I love this time of year when we turn toward giving thanks. For years now we have had a construction paper tree that Christy puts up on our wall around November 1st. Our nightly ritual is then to write on a paper leaf something that we are thankful for and hang it on the tree. As our family has grown, it means that the tree gets fuller and fuller every year with everything from “food” to “family” to “EHE” to “Church” to the names of both old and new friends on it. It helps us to refocus and recenter on gratitude.
For me, that is the beauty of the Fall Season. A time to refocus on gratitude towards God for all He has done and is doing. A season that leads us into advent where we refocus on the greatest of gifts in the coming of Jesus.
I thought I’d list out a few of the things we are thankful for here in Ethiopia as we enter into this season. I’d love to hear your list, too.
We are thankful that we now have the privilege of serving 196 Children and their Moms. To see hope in their eyes means so much. God has blessed us so hugely at EHE.
We are thankful that the Moms are not just being served, but they are growing in dignity and initiative. We recently took a survey and found that out of the 111 families who have been in the project for at least one year, 95% of them now have a savings account. The average amount they have saved is 1,832 ETB or about $92 USD per family. This is a huge change given that they came into the project with virtually nothing.
We are thankful for the privilege of educating over 100 children in our school, who otherwise would not have a quality education. The number one dream that Moms in EHE have for their children is that they would be educated. Now it is happening before their eyes and they are filled with gratitude, too. (To view a recent video of our school, visit http://vimeo.com/111960062)
We are thankful for the ways we see children and Moms growing holistically. Despite huge issues such as malnutrition, blindness, HIV, TB, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, infections and disease, children and their moms are becoming physically healthy and growing in strength. While once having no one, now these moms have each other and community is building among them and a safety net is developing. While many Moms once had no skills and were illiterate, now many have started to learn to read and write and others are being trained with a skill or working towards a micro-grant. And all the while, Moms are seeing a glimpse of who Jesus is and His desire to know them informally day to day and formally through Embracing Hope Spiritual Ministries.
We are thankful that we’ve been able to provide dignity building jobs in jewelry making for moms with special needs within the project. But we are thankful that it doesn’t stop there. We now have Moms being formally trained in Hairdressing and Tailoring, We have Moms who are being trained to start their own injera business and french fry stands. We have other Moms that soon will be trained to start their own cafe. We have other Moms who will soon be trained to start their own businesses in petty trading. And there are more opportunities to come.
We are grateful for an amazing staff who give their all here in Ethiopia. Many of our staff could choose to work somewhere else in the private sector and make much more than they do working with us. However, they are committed to seeing the lives of Moms and Children changed. We are grateful that they see their work through the eyes of ministry unto God. They are the greatest of gifts to us.
We are grateful for an amazing US Board who continues to look with eyes of faith and wise stewardship. Their hearts to see more Moms and Children served is remarkable.
We are grateful for a great church here in Addis Ababa that we get the privilege of serving in. IEC continues to grow and it is a unique expression of the nations gathering for worship. With fresh eyes toward the future we are dreaming of ways to see God’s Kingdom multiplied through IEC’s ministry throughout the capital city and beyond. It is an exciting time.
We are grateful for how God has added to our family. Now with our 6 children, we are filled with joy. Our 6 kids are outstanding and we love watching them grow in all areas of life – especially as they relate to God and others. We are blessed.
And finally we are grateful for you and how you have continued on this journey with us. We’ve now officially been in Ethiopia over 5 years and what a ride it has been. God has used you as an encouragement to our family and to make a difference in the lives of Mothers, Children and Staff at EHE as well as in the lives of folks at International Evangelical Church – Addis Ababa.
Thank you for your encouragement and support. We are grateful for you.
We have such great teachers at EHE. These women not only teach the children, but they love on them, too.
Today we are sharing a video of one of our teachers, Etenesh, teaching a class about the number 5.
Enjoy and perhaps learn some basic Amharic, too.
We are grateful for the ways you have helped to preserve families, prevent orphans AND see the next generation educated.
We all know that education has great benefits. We think of education as assisting in the breaking of cycles of poverty, opening up new opportunities, releasing creativity and creating productive citizens.
However, could education also transform the way a Mother looks at her children?
Today I heard about 2 moms who at a recent closing ceremony for last school year were overcome with emotion as they saw their children holding their report cards.
