Monday, January 31, 2011

Over the long, harrowing roads

I'm so happy to be able to post this update from Joy Casey in Ethiopia...

Becky’s husband, Jeff, is with me on this current trip to Ethiopia. With so many children in our orphanages I need someone to take pictures and video, and Jeff is the man for the job. How grateful I am to have him at my side! We hit the ground running and today, Sunday, is the first time in eight days I have had a moment to gather my thoughts and write anything.


The day after landing in Addis Ababa, we left before sun-up for Nekemte in western Ethiopia. Our sturdy van was packed to the hilt with a water tank, water heaters, piles of formula, suitcases full of vitamins, clothes, children’s ibuprofen and other sundry items needed in the three orphanages we were visiting over the next six days. The road is under major construction and a year from now I know I will be grateful for it, but it is a challenging 10 hour drive right now!

The last time I was in Nekemte we rented a new facility for our orphanage, so it was nice to walk through the door of our new place and see it all settled. Three toddlers that I have watched grow from babyhood stood back to check out the new faces, but were soon engaged with winsome smiles and laughs …. just as long as we didn’t attempt to pick them up! A new little 2-year-old fellow also greeted us and it was fun to get to know him and his story; cribs held two new tiny little ones. I had the privilege of meeting one of our families who was there to meet the little 6-year-old boy they are going to adopt, and it was a delight to share dinner with them. We also had an incredible time of prayer together and they brought wonderful encouragement to our team.


We are so glad that the two hour trip from Nekemte to Gimbie is over better roads than the one we bumped along from Addis to Nekemte.

Our main focus is always the children and so most of the day in Gimbie was spent on the floor playing with them, asking nannies questions about their development, and holding and assessing each little person. Along with this delightful work, government officials need to be contacted and paperwork gathered for adoption cases pending embassy appointments in Addis. I also got to squeeze in a visit with my friend Monica at the Seventh Day Adventist compound, and she is always an inspiration and delight. It was a long day and culminated with dinner of some really good tibs and shiro wat.


The orphanage furthest away from Addis Ababa is Dembidollo. We again left before sun-up, and I always love watching the world wake up with pink skies and mists, the smoke of cooking fires billowing from the huts we pass, farmers walking to their fields with homemade tools over their shoulders and the youth herding cattle from one place to the next.

Later, we passed groups of students in their uniforms walking to school. The dirt road is a huge challenge with lots of dust and washboard jarring. Four-and-a-half hours later we pulled up to our project and unloaded all the things we brought.

I began getting to know the new arrivals and reacquainting myself with the children I saw 2 ½ months ago. One of the little 3-year-old boys remembered me from last time and shot out the door at a run and leaped into my arms. That was a delight for me because I worked really hard last time winning this little man’s affection! We brought some Duplos for the 3-year-old boys to play with, and they were captivated by the new toy. That afternoon I was introduced to a local pastor and we had the opportunity to have a long visit. God works in mysterious ways and it remains to be seen just how God wants to use my new friendship with this godly man, but in my spirit I know meeting him was providential and not an accident.

After being gone for five days, we headed back to Nekemte with a stop in Gimbie to gather yet more paperwork to take to Addis. It was good to get to the hotel in Nekemte and have a good night’s rest before tackling the long, harrowing road back to Addis. All in all, much was accomplished for families and it was good fun with all the little children God has sent our way. Every day I count it a privilege to advocate for these little ones and it is payday for me when I see them in the arms of their forever moms and dads.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another child enters the Ethiopian housing market!

All I can say is "Wow!" 

Let me introduce you to Noel...

(This was "Crazy Hair Night" at Awanas - isn't she cute?)

Noel is nine years old and attends Awanas at her church in Show Low, Arizona.   (Do you detect a theme developing here?) 

Dinah Monahan also spoke to this Awana group about her trip to Ethiopia and of the many families in the in a rural village living without adequate shelter.  Noel immediately wanted to help.  Her birthday is near Christmas so she saved both her birthday and Christmas money, combining them to buy a house for a family in Ethiopia!

Here is the note she wrote that accompanied her gift:

Noel is obviously a very smart and tender-hearted young lady!  Don't you love how God is at work in the hearts of His children?  They respond so readily when they see a need.  

Soon, I hope to have some pictures to share of some of the families who are recipients of these houses.  (I've put in a special request to the photographer!)  

 Thank you, Noel! 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

These kids bought a house!

