Monday, March 30, 2009

Ethiopia Trip Update #3 - from Mark

Mark Wolbert is our Missions Director. His wife Liane does many of our local homestudies and has travelled to Ethiopia twice already. They will both be going again this summer - be sure to check out our mission trip options on the website:

I have a short minute to catch you up to speed. We leave for Adama this afternoon. We've had a great time in Addis so far. We have experienced a heat wave here in Addis - it's been HOT! Hard to sleep due to the heat. Can't open the windows due to the mosquitoes... just sticky and sweaty all day and night.

Adama is out of water!!! The city's water main broke so no showers and no drinking water for the orphans. We are bringing them cases for them to drink. We have visited lots of kids in their homes and taken alot of video and photos. Ben and Jeff have been our photographers.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ethiopia Trip Update #1

Here is our first email correspondance from the team of Joy, Mark, Ben and Jeff. (I've combined their comments in this post.) As you can tell from their discovery about the internet in Ethiopia, we won't be hearing from them daily so we'll just pray for them and be really grateful for any correspondance we can get!!

We arrived safely after 30 hours of travel. There were no problems and delays so that was an answer to prayer. We are all healthy and well rested too. Our team is working really well together. We're here & doing just great! Yesterday we visited children in the community, so busy we didn't stop to eat lunch! I'm not complaining - it was so good to see where kids live and how they are connected to uncles, aunts and families, etc... The people are very friendly and hospitable.

We are currently at the YWAM base using Abdissa's dial-up service. I have a new appreciation for broadband service! We have no access to reliable phone or internet systems.

We've spent a lot of time interviewing and taking photo and video of children that have been identified as eligible for adoption. We are working with our in-country YWAM A.M. representative Abebe. He's set up all of the appointments and keeps us on schedule.

Joy, Abebe and the social workers interview the guardian or caregiver of the child. Mark, Jeff and Ben take the kids out to play with a ball and get interactive video of them playing and having fun. It's amazing how a simple ball can transcend any cultural or language barriers. These kids are very much loved by their caregiver but are faced with the burden of poverty and health tragedies. The photos and videos will be used on our adoption website so it's important for us to get quality footage. Most of the kids speak a little bit of English.

For continued prayer, we could ask for protection for our team as we continue visiting and traveling to orphanages. Also for direction and clarity on what God wants for the ministry. Please also pray for the meetings with the orphans and widows. We want to see with the eyes of Christ and touch them with the hands of Christ and love them with the heart of Christ. Thank you all very much for your continued prayers over this ministry.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just waiting for our first update...

The internet is an iffy proposition in much of Ethiopia. I'm sure there is a high-speed connection somewhere but when I was there last year, we only found dial-up. And even that was a bit sketchy. One computer we used said it had over 1000 viruses!! So we're just waiting to hear from Joy and the team about their arrival and how things are going so far.

As I type this at 10:30 pm Pacific time, it is 8:30 am on Saturday in Addis. (I know this because of that cool clock to the left!) After breakfast at the Catholic Guest House, the team is scheduled to visit some of the children in the YWAM community-based program (several of whom have been identified as ready for adoption). I know they will be spending time at the YWAM Children's Home with Abdissa and the kids, who will be overjoyed to see them. And tonight they'll take our dear Abebe, his wife Abonesh and their family to dinner. Abebe bends over backwards to facilitate our visits and has been such a HUGE gift to the ministry. He is humble, thoughtful, detail-oriented, smart, wise and very very funny! If you think of him, please pray for God's favor on his ministry and his family. He is truly one in a million.

Just as soon as I hear something from Joy or Mark, I promise I'll post it!!

Love, Becky

Monday, March 23, 2009

Prayer Opportunity for Ethiopia Team

Please join us...

As a team of four (Mark Wolbert and Joy Casey are pictured above) prepare to travel to Ethiopia on March 27th, please join us in covering them in prayer! There is much to be accomplished and they'll need God's equipping and provision to see it happen!

