Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Man Up and Go movie trailer

"Man Up And Go, a documentary motion picture, is being produced to bring significant awareness to viewers regarding the critical needs of the growing number (50,000,000 currently) of orphans in Africa and the desperate, heartbreaking lives that these beautiful children and people are forced to live... With vastly different lives that contrast and compare, the film will illustrate that simple actions taken by normal people like you and me can produce encouraging, powerful change. Instead of focusing the film's viewers only on the despair and heartache associated with the orphans, Man Up And Go looks to empower, inspire and lift people to act...and one-by-one we can make a difference."

I love the message of this ministry - the focus on fathers.

Man Up and Go: Teaser + Trailer from Man Up And Go THE MOVIE on Vimeo.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bursting with thankfulness

by Joy Casey
written on 2-27-12

Down into the Rift Valley over hill and dale, past camel herds
Camels near Gutu
our van weaving in and out of donkeys burdened with loads
Donkey with load
bunches of cattle and goats moseying across the road, through a bit of road construction, then off the main road with twists and turns along dusty paths… about 4 hours later we pull into our compound at Gutumuma.
Gutu 5 kids and evangelists
Yep, the worship tree is still there!  The children in the small kindergarten are bending over their books learning their numbers, the playground is waiting in preparation for recess and the cooks are preparing lunch for the children.
Gutu 4 excavation
But wait! Something brand new is happening!  A large area is cordoned off, there is a LOT of dirt being shoveled, rebar is laying about and then I spot the contractor that I met in Addis when the contract to build a worship center in this village was concluded.  
Gutu 1 building plans
It is wonderful to see the building begun, and my heart burst with thankfulness to our faithful God and the visionary donors who linked arms with this amazing move of the Holy Spirit here. There are now 250 families who claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior!
Gutu prayer for kids and evangelists
Jamie, Cinnamon and Stephanie, friends from Texas, braved the trip with Jeff and I to this hot, dusty spot to see for themselves what God is doing. Of course the children are always the highlight and visitors are great fun for the children. The kindergarteners are sponsored and receive schooling and two meals a day… and the contrast in health and energy to when they first came is remarkable. Amazing what good, regular food will do for a fella!
Gutu 2 guests & evangelists
The evangelists who live and work in this village were there to greet us, and then Stephanie from Texas brought a word from the Lord to these faithful men.  Abebe and I also shared words of encouragement with them.

With food prices soaring and most of them with many mouths to feed, their monthly sponsorship is not adequate income.  An American family who is deeply committed to the work in Gutumuma has donated money to buy 150 sheep.  All the workers for the ministry plus some other needy families in the village will comprise 10 groups of roughly ten to twelve people to care for 15 sheep. The group will decide how to best generate income from their sheep and, by cooperating together, will be able to supplement their income. Through the donation of sheep or goats from Adoption Ministry’s gift catalog, we are also giving an extra animal to the wives of the evangelists to further help with their needs.

I am grateful beyond expression for the outpouring of love for the people of Ethiopia as expressed in our gift catalog and this is just one example of how impactful those gifts are!
Gutu house building
I wanted to check on the construction of houses in this village, and so we walked to two of them and saw various stages of progress. The people receiving a new house thanked us again and again for this amazing gift, and I pass on their thanks to the people who gave $400 so a family in Gutumuma could have a home that is bigger than a round stick and mud house and is much, much drier.  A luxury!  My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has donated a house through our gift catalog!
Bulabula church
We next visited a church in a town outside Gutumuma called Bulbula. One of the men from a mission team last summer donated money to put a tin roof on the new church they are constructing. The sanctuary was large and roomy and the roof was shiny new. It still needs a cement floor, windows and doors. By faith, I hope to sit in that church and worship one day. I have become good friends with the leadership of that fellowship and they are dedicated shepherds. This building is a tool that will be used to the fullest.
It was dusk and the cool breeze of Addis was a welcome relief from the scorching sunshine we felt during the day. We walked to a nearby restaurant for a snack and cold drink and then thankfully welcomed our beds.
As you think of Joy and Jeff, please pray for renewed strength to finish strong!  They’ll be meeting up with several YWAM families who are now in Addis Ababa for their Embassy appointments, having time with several birth families in the city to pass along photos and letters, and finishing up some work with Kathy Holliday, the case worker from CHI.  They board a plane headed for home on Thursday night!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A good and very full weekend