Last year, after Mike and Dinah Monahan returned from their first trip to Ethiopia with our Ministry Director, Joy Casey, they gathered the Heritage House staff and shared their impressions of life in Ethiopia and the ministry YWAM is doing there.

One of the HH staffers, Missie Mata, was so moved by their stories that she invited Dinah to come and share a presentation of their trip with the kids in her Awana group at her church in Snowflake, Arizona.

Calvary Community Snowflake Awanas

Dinah showed the children pictures taken in a rural village. There were many shots of children and Dinah explained how these children are from extremely poor families, many without enough food or shelter. Her presentation was very moving and the kids in the group hung on her every word!

At the end of the presentation, Missie stood up and asked the kids if their Awana group would like to purchase a house for a family in this village. They all said, "Yes!" Missie and the Awana director immediately took the money they had with them and started the fund. And then... child after child began coming up to add their money to the fund - one dollar at a time. It was awesome to see the hearts of these kids moved to help children clear across the globe.

On the way home from Awanas that night, one eight year old boy named Braydon asked his mom, "Would it be okay if I give all the money in my penny bank to the kids in this village so they can buy a house? I was just thinking, there is really nothing I need money for and they need it so bad." He brought the money the next week - it was between $35 - $40. He had been saving that money for years. After Braydon shared his story with the Awana group, others brought all their change in as well.


The commander of the Awanas built a little house that looks similar to one of the huts found in Ethiopia. A slit in the top provided a place for the kids to insert their donations and the collection continued over the coming weeks.

It only took about 6-8 weeks to collect all the money (about $400) to provide materials for one house! These kids saved and did odd jobs to earn a little extra cash to bring in. One little girl even colored pictures and sold them to teachers at school (her mom didn't know about it until she brought the money home!). Missie shared that all of the kids loved being a part of this effort to make a real difference in the lives of children and families in Ethiopia!

Way to go
Calvary Community Snowflake Awanas!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Safe Arrival

I was finally able to get a call through to Ethiopia this morning and talked to Joy and Jeff and Abebe (they passed the phone around the dinner table!).  They arrived safely in Addis Ababa on Saturday morning and 'hit the ground running.'  Early Sunday morning, Tezera, Abebe, Joy and Jeff left for the west and are currently in Nekemte.  The team hoped to meet up with one of our families who traveled there to meet the boy they're adopting and who will be returning to Addis today for their upcoming court date. 

Joy promised to try to send me updates - as long as they have an internet connection.  Stay tuned!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Bicycle Gift Ceremony


Back in November of last year, we told you about the 12 evangelists in Gutumuma, Ethiopia who needed bicycles in order to share the gospel over a wider region in that part of the country. Your response was quick and overwhelming! In no time at all, we had all 12 bicycles covered!

Today, I get to share with you some of the pictures of those young men receiving their bicycles!

But first...

I want to present another opportunity for you to take part in an amazing thing God is doing is this part of the country. Each of these twelve men converted to Christianity from the religion that dominates this area of Ethiopia. Now they have given their lives in missionary service to bring the gospel to many villages and towns in the region. Prior to receiving these bikes, they walked many miles to get from village to village.

Most of these men have wives and children. All are living with very little to provide their families.

YWAM would like to find sponsors for each of these evangelists. For $50 per month you can sponsor one of these dear men of God. Here is a snapshot of several of the 12 evangelists.

As Joy discovered on her last trip to Ethiopia, each of these men are raising their families on the edges of destitution and poverty. Yet they are committed to spend their lives to bring many to Christ! Joy wrote of their first meeting:

"The work they are doing is exciting, amazing, dangerous and extremely challenging... and they blew our socks off with the testimonies of lives being changed, churches being birthed in ways I would have thought impossible. We all felt like we stood on holy ground hearing stories like those of the first century church."

We have sponsors for 6 of these men so we only need 6 more people, small groups or families to offer their financial help. If you would like to provide monthly support for one of these men and their family, please contact us at:

Below are the photos of some of the missionaries receiving their bicycles at the "bicycle gift ceremony." (I love how Abebe refers to it - there truly is a ceremonial aspect to the giving of gifts in Ethiopia, almost always accompanied by clapping and singing. These people know what it means to "glorify Him with thanksgiving!")

Abebe (red jacket), YWAM's in-country representative, delivering the bikes. He was overwhelmed at the generosity of so many here in the U.S. for these men he's prayed for and supports.

