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Monday, May 31, 2010

What do YOU see in their eyes??

It's tough to look at photos of kids that you've never met and think that there's going to be some kind of connection.  And yet, it happens all the time. 

So many of the sponsor families contact me about one specific child that somehow, a picture has spoken volumes to them.  One family asked if a specific child was still available for sponsorship because he is the same age and has the same name as their son.  Another family saw a photo and said, "his eyes look just like my son's eyes!" 

Sometimes, that's all it takes.  To look at a photo and recognize something that makes that child seem like one of your own.  You can look into their eyes and read their facial expression and get a glimpse of the loneliness and longing, or resolve, despair and discouragement that child is feeling.

Sometimes I look at photos of the kids that are smiling - and I swear I see pleading in their eyes.  "Please pick me. Love me. Value me."

Other times I see kids with a sad expression - what has happened that they couldn't even muster a smile for a photograph?  Other times I see a scowl and I recognize despair and discouragement that have settled deeply into their hearts.

Sponsoring a child lifts the burden of hopelessness from their shoulders.  It provides for a child's basic needs, like food, clothing, medical care and EDUCATION.  But it also ministers to their heart - because someone on the other side of the world, loves them, prays for them and values them.  And they get to see the proof of that in the letters they get from their sponsor family.

When you look into the faces of these kids ... what do you see? 

Every one of the kids shown below are hoping for a sponsor family.  Some are afraid to hope - afraid of disappointment - but they are secretly hopeful just the same.  Please contact me at about sponsoring a child (or one of the kids pictured below) at Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia. 

I will be in Ethiopia in November with these kids and I will personally give them a hug from you and tell them about your hopes and dreams for them.

Adissu is 7 and lives with his sister.  Both of his parents have died.  He needs to be matched with a sponsor family.  Update:  Addisu has just been matched with a sponsor family!!

Tadele is 10 and lives with his grand-father because he has lost both parents. 
Tadele needs a sponsor family.

Samuel is 6 and lives with his grandmother because both of his parents have died.  He is hoping for a sponsor family.

Hanna is 5 and is living with her grandmother because her parents have died.  She is hoping for a sponsor family.  Update:  Hanna has just been matched with her sponsor family!!

Ayele is 9 and has lost both of his parents.  He lives with his uncle and there are 5 children in the home.  He is hopeful for a sponsor family.

Mentesenot is 5 and lives with his aunt because both of his parent have died.  He's hoping for a sponsor family.  Update:  Mentesenot has just been matched with a sponsor family!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Stop waiting for the "right" time ...

At "Trees of Glory" care-point in Ethiopia, there are 84 children hoping for a sponsor family!

They really can't quite believe that someone could possibly love them enough, and value them enough, to come alongside them.  To love them, pray for them, provide for them ... and give them opportunities they have only dreamed about. 

It's almost too much to hope for or even believe. Could it be true?

If you have been thinking about sponsorship, waiting for the "right"time to get involved. Perhaps NOW is the right time. After all, will there ever really be a better time?

For these kids ... your decision to sponsor now (not later) can change the course, the very direction, of their lives.

Please contact me at - you can choose to sponsor one of the kids shown below - or let me know if you have a specific age and gender, one child or a sibling group, that is weighing heavy on your heart.

The "older" kids pictured below weigh heavy on my heart.  These are the kids that are well aware of how tough and hopeless life is for them.  Sadness and loneliness have already settled deeply into their hearts.  These are the kids that can't believe someone from the other side of the world, could possibly have any interest in them.  These are the kids that are afraid to hope.  Afraid to hope because it hurts so much to be let down. 

I think these are the kids that appreciate their sponsor family the most!  In November when I am in Ehtiopia, these are the kids that I will hug a little longer, and cup their face in my hands to really look deeply into their eyes - and tell them how much they are loved and prayed for by their sponsor family!

Dereje is 8 and has lost both of his parents.  He lives with his Aunt and needs a sponsor family.  Update:  Dereje has just been matched with a sponsor family!!

Gebremariam is 8 and lives with his Aunt.  He has lost both of his parents, and is hopeful for a sponsor family.  Update:  Gebremariam has just been matched with a sponsor family!

Dita is 10 and lives with his grand-father.  Both of his parents have died and he is hoping for a sponsor family.  Update:  Dita has been matched with a sponsor family!!

Fantu is 12 and lives with a guardian.  She has lost both of her parents and needs a sponsor family.  Update:  Fantu has been matched with a sponsor family!!