by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
The days lately have been so full I have all but lost track of time. Today is Monday and this is my last week with the lovely people of Ethiopia. Saturday evening we greeted three ladies from Texas and they will be with Jeff and I through Tuesday. I didn’t give them much time to recuperate from the long flight because yesterday, Sunday, was a busy day indeed!
Living Hope 2
Saturday Jeff and I interviewed and took pictures of families from two churches in Addis for our Adoption Ministry 1:27 program. Sunday we attended the Meseret Christos Church and were warmly greeted by the church leadership and each of us “ferengi” brought greetings from America.

Church 1
Church 5
The preaching was outstanding (we had interpreters) and after church it was fun to greet some of the dear people I had met the previous day. One HIV+ lady who is in bed quite sick and couldn’t come to get her picture taken for AM 1:27, so we met her and her two daughters in her home to take a picture and also to pray with her. After that, we trekked off to Adama to visit the Widows and Orphans Home.
W & O 2
Living at the Widows and Orphans Home are 8 elderly widows who I have become so fond of over the years. In the community of Adama live 16 other widows who have a place to live but are extreme poor so a small amount of money is given to them monthly. Our Mission Director, Mark, has begun to serve them through mission teams by repairing their homes, buying them a mattress to sleep on and supplementing their meager food. They need the help and LOVE the personal attention.
W & O 1
Yesterday, we brought those 16 dear ladies to the W&OH for a feast. It had been almost six months since I have seen their faces and kissed their winkled cheeks and I missed them! Our Texas ladies were enamored with these seniors ….. who wouldn’t be?
W & O 3
W & O 4
It was an honor to serve them their wat and vegetables and just pamper them a bit. One of the community widows died yesterday due to complications of AIDS, so sadly there were only 15 widows.
Leaving the W&OH, we went to one of my favorite ministries -- Living Hope Women’s Center. Two of my best friends in Ethiopia run this maternity home and I couldn’t wait to see them.
Living hope 1
The facility itself is impressive. It is roomy and can accommodate up to 12 women. They have a vegetable garden and raise 100 chickens… they eat what they want and sell the rest. The gals who live there also make jewelry to sell. Dinah Monahan, the American vision behind all this, sells their handiwork all over America through Parties With A Purpose.   Stephanie, Cinnamon and Jamie, our Texas friends, bought several pieces of the jewelry and the rest was packed up to take back with me and all three gals volunteered to host a party when they return home! Most of the babies and mothers in the home have been rescued from abortion and can live at Living Hope for up to a year or until they have saved up enough money (income from jewelry) and have a stable life plan to venture forth as a single mother. The Executive Director and the nurse do a lot of teaching in schools and through Compassion International of child development and abstinence education and they are making a huge impact on their community for life!
Last evening was warm and lovely and after freshening up a bit we met under the stars by our hotel and shared about our lives and then about our eventful day. Monday we head to a village where we have a vibrant work, so the history of that place was shared along with Abebe’s heart for evangelism. It was late at the end of a very long day when we gratefully welcomed our beds.
Let God be glorified in everything …. He is so good!

Monday, February 20, 2012

SOMEBODY has to do it!

From Joy in Ethiopia
written on Feb 15th

Gimbi orphanage
I always look forward to my times at the Gimbie orphanage.  There are ten precious children there and it is fun to see how the older ones have changed and matured and, of course, I am always anxious to see the little babies.  It was a beautiful, warm day and the nannies had the children outside in an area that is mostly covered by an arbor so it is shaded.   Four little babies were laying in a row fresh from their baths and ready to be picked up and played with... well, somebody has to do it!  