Paraphrased, The one Mom said, “Friends always told me that because of my poverty, I should get rid of my daughter and keep my son. They encouraged me to abandon her, kill her, do anything – just get rid of her. But now, I see her holding that report card and I see her value.” She was so grateful that she never listened to those friends.
Another Mom choked out how she had unsuccessfully tried to abort her child chemically numerous times because she was so poor. Her child survived. Now, she beamed with pride as she saw her child’s accomplishment in completing her first school year and she was so glad that her child had lived.
She was not a burden, but rather a gift.
Bringing value. Instilling hope. Changing mindsets. What an encouragement to see what God is doing in the lives of Mothers and their children. What a privilege we have to not only provide Day Care, but to also to have a school where children can be educated year after year.
Thank you for partnering with us in this work. And, if you have not yet joined in, please check out our family sponsorship page where there are a number of families whom you can partner with – www.EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com/sponsorships/
Orphan Sunday is right around the corner! Would you consider highlighting Embracing Hope Ethiopia this Orphan Sunday, November 2nd?
We believe that there is a biblical mandate to care for the orphan and we love watching as people respond to that call through adoption and orphan care. As adoptive parents of 3 children we firmly believe in answering the call to adopt orphans and providing families for those who have none.
At the same time right there in James 1:27 is a call to care for the orphan AND the widow. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” We believe that while adoption provides one answer to the call put forward in James 1:27, there are many other different facets to it. One response is what EHE does daily through our holistic family intervention project, where we keep families together.
The children we serve would be orphaned if there was not someone to partner with their families. The mothers we serve are widows in a sense that they have been widowed, divorced or abandoned with no one – no family, no child support and no community – to care for them. Through partnership in family sponsorships, and the other ways our donors generously give, we are able to see their families preserved and orphans prevented.
This Orphan Sunday we have some very practical ways that your church or organization can get involved. Actually we have 130 very practical ways. We have 130 sponsorship slots still remaining for the 74 newest arrivals into our holistic family intervention. Would your church consider getting involved?
To make it possible, we have brochures about what we do, family sponsorship brochures and videos about how your church can make a difference in preventing orphans and preserving families.
Drop us an email at info@EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com and we would love to get as many materials into your hands as you can use in helping to spread the word and helping others to engage in James 1:27 ministry this Orphan Sunday!
One of the ways that your sponsorship makes a huge difference in the lives of children are in their medical care and nutrition. Over the years we have had so many scenes of children literally coming back from the edge of death and disability as a result of better nutrition and medical care.
Dehydration, Protein Deficiencies, Severe Malnutrition, Watery Diarrhea. Problems that are not often heard of in the West, but that become life defining where we are working. Add to that Tuberculosis, HIV as well as simple infections that increase the likelihood that a child is going to be orphaned. Add to that two newborns that were added to the project whose moms died during childbirth. Without simple infant formula, which their caregivers could not afford, they would have perished. All of these needs can be addressed through simple interventions focused on bringing individual care.
This is where our staff come in. They do an amazing job of nursing children to health. One staff member who does this on a daily basis is our nurse, Sister Seble. She is focused on seeing children made healthy again. And every time we add new children to the day care we are faced with new health issues that she and the rest of our team must find ways to tackle. Here is an excerpt from a recent email she sent to me (I edited it some for confidentiality reasons).
“we have almost 15 children who are under weight from the newly coming. Some of the the children are severely malnourished . Two weeks back Alayu bought the plumpy nut & I was started to give it as a treatment for rehabilitation 2 times per day . The other report is we have two children HIV positive including their mother. Both Children are under 1 year old. They have follow up we will hope there result will become negative after 18 months. Another child who is 1 1/2 has a history of congenital heart disease (CHD). She has started follow up. I took her for a ECG.ECO & other lab investigation and the diagnosis is AST. Currently she didnt need any medication but in the future she needs surgery but it is not an emergency case.”
Here is where family sponsorship comes in. Your sponsorship of a family provides us with the necessary funding to provide interventions for families such as these. Without intervention, those who are severely malnourished would not make it. Without intervention, those who are HIV+ moms would get sicker and sicker and one day orphan their children. Without intervention, HIV+ children and those with diagnosis such as CHD would not get the medical attention they need. Without intervention, children who face injury (such as one who recently fell into a cooking fire and was badly burned) would not receive the critical care they need.
