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Monday, October 31, 2011

No such thing as a simple request ...

It was a simple request really ... or so I thought.

But I should know better by now.

A few months ago, I designed a t-shirt to use as a fund-raiser for mission trips and special projects at our CarePoints in Ethiopia (where we provide nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship for nearly 300 orphaned and destitute children).  I held a pre-sale on my blog to take orders, and then anxiously awaited the arrival of the shirts - hoping the design would turn out the way I hoped it would.

And it did!  The shirts arrived and have already been mailed out to everyone.

I wanted one quick photo of me with my two daughters, wearing the shirts. (The simple request.)

I am leading a volunteer team of 26 people to Ethiopia to work with the kids at our CarePoints.  We leave in 10 days and my 14 and 13 year old daughters are going with me. 

Emme was part of the team last year and did a great job working with the kids and building relationships.  The last time Maea was in Ethiopia was 3 years ago when we adopted their 2 little brothers, and she is looking forward to being part of the team this year.

So ... back to my simple request.  ONE.QUICK.PICTURE.

My husband already knows the drill.  Click the shutter repeatedly and hope that at least 1 will turn out.  It took 65 pictures to get 3 shots where they are both looking at the camera and not goofing off.

Yep.  That's frustration written on my face. 

"Emme, knock it off and sit still." 
It seems that Maea is clever enough to sit perfectly still with a sweet smile
on her face and only move her eyes instead of making obvious hand gestures.

"Maea, I can see you screwing up your face.  Knock it off!"

Yay!  We got another one! 

Sometimes I can't help but laugh.  It's either that or push them both off the bench. 

I could see this one coming from a mile away in my peripheral vision. 

Yay!  Three decent shots and it only took 65!

Thank you to everyone who ordered a t-shirt. I will let you know what project they funded at our CarePoints in Ethiopia!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Final Preparations for Ethiopia!

Our team of 26 volunteers will be leaving for Ethiopia in less than 2 weeks!!  And the entire team has been very busy planning lessons for the kids and preparing for the trip. 

At my house, laundry baskets have been filling as the mailman stopped by every day with loads and loads of care-packages that each sponsor family has mailed for their sponsor child!  Over 250 care-packages have arrived at my door in the past 4 weeks and each one has been checked off my list so we can be sure that EVERY child receives a package.

The interesting thing with these packages (I noticed this last year) is that each child LOVES the gifts that are carefully picked out for them by their sponsor family - and for many children, the shirt they receive is a very necessary replacement to the tattered and torn shirt they are wearing - but the things that the kids treasured the most were the letter and the photos.  I watched as each child admired their gifts and quickly took off their old shirt to put on their new shirt - but the things they kept looking at and sharing with their friends  - were the photos.  To them, the photos of their sponsor family were they very things they treasured the most!

In addition to the care-packages, our team is also bringing a care-package for every child at Kechen care-point.  My college classmate, Greta Byers, who was part of our volunteer team last year, is a sponsor coordinator for Kechene.  Since she is not able to go with us this year - we are going as her representative and delivering an additional 130 care-package for her kids too!!

And if that wasn't enough to bite off ... Apryl Harbaugh who is part of our volunteer team this year and last year, started a blanket drive and has collected over 400 hand-made, fleece tied blankets that we will be gifting to each and every child!!  Although the temperatures in Ethiopia are warm during the day, the nights can be cold and a warm blanket will be immensely appreciated!

Today, we received a newsletter update from the CarePoints and the Trees of Glory newsletter featured one specific child as an example of the life-changing impact sponsorship can make for a child.  We spent time with Birtukan last year, and I could hardly believe my eyes at the transformation I could see in this child after only a few months at Trees of Glory CarePoint.  Here is the excerpt from the newsletter along with photos I took of her last year.

This is Birtukan when she first enrolled at the CarePoint about 1 1/2 years ago. 

 This is Birtukan last year after being at the CarePoint for about 7 months. 
She is looking at photos of her sponsor family.

Birtukan is six years old, approximately one year ago she joined the Children's HopeChest program at Trees of Glory. She does not know her father, and her mother suffers mentally. She was psychologically depressed and physically weak, and was unable to even wash her face or hands when she first arrived. After one week of her coming to the CarePoint she reached out to both Girma and Simret (leaders at TOG) and asked them to be her guardians. Immediately they embraced her and promised to care for her. Girma introduced his daughter to Birtukan, and the two girls have become close like sisters. Birtukan now shows a very healthy composure, she has undergone a psychological, physical, and emotional transformation. Whenever given the opportunity to pray, she prays for an extended period of time for everyone in her life. Because of your support, Birtukan has become one of the most outstanding students at Trees of Glory.

