Sunday, October 26, 2008

Joy's Last Update From Ethiopia


Hello! Today is October 23rd and I will try to make this short. If I can get this out, it will be the last email I send. It is very, very difficult finding good internet service ….
Today we left the precious children in Adama and headed for Addis. We brought two babies who are going to be adopted to the transition home and we brought the baby boy I told you about to have an echocardiogram. I am also going to try to get him in to see a really good pediatrician we heard about to see what is going on with this little boy.
It was very hard to leave the children and babies …. very hard. In the five days I have been with them, I have grown to love each of them … big and small … The older children have drawn me so many pictures and written love notes to me that are a treasure.
I am happy to say that I accomplished everything I set out to do in Adama: all the children are processed through the Adama court (thus, are ready for adoption) and I got much more information on almost every child. We hung mosquito netting over every crib in the nursery and set up sanitary procedures. The nannies working with the babies are very lovely, caring women who love on the babies and take the best care of them. They were sad to see two babies leave today … and yet happy they will have their very own family. Another baby boy will soon leave for the transitional home.
Yesterday we spent time with all the widows in the community as well as the ones living in the Orphans and Widows’ Home. We bought flour to distribute to the community women and it was fun to watch them patiently wait their turn as the flour was measured into their bag and then hoist it on their back tied with a cloth. It was fun to play with the children …
I am extremely tired and have a busy day tomorrow. I will meet with the YWAM Children’s Director and see what we can do for the sick little baby boy. We have an appointment to have the results of the echo explained to us.

Only two more days and I head home. I am anxious to see my hubby and to have a couple of days to sleep before Monday rolls around.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Joy Checks In From Ethiopia

Salome! (That is Ethiopian for “howdy!”)
It is Friday evening (Oct 23) rather late and I am bushed. Today was packed full! After sending emails this morning (which is a trial of your patience), we headed out for the Orphans and Widows’ Home that we started early this summer. It is a beautiful facility with 8 children (all adoptable) and 6 widows (who are precious). There was a newcomer - a 5-year-old girl. The rest are all boys that have been there awhile. It was so fun to watch them play. The little boy who is HIV positive looks so good! He has energy and has definitely put on weight … and he is a charmer! Tezera is the director of this wonderful haven, and I always feel invigorated and strengthened just being around her. She is unique in every sense of the word.
I spent time with the nurse that Adoption Ministry has hired to work at both orphanages compiling a list of meds and other nursing paraphernalia as well as talking about sanitary procedures, etc. Then we met the lawyer who is processing our kids, getting them ready for adoption. (Ethiopia definitely moves at a much s-l-o-w-e-r pace than we do! Again, my patience was tested to the max.) The lawyer was a very kind, patient man who I really liked. He joined us for a delicious lunch Tezera’s staff prepared for us. I loved all the old ladies and reveled in watching the children’s enthusiasm over every little thing. They are so happy …. and they have absolutely nothing to play with except each other!
After time with the Joseph Children’s Director …. we visited one little 5-year-old boy in his home. It is the poorest hovel I have yet to set foot in. His mother is very pretty and young and what with rent at $1.00 a month and the price of food …. her hit and miss servant jobs cannot sustain her and her mother and her son. The little boy is being supported in school by the orphanage and is doing well. Monday, we are going to visit all the children’s schools and get a teacher’s report on their progress academically as well as how they do socially.
Then came the saddest part of our day. We visited one of our orphanage babies in the hospital where he was hooked up to an IV. He is a very sick little baby. Mark and I wanted to take him and run! Each child has a caretaker with them 24 hours a day and you provide your own everything and there are 4 cribs in a small room. This baby has a wonderful nanny who is like a mother to him and she tenderly stays by his bed and feeds and changes him. She is very sweet. Please, all who are reading this, please pray for this little baby boy. The doctors think it is his heart and want him to have an echocardiogram. In order to do that, he has to be transported to Addis. I honestly am afraid he will not last long. He needs a divine touch … or wisdom to know what to do for him. We have an appointment to talk with his pediatrician tomorrow afternoon.
I will close this very busy day. It is hot and dusty, but I am loving this warm weather! We drive about in little 3 wheel glorified motor cycles, but I like them because they have no doors or windows and the breeze is refreshing, plus they are a lot cheaper than a taxi. It’s an adventure!!
God’s blessings on each of you …

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mark Checks In From Ethiopia


