Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Mother's Day Gift with a Deeper Meaning!

Alisa Martin's sweet little boy Micah (adopted from Ethiopia) is holding a Kind Hearts Mother's Day Celebration Card. Instead of spending $5 on a store-bought card, please consider spending that same $5 (or more) on a personalized card that benefits Kind Hearts while it celebrates your mom!



Mother's Day is officially 2 WEEKS AWAY!! Instead of going to the store and perusing cards to find a heart-felt message for your mom - would you consider spending that same $5.00 for a hand-made, personalized card that honors your mom, and blesses the children at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia? Alisa Martin (who is making the cards) is generously donating her time, materials and postage so that 100% of the funds go directly to Kind Hearts. (Click here to purchase a card - provide your mom's name and your name, and her mailing address.)

Alisa will be mailing the Mother's Day cards on Monday, May 3 so that they arrive in plenty of time before Mother's Day on May 9. Each card is personalized with your Mom's name and your name - and explains that a donation was made in her honor to Kind Hearts in Ethiopia. Click over to Alisa's blog and follow the easy and secure paypal link to order a card today. You are welcome to donate any amount - $5, $10, $25, $50 or more. It's quick, easy and secure, and it's a very unique and special way to celebrate your mom!

Alisa (who is an adoptive mom and also sponsors a child at Kind Hearts) explains, "This Mother's Day, I don't want a single gift...I want nothing...other than the opportunity to be a surrogate mother of-sorts to these lonely, hurting children. And I pray that you will join me this Mother's Day! Join me, and stand in the gap for mothers who are unable to feed, clothe and educate their precious little ones!"

The funds generated from the Mother's Day Celebration Cards will be designated for the playground equipment fund at Kind Hearts. Presently, there are 68 children at Kind Hearts, who were literally starving when I visited them in December. They were weak and lethargic, and the care-point was only able to provide a meal of rice one time each week.

By the end of January, every child at Kind Hearts had been matched with a sponsor family, whose $34 monthly committment ensures that their sponsor child gets nutritious meals every day, as well as clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship. We have had two separate groups visit the kids at Kind Hearts since then, and these kids' lives have been transformed - and they know they have the love, prayers and concern of a family here in the U.S. that they are getting to know through letters.

But our goal for Kind Hearts is not only to provide basic needs for these kids. Instead of being a place to survive, we want the kids at Kind Hearts to thrive!! With that in mind, we are focusing on several capital projects to develop Kind Hearts so that the care-point becomes more self-sufficient and can serve even more children and add more grade levels.

A fresh-water well is one of the first necessities - which will allow us to then develop a chicken farm on the property (for fresh eggs and meat - protein for the kids' meals and funds from egg sales) as well as bathrooms, showers and a kitchen. The fresh-water well will cost abut $15,000 and St. Joseph Christian school has raised $12,000 so far!

Another one of our capital projects is playground equipment for the kids. A beat-up teeter-totter and a rickety swing-set (pictured below) are the only "toys" the Kind Hearts kids have - and they are shared between all 68 kids. Playground equpiment provides a much-needed place for a kid to just be a kid!


A good set of playground equipment will cost $2850. We will announce our progress on this blog and we will feature pictures of the new equipment when we are able to purchase it (hopefully shortly after Mother's Day!!).
Please click here for Alisa's blog - the paypal button is in the upper right corner.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saying Good-bye ...


Aunt Mary's funeral was yesterday (see previous post here), and although there were plenty of tears, there were also some poignant, beautiful moments throughout the day.

One of the details we had been talking about as we prepared for her funeral, was who would speak at her funeral - who would deliver a eulogy and talk about Mary from the heart. Not all the factual details ... date of birth, date of marriage, who she was survived by ... but the personal details that made her who she was. The details we reflect on and talk about with each other.

I mentioned this to a friend at work, and knowing the special relationship Great Aunt Mary had with her great nieces, he suggested that maybe the girls should speak at her funeral. It was such an appropriate idea, so I asked the girls if they would be willing to do it.

