Thursday, August 30

Our Little Guy. Korah. A Party.

On Monday morning before we headed to Korah, a few of us walked the streets around our guest house to give out some more blessing bags. There are so many street kids that live in this area. They know the "Fringe" or "Foreigners" stay around here so they hang out near our guest house and ask daily to shine our shoes or if we will buy their gum or tissues. Our leader felt really drawn to this one little guy who wore these purple windbreaker type shorts with the back nearly completely blown out. Our leader and I and a couple others walked to the Friendship Mall just down the street to get this kid some new clothes. We wanted to be discrete about it so that the other boys wouldn't gang up on him or try to steal his clothes from him when we handed them to him so, we lead him to the gate of our guest house and welcomed him in. He was BESIDE himself!!! He could NOT stop giggling!!! I took him upstairs to change his clothes and to bathe him. I figured why not?! I mean we are here in a house that has running hot water and soap...why not let him clean up before he puts his new clothes on?! It was so funny trying to communicate with him what we were doing.
There was ALOT of charades and ALOT of sign language and laughing going on in that tiny bathroom!! He got so excited when I turned on the water and showed him the soap. All he kept saying was "YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!" and he would just die laughing!!! This moment blessed my heart!!!!
I helped bathe him, lotioned him all up, slipped his new clothes on him, and brushed his teeth. I wondered while I was doing all of this when the last time he had a mother care for him in that way or if he ever had. He couldn't have been older then 8-10 yrs old. I had a Polaroid camera with me so we had my sister take his picture with Chris and I for him to keep so he could remember his fun morning with us crazy Fringe! Every day when we would see him that week he would run up to us, give us a big hug and show us his clothes and just laugh!!! His laugh is contagious!! I will never forget him and all his cuteness!! I pray for his sweet self all the time! I pray that God will show himself to this little guy and that he will fall so in love with the Lord.

Photos courtesy of my friend Amanda;)

Then it was time to load up and head to Korah.

Korah...Or as they say there...Kore...was amazing to say the least.
I thought my heart was going to explode as we made our way down those bumpy, muddy "roads". As soon as we pulled up and unloaded from the van we were greeted by wonderful smiling faces from the local children! When they see a van coming, they come running. Usually with hands in your face asking for "yummy candy!" HA!

I couldn't hardly believe that I was actually really there.
In Korah.
The place that has stolen the hearts of so many.
Including my own. 
Korah is the home of some of the most lovely people I have ever met. It is the home of my daughter I adopted into my heart last year.
Remember these posts last year I wrote about my Birthday? Here and Here....
Last year when God stirred my heart to give up something that seemed so important to me (which is so silly looking back!!HA!) to give something to someone in return didn't seem like THAT big of a deal. I mean... it WAS a sacrifice for me because I selfishly LOVE my birthday but I didn't realize the gravity of sponsoring a child in Korah. I didn't really "get" just how  much you are changing their lives and how much they become part of your family and you theirs.
After a year of sending letters back and forth...
I knew that I was going to meet Aster that day! My friend Wynne had been in Ethiopia for a few weeks and was going to Korah everyday and she had told Aster I was coming so we were both anticipating each other!! When the van stopped in Korah and I stepped out of the van I searched the crowd trying to find my sweet girl! I turned to walk down the muddy street when I heard the voice of Wynne call my name and heard her say "Aster!! She's here!" And out she came from behind a metal Korah Blue fence!! She ran up to me and hugged me so tight! It was emotional and such a blessing! (Wynne recorded it all on her phone! I cant wait to get it from her!!)
We walked around the streets of Korah the rest of the day holding hands and chatting as much as we could. She speaks very broken english! It was surreal having her there holding my hand as she guided me through the streets making sure I was comfortable and not stepping in Mud or Poo Puddles. I love Aster with all of my heart and I am so thrilled that I got to spend a week with her in her home! I got to see her life! Here some of her stories and just be with her!
The frist day in Korah, wasn't really full of ministry, it was more of a tour day. A day to get a feel for what we would be doing and a feel for where we were at.  We heard some of the history of the community. And we got to hear about how the ministry started and what their vision is.
We visited the sweet Elder's that Hope for Korah sponsors and we got to see their new home. It was amazing to see them and hug them and hear them singing praises and to see their smiling faces at the sight of new visitors.
We also got to see the Leporsy Hospital. The original construction that began what is now Korah. Though there wasn't much "ministry time" there, it was still a blessed and amazing time.

