture, trying so hard to make out what was on the paper. He was so sweet, so humble, so precious, so lost. What touched me most was his gentle spirit and the thought that IF someone could adopt him, just HOW miraculous his life in the States would probably be. I bet anything that with our medical care and a simple surgery, this boy could SEE just like you and me. I just KNOW this is all it would take. Any takers?

After we left this orphanage we started on a truly miraculous journey. You see, Kelly, the founder of Orinary Hero and our trip leader of this trip, adopted a little boy from Ethiopia 2 years ago. Last year, on her trip to help with her sister's adoption, she was able to meet her son's birth mother for the first time. Since then, her agency has shut down and she did not have any way to get any contact information from them to recontact her. She was all the way over here in her son's homeland and desperately wanted to locate his mother to give her a few items from her son. So believe it or not, we set out to find her! We drove into a rural village and our guide got off the bus with a photo of the mom. Kelly's friend that helped her find the mother last year, remembered the "area" where she thought maybe the mom may have lived. Africa is HUGE and I was just hoping we were in the right vicinity. How in the world would we ever find her? There was only ONE way and we all started praying so hard!!

Within 10 minutes our guide was back on the bus with a positive identification of the mother. Her son, Nathan, also has an older sister who still lives with his mom and our guide happend to find a young girl who was her schoolmate. How amazing. And all of this happend in TEN minutes. The little girl got on the bus with us and took us to her village. When we got there the daughter had already heard we were coming and was waiting outside. I will never understand HOW news travels faster by foot than a bus....LOL. She ran out of her home and gave the Putty's a huge hug and just fell in their arms sobbing.

She told Kelly that she and her mom had been thinking and talking a lot about Nathan that very week. She had no idea we were in Africa and looking for them. She showed them her home where she and her mother live. Nathan's picture was sitting there, front and center on the table with the photo album Kelly had made for their family last year. Her mother was at work so we all loaded back in the bus to go to her work.

Nathan's mom works as a laundry washer. She is also deaf and mute. Once we got to her work, the Putty's got off the bus to find her and we watched the reunion from the bus. She ran out and nearly knocked Kelly into the mud; she was so excited! Tears of joy followed and Kelly was able to give her a few things they had brought for her. She gave her Nathan's first blanket when he came home, a photo album of new photos and a necklace that Nathan had made for her, which she put on immediatley. She told Kelly the same thing that her daughter had told them; that they had been talking about Nathan all week! What a gift from GOD! There is no other way to describe how this miraculous meeting took place, except that the Lord's hand organzied ALL of it! Nathan's mom NEEDED to see Kelly this week, she NEEDED to hear that Nathan was doing ok and we just happend to find her in Africa with a PHOTO! GOD IS GOOD! We loaded her on the bus with us and we were able to meet her and take up a monetary collection for her and her daughter. The guide told us she maybe made 200 birr a month, which is like 15dollars a month, thats less than 4 dollars a week. She has been struggling financillay to send her daughter to school. I watched this woman hide her money in her top so that her employer wouldn't know she had received a large gift from us. The guide told us that if her employer knew of the large gift, that he wouldn't pay her as much. It is so foreign to all of us how things work here. I can't imagine 4 dollars for a week of work or LESS than 4 dollars for a week of work because we tried to help.

I was so HONORED to have met this amazing woman and to see her smile and her tears of joy. She is an ANGEL. She is one of the most selfless women I have ever met. This is what selfless love looks and feels like. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to place her son for adoption. I know she struggled with this decision and not a day goes by that she doesnt think of him. She is so grateful for the Putty family and they are of her. She was able to meet one of Nathans's brothers and one of his sisters. She was able to meet Shane, Nathan's adoptive father and she was able to hug on Kelly's neck some more. She can BE AT PEACE that Nathan has a loving home and that he is thriving here in the USA. She saw his school pictures. She saw pictures of him playing soccer (that he is freakishly good at)! She was able to see him smiling and being loved by his friends and family. She was able to see a glimpse of all the opportunities he is afforded here in Brentwood, Tennessee. Kelly and Shane now have contact information so they may provide help for this family and remain in close contact. This entire exteneded family is so blessed! What an amazing day to see God's hand at work. His work was all around us today; we witnessed it over and over again, all day long.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 6 in Ethiopia

