Sunday, April 29, 2012

That's My Girl!


After a warm start to our spring, it seems we've had nothing but gray skies, cool temperatures and rain the last few weeks.  A few weeks ago, I could hear the rain turn to hail and I told the kids to go look out the windows.  Emme tried to go outside and I grabbed her arm and said "That's a good way to get killed.  If one of those hailstones hits you in the head, you could get hurt!"

She stepped back from the door and then re-appeared moments later and slipped outside with a bowl on her head.  That's my girl - setting a great example for the other kids!





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Don't forget, Mother's Day is 2 weeks from today which only leaves 1 more week to honor your mom with a donation to build a school at "Kind Hearts" in Ethiopia.

100% of the funds received will go toward the building of a new school building so that the Care-Point can expand and help even more children!  What a meaningful Mother's Day gift - to help build a school in Ethiopia for orphaned and impoverished kids!!

Please click HERE http://davidsonpartyoffive.blogspot.com/.

Presently, Kind Hearts serves 150 children (orphaned or from exremely poor families) providing nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, Christian discipleship and an incredibly valuable EDUCATION!!! Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty that persists generation after generation - and with the construction of a new school building, Kind Hearts will be able to enroll more children and serve up to 300 children!

Now THAT'S a meaningful Mother's Day gift!!

Mother's Day is less than 3 weeks away. Instead of buying something she doesn't really need - please consider making a donation in her honor and build a school in Ethiopia! 

Please click HERE http://davidsonpartyoffive.blogspot.com/.




Friday, April 27, 2012

My Favorite Mother's Day Present Ever ...

As Mother's Day nears, my kids will ask what I want for Mother's Day and I always say, "please don't buy me anything, just be nice to each other.  That's what makes me happy".  Inevitably one of the kids will respond ... "That's too hard, can't we just buy you something?"

The thing is, I don't want them to spend their money to buy me something that I don't need.  The things I really treasure can't be bought.  My favorite Mother's Day present was given to me by my daughters when they were 4 and 5 years old (that was 10 years ago!).  I still have it - framed and sitting on a shelf near my bed.




As little 4 and 5 year old girls who were just learning to spell and write, they painstakingly wrote me a letter, asking their daddy how to spell each word and printing in their neatest hand-writing.



WE LOVE YOU MOM
You smell really pretty
You play with us all the time
You love us lots
You read us good stories
You help us when we get hurt
You help us make stuff
You make our hair look pretty
You draw elephants and giraffes
You make good brownies and muffins and cookies
You look pretty
We love you Mom!
Love, Emme and Maea

I love this little gift because they wrote down all of the things that were meaningful to them.  The stories that I read to them.  The times when I created cute curls and little twists in their hair with colorful clips.  All the exotic animals I drew for them while they sat quietly in church nestled close to me so they could see what I was drawing.  All the bandaids and kisses applied to scraped knees and elbows.  THAT's the stuff that's meaningful - and what a precious gift they gave me that Mother's Day.

There's one other Mother's Day gift I appreciate, because it has so much meaning for children in Ethiopia.  Many of them don't even have a mom to celebrate on Mother's Day. 

For the last few years, one of our sponsor families has donated time and materials to create beautiful Mother's Day cards to commemorate a donation (given in honor of a mom) to a critical project at one of our Care-Points in Ethiopia.  This year, Robyn Davidson, who sponsors a child and has actually visited Kind Hearts Care-Point in Ethiopia, has created a Mother's Day card using photos of the kids that attend Kind Hearts.  100% of the funds received will go toward the building of a new school building so that the Care-Point can expand and help even more children!

Please click HERE  http://davidsonpartyoffive.blogspot.com/.

Presently, Kind Hearts serves 150 children (orphaned or from exremely poor families) providing nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, Christian discipleship and an incredibly valuable EDUCATION!!!  Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty that persists generation after generation - and with the construction of a new school building, Kind Hearts will be able to enroll more children and serve up to 300 children!

Now THAT'S a meaningful Mother's Day gift!!

Mother's Day is less than 3 weeks away.  Instead of buying something she doesn't really need - please consider making a donation in her honor and build a school in Ethiopia! 






Robyn will personalize the card with your mom's name and mail it to her in time for Mother's Day, explaining that this gift in her name will build a school and educate the next generation of children in Ethiopia!!

Please click here to make a donation and provide the details for your personalized Mother's Day card!  http://davidsonpartyoffive.blogspot.com/  You can conveniently and securely make a donation via paypal in the upper left corner of Robyn's blog.

I love Mother's Day gifts that have a big meaning behind them.  What was your favorite Mother's Day gift?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

For Mother's Day - Help us Build a School in Ethiopia!

