Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Mom and Dad At Last!

by Joy Casey in Ethiopia

Galeta is a little boy who was in danger, at the age of five, of being one of Gimbie’s “street boys.”  But a Seventh Day Adventist missionary there got him into YWAM’s Widow and Orphans Home and he has been adopted by a wonderful family in the U.S.  Yesterday, I got to go with Rob and Su Soutter to pick up their son from the transition center to begin their lifelong journey together.  Galeta will join his new brothers and sisters when he flies home on Friday.

Every time I have the honor of witnessing a glad reunion such as this, I realize again just how much of a miracle adoption is.  I think back to the first time I heard of this little boy and then the first time I saw him in our orphanage.  I did not know what the outcome would be for his life or who would step forward to adopt him.  I did not know how long the process would take or how well he would adjust.  I could only rest in the knowledge that God knew all of that and had this boy’s days in the palm of His hand.  Our Lord has blessed Galeta exceedingly abundantly with a wonderful family that God knew he needed and who needed this special boy.  I am forever grateful that I don’t have to worry about the future of the children God assigns to our orphanages to care for.  He already knows exactly the family that He wants for each child.  He knows the bumps in the road to adopting that will be used to refine a mother and father’s relationship with Him.  He knows!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Weekend

Happy Memorial Day weekend!  I hope you're enjoying time with family and friends, maybe watching a parade, visiting a cemetery, barbequing or enjoying a picnic.  We'll all be remembering those who have died in service to our country.  We're so thankful for those serving in our country's military and for their families. 

Here is a photo Jeff took in January of several of the widows enjoying a celebration at the opening of our Widows and Orphans Home in Adama...

I love this picture!

Joy, Abebe, Tezera and Jeff are due back to Addis on Sunday evening.  We're looking forward to hearing about their week in the west and also about any updated paperwork they were able to get for many of our children. 

Here are several links you might find interesting...

@Ordinary Hero Blog
"Research confirms that a huge majority of people—more than three out of every four adults—say they want to make a difference in the world; they want their lives to account for some lasting, positive outcome. But the statistics further point out that most people hold onto that hope as something they may experience in the future; it is not a present reality for them. In other words, many of us do not know the cause that will give our lives genuine fulfillment."

"Claiming is not the same as bonding, they may be part of the same process and flow one from another. Claiming a child is not an emotional issue, it is a decision that doesn't happen gradually. Claiming a child is an unconditional commitment parents make from the beginning."

"While talking with a friend about our adoption recently, she made a comment that adoption just seemed so trendy—all these upper-middle class families running around with their brown babies talking about hundreds of millions of orphans, minus one..."

"Those of us secure and healthy in America must do what we can for them. We can send money; we can sponsor a child; we can help sponsor one of the hole-in-the-wall orphanages. We can lobby our representatives to send the promised aid. We can pay attention to the life of Haregewoin Teferra. What she has to teach us is this: the zeroes in all those enormous numbers are not zeroes at all. They are children."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

YWAM Family Fellowship Night

Saturday, May 21st at the Tacoma Children's Museum we had our second Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia family fellowship night.  Fifteen families were able to join us for a potluck dinner - over 85 people in all!  We had both families who have their children from Ethiopia at home and those who are still in the process.

There was lots of playing...


And connecting with friends - old and new!

I'm not sure how to communicate just how amazing it was to see all of these children from Ethiopia together with their families in one place.  We remember so vividly when each of them came into our care.  There was prayer over each one for a family to love them and give them a future full of God's goodness.  Many of these families experienced agonizing waits, delays and paperwork issues before they brought their children home.  So to see these completed families and many of the children reunited with their friends from the orphanage was a payday for us like no other!  The only thing that could have made it better would be to have had all of our families from across the country join us.

A big THANK YOU to Melissa Lemanski for organizing our fellowship night!! 

Can't wait until we can do it again!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Work and Play

by Joy Casey (in Ethiopia)

May 19
Jeff Burns and Mark Wolbert, YWAM’s Mission Director, have had a fantastic time with a group of people from the University of Kentucky. They are top caliber folks with servants’ hearts. The strong muscles of two strapping UK football players came in handy while landscaping the Widows and Orphans Home in Adama. Palms and other plants were installed to add beauty to the front wall of the newly constructed building. There is much landscaping yet to be done, but we have begun!

Out back, in addition to an existing vegetable garden and some fledgling mango trees, the team got the privilege of planting three special apple trees that one of our adoptive families bought in honor of their baby girl who they are adopting from our orphanage. The garden area is now officially referred to as “Ch’s” garden. (Sorry, we cannot use her name until her adoption is final.) The days were hot and sticky, but the evenings cool off nicely and the satisfied and weary team enjoyed dinner outdoors at the hotel and slept well!