Day 6- HIV orphanage visit

Today was going to be a tough day. Not because I was moody like the day before, but because we were going to our first HIV orphanage. Today we visited the Mother Theresa Orphanage in Addis. I beleive that my iteniary said 400 kids lived here. This place was HUGE and the nicest orphange we saw on our trip. I would bet the nicest orphanage faciltiy in ALL of Africa. The Sister that gave us the tour was an angel and definitley a child of God. She was the sweetest, most God Loving woman I have ever met. Her ONLY concern is for these children and for the community that their clinic serves. She serves some of the sickest patients you can imagine. They have a HIV clinic there within the orphanage. She expalined that they have the best medicine and eqipment in ALL of Africa. Everyone there gets the medicine and care that they need. For those of you not up to date on HIV, a child can live a VERY good life with the proper care and medicine. My friend, Suzanne, who I went to highschool with, adotped a little girl last year from Uganda with HIV. Josie Love is precious and you would never know of her illness. You see, these children need love just like the others, and they are most certainly not any less deserving. There were 400 kids here. FOUR HUNDRED. Let that sink in. They are there because of someone else's carelessness. Again, almost more than I can bear when I see how many there are. And these are the lucky ones. You see the orphange is ALWAYS at capacity. There are orphaned kids with HIV that don't get to live here and get the best care. There are just so many. Can you hear it now? My heart just breaks over and over, EVERYDAY on this trip. I so don't want to be numb to my surroundings, but there is just so much need in this beautiful country that we witness day in and day out. It is hard at this point not to expect it when we turn the corner. There are always MORE kids.
We broke out the arts and crafts and the soccer ball and we were well on our way! You see by now, we are like a traveling street circus. In two minutes flat, we can break out the crafts and go right to our work and the boys head out to entertain the older kids with a game of soccer! I don't have any pictures here. They asked us not to take pictures. These kids were great and just as loving as all the other children on our trip! I did sneak a picture of one little girl who was wearing my Indevus jacket. She was such a cutie!

After this we went to downtown Addis and pulled the bus over in a large parking lot. We were there to play with the "street" kids. You know, the kids that aren't lucky enought to be in an orphange. This is their home. There were so many and some younger than you would beleive. The boys broke out the soccer ball and it was on! Their was a HUGE dark rain cloud lurking over us and within minutes there was the biggest downpour of our trip! No worries, we didn't leave. They played in the rain for at least an hour! As we left downtown on our dry bus I couldn't help but wonder where those kids were going to go? It was still pouring and now they were soaking wet and it was cold. Again, our hearts breaking as we watch and wave goodbye to them them as our bus leaves. We noticed plastic tarps next to a wall where we played that I guess some of them lived. I am guessing those were the "lucky" street kids. It was a lot day after day to take in. Those kids didn't complain at all. They just played and had a great time, despite their circumstances. I think about what all we complain about here at home. We have so much and they just have so little.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 5- Bah Humbug

Day 5
I am exhausted. I am tired and I am cold. It is raining again. My shoes are still dirty from the trash dump and it is so muddy here. Flip flops and crocs are not the ideal choice in this mud. I am emotionally tired. I am not looking forward to going to anymore orphanages today. I need a day to fill up my love tank. It is depleted. I am keeping this honest and real. This is how I feel. After breakfast we found out that the orphange we were going to didn't call back with directions, so we were going into town to shop! Ye Haw! This is what this American girl NEEDED! Something LESS emotional. I think I was just beginning to process what I had seen at the first orphange, at the trash dump and at Ararat. I was thinking about all that I had seen and I was somewhere between mad, sad, disgusted and numb.

We spent the morning shopping which was so fun! I was grateful I had my mathematician Robby with me to help me figure out how much birr an item is to the American dollar! This was exactly what I needed! I felt so much better afterwards! Retail therapy worked! Afterwards, Kelly, our team leader, announced that we were splitting into 3 groups for the rest of the day. One group was going back to the trashdump for the afternoon, one group was going to a new orphanage that just had 8 children arrive the day before, and the last group was going to a transitional home (where children who have been placed with adoptive families are waiting for all of their paperwork and court work to be completed.) Robby and I went to the new orphange with the new children.