Both of the girls were very nervous at first .. "You mean get up in front of everyone and talk?" Emme emphatically declined saying, "I won't be able to talk. I will only cry." But I could see Maea mulling the idea over, and the next day she said, "Mom, I think I can do it."

So Maea and I spent some time reflecting on her memories, and pretty soon, Emme was drawn in and we were all talking about the little details that made Mary so special to them.

Before the service started, we told the Pastor that Maea would like to get up and share some stories and memories. I'm sure he hesitated just a bit, wondering how an emotional 11 year old girl was going to be able to compose herself and speak in front of a small crowd.

Emme was crying quietly through the entire service. When Pastor Josh invited Maea to the podium, she squared her shoulders, took a deep breath, reached out her hand to me and said, "Mom I need you to come with me."

We walked to the podium, I adjusted the microphone for her, and in a very soft and serious voice, she calmly reflected on her memories of "Maena". (We all referred to Mary as "Maena" and many people had asked where that nickname had originated. Maea told the story of how when Emme was first learning to talk, she couldn't pronounce the "r" sound. So Mary became "Maena" and we all called her that ever since. Mary even signed her cards that way.) Her stories brought several laughs and nods from the audience as each one of us recognized the special and unique personality traits of Maena.

Pastor Josh also told some stories about "Maena" and commented on one of her most recognizable personality traits - her fierce independence and stubborness. He relayed a conversation he had with Mary as she first started attending his church, and she selected a specific chair in the back row. That became "her seat" where she sat for each service. One time she explained to him that she had a difficult time hearing him. So he suggested that she move to a more forward seat. She looked at him with surprise and explained that she would not be moving from her seat, that it was his job to speak louder!

At the end of the service, we shared a meal with friends and family, and then we followed the funeral coach all the way to Mankato, MN so Mary could be laid to rest beside her husband, Grant. It was a long and emotional day, and everyone fell into bed exhausted.

Except for Emme, who wasn't able to sleep when she remembered that Mary had asked her to have lunch with her a few weekends ago and Emme declined because she had some activities with her friends. She was regretting that missed opportunity and feeling so sad about not having lunch with her when she could have. She got more and more emotional, so I finally got in bed with her. We had a good talk about how short life can be, and how we need to take advantage of every chance we have to spend time with those we love the most. I ended up sleeping with her last night so she could finally stop sobbing and sleep.



And today is a new day.

It rained through the night, and although the sky is still overcast, the grass is more green today than it was yesterday.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Celebrate a Mother, Bless a Child!!!

Alisa Martin, a dear friend, an adoptive mom, and a Kind Hearts sponsor mom, is offering a special Mother's Day gift for families who want to honor and acknowledge their mother (whether that "mom" is your own mother, your mother-in-law, the mother to your kids, a sister or a friend).

Alisa's Mother's Day "celebration card" is a tangible reminder of your love, and it blesses the children at Kind Hearts care-point in Ethiopia. 100% of your monetary gift on behalf of your mom, will go toward the playground equipment at Kind Hearts. (Alisa is donating her time, materials and postage so that 100% of your gift can go to the kids at Kind Hearts.)



Alisa explains, "This Mother's Day, I don't want a single gift...I want nothing...other than the opportunity to be a surrogate mother of-sorts to these lonely, hurting children. And I pray that you will join me this Mother's Day! Join me, and stand in the gap for mothers who are unable to feed, clothe and educate their precious little ones!"

There are 68 children at Kind Hearts, who were literally starving when I visited them in December. They were weak and lethargic, and the care-point was only able to provide a meal of rice one time each week. But by the end of January, every child at Kind Hearts had been matched with a sponsor family, whose $34 monthly committment ensures that their sponsor child get nutritious meals every day, as well as clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship. We have had two separate groups visit the kids at Kind Hearts since then, and these kids'lives have been transformed - and they know they have the love and prayers and concern of a family here in the U.S. that they are getting to know through letters.

