Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The God of the "Impossible"

by Sarah Bedenkop, Missionary Mom to the Nations

At times, the process of adoption seems overwhelming, almost impossible. Always remember, we serve a God of the impossible. When God places a dream in our hearts, He provides the wings and teaches us to fly.

As a young family, we dreamed of serving on the mission field.

Impossible with Bible college debt, a toddler and a baby on the way. Wings came as God canceled our debt and gave us our little Caleb right before our missions training.

Impossible to go as a family to Thailand 7 days after the Tsunami to share God’s love with the ravaged nation. God used our little ones to minister His grace and love and to be in a remarkable place after a tragedy.

Impossible to leave for the mission field full time with little financial support. We bought our tickets with our tax return and God has provided the rest. We have been serving in Central America for almost 5 years now.

Impossible to lead a team of Costa Rican missionaries to Kenya for an international outreach. Our family gave our tickets and God multiplied the money just like the fish and the loaves, providing for new tickets for us and the extra expenses of the team.

Impossible to adopt a child from Ethiopia while living in Costa Rica. After many months of battling on our knees and seeking the Lord for His perfect guidance, we have officially been accepted into an adoption program for Ethiopia. Our hearts rejoice!

We serve a God of the impossible! Thank you Lord, for giving our dreams wings to fly and teaching us to soar.

Are any of you facing an "impossible?" Remember what Jesus said in Matt. 19:26... "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Be sure to visit Sarah's blog: JustSarahDawn

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ethiopia Trip Update #7 - from Mark via Liane

Yesterday Liane received a phone call from Mark in Ethiopia and here is some of what he shared:

Today is Easter Sunday in Ethiopia. Yesterday Mark and Abdissa went to purchase the goat that they will kill and eat. Before you kill the goat, you kill a chicken and eat it - and picking the right goat and chicken is a lengthy ordeal as there are very specific things to look for in these animals (I wonder what they are??). The week of celebrations and observances leading up to Easter are a big part of the Christian culture there, especially for Thursday and Good Friday.

When Mark, Joy and Abebe went to Gimbie, they met a couple - nurses at the hospital there - who are adopting two babies. Last week they came to Addis Ababa and also to Adama at Tezera's Orphans and Widows' Home where many of the children from Gimbie will be transferrred for adoption. Scott was on the roof of the compound doing some electrical work and was severely electrocuted. Mark said he had never seen such a sight! Scott fell about 15 feet to the ground from the shock. Mark ran to him and said he was white as a sheet. He was ready to perform CPR but Scott was breathing and awake. They took him to the hospital, as he did have a broken arm, but that was all! Mark said it was a PURE miracle that he was not killed. Praise the Lord!

Please keep Mark in your prayers as he has one more week in Ethiopia and many things need to be accomplished. More details about the things God is doing coming soon!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

She's Home!

Joy returned home safe & sound!

Mark has more work to do!

Mark has become 'Uncle Mark' to so many of the children in our orphanages. They love him! He'll be in Ethiopia until the end of the month, with much to be accomplished before he comes home. We hope the electricity in Addis Ababa stays on and that Mark has a chance to email us an update.

Stayed tuned for lots more stories! (I'm trying to give Joy a chance to catch her breath before I pin her down for an in-depth interview!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ethiopia Trip Update #6 - from Joy

It is twelve long hours in the car to drive to Gimbie. Gimbie is nestled in western Ethiopia close to the Sudan border and it is tropical foliage and quite hot this time of the year. We passed by many small villages whose way of life has not changed for centuries. The farmers were out ploughing with oxen and the older children herded the goats or cows. As we passed a stream, I saw women washing clothes and further down others filling their water containers. Those that are more affluent ride horses or have horse drawn carts …. but the majority of people just walk. It is life lived close to the land. Black and white monkeys capered in the trees and we saw many baboons and exotic birds.

We were welcomed to Gimbie by an American couple who are working as missionaries at Gimbie Adventist Hospital and it was their invitation that motivated this trip. Scott is the head nurse of the hospital and they have been taking care of three babies that, through various circumstances, were placed in their path. They are adopting two of them and wanted YWAM to facilitate the adoption of the third. The Barlows see firsthand the need for someone to work with unmarried women who have an unplanned pregnancy. In this culture, it is shameful to have a baby before marriage and having a baby greatly damages your chances of finding a husband. Abortions are regularly being performed with a stick or umbrella, and many of them end up at the hospital with catastrophic consequences.

Take Tigist for example. She is a beautiful 17-year-old who tried to abort her baby with a stick. She came to the hospital in acute distress. The stick had perforated her uterus and bowel and the midwife delivered a preemie baby and the stick. There was nothing to do but to perform a complete hysterectomy. Amazingly, the premature baby was okay. He is one month old now and doing well, but Tigist wants to finish her schooling and is not ready to settle down and take care of her baby. She wanted to leave the baby at the hospital, but was encouraged to take the child home and try parenting simply because there was no place for the baby nor was there anyone at the hospital who could care for him. We walked to her house (which was an adventure all in itself … it was remote and down an extremely steep, rocky path) and ducked in the doorway of her mud hut. We found Tigist and the baby and they both looked quite well. The baby’s cheeks were full and he was alert and looking all around. We visited for a time and Tigist reiterated her dream of finishing school and once again asked that someone else raise her baby boy. We set an appointment to come to the hospital that evening to meet with the interpreter and social worker to begin the necessary paperwork.