As many of you know, we are considering adoption and I have been hoping for a "connection" with a child on this trip that I could possibly go home and try to bring home. No, this is not the normal way things are done here. I was just hoping that it MIGHT work out that way. I realize this is a LONG shot. There were 8 kids who had just arrived the day before. Driving here, I started thinking that this was going to be tough. This was going to be different from the other orphanages and the trashdump. These children were probably going to be in shock. Their world as they had known it had changed for them forever, just the day before. I simply can't imagine how they would be feeling. They didn't have any clothes except the clothes they were wearing. When we pulled in they were all holding 2 toys each, with some type of death grip. I went up to one adorable little girl and she hit me with her toy and ran away. Ok, this was a first. It was ok, I'd be mad too if my whole world had changed overnight. It was a lot to take in. ALL of the kids here were amazingly cute, funny and precious! They lit up when we got them in their new clothes. We gave them some toys and we handed out makenas ( matchbox cars) again. Thanks to all of you who donated them! They were quite a hit! We stopped at a grocery on the way there and Robby & I bought juice and cookies for the kids. Robby had a blast playing with the boys-- there was a BASEBALL BAT at this orphange and he had so much fun helping them learn the Great, All American Pasttime! Robby LOVES baseball, so this was RIGHT up his alley! He and the agency directors huband were teaching the kids (and the adults) how to swing a bat! It was great! I helped clothe the children and watched them SHINE after they put on some underwear, new clothes and new shoes! There was one little girl that was such a diva! Yes, girls in AFRICA who have virtually nothing, like sparkles, skirts and anything PINK!!!! See, that is a GOD thing! He MAKES them this way! She was adorable and she was sooo trying to squeeze her foot into the shoes with the bling! They didn't fit, but she wanted them anyway!!Ha! Ha! Sounds like some of my girlfriends! What we do for the perfect pair of shoes!!!!

This was a very short visit to this orphanage but a GREAT short visit. I met a little one there who stole my heart. I don't know what God's plans are for this child, but Philip and I are officially starting our homestudy this Thursday (tomorrow). I texted Philip from Africa and he set up our first appointment for us. I know that that sweet, precious child will find a loving family. Selfishly, I hope and pray it is mine. This orphange visit was NOT scheduled on our iteniary. Our family picture was NOT planned to be taken in front of the African continent. I know there are NO such things as accidents or coincidences. Robby and I found this mission trip 3 days before they purchased airfare. It was a really a 24 hour decision to go or NOT to go. AND WE WENT. God is in control. I was crabby, moody, tired and cold today when I woke up. I didn't want to go to an orphanage. I felt completley IN LOVE by the end of the day. I know that if this is God's will for my family, then it will be. I know that he already has a child picked out for us. THIS I know and will leave the rest to him!

To make this day even a little bit better, after we left the orphanage we went to Starbucks! :) but it is called Kaldi's in Ethiopia! Their logo is a knockoff of Starbucks and Yes, it looks and smells like Starbucks! Hallelujah! It was soo wonderful! After that we went OUT for dinner and Robby and I had good ol' PIZZA! It was so stinking good! This was a great ending to a very emotional day for me! My battery is now recharged...bring on more Orphans! :)

Day 4 In Ethiopia

We traveled North of Addis Ababa into the countryside. It was so beautiful and so rural compared to the city. We were heading to Ararat Ministires to attend a church service (Sunday am) and to spend the day with the kids. Well, it took us awhile to find where we were going, then once we did it took us a while to get down the windy, potfilled road. These were the biggest potholes you have ever seen- mud potholes not pavement potholes... and it had been raining everyday all day so it was basically one big MUCK of mud. We got out of the bus to walk the rest of the way. There was the HUGE pothole creek we had to go across and immediatley my crocs filled with gushy mud! Ick! Bizrat, our guide, through a rock into the middle so we could step on to the rock and completely turned my tripmate, Jodi, a nice color of brown for the rest of the day! I wished I had photographed all of this. We have never laughed so hard! I really kept waiting for Kelly, our trip leader to say "no way we can do this, we cant get here, this is impossible, everyone back on the bus". That was the Brentwood girl or American girl talking inside my head. If you know Kelly Putty very well, then you know she didn't say this and that we kept drudging through the muck. We were quite messy (not the best day to wear flip flops or crocs with holes), but who knew? The children around us were covered in mud. Their shoes, their clothes and I think they couldn't quite figure out why these "vistas" were screaming and squirming and making such a big deal about a little mud. It's what they know and what they are used to. Us, not so much and it was obvoius we were way out of our comfort zone.

