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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Major Milestone!

Today - we achieved a major milestone as we passed the half-way point for our well fundraiser!!!  Emails trickled in throughout the day from sponsor families and others, who are committed to these kids and the difference we are making together at this care-point!

I'll keep my words brief because the fundraiser thermometer says it all.

To make a donation to the fresh-water well project at Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia ...

Go to, click on GIVE
Click on DESIGNATED GIFT and specify the dollar amount
In the Reference Number, specify ET2119000
In the Notes Area, specify TOG WELL

Fundraiser Thermometer

I'll finish with a quote from one of those emails I got today ... "Let's get that well drilled!"

Progress Report on the Well Project in Ethiopia

I just wanted to give a quick update on the incredible outpouring of support we have received over the past few days for the fresh-water well project in Ethiopia (at our Trees of Glory care-point).  As of tonight we have received a total of $10,216 toward the fund - with only about $15,000 left to raise.

With the current drought conditions in Ethiopia (and the entire Horn of Africa) this project is especially urgent.  I am hopeful that by the time our travel team leaves for Ethiopia in November, the funds will have been raised and the drilling can begin!!!

Would YOU consider making a donation so we can drill a well at Trees of Glory care-point (located 2 hours north of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia).  This care-point is currently serving 100 orphaned and destitute children with no running water - and we are enrolling 40 more children by September.  The director at Trees of Glory plans to serve 300+ children once they have a well on the property!

To make a donation, go to, click on GIVE
Select DESIGNATED GIFT and specify the dollar amount
In the Reference Number, specify ET2119000
In the Notes area, specify TOG WELL

Fundraiser Thermometer


Thursday, July 21, 2011


UPDATE July 21:  So far today, another $1,350 has been donated to the fresh-water well project at Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia!!!  THANK YOU!!! 

Today is my birthday, and this is my birthday wish ... to fund this well.  Your $5, $20, $50, or even $500 donation will provide water for over 100 orphaned and destitute children at Trees of Glory.

CNN continues to report on this unfolding tragedy here "Three Stories From Africa's Drought, Famine".  Click to read the report.  An excerpt from that article says, "... this isn't just another annual drought -- this is the worst crisis the region has seen in 60 years.  ...To put that in historical perspective, the situation is looking more grim than the massive drought in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s that prompted the Live Aid concert, and the drought in Somalia in early 1990s that led to the well-known United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Last night, I emailed an urgent letter to our sponsor team to update them on the drought conditions in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.  A severe drought that is making headlines across the globe right now.

Here is a portion of that letter ...
I am writing to you tonight to ask for your help with the fresh-water well project at Trees of Glory (TOG) care-point. If you have been watching and reading news reports about Ethiopia, you are aware of the urgent need for food aid throughout the Horn of Africa as that area is now experiencing what some experts are calling the most severe drought in 60 years. 

This article, "U.S. Musters Response to Staggering Hunger in Horn of Africa" appeared on CNN just yesterday.  Please click on the headline to read the article. Similar articles in various newspapers around the globe are reporting the same.

I recently posted a video of Simret and Girma (the director and manager at TOG) as they discussed the dire need for a well. Jessica Irvin filmed that short video when she was in Ethiopia in May and the effects of the drought were already being felt then. If you have not viewed the video, please click HERE.

I want to call your attention to 2 things Simret says in that video: #1, she refers to how they are watching the clouds and praying for rain. And #2, she says "We know you are serving wtih full strength and we ask you to pray for us here and the water situation".

Trees of Glory is caring for 100 children today, and 40 new children will be enrolling next month. Presently, the staff carries water to the care-point on the backs of donkeys, to use for drinking water and cooking - there is not enough water for bathing or irrigation. As the drought continues, the crops and vegetable gardens are failing at Trees of Glory as well as the surrounding community - and food prices are skyrocketing. Hunger and malnutrition are prevalent in the surrounding villages.

This fresh-water well project is more urgent than ever for Trees of Glory. The well will be drilled deep enough to reach aquifers that are not readily affected by cyclical droughts or rainfall - and part of the plans for the well include drip irrigation systems for the large vegetable gardens at TOG.

I am leading a group of volunteers to Ethiopia in November and it is my prayer that funds will be raised and drilling will begin before we arrive in Ethiopia. Normally I would rely on fund-raising projects and involvement from various organizations and churches to fund a project of this magnitude, but because of the urgency of this need, I am emailing our sponsor family because you have a child or children at the care-point that you know and love and pray for - therefore this situation is personal.