Almaz is 10 and has lost both of her parents.  She lives with her Aunt.  Almaz needs a sponsor family.  Update:  Almaz has just been matched with a sponsor family!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

New Care-Point in Ethiopia - Kids Need a Sponsor!

Seble is 5 and lives with her grand-mother.  She has been matched with a sponsor family!

Elias is 8 and has lost both of his parents, and lives with his grand-mother. 
Elias has been matched with a sponsor family!

Edelam is 4 and needs a sponsor family.

Samuel is 6 and needs a sponsor family.

Children's Hopechest has just started working with a new care-point in Ethiopia (about 2 hours North of Addis Ababa) that serves 84 orphaned and destitute kids.

Although the terrain and the landscape are beautiful, this semi-mountainous region has been hit hard by famine and drought.  The local government has identified the neediest and most vulnerable children in the area, and has assiged 84 children to "Trees of Glory".  Children's Hopechest is working with "Trees of Glory" care-point to develop a sponsor program.

Most of the children are orphans and are living with a relative (i.e. uncle, aunt, sister) that is barely able to provide for the kids, and therefore many of them are severely malnourished. Many of the children don't attend school and are "employed" to herd cattle, goats and livestock for about $12 a year.  Without a sponsor, these children will never have the opportunity to go to school, because they are already "working" to keep a roof over their heads.

Sponsorship ($34/month) will provide nutritious meals, clothing, medical care and an opportunity to go to school!! The staff at Children's Hopechest has already started meeting with the kids, counseling, mentoring and demonstrating the love of God.  Each child at "Trees of Glory" is excited to find out about their sponsor family, and to begin receiving letters from their sponsor.

I'm looking forward to seeing the impact our sponsor program will make for the kids at "Trees of Glory"! If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me at and let me know if you would like to be matched with a boy or a girl, and if you want to sponsor 1 child or a sibling group of 2.

I will then email you a photo and biographical information about your sponsor child, and instructions on how to register as a sponsor. I have already started matching children with their sponsor family - please contact me right away! 

I will be travelling to Ethiopia in November to work with the kids at "Trees of Glory" and our other care-point, "Kind Hearts"!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Aaaaah .... Summer!

96 degrees today ... and it's starting to feel like summer!

We are extra busy on all fronts right now ....

Some big things are in the works.  I've never quite mastered the art of the cliffhanger, but be sure to check back this weekend.  :)

Oh .. and since you stopped by. 

Scroll down the column on the right, to check our progress on the capital projects at Kind Hearts!  I work with the most amazing group of dedicated sponsor families who care very, very deeply about their kids at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia! 

We'll be wrapping up the fund-raising on the playground equipment soon (we're only about $300 away from meeting our goal!) - and then we will begin focusing on the chicken farm. 

In Ethiopia, permits have been applied for, so we can conduct the geological survey for the fresh-water well.  The recent election turmoil in Ethiopia has caused a few delays with the permits.  Until then - St. Joseph Christian School continues with their fund-raising campaign through the end of the school year!

And if you are interested in sponsoring a child in Ethiopia, and seeing first-hand the amazing impact you will make for one child, contact me right away - email me at

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friendship forged through fire ...

Pictured from left to right: Emme, Grace, Lila, Ella, Maea, Wesley, Will, Jayden and John.  (Hutchinson 5 + Wistrom 4)

When we travelled to Ethiopia 17 months ago to bring home our two sons, we travelled with another family (the Hutchinsons) who "just happened" to be from Minnesota, and who "just happened" to be adopting two daughters, and who "just happened" to live less than an hour from us.  What are the odds of that? 

Our adoption agency, America World Adoption ( works with families from all over the U.S., and somehow we "just happened" to travel at the exact same time with only one other family - the Hutchinsons. 

We started our adoption journeys at different times, and yet we went through the extreme trials of not passing court (too many times to count) and then getting delayed for two months while the courts closed, and then having rules change during the court closure, and not passing court again when they re-opened.  And then finally the call came, one day earlier than we anticipated ... YOU PASSED COURT AND YOU HAVE TWO SONS! (and for the Hutchinsons - TWO DAUGHTERS!)

During that time period, when everything seemed to go wrong and the "wait" became an extreme trial, our two families learned to lean heavily upon each other - encouraging each other and shedding tears of sadness and frustration together.  I feel like ours was a friendship forged through fire - and now it is so refined and so pure and so ... comfortable and right.  There are so many difficult days in the adoption journey (they are vastly outweighed by the days filled with wonder and joy over this miracle that IS adoption) - and to be able to walk that road with another family that understands and relates to EVERYTHING ... is nothing short of amazing!