When we arrived they washed our feet. I felt so guilty watching them get water out of the rain bucket. I know that water is precious and I just hoped I wasn't putting them out of a resource so precious to many.

We all went in the church and the pastor started his sermon. We opted out of the Lord's supper because our guide told us it could make us very, very sick. During the church service things just felt a little different here than they did at the trash dump. The parents didn't seem to be as receptive to us being there. Their children would come over to us and the parents looked very uncomfortable and would quikly call their child back over to where they were. It was just a different feeling from the day before and it wasn't just me who felt that. Again, these people are outside of the city and Kelly picked the ministries that are often missed on mission trips. Maybe, they just didn't know what to expect or think of our help or our showing up to their village.

The pastor explained after the church service to us that this is a very struggling community. They do not all believe in the Christian faith. Some believe, possibly because of their hardships, that the devil is more powerful than God. This is a small Christian church, in the middle of nowhere, trying to spread the gospel to people who live a very tough life. He said that some are Christians, but that some beleive the devil to be stronger than God. Some practice witchcraft and worship the devil. Ok, I thought this makes a lot of sense. This is WHY it was so hard to get here today. This is why that mud river was in our path. It was like a mud barrier saying get back on the bus and leave. This is why it felt so dark and cold compared to the day before. This is why I sensed we weren't welcome here. It was like an ah-ha moment for me. This church and community needs a lot of prayer. This pastor truly has his work cut out for him. He told them during the sermon that God told him people from another land would come to help.

We spent the day clothing and providing shoes to this very poor community. We did arts and crafts. We played soccer. We painted children's and mother's fingernails. By the end of the day, everyone started to be more receptive to us being there. We purchased sheep for their dinner and fed the village. The slaughter of the sheep in this village was a lot more bloody and took a lot longer than the day before. We served an early dinner and were then on our way back up the muddy path.

We had feelings of corruptness here, possibly even with the ministry. We just couldn't put our finger on it, but we DID know that today we shed God's light in that village. We fed and clothed over 100 children. They got a toy and had fun doing some arts and crafts. They warmed up by the end of the day and once again we had chilren draping off our our arms and sitting in our laps. We hung a HUGE mural in the back of the church that says "Jesus loves Ararat" with all of the chilrens and our hand prints- it was my tripmate Dana's idea and was such an awesome craft! Please PRAY for this ministry and this village!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The MOST BEAUTIFUL TrashDump in Ethiopia! Day 3

Day 3 we went to the trashdump in Ethiopia to serve the children that live here. Yes, you read that right... they LIVE here. It was the hardest day and the most meaningful day of our trip. This colony started over 75 years ago, when the King moved a "Leprous Colony" next to the landfill to keep them away from the rest of the population. With them being so far from work they asked the King how they were to feed their families? He replied that they may work at the dump, digging through the trash finding items they may sell, so that they may eat. This is a true story that happend 75 years ago and is still happening today.

I didn't know what to expect as we entered the trashdump/landfill. Only half of our group went in because there was some type of "trouble" brewing. I was quite nervous, but knew I NEEDED to see this. I have some pictures, but once we came over the hill we were no longer allowed to photograph. Holy Moly, I wish I could show you what was on the other side of that hill. Mountains of rubbish and more people that I could count digging through the trash. For most, this is ALL they know. This was the LEGACY they were born into. This is the ONLY way they know to survive. There were dogs, pigs and cattle sleeping, wallowing, and grazing in the dump. I assume it was all they knew as well. This was the ONLY place I saw heavy equipment in all of Ethiopia. There were backhoes, tractors and cranes moving trash, bringing more trash in and it was a site to see. I was very saddened by everything I saw here. What kind of life is this? This is just so wrong on so many levels. Today this community is still a leprous and very poor community. This village is a "forgotten" village that means "cursed people." I have been asked not to share the name of this village for their safety. I can tell you that the name of their village needs to be changed. In the bible, names were changed all the time due to the signifgance that a name carried. "Cursed People" is the name translated of this community. This place needs a name change in the worst way. These adults and children believe they are "cursed", after all that is what they have always been told.