Later that night, back at the guest house, they treated us to a BBQ. Trust me, its not the kind of BBQ we are used to here in the States. It is a BBQ Ethiopia Style!! It is so FUN!! These people know how to throw a great party!!
They made us fresh Lamb Tibs, Injera, Salad and Spaghetti. Along with a wonderful coffee ceremony. It was amazing, yummy and sooo FUN! It was like a big party!!! We got to celebrate until it was dark with everyone who runs the guest house and all of our drivers. It was such a FUN night!!!!
Again...Pictures courtesy of Amanda!! :)

Tuesday, August 21

trafficking. rise up. bring awareness.

Trafficking.
Modern day slavery.
It's the world's second fastest growing and second largest criminal enterprise, after drugs.
1.2 million children fall victim to the crime.
Bringing in over $12 billion a year.
An estimated 14,500-17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year.
The number of humans/children trafficked inside the United States each year is even higher.
About 200,000 American children are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry.
This is not just a "third world" or "overseas" issue, this is in our own backyard.
Another staggering report....
There are 600,000-800,000 people bought and sold across international borders each year.
50% are children...mostly females...the average age...12.
(statistics taken from SCTNow.org)

Honestly, I, myself didn't realize the depth of this horrific crime until about 2 years ago. I knew the crime existed, but didn't realize how devastating this issue was until I made myself available to really knowing about it. I had to open my eyes to its extremity. And to learn more about it. Now that I know, how could I ever forget.  These sex crimes are prevalent in our very own society. It is in all societies. It is a serious sickness that has penetrated its self into lives of millions across the globe.

Did you know that in parts of the Brazilian jungle, you can purchase cocaine as well as have the opportunity to have sex with infants? Did you know that in Sierra Lion or in the Congo or in Uganda or Somalia or Ethiopia or in many, many other war-torn parts of Africa women and children are being tortured, molested and brutally raped just because they are women or female and for the sport of it?!  Did you know that sex tourism (Yes! TOURISM) is prevalent in Asai... in countries such as Thailand and Cambodia?! I have many more did you know's but I will spare you. It is rough. Heartbreaking. Devastating. Nauseating.

It has to end. It has to be stopped. There has to be change. We have to STAND UP for our sisters and brothers who have fallen victim to these heinous crimes. We have to bring them HOPE. Bring the Justice.

How can we...How can YOU... stand up and fight against a sickness that has always existed on some level in society but seems to be growing faster and becoming more twisted by the minute??

You can get involved! There are several organizations in place that are doing their best to stop these crimes from happening.  Several that are bringing this horrific crime to light and out of the shadows. Several that are rescuing people from their enslavement. And there are many that are in place that bring restoration and healing to these women and children who were once enslaved or who were effected by these horrible acts.

If you are in the Midland/Odessa area, I have the perfect opportunity for you to STAND UP and ACT and FIGHT against these crimes. A chance to get involved.

Each year, the church I attend helps hosts a 5k Walk/Run in our community through SCTNow.

STOP Child Trafficking Now.

SCTNow seeks to protect and deliver children from the heinous crime, by focusing on efforts stopping the demand (buyer, predators, traffickers).SCTNow believed that focusing on stopping the demand has the power to interrupt the cycle of supply, demand, and distribution, resulting in fewer predators, and ultimately fewer victims. SCTNow fund efforts that target the demand side of child sex slavery.

This year the 5k Walk/Run will be held on September 22 at Midland College.