Kind Hearts Care-Point in Ethiopia is literally bursting at the seams with happy, healthy, rambunctious kids who LOVE to go to school everyday!  The situation and the opportunities for the kids at Kind Hearts are starkly different today, than they were in December of 2009 when I first visited Kind Hearts.

In 2009, we had 68 extremely malnourished kids at the Care-Point who coudn't focus on schoolwork or learn because their bodies and minds were being starved of nutrients because their families could not provide for them.  The kids were malnourished, tired and lethargic, and many of them were sick with chronic respiratory ailments that their bodies could not fight.  The children felt hopeless - and the staff felt hopeless too. 

Orphaned or from extremely destitute families, these kids would not have the opportunity to go to school without Kind Hearts - but Kind Hearts was barely able to continue with school or the feeding program because funding had dried up.

Today - Kind Hearts is serving almost 150 children (orphaned or from destitute homes) and our small 4-classroom building is literally overflowing with kids (150 kids squeezed into 4 small classrooms)!  In order to enroll more students in September and to continue to advance the older students, Kind Hearts will need a new school building!  With a new school building in place by September - we can continue to expand the Care-Point and eventually be able to serve up to 300 children!!!

For Mother's Day this year - would you consider making a donation in honor of your mom to help build a school at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia? 

Robyn Davidson sponsors a child at Kind Hearts and also had the opportunity to visit Kind Hearts when her family was in Ethiopia to adopt their son.  Robyn has generously offered to create Mother's Day Cards and donate 100% of the funds raised to the new school building at Kind Hearts.  Robyn has created this beautiful Mother's Day Card which she will personalize with your name(s) and your Mother's name and mail it for you in time for Mother's Day.

Card:  Inside will be personalized with your name(s) and your mom's name

The photos throughout this card are pictures of the kids that are attending Kind Hearts right now!  Almost 150 children who are now receiving nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, Christian discipleship and a very valuable education!!  Once the new school building is complete, Kind Hearts will be able to continue expanding and helping up to 300 children!!

Please click here for Robyn's blog to make a donation to the School Building Fund for Kind Hearts in honor of your Mom for Mother's Day.  All of the details and ordering information are on Robyn's blog at http://davidsonpartyoffive.blogspot.com/2012/04/in-honor-of-inspiring-mothers.html

Mother's Day is less than 3 weeks away - please consider making a donation in any amount ($10, $25, $50, $100) in honor of your mom - to build a school in Ethiopia!!  Robyn will personalize this card to let your mom know that for Mother's Day, she is helping to build a school in Ethiopia that will serve hundreds of kids, providing and extremely valuable education!

From Robyn's Blog ... Note to Mothers: Please know that it is completely appropriate to give your family hints that you would enjoy being a part of this fundraiser. You can leave my blog open on your computer (repeatedly, if necessary.) You can send your husband and children links to this post. You could also try making seemingly random comments such as, “While I truly love the snow cone maker I received last year for Mother’s Day AND the oversized soup ladle I received the year before, I have always thought it would be amazing to help build a school in Ethiopia!” Let me know if you need more ideas.

 Card:  Inside top flap of card showing the current students at Kind Hearts

Card:  Back cover of card showing one of our Kind Hearts students, Hana.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blowing Out Candles is Hard Work!

Who knew blowing out candles was such hard work and required good aim. 

Now we know - and he has since practiced and is quite accomplished at it now.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

PINKY SQUARE

I think it's cute when my 5 year old repeats a phrase he has heard once or twice, and he hasn't heard it quite right - his mispronunciation is quite charming.  One example off the top of my head is the "Cars" character, Lighting McQueen who will forever be "LannyQueen" in our house.

This morning, Wesley was anxious to get outside to play and one of his favorite pastimes is to bring his box of cars out to the driveway.  He rolls them one by one down the driveway, watching in fascination as each one rolls only so far before it is stopped by a little rock or piece of sand or a seam in the driveway. 

He then pushes each one from where it stopped to see how far they can roll this time - and he does this until one car makes it to the bottom of the driveway and he pronouces it as "THE WINNER!!!"  For me, it's a good occasion to sit in the grass and enjoy the warm sun and his running commentary.







"Mom?!??!" he yelled to me from the other room. 

"What Wesley?"

"Will you go outside with me and play "roll cars"?"

"Yep - I can play with you in just  few minutes."

"Promise?" he says with a big smile in his voice.

"I Promise."

"Pinky Square?"

"Pinky Square!"



He runs to me and we do the pinky shake and then he tells me, "When we pinky square there's no changing yous mind, right?"

"Right!"

Of course he means "Pinky Swear" but I like his mispronunciation. :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

She Worked Hard to Coax a Smile from Him ...

