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Saturday, October 1, 2011


All 25 spots on our November travel team to Ethiopia are filled and everyone is busy planning activities and lesson plans for the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory CarePoints in Ethiopia!  For some, this is a return trip after their visit last year - to see and spend time with the kids they have not stopped thinking about or praying about for the past year.  For others, this is their first trip to Ethiopia (and their first trip out of the country) and it is a huge step of faith - to overcome a personal fear in order to invest time and love in these kids - so they can see and experience the love of their heavenly Father through our eyes and arms.

I lead a team of volunteers to Ethiopia annually in November - if you are interested in joining next year's team, email me at or be sure to follow this blog for a first-hand glimpse of our time in Ethiopia.  The kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory know we are coming, and they are looking forward to our visit with great anticipation!

One of the highlights of our trip, is when we personally get to deliver a care-package to each child from their sponsor family.  I cannot fully describe the emotions that play across each child's face when they receive a tangible gift from the family they have received letters from, who they know is praying for them, and who is providing for them so they are able to attend the care-point!  It's one of the most joyful, emotional and humbling experiences - second only to watching a sponsor family actually meet their sponsor child face to face!

Meet the members of our 2011 Ethiopia volunteer team:

Karen Wistrom, sponsor coordinator and travel team leader (from MN) ~ "I started volunteering as a sponsor coordinator for Children's HopeChest in 2009 after we adopted our two sons from Ethiopia and we wanted to be able to help more children.  Our HopeChest CarePoints allow orphaned and destitute children to stay with members of their family (many of the kids live with an older sibling, an aunt or a grandparent that can barely provide for them).  Over the past few years, I have gotten to know these children personally and have been able to see them thrive and flourish as they get nutritious food, clean water and medical care.  The opportunity to go to school is life-changing, as is the Gospel message they learn and live at the CarePoint.  I have seen their lives transformed and I look forward to seeing them again all year long!"

Sarah from MN ~ "The reason I am returning to Ethiopia this year is simply because the children touched my heart in such a deep way there is nothing to do but to go back again. I wish to be used again by God through this trip to show His love to not just the children there but to every single person that we come into contact with. I have such a strong love in my heart for the people I have met and the places I had experienced, in a way this trip kindof feels like going to my second home."


Apryl from OH ~ "When I went to Ethiopia last year, I didn't expect it to be more than just a one time trip. Jirigna's last words as we hugged before I left Kind Hearts were, "Will you come back?" I smiled and said that I hoped so, but in my heart I knew I would have to come back. I just didn't expect to return this soon. As planning began, I wanted to help with donations, but didn't think money and schedules would allow me to join the travel team. With every letter and photo we received of our sponsor children, I felt compelled to return. In Jirigna's letters he has asked when I would come, and I was so excited to finally be able to tell him that I would be visiting in November. I don't have a wonderful gift to bestow, aside from my time. I am going back because I think one of the best ways I can show these children Jesus' love is by sitting on the ground spending time with them.  My short answer--why would I NOT go back?"

Monica from Italy ~ "I traveled to Ethiopia in November 2010 because that was the country God placed on my heart. Through that trip I made lifelong friends and, more importantly, I had the opportunity to see the world through God's eyes. On the drive to Trees of Glory I made a commitment to God and to myself that I would return to Ethiopia to continue to show and receive Christ's love. Well, here I am, one year later preparing to go back to Ethiopia. I find as I sit here making my travel preparations the Lord is preparing my heart for what I will encounter. I'm anxious to see all of the children (and staff) again! I've been praying and thinking about them for the past year and I'm looking forward to being in Ethiopia again."

Becky from OH ~ "Originally, my ties to Ethiopia were because I have 2 grandchildren from there. I'm traveling to Ethiopia for the second time because after going last year, the children there have a special place in my heart. I am so excited to get to see them again and take part in their spiritual growth. I feel a real partnership with the teachers and directors there. I want them to know that there are people in other places who really care about what they are doing and struggling with."


Emme from MN ~ "My two little brothers are adopted from Ethiopia and I love going back and building relationships with the kids at the CarePoints.  They are happy to know how much we love them and care for them and that they are able to go to school and learn about God."

Maea from MN ~ "I am really excited to go back to Ethiopia.  This will be my first trip back since we brought my two brothers home from Ethiopia 3 years ago.  I have heard my mom and my sister talking about it for the last year and I am looking forward to spending time with the kids at the CarePoints!"

Alyssa from OH ~ "I have been a christian since 2009 at age 12 when I gave my life to Jesus. Since then I've known what I want to do with my life: be a missionary. I'm currently a sophmore in highschool with plans to attended a christian college and recieve a degree in missions and ministries. I had been praying for the oppurtunity to take a mission trip and God blessed me with this chance. I am soooo excited to go. I have a heart for kids and I can't wait to just go be with and spend time with these precious children!"