But, its about more than funding. We believe that family sponsors praying for the families they sponsor is a critical piece. We know The Master Physician who can bring relief, comfort and healing. We know the One who can heal AST and who can make a positive HIV case suddenly negative. We know The One who brings hope to those struggling with severe malnutrition and gives them the will to eat and to live.
Thank you for the ways you have chosen to sponsor – your sponsorship truly brings life saving and life changing results. Please help us to keep spreading the word for the families who are not yet sponsored, so that we may be able to not only serve them, but also extend hope to the many who we have to turn away.
You can direct them to the families in need of sponsorship at www.EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com/sponsorships/
As we have traveled in the US these past few months talking about Embracing Hope Ethiopia, I have been struck by how similar some of the issues that the Families we work with in Ethiopia are to issues that families in the West face.
One of those core issues is – Who is going to take care of my child so that I can go to work? How will I be sure that my child is given a safe, clean place where they can grow socially and cognitively? How will I be sure that my child is given a head start in education? How will I be sure that my child is given opportunity to mature holistically?
While the Moms we work with may not be able to verbalize all of those concerns, they have them. They face a challenge – if there is no one to take care of my child, then I cannot work and as a single Mom, there is no one else to help me.
In many ways, the story of Banchi pictured here, is not that much different than many other Moms stories. She needs someone to care for her child so that she can go to work.
We now have 74 new Moms and their children whom we get the privilege of being that one that helps. We get to care for the child so that Mom can go to work. We get the privilege of setting Mom at ease that her child is going to grow holistically while she can get the employment and education to provide for her child.
However, we need your help. We are putting out a challenge to Day Care Centers and Preschools to consider pulling together to partner with these families through family sponsorships. You understand their challenges. You understand how to pray for these Moms and kids. You have children who are common ages and you have dreams for them very similar to what these Moms have.
As a Mom or Dad of a Preschooler, please put a challenge out to others in your Day Care or Preschool or MOPS group to consider pulling together to sponsor a family. Sponsorships start at just $34 per month. You can view the profiles of those families needing sponsored at www.EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com/sponsorships/ . Take a look and invite others to join in. With just over 140 family sponsorship slots remaining, we need your partnership.
Thank you for partnering with Moms and Children. Partnering with them through sponsorship changes lives.
After having driven over 9,338 miles in 2 months time and spoken to over 54 different groups of people, our time on the road is coming to a close. It has been a great home assignment and our family has met so many amazing people along the way. These people have been so receptive to the work that EHE gets the privilege of doing alongside the poorest of the poor moms day after day. These folks also warmly received our family time after time.
As I reflect on the people we have shared EHE with, there are 5 things that stand out to me about the people we have shared meals, living rooms and auditoriums with.
1. Jesus people love to give sacrificially.
It was a wonderful sight at the Sponsorship Table day after day as folks began to process how they might be able to make their finances stretch in order to partner with vulnerable families through family sponsorship. We overheard children say to their parents, “Mom and Dad. We spend way over $34 to take our family out to eat. How could we not give as a family to sponsor a family.” We saw kids make donations of change that was a tithe on their piggy banks. We engaged families who committed to prayerfully consider what they might do as they discussed with their spouse about giving. One complete stranger even gave me $20 in the Walmart parking lot for gas when he saw our window stickers about Embracing Hope. People love to give. They know the joy of giving to the poor and they love participating with God and reflecting His character through giving.
2. God has put Orphans and Widows on people’s hearts.
Everywhere we met, there were people to whom God was already speaking about the need to care for widows and orphans. God has been preparing an army of people who are able to see the invisible, the nameless, the faceless. God has brought to mind the poorest of the poor who are at the end of the line. People are praying and looking for ways to get involved. Others were allowing the issue to go deeper into their hearts as they met us in the lobbies in tears – deeply touched about the stories of perseverance and persistence and God’s rescue. We met women who are sewing outfits and blankets for orphans. We met groups who had adopted and now are looking for how to now prevent other orphans. We talked with people who are praying and considering about how God might use them to care for the most vulnerable. It is so wonderful to see God’s heart actively beating among His people to see the poor reached through the Good News of Jesus in word and deed.
