Welcome to Rob and Candy's Blog

We are going PINK- we are adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. We'll be sharing our journey to adopt our daughter!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Celebrating Henry

I can hardly believe that Henry has been a part of our family for FOUR YEARS!  Henry is funny, delightful, sweet, thoughtful and generous.  Every morning he wakes up with a smile.  It is an honor to call him son.  Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Henry this past year along with his referral photo from September 2008.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Make a difference Tuesday

  It's giving Tuesday- for a 3rd year we are selling two children's books- the proceeds will feed children at our care point in Kombolcha, Ethiopia.  http://childrensbooksforfood.blogspot.com/

We also have some precious children who are in need of a sponsor.

A  sponsorship fee ($34 monthly) provides resources for children to receive at least one meal a day, an education, and discipleship.  Contact us if you have questions or would like to sponsor a child.  mblueberry.madamblueberry@gmail.com

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Seven Years with Igor

Last night we celebrated Igor's Gotcha Day with Pizza!  I cannot believe how quickly time has passed.  We love you Igor and are delighted you are our son.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Medical Mission trip to Ethiopia!

We are delighted to announce a second mission trip to our care point in 2013!!  

You are invited to join our medical mission team October 12-21, 2013!  We are recruiting medical professionals to provide health care for orphans and extremely vulnerable children and their families at two Children’s HopeChest Care-points!  We will be serving the children at Project Greenlight in Addis Ababa and our Care-point at Grace Baptist Church, Kombolcha, Ethiopia.  There will only be 20 spots available on the October 2013 team

Our mission is to provide medical care to the children and family members, build relationships with the children and be a reflection of God’s love.  

We will have a few spots available for non-medical personnel to help with set-up, intake, games, and loving the children.  We are looking for a photograph, puppeteer or others talented in entertaining children ages 6-18 years old.

Registration is now open for our medical trip to Ethiopia. If you are interested in joining the team, please e-mail me at mblueberry.madamblueberry@gmail.com
We would be delighted to have you join us! If you are ready to sign up, please complete the online application at http://onechildcampaign.showitsite.com/#/ethiopia/

One Child Campaign has prepared the in-country travel package on our behalf and has fixed the cost at $1,390 per person - which includes hotels, transportation, translators, and meals.  You will be responsible to book your flight.  We will meet in Washington DC and fly to Ethiopia together. The cost of round-trip airfare to Ethiopia will vary. Trip/medical evacuation insurance can be purchased at the time of booking your flight. The cost for insurance varies based on gender and age. Entrance visas for Ethiopia are $20 per person.

Spread the word!  Share this blog post with others.
We’d love to have you join our prayer team or fundraising team (to purchase medical supplies for the trip and a treasure box items).  We’ll also have a medical supply wish list available soon.  Please contact me at mblueberry.madamblueberry@gmail.com to see how you can make this an amazing trip not only for our team and but to bless the children!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blog fundraiser!

Our friends Deanna and Derek are hosting a fundraiser on their blog.  They have some awesome items- check out this beautiful bracelet from Junk Posse.

Check out their blog for all the details!  Mention their raffle on FaceBook or your blog and you'll be entered into the raffle of your choice! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A new school year begins!

The kids started school!

First Day of preschool!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer of 7 wrap up!

This summer we decided to do the summer of Seven.  My hat goes off to Jen Hatmaker who wrote : "7 : An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess".   She and her family took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

I'd love to tell you we did a great job with our Seven weeks of 7.  We didn't.  We failed, stumbled and had some little victories along the way.   Take for instances -  

Possessions- Part 2.  I thought this week would be a piece of cake but it wasn't.  It was hard for several reasons.  The first reason- the weather!  Going in the attic on 100 degree days sucks the life out of me!  The second reason is I don't want to deal with some of the items I have stored.  For instance- my wedding dress, a lovely Oriental rug my parents bought me when I was young and single but it's not practical with little ones... these are difficult to part with.  I'm stumbling, I'm procrastinating, and I'm, well- a little bit addicted to things that "bring back" memories.  There I said it, it's ringing in my ears-  I'm a little bit addicted to things that "bring back" memories.  So, these items are still in the closet.  Yep, I'm holding on to things I don't need and are taking up room in a closet.  We have given away a bunch of things and life feels a little lighter but I still have a few thing I'm holding on to.

Media -  My dear sweet husband told me I was on my own and boy was it hard.  We don't have cable or Netflix or any gaming system so this was a Facebook Fast.  This week was painful and I cheated  (gasp)!  I learned that I need to have better self control when it comes to Facebook.  The remained of the weeks limited myself on Facebook and l learned I can check in on FB once or twice a day!

Spending-  I planned to make no purchases during this week.  What was I thinking when I set the dates for this challenge??  I picked tax free weekend.  We did buy school supplies and some clothing.

Food-    I tried to figure out what we would eat and it would have been pizza every day.  Blah. We already have food limitations which can be difficult.   Henry cannot eat dairy or soy and Igor is a vegetarian.  Have you ever tried to buy food, any food- bread, crackers, granola, or ice cream cones that are soy and dairy free.  It makes my head spin.  I have enough food stress in my life already so we skipped this week.

Speaking of stress- Stress- We were going to do five pauