Sunday, January 29, 2012


by Liane Wolbert
Liane is the Director of YWAM's domestic adoption program - Adoption Ministry of YWAM. She also does homestudies for our local families adopting from Ethiopia. Liane, with her husband Mark, has led several mission teams to Ethiopia for YWAM's many outreaches there.

Berbere-The spice of comfort for Ethiopians
After spending extended periods of time in Ethiopia, we come home with the scent of berbere exuding from our pores and the tips of our fingers. We don't mind - we like it!

When ordering food in a resturant we have the choice of a Western menu or Traditional food. We always have Awaze with whatever choice we make. Awaze is berbere that is mixed with oil and lime and served in a little dish for dipping bread while you wait for the rest of your meal. Awaze takes the place of butter.  Berbere is mixed with scrambled eggs in the morning and with rice.  I really can't think of anything cooked in Ethiopia where it cannot be used (except injera). I have even been offered fruit that was cut up on a platter with berbere sprinkled on the top. It really was tasty!

Many of my adoptive families make sure to visit the spice store to purchase spices and lentil powder before they come home with their children. When visiting homes to complete post-placement reports, I am often told stories about Ethiopian children putting berbere on everything. One family reported that their child put berbere on pizza and spaghetti. After a while they had him try one bite without berbere before eating the rest with a heavy portion of the delicious and comforting blend of spices.

Last weekend Mark and I were visiting the home of good friends who have Ethiopian adopted children and the older girl who loves to cook prepared a traditional Ethiopian breakfast. Our eggs, rice and vegetables were infused with a 'ferengi' portion of berbere. She even prepared the coffee from the clay coffee pot that her parents purchased in Ethiopia. When we were cleaning the kitchen after eating, she snapped the lid of the tupperware container holding two pounds of berbere and placed it in the cupboard next to the sea salt and pepper!

I was chatting with one of our adoptive moms just last week on FB about how her daughter was adjusting, having been in the States just 24 hours.  With jet-lag, brain overload and everything new she was feeling very sad.  Her mama's heart was aching for her, wanting to take away the pain but she knew she could not. Well, it looks as though this mommy was able to comfort her girl in a way that, for that moment, brought some needed relief:

Here's  a short video clip about this wonderful Ethiopian spice:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Adoptive Moms Supporting Each Other

Girls like to get together.  We need to get together!  And when you are navigating the process of adopting internationally and then of doing the hard work of parenting those kids, it is such a blessing to have the support and shared experience of other women doing the same thing.

In the Spring of 2011, a group of YWAM adoptive moms in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area began meeting once a month – to share, laugh, cry and pray.  The women switch off being hosts and of course not everyone can make it each time.  But it has become a really special source of fellowship and strength for these moms, not to mention a fun night out to look forward to!

If you don’t have something similar in your area, consider starting a group!  Haley Ballast wrote a great post for us about how she began this group, with some tips on getting your own group started – be sure to click on this link:


Why step out in faith to start your own group?  Who better to ask than these great moms!  In their own words…

“I've learned that parenting can be a lonely journey, and being an adoptive parent can add yet another layer of isolation... but it doesn't have to be that way! I am so incredibly grateful for the group of adoptive (and soon-to-be adoptive) mamas with whom I gather monthly. They not only open their homes and bake yummy treats, they also remind me that I am not alone. These women have listened to my crazy stories, spoken loving encouragement to my fears and anxieties, and rejoiced with me in the small but significant triumphs of motherhood. I don't know what I'd do without them!” ~ Haley
“This group has created a place for adoptive moms to meet and offer support to each other through friendship and prayer.  It has been a way to meet other parents of Ethiopian children, and to ‘give back’ by being a support and encourager to moms who are waiting for their children to come home.” ~ Wendy
“Being part of this monthly mom's group has been a wonderful thing!  To be with other mom's that are walking, or have walked, this same journey is a great source of encouragement.  Sometimes we share tears, sometimes laughs, sometimes needed advice, and always prayer for each other.  It's nice to have a place to share the joys and the struggles and the other moms who really "get it".  No one claims to have all the answers, and we're willing to walk through things together, as sisters. I am so thankful for this group and would highly encourage others to start one in their area, or find one that is already meeting.  After all, what better excuse to get together with some awesome women!!”  ~ Chris
Sharing the journey with these sweet women is a blessing.  I am encouraged by their  faith and there is a sweetness in these gatherings that is from our God!  It gives us a chance to share our stories and I always learn something that stays with me and often that I can share with another mom.  Together we have funny moments to share that are really great!  It's therapeutic!  ~ Jaci
Our adoptive moms group has been a huge blessing for me! Getting together with other Moms and sharing and learning from each other’s experiences is invaluable. It’s great to get connected with strong Christian women who can lift you up and give you the spiritual encouragement that you need. I’m so glad I got connected with this amazing group of women and I would encourage other adoptive families to do the same! ~ Sarah
During those long and difficult months between Court and Embassy, the prayers and encouragement from the women in this group were an irreplaceable blessing and source of comfort to my aching heart. Since bringing my daughter home, the group has become a place where I feel free to express myself honestly with other women who understand the unique difficulties and blessings involved in bonding and attachment. The camaraderie, tears, support, love and prayers that are shared in this group have already helped me to be a better mom to both of my kids, biological and adopted.  I am excited to see how this group evolves as it continues to be a place for women to find room to breathe, laugh, complain, seek God, and share hugs- all with the purpose of equipping us to be a refuge for children in need of families.  ~ Melissa