In all of Gimbie area there is no one working with children or pregnant unmarried women. The need is acute, and before we left we accepted two babies and a little 7-year-old darling girl into our program, hired a social worker who is also a nurse and left instructions to find a building with painted walls, a cement floor and with running water and electricity that we can rent for a drop-in center for children age five and under. We know there could be, and probably will be, a flood of babies. For now, we will keep the babies/children at our Gimbie center and then transfer them to our established orphanage in Nazaret (Adama). The Adventist Hospital has offered to build an orphanage for us on their hospital property and perhaps even a place to care for pregnant women. We were amazed at how many doors were open for ministry and how enthusiastic the hospital staff was to have us partner with them in this vital service. One afternoon I gave a training to some of the hospital staff about adoption and we wrote policies and procedures for the hospital so they could know exactly the steps to take when a baby needed services. The Social Affairs office was contacted (which loosely might be the equivalent to our country’s Department of Social and Health Services) and they were ecstatic to have us come and help. We also contacted the police chief and received a very warm, helpful welcome from him and his staff.

Yesterday Mark, Abebe and I left Gimbie amazed and a little overwhelmed at what transpired in just 24 hours! Gimbie is so remote that it seems the government and most everybody else has forgotten about them. We found a warm, delightful society and a hospital who is delivering up to 160 babies a month …. and they only get the traumatic cases as most babies are delivered naturally at home! Scott gave us a tour of the hospital and when we stopped by the delivery room, Scott pointed to a tiny cardboard box by the door. It contained a dead baby. He said they bury from 2 to 4 babies a day. Mothers labor at home far too long before coming in, and many times their babies have already died or die shortly after delivery. They are going out into the villages to give training to the women about delivery and encouraging them with coupons to pay for medical care so they will come to the hospital much, much earlier when they have trouble.

I must get ready for the day. Once again, we have much to do here in Addis this morning and will travel back to Nazaret this afternoon. I slept like a log last night after three exhausting days going to and coming from Gimbie. I marvel at God’s hand in all this and timing of our coming. My worry is we won’t have enough families to adopt all these precious little ones!

Love , Joy

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ethiopia Trip Update #5 - from Jeff

Pastor Jeff Butler of Bonney Lake Community Church just returned from Ethiopia where he and Ben Hull served with Joy and Mark (who are still there) visiting several orphanages and YWAM's outreach in the community in both Addis Ababa and Adama.

It was an incredible blessing to travel and serve with the Adoption Ministry Team recently. My eyes were opened to see such a beautiful people with so many needs. My heart has been broken over the pain, loss and sadness I saw in the faces of both young and old. So many people with so very little - yet often joyful, kind and gracious.

It's hard to convey in words all of the sights, sounds, smells and experiences. It's impossible to fully convey how this trip has personally impacted me.

Let me share a few memories that touched my heart the most:

A little boy - having lost both his mother and father, a sister unable to care for him. He lives in the orphanage helping to care for widows, leading the blind ones around. He looks after the smaller children when they need a hand to hold.

He looks into my eyes with warmth and love, hugs me tightly and kisses my cheek. This little one has nothing on this earth to offer - nothing to give - except love! How could one who's lost so much, love so much? The orphanage director tells me that "On this earth he has only God." I will never forget how he ministered to me, when I thought I was there to minister to him.

A little girl - who asked, "Where is my family?" When would she be adopted? Tears running down her cheeks as we prayed over her life. Is she "the least of these" Jesus referred to? An Ethiopian, orphaned, girl, child with HIV? Yes, she is one of these precious ones dear to Jesus' heart. Who will He call to adopt this little girl? Who will love her and call her daughter? All she wants is a family.

A father - three children to look after. Their mother died only a few months ago. He doesn't have the means to feed them. His prayer is that they would be able to grow up knowing Jesus Christ. His only desperate option is to give them to someone who can feed them, clothe them, teach them and love them.

It's not that he wants to place them for adoption, but he has no options. A Christian father, just like me. A father who loves his children as much as I love mine and you love yours. Oh Jesus, do I know the pain of his heart? Do I understand his desperation?

These are just a few of the lives that touched me last week. I have many more memories. I treasure these. I'm asking the Lord what He would have me to do. My heart is broken and dislocated for these beautiful people and those precious children. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, would you begin to pray? Would you be willing to help? Could we not join our hearts and hands and reach out and reach down?

Let's ask the Lord to join us together and help Adoption Ministry to help these widows, orphans, mothers and fathers. It's truly an amazing work that God is doing through Adoption Ministry. I encourage you to pray again and ask God how He can use you to help "the least of these."