I've been busy my first week here in Ethiopia. I spent one night in Addis Ababa and left for Adama where we've been dividing our time between the Joseph's Children's Home and The Orphan's and Widows Home where Tezera is the director. Yesterday, I had the privilege of spending the greater part of the day with Tezera. As much as I DISLIKE shopping, I did LIKE getting to hear her story as she shared about her life. She talked to me about what life had been like living in Ethiopia before during and after the Dirg, the hardships she encountered studying in Cuba for a degree and the early years of her work in Compassion International... I see now how God used such hardships to create strength in Tezera - it produced fruit and it shaped her into a strong resilient person, a leader that God is using among the widows and orphans in her own country.
While shopping, school let out and it was fun seeing all the kids walking home in their uniforms with stainless steel lunch pails. I was approached at LEAST 30 times by children wanting to practice their English: "Hello, How are you?" "My name is Mabucu." "What is your name, please?" "I am 10 years old." "I am in grade 4." " How old are you and what grade are you in school?" "Hello!!" My name is Jerusalem!" I am so very glad to meet you!" You are the first white man I have ever met!! May I touch your hair please?" Thank you!" That was fun!! Such great little people.
At Joseph's Children's Home we've stocked the nursery with diaper pails, installed mosquito nets over each crib, purchased bottles, nipples, bottle brushes and pans to boil bottles in and the material that diapers are made from. As you can guess, every item is purchased from a separate shop.. a shop for pails, a shop for pans, another for brushes. The idea of "ONE STOP SHOPPING" hasn't caught on yet... :---) Which is great - it means I get to meet that many more people! Tezera, like my wife Liane, seems to know everyone, everywhere... People come out of the woodwork when she walks down the street!
In Ethiopa a greeting takes time; "hello" kissing, talking a bit and then "goodbye" kissing. You repeat that a few times and then it's lunch time already. You throw in a little bit of good-natured haggling over prices and a few more kisses and then it's dinner!!

Mark Wolbert
Please be praying for Mark as he travels to several small villages in Ethiopia.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Second Update from Joy


Greetings from Ethiopia!
Today we traveled from Addis Ababa to Adama. Adama is about two hours from Addis and is much hotter than Addis with flowers blooming enthusiastically everywhere. I really like Adama. After we checked into our hotel and had lunch, Mark, Abebe and I went to the Joseph’s Children’s Home. This is the orphanage where we have opened up a nursery. Two new babies and one new toddler have been brought within the last week. The two babies were abandoned …. and they are precious! The Young family (who is adopting a 2-year-old from our other orphanage) sent a suitcase full of baby clothes. The nannies were delighted to get them and immediately put new clothes on all the babies! We lined all seven of them up and took their picture. I was in my height of glory holding babies …. they are soooo adorable!
There was a meeting set up by the orphanage director for me to meet their board. The board president spoke for a long time and then I addressed the group and then we had coffee ceremony. Yes, I drank a cup of coffee! It wasn’t too bad with sugar. Then we got to do what we really wanted to do … interact with the children. I wish each of you could come and see these lovely, gentle children … they are a treasure. A young girl, probably 12, prepared the coffee ceremony and served us. She was so poised and truly gifted in hospitality … you could tell she was honored to serve.
Tomorrow we are visiting several of the community children’s homes, will spend time at the Orphans and Widows’ Home, and we have a meeting set up with our attorney who will give us a status on all the children’s court proceedings and explain to me in more detail just how orphans need to be prepared for adoption. Every day is chocked full and my only wish is that I would have more time here. Ah, well …. I will do the best I can with the time allotted.
I love the balmy breezes, blue skies, and sunshine! It is such a joy to be doing what I am here …. Even though we are working many long hours, I feel like I am on vacation! For those of you who are praying for me, I thank you! There are many decisions that are expected of me, and I certainly need wisdom from above! I am thankful He put Abebe at my side, and I glean from his wise counsel. I also have had a wonderful time with Mark Wolbert and am taking full advantage of his insights. He is a gifted man and it has been so good to receive his “take” on situations. Isn’t God so good to put these two amazing men alongside me?
I send my best to each of you!

Friday, October 17, 2008

From Joy in Ethiopia!