As an adoptive parent as well as a first time mom, I am immensly blessed by this group of ladies! It is such a special bond that we share together. Sitting face to face instead of communicating through a computer screen is truly a gift. I find encouragment when I am lacking faith in this journey, a place to cry when no one else quite understands, and probably most important, a safe place to be honest and transparent with women who "get it".  There is no shame in feeling weary and no guilt in sharing grief.  As I learn, sometimes struggle, to become more and more like Christ Jesus, I am blessed beyond measure to be accompanied on this journey with these sisters and fellow mamas.  ~ Jill


Friday, January 13, 2012

Forever, Jewel

forever jewel
We have the privilege of sharing a wonderful children’s book written by one of our very own YWAM adoptive moms, Kate Hannula.  Kate and her husband Todd live in Wisconsin and are the parents of seven children, four of whom are adopted (one from Ukraine and three from Ethiopia).  All of the Hannula’s kids were adopted as ‘older’ children.

Kate’s book, Forever, Jewel is the story of the friendship between her two oldest daughters.  “One dreams of having a sister while the other dreams of having a family.”  In Kate’s own words…

clip_image001[11]We adopted Jewel in 2004 from Ethiopia. It was love at first sight for the three of us, Jewel, Todd and I.  We bonded immediately, and we had such a good time together in Ethiopia.  I did have a moment of fear on the flight home from Ethiopia with Jewel. I thought, “Faith has been our Princess for over four years.  She may have prayed for Jewel for two years, but how is this really going to turn out? What if Faith insists on continuing to be our little Princess?”  I prayed about it right then and the fear subsided as quickly as it came.

Faith was very talkative as a two year old and she had a large vocabulary.  She reported to Todd and I that she was praying for a little sister.  I thought to myself, "My poor daughter is going to have her heart broken when her prayer does not come true!"  But, slowly, God was working on our hearts as well!  And more than a year later, we found ourselves preparing to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia.  How does that work?  God had already placed it in our daughter’s heart before we received it from God!

clip_image002It was love at first sight for Faith and Jewel as well.  They immediately hugged and began playing even though neither knew the other’s language.  They became instant best friends!

clip_image001[9]Their love for one another would turn heads wherever we would go.  Many people would stop to look at the two of them as they were always arm in arm and giggling.  Some would ask,”Are they always like this?”  Yes.  “Do they ever fight?”  No.  “I never heard of such a thing!”  They are a match made in heaven!  God answers prays of the little children!

And so it continues to this day at the ages of ten and eleven.  Best Friends.  A Match made in heaven.  God speaking to the hearts of children and answering their prayers to perfection.

It is our prayer that our book touches your family in some way. And that you also may experience greatness when you hear and listen to the voice of God.



Faith Hannula wrote the following last year for her 5th Grade Original Speech:

clip_image001[13]Six years ago, was the happiest day of my life. God blessed me with the greatest gift of all, a sister named Jewel. My family adopted Jewel when she was three and I was four. She is the love of my life. Jewel means everything to me. I prayed and prayed for a sister. I couldn’t ask for a better one. Sisters are a gift, because they’re always there for you. They’re someone to lean on in times of trouble and a shoulder to cry on. They become your best friend.

Adoption made our family realize the amazing love God has for His children. He finds the perfect family for each and every one of His beautiful children. The best day of my life was when my mom and dad brought Jewel home from Ethiopia here to me. I didn’t quite understand all of it at first, but when I learned that Jewel would be my sister and friend for the rest of my life, I was so happy. Jewel didn’t speak any English at first, but that didn’t prevent us from talking and playing with each other. We crossed the language barrier and became best friends.

Jewel and I love each other. We sleep together, play together, get our pajamas on together, brush our teeth together, and we pretty much do everything together. When my mom tells one of us to do something, the other one will do it, too. Even through hard times, like relatives dying, we lean on each other for help. A sister is always there for you and with you.