Here is a short list of some specific things you can be praying for:
1. New orphanage in Addis Ababa (licensing, physical needs)
2. Interviewing children – videos, pictures
3. Introducing many children to their new families via photos
4. Travel safety - to and from and within Ethiopia
5. Health and stamina for the team: Joy, Mark, Ben and Jeff
6. The water project for the villages – delivery system, purification system
7. Wisdom for:
  • How God wants YWAM to work with the Gimbie hospital and the women and children of that region
  • Decisions affecting life videos we’re making for each child being adopted
  • Planning for missions teams this summer
  • Interfacing with children and their caregivers
  • Interacting with the orphanage directors: Tezera, Girma, Samuel
God, as You have promised, generously provide all that the team going to Ethiopia will need so that they will always have not only what they need but plenty left over to share with others. As they share freely and give generously to the poor, their good deeds will be remembered forever! For God, You are the One who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, provide and increase the team’s resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity. Enrich them in every way as they take Your gifts to those who need them – and the result will be thanksgiving to You!
from 2 Cor 9:8-11 NLT

Joy and Mark plan to send daily updates from Ethiopia (internet connections permitting!) which will be posted on the blog. Please check here frequently to follow their trip and hear about how God is working! Thanks so much for your prayers!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Walk to Beautiful

The Fistula Hospital
by Candy Hagman
There is an amazing ministry that captured my heart during our recent mission trip to Ethiopia which I feel compelled to share with you. The facts are a bit graphic but so necessary to share.

Try and imagine what it would be like to have a physical condition that alienated you from family and friends, not knowing there is a solution, and not having the resources to take advantage of the solution when it is offered. This is the present reality for women who suffer from the childbirth condition known as fistula.

There is a hospital in the capital city of Addis Ababa called "The Fistula Hospital." This amazing ministry was started by Reginald and Catherine Hamlin in 1974. Let me explain the devastation of fistula and then tell you about the healing the hospital brings to thousands of hopeless women and shattered lives.

The most devastating of all childbirth injuries
An obstetric fistula develops when blood supply to the tissues of the vagina and the bladder (and/or rectum) is cut off during prolonged obstructed labor. The tissues die and a hole forms through which urine and/or feces pass uncontrollably. Women who develop fistula are often abandoned by their husbands, rejected by their communities, and forced to live an isolated existence.

More than two million women live with fistula
Eradicated in western countries at the end of the 19th century when cesarean section became widely available, obstetric fistula continues to plague women throughout the developing world. It is estimated that there are 100,000 new fistula cases each year, but the international capacity to treat fistula remains at only 6,500 per year. It is estimated that the world's population of fistula sufferers is more than two million.

The World Health Organization has called fistula “the single most dramatic aftermath of neglected childbirth.” In addition to complete incontinence, a fistula victim may develop nerve damage to the lower extremities after a multi-day labor in a squatting position. Fistula victims also suffer profound psychological trauma resulting from their utter loss of status and dignity.

The root causes of fistula are grinding poverty and the low status of women and girls. In Ethiopia, the poverty and malnutrition in children contributes to the condition of stunting where the girl's skeleton, and therefore her pelvis, do not fully mature. This stunted condition can contribute to obstructed labor, and therefore, fistula.

This typically is how a fistula develops: A woman goes into labor out in a village. She pushes and pushes. The baby will not come out and eventually dies. Her labor continues for four to five days, while tissue around the baby's head dies. Eventually the baby's brain turns to liquid and the head is finally able to contract enough to fit through the birth canal. (I know this is a heart wrenching fact, but when you think about it, isn't it wonderful God did it that way? Otherwise the baby AND the mother would die.) After the baby comes out the mother starts leaking urine and sometimes feces. She is often abandoned by her husband and ostracized by her family. Women have lived in this awful condition for up to 40 years.

Fistulas don't happen here in the U.S. unless a stray cut from a scalpel occurs during an operation. I have a friend who had a fistula on her intestine caused by a scalpel cut from a surgery seven years ago. She was having all kinds of problems and it took the doctors a long time to figure out what the core issue was because it is so rarely seen in the U.S.