But our goal for Kind Hearts is not only to provide basic needs for these kids. Instead of being a place to survive, we want the kids at Kind Hearts to thrive!! With that in mind, we are focusing on several capital projects to develop Kind Hearts so that the care-point becomes more self-sufficient and can serve even more children and add more grade levels.

A fresh-water well is one of the first necessities - which will allow us to then develop a chicken farm on the property (for fresh eggs and meat - protein for the kids' meals and funds from egg sales) as well as bathrooms, showers and a kitchen. The fresh-water well will cost abut $15,000 and St. Joseph Christian school has raised $10,000 so far!

Another one of our capital projects is playground equipment for the kids. A beat-up teeter-totter and a rickety swing-set (pictured below) are the only "toys" the Kind Hearts kids have - and they are shared between all 68 kids. Playground equpiment not only promotes healthy excercise and agility, but it provides a much-needed place for a kid to just be a kid!

The money from the Mother's Day celebration cards will be donated Kind Hearts to purchase playground equipment (a good set of equipment will cost $2850). We will announce our progress on this blog and we will feature pictures of the new equipment when we are able to purchase it (hopefully shortly after Mother's Day!!).


Please click over to Alisa's blog to purchase a Kind Hearts Mother's Day Celebration Card. Mother's Day is less than 3 weeks away (Sunday, May 9) and Alisa is planning to mail cards on the Monday before Mother's Day. We have less than 2 weeks to contact Alisa through her blog. All the details are listed on her blog. Thank you so much for your support and care for these precious kids at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia!!!

You can easily and securely pay with a credit card through her paypal button, on the right side of her blog. She will need to know the recipient's name and address and your name(s). Click here for Alisa's celebration cards!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mary's Kids

Early Thursday, as we were in the middle of the morning rush to get 4 kids ready for the day and on the bus, Jay glanced at the clock and commented that it was strange that the phone had not rung yet. It was Jayden's 9th birthday, and Great Aunt Mary ALWAYS called the morning of the kids' birthdays (without fail, she always called). Shortly after, I left for work and to drop Wesley at daycare.

Jay then called to check on Mary ... and found out that she had taken a sudden and drastic turn overnight and was struggling to breathe. (About 8 months ago, Mary was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer which had mestatasized to her lymph nodes.) Always worried about disturbing us at odd hours, Mary had called her friend Wanda at 6 am to be with her.

Jay called me at work to let me know what was happening and we had a brief conversation about whether or not he should go to class (he's in a masters program out of town) and we agreed he should carry on with his schedule and I would go see Mary closer to lunchtime - afterall, she wouldn't want him to scrap his entire day of classes.

Over the course of the preceding months, this fiercely independent, dignified, 84 year old woman was being reduced to a fraction of her former self. The cancer was ravaging her body, starving her of nutrients, starving her of strength, starving her of lucidity, starving her of independence, and starving her of oxygen.

She was curled up in bed when I arrived to relieve Wanda. She slept most of the time I was there and when she stirred, I went in to reassure her. She was disoriented at first, but then with great effort she focused and recognized me. I told her where Jay and the kids were. I told her I was going back to work for a few hours and that her friend Jill would be here with her. I squeezed her hands and urged her to rest some more. She nodded her head, dozed off ... and never woke up again.

Mary's husband died of lung cancer back in 1993 - so unfortunately she knew the drill when she was diagnosed. Mary married late in life and never had children of her own - but she had our kids. She was a widow for 4 years, depressed and lonely, when our first daughter, Emme, was born. I remember showing Mary how to change a diaper (the new-fangled disposable ones), warm up a bottle, even how to hold a baby - and a light went on in her life ... for the next 13 years. I remember watching her long, large hands as they cradled my tiny daughter.

Mary ended up taking care of Emme every day while we were at work - until Emme started Kindergarten. By then Maea had come along, and Mary joyfully turned her attention to Maea. Cheering for her as she learned to crawl, and take her first faltering steps. I remember Mary's long hands as she adeptly grasped tiny crayons, teaching the girls how to "stay in the lines". Little Maea couldn't say "Mary" at first -she just couldn't pronounce the "r" - so Mary was affectionately christened "Maena" and we've all called her that ever since.