God knew in the beginning that we were meant to be together. He had an amazing plan for our lives. Some gifts can’t be put in a box, or be wrapped up. The greatest gift of all might just be a blessing from God, or, in my case, a sister. God has an amazing love for me, for Jewel, and for each one of us. Jewel is by far the greatest gift I have ever received.
You can order the book on the Faith and Jewel website/blog:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Links for You


@We Have Room
My life is not my own. For nearly five years now, that has been both our mantra and our testimony as our family has followed the heart of Jesus to the heart of the orphan. We are thankful for the sweet, intimate way God has carried us through it all. We have witnessed the wonderful. Walked the unimaginable. Experienced the painful. Praised Him for the provision. We have rejoiced in the miraculous. We have been filled only to then be poured out. We have given our all, only to receive His all. We have been broken, and we have been mended. We have been horrifically hurt and wounded, but also deeply loved and defended. We have celebrated and we have mourned. And all along the way, we have beheld His glory. His indescribable, unmistakable, irreplaceable glory...

@Bring Love In
I want to propose something that I have been thinking about today. It is sort of a new way of looking at things. One that I hope you will challenge, test and perhaps even adopt a little of into your own life...

@This I Believe
I believe in adoption because of its intentionality; because of how it changes lives; because of the way it puts skin and bones, laughter and tears on the whole idea of hope...

@Babe of My Heart
Have you ever been there? When your heart longed for something? When you were certain you heard His voice? You thought hearing His voice meant NOW? So much so, that you jumped–you followed–and then you heard WAIT...

@One Thankful Mom
Today I want to tell you the most profound and only important story of my life. If I had to give it a title, it would have the word 'redeem' in it, because Jesus has gone into the grimy corners of my life and redeemed it all...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Melkam Genna in Washington!

If only every YWAM Ethiopia adoptive family could have joined us yesterday to celebrate Christmas!  (You can read about another YWAM family Genna celebration which took place in N. Carolina here!)  As many local families as were able met at Lighthouse Christian Center in Puyallup, Washington for a family potluck lunch and celebration. 

There was lots of preparing…

Haley made Key Wat – a spicy beef stew

Haley 1

She had lots of help!

Haley 2

Jackie made Doro Wat – a spicy chicken stew that is the Ethiopian national dish.

Jackie 1

She had a helper too! 

Jackie 2

Hannah Schmick made a delicious version of kitfo – we were happy to know that she cooked the beef!

Hannah 1

Joy Casey, our ministry director, welcomed everyone.  We had about 70 people in attendance!


Then it was time to eat!  In addition to the traditional dishes mentioned above, families brought salads, desserts and popcorn.





Liane Wolbert planned some crafts and games for the kids… 


including a rousing game of MonkeyMonkeySnake (DuckDuckGoose):


What a blessing to gather with all of these families to celebrate Christ’s birth and also what God has done and is doing to put children in families.


If you thought it was difficult to get a good Christmas photo of your family, imagine getting everyone in this group together!  But we did it!!  First, all the kids…


And then, all the families…


Thanks to Mark and Liane for all of your hard work making this event such a success!  Thanks to Lighthouse for providing such a great facility.  Thanks to Jeff Burns for capturing these moments for us.  Thanks to everyone who came and we missed all of you who couldn’t be with us. 

And a special thanks to those who stayed to help us clean up!



Thursday, January 5, 2012


by Joy Casey
Director, Adoption Ministry

We ended 2011 rejoicing in the huge success of our gift catalog. $12,000 worth of goods and services have been purchased to help the extremely poor in Ethiopia.

soccer balls

Children will have soccer balls and shoes, water filters have been installed, small businesses are started and women will receive surgeries that will drastically change their lives.


We will expand our feeding projects, and animal husbandry with goats and sheep can bring much needed income to many poor families. It is an indescribable joy to see a blind woman receive the gift of sight or to watch the eagerness of a family when a bio sand filter is installed in their home.


God will bless each person who sacrificially gave so hope can be kindled in lives living in a country far away on the other side of the globe.

To view our Gift Catalog, go to our website:


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Much Praise!

In 2011, 30 YWAM families passed court and officially became forever families for 31 children from Ethiopia. Not all are home yet with their children so we continue to pray for their cases to clear the US Embassy process.

When our staff sees photos of these precious children surrounded by loving parents and siblings, a deep feeling of gratitude and praise rises in us. We've known their stories - of abandonment and rescue, of loving but desperate birthparents who have sacrificed to make a plan for their child's future - and we've seen little faces and bodies change from hungry and weak to healthy and strong. It is miraculous how God's plan for them has come about right before our eyes!

Here are just a few of the children God placed in families in 2011...

(To our YWAM families: If your photo isn’t here, I’d love to add it! Please send me an email with a jpg attachment!)



Pelland fam


2011-12-25 09.08.34

Lori and Feyisa


Porter fam




Lord, You have faithfully watched over and directed the adoption plan and timeline for each of these, Your children.  Your plans are good.  Your ways are right.  We commit to continue the battle for these precious ones.  And we give You much praise!!

I know the One in whom I trust and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him.     2 Tim 1:12
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