 Just click the image above to get registered to Walk/Run in this special event. You will be joining thousands as we walk this September to stop child sex slavery. You will be making an impact in your city (our city Midland/Odessa) and across the nation by raising awareness and valuable funds needed in the fight against this crime.

Also, if you live in the area and you aren't really "into" running or walking this event (like me..ha!)  there are many other ways you can get involved! We are needing many volunteers this year! The team putting this together NEEDS your HELP.  Specifically we need the following:

  • volunteers to help set up and tear down the day of
  • SPONSORSHIPS if you or your company or a company you know would like to sponsor this event and be apart of stopping this crime send them my way! I will help direct them to the right place!
  • people to take flyers to local gyms (in both Midland and Odessa), to health food stores, vitamin stores, smoothie places, athletic stores, businesses, spas or where ever else you think runners or people interested will see them. 
  • people to put together sponsor packets and flyers
As you can see there is a lot that needs to be done and there are several places you can get involved! If you are interested in helping get this thing off the ground this year let me know! I would LOVE to get you connected with the right people! Plus, you will get to hang out with me and my cute kids! HA! My sweet hubby will most likely be running this race! 

If you are interested in learning more about this industry and how to bring an end to these crimes here are some helpful links! 



There are sooo many more! I encourage you to research a few ministries and to continue to pray for change and for hope for these victims and for an END to these crimes!! 

Take a moment and pause my music at the bottom of the screen and watch this below. 
Let it soak in.
This film in full length will be released soon. Will you educate yourself? 


Friday, August 17

african church service. bringin love to the mountain.


I cannot tell you how excited I was to go to church in Ethiopia a couple Sunday's ago! I knew my friend Wynne would be there and that she was loving this church. (We will be back to this church next time we are in Addis.) Beza International Church is a good sized church that has both an Amharic service and an English service. Driving there in the rain. Walking through the muddy parking lot. Walking in and smelling all the unfamiliar smells. Watching all the beautiful people greet each other with sincere love and enthusiasm. And seeing all their excitement to be there made it even more exciting to be there myself.
Headed to Church in the RAIN
 Beza is where all of my missionary friends attend church. Each week my friend Kari and her husband Roger load up a big van full of boys from Kore and bring them in to attend church with them as a family. Looking over to my left and seeing this precious family and my friends with these boys was such a delight.
Sumer Yates, Me, Wynney Baby and Mama Kiki (Kari Gibson)
Was this real? Worshipping in Ethiopia together??

The worship at this church was so fun! I was a little nervous that I wouldn't know the songs that they sang but I did! We probably worshipped for a good hour...maybe and hour and a half! The power even went out and we just kept on goin!! There was a lot of hand clappin. Hand raisin. Body swayin. So much fun!! There was even this little saying thing that they all repeated. I can't even remember what all we said or what verse we said out loud but I was sooooo moved. It was hard for me to choke out the words through my tears. It was powerful to hear so many people passionately LOVE the Lord and be so EXCITED to worship him. Without any reservation or care what other people thought! These people PROCLAIM his glory!!!

The Pastor brought a good message! And I mean GOOD. He started his sermon titled "The Other Side." with John 21:2-6.  If you aren't familiar with this passage, it is the passage about Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples who were out fishing with no luck. When dawn came Jesus was standing on the beach (they didn't know it was Jesus). Jesus asked if they had caught any fish that night and they replied with a no. Jesus said to them "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish." There were so many great points in his message. I know that God needed me to hear that message. Here are some points from my notes:

  • There's another side. Another side of our lives we have yet to experience. He has placed eternity in our hearts. 
  • God is inexhaustible.
  • Before there was a sun to explain light, Gods word WAS the light in the darkness. God doesn't need something to explain ANYTHING. 
  • His word is my day. His word is my season.
  • Each day in the beginning began with "and God said.." it was God's word that brought the day and dismissed the darkness.
  • His word is a sign that my darkness is fading.
  • The darkest part of the night comes just before the day break. 
  • It seems the darkest because it is one season giving into the next. 
  • Peter cast his net to the other side without question. He heard it & had faith. Faith is not a casual stance. Its a fight. A stance not willing to give up!
  • Have the faith that says "I refuse to QUIT!"
  • Sometimes before you experience the blessing, you experience the trouble! Many times the enemy recognizes the potential in your life before you do!
  • God's word penetrated the ground. The Sky. The water. Then he penetrated man with his blessing. If that is the result that came from the dirt, what is it that is going to come out of MY life?!
  • Sometimes when you experience an attack its the confirmation you needed that what God promised is TRUE!
  • Having done everything to stand, KEEP STANDING!! 
  • Troubles not after YOU! Its after Gods word! Its after his Promise!!
I think about this message often and how it fits my season and what'g going on in my heart so perfectly. I love how God can speak to you anywhere! 


After Church we went to the yummy Cup Cake Delight! I had a delicious Cappuccino and Chicken Fajitas! They were yummy!!!

After Cup Cake, we headed to the guest house to put together some blessing bags to take to Entoto Mountain! There are so many kids who live up on the mountain that are unreached. Many of them didnt know Jesus and didnt know that he died to save them from sin and that he came to send his spirit to live in their hearts. It was amazing to get to bless these precious littles with T-shirts, tooth paste, a tooth brush, crayons and notebooks! And to bring them Jesus! They light up at the sight of their simple gifts!! Thank you Holly B for donating all these things!! The kids LOVED them!!!





We spent many hours up on the mountain playing with a whip. Playing an Ethiopia version of duck-duck-goose. Little Hand clapping games and soccer! They LOVED soccer!! At first we had only about 1-12 kids we were playing with by dark fall there were at least 100! It was such a BLESSED night!! I miss all those sweet little faces!!
Up next Korah (Or Kore) Day 1!!!

Thursday, August 16

travel. friend. entoto mountain.

I am home from Ethiopia. I have been for almost a week. I am still processing. This time its is more challenging to wrap my mind around all that I have seen. All that I felt. All that I learned. And all that has changed. What a blessed trip we had. Full of laughs, tears, joy, heartache, lessons learned, challenges, growth, new passions and a deeper love for our savior who makes all things new.

I was blessed enough to have two of my sisters on this trip with me. One, my blood sisters and the other, Phillip's sister. What a joy is was to share with them the place that has so captivated my soul. To see them love the place that has been such a huge part of my life and to see them also leave apart of themselves there was a true joy.  To worship with them, to serve with them and to cry with them. I will forever hold this time with them dear to my heart.
I was also blessed enough to be in Ethiopia with one of my best friends. She is there waiting to bring her babies home to their forever home. ( you can follow her african adventure here.) The night we landed she surprised me at a restaurant near our guest house. I casually walked in the restaurant feeling exhausted but excited. She was standing behind a corner and as I walked past I heard her familiar voice call my name from behind. I nearly tacked her in excitement! I hadn't seen her in nearly 5 weeks! We have dreamed of being in Ethiopia together and here we were! Dining together in a small restaurant in Bole! Thank you Jesus for orchestrating such a perfect reunion!
The first day in Ethiopia started with frustration. If you have never been to Ethiopia or Africa for that matter, you know that some of the most important things to take with you is flexibility and patience. Along with a sense of humor. Things there break. Things there are unreliable. Things there are slow. Things there are just...different.  After breakfast the team headed out the door to convert US Dollars for birr and to pull out money from the ATM's before we embarked on our adventures. This first day was a down day. Since the majority of us had been awake since 4:30 am Ethiopia time after going to "sleep" around midnight Ethiopia time it was the perfect day to just rest and check out the city and shop. Changing money in Ethiopia or even accessing your money in Ethiopia is an adventure in itself. After spending 30 minutes converting 60 US dollars at a local bank I decided to pull out a little more from the ATM inside the friendship mall. Sometimes the ATM machines there are empty and arent refilled for days. We stood and watched a man refill the ATM which was relief because we were going to be able to get money today! Praise Jesus! After one of our team members pulled out what they needed, I stuck my card in to get what I needed. After sticking my card in, the machine froze!!!! WITH MY ONLY DEBIT CARD STUCK IN THE MACHINE!!!! After several minutes of standing there staring at it, pressing cancel over and over and gently punching the side of the machine....nothing... no sound...no birr...no card. The guards standing by the door didn't know english and as I asked to use the phone to call the bank number on the sticker on the side of the machine they looked at me like I was crazy and refused the phone. Luckily some of our team flagged down our driver and he called the bank. They said "We will get there when we can." If you know anything about Ethiopians at all, you know they operate on their time. Which is NOTHING like our time! So we waited! and waited! The team leader and I looked at each other and just laughed saying "TIA - This Is Africa!"

