Wednesday, September 28, 2011

If Ethiopia has a special place in your heart ...

If Ethiopia has a special place in your heart ... then wear it on your chest!  And if someone you know loves Ethiopia, these shirts will make a great Christmas gift!



I designed t-shirts that I am selling only until October 10 (in time to print them and ship them before I leave for Ethiopia in November). The scrollwork pattern forms a heart over the country of Ethiopia.



These t-shirts are available for only a limited time and funds raised will support specific CarePoint projects and mission teams to work with the kids. Please click on the blog button below (Shoppe with a Mission) to place your secure order today through PayPal!



Update:  October 10 ... The Mission Shoppe is now closed.  THANK YOU for your t-shirt orders.  I will ship all t-shirts as soon as they are printed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Precious Packages at My Door!

In 1 1/2 months, 25 volunteers from all over the U.S. will be travelling to Ethiopia to spend time teaching, caring for and mentoring the children at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory care-points. One of the most memorable parts of our trip last year, was delivering care-packages to each child from their sponsor family.

With our trip only 1 1/2 months away, care-packages for each child are starting to arrive at my door.  These packages are so precious because each family carefully picked out each item, hoping that their sponsor child will sense and know the love, care and concern that went into each gift.


Each sponsor family has thoughtfully and carefully selected every item for their sponsor child.

Below are a few photos from last year, as each child received their care-package.



Below - this is Cheru who is sponsored by the Cassidy family.  His profile photo shows a very serious and stoic young man and when we first met him, he was shy and reserved, barely cracking a smile.


That is until he saw the family photos of his sponsor family - his face broke into the sweetest grin and his eyes filled with tears.  His excitement and genuine appreciation were so evident and it was truly a sweet moment!


Each child and each sponsor family write letters back and forth throughout the year, but this care-package is a tangible gift that we get to deliver each November!

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We have 50 new children enrolling at Kind Hearts by the end of this month that will need a sponsor family.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child ($34 per month provides food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship for one child), please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com.  I will be matching children with a sponsor family at the beginning of October and our team will be spending time with those kids in November!

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If you LOVE Ethiopia - wear it on your chest!  I designed t-shirts that I am selling only until October 10 (in time to print them and ship them before I leave for Ethiopia in November).  The scrollwork pattern forms a heart over the country of Ethiopia.

These t-shirts are available for only a limited time and funds raised will support specific CarePoint projects and mission teams to work with the kids.  Please click on the blog button below (Shoppe with a Mission) to place your order today!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Favorite T-Shirt to Wear!!

UPDATE:  The T-shirts are selling really well (THANK YOU!) and if you are curious about which ones are proving to be favorites ... here are the top 3 sellers so far!

#1 Black Shirt with Sky Blue Artwork

#2 Black Shirt with Bright Purple Artwork

#3 Heathered Espresso Shirt with Sky Blue Artwork



I have a few favorite t-shirts that I wear every weekend, for a few reasons - first, they have a compelling image of Africa or Ethiopia and they are a great conversations starter.  I am often asked about my t-shirt by perfect strangers and we easily end up in a conversation about adoption or the children I work with at Kind Hearts or Trees of Glory CarePoints.  Second - they are quite simply the most comfortable and soft T-shirts that I own!!

For a long time, I have had an idea in my head about what I would design if I would ever decide to create my own custom t-shirt design ... and I finally put that idea on paper and had it developed!  I hope you love it as much as I do!

T-Shirt Front Design 


T-Shirt Back Design (right shoulder) 


Close-Up of Artwork on Front of T-Shirt
The scrollwork pattern forms a heart over the country of Ethiopia! 


Close-Up of Back Right Shoulder Artwork

For 3 weeks only, T-Shirt orders are being accepted.  On October 10, the pre-sale will close and I will place the order for the t-shirts (that way I don't carry any inventory, and every dime can go to support our upcoming volunteer mission team to Ethiopia and the special projects we will be doing in Ethiopia).  Shirts will be shipped at the end of October and our team leaves for Ethiopia on November 11!!

This pre-sale will run for 3 weeks only (until October 10) - please order now and help fund mission teams and projects for the kids that attend our CarePoints in Ethiopia. 

Please click on the SHOPPE WITH A MISSION button below (or on my sidebar) to see the t-shirt designs and color options and to place your secure order through paypal.  If you have any questions, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com


October 10 Update:  The Mission Shoppe is now closed and t-shirts have been ordered.  They will ship as soon as they are printed.  THANK YOU for supporting projects for kids at our Ethiopia CarePoints with the purchase of a shirt!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blankets for Ethiopia - Wrap them in warmth and love!