I will never be the same as a result of my trip. God use me. All that I am and all that I have is Yours. Bless me, break me, multiply me! We are His body, His hands, His feet.

Matthew 25:34-40

Friday, April 3, 2009


by Liane Wolbert
God works in unique and miraculous ways! Several months ago, Joy received a contact from a couple who were serving in a village hospital in Gimbie, near the Sudanese border of Ethiopia. Would Adoption Ministry in Ethiopia be able to help with their process of adopting two young children? Being willing to respond to God's open doors, Joy and Mark are traveling to this region today, to meet with this couple to start the process of adoption with Adoption Ministry. The estimated time of their travel from Addis is eight hours on dirt roads through the beautiful and, at times, desolate countryside. These travels will undoubtedly create visual memories with sounds and smells that will be impossible to fully describe when they return. When we were in Ethiopia a year ago we had a simular excursion that can only be described as, "A Day on the Discovery Channel." Here is a short youtube video that begins with the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Gimbie where Joy and Mark will be staying. Can you imagine staying in a hospital when you are not a patient?! We have speculated what this might be like and yet we know that the atmosphere, care, and needs are not like anything we have experienced in our Western culture. We are expecting to hear amazing stories of God's unique and miraculos ways!
(Please read the March 16 post titled "Where Have All The Babies Gone?" for a firsthand account from a nurse at the Gimbie hospital then join us in praying for Joy and Mark as they serve there!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ethiopia Trip Update #4 - from Joy

It is late, but Abebe and I are still going strong (well, I don’t know how strong, but at least going!). Our days are packed full from morning until night. We have been in Nazaret (Adama) for the last three days and have spent wonderful times with “our” kids. They are soooo precious and (if it is possible) I fall more in love with them by the minute. We have three new babies that I can barely put down. Some of the younger ones (like 2 and 3-year-olds) that were stand-offish last time I was there …. came right up to me and wanted to be held and I loved to oblige.

We have been to several small villages to visit families of children given to our adoption program. Walking through the streets is walking back in time. There are no cars, only donkeys or horse drawn carts. Mostly people walk. The homes consist of a very small room, dark, and no running water. Today, I asked one mother (who is dying) how many stayed in this room and she answered that she and four children slept there. There was only a single bed, a very narrow bench and a small table. Three of them must sleep in the bed, one might squeeze in on the dirt floor, but for the life of me I couldn’t see one inch where another child could sleep!

Of course we were a novelty in the village and we had multitudes of people crowding the doorway, blocking the little light that might eek its way into the room and then quite an exuberant escort to our car. Other than the fact that the stories I hear are tragic, it is fun to see village life and interact with the people, especially the children. One thing interesting to see are the treadle sewing machines set up outside to do mending for the town folk.

Ben Hull and Pastor Jeff Butler accompanied me on this trip and it has been fun to have them along. They are wonderful with the children. We have a system. When I visit the children supported in the community, I first meet with the whole family and then they take the children out to the street or wherever there is room and play with them so we can get some good video footage for our website while I continue to interview the caregiver in the house. I have so much more freedom asking questions of the adult when the children are not there. Several of the community children have been transferred to our orphanages when I find them in less-than-desirable situations.

Yesterday was spent at the Orphans and Widows’ Home and we had such fun! We have a humorous picture (above) of the widows sitting in a row enjoying lollipops. The home is unique and it is a pleasure to see the interaction of the old women and the little children. We also went to the property that was given to our ministry and had an incredible prayer time. Tomorrow when we go back to Addis we will visit the architect who is drawing up the plans for the center to be built there. Where will the money come from? Nobody knows. But! Tezera (the director) has heard a clear word from God to build and she is moving forward expecting God to provide and provide He will!

I am full of scenes and sounds that I wish I had the ability to communicate to you. However, the time is late and I must try to get this sent. Tomorrow Jeff and Ben leave for home and I have only one week left. My son had foot surgery today, so my thoughts and prayers have been with him and I need to get home. I am busy, busy here …. but the work is immediate and I am not pulled so many directions so I go to bed at night with a sense of well-being and satisfaction. Oh! Forgot to tell you! We have been without running water since coming to Nazaret. Nobody complains and just takes it in stride. We have a bucket of water in our hotel room and just take sponge baths after a long, hot, sweaty day. Must run.
Love to you!! Joy

Team Schedule

Tede village children

As I write this, it is 8:30 pm Weds. evening in Ethiopia. On Thursday morning, according to Joy's calendar made before they left, the team will leave Adama and return to Addis Ababa, possibly stopping in the village of Tede on the way, where YWAM has begun to work in the community and where several children have been identified for sponsorship. The day will include finishing the life videos being made for each of our adoptive children, some shopping, a wrap-up and debriefing of the last week and then taking Ben and Jeff to the airport for their return home. As we wait for their next update, please continue to hold them up in prayer. Let's agree together for their health and strength, for much fruit-bearing and for a safe trip home for Ben and Jeff. Joy will stay for another week and Mark for three more!
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