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".