Please consider making a donation to fund this project - and please spread the word. This is something we can do right now to make a tangible difference for the kids and staff at TOG - AND in the surrounding villages!  And please pray for Ethiopia and the entire Horn of Africa as they once again weather drought and famine.

To make a donation:

Go to, click on GIVE
Click on DESIGNATED GIFT and specify a $ amount
In the Reference Number, specify ET2119000
In the Notes area, specify TOG WELL

Please email me at with the amount when you make a donation so I can keep track of our progress in real time and provide ongoing updates on my blog. 

Please know that I do understand if you are not able to make a donation right now - but I do ask that you pray for this project and pray for TOG and the Hopechest Ethiopia staff! And please pray for the team of 20 people (so far) that will be travelling to Ethiopia with me in November to work with the care-points and the kids!

I want to be able to tell Simret that we are indeed serving IN FULL STRENGTH. We recognize the urgency of this need and we are truly partnered with them on behalf of the kids in their care!

That email went to our two sponsor teams last night (who sponsor 100 kids at Trees of Glory and 102 kids at Kind Hearts) - and I am thankful to be able to report that as of tonight, we have received $5,766 against the $25,000 we need to raise for this project that includes a deep fresh-water well with a 6" wide bore-hole, generators and pumps, a cistern, drip irrigation and major repairs on the plumbing pipes and fixtures that previoulsy existed at the care-point.

Fundraiser Thermometer

Would YOU consider making a donation to this project so that we can begin drilling the well?  The need is extremely urgent and we will have a team in Ethiopia in November to see and report on the progress first-hand.

With Sincere Thanks - Karen Wistrom

Monday, July 18, 2011


So what do you do when the weather service issues an extreme heat warning, and your windows start fogging up and dripping with the humidity?  Until Wednesday, MN is forecasted to have extreme heat and humidity.  This weekend, the heat index soared to 110°, but rather than quarantine ourselves indoors in air-conditioning, we played in the water all day long (and well into the evenings).

The kids went tubing for hours, and the littlest likes to tear it up
outside the wake as much as the oldest.

He looks sweet and calm, but he's a daredevil
and likes to try everything his older siblings do.

It was time for Emme to graduate to a slalom ski! 
Can she do it on her first try????

I love her face in this photo!  First try - triumph! 

He's getting very comfortable on two skis! 

 Even when it started to rain, it was still too hot to come out of the water.

The kids have created a game where they all try to stand up
and balance on the SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard) at the same time. 
They play it together and with friends for hours.

 The fish weren't even biting because it was so hot.  Just a few nibbles here and there.

A rainbow of fingernail polish colors. 
($2 each at Target for the funky colors called "Sinful Colors".)

We snacked on fruit, while we tried out the different nail colors. 
Emme liked the purple and pink combo.

Maea settled on the pink and blue, which seemed to
match the marshmallows in her sugar cereal.

I settled on the green polish for my toes.

 Starbuck's Mocha Coconut frappacino (YUM!)
hit the spot while Maea suffered through a sweaty soccer
practice as her team prepares for regionals.

Cooling off in the lake at dusk. 
I love that the kids all play together so well whenever
they are in the water.  On land, it's another story. :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We found it in his hair ...

Maea was playing with Wesley, and a few moments later, she reached to her ear and with alarm said, "MOM, my earring is gone!!!!!!  And it's my favorite one!!!!!"

"Well, start looking for it," I calmly told her.  "Where were you when you noticed it missing?"

She started searching the floor, on hands and knees, and she suddenly sat up straight, with the earring backer in her fingertips.  "I found the back, so the earring must be close by!!"

But with continued searching, the earring was nowhere to be found.

"What were you doing when you lost it?" I asked. 

"I was playing with Wesley."

"Did you check his hair?" I asked with a smile.

We called Wesley into the room, and he came around the corner with a look of "What now!?!?!?" on his face. 

With a little searching, we found the earring .... in his hair.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A welcome change of clothes for a child in need!

Planning for our trip to Ethiopia in November is underway and registration is now open (there are just a few spots left on the team - email me if you are interested in travelling with me to Ethiopia)!  We will be spending 3 days with the kids at Kind Hearts care-point, and 3 days with the kids at Trees of Glory care-point - to build long-term relationships and demonstrate the love of a family to these kids!  The kids already know we are coming - and they are excited!!