Mary was a tall woman, and she had memorable hands ... long and slender, with almond shaped nails, knobby knuckles, dextrous and limber with no encumberances of athritis. I clearly remember thinking how small my baby daughters looked in her hands. And how those hands fumbled at first with the velcro on the diapers until she could diaper a baby in her sleep if she needed.

She took huge satisfaction in the girls' accomplishments - listening to all their stories from school, stories about their friends, looking over their homework and report cards, and attending every school function. She would take the kids to the library and the local deli and she was so proud of her little nieces. When we moved to Minnesota 6 years ago, Mary was quietly devastated about us moving. So we told her she was welcome to move too - and she gathered up her possessions and we found her a great little apartment downtown, so she could still see her nieces every day.

Then the little boys came along - and she took to them like she took to the girls. Spending hours on the couch with Wesley playing matching games, doing puzzles, teaching him colors and animal names. Then Jayden would come home from school and they'd sit with their heads together and work through flashcards with letters and numbers - patiently teaching him English. Her long, large hands next to his small, brown hands, teaching him to hold a pencil properly. And she loved our boys as much as she loved our girls.

I was about 15 minutes away from her place when my phone rang and Jill told me that "Maena" had just taken her last breath, in her sleep. When I walked in, Jill and I cried together for a few minutes and then I went into her bedroom.

I've always felt so awkward and uncomfortable at funeral visitations and I had a moment of hesitation as I closed her door so I could sit with her for a few minutes. I sat on the bed next to her and the tears streamed down my face ... at that moment I was feeling so much regret for not being there when she died. So much regret for all her lonely years - especially as the kids' lives got more and more busy as hers was slowing down.

The blankets were pulled all the way up to her chin and I noticed how the cancer had made her nearly unrecognizable from her former self - gaunt, bald from the chemo, swollen in places. But as I pulled the blanket down to a more natural position, I saw her hands crossed on her chest - and it was almost like a split-second, slow motion movie played back in my mind.

Those were Aunt Mary's very memorable and very recognizable hands. The long fingers, the bony hands with the knobby knuckles and they were just slightly cool to the touch as I held her hands for the last time. Playing back in my mind those many moments when those long, strong hands held my babies, wiped their tears, zipped their coats, wiped their noses, tied their shoes, helped them hold their crayons, held their flashcards, brushed their hair, placed puzzle pieces and traced the words in the book as they read for the first time.

Later that evening, as we opened presents for Jayden's birthday, he moved from the presents to a stack of cards that had arrived in the mail. As he opened one of them, I suddenly recognized Mary's strong and precise hand-writing. I must have gasped because every eye went to that card and the room got very quiet and tears began to flow.

Jayden whispered "She died on my birthday."

And he looked lost for a moment, so I read the card out loud ...

"Jayden, I am so happy to have you as my nephew! Wow! I hope your birthday is as great as you are! Love you lots, Aunt Maena XOXOXO"

And he smiled.

Maena's funeral is on Friday and she is already very missed by us all.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Time flies when you're having fun ...

Guess who will be starting pre-school this fall? Yep - our baby. Just last year we brought our precious little boy home from Ethiopia, wearing diapers and still very much a "baby". And yesterday he went to his pre-school screening and assessment.

They tested the usual ... hearing, sight, weight and height, and then put him through a battery of assessment tests. And he did swimmingly!

What an interesting perspective to sit a few feet away and watch him as he attentively followed instructions and looked his teacher in the eyes, and perfectly answered all the questions. Every now and then he would sneak a glance at me (I was only sitting about 10 feet away) and a big grin would light up his face - and he would wave at me - and I waved back and thought ..."How did this time pass so quickly" And I sat there in amazement watching this little boy who has made such amazing progress in just over 15 months.

After the assessment, the teacher explained the results to me and I commented that it was so fun to watch from a distance as he interacted with her and how far he has come in only 15 months. "After all," I said, "he's only been speaking English for just over a year." The assessor looked at me with a trace of confusion on her face and asked "What do you mean?" So I explained about adopting him when he was 2 1/2 years old and how he wasn't even speaking his native language and had only been introduced to English just over one year ago.