My card was recovered. Thank you Jesus I didn't have to leave my card in a random ATM machine in a  3rd world country on the very first day!! However after that we had to walk around Bole trying to find a working ATM because my card broke that one! HA! While walking down a very busy rocky dirt road to find another ATM machine a Blue Taxi Van passed by and I heard a familiar voice yell "Farange!! Jenna!!!" I looked up startled to see Wynne hanging out of the taxi waving her arms at me!!! She and her friend hopped out of the van and joined us on our pursuit for money! We spent most of the morning hunting for cash at every nice hotel and shopping center. After finally acquiring enough to cover lunch for 16 people we went and enjoyed a nice lunch at Makush! I got to meet several adoption mommas at the restaurant.. Like Beth Cupitt from Give1Save1 and Jen Verme from Pure and Lasting. What an honor to finally meet these two!

After lunch, we drove up to Entoto Mountain! It was beautiful to say the least! The view. The fresh air. The people. It was a great way to spend a rainy Ethiopian afternoon. We stopped on the side of the rode to take pictures and soak in the amazing view of Addis and some of the countryside. We traveled further up the mountain and got to tour an old orthodox church. It was really interesting to see where they worship and how they worship.
Inside the church
The church exterior
Here is a video of our tour guide showing us how they worship followed by me copying him... just so you know... that drum was really heavy!! 

video
video

More adventures and stories to come. 



Wednesday, August 1

Parenting is Hard. Teaching Moments.

Sometimes parenting is just hard. Plain ole hard. And my oldest is only 6. It is sometimes just h.a.r.d. We have hit a rough patch with my oldest. Most days I just sit back baffled with no idea on how to correct or fix things. All I can do is PRAY and ask God to show my creative ways to parent and discipline him. And how to redirect his decisions that reflect holiness. We are struggling with major attitude, lying, back talking, snatching, hitting, emotional breakdowns and sneaking out...yes! sneaking out!!! Not sneaking out like you are probably imagining. Lately, when my oldest is put in time out, he sneaks out of his room. He learned from an early age (3 to be exact) how to unlock the windows in the house and pop out the screen to escape. Its quite alarming. Two days ago, after being sent to his room for not being able to control his hands (they often go flying into the ribs or belly of the littles... this is NOT ok) he was banned from hanging out with his siblings and had to spend the rest of the day in his room. About 30 minutes passed and as I looked up from my kitchen sink, I see both him and Beckham IN THE BACK YARD!!!!!

Phillip's sister Jessica (who has been living with us this month) and my sweet friend Blair were over and witnessed the whole thing. We were all pretty stunned. Right now,  I am thanking God for sending people to my house everyday. When there are people over, you feel a bit convicted about being that crazy screaming psycho mom!!!

We have entered another battle, a spiritual battle. I feel strongly that the enemy wants to tear down this next generation. He wants to devour them and set them off track. He is trying to deceive them and lie to them. I am willing to fight. To fight for the salvation of my littles. Christ has already overcome. We are claiming His victory in all battles. Even in parenting battles. We are praying circles around our children and their friends.

