Amy works for our agency, America World Adoption as a Director of Social Services in Florida. This was her first trip to Ethiopia and she didn't expect to fall in love with one precious orphan there....Meet Aiden, Amy's heart that she left behind. Aiden had just arrived at the orphanage one day earlier than this picture. Isn't she amazing?! So many of these precious ones need you to adopt them!
God is so great in his Grande Finales! Just to put some finishing touches/confirmations on our trip, we ended up sharing the plane home from Addis with 31 orphans all going to "camp" in the States. They were part of a host program where an agency selects them to live with different families in the states for 2 to 3 weeks. The awesome thing about this type of program is that there is a 99% chance that all orphans get adopted by the families who sponsored and hosted them!!! This is amazing b/c older orphans rarely get adopted, which is a heart breaking fact to me.
If you go visit orphans like God admonishes us in James, then you too will fall in love with the older orphans and you too will be burdened by the fact that it's mostly baby girls who get adopted. These children need you!
This was "Teddy's" airplane ride to camp. Can you imagine what he was going through as he'd most likely never been a few blocks from his orphanage. Sweet thing, I had to ask him if he needed to use the toilet, as they call it there, as I don't think he knew the airplane had one. He was trying to be so sweet and obedient that I think he was afraid to move. I wonder if he would have tried to "hold it" all 14 hours to DC.
Please pray and ask the Lord how He would use you to make the difference in the life of one of these orphans! God considers these orphans "treasures" and we are to go into the dark places of the world and seek and find them. They will bless our lives and become part of the inheritance God wants to bless us with. Sometimes the fact that they are hidden treasures is that we have yet to change our perspective to see them as the treasures they truly are. I challenge you - take a mission trip - visit an orphanage - you will never be the same!
Isaiah 45:3 I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name...
We never did settle the argument whether or not we were riding mules, very small horses or ponies. One thing's for sure! Just don't call them a donkey! There's obviously a huge difference to the guides there b/w donkeys and the other.
The story on this picture....hhhmm...this one makes me think! Here I am, praying spontaneously for this woman who we saw crouching on the side of the street. She was blind and my heart just literally went out to her. And I spontaneously obeyed...stepped out in faith. What I felt was that I was to touch her..to tell her how beautiful she was. I couldn't imagine the last time someone touched her or told her this. She was probably younger than I was...How long had she been blind? How long had she been homeless? Did she have kids? I watched as she took the money and snacks I gave her and very quickly brushed them inside her skirt so that no one would steal them. As I began to pray for her, I of course, prayed for her healing...but I touched her eyes. When was the last time someone touched her eyes?! You know, I hope God heals her, but what mattered most in that moment was that she felt God in that touch. I prayed she would know how beautiful she was and how much God loved her...even if by that one moment...that someone felt compelled to stop and talk to her and touch her. She truly was beautiful. Beautiful in her weakness and her complete humbleness. As I left she tried to give me her ring. It must have been the last valuable possession she owned and she wanted to give it me. I was glad that she was unable to get it off her finger, but maybe it would have blessed her to have been able to give it to me. For some reason as I write this post, I miss her. I wish I had spent the day with her. Listening to her story and just sitting with her. I feel God's presence in these times.
I love this photo as it shows a glimpse of what this trip was all about. Katy and Jennifer are washing the feet of two young, homeless boys as we'd bought new shoes for them. We played soccer with them in the pouring rain and the Lord highlighted these two and a young 4 year old girl. They all got new shoes! The smallest boy had a crooked leg and was scared to death of us...afraid that we were going to take him to the doctor, so his older buddy insisted he go with us for new shoes and came along with him so he wouldn't be afraid and he got a pair of new soccer cleats, wonderfully donated by the local YMCA here. This was probably one of my favorite days of the whole trip. When we arrived to play soccer with the kids they were using a ball that was deflated and Jennifer stepped out of the bus with a air pump and the kids came running and screaming, so excited! Little did they know that we had so many brand new real soccer balls in the bus that we'd brought with us. They were just elated to have their old ball blown up. Jennifer was so cute as she looked back at the bus as us all with this huge smile of amazement and awe at their excitement. Those of us women who aren't as competive, stood under umbrellas as little boys hundled next to us, soaking wet and shivering. I would just pull them close to me and hug them as we watched, with little care to how wet I was getting from their clothes. We used this great opportunity to speak through interpreters to tell the kids about Christ and lead them through salvation prayers. There had to have been 50 of them. Then, a random man, an angel I honestly think...came over and told us that there was there big "christian" event going on in the convention center around the corner, so I loaded a boy on my back and all of us..walked through the rain to this event. This man also told me that "they" had saved seats for us. As we walked in I was content to sit in the back on the vacant rows, but no, this usher immediately told me to follow him and there were two WHOLE rows completely empty at the very front of the service and our team and about 30 of these wet, dirty little boys all piled in. They jumped and danced to the worship music and the service ended up being about orphans and one little boy was in tears as the preacher spoke in Alhamric about HIV. On our way back to the bus this little girl, about 4 years old came up to me to beg and so I put her on my back and I noticed she had no shoes. I was trying to figure out a way to get her new shoes without all the other kids literally rioting, and this wonderful, handicapped man came up to me in front of all the ohter kids and told me, "if you do not do a thing for the rest of us, do something for just this one..." That was a word from GOD! So, i took her with us and she got some new shoes and a new baby doll and clothes that were donated. They told us that her mom was homeless and was mentally ill. I continously prayed over her...