And she was surprised and said she would have had no idea! And I marveled once again at the amazing resiliency of children and how quickly they can learn and adapt ... and become such an integral part of your family.


Maybe his quick mastery of English is partly a result of his love of reading. Wesley LOVES to read! He follows us around the house, constantly asking ... "Mom? You read to me?"



He'll ask and ask until I stop what I'm doing, and pull him onto my lap, and read the book of choice. He loves the little "chunky" books that I read about one million times to my daughters, many years ago. And he adores the little flip-tab books, although he already knows what is under each tab. If we are watching TV, he'll grab his little pile of books and insert himself into my lap, put my hands on the books and patiently wait for me to notice the open book in my hands and him on my lap, and commence reading.

When I leave the room, even for the bathroom, he'll follow me and push the books under the door to me. He's persistent - I have to give him that!





Just for fun, I had to put this picture in here too .... "Hey Mom! Wanna see my muscles?"

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Letter from Ethiopia ...

A very dear friend and adoptive mom, Apryl, shared a story on her blog yesterday that I want to share here. Her family sponsors a sweet little boy at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia named Jirgna. In every picture they have gotten of him so far, he looks so sad and forlorn. But something has changed for Jirgna recently. He has gotten to know a family on the other side of the world that loves him, and prays for him, and writes letters to him - and makes sure that he is well-fed and getting an education. Yesterday - Apryl and her family got their first letter from Jirgna and it made a huge impact on all of them!!

I love reading Apryl's updates because she has such wit and humor - and she always has a great story to tell. The shoe company, TOMS, conducts an annual campaign "One Day Without Shoes" to bring awareness to the fact that so many impoverished children around the world do not have the luxury of wearing shoes. Always looking for tangible lessons for her kids, Apryl took them for a walk on a cold, rainy day, without shoes.

Here is her story ...

We make the obvious decision, of course. We should take a walk! We put on jackets and cuff our pants. Josiah's exceptionally happy about "walking outside on our toes." We got from the door to the driveway and he had to be picked up.

It was cold. It was wet. It wasn't delightful like the pictures of Venice on the sponsor website. Ella stubbed her toe before we left our yard. So far, the lesson we are learning is that walking around barefoot on a nasty day is unpleasant.

Then, we see the long stretch of sidewalk ahead and nary a soul wants to actually walk to the corner. But we challenge ourselves and remind each other that we really don't have to walk without shoes. We drive most places and only go barefoot when it's fun. We press on and make the block. I glimpse a woman peering from her picture window at our unsightly parade. Wet, cold, barefoot children are an oddity in any middle class neighborhood.

Meanwhile, at home something very special was waiting for us. It gave purpose to the walk down the street. It was directly from God via a little boy in Ethiopia. An hour earlier or later and the impact would have been lost. The Lord's timing is impeccable. We all stumble into the house with numb feet from the cold. After rubbing them dry, I pull out an envelope from the mail.

Our sponsor child sent us a drawing. "Thank you family" colored in yellow. Big excitement broke out and we had to look at his picture again. What does he like to do? How old is he again? Does he always look so sad? Does he always have a runny nose? Does he play soccer? Then, inevitably...

"Does he have shoes?"

Silence.

He will soon, thanks to the hard work of many wonderful people. This brought it home for all of us. We walked barefoot in the rain because we wanted to. As an experiment.

Many children like Jirgna go without much more than shoes as a way of life. This little envelope lead us to a discussion about what we are doing to help Jirgna and his friends. It's such a small thing, I wouldn't dare call it a sacrifice. But to them, it is making a huge difference.

Sally and Elijah immediately began coloring pictures to send to Jirgna. I think around here, the small thing we did today made a difference for them.



Feel free to stop by Apryl's blog by clicking here. And if you are interested in sponsoring a child in Ethiopia, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com.