May 21Yesterday was a long day and we were all very tired as we drove into Addis Ababa from our jaunt to a rural village where we have a small kindergarten and are beginning to build a worship center for the new believers in the village. The team from the University of Kentucky brought brightly colored shoes for the children and pop rock candy which they dearly loved! Candy exploding in their mouths was quite a new experience for these village young ones and I couldn’t help but laugh along with them. The team brought soccer balls for the kindergarteners and also gave the government school (grades 1-5) balls. The head teacher was so appreciative!

The team gave a gift of seeds and fertilizer to the elementary school so they can plant a huge garden as a fundraiser to offset school costs. As the head teacher was talking to me about needing this crop to sell to raise money for the school, her predicament sounded very much like those of American schools I am familiar with. The students' parents supply the ox and the students themselves plough the field, work in the fertilizer and plant the seeds. When the crop is mature, they take it to the nearby town and sell it so they can then afford new books and other necessary supplies. Same concept as in America, just done Ethiopian style! Thank you, Kentucky team, for making this plan possible.

As always, the children were the hit of the day and we all enjoyed playing with them. The athletes from Kentucky got a rousing game of volleyball going with some of the young evangelists and older village boys while the littler ones were pushed on the merry-go-round or played on the slide or teeter-totter. Because of the generosity of sponsors, twenty children get a nutritious breakfast and lunch and a half-day of school (it is too hot to have school in the afternoon). And kindergarten is not all play in this stick and mud schoolroom in the middle of an African savannah. They are learning their ABC’s in both English and Oromifa as well as some sophisticated math skills.

The group from Kentucky left today and felt their jam-packed six-day itinerary was rich in every way. They had varied experiences - from urban squalor to working in the orphanage to seeing village life up close and personal. Their hearts were captivated, as mine has been, by the amazing spirit of the people from the great nation of Ethiopia.

Mark returned home safely today, resting up and preparing for his next trip to Ethiopia in June with a team from Virginia Beach, VA.  Joy and Jeff are headed to Nekemte, Gimbie and Dembidollo this week.  Your prayers for all three of these servants are sure appreciated, as well as for our in-country staff who are unquestionably some of the hardest workers on the planet!  Thanks so much for remembering to pray for them!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Patio, Lawn and Garden - NOT!

Today I finally got a couple of emails from Jeff, who is in Ethiopia with Mark Wolbert.  The power has been out off and on (not unusual) and the internet unreliable (also very common) which is frustrating to those of us waiting to hear from them and equally frustrating when you're the one trying to communicate to everyone back home.  But this is reality in Ethiopia and we should be used to it!

Jeff and Mark spent last Saturday and Sunday in Adama preparing for the mission team from Kentucky to do some landscape installation at our Widows and Orphans Home there.  They went shopping for plants and the tools they'll need to get them in the ground.  I think you'll see that this shopping trip wasn't like a trip to the local nursery or the garden aisle at H*me Dep*t! 

Apparently there aren't any sections marked "Perrenials" or "Shade Lovers."  No markers indicating the aisle with the garden tools.  In fact, you go to the back streets of Adama and find a different little roadside shop for each item you want to buy.  Finding those shops is no small task!  One place sells shovel blades.  Another, rake heads.  The guys never did find the 'handle shop' and finally realized that you need to do what the Ethiopians do and find a stick that fits into the tool sleeve.

Buying 25 meters of hose also took a long time.  First, you grab a 50 meter roll and the shop owner starts backing up down the street while another friendly bypasser helps to let the 'hose' out from the roll.  Another helpful stranger offers to unwind the cloth measuring tape from its stick (the guy walking backwards has it along with the start of the hose).  Twenty-five meters puts the guy a long ways down the street!  Look carefully at the photo above - does that hose look like our typical 8-ply heavy duty non-kinking garden hose to you?  I don't actually see any connectors on it!

Mark and Jeff bought lots of plants for the bare dirt areas surrounding the Widows and Orphans Home.  Because Mark's background is in landscape installation, he knows what he's doing in picking out the right plants.  Everywhere they went, Jeff said they were surrounded by onlookers, curious to see what these 'ferengi' (foreigners - mainly Westerners) were doing.  Believe me, most Ethiopians have never thought of purchasing a plant for making their yard beautiful.  They hope to be able to buy some teff to make injera so they can feed their families.