Joy hand with babies
While holding and talking to the little ones, the “big kids” (ages 2 and 3) needed their share of attention, too, and soon I was led away to play ball and give and receive hugs from the delightful toddlers.  Life doesn’t get much better than this!  Sometimes adoption work in the states consists of mounds of paper work and constant problem solving and I admit that I can get bogged down with it all.  But today - playing with the children and showing a few of them pictures of their adoptive families - makes all the paper shuffling “real” and most definitely worth it.
Because it was a hot day, after playing for several hours I was a mess and needed something cold to drink.  We had lunch and then had meetings with several birth parents and one birth grandmother.  I have a huge heart for these women who have sacrificed much to see their children in a better place, and showing them pictures of their children happily adjusted to a life they can’t even fathom brings them peace and confidence that they made the right decision for their child.  There is also, of course, some melancholy with remembering and seeing their child, but over and over again they tell me that the pictures bring them joy knowing that their little one is in a good place and has a bright future.  I am extremely grateful for the dedicated adoptive families we work with that take the time to put together pictures or picture books for their child’s Ethiopia family.  It means more than I can express with words! 
Joy with grandma
Joy showing a photo book to an overwhelmed grandmother

In the evening we sat in an outdoor cafĂ© enjoying the cooler air as the sun went down.  When dusk settles into night, the streets are full of people and there is music playing and it is almost a party atmosphere.  Friends greet each other and the coffee shops are full.  Others are just strolling or doing some shopping and it is just fun to be "out and among". 
Jeff, my friend Abebe, and I met with a local pastor and an elder of his church and had a lively conversation about the strategy of {another religion} for Ethiopia and the church’s response to it.  YWAM provided training a year ago for Gimbie church leaders to learn how to relate to this community and strategies for introducing the gospel.  Subsequent to that training, an underground church was started in an area a distance from Gimbie.  Sixty converts are reported and two leaders had radical encounters with the Lord.  Our contacts in Dembidollo are giving a similar training the end of February (thanks to a very generous donor!!) and these two men will attend and continue strengthening the underground church that has been started.  I left my friends energized by the obvious work the Holy Spirit is doing!
It is an early start for Dembidollo in the morning.  No internet available right now in Gimbie.  Here in Ethiopia people accept inconveniences as a matter of life and have the attitude, “Oh well, it will get done when it gets done.”  In some ways I find that restful and then my American need for “instant” kicks in and I fret.  I am learning to rest and not worry over things I have no control over.  I’ll be in touch when I can!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Time in Nekemte

from Joy Casey
written on Tuesday, Feb. 14

Formula to roof CGH 1      Formula on roof - road to Nek

We loaded up orphanage supplies and formula and headed west in our 4WD vehicle. The road from Addis to Nekemte is a long rough one with most of it under construction. The dust was unlike any I have ever experienced before. There were times when a truck would pass us where our car was in a dense cloud of red dust and we would have to wait for it to dissipate before we could go on.

Travel - truck and goats

Dirt road

Upon arrival in Nekemte we were glad to put our feet on solid ground, change our clothes and wash the accumulated layers of dust off. Someday soon that road will be a piece of cake, but right now traversing it is an adventure!

Right after breakfast Tuesday morning, Jeff and I headed to the orphanage. It was so nice to see the dear faces of our social worker, project coordinator and the nannies and they were delighted to get the needed supplies and formula.
Joy and the boys
I was made welcome by one of the more outgoing 2-year-olds who immediately took to me because I gave her a chewable vitamin and a dolly (bribing is okay in my book!) while the 2-year-old boy refused the vitamin and hid behind the nanny. He didn’t start interacting until a soccer ball was brought out; only then did he show us his “moves” by bouncing the ball and kicking it. He is quite coordinated! It is fascinating to observe the differences in personalities and to wonder what each future holds. The other sweet children toddled or crawled around and Jeff got new pictures of everyone as well as video. I introduced two children to their new adoptive families and gave them the gifts their families sent.
It is a gorgeous, warm day here in Nekemte and I am loving the weather! This afternoon we are going to drive to some other parts of the town that we haven’t seen much of so Jeff can get some good pictures and video to give to the families who adopt children from here. YWAM makes a life book for each child adopted from one of the Widows and Orphans Homes, and a CD of all their pictures and a DVD of all videos taken of them over the months is included. We also want to include a DVD of what the town and orphanage looks like.
Nek road sign
Womea along road
Tomorrow morning we leave for Gimbie, a town two hours away. Fortunately, that road is a good one and will be a pleasant drive.
Ciao for now!
From Becky:  I want to let our YWAM families know that the photos they send with Joy to share with birth families mean so very much and the project coordinators, social workers and nannies absolutely LOVE seeing these pictures of the children. A wonderful bonus is that these pictures are also hugely influential in our adoption work. When government officials come to the orphanage, they are shown where the children are and how they are doing. The project coordinator has told us that this shines a very favorable light on adoption and is a huge help in the orphanages’ work in every town we work in. We would appreciate it if even those families whose children have no birth family would make a book of pictures (as some have already done) for the orphanage staff, Joy would be happy to deliver them next time she goes to Ethiopia.