I can tell you that these were the most beautiful people that I saw in all of Africa. They were the most appreciative of all the people we met. There is a church ministry in the village adjoining the dump that ministers the children. There are small children "on their own" in the village all day, while their parents are in the dump looking for food, clothes and any scrap metal that they may be able to sell for their family's survival. The parents knew that we were coming to play with the kids, to watch over the kids for the day and they were so thankful. You could see their appreciation in their eyes. They waved and smiled at us. You see, today they knew someone would be looking after their children. There is a new ministry that was recently formed from a mission trip, just like ours, in this community. An "Angel" from Thomspson Station and her family sold ALL of their possessions and moved half way around the world to help this community. I saw how the village people interacted with her. They love her and they believe she IS an angel. She is helping find ways to send their children to school and change their family legacy forever. You see, the ONLY way to CHANGE this community is to get an education for these children, so they can leave this community or better yet obtain knowledge on how to BUILD THIS COMMUNITY UP and change the fate of this forgotten, cursed village.

There is a boarding school that the children can go to that is extraordinary and Far away from the dump that they live in. There they are provided an education, 3 meals a day, uniforms and school supplies. There are 70 additional spots available at this school. School starts in September: this is the end of July. Currently, there are 120 kids already sponsored to go to this school and this opportunity will change their family tree. These kids want a CHANCE to do what our chilren do for FREE. We are provided a top notch education and we take for GRANTED how amazing that opportunity truly is. You see, in Africa very few are educated. Education is costly and only those who can afford it get to go. This is one of the poorest villages in Ethiopia, the fogotten village, so you do the math. This is why 75 years ago this communitly looks exactly the same. If YOU are interested in learning more about how to sponsor one of these remaining 70 children please let me know. It will cost you approximately $60 a month, and let me warn you that they will want to know YOU. They will want a photo of your family. They will want to write you. They will call you mother and father. They will talk about their American brothers and sisters. They will LOVE you and I believe one day you may possibly meet them. It would FOREVER CHANGE THE LIFE FOR ONE!. Interested?

These children are so poor, so desiring of love, so beautiful. They saw our bus pull in to the community and quite quickly, we had a large swarm of kids chasing our bus. You see, this is the forgotten community who has few, if any visitors. You see when their people get sick no ambulance comes. It comes to other villages, but not this one. They are truly all on their own. Consider that for a moment. This is why we were welcomed. Recently, this ministry that has been witnessing to them is trying to help. They are telling them that they ARE worthy of love and that they are beatiful- qonjo. They are telling them that are NOT cur-sed. They have some of their own children helping with this ministry and DRIVING this ministry towards their needs. You see, some of these little chilren here got the chance to go to boarding school (provided by someone who cared for them- LIKE YOU) and they are now coming back to HELP their people. One man didn't get the chance to go to school, but trusted the Lord to help him. He is changing this place because he knows their needs, wants, and desires more than anyone. He has dreamed of his plan of help in his mind for years. The angel from Tennesee showed up and he is laying out his plan for his people. It is really moving stuff going on in this village and we knew immediately as a team, that we wanted to know how we could help this beautiful, trashfilled community. We weren't interested in going home and forgetting this place. God's work is truly present here and we wanted to know their short term goals as well as their long term goals (wishes, desires and dreams) for this community. You will be seeing more info regarding their long term goals in the near future and I am happy to be a part of this amazing dream.