3. Churches are wrestling with how to most effectively “Do” Missions.
It was so great to see how churches are getting involved in missions. Churches no longer feel comfortable in being disengaged and just sending money. At the same time, churches are wrestling with the desire to see indigenous, local, grassroots missions. Churches are refusing to be impressed by “numbers” and instead are wiling to see people transformed from the inside out over the long term. Churches are refusing to just get on board with “sexy” Missions that look good and give a feel good result to the participants. Churches are wrestling with the harm that is done at times through teams that are sent. Churches are wrestling with how to trust those who do missions on the ground Some have been burnt in the past, but courageously being led by the Holy Spirit are asking how they might trust again. It is beautiful to see this wrestling and refusing to come to quick and easy answers. They are engaging in the messiness of missions – I love it. I believe this process of discernment to be so healthy as disciples are made here in the West through this process, too.
4. The Gift of Hospitality is still very much in action.
I cannot express how grateful we are to the dozens of people and churches who opened their homes to us. People gave of their time, their energy, their money and their comforts in order to make sure we were fed things we enjoyed, that we had as much space as we needed and that we were loved on and cared for. It was absolutely humbling. In location after location we had families give up their beds so we had a place to sleep. People went out of their way to give us a place of refuge. Others put us in hotels so that we could feel we had privacy as a family. Others put money in our hands on the way out the door with a command – “This is for your family – this is not for the organization. Have some fun along the way.” Some of these folks are old friends of ours. Others are newfound friends. All along the way, they shared the love of Jesus and the Gift of Hospitality. Thank you!
5. We were again reminded of all that God has done and continues to do.
Time after time when we shared the stories of Moms and Children or the growth that EHE has seen, people would remind us of all that God has done in such a short time. When we are in the trenches we don’t see it. However, people on the road helped us to see once again how only God could do a work like this. The favor we have had. The provision we have seen. The transformations that have occurred. It could only be a God thing. That was a great reminder to us of how blessed we are and what a privilege it is to serve in Addis Ababa with an incredible God given staff and in partnership with The Incredible God.
Thank you to the many of you who shared your lives with us on this road trip. We are blessed to have gotten to spend time with you. Thank you for believing in the work that God is doing among vulnerable Moms and their Children.
Soon I’ll post about how stinking awesome my family has been in making this adventure one that we’ll always remember…
Want to know why we spent 2 months in a van and drove over 9338 miles? Check out www.EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com/sponsorships/ where you will find a number of families in need of sponsorship. They are why we do what we do.
We’ve been on the road for about 6 weeks now and meeting so many amazing folks who are finding out about EHE and getting involved. We are now heading into North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania, We’d love to see you at one of these upcoming events. Come learn more about orphan prevention and family preservation.
August 23 – KERNERSVILLE, NC
1758 Brittany Ridge Drive, Kernersville
August 24 – KERNERSVILLE, NC
FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH KERNERSVILLE
9:45 am – Sunday School Class
1130 North Main Street Kernersville, NC 27284
August 24 – GREENVILLE, NC
4000 Corey Rd, Winterville, NC 28590
August 25 – NEW BERN, NC
303 Belle Oaks Drive, New Bern, NC
August 27 – ASHBURN, VA
21800 Iannis Spring, Ashburn, Va
August 28 – PHILADELPHIA, PA
WEST PHILLY VINEYARD
123 S. 51st street, Philadelphia
August 30 – MEDIA, PA
BLUE ROUTE VINEYARD
425 West Front Street, Media, PA 19063
August 31 – CHESTER SPRINGS, PA
CHESTER SPRINGS VINEYARD
614 Fellowship Rd, Chester Springs, pA 19425
August 31 – POTTSTOWN, PA
COVENTRY CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN
946 Keen Road, Pottstown, PA 19465
September 5 – EAST PETERSBURG, PA
EAST PETERSBURG MENNONITE CHURCH
6279 Main Street, East Petersburg, PA 17520
September 6 – MILLERSVILLE, PA
ZION CHURCH OF MILLERSVILLE
317 N. George Street , Millersville, PA 17551
September 7 – MILLERSVILLE, PA
ZION CHURCH OF MILLERSVILLE
9am Sunday School; 10:15 Worship Service
317 N. George street , Millersville, PA 17551
September 7 – LANCASTER, PA
LANCASTER VINEYARD CHURCH
Cookout held at 179 Donerville Rd, Lancaster, PA 17603
September 21 – WELLSBORO, PA
WELLSBORO VINEYARD CHURCH
held at First Presbyterian Church
130 Main Street Wellsboro, PA 16901