That big smile and those bright, shining, hope-filled eyes meant a lot to me when Joey Austin emailed me all the photos from her recent trip to Ethiopia.  Her team of volunteers delivered care-packages to the 300 kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory CarePoints in Ethiopia and I have been busy sorting through all the photos and emailing them to each sponsor family.


And then I came across this photo, and my eyes filled with tears of happiness.

This is Diriba (nicknamed Daru) - and he is one of my sponsor kids.  We met Daru in November when I visited his home. 

His 3 older siblings attend the care-point and our home-visit selection included their home.  I blogged about that visit here (Click HERE) and I remember so clearly seeing little Daru in the distance as we approached his home. 



He shyly and with great curiousity watched us approach and I could see him from a distance because of his bright pink sweat suit that stood in stark contrast to the beige and brown mud surroundings.

His eyes had a dullness to them - a familiar look of hunger and malnutrition - and they were watery from sleeping and living inside a smoke-filled hut.  He moved slowly and seemed tired, unusual for a little boy who should be full of energy and rambunctionsness.



We spoke to the children's mother for awhile and learned that she had 5 kids (the littlest was an infant on her hip) and her husband had decided that 5 kids were just too much of a burden and had left the family.  She was alone, unemployed, and trying to raise 5 kids.

The three older kids were attending Trees of Glory Care-Point and it was clear that this was a huge burden that had been lifted from her shoulders.  She expressed gratitude over and over for the CarePoint where her 3 older children were getting nutritious food, clean water, medical care and an education!  I gestured to the little boy in the pink sweatsuit and asked why he was not yet attending the CarePoint and told her that we would be happy to enroll him too.  She raised her eyebrows as my words were translated and nodded appreciatively

The next day, slightly bewildered and a bit fearful, little Daru tagged along with his older siblings and was enrolled that very day! I watched him enjoy what was perhaps his first hearty meal ever, and watched him savor his first taste of an orange.



 

Maea became very protective of Daru and immediately asked if we could sponsor him.  Her heart was breaking for this little boy who was scared and a bit overwhelmed by his first few days at the CarePoint.  But we were content knowing that once he got used to the hustle and bustle, he would thrive in this loving environment with plentiful food, clean water, school, medical care and Christian discipleship.  Much of the rest of our time at Trees of Glory, Daru stayed close to Maea and she worked hard to coax a smile from him.



  Finally, a tentative smile.



And then 4 1/2 months later ... there's that big toothy smile and bright sparkling eyes we were hoping to see!  After several months with excellent care and nutrition at Trees of Glory, we get a beautiful picture of him, holding a picture of us!


Sponsoring a child ($34 per month) does truly change a child's life! - and we have seen it over and over again as we now have nearly 300 children enrolled at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts CarePoints. 

If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com.  At the moment, ALL of the children are sponsored, but more children are being enrolled and I will contact you as soon as we have information on the newest children. 

I will be leading a team of volunteers to Ethiopia in November to work with the kids and the CarePoint staff - if you are interested in joining me in Ethiopia, contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Shoes - Such a Luxury!



When my team of volunteers was at Trees of Glory Care-Point (Ethiopia) in November, we could not help but notice the terrible condition of most of the kids' shoes.  About a year before, Sami Davidson of Little Goody 2 Shoes had raised funds to provide shoes for ALL of the kids, but the sharp volcanic rock surrounding the Care-Point is tough on the shoes as the kids wear them EVERY day to walk to and from the Care-Point.

I took this photo (above) at Trees of Glory in November.  It shows the rugged shoes that were purchased a year ago (on the right).  The little boy wearing the shoes had saved them by only using them on special occasions but most of the other kids' shoes had already worn out.  Once those shoes wear out or the child grows out of the shoes, they then use the flimsy, cheap rubber shoes that are readily available but quickly fall to pieces in the rugged terrain.

My team of volunteers pooled our funds to be able to provide a new pair of shoes for ALL of the kids at Trees of Glory.  The photo below arrived today as the shoes were finally delivered for all of the kids!! 



THANK YOU to everyone who provided funds to volunteers from our travel team that enabled us to meet the needs of the kids!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kind Hearts Video!

A vision team just returned from Ethiopia with Children's HopeChest.  A "vision team" is a group of individuals from across the USA who are interested in learning about HopeChest's work in Ethiopia and who are looking to get involved with CarePoints that need sponsor coordinators.  The team spent some time at Kind Hearts CarePoint to learn about the progress being made there as an example of the vision that can achieved at other CarePoints in Ethiopia that are just getting started!

One of the team members, Jared Lee, contacted me after the trip and shared this video with me.  The person being interviewed is Misikir who works for Children's HopeChest in Ethiopia.  He is one of the very talented and dedicated people who works closely with the CarePoints and the work being accomplished at each location.  When I lead a team of volunteers each year to work with the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory, Misikir is an essential part of our team!