In the short term, there are 70 kids that will have the opportunity to go to school THIS SEPTEMBER and become a strong part of the CHANGE here in this community with their education. You will be getting a child OUT OF THE DUMP, the only life they have ever known. You will show them by your actions that they are special, that they are important and that they are not cursed. You will adopt a child into your family without all of the expense. You won't disrupt your children's birth order. You will be providing food, shelter and an education to your child in Africa. You will show them love from a stranger and they will call you mom and dad. Your children will have a brother or sister in Africa and maybe they will learn a little geography. You will teach your family how you gave to someone less fortunate and how YOU changed the life for ONE. You can send them care packages or letters. You will build up a child who has been BROKEN, WORRIED and HUNGRY their ENTIRE life. Most of these children have one parent. Some have none. Some live with relatives. Some live with neighbors. Some are on their own. Can you imagine? This was a hard post to put into words. I have barely grazed the surface of what I saw and felt here. I always had one on my hip and 3 or 4 draping off of my arms. I got more kisses and hugs here than any place we visited. They did all of this, not because we gave them anything; we only gave them lunch the first day. There were TOO MANY to break out the candies, dolls and shoes. TOO MANY. We fed them and played with them. We hugged them, kissed them and loved them. It was the most selfless love I have ever felt. Their hearts were bursting and overflowing with love. Or maybe that was mine.


Ok, I am officially back to work today and I have 106 emails and 3 urgent messages. (I am typing this on my lunch break.) Luckily, nothing too eventful went down while I was gone, but I am drowning right now trying to catch up with LIFE here at home! My house is a mess, we are cooking for 16 tonight (my dear husband is taking that project- yay!), I need to blog our trip, I have CPA stuff that is due, I have a gazillion phone calls to return to family and friends, Robby needs shoes (he left his in Africa), I need a shower, etc....Ha!

I know it will all fall in place. My stomach hurts (better not be a parasite friend :)- I think it is the normal stress of being back in our very busy lives here in Brentwood. Ugh. I want to go back to Africa time. Everything moves so much slower there. I feel like I am moving at warp speed! Ha!

Robby and I have jumped back on American time pretty fast. I am a little sleepy right now, ( it is 8:38pm Africa time) but it is probably the heat here! Serioulsy, can someone turn down the thermostat? It was 50-70 degrees there - and it rained EVERY day! Most days I think we were closer to 55 degrees... quite chilly- especially when you are wet! and muddy! Thank goodness we took jackets a a few long sleeve tee's- I through those in at the last minute! Thank goodness! I don't think I have pics of how muddy we got. It was hilarious. There were times when we were covered-- there was just no way getting around it! At first we were like "oooh" and by the end of the trip it was like "oh well." Funny how you adapt pretty quickly to the environment you are in! Ha!

I will type faster for thosse of you who are loving our blog!! I will try to get our trashdump visit/blog up tonight.It will be a long one so consider yourselves warned. It was the most meaningful part of our journey and it is a lot of info to process into words! Lots of pics and some videos coming soon!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 3 - El Olam Orphange

Today was our first full day in Ethiopia and for most of us this was our first orphange visit. We didn't really know what to expect. We all walked in the gates to find lots of kids waiting to be hugged and loved. We started pulling out bubbles and bouncy Balls and they went nuts! The boys of course pulled out a soccer ball and they were busy for the rest of the day with the older kids. The children really flocked to Robby and his friend Collin, both who are 13 and 14. I am so glad they were on this trip... I really think the older kids in the orphanges REALLY connected with these boys. They found it so funny that I was Robby's mom. They would run over to me and say Robby and point to me. Yes, I would say ... I would go over and hug and kiss Robby and they would be so excited! This is how we communicated alot.

This was a great first day and we spent all day at the orphange. I have never experienced this kind of love that these children needed. When you walked anywhere you had at least one on your hip and three or four dangling from your arms, hands and hips. They were so precious and so DESPERATE for love. They were hugging, kissing, loving you ALL DAY LONG! I truly think that I have not played like this since I was a child. ALL DAY PLAY!