Never, ever underestimate the difference you can make for a child ... and never underestimate the impact that child can have on you!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Kind Hearts in Ethiopia makes the news in Minnesota!



A few weeks ago, our local newspaper contacted me to do a story about adoption and the child sponsorship program that is underway at a school in Ethiopia called Kind Hearts. Currently, every child at Kind Hearts is sponsored, but there will be more children enrolling soon - and we are currently developing a sponsorship program for another care-point in Ethiopia. Since the article was published in our local paper, I have gotten several emails and phone calls expressing interest in sponsoring a child. If you are interested in sponsorship, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com.


Here is the article that printed on March 28, in our local Wright County Journal Press, written by Ed Dubois.



When little Jayden and Wesley arrived in America after being adopted from an orphanage in Ethiopia, they were much different than the lively, thriving boys their new family members now know. They did not speak English, and their world totally changed. Many adjustments were ahead of them. Things like drinking fountains, elevators and escalators were foreign to them.

Jayden, who is now eight years old, used hand signals to indicate he was interested in going to school. Wesley, now three, did not speak. For whatever reason — and the reason might have been horrific; we don’t know — he did not speak at the orphanage and this continued for a while in America.

Karen Wistrom of Buffalo, the boys’ adoptive mother, said they were expressionless for a while. They did not know about hugging. They did not look people in the eye. They were both small for their age because they had been malnourished. But that has all changed over the past year.

He wanted to learn
“A huge value is placed on education in Ethiopia,” Karen said. “We wanted to ease Jayden into school, but he asked about school within days of arriving home. He pointed to our two daughters and their books, and then he pointed to himself. He started school within a week in the first grade.” Jayden’s teacher at Northwinds Elementary School in Buffalo, Tari Waite, eased him in beautifully, Karen said.

Now Jayden is in the second grade class taught by Jill Mills. A bright lad, he has learned English in one year, with the help of an English Language Learners (ELL) teacher, Pattie Gillespie. Karen mentioned his native language is called Amharic. Since Wesley did not speak at all, his first language is English, Karen commented. “Now he’s a chatterbox,” she added. Both boys have been thriving and growing.

Loves waterOne of the most wondrous experiences for Jayden was his first visit at the Gold’s Gym swimming pool. He had this wide-eyed look on his face, Karen recalled. When her daughters, Emmelyn, 13, and Maea, 11, dove into the water, they called to Jayden to come in, as well. “He did this perfect swan dive. We were all surprised because we did not know he could swim. But then he did not come up. The girls grabbed him and pulled him to the surface, where he sputtered and gasped for air,” Karen said. “After seeing the girls dive in, he must have figured he could do the same thing.” She added that Jayden loved the beach in Florida during a family vacation.

Got them thinking
Ironically, adoption had not been a family plan that was years in the making. The idea developed relatively fast when Maea commented that she would like little brothers and sisters. “Maea got us thinking about adoption,” Karen said. A vice president of marketing, she works at the Dura Supreme cabinet manufacturing company in Howard Lake. Her husband, Jay, sold a business he owned 15 years and is now working on a master’s degree in addiction counseling at the Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies, located on the Center City, Minn. campus of the world-renowned Hazelden addiction treatment center. Karen and Jay moved from Iowa to Buffalo about six years ago. The adoption of Jayden and Wesley began with a research process online.

Millions of orphans“Something about Ethiopia grabbed our hearts,” Karen said. Ethiopia has roughly five million orphans. Famine, AIDS and poverty have all combined to create a huge need for adoption in that African country.

The Wistroms selected an adoption agency called America World Adoption, which is headquartered near Washington, D.C. Karen said this organization makes sure that children being made available for adoption are truly orphans. The organization works in many countries, including China.

The process of being accepted for adoption involved putting together a huge dossier, which Karen described as “documentation about you.” A lengthy list of documentation tasks involved gathering references and being checked by agencies, such as Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Karen mentioned that the dossier was certified by President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Trip to Africa
Six months of documentation was followed by six months of waiting, and then the Wistroms were told about two boys in Ethiopia, ages two and six. They were not siblings, but they were in the same orphanage. The whole family traveled to Ethiopia in December 2008 to meet the boys and complete the adoption. Jay, who took part in sports when he was in school, has enjoyed watching Jayden play soccer and basketball.