On Monday, the team from Kentucky arrived and after a good night's sleep, they all headed to Korah (the community at the dump in Addis Ababa) to distribute food and coal to families living there.  They played soccer and threw a football with many of the kids who gathered everywhere they went.  These team members are huge football players (and their coaches) who play for the University of Kentucky Wildcats.  Little kids were grabbing their hands to walk with them, completely in awe of their size and stature.  They touched their tattoos and laughed.

The team was able to paint the bathroom that the last YWAM mission team built.  This paint will help keep the metal from turning rusty so fast.  A bathroom in this community is rare.  Every team member pitched in wholeheartedly and absolutely loved being able to serve these impoverished people.

On Wednesday morning the team will leave for Adama and begin their landscape work.  They'll stay there until Friday morning.  Please pray with us for God to use the team and to touch them deeply with Christ's heart of compassion.

(Jeff was having a lot of difficulty sending photos so, for now, the two above will help to tell this story.  If I get more, I'll be sure to add them here!)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mission Team Heading to Ethiopia

Mark Wolbert and Jeff Burns are heading to Ethiopia to meet up on Monday with a mission team from the University of Kentucky.  This team will be working at several different project sites in Addis Ababa and Adama.  They'll be distributing supplies and working on a toilet/shower project with the leaders of the Meskane Church in Korah.  They'll also be doing landscape installation at YWAM's Widows and Orphans Home in Adama. 

Please join us in praying for their safety, for the lives of the team members to be touched by God's Spirit, for God to arrange encounters with the people He has prepared and for Christ's love to be poured out in many ways! 

Lord, as this team reaches out to many people in Ethiopia, use each of the gifts you've given them to serve others - as messengers of Your abundant grace.  Surprise them with Your personal messages to their own hearts.  Show off Your power and Your glory!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Birthmother's Day

Tomorrow, the Saturday before Mother's Day, is Birthmother's Day.  It's a day to recognize and honor those women who made a very difficult and loving choice to place their child for adoption.

In Ethiopia, this decision was most often made because of extreme poverty or illness, leaving the birthmother without any ability to provide food, basic needs or a future for their child or children.  Sometimes the birthmother is deceased and this difficult decision falls to the father or another living relative.

We have heard birthmothers tell us - with tears - that God has answered their prayers in placing their child in a family, giving them the hope and a future that she was unable to provide.  It's almost impossible to comprehend the relief and gratitude that floods their hearts.  Most of us cannot imagine having to make a choice like this. 

Birthmothers hold a very special place in the community of mothers.  I know that this weekend as they receive flowers and gifts of love from their children, many adoptive moms will be thinking of the women who gave them the priceless honor of raising their child.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In Honor of Moms

There is no greater calling than that of "Mother."

Having trouble thinking of what to give the woman who has everything this Mother's Day?  How about giving something that will have an eternal impact?  A gift of any amount given in your mom's name to Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia will help provide the loving care we give to the many children in our orphanages in Ethiopia.  100% of your giving will go directly toward the daily operating expenses of our Widows & Orphans Homes.  We'll be happy to send your mom a card telling her of your donation in her name.  Contact us at support@ywamethiopia.com to arrange your gift.  Thank you so much!

**We are very aware that we have many mothers who are waiting very anxiously to bring their children home from Ethiopia.  Please join us in praying that each one is enveloped in God's tender comfort this Mother's Day and that they'll soon be able to hold their children in their arms.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fantastic Families

I have to take another opportunity to brag about our YWAM families...

We just completed our third International Adoption Training weekend where we got to welcome three families into their adoption journey.  These couples were so much fun to get to know and to spend two days with - talking, sharing, praying, laughing, asking and answering questions.   They are joining the ranks of some pretty awesome people - those families who have chosen to adopt from one of our orphanages. 

We talked a lot about how difficult this adoption process can be.  There is a real spiritual battle that surrounds adoption so we know that families committing their finances, their emotional energy and their hearts to adopting from Ethiopia are also committing to pray and believe through whatever obstacles and disappointments they'll face. 

To bring some encouragement, perspective and practical advice, we invite several couples who have already brought their children home to be part of a family panel.  This time the Nystrand and Sanchez families came to share their experiences, answer questions and show off their darling children!

John and Rachel Nystrand with Cassia and Elisha
Jason and Jackie Sanchez with Ayantu

We also had Anne Kalkbrenner, one of our adoptive moms who is a nurse and teaches the medical portion of our training.  She brought sweet little Blin who is now 2½ and extremely comfortable telling a group of strangers that her favorite color is purple and that she is from "Opiopia!"

We are incredibly honored to work with so many truly top-notch families!
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