Julie from OH ~ "Africa has always held a special place in my heart and now specifically Ethiopia, as my husband and I are in the process of adopting a child from there. I am excited to be able to go on this trip to show love to these children and give them hope that can only be found in Jesus."

Juree from CO ~ "This will be my first time in Africa, let alone in Ethiopia. I have been wanting to visit Ethiopia ever since I began sponsoring a child four years ago from Ethiopia. However, now that I work for Children’s HopeChest, the time has now come. I am traveling to Ethiopia for many reasons, however the three most important reasons for my travel are: to meet the field staff that I work with on a daily basis, to see the transformation/effect that HopeChest has on the partnering locations and communities that our ministry is tied to, and to meet the children who are at the center of our work –the reason for doing what we do. "

Stacy from MN ~ "The Lord has pressed it upon my heart for a long number of years to travel to Africa and I am finally being obedient to that! I know He has great things to teach me and those around me upon my return and my prayer is to bring a flame back with me to set on fire the hearts of the people around me for those living in poverty."

Terri from KS ~ "I am going to Ethiopia to A) see the progress on the well we all worked so hard to fund, B) meet my sponsored children, and C) show them (and all the other children) that we love them! I think it is important to be the physical hands and feet of Jesus, and to try and leave this world a better place, so that is what I am trying to do by going on this trip."

Wendy from MN ~ "My husband and I are on a journey to adopt. There have been closed doors and many delays but we know God is in control. My heart is burdened for the fatherless and I am excited to be His hands and feet on this trip. I know that these kinds of trips have amazing impact on our hearts and I can't wait to love these children and people in person."

Linda from FL ~ "The idea to go on a mission trip was sparked after reading the book "Red Letters" by Tom Davis. One of the suggestions in the book for an individual to begin changing the world was to give five days a year to travel overseas to help alleviate poverty and suffering. This suggestion really stuck with me and after prayful consideration, this trip to Ethiopia was the perfect fit for me."

Ryan and Lyndsey from WY ~ "Ryan and I feel it is an amazing honor to serve God in this capacity. We hope that our trip inspires others who feel there is nothing they can do for these little ones, and to humble ourselves to never take our own circumstances for granted. We hope that we can shine the light of God on these children, even if it is only for a brief moment, but we know that it is our hearts that will truly be forever changed by them."

Micah, Elli, Mike, Kael & Jannika from ND ~ (also shown with sister Leah, far right)

Micah: " I would like to go back to Ethiopia (adopted in 2010) to play with the kids who are there. "

"Elli: "I love to love on kids and when I go to Ethiopia, I feel like I'm really doing that. After I get back from being in ET, I feel mission minded."

Mike:"We have 5 kids adopted from Ethiopia. As a family, we want to be continually serving children and the children of Ethiopia are heavy on our hearts. We are excited for Micah to return to Ethiopia and serve and share the love of Jesus with the kids there."
Kael: "This is a good opportunity to live what we believe."

Janika: " I would like to go to Ethiopia to help out, by building things and playing with kids."

Susan and Rebekah from VA ~ "My husband and I went to Ethiopia in March of 2010 to adopt our two youngest children. We not only fell in love with the people of Ethiopia, but we became very passionate about helping families there. We wanted to find a way to help families stay together, since we knew that our children's biological family had given them up due to their father's death and their mother's extreme poverty. We are passionate about adoption, but believe that the best option is for birthfamilies to stay intact. Children's Hope Chest is doing this, as well as helping orphans. When we went to Ethiopia the first time, we were able to tour some of the work CHC was doing in Addis at the time. When we got home, we started sponsoring a girl at Trees of Glory, and now I'm thrilled to be returning with my daughter, Rebekah (who's turning 13 next week!).

Brook from IL ~ "I'm going to Ethiopia because I believe God has moved me to do so. For a few years, I know God has been working on my heart pushing me towards something. I'm not sure I can even articulate fully why I'm going, but I know I'm supposed to. And I must be obedient. I know I need to see the faces of the oppressed up close and personal, and I know God has a plan far bigger than I can comprehend. "

Shanyce from AR ~ "I am going to Ethiopia because I strongly feel that God is calling me to be His servant by providing for these children at the orpanages. I have always had a heart for kids and I firmly believe that before you can minister to someone, you have to meet his or her physical needs in order for them to listen to the great message of Christ! So this trip is a way for me to put that into action, to provide for these kids and to show them that someone loves them, is praying for them, and is caring for their needs."

1 comment:

Olivia said...

This makes me so happy, but so sad. I would LOVE to go back again...and so sad that we can't. My parents will be there right before you for our court date, though!! :)