Greetings from the land of 13 months of sunshine! Yes, Ethiopia has 13 months and yes, it is sunshine most every day. I have certainly enjoyed the mild weather of Addis Ababa … in the 70’s during the day with blue skies and warm, not hot, weather.
As always, the sights and sounds of this city of 75 million people bring me face to face with the stark realities of poverty. On the other hand, the general buoyancy of the people amaze me. I spent the last two afternoons with Abdissa, the YWAM children’s director, and was warmly greeted by his 25 children whom I have grown to love so much. Yesterday afternoon after school, they came in and gave me great huge hugs. The older girls especially enjoy the company of a woman and I have such a heart for them! A part of me just wants to stay and be their mother.

As I sat and visited in the livingroom of the home, the children had their after school snack and then, without being told … it is an expectation, got out their homework and began doing it. They all have homework every day and I looked at their work and was quite impressed with the education they are getting. (In Ethiopia, you do not pass to the next grade simply because of your age.) When the children finished their assigned homework, they brought it to Abdissa to look over and he had to sign on their page. From the young kindergarteners to the older boys who were in upper level math and biology, Abdissa took the time to help them, correct and encourage them. He is so proud of the development of his kids.
I also met with the country representative of Children’s House International … the agency we are partnering with to complete adoptions. The adoption procedure here in Ethiopia is much, much different from America with many more steps. Also, things move at a much slower pace than in America.

One of “our” little guys, KBB, is staying at the CHI facility in Addis. KBB is almost 1 ½ years old. We spent time with him and took a bunch of pictures, but he wouldn’t smile for anything! He didn’t cry, though, when I held him … although when I put him down he toddled gladly into the waiting arms of a nanny! He has beautiful eyes and is quite hefty! He is adorable, and I know the family who gets him will have a treasure.
We visited a guest house that the CHI director wanted us to see as we are gathering information on places for our families to stay while they are here getting their child. It was a very nice guest house, but Abebe (our country representative) agreed with me that it was expensive for what you get. One thing about Abebe, he is out to get the best for a good price! I so appreciate him and we are blessed beyond measure to have him representing us.
While I was at the YWAM Children’s Home, Abdissa and I looked at three adjoining compounds. Abdissa would like to have one compound for the boys and one for the girls. Of course, he will need more staff, specifically a woman for the girls. There is a young man from India, Sammy, who is YWAM and married with a baby … he is visiting to see about possibly joining YWAM Ethiopia. He was an absolutely delightful young man … I really liked him. He and his wife could possibly be the houseparents in the girls compound. Abebe and I have also decided that we need to have a nursery under the auspices of YWAM. There are many children Abdissa has identified for adoption, but they need a place to stay until they are adopted. Something has to be done with these children … most of them very young and from poverty the likes of which it is impossible to imagine.
Today Abebe and I will visit with Nega who is the director of the street kids’ drop-in shelter. We will also visit another orphanage. This evening Mark Wolbert will arrive from the U.S. This very gifted man is going to head up and coordinate the missions thrust that several churches have expressed interest in doing over here. It is important that things be planned well and people utilized optimally to the advantage of the ministries we are involved with. I so appreciate Mark’s heart for missions! He will also be checking out some possible connections with other schools and ministries for vocational training for the older children as they complete school.
I must get ready for this day. I am loving every minute of my time here! Last night the lights were out at the guest house (electricity is iffy all over Addis) … so I turned on my computer for its glow as I washed my face and got ready for bed. I was in bed by 8:40 because there was nothing else to do! I had a wonderful night’s sleep and woke up with the wailing from the minaret and had the joy of watching the day unfold with the bright moon receding as the day dawned. Every day is a testament to God’s faithfulness.
I send my love,

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Welcome to our blog!

We hope this blog becomes a place for many to learn about international adoption, share their stories of adopting from Ethiopia and spark the interest of many to adopt one or more of these precious children who are in desperate need of a family. I am the Adoption Ministry/Ethiopia administrator and work on keeping our website up to date, communicating with families interested in adopting and learning as much as I can about the process. Joy Casey is our Adoption Ministry director and a wonderful source of help and information. Liane Wolbert is one of our social workers who does many of our homestudies in Washington state, where our ministry is located. Both Joy and Liane will be contributors to this blog. The three of us traveled together to Ethiopia in April where we spent time at both of the orphanages we're working with - one in Addis Ababa and one in Adama. We now have another orphanage in Adama, the Orphan and Widow's Home, which we've helped to start with the help of some very generous donors. We've begun a sponsorship program as well, which is a part of our humanitarian work in Ethiopia. Please do check out our website for lots of great information, pictures and opportunities to get involved.
Becky Burns

Here's a little slideshow of our April trip to Ethiopia!
Click to play Ethiopia 2008
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