We are home now. those of us from Nashville arrived about an hour ago to a wonderful reception of friends and family. When we flew in it was raining...it seems it has rained every day for us since we left for Addis since it was winter, hence the rainy season in Ethiopia. So, it seemed so much like home to truly arrive home to more rain.
I am tired and empty but yet but very full in many ways. Overwhelmed with many things still left to do now that I am home.
"To whom much is given much is required." Will write a full blog once pictures and video are downloaded.
Love you all and thank you so much for your prayer support in every way!
Well, this year we have traveled and spent many more days on the road and in the air then last year. Since we got here in Addis, we have already been to Awasa and Sodo which are two cities in the southern part of Ethiopia. Awasa is by far our favorite city with amazing fruit and a quaint hotel. We visited an orphange with 24 babies and other older children and it was a precious time holding and loving on these babies. This is an orphanage our agency is looking at working with, so all of the adoptive moms think and very much hope that they will be able to adopt the children they have fallen in love with. Heidi, my precious friend and adoptive mom from Nashville who is only 29 and has 3 under the age of 10 and she is now thinking of adopting a sibling group of 3 all under the age of 12! I fell in love myself with the youngest of the group. Another mom has decided to adopt 2 instead of just one now, so it's been so wonderful to witness the expanding of their borders in this way. The orphanage in Sodo was another orphanage we are thinking about working with...This orphanage by far was so much more gut wrenching then the one at Awasa as the children looked as though they were the "throw aways" of society. There was no hope in their eyes and they all had this skin condition from some type of fly that attacks their skin after midnight. Also many infections and just poor hygiene. This orphanage kept me awake last night. How people do not seem to value the dirty and unkept and honestly, in the adoptive community, the older children. They are so precious in His sight. One in particular reminded me of my neice Ellie. They all would barely look you in the eyes. There was Moses and David, two boys who were older than their years from being in that orpahange for so many years. They wanted me to paint their faces as zebras and tigers. But, they barely smiled and didn't play, just washed it off again. I wonder if they feel disposable..I'm sure they do..just like that face paint. The little girl that reminded me of Ellie had an infection on her foot that someone stepped on and opened up. She cried and I picked her up and took her to the sink to clean it. The caregivers think it is worms. But, to me it looked like a very very bad infection and it GRIEVED me that I had not brought neosporin to leave with them to teach them, etc. I want to make a difference at this orphanage. I want our agency to help...I want our church to help and over all that I want God to help. We are all in great unity and Spirit. Pray for our last week. We work with the homeless kids tomorrow and visit an orphanage called Kids Kare. Then we head to Lalibela and Axum and back again. We have cried out to God and asked Him for more opportunities to make a difference. Pray for the orphanage in Sodo. We are getting them mosquito nets in the hopes of preventing more of these fly bites in the night...I can't help but wonder though why they didn't have these already with malaria being such a high risk...again, whose truly loving and caring for these orphans? The picture here is Bebe (one of our interpreters and I trying to doctor the little girl's foot.
We finally have Jennifer's passport...just hours before we leave for the airport. Amy will hopefully get hers tomorrow and follow us to Addis a day later than expected. Can't wait to see her smiling face in Addis finally!
I was "grounded" by the Lord yesterday. I learned a pretty valuable lesson about faith and trusting Him and in hearing His voice. One of our team members was still without her passport as of Monday of this week. So, she decided to head to DC early in order to re-issue one. The man in charge of the Africa trips at Visiting Orphans suggested I come with her since I know the area and could act as an ambassador to her and help her since she'd only flown once, etc. I'd already asked off the days, so I packed and got ready to leave 2 days earlier than planned. I had this feeling..this wondering/pondering in my Spirit though...If God had called Jennifer and we'd been faithful to pray, then His word was not going to return void. He had a plan A, were we supposed to be making our own plan B? Were we just supposed to stand in faith and believe and not move and the Lord act on our behalf? Yet, I just wasn't sure as the ticket was changed and I was encouraged to go. So, with a heart sincerely wanting to please the Lord, I went ahead with plan B, the back up plan. I couldn't help but notice that there were no hotel rooms availabe that were affordable in DC and no rental cars, but yet, I was told to just come anyway. When we got to the airport, we were randomly picked for the total security check where they go through everything and then on the plane we couldn't get our seats next to each other and not one person on the entire plane wanted to give up their seats for us. And as we sat there waiting to leave we received a call form Visiting Orphans that there was a great chance that Jennifer's passport was going to come through, that it was going to be delivered anyway. So, here we sat on a flight in vain. I sat there thinking to myself...I've never encountered so much opposition when I travel and I travel all the time. So I started asking the Lord to forgive me if I'd stepped out of His plan and we'd made our own. About that time the flight attendent came on the intercom and said the flight had been "grounded" due to bad weather in D.C. and we were delayed, so she asked us to get off the plane. We did...and then I told Jennifer, "I'm going to laugh if they cancel this flight"...As the words