Friday, September 30, 2011

Ethiopia Mission Day #3

Today was truly awesome!!! We went back to Greenlight after a quick stop at Ethiopian Airlines to finalize plans for our friend Fikre to join us in Lalibela tomorrow. Fikre has never flown before and he is really excited about going to Lalibela. We were all so happy to be able to include Fikre on this special trip tomorrow.

At Greenlight today we got to do some amazing things with the kids. We started the day off by giving them new soccer balls and playing a pickup game with them inside the church tent. They had a blast and there were soccer balls flying everywhere. We followed up the soccer with some american football in the street. Some of the older kids took to Football quite well and were throwing and catching some great passes. We went shopping for paint brushes and a bucket and started painting the inside of the new kitchen building. They use oil based paint here and they thinned the paint with Kerosene so needless to say we had to rotate quite frequently to get fresh air. I think we collectively lost about a billion brain cells to paint fumes. Pete had his tunes pumping and we were slinging paint everywhere.

After we were finished painting we took a walk down to the village where many of the kids live. We were able to visit the homes of several of the kids. On the way there the kids held our hands and led us on the mile or so walk to their villages. Jim got to visit Leul's house and see his grandparents and aunts. I was able to visit our sponsor child Hannah's house and meet her sister. Hannah took a liking to John and didn't let him out of her sight. It was a very moving experience to see how proud these kids were to show us where they lived and I think the pictures of their homes will speak for themselves (when I have an internet connection that will allow me to upload them). I personally was so humbled and moved to see how happy these kids are given their circumstances. It really shows you that happiness is not found in the material things that so frequently dominate our lives. After about a half hour in their village we headed back quickly to avoid a rain shower that was closing in our us.

When we got back to Greenlight we broke out the crates of care packages and shoes. The kids were so excited to receive the care packages that many of you so thoughtfully packed for them. We hung out for a hour or more while they ate candy, tried on clothes and traded items back and forth. They ran around the church and it was so heart warming to see the joy on their faces. After we finished we had another coffee ceremony which is such a huge part of Ethiopian culture. They spend about 1 hour preparing the coffee and the popcorn and then everyone sits around and talks for another hour. We all commented on how we wished that we had something like this back in American that united everyone and provided a way for people to really connect and share time together.

After the coffee ceremony we took a tour of the women's project that Asrat and his wife Amy created. These women spend their days creating spices and necklaces that are shipped over to American and sold. The funds come back to their community and are used to pay the women wages that help them support their families. It is really a wonderful opportunity for these women and their families. After buying some Berbere and Chile spices we headed back to meet some friends at Kaldis for an afternoon Machiatto. Kaldis is basically an exact replica of Starbucks and they are located all over the city just like Starbucks back home. On the way to Kalidis we stopped off in an open field where we went for the past two days to eat the lunch that the guest house packed for us. There was a group of kids who shepherd the animals in the field who shared our lunch with us each day. We dropped of a new soccer ball for them and then continued on our way. At Kaldis we met the Ethiopian In-Country HopeChest Director and the private investigator that is going to help us find out more information about Gigi and Eli. Pete and I were so moved by what this man had to say. He has helped many families find out more information about their adopted children. We are sending him the information that we have on the kids and he is going to investigate and find out any additional information that he can. He is confident that he will be able to reveal new information for us. On Wednesday he and Fikre are going to go back to the site where Eli was found and they are going to try and locate the young man that left Eli on the path. I am so excited to possible find out more information about Eli's biological family.

After our meeting at Kaldis we came back to the Ethiopian Guest House and had pizza for dinner and got packed up for our trip to Lalibela tomorrow. Please pray for a safe trip tomorrow and some rest and relaxation before our next trip to Southern Ethiopia on Wednesday through Friday. We will be visiting Look Development in Adama on Wednesday and then on to Look Development in Shone for Thursday and Friday. With any luck when we return on Friday the private investigator may have some new information for us.

Everyone is doing great and we are really excited about the rest of the trip and the kids that we will meet. There are over 200 kids at the care point / orphanage in Shone. We may not be able to post as regularly once we leave Addis but we will update everyone as soon as possible. Thanks again for the prayers and support. We are truly blessed to be on this trip and everyone is in awe of the things that we have seen and experienced.

P.S. - I didn't mention it during the blog yesterday but we actually witnessed something very amazing. A very distraught mother arrived at church late on Sunday carrying her tiny baby who was dropped and was not responding or breathing. Asrat held the baby and prayed over her and she became responsive again after a few minutes. He explained that when he took her from her mother's arms her legs were cold and she appeared lifeless. As he prayed over her she began to warm and she opened her eyes. It was an unbelievable thing to witness and we didn't fully understand what was going on until he explained it to us later that day.

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