|Bernard, James, Frank, & Gideon at Canaan Children's Home|
Here's a summary of our trip.
We'll blog more about each ministry shortly.
Thursday July 14
Our super early flight from
Friday July 15
We land in
Saturday July 16
After breakfast we drove down the road to Amazima Ministries started by Katie Davis (check out her blog here). We played with the kids on their new enormous playground, worshiped with them and helped serve them lunch. We got to meet Katie Davis and she spent time talking with us and sharing her story. That evening we took a boat ride from Lake Victoria to the source of the
Sunday July 17
Sunday morning at Canaan we broke up into groups and had Sunday School lessons for different age groups. Our group learned about creation and we made lion masks. The kids had a lot of fun. Then the adults went to worship. After lots of singing we sat down to hear Pastor Isaac's message. He went off on us fat, lazy, privileged Americans and all of our luxuries. He said how we have so much stuff. It was a little comical at first, but then I'm thinking, "Ok I get it! You can stop beating us over the head!" Then he went on to say how special we all were because we left all of that comfort to come visit them for 2 weeks. They really appreciate our visits and the love we pour out on the children.
After church and lunch, we spent a while organizing all of our donations. Whew! We each had two 50 lb bags and most of it was donations. We’ve since decided that less is more. We’d rather take money to spend in-country for donations or for multiple teams to save toward a larger item that the orphanages really need. It was a pain to haul all that luggage around between two countries and then get taxed on our donations in
We spent the rest of the day playing with the kids and buying magazine bead necklaces that they helped to make. They were so excited to see us buy some of their handiwork!
Monday July 18
Yay! Our 13th Anniversary and we’re in
Or so we thought. Our driver took us to M2 instead of M1 (we can’t name the prisons to protect the children). Since we weren’t able to be there without Moses, the in-country director of Sixty Feet, we had to leave and check into the guest house. My heart sank because I really wanted to visit these children!
Pastor Samuel from Return Ministries Uganda was able to come by for dinner and share his testimony afterward. Then Moses of Sixty Feet came by to share his. I hung onto every word! I was so heartbroken for these children!
Tuesday July 19
Through divine appointment 9 of us were able to fit in Moses’ van and visit M2 & M3 while the rest of the team went to Return Ministries. For Bill and I it was the day that opened our eyes and hit us the hardest. We are forever changed.
M2 is a prison for 12-18 year olds. Yes, I said a children’s prison. Their crimes range from petty theft all the way to murder. 165 kids all in a place designed for 50. M3 is a government ran home for discarded children 8 and under. These are babies found in trash cans, children abandoned on the street, children whose parents are in jail, and children with handicaps. M3 has 175 kids with only 3 staff. We were shocked at the conditions. We will focus on Sixty Feet in a future post. They are doing amazing work.
Wednesday July 20
The whole team heads to Return Ministries to lead VBS and serve lunch. I’ll admit that after seeing the kids in prison the previous day, my heart was not into serving the kids at Return. Though they still had very little, they had so much more, in comparison. I prayed for the Lord to give me an attitude adjustment and then this sweet girl, Samalie came over and sat next to me. She was such a sweetheart and such a blessing! We were friends the rest of the day.
That afternoon we said goodbye to
Thursday July 21
The team headed to Korah where we spent the day learning about Project 61 ministries (this was started by a past VO team member, Summer Yates). We met the minister of Great Hope Church who partners with P61. Our team broke into groups and did VBS with the kids. One group each did crafts, singing, and Bible stories. Then we were given the privilege of serving injera and wot to the kids and also some of the local lepers. The latter were unable to really feed themselves due to the ravaging effect of leprosy prior to modern medicines.
After we finished with lunch we broke into smaller teams for home visits. We visited a woman who was suffering from TB and HIV while trying to find ways to feed her two children. We prayed with her for health and that someone would sponsor her two children. We then walked through Korah to the Alert hospital which serves the Korah community and has free medicine for HIV and TB. The lepers at the hospital make textiles and rugs to sell to visitors.
After leaving the Alert hospital we stopped to do some quick shopping and buy some Ethiopian coffee. Everyone raved about how good it was & Sarah bought a bunch for herself & friends back home.
Friday July 22
The team packed luggage into the vans because we were changing guest houses. After we were all checked in we spent the rest of the day at Restoration Orphanage. This is an orphanage that recently moved from Korah to a better area in Addis Abbaba. The orphanage was in good shape and had quite a few staff to help with the roughly 45 babies and children. But we found out that was not the case just a few months ago. A transformation had occurred in large part because of the efforts of Ashli York and Ordinary Hero. They had cleaned the facility and helped get clothes, toys, and formula for the orphanage.
In the evening we had a traditional Ethiopian dinner. We have both had the cuisine before but it was a new taste for most of the team. We enjoyed delicious food while performers were on stage in traditional costume singing and dancing. The evening was capped off with a coffee ceremony in which Bill drank his first ever whole cup.
Saturday July 23
The team spent the day at an America World Adoption Transitional Home painting a mural and loving on the kids. Some team members walked a few blocks down the road to a second AWA Home and helped with laundry and disinfecting baby toys. All of the children at these sights are in the process of being adopted. Our mural was on a wall in the courtyard and featured a big tree, flowers, and butterflies. Because the paint had to dry we knew we would be coming back to finish in a few days so the drivers helped us hang a tarp above the mural (it was the rainy season). The drivers and translators were awesome the whole week and took great care of us.
Sunday July 24
We headed to Beza International for their 11AM service. On the drive we went right past the actual garbage dump that people in Korah dig through to find food and items they can sell. Even at a distance we could see people on top of the garbage everywhere. We did not get to see the dump in person on Thursday so this was our first time observing what happens there every day.
The service at Beza was in English and the worship was awesome. After church we ate lunch at the guest house and then drove to Entoto Mountain. This is just outside Addis and the change from urban clutter to wide open beautiful mountainside was amazing. We toured a very old Greek Orthodox church and just had a chance to breathe in God's creation (and clean air, Addis does not seem to have any emissions laws).
After we drove back down the mountain the team grabbed dinner at a restaraunt featuring ... American food. We were the only two that still grabbed Ethiopian food :)
Monday July 25
A day to follow up on loose ends! We returned to AWA and some team members finished the mural while others just hung out with the kids. Then we hopped in the vans and returned to Restoration with some additional donations and baby formula. We found out that they only had enough for the next meal and really do see God's provision as often formula arrives right as it is needed. We had a little time to play with the kids and then we headed back to Project 61 in Korah.
We had baby formula to donate to P61 as well. While stopping at P61 we were able to walk next door and see Mission Ethiopia. They teach local women how to make clay beads for necklaces and bracelets. The women form the beads and fire them. The income they earn allows them to feed their families and send their children to school. It was great to see the happiness on many of the woman's faces.
To finish this night off the guest house provided a traditional coffee ceremony after dinner. Then Mission Ethiopia held a "bead party" at the guest house so everyone could make custom jewelry by stringing the beads they selected. During the bead party we learned more about what Mission Ethiopia plans to do in Korah.
Tuesday July 26
Our last day in Africa. The morning started with a visit to the Fistula Hospital in Addis. A great documentary was made about this hospital called "A Walk to Beautiful." Our team had assembled 150 gift bags that would be given to the women at the hospital. The property was beautiful and the work they do is incredibly life changing.
Once we finished our tour of the hospital we grabbed lunch at Kaldi's. They tried to get a franchise deal with a certain American coffee chain I typically call Fourbucks and were denied. So they just made awesome coffee and food restaurants anyway that are very similar but different.
The team headed back to the guest house to grab dinner and showers before our long trip home. We headed to the airport where to our surprise the bag full of necklaces was waiting. We departed Addis Ababa at 10:15 PM for the States.
Wednesday July 27
The flight arrived at Dulles at 8:40 AM. We did the customs thing and then had to recheck our luggage. Since we had one of the first flights out we said our goodbyes and headed to our departure gate. We took off from Dulles and arrived in Indianapolis at 2 PM. We were met by our two little boys and other family in the airport and had a great time of reunion! Then a short drive home and back in our house.