Our team of 25 volunteers is busy planning lessons for the kids at the CarePoints and collecting donations.  Apryl Harbaugh (and her mom, Becky Dunkle) travelled with me last year to work with the kids and to meet her sponsor child!  This year, Apryl and Becky are volunteering again and in addition to the children they sponsored last year, their families also sponsor a sibling group of three at Trees of Glory!  Apryl and Becky are being joined on the team this year by their niece, Shanyce, and a teen from Becky's youth group, Alyssa.

Apryl saw the needs of these children last year - not only the physical needs of food, clean water, clothing and medical care, but also the developmental needs of love, Christian discipleship and education.  Knowing that the night temperatures in this area can drop to 40 degrees, Apryl is leading a blanket project and we hope to deliver over 300 blankets - one for each and every child at our CarePoints.  So we can wrap them in warmth as we wrap them in love during our visit.

Apryl made this incredible video with photos from our trip last year - and my eyes filled with tears seeing the kids and knowing that we will be with them again in less than 2 months!! 

If you are interested in helping with our blanket project (you can make blankets or provide funds for blankets), contact Apryl Harbaugh at momof2es@yahoo.com or me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com for details.  Click here for Apryl's blog  http://notquitedoneadopting.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

KIND HEARTS KITCHEN


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The noon meal is a big deal at "Kind Hearts" care-point in Ethiopia. 
 
Not only because it may be the first meal some of the kids have had that day ...
 
And not only because it is so filling and nutritious ...
 
but also because the cook USED TO prepare these meals for 102 children over an outdoor fire with no running water!
 
But that has all changed!

Not only does Kind Hearts care-point in Ethiopia now have a fresh water well on the property ... but we started construction on a new kitchen in March!!!  The kitchen has had 4 walls and a roof since then - but then the focus switched to completing the well.  Now the focus is back on the kitchen and we just got an update as further progress has been made.
 
When my team of volunteers was in Ethiopia last November, we purchased four goats along with fresh injera (the pancake-like rolls of spongy flatbread that are a staple in the Ethiopian diet), carrots, onions, spices, bananas and oranges. The goats were slaughtered while we watched and the stew was started first thing in the morning, with the cook monitoring the savory spices and the boiling broth to make sure it was full of flavor. The kids' mouths were watering, and so was mine!
 
Normally, our sponsor program through Children's HopeChest (http://www.hopechest.org/) provides meals for all of the kids, but on this day, we were preparing a feast and we invited the children's care-givers. So in addition to the 100+ children and 10-12 staff members, we fed 80-90 adult family members and care-givers so we could start building relationships with them too!

Above: This is the cook at Kind Hearts. Her husband passed away several years ago
and she was struggling to feed, educate and provide for her two sons, who are
now 8 and 11 years old. With her job at Kind Hearts, she is able to provide for
her boys, feed them nutritious meals and send them to school.
Both of her boys are now in 6th grade!

 
She proudly works hard to provide nutritious and delicious meals for all of the kids at Kind Hearts - making sure to choose a variety of foods that provide a balanced diet. Some days rice, other days injera, with fruits and vegetables and as often as possible ... meat! Sometimes the meat is stretched as far as possible to feed the kids by slicing it small and making a savory broth ... other days the kids get a ladle-full of bite-sized chunks poured over their injera - with seconds if they want!


 


This is my daughter, Emme, watching in "fascination" as the goats are slaughtered for the meal.

 


Injera with delicious goat stew called "Wot".

 

 
I love how the cook wrapped a bright, red scarf around her head
to "dress up" for the serving of the meal!







Below: Here is the new kitchen under construction right now at Kind Hearts thanks to our generous donors and sponsor families!! Construction started on March 29 and is progressing rapidly. I can only imagine how excited and proud the cook is as she watches her new kitchen being built.

What a luxury this must be for her ... a roof to keep the rain off, large windows and doors to capture breezes and the beautiful view, and shade from the intense sun.

A big THANK YOU to all of our sponsor families and donors who have committed to care and provide for the kids being served at Kind Hearts! It's so exciting to see the progress at the care-point since we first started working with Kind Hearts almost 2 years ago!!   
 
 
HERE IS THE "KITCHEN" LAST NOVEMBER!
 
HERE IS THE KITCHEN UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN MARCH!



HERE IS THE KITCHEN NOW!


If you are interested in sponsoring a child, or supporting one of our capital projects at the care-point, please contact me via email at kjwistrom@yahoo.com. Right now, ALL of the kids are sponsored, but 50 more kids will be enrolling at the end of September and will need a sponsor family.