Last year - we brought t-shirts for the kids at both care-points - to use as an alternative to the school uniform they wear every day.  For most of the kids - the t-shirt and the school uniform are their first NEW clothing items, and for all of the kids, it was a welcome spare.

Both care-points are enrolling more children (50 at Kind Hearts and 40 at Trees of Glory).  That's 90 more orphaned and destitute children that will be matched with a sponsor family and provided with nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship. 

It is shocking to see these kids when they first enroll in the program - and see them again just a few months later when they are healthier and happier and feeling safety and love!  Click here to see before and after photos from our trip last year - the difference is truly AMAZING!!!

As we gear up for the trip this year - I am looking for a donor to cover the cost of the T-shirts for the 90 new kids, plus a few extra shirts for those that need to be replaced.  Cost per shirt is $3.50 - total cost depending on how many shirts (100-125) we purchase would be $350 - $450.  The same printer we used last year is willing to provide the shirts to us at cost!

Some of the kids at Trees of Glory wearing their new shirt as an alternative school uniform. 

The staff at Trees of Glory proudly wearing their "uniform".

The kids at Kind Hearts receive their new t-shirts.

If you would like to cover the cost of the t-shirts (or even part of the cost) please email me at  This is a tangible and immediate way to impact the lives of the newest kids at the care-points - to help them feel like they belong, are fully welcomed, and to provide a much-needed change of clothes!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We Need to Dig a Well & We Need to Dig it Soon!

I want to share a story with you, a story that really hit home with me (because I buy things I don't need) and one that I think you'll appreciate too.

Heather Case was shopping at a trendy little boutique and she paused to admire a super cute purse.  She flipped the price tag over and caught her breath ... it was quite a bit more $$ than she planned to spend.  She found herself in this boutique on several more occassions and the purse was still there, tempting her.  On one occasion, her mother-in-law was with her and Heather showed her the purse, expecting a little encouragement or justification but ... no.

The purse continued to haunt her thoughts ... here are Heather's words as she tells the story ...

As I pondered my affections for this purse, the Lord began to prick my heart with a thought, “for the amount of money I was considering spending on this purse I could literally change a child’s life”. I began to think on this more, realizing the many indulgences I had allowed myself in the past, and who might have benefited if I had chosen to bless someone else instead of myself. Then I had a thought, “what if I could encourage women to donate their gently used purses to be used to benefit those in need?”

While considering this idea, I opened my Bible to look for a verse on the subject of purses. I don’t know what made me believe that God would have spoken specifically about purses in the Bible, but I was astonished to find that he did.

In Luke 12: 33 - 34 Jesus said “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near, and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

The connection between what I thought God was telling me in my heart, and finding this verse in the Bible, took my breath away. It began a vision of what could be, with God’s help and for his glory, to benefit those who are in need in my local community, and around the world. 

Heather has started an organization called ONEPurse ( , and I think her idea is brilliant.  With one purse party, she raised $520 for the fresh-water well project at Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia and she will continue doing these special "purse parties" to rasie funds.  Trees of Glory is caring for 100 orphaned and destitute children - with no running water - and 40 more children are about to enroll.  We need to dig a well and we need to dig it soon - and we need your help!!

Right now, on Heather's blog (, she is hosting a giveaway for a brand-new Nine West diaper bag with compartments and pockets galore.  For a $5 donation per entry, your name will be placed in the drawing, which will be held THIS SUNDAY (just 3 days away!). 


Please click over to Heather's blog and enter the giveaway for this awesome baby bag! She will be drawing for the winner on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

100 Kids Need Clean Water in Ethiopia!

At the end of May, my friend Jessica Irvin (who sponsors a child at Trees of Glory, and several of her friends and family sponsor children at TOG too!) travelled to Ethiopia to complete the adoption of her daughter.  During her trip, she once again visited Trees of Glory care-point to see the kids and to bring blankets and supplies.

During her visit, she taped this video interview with Simret (the incredible woman who is the founder and director of Trees of Glory) and Girma (the care-point manager) as they explained their desperate need for a fresh-water well at the care-point.

Trees of Glory presently serves 100 orphaned and destitute children with no running water.  The staff at TOG walks to the local village every morning to use the community spigot, filling 4 large yellow jugs with water, which they then carry back to the care-point on the backs of donkeys. 