There was a period of adjustment for the girls, Karen said. Even though they had talked about having little brothers and sisters, there was a point at which they might have thought, “Okay, can we take them back now?” “All is good today,” Karen said. “We are settled, and everything is normal.”

Other orphansYou might think the story ends here, but memories of the orphanage haunted Karen. She remembered the expressionless faces of Jayden and Wesley, and she recalled that many other orphans had that same look.

Karen returned to Ethiopia last December. She did some research and found an organization, Children’s Hopechest, which conducts a sponsorship program. Those who would like to sponsor a child provide $34 a month, which pays for a sponsored child’s food, clothing, medical care, education, and Christian discipleship. A profile and a picture of each child are sent to the sponsors. Karen serves as a sponsor coordinator for a school called Kind Hearts. Sponsorships were set up for 68 children at the school. Some of the sponsors live in Buffalo.

Tired and weakWhile visiting the children before they were sponsored, Karen noticed they all looked tired, lethargic and weak. She learned the school could only afford to feed them on Wednesdays, and they probably did not get much to eat at home, either.

Besides being hungry, the children craved hugs and attention. “The children would climb up on my lap and then pull my arms around them,” Karen recalled. “They would tell me their names, and then they would come back a little later to see if I remembered their names,” she added. “I now know the names of all 68 of those children.”

The school is on ten acres of land, and work is underway on establishing a well. Once that is running, a kitchen and bathrooms can be provided. There are plans to raise chickens and sell eggs for school funds. A garden could be established, as well.

Another 75 children
Karen said a second school with 75 children is being checked out by Children’s Hopechest, and she could soon begin to seek sponsors for those children. If you would like to learn more about the sponsorship program, you can contact Karen by email at kjwistrom@yahoo.com or visit her blog at http://www.family-from-afar.blogspot.com/.

She plans to return to Ethiopia this fall and hopes to visit there once or twice a year. She mentioned speaking at her church, Buffalo Evangelical Free Church, and found much interest in the orphans of Ethiopia and the sponsorship program.

Ethiopia’s future
She remembers how Jayden and Wesley changed after being adopted. They were moved out of hopelessness and became lively, thriving boys. Through the work of Children’s Hope Chest, many
other Ethiopian orphans are being provided with a chance to grow, thrive and perhaps one day help make their country better for all its people.



Sunday, April 4, 2010

Video from Kind Hearts!!

A team of volunteers (from St Joseph Christian School in St. Joseph, MO) visited Kind Hearts in Ethiopia, just a few weeks ago. This school is raising funds for a fresh-water well at Kind Hearts. It's a big undertaking ... but the well is not only important so that the school and children have regular, reliable access to safe drinking water, but it is also the keystone for several other critical projects including bathrooms and showers, a kitchen and a chicken farm.

Joey Austin, who lead the team of volunteers to Ethiopia a few weeks ago, created this video from photos and video they took during the trip to Kind Hearts. For sponsor families, this is a heart-warming glimpse of their sponsor child "in action".

Right now, there are 68 chidren attending Kind Hearts and every child has been matched with a sponsor. Each sponsor's gift of $34 each month ensures their sponsor child has food, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship. There will be more children enrolling at Kind Hearts in the next month, so if you are interested in sponsoring a child, please email me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com and I will contact you as soon as we have children needing a sponsor.


Please take a moment to watch the video from Kind Hearts! click here ...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What to do on a beautiful spring day?

According to Jay, there is no better way to spend a warm, spring day ... than at the new Twins outdoor stadium, watching a great game of baseball. Go Twins!

I can't help it ... the boys have been home with us for going on 16 months now, but I still have moments when I pause and think about how different their lives are right now - in comparison to what they were a little over one year ago.

Then - fatherless, hungry, hopeless.

Today - looking forward to watching a baseball game with his daddy!