Sponsorship is $34 per month and provides for food, water, clothing, medical care and a Christian education for one child. Sponsors can write letters to their sponsor child, and we regularly have travel teams visiting and volunteering at the care-points. My next trip to Ethiopia will be in November 2011. There are several pending projects at the care-point, so one-time gifts are appreciated as well! Please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com with any questions.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why did the turtle cross the road?

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Minnesota is called the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" because there are truly 10,000 lakes, ponds, puddles, and swampy areas we affectionately call "wetlands". 

I heard the screen door slam and Jay walked in saying "You guys have to see the cute little turtle I just saw crossing the road!"  Of course the kids all ran to the front door and down the driveway ... to see the cute little turtle ... that looked like something prehistoric that had just climbed out of the primordial ooze.


Upon closer examination - it WAS something prehistoric that had just climbed out of the primordial ooze and it was about to crawl back into the ooze of the wetland across the street from the lake.


And just in case you might think I was playing tricks with the camera to make it look larger than it was ... here are the kids taking a closer look at the snapping turtle from the safety of it's backside.




Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Care-Packages for Ethiopia!!

In two months, 25 volunteers from all over the U.S. will be travelling to Ethiopia to spend time teaching, caring for and mentoring the children at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory care-points.  One of the most memorable parts of our trip last year, was delivering care-packages to each child from their sponsor family. 





The children have gotten to know their sponsor families through letters, but to receive a special package along with a letter and photos, was an incredible gift for these kids - and you could see it on their faces as they recognized the photos and then held the package in their hands.  Most of them could not believe that this package of gifts was for them.  "For me??" they kept asking.  "Yes - for you!" we kept explaining.

There are 90 new children enrolling at the care-point this month (September).  40 new kids at Trees of Glory and 50 new kids at Kind Hearts.  For families that are already on my waiting list, I want to let you know that we will get profiles for the new kids and be able to match you with a child at the end of September.  I will contact you as soon as I have the profiles. :)  If you are interested in sponsoring a child - please email me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com and I will add you to the list and then match you with a child at the end of the month.  ($34 per month provides food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship for one child.)

Currently - we have 102 children at Kind Hearts and 100 children at Trees of Glory.  Each of those children has a sponsor family here in the USA that provides for them, prays for them and writes letters to them throughout the year.

I will be delivering a care-package to each child from their sponsor family - so the information below is for each sponsor family with instructions on what to send me.  Because we will ultimately be delivering packages to nearly 300 children, I am not able to bring the large care-packages that we did last year.

Each care-package should include a letter and photos along with a few small items that you pick specifically for your child.  Clothing is always needed - so I am recommending that each family purchase a shirt for their sponsor child as well.  Wrap your gifts in the shirt (like a burrito) - then rubberband a label with your child's name, reference number, the care-point name (Kind Hearts or Trees of Glory) and your name on the outside of the package.  Care-packages need to be sent to me by October 1.  I will take pictures as each child receives their care-package from their sponsor family!


 Include a few special items you pick for your sponsor child, along with a letter and photos.

 Fold the shirt lengthwise.

 Wrap the gifts in the shirt like a burrito.

Clearly label with your sponsor child's name, reference number,
care-point name and your name and secure with rubberbands.

Friday, September 2, 2011

SO TWISTED!

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Wesley's hair was starting to look a bit shaggy - and with us spending so much time in the water this summer, I wasn't able to condition it and separate the curls as often as before.  So some areas were starting to get a little matted and the ends definitely looked like they needed a trim.



The last time I cut Wesley's hair, I didn't cut enough, so this time I was making sure I cut off enough.  It's quite a lengthy process, because I have to deeply condition his hair and then brush/comb through all of the tangles until I can cleanly comb through it in order to cut it.  It takes a LONG time - and of course he's kinda squirmy.

So I started dividing his hair into sections and cutting (disclaimer - I am not a professional hair cutter/stylist and have absolutely no training) and as I strived to keep it all even I had to trim a little more here and a little more there - by the time I finished, it was drastically shorter than it was before.  Yikes!

He kept telling me to "just shave it like Jayden's!" but I can't bear parting with those gorgeous curls.  His hair is still a good 3-4" long (but I did cut about 6" off).  I decided to try finger coils - and with his hair so conditioned and detangled, his hair was so easy to coil.






This morning - I touched-up just a few of the coils in the back becuase they got fuzzy from sleeping on them.

Emme was sleeping overnight at a friends, and when she got home this morning, her mouth dropped open in shock at Wesley's new look.  "Who are you?!?!?  I don't even recognize you?!?!?" she shrieked with a huge smile.  Wesley replied, "My name is Wesley."


We are THAT family that puts things off until the last minute.  School starts Tuesday - and so we finally got around to getting our school supplies.



We are planning to do some of this (see below) over the weekend too! What are your plans for the long weekend?