That water is then used during the day for hand-washing, cooking and drinking - for 100 children!!  By September, Trees of Glory will be enrolling 40 new children in their program and the need for water becomes much greater.

They know we are fund-raising for a well - and they know we are 1/2 way to meeting our goal.  I am praying that we are able to raise the funds by the time I travel to Ethiopia in November.  If you can make a tax-deductible donation to the fresh-water well at TOG, please go to:, click on GIVE
Choose DESIGNATED GIFT and enter the $$ amount
In the Reference Number, specify ET2119000
In the Notes area, specify TOG WELL

On behalf of the children and staff at TOG, we THANK YOU for your financial support and prayers that will make this well possible!!  Please watch the youtube video below filmed by Jessica Irvin in May.

I cannot phrase it better than Jessica did on her blog at  From Jessica ... "What I love most about this clip is how clearly they articulate the partnership that we as sponsors and members of the family of God are in with them. They talk of us as "serving along side of them in the kingdom of the Lord." I pray that we will not take that partnership lightly. They are in the trenches each day happily caring for 100 children under fairly tough conditions. Let's work as they do--with our whole hearts--to provide them with the resources that they need to continue to do that."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Join me in Ethiopia in November??

Registration is now open for travelling to Ethiopia, November 11 - 21, to work with the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory care-points.  We are now serving 102 children at Kind Hearts, and 100 children at Trees of Glory.  Because our sponsorship program has been at 100% for many months now, both care-points are ready to enroll more kids - 50 new kids at Kind Hearts and 40 new kids at Trees of Glory!!

A total of 90 more orphaned or destitute children that will now have the opportunity to have nutritious meals, clean water, medical care, clothing, education and Christian discipleship!  And the love and prayers of a sponsor family that they will get to know through letters and through visits like our upcoming trip in November.

If you are intersted in joining me in Ethiopia, in November - please email me at  There are a limited number of spots available on the team, and planning is underway now!

So ... what exactly do we do on these annual trips?

We spend 3 full days at Kind Hearts care-point and 3 full days at Trees of Glory care-point ( we also visit a few other Children's Hopechest care-points).  Most importantly - we are building long-term relationships with the kids so that they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are loved and so very valuable - to us and to their heavenly Father.  We travel half way around the world to see them and spend time with them.  This will be my 3rd trip to Kind Hearts and my 2nd trip to Trees of Glory.  The kids and staff know we are coming - and they are excited and talking about it already!

We will also be delivering a care-package from each sponsor family - to their sponsor child.  (By the way, if you are interested in sponsoring a child, please email me right away and I will add you to the waiting list.  We will have 90 new children needing a sponsor family by September!!  Sponsorship is $34 per month, and I can personally deliver a care-package to your sponsor child in November!)

The travel dates for 2011 are November 11 - 21.  The entire team will meet in Washington DC to travel overseas together on a direct, non-stop flight to Ethiopia.  Total trip cost is approximately $2500 (including airfare, lodging, transportation and meals - cost may vary based on air fare.)

Here are a few photos from our trip last year.  If you have thought about a mission trip or have been praying about making an impact for a child in need, please consider joining me in Ethiopia this year! 

The kids at Kind Hearts line up to welcome us to their school! 

This is me with Fitsum, who attends Kind Hearts.  I was able to visit her home and meet her family who would not be able to send her to school without the support of her sponsor family. 

 We provided goats for a savory feast at the care-points!

We had the "honor" of watching the goats being
slaughtered as meal preparations got underway. 
The kids are holding Emme's hands as she watches.

The kids at Trees of Glory had never seen a puppet before and it took
awhile for them to  "warm up" to the puppet.

A travel team member spent one-on-one time with each child to read their letter
from their sponsor family - and look at photos and gifts in their care-package.

Doing small craft projects with the kids. 

 The kids love to spend time with a loving adult that gives them
complete attention and makes them feel so loved! 
You can't sit down without have a child or two or three in your lap!

Puppet show about the birth of Jesus.

We brought delicious oranges for a rare treat! 

And several sponsors met their sponsor child for the very first time! 
Very emotional and as much a blessing for you as it is for your sponsor child!!

As we said goodbye, the kids prayed for our safe travels and that we would not forget them.

Contact me at if you are interested in joining me on this trip for
Children's Hopechest as we work with the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory care-points!