Adoption Book Report

I read a book this last weekend that I can highly recommend to anyone who has adopted, is in the process of adopting or who is considering adoption.  It’s called “Love You More – The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter” and is written by Jennifer Grant. 

love you more

Jennifer is an excellent writer who shares her story of adopting her daughter from Guatemala with transparency and detail – all with a heart to help others who share this wonderful and sometimes difficult journey.  I hope that by sharing some quotes, you’ll be motivated to get the book and appreciate its insights as much as I did.  Jennifer covers so many aspects of and questions about the adoption process.  Here are a few quotes from the book to whet your appetite…

On Divine providence:
“I believe God nudges us toward the people with whom we’re meant to share our lives.  And, sometimes, I think God uses adoption to rip away the curtain that keeps us blind to poverty and suffering.  In finding our children and falling in love with a country far from home, many adoptive parents find a calling to change their lives and serve those whom they have met there.”

On claiming your child as your own:
“When you give birth to or adopt a child, you are in for the long haul.  You must commit to sleepless nights, vulnerability like you’ve never known, and moments when you can’t even wrap your mind around how much you adore your child.  There will also be times when your child’s selfishness makes you think, Who is this nasty little person? and, even worse, times when you can’t believe how brittle and small your own heart is.  But because you know you were meant to be together, you wade through the hard times and know that the good ones await you.  You ask for help.  You admit your faults.  You stop, breathe deeply and count to ten.  And you know that whether the weather is stormy or fair, you are your child’s true parent.”

On the difficult times of waiting:
“Agencies warn you: the adoption process is unpredictable.  Regardless of how diligent they are, agencies are not in control.  Schedules can slip.  Documentation can get lost.  Birthmothers can change their minds.  Foreign governments can close their programs, change their fees or halt all adoptions for indeterminate periods… I had days when I was at peace, certain that our baby would come home when she was meant to be with us.  But more often, I struggled with the wait… Please, please God.  Take care of her until I can do it myself.  Please… Having a child – whether by birth or adoption – is a risk.  No parent is guaranteed an easy time or a child who is healthy or gifted or easy to parent.  There are moments when accepting that lack of control makes being a parent easier – and times when it doesn’t.  But for some adoptive parents, Tom Petty’s line about the waiting being "’the hardest part’ might be true.”

On that adjustment period:
“Why was this happening?  Why couldn’t my three-year-old just use her words and clearly explain the various ways her sister’s homecoming had affected her?  Why couldn’t Mia see that I really really needed her to buck up and get with the system?  No more contrariness.  No more of this possessive behavior.  No throwing food off the high chair.  No screaming in her crib.  In retrospect, what they were going through could not have been more normal.  But at the time, it felt like the end of the world.”

On post-adoption blues:
“On the bright side, all four children seemed to be transitioning well… It was me who, increasingly, didn’t know which end was up…What had I done?  What had become of that confident mom who always knew how to handle her children?  Was I both a bad person and a bad mother?”

On bonding and attachment:
“It took more than months to build complete trust; it took years.  It would be three or four years after her homecoming before Mia awarded me with the same easy trust that I receive from my other children.” 

Jennifer also writes about the ethics and questions surrounding international adoption, about being a transracial family, about how she has shared her daughter’s adoption story with her and with others.

I think you will love this book!