Please check out what he has to say about Kind Hearts and the progress being made there!

Our next large project at Kind Hearts will be to build a new school building (a mirror image of the current classroom building on the opposite side of the playground).  Currently, we are serving nearly 150 orphaned and destitute children at Kind Hearts and we are at maximum capacity - classrooms are literally overflowing!  By adding a new school building with 4 new classrooms - we will be able to continue adding grade levels for the older children and be able to serve nearly 300 children!  As soon as we have details and estimates on this project, I will post the information here.

Thank you to our very dedicated team of sponsor families - and to Misikir and to the entire Children's HopeChest team in the USA and in Ethiopia for the impact we are making for these kids!!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Precious Gift ...

Grace Dahlgren just returned from Ethiopia with Joey Austin's team from Missouri.  Last year, Grace visited Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory CarePoints for the first time and she met Meseret, who had just started attending the CarePoint.  When she returned from Ethiopia, she emailed me about the little girl she had met and who she was hoping to sponsor.

As soon as Meseret's profile arrived, I matched her with the Dahlgren family.  Grace has been looking forward to her return trip to Ethiopia all year long so she could again spend time with Meseret!  Here are Grace's words about her visit to Trees of Glory ...





My excitement was beginning to get the best of me!  This day, was the day!   The day I would get to see Meseret again, our sponsored child at Trees of Glory CarePoint in Ethiopia (through Children's HopeChest).  

Our van was the first to come to a stop. I opened the van door, scanning the faces of the children standing there on the playground!

Then… there she was! Coming down those steps you see in the picture!  Wearing a little, white dress. 


                                                                       

And finally, she is standing, so, so sweetly before me.  She is taller than last year.  Her innocent smile, still the same.  She has an energetic sparkle in her eyes, and a sweet spirit.  I sense she is eager to show me her school, her friends, her momma, her life!     


                                                                     

In a second, I remind myself, that I am half way around the world, looking into the face of a little girl God knit my heart to, one year ago.  A gift, that words cannot truly express.  Few moments in my life, have filled my heart that full!

Every child enjoys receiving gifts, and Meseret is no exception!  With great delight, and item by item, I took each gift out of that ziplock bag and placed it in her hands. I’m not sure who was more blessed in those moments…her or me. She smiled at the pictures of our family and our three sons.   



                                        

Our oldest son, Matt, met Meseret last year.  She was thrilled to know that he was her big brother and didn’t let him out of her sight!  Our other 2 sons, Caleb & Ben, will meet Meseret soon, too!

The table beside me is being set up with the care packages sent by all the sponsor families!  Fikre (who works for Children's HopeChest) does an amazing job overseeing this important task!  Imagine being the one responsible for handing out gifts to 120+ children, making sure the right child gets the right care package, determining which chldren did not receive a care package and quickly coming up with something to give that, would be, sad child.  Fikre, does it all with great joy, love and compassion!

Soon, we were with Meseret’s momma.  She is the cook at Trees of Glory. I’m not sure of the circumstances that brought them to live at Trees of Glory, but they both seem grateful, content and joyful to be there. 




This picture was taken in “Meseret’s room”. She immediately had her momma untie her little, white dress so she could put on her new clothes!  She was very pleased with her outfit and quickly ran to show her friends! Those precious moments, made both mommas smile!

Please join me in praying for Meseret’s mother’s health. She has a rather large goiter on her thyroid and has not yet had any medical treatment. This humble woman, spoke words of blessing to me and gave me the one material possession she had: a handmade, cloth bowl that she worked on each night in her dimly lit little room.  Never have I received a more beautiful gift.  It now holds a place of great prominence in my home.

The day went by much too quickly.  Meseret was with me everywhere I went that last hour.  Did I mention that the day went by much too quickly?  I did not want to leave her.                                         

I had to remind myself that she is in the hands of our heavenly Father and that He would care for her always.  I told her I would pray for her and her momma.  I told her I would see her again next year and that I would bring my son Caleb, to meet her.  I told her I loved her.  She gave me one last hug and put her sweet little cheek, right against my lips….oh, that moment…yet, another precious gift!




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Currently, we have nearly 300 children being served at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts CarePoints in Ethiopia.  Children who attend the CarePoints are either orphaned or from very destitute families who cannot provide for their children.  Sponsorship is $34 per month and provides nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship for one child.  Sponsor families exchange letters throughout the year and whenever we have volunteer teams in Ethiopia, sponsors also have the opportunity to send a care-package.  


Every child at the CarePoints is currently sponsored and we are now enrolling more children at our Trees of Glory CarePoint!  If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please email me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com to be added to the waiting list.  As soon as we have biographical information and photos of each of the children, I will contact you to match you with a child!