Last Saturday evening, our two families spent the evening together around a bonfire and the kids immediately picked up where they left off!

Wesley (4),  Ella (2) and Grace (4).

Friday, May 14, 2010

The boy and the frog ...

Oh the wonder! 
"Mom!" he exclaimed, all breathless and quiet.  "Mom, LOOK!"

After the shock wore off, and Wesley realized
he was not about to be eaten. 

He began to smile as the frog slowly climbed across his face
with his cold, little suction-cup toes. 

And Wesley grinned and said,
"Mom ... HE LIKES ME!!!!"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Another little treasure ...

When my daughters were about 4 & 5 years old, they painstakingly wrote me a note for Mother's Day.  In their pre-school handwriting, they conspired together and wrote me a letter.  I still have that letter, framed and sitting in my bedroom.  Here's what it said ... exactly as it was written with a cute combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and different colors of glitter marker:

YOu SMeLL really PrEttY
YOu reAd US Good StorIeS

Today, I got another Mother's Day note that really made me smile.  This one was from Jayden (our 9 year old son, adopted from Ethiopia about 16 months ago), and he worked with his teacher to write exactly what he wanted to say.

  This is another Mother's Day note that I'll keep forever.

Happy Mother's Day to all the spectacular mom's out there!  You are making a lasting and loving impression on your kids even when you don't realize it!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Look at what you've done!

Dear Friends - I am so excited to share pictures of the kids at Kind Hearts when they received their new school uniforms TODAY!!  Back on March 5, we completed a fund-raiser so that we could purchase school uniforms for all of the kids at Kind Hearts.  And just 2 months later, the kids are absolutely overjoyed to have brand new school uniforms.  Can you imagine??? I not only see pure, giddy joy in their faces, I see pride.

These kids have never had anything "new" before.  They are used to getting discarded remnants of clothing that don't fit and are already stained and worn out.  They watch the other kids - you know, the ones with a mommy and a daddy - with their new clothes and their nice uniforms.  Those uniforms designate them as very special children because they have the privilege of attending school.

Kids in Ethiopia know precisely what an education means.  It means the difference between a life of opportunity and a life of grinding poverty, sickness ... and death.  Education costs money, and parents pay a monthly fee so that their kids can attend school.  In Ethiopian culture, if you attend school, you wear a uniform.  Every morning, the streets fill with hundreds, thousands of children, in their matching uniforms, meeting at the street corners to walk to school together.

Because our kids at Kind Hearts have been identified by the local government as among the neediest and most destitute in the area, they have been granted the amazing opportunity to go to school.  They recognize that it is a very special privilege, and they are thankful.

Ever since each child was matched with a sponsor (in January), they now count on nutritious meals at school so they can concentrate on their studies.  But they show up in dirty, smelly clothes that are tattered and torn, and stained and stinky.

But today - something very important happened. 

They received an incredibly meaningful and tangible reminder of the love and concern of their sponsor family. 

Today was a very good day for our kids at Kind Hearts. 

And there are many, many more good days to come!

If you are interested in sponsoring a child at Kind Hearts, and making a most amazing difference in their lives, please contact me at  Currently, every child at Kind Hearts is sponsored, but there will be more children enrolling soon.  Please don't put it off for another day, send me an email today and I will contact you as soon as more children enroll!

About a month ago, each of the kids at Kind Hearts was measured for a new uniform.  (Above) The school uniforms as they are being bagged and delivered.

The school uniforms as they being sewn for each child.

The kids at Kind Hearts moments before the van arrived with their new school uniforms!

Don't they look so handsome and beautiful???!!!  I was hoping for beautiful shades of blue and that's exactly what we got!

Monday, May 3, 2010


One of the things that made an impact on me when I visited "Kind Hearts" in Ethiopia (in December), was how little the kids actually had - no school books, tattered clothing, shoes with holes, very little food, a crooked little swingset with 2 swings, and a broken teeter-totter ... and for many of the kids, no mommy or daddy.  And yet the joy these kids displayed at our mere presence was overwhelming and quite humbling.

The swingset at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia, shared by 68 kids (above).  The playground equipment in our neighborhood shown with our two sons from Ethiopia (below).

I've posted the picture of the crooked swingset many times on my blog, and one of our sponsor families, Alisa and Vince Martin, contacted me with an idea.  Now that the basic needs of the kids are being met through sponsorship (food, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship), Alisa wanted to focus on the playground equipment.

Alisa offered to make hand-made, personalized Mother's Day cards and donate her time, material and postage so that 100% of the funds raised could go to Kind Hearts.  We encouraged everyone we knew to skip the $5 store-bought card, and instead donate that same $5 (or more) to Kind Hearts - for the playground equipment fund.