*A happy surprise for me was to find out – in the pages of the book - that some of Jennifer’s dearest friends are a YWAM adoptive family!  Mark and Mary Lewis have adopted four girls from China and are now getting ready to bring home their daughter Sena from Ethiopia.  Their Ethiopian adoption journey has been incredibly difficult and I have so much respect for how they have walked this long, hard road with faith and hope.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

From Joy in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is lovely this time of the year! The mornings and evenings are cool and the days in the 70s. Sunshine greets me every morning. I am used to waking up early and having my quiet time in the Word and prayer. The steeple of the Catholic Church is framed by my window and I delight in watching the morning wake up with the cross emerging as the sky turns light pink until it is silhouetted against the blue of a new day. Jeff Burns is traveling with me, and we enjoy our time together over coffee, tea and breakfast with the sun flooding the room. How can you possibly have a bad day with such beginnings?

Catholic Guest House

We arrived in Addis in the morning and hit the ground running, mainly because we had to keep moving so we wouldn't fall asleep! It might be 9:30 a.m. in Ethiopia, but it was bedtime back home. We met with the contractor that has been selected to begin construction on a worship center in a village where God has moved mightily and there are many new believers. For the past several years, the church has been meeting under a tree that we affectionately call the "worship tree". Through a benefactor and the sacrifice of a small church in Idaho, enough money has been made available to start construction. In a couple of weeks I will be going to that village and will report (with pictures) the beginnings of a permanent place of worship for that area. We also made arrangements for a 4-wheel drive vehicle to take us to the orphanages in the western part of Ethiopia. The roads are so bad that only a 4-wheel drive can navigate them. We plan on leaving tomorrow (Monday).

Girum and Joy
Girum and Joy

Friday, Jeff and I had a wonderful time meeting and getting acquainted with the new YWAM director for Ethiopia. Girum is a solid man of God and it was rewarding to get to know him. I will be meeting my other YWAM friends when I get back from my upcoming trip to Nekemte, Gimbie and Dembidollo.

Kathy Joy Tezera
Kathy, Joy and Tezera

Yesterday, Jeff and I, along with a social worker from Spokane, Washington named Anne and Kathy from Children's House International (the adoption agency who processes adoptions for children in our orphanages), trekked to Adama to visit the widows and children in the Widows and Orphans Home.

Jeff 1

Jeff had a great time behind his camera trying to make shy little ones smile, bringing suckers to the widows (they love "caramel") and helping to unload donated formula. The orphanage director, Kathy, and I had work to discuss, but we took time out to have fun with the babies and to kiss the weathered cheeks of the grandmothers (widows).

Joy & nanny
Nannies scrubs blurred kids 2
Some of our wonderful nannies in Adama

I brought pictures and a few small gifts to several of the children from parents in the U.S. who are on process to adopt them. That is always a great joy for me, and it is such fun to see the nannies ooooh and ahhhh over the pictures of the family that will be for one of their precious charges. I have seen how hard it is for these dedicated nannies to say good bye to children they have raised since infancy, and yet they have the foresight to rejoice when a child gets their very own family to love them forever. 

Flower 2
Today is preparation for leaving early in the morning for Nekemte. Even with the rough roads and lack of amenities, I enjoy getting out of the city and seeing the "real" Africa. Right now, the bougainvillea is a riot of color everywhere and the days are sunny and warm. I get a glimpse into the agrarian lifestyle of the country folk.... young boys herding cows, women washing clothes in a muddy stream, oxen pulling a blade through the soil, women gathering firewood and half-naked children enthusiastically waving at the "ferengi" as we pass by. I will be taking supplies to the orphanages as well as gifts and pictures to many of the children.
I am hopeful to meet several birth parents of children already adopted and in America. Their grateful parents have sent lovely pictures to their child's Ethiopia mom or dad, and what joy and peace a happy picture can bring to a birth parent longing to know how their child has adjusted. Jeff will be taking "millions" of pictures and video of the children. What a blessing he is to our program and to me personally as well. Jeff is a man of God, unassuming, always good-natured, and a friend I can count on through thick and thin.
I am always aware as I travel this beautiful country that I am kissing babies and talking to social workers in proxy for the many families who are waiting for their children. I am also mindful of the faithful ministry partners who sacrifice to make Adoption Ministry's work in Ethiopia vibrant and fruitful. My heart overflows with affection and thankfulness!