came out of my mouth, the flight was cancelled! Jennifer and I just sat there and laughed so hard as everyone else got frustrated and rushed the ticket counters to get booked on other flights. We took our time and waited and then easily got put back on our original flight leaving on Thursday with the rest of the group from N'ville. I had paid an extra $50 for a bag that was too heavy and lo and behold it was the only payment made that had not yet been put into the night deposit. So I got my $50 back and then they gave us a voucher to use on our next flight! Jenifer and I walked out of the airport in a daze. It was like we'd boarded a plane to go to a physical location, but God used that time to "ground" us to teach us to trust Him..and it was the most loving discipline from my Heavenly Father. I was ashamed before Him, but so humbled at His love and grace in the way He disciplined me, yet He even blessed me in the end. So, yes, we did board that plane for physical change of location, but God used it to change us spiritually. We did get off the plane with new perspective and in a new place. I feel sorry for all the other passengers that had to endure the delays just so that God could keep us on His original plan..;) My good friend and co-worker, Amy, is supposed to go on this trip with us as well. She still does not have her passport. We are going through teh same mind sets..is this you Lord or does she keep trying? We have pretty much released it and are trusting at this point that if she is supposed to go, that the Lord will create a miracle. Since she has to leave by 1 tomorrow, it would indeed be a miracle. But, we are trusting Him! p.s. Word is that Fed Ex will be delivering Jennifer's passport by 10:30 AM tomorrow, just in time for her to get to the airport by 1 PM!
Thanks so much to all of you who are praying for us. The team consist of 14 people: 13 women and one wonderful and brave 8 year old boy. My friend called today and told me that she woke up in the middle of the night and had an image of our team while she was praying...that we were surrounded by this wall that was like 2 feet deep of steel..but it was fluid and did not inhibit us but moved with the team. It was the wall of protection around us. We were very fortified in the Lord's protection! I believe it! I've never felt such an outpouring of prayer in my life and even with my last minute flight change, I have so much peace about this trip. The support and belief from you all is so important to us and so thank you for the wall of protection you have created around this team of women! Keep it up! :) As the Lord impresses anything upon you during prayer for us, feel free to comment here for us!
Our team packed 14, 50 lb bags of donated items between the 10 of us that are in the SE area! The out pouring of friends, family and tons of church members at Belmont was unbelievable! The local YMCA of East Nashville donated a huge bag full of just boy's soccer uniforms, another bag of cleats, soccer socks and soccer balls for the homeless kids we will be working with. I can literally see them in my mind, all jumping on top of each other to get them. I bet they coudl start their own soccer/ football league with all that they donated us! We've also requested 200 pairs of shoes from the Crocs company. they are still working on the request, so please pray for favor there as well. With the rainy season in Ethiopia lasting 6 months, this would be a great blessing to the kids and care takers in the orphanages. Each of us will check 2 bags in and pack our own things in our carry on. And there is still atleast another 100 lbs of donated items left that we will have to ship over. Honestly, I've never seen so much love and selflessness from the Body of Christ like this. Thank you all so much! Please pray for favor in passing the 50 lb. limit per bag and being able to pack all our things in our carry on. Aren't ya'll impressed that all us women did not grumble one bit and were happy to pack for 2 weeks in one carry on?!
I leave tomorrow with Jennifer Stokes to go to DC for a couple of days to attempt to help her re-issue her passport. It will be good to already be in DC when the rest of the group arrives, other than Jill, from Germany. We will then try to stay up late before going to bed so that we can sleep on the flight out of DC on Friday morning in order to get used to the time change. Pray for a restful, comfortable trip. I will miss my flight partner, Rebekah from last year. She let me put my legs and feet up on her on the whole way there and back. WHAT a friend!!!
I'll write from Addis over the weekend and let you all know how we are doing. They added a new city and orphanage to our trip: Sodo. So we are excited to be visiting a new orphanage where few mission teams ever visit. For now, please keep believing for the 2 passports to come in!
Follow along as I take this mission seriously and minister to the orphans in this world.
Visiting Orphans...It pretty much speaks for itself. Our lives are made to give away to others and I love it that helping orphans is pure and undefiled religion! Follow along as I take God seriously about this mission and minister to the orphans in this world. He is constantly at work in our lives..we just sometimes have to shift our perspective to notice Him. I pray you will hopefully see Him in the words and pictures below..through my perspective.
This blogpage follows the mission trips I lead to minister to orphans in this world. I am the Executive Director of a mission sending agency called Visiting Orphans. (www.visitingorphans.org) I believe my mission in life is similar to the President of Compassion International, Dr. Wes Stafford. In his book, "Too Small to Ignore" he says, "On one side of this international bridge, my role is to minister to the poor, to the orphans, to "comfort the afflicted." And then I cross the bridge, coming back to the Western, more affluent world, where my job is to speak and write and to "affict the comfortable" to call them to action." Loving people on both sides of the spectrum...
I pray that something in my words or pictures will inspire you to reach out beyond yourself...to GO and help the "least of these".