Right now, parenting Parker is hard. We are trying to teach him about Sin and about what it means to be Rebellious and Sinful. He is not quite getting the Sin issue. When you ask him why he says or does certain things, he says someone else made him do it. He isn't quite recognizing his own fault...or maybe he is and he is battling pride...  I don't really know. I pray daily that the Lord will soften his heart. That He will begin to whisper truth into his spirit. Parker has a HUGH heart. He really is full of LOVE, COMPASSION & SYMPATHY for those in need. He is tender and doesn't like to see anyone left behind. He hurts when he sees injustice. He gets tearful when hearing stories of orphans and children living on the streets or of people who are in need. He is concerned for people who have little. Like just the other night... Jessica and I were getting ready to serve some of the members of our church at our church picnic and Parker wanted to come and help!

He said
  "Mom, I want to help serve the people tonight because what if when I am an adult too and I want to serve people who don't have food, then I will know how to!" 

Oh. My. Heart. He has a heart to serve. To love. He is just caught in the middle of a battle between "flesh and spirit".

We have these moments. These sweet intimate moments with Parker. And then we have moments when he is telling me he "wished I wasn't his mom" and that I am "the dumbest, stupidest mom ever" when I wont let him have his way or when I wont let friends spend the night because he's been rebellious and disrespectful.  I gently remind him that the consequences of our sin hurts. It hurts us and its hurts others (like his littles friends that were counting on coming over and spending the night last night...they were crushed...they had big tears).

This morning I was able to talk to him about his actions and choices he made yesterday and how they not only cost him and hurt him they also hurt his friends. His little eyes filled with tears when I told him that his friends bags were packed and by their front door and I had to watch them cry as I left their house leaving them behind after I dropped Beckham off to spend the night with their brother. It was a great teaching moment. I am still really sad that I had to devastate his little friends. It. Was. So. Hard. But, I think something may have broke in Parker. As I was telling him that our actions don't only effect us, they effect others you could see a change across his face. He was processing it and thinking about it.  I asked Parker on the way to gymnastics about the choices he will make today and he said...

"I am going to chose to run from Satan and run to the Lord!"

How true is that, even as adults. How often do we forget that our choices that we make and our decisions effect other people around us. Maybe some we don't even realize we are effecting. Whether it be positively or negatively. I pray today that we will all be so aware of our choices and our decisions and their outcomes. That we will be present in everything we do. That we will run from our sin, from the enemy and into the arms of the Lord.

Puss in Boots. 4. My Sweet Boy

 Last Saturday we celebrated sweet Beckhams 4th Birthday! What a gift and blessing our little BeBo is! I can't believe he is 4! He was so excited to be 4! Now all he can talk about is being 5!! HA!! Last week before his actual Day Beckham got to celebrate his Birthday with some of his best friends. Since sword fighting and anything along those lines runs in Beckhams veins, we decided a Puss in Boots Party was only appropriate. It was so funny watching him do a little "Air Sword" fight every time someone asked him what kind of party he was having! He cracks us all up with his "Shing"ing, "Ching"ing and "Swooshing" complete with the stance of Puss in Boots, followed by the little jig he does that is similar to the dance off in the movie between Puss and Kitty Soft Paws. Here is a little peak at his fun party...
Our bean stalk sitting amongst the food spread
3 Magic Beans
Leche
Our Golden Goose with the Golden Eggs

Party Favors which consisted of Magic Bean and Mini Stalks (green jelly beans and sour straws)

I cant believe that my sweet boy is 4. It goes quickly. Oh so quickly. 

On Beckhams actual day on Saturday, we celebrated with a big family breakfast and surprised him with a Trampoline... or as he calls it a Trampoliney. ;) Heres to you sweet sugar!!! I am blessed to be your mommy! I love you to the moon and back!! 

4 Days Old
1st Birthday Party
2nd Birthday Party
3rd Birthday Party
4th Birthday Party