Friday, February 10, 2012

ONE Ordinary Mom

Lisa Boyl-Davis is a wife, a mom, an emergency room social worker, a musician and a prayer warrior.  She’s been married to her husband Ted for 22 years and they have four kids, ranging in age from 18 down to 2.  Lisa has never adopted but through a set of circumstances only God could have arranged, Lisa has been raising funds to support YWAM’s orphanages in Ethiopia. 

Lisa BD

“As a little girl, my sister and I didn’t play house, we played adoption agency!  We would line up our dollies and stuffed animals on the bed, I would take little scraps of paper, and fill out one “form” after another when Marcy (my little sister) came in to adopt this baby and that.  I smile now when I think of it, seeing how God has allowed me to help pass on my passion, and raise some money for some of the 6 million orphans in Ethiopia. 

I find it amazing how God has driven me crazy with a desire to help raise money to feed babies and children and to help the rest of the world understand the problem from a the place of the heart and not just the mind.  In saying this, God knows I have little-to-no organizational skills, yet he has surrounded me with people who are filling in those gaps.  He is using a heart even when the skills don’t match up.”

Lisa is such an awesome example of the power of one
  • one busy wife and mother
  • one person who loves to pray
  • one person who likes to problem-solve
  • one person who enjoys helping people do what they love to do (sewing, singing, dancing, art, writing, photography, running, walking, biking, etc…) to help meet the needs of others

She began her fund-raising for our orphanage food budget with a Christmas Alternative Craft Fair in 2011 and proceeds were donated to Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia.  In March, she’s organizing a Concert for the Value of Human Life where a love offering will be taken for YWAM’s orphanage support.  There is a Hoedown planned for May with a Western band playing in a grange hall.  Also in the spring will be a school fund-raiser where kids will get involved.  She even has a Triathlon in the works!

God has honored her willingness and her availability to be used!

Thank you Lisa for responding to God’s urging and for your generous and diligent heart of compassion for orphaned children in Ethiopia!

Monday, February 6, 2012

All their bags are packed

…they’re ready to go!  Joy Casey and Jeff Burns are leaving tomorrow for a three week trip to Ethiopia. 

They’ll be traveling to all four Widows & Orphans Homes as well as to several villages where we do humanitarian work.  Joy will be interviewing many new families who qualify for sponsorship in our “Adopt A Family” program for Adoption Ministry 1:27

Ethiopia map with cities

While internet connections are often spotty, I hope to get updates and post them here on the blog. 

Would you be praying for this trip?  The spiritual battle seems to rage whenever we go there (as it does at all times surrounding God’s work) and we covet the prayers of those who will stand with us.  Pray for physical health and strength for Joy, Jeff and all of our staff, for safe travels and for God’s favor and wisdom in every decision and every encounter.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Good Links


Compassion Is The Answer.  What’s The Question?
@Empowered to Connect
As I read through the pages of scripture there is no escaping the abounding and relentless compassion of God. I am loved by a forgiving and gracious God that is slow to anger, abounding in love and compassion. So too must my parenting be informed, motivated, infused and overflowing with this same kind of compassion.

Your Child’s Adoption Life Story
Experts cite four compelling reasons why children need to know their adoption story and provide tools for telling a child their story, not as a one-time event but an on-going process.

Enjoying This Adventure Called Life
@Show Hope Blog
We started our journey to adopt from Ethiopia in 2009. I can’t say that we were prepared for all the obstacles we would face. Or, the wait…oh, the wait! However, what we learned about our family and ourselves during that time is irreplaceable.

Adjusting to Life After Adoption
@Focus On The Family
The first challenge was surviving the process…  The good news is the adoption process came to an end.  The second challenge has proven to be our greatest challenge: raising a multi-cultural (or transcultural or transracial) family.

Both Ends Burning
We exist to create a culture of adoption and to help facilitate changes in the current system. Adoption can serve as a champion for human potential, and as a responsible society we should be encouraging and promoting the practice of adoption.

And finally, one adoptive dad's assessment of our government's stance on international adoption
@The Carroll Story blog 
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