22 new children have just enrolled at Trees of Glory and will be needing 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,) please email me at  I will be spending time with the kids in 2 weeks and will be able to match you with a child once I return from Ethiopia.  Email me and I will contact you as soon as I have a profile for each child.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ethiopia - These kids need a sponsor family!!

We knew that more children had enrolled at Kind Hearts CarePoint in Ethiopia, but we were not sure we would get profiles for the rest of the children before our team leaves for Ethiopia in a few weeks!  But the staff in Ethiopia worked hard to interview the last of the new children, and the team at Children's Hopechest expedited the information so we can try to get these kids matched with a sponsor family.

One of the highlights of our work in Ethiopia (when our team of 26 volunteers spends 10 days working with the kids at our 2 CarePoints) is when we get to spend one-on-one time with each child - looking through their care-package and all the special gifts that were picked just for that child by their sponsor family.  This care-package is not a frivolous gift - for that child, it is a much needed change of clothes and very valuable school supplies for their education.  The letter and photos from their sponsor family make them feel very loved and very special. Here are just a few photos from last year when we delivered a package from their sponsor family ...

We have just a few weeks left before we leave for Ethiopia, and the last of the profiles for the new children arrived today!!!  We have just enough time to match each child with a sponsor family and there is still time to send a care-package for us to deliver to your child.

Please email me if you are interested in sponsoring one of these precious kids!!  Sponsorship is $34 per month and provides nutritious food, clean water, medical care, clothing, education and Christian discipleship for one child.  You can write letters to your child during the year, and I lead a team of volunteers to Ethiopia each November to work with the kids.  Please email me if you are interested in sponsorship at  And if you already sponsor a child at Kind Hearts CarePoint, please help spread the word. :)

Besufekad is 5 years old.
UPDATE:  Besufekad has a sponsor family!

Tesfaye is 5 years old.
UPDATE:  Tesfaye has a sponsor family!

Yitbarek is 6 years old.
UPDATE:  Yitbarek has a sponsor family!

Ashenafi is 5 years old.
UPDATE:  Ashenafi has a sponsor family!

Meseret is 5 years old.
UPDATE:  Meseret has a sponsor family!

Mirtnesh is 5 years old.
UPDATE:  Mirtnesh has a sponsor family!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ethiopia: Six Children Still Need a Sponsor!!

Our team of 26 volunteers is leaving for Ethiopia in less than 4 weeks and preparations are in full swing.  We will be spending three days at Kind Hearts CarePoint and three days at Trees of Glory CarePoint, working with the kids, teaching them and demonstrating the love of family! 

Nearly 30 new kids have just enrolled at Kind Hearts CarePoint and will now be receiving nutritious food, clean water, medical care, clothing, education and Christian discipleship!!

We knew the kids would be enrolling soon and many people had contacted me about sponsorship beforehand.  Almost all of the kids have been matched with a sponsor family - but I have six kids that still need a sponsor!!  During our trip, we will be deliving a care-package to each child from their sponsor family.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child - please email me right away.  $34 per month provides food, water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship for one child.  There is still time to match you with a child and for you to send me a care-package that I can deliver to your child.  I will take photos as each child receives their package.

Please email me if you have been thinking or praying about sponsoring a child.  I have seen first-hand the life-changing impact sponsorship and hope has for these kids!!!  Please email me at  We would love to have every child sponsored before we leave for Ethiopia!!

UPDATE:  As of Wednesday afternoon, ALL of the kids have been matched with a sponsor family!

 Temesgen is 4 years old.

Emane is 5 years old.

We are verifying Meiraf's birth date.

Hiwot is 3 years old.

Tamirat is 8 years old.

Kuma is 4 years old.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


If you ask my mom, she'll tell you she instilled a love for reading in me when I was very, very young ... and she's right. She did. And I hope that I am instilling that same love for reading in my children.
During daylight hours, there really is no time for reading, what with a full time job, four kids and a full volunteer schedule (and a full heart for 300 kids in Ethiopia!) as well.
But once the kids are in bed, and the lights are turned off, my bedside lamp gets switched on, and I settle into the pillows within a soft circle of light ... and read. Sometimes for 20 mintues ... and sometimes for a few hours.
If a particular book is especially good, or if they have several profound nuggets of truth or revelation that need further thought or examination, they'll remain on my nightstand until I can circle back again. I underline as I go, so finding the nuggets again is made easier.
Ann Voskamp's "1000 Gifts" is one that I have circled back to on a few occasions.  It's a beautifully and poetically written book that provides some deep and sometimes hard to fathom insight on living daily with gratitude on the forefront of your heart and mind - and what a life-changer that can be!