Just look at those smiling faces looking on!

Bubble wrap still on the tubes!

I'm sure this was his first bicycle - ever!

Abebe told us "They are very much happy
and they thank you very much!"

Even the teacher of the kindergarten was given a bike. Prior to this, he walked two hours each way from home to get to the school.

Thanks again to those of you who gave so generously!  Be sure to contact us if you'd like to sponsor an evangelist!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And they're off!

Today, Joy and Jeff leave for three weeks in Ethiopia.  They'll travel to Nekemte, Gimbie and Dembidollo to visit YWAM's orphanages in those western cities.  They'll also be hosting a donor group that Wick Nease of Streams of Mercy is bringing to Ethiopia.  Visits are planned to introduce our humanitarian work in the villages of T'ede and Gutumuma, as well as the widows feeding program in Adama, the Living Hope Maternity Center, the ministry to street kids in Addis Ababa through YWAM's Mercy Development and the lunch program there. 

I know Joy and Jeff would so appreciate your prayers!  Keep checking back here for updates about their trip!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mission Trip... There's still room!


Have you felt God's nudge to step out of your comfort zone and partner with Him in His plans and purposes across the globe?

YWAM has a missions team going to Ethiopia at the end of March and there is still room for YOU!  As part of this *H.A.N.D.S. Team, which is "Helping A Neighbor, Develop and Serve," you will take part in many service and outreach projects in several cities and villages in Ethiopia.  Included will be:


  • Distributing maize, charcoal and other necessities to very needy families in the village
  • Providing English instruction in the schools
  • Visiting the children YWAM sponsors
  • Helping with construction of a new worship center
  • Building relationships with 12 evangelists working in this village


  • Providing VBS for the community children
  • Participating in the feeding program for the sponsored widows
  • Delivering soccer balls used for sports team evangelism


  • Helping to deliver bio-sand water filters to villagers in desperate need of clean drinking water


  • Doing work projects on the newly constructed Widows & Orphans Home, including landscaping and irrigation
  • Visiting the widows and children in the orphanage
  • Visiting the Living Hope Maternity Home

Addis Ababa Leper Colony

  • Helping with building projects at the local church
  • Distributing charcoal, flour, soap and personal hygiene kits
  • Visiting families in their homes for evangelism, prayer and relationship-building

This trip will be

March 29 - April 10, 2011

For more details, including cost and a mission trip application, go to our Missions webpage or email our Missions Director, Mark Wolbert at

Monday, January 10, 2011

International Adoption Training

This last weekend we offered our second International Adoption Training weekend

All families adopting from Ethiopia are required to take ten hours of adoption education.  This is most often training that is taken on-line.  We are very pleased to be able to offer our local NW families (and anyone else who can travel to one of these weekends!) what we consider to be some of the best information on topics like

  • attachment and bonding
  • medical issues
  • strategies for parenting
  • family dynamics
  • children with a history of abuse
  • grief and loss
  • education
  • language
  • cultural and transracial issues
  • establishing a network of support
  • developmental issues
  • preparing to come home

Boy, we have the cream of the crop in terms of families!  These dear folks spent many hours taking notes, asking questions, listening and responding to a great deal of material.  I'm sure their heads were ready to explode when they left us late Saturday afternoon.  Thanks to all were took part!

My photos are not the best.  I missed several presenters and I didn't even get a group shot of all the families who attended.  But here are a few pictures I snapped...

Sally Carmen

Several families shared who have already completed their adoptions.

Our next training weekend will most likely be in late March or early April - plan to join us if you can!  You will find all the information on our website on the Adoption Education page.

Joy, Liane, Cathy and I had a real treat - we got to stay at the Hedman House Bed and Breakfast on Friday night.  If you're ever in the Puyallup area and need a place to stay, this one comes highly recommended (by us!). 

We were completely spoiled with comfy beds, dreamy sheets, fluffy robes, our own living room with a cozy fire...  Oh, and then when we woke up there was this:

I'm sure I don't need to say any more!  Thank you to the Hedmans for a wonderful stay!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Melkam Genna - Merry Christmas!

January 7 is Christmas in Ethiopia.

We pray especially for our staff in Ethiopia
during this wonderful season.

Christ's message of peace brings all of us hope...
Hope in times of turmoil
Hope in times of waiting
Hope in times of uncertainty
Hope in the Living God!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13
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