While we were in Ethiopia we had the rare privilege of touring the hospital. We saw first-hand that it is not just a hospital, but a ministry yielding eternal rewards. The couple who started it, Reginald & Catherine Hamlin, are strong Christians. Since her husband’s death in 1993. Catherine Hamlin continues performing the much needed fistula surgeries even though she is in her seventies.

Women walk hundreds of miles to get to the hospital. Some can afford to begin their journey on a bus but are often kicked off because of their offensive smell. They arrive in urine soaked clothes, barefoot and penniless. Fortunately, there is no cost to the women once they arrive, but getting to the hospital where they can find the help they need is often a daunting task.

As we were standing by the front door during a pause in our tour, we saw three women who had just arrived to check in. The smell was overwhelming and almost unbearable. It broke my heart to see their suffering. I wanted to hug each of them and say "You are a daughter of the King!” (I am crying even now as I think of them.)

Fortunately the hospital doesn't just heal their fistula. They are taught to read and write (which is a challenge because of the many languages) and they are taught the Good News of Jesus Christ. Once they have healed, they are given a new dress and money for transportation back to their village. Can any of us imagine the effect on these women once their health and dignity has been restored?

Some of the women are so damaged they need to have a permanent ileostomy. The follow-up care they will need for the rest of their lives makes it impossible for them to return to their villages. Some of the women have no life to go back to so the Fistula Hospital tries to employ as many of these women as possible, or teach them skills so they can get a job and support themselves. The women are told they need to have medical care the next time they get pregnant and are invited to come back to the Fistula Hospital to deliver their babies where they can be closely watched and receive proper care.

The Fistula Hospital was featured on Oprah about a year ago and Oprah has paid for one of their buildings. If you would like further information or would like to know what you can do to help, the web site it is : Catherine Hamlin has also written a book called, "The Hospital by the River," which I highly recommend. A few months ago there was a documentary on television called, “A Walk to Beautiful,” which was about this hospital and the plight of those who suffer from this preventable condition. The plight of these women deeply touched my heart and I wanted to share it with as many of you as possible. As you think of these women, I would like to ask you to pray for them. Let’s work together to eliminate as much suffering as possible and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ so these women can be healed body, soul and spirit.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Coffee Anyone?

One of the most wonderful customs of Ethiopian hospitality is the coffee ceremony. No matter the time of day or the economic status of the household, if you are a visitor, performing a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship and respect. You feel great honor when your hostess takes the time and effort to prepare coffee or bunna (boo-na) for you in this way!

The coffees of Ethiopia vary from region to region and taste slightly different based on their growing conditions. The Arabica strain – one we’re familiar with in the U.S. – is Ethiopia’s original bean and still garners some of the highest prices on the world market. Sidamo is another Ethiopian variety, widely sold at Starbucks!

The true coffee ceremony is performed by a young woman dressed in a traditional Ethiopian white dress with colored woven borders, and though a hostess may not have the dress, the special nature of the ceremony is still felt. We were served coffee in the most destitute of homes and it was such an obvious act of honor and sacrificial giving. I felt truly humbled that this dear widow took such joy in sharing with us in this way!

All of the necessary tools are placed on the floor (arranged on a bed of long scented grasses and with incense burning if it’s a formal ceremony). Small cups are arranged on a low table. The coffee beans are roasted in a flat, long-handled pan over a small stove – often charcoal or sometimes an electric ‘hot plate.’ The pan is stirred gently to shake the husks away. When the beans have turned black and shiny and the aromatic oil is cooked out, they are ground by a mortar called a ‘zenezena’ and pestle called a ‘mukecha’ (moo-ke-ch-a). You can just imagine the delicious smell! This freshly roasted and crushed coffee is slowly stirred into a hand-made clay coffee pot, known as a ‘jebena’ (j-be-na) full of water. This is boiled and sometimes strained (ours wasn’t poured through a sieve and came out of the pot looking very thick and dark!). Coffee is taken with plenty of sugar but no milk and is very strong and aromatic.

As a guest in Ethiopia, being served coffee (or any food for that matter) is a huge honor and those dear people watch carefully to see how you’re enjoying everything. I think that lavish praise for the wonderful hospitality is a must!
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