So, since we're talking books. I stacked a few of my favorites from the past few months in case you are looking for some profound reads to add to your nightstand. 
Tim Keller's book, King's Cross, is an outstanding commentary on the Gospel of Mark - tons of insight in this one!  And the tiny little book on top, Yohannan's "Revolution in World Missions" I think should be read by everyone involved in mission work at any level.  It has truly shaped my approach to working with the 300 kids at our 2 care-points in Ethiopia. 
When our team of 26 people travels to Ethiopia in November, we will be visiting and spending time with the kids AND we will be teaching and mentoring to them from the Gospel with 10 different, carefully prepared lessons.  Each lesson is reinforced with a small project that they can then share at home with their care-givers.  We will be demonstrating the love of their Heavenly Father to each child, and we will be teaching it too!

I start to get a bit restless and uneasy when the stack of books on my nightstand starts to dwindle. It's time to replenish.

So - what's on your nightstand or on your top 10 "must read" list. I'd love to know!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's that in my cup holder??


It's a salamander, of course.

Doesn't everyone end up with a salamander in their cup holder from time to time? :)

Sometimes I see small creatures crossing the road on my drive home from work, so I bring them home.  You've done that too, right?

OK - so I don't pick up racoons or possums or things like that.  But the occasional turtle or salamander?  You bet! 

When I picked up Wesley from pre-school and we were walking to the car holding hands, I bent down to his eye level with a very serious look on my face and said "I have a very important job for you to do."  And he immediately knew I had something for him to hold on the drive home.  And then he gets to be the one who bursts in the front door holding the turtle or salamander.

He can barely contain himself as I unbuckle him from the car seat, and then he throws open the door and yells "Kids, guess what I have!!!???!!!"  (I think he got that saying from me :)

Usually at this point, Emme and Maea will come running and Jayden will make himself scarce. 

Jayden watched from a safe distance while the other three argued about who got to hold it and whether or not we get to keep it (which we don't). 

Whenever I bring home something a little bit on the slimy side, Jayden, who prides himself on being brave and strong, positions himself in the farthest room exactly opposite of where the slimy thing is. 

As we finished taking pictures, I called for him one more time asking if he wanted to hold the salamander or have his picture taken with it.  He emphatically replied "No way - I am not touching that!"  I tried to get a picture of him running way, but he was too fast. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mom! Don't put those pictures on your blog!

Every day this week was a crazier day than the one before.  First it was twin day, then pajama day, then decade day, then class color day and it all culiminated with school spirit day leading up to the Homecoming football game and dance.

A few months back, my oldest daughter and I made a quick shopping excursion to Macy's to find a Homecoming dress.  The very first one she picked, is the one we bought after trying on 20-30 just to make sure.  I guess we both should have trusted her first instinct and saved a bunch of time.  :)

With a pile of dresses draped over my arm, I flagged down a stressed and tired looking employee and asked how many dresses we were allowed to take into the dressing room.  She looked at me and looked at the pile of dresses, and said "I'll make you a deal.  If you hang up every dress you try on and put it back on the rack.  You can take in as many as you want."  "Deal!" I said as we swept into a dressing room with the entire pile.  We emerged about 20 minutes later, after narrowing 20-30 dresses down to 3 favorites and finally selecting the favorite.

The evening of the dance - she asked me to help her with her hair and make-up.  I'm a bit biased, of course, but I think she looked beautiful! :)  Below - a few hours before the dance, playing soccer.

Here's the entertaining part .... For me to get a few good shots like the ones above.  I have to patiently wait through goofy shots like this (below).



"Mo-ooooom!  You didn't take that picture did you???!!!" 
"No Emme, of course I didn't take that picture" 
"Yes - you did, I heard it click". 
"No - you must have imgained that."


 She finds herself extremely amusing. :)


"Mo-oooom!  Are you going to put those on your blog?!?!?"

"No - Emme.  Would I do that???"




Maea was genuinely excited for Emme and hovered close by providing advice and recommendations as I did Emme's hair and make-up.

 Emme and 8 of her closest girlfriends gathered at a friend's house for pictures before the dance.

Ticket to her first high school homecoming dance.

Homecoming dress.

Watching this group of little girls become beautiful, confident young women.