Now, as a side note this orphange was with an adoption agency called Celebrate Children and Kelly, the founder of Ordinary Hero who we were with, took us into the orphanges and minsitries that are "off the beaten path". What I mean by this, is that we passed over the usual "toured" orphanges that most organized tours that come to Ethiopia see. We went to the poorer orphanges that no one goes to. Kelly has a heart for those left behind and I am so glad I was part of this trip. The kids we saw were not used to these Americans, mostly white persons, coming to see them. They were not used to receiving toys, new clothes, new shoes or having someone just "come play" for the day. It was so good to play with them, to clothe them, to feed them, and to provide love to them ALL DAY LONG. We rocked the babies, fed the babies, changed the babies, played with the toddlers, played with the older kids, did arts and crafts, painted finger nails,had lunch, played soccer, played volleyball and played on the slide ALL DAY LONG! It was just so great and the kids were pumped!

Now one thing I was a little taken aback was when we handed out "treats". Treats being any of the following: toys, balls, small cars, bubbles, clothes, shoes, candy, crackers, etc... I would watch them receive something, hide it in their pants, and then watch them extend their little hands again to receive as if they had not had any. It took me by surpise, but then I had to remind myself that this is an orphanage and they don't have anyone buying them stuff so they aren't used to receiving things. After all, who knows when someone else will show up to hand out presents? This was hard for me, because I am a super FAIR mom. I wanted to make sure everyone got something and that no one had more than another. Well, that went out the window day 1. Ha! It's not their fault they are orphans and have no mother or father to teach them not to hoard. Put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn't you act the same way? When you are an orphan who looks out for you? No mom or dad to teach you to be gracious and to share. I saw one little girl receive a pack of "Smarties" candy and I was aghast at what she did with them. She was about 4 and she opened the wrapper, ate the first one, which was a white one (my favorite), and then she closed the wrapper and put it back in her pocket. I was like, oh my gosh.. really? My kids and all the kids I know would have devoured that pack of candy in 20 seconds flat max! But, you have to understand again that this was a TREAT, a rare occassion that these "vistas" came today and who know if or when anyone would be back. She didn't dare want to eat them all in one setting and not remember her treat. I watched another little boy, maybe 3 or 4 hide his tootsie roll under a bowl in the playroom/bedroom. We were all playing with Makenas, a.k.a. matchbox cars, and then when he rechecked his bowl to see if his treasure was there, it was gone. He lost it. Someone had found it (not a really good hiding place), and he was devastated when he realized it was gone. I am talking full out tears. It just broke my heart. He was crying over one tootsie roll. He was hanging on to his "makena" with all of his might as I quickly found another piece of candy for him. He didn't hide this one; instead, he shoved in his pocket. I pulled it out and helped him unwrap it and "enjoy" it. I couldn't stand the thought of somehow him loosing his 2nd piece of candy; then I tucked another one in his pocket for "later". Now, can you imagine this? These children are just "waiting" for someone to "pick them". These children have been left beind. How many blessings do we take for granted here in America? I was simply in awe and my heart still aches for them.
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The lady at this orphange also runs a daycare for the working mom's of their village at no charge. Those kids were also there playing with us and I took pictures of their school room. So small, so rural, kind of makes "The House on the Prarie" school house look HUGE. Same kind of desks they had on that show, small chalkboard and a small campfire in front of the classroom to keep them warm. It was sureal. Really.

There was a little girl, 2 or 3?, that stole alot of our hearts here. They orphange initally thought she had down syndrome. What? I just didn't see it. Neither did a lot of others on our trip. She is sitting there WAITING to be adopted. One of my tripmates, just melted, and is praying if this is her child to go back to ET to bring home to her American family. I am praying for her as I type this, that this is God's plan for her family and that he will fund what he favors. She has the longest eyelashes you have ever seen. Seriously, she is beautiful and so small and in need of so much love. We all carried her around all day on our hips. There is NOTHING wrong with this child; I fully believe it. A little love and this little girl will flourish. No doubt. As a side note, medical care is hard to come by in Ethiopia. There is only 2.6 doctors per 100,000 in Ethiopia. This may be why this little girl was what we think as "mis-diagnosed" by her orphange. Again, her diagnosis is all MY opinion (and many others from our group.)

Now I know some of you will ask how we communicated with them. Some of the children speak some broken english. The little ones not so much. I learned on this trip that you can communicate in so many ways other than through the english language. The language of LOVE truly is universal.. and it was the most important lesson that I learned on this trip! Tell your kids tonight as you are reading this just how much you love them! :)