116 cards ordered (and being mailed to 30 different states) has resulted in .... (insert balloons, confetti and applause here) .... OVER $1,400 RAISED FOR PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT AT KIND HEARTS!

We already had $250 of donations in this fund so we now have a total of OVER $1,650!!

A good set of equipment will cost $2850.  We are more than half-way to our goal.  If you are interested in giving a one-time gift to the playground equipment fund at Kind Hearts, please contact me at


I shouldn't be (because I have seen so many people come together on behalf of these precious kids before). 

But I am. 


We will continue to focus on the final funds for the equipment, and will update you on this blog when we have achieved our goal.  And of course, we'll have pictures to share when the kids first set eyes on their new "toys"!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

It's all fun and games until ....

You know the old saying ... It's all fun and games, until ... someone gets hurt.

After a soccer game on Tuesday evening, I realized - with four kids, we have not experienced a broken bone yet ... until Tuesday.

Emme's first soccer scrimmage of the season - and she was playing really well. Angling in to score a goal, with her body focusing all it's energy on the ball, her opponent collided with her and she went down - hard.

I knew instantly it was a bad injury. Her body just kindof caved in around itself as she got to her feet and walked slowly to the sideline.

I could see by the way she carried herself she was in a lot of pain. I watched as she got to the sideline on the other side of the field, and the coach and her put their heads together - and suddenly the coach's head snapped up to search the sidelines where the parents were sitting.

That was my cue to walk to the other side. He met me half-way and said "I haven't told her yet - but her wrist is broken. You'll need to get her to the hospital right away."

By the time I reached Emme - she was cradling her wrist against her stomach, and she had that sickly white palor to her face, and was trembling. Every little seam we crossed on the highway sent a fresh jolt of pain through her. X-rays showed that she had indeed broken her wrist, at a growth plate, and would need to see an orthopedic surgeon. Words like "surgery" and "pins" floated about.

Long story short ... she spent that first night wracked with pain, sleeping fitfully for only a few hours on the couch. After a consult with the surgeon - she'll get a cast on Monday (after the swelling has gone down) and the surgeon is fairly confident that it will heal correctly and quickly without surgery and without pins.

We are fortunate!

She is supporting her team from the sidelines today. She'll get a cast on Monday, and will be able to play again perhaps by next weekend. She'll need a pad for her cast so that she doesn't inadvertently (or purposefully) club another player.

She asked me later, "Mom, have you ever broken a bone?" "Yes," I told her, "but it was only my neck." (A diving accident when I was a freshman in high school. I too - am very fortunate.)

She looked at me and said "Oh, I forgot." And not to minimize the pain she was in, I smiled and said, "But I'm sure your injury is much worse." She snorted a laugh at me and then winced in pain because it jolted her wrist.

In other fun and games ... Wesley wanted to play "Kerplunk" but I don't think this is what he had in mind. He was amused ... but not nearly as amused as I was.

And no - this wasn't the kids' idea of fun - it was MY idea of fun.

That's how I roll. (I use "hip" language like that just for the affectionate reaction I get from my daughters - they roll their eyes at me.)

If you think our game of "Kerplunk" looks fun, you should see how we play "Mousetrap"!

So - I'm curious about the silly games you play with your kids? You know, the ones that really bring out the belly laughs!? Leave me a comment so we can share in the hilarity. Or just leave me a comment to enter the giveaway.

Every comment will go in a drawing for Tom Davis' book "RED LETTERS, Living a Faith that Bleeds".

Children's Hopechest ( gave me a new copy of the book at the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Summit meeting here in Minneapolis yesterday. It's one of my favorite books and I want one of you to have it! When you leave a comment, make sure I know how to contact you in case YOU are the lucky winner!

And please don't forget to click over to Alisa Martin's blog to purchase a personalized, hand-made Mother's Day card. ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT! Alisa will be mailing the cards on Monday - and 100% of the proceeds will go to Kind Hearts in Ethiopia for playground equipment. Alisa is donating her time, material and postage.

This weekend - instead of going to the store for a Mother's Day card, spend that same $5 (or more) to celebrate your Mom and make a difference for the kids at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia. So far - we have raised just over $1,100 with the Mother's Day cards. The playground equipment will cost $2,850. Please click over to and give generously on behalf of your mom!

This is the playground equipment (above) at Kind Hearts - a crooked little swingset with two swings, shared between 68 kids. And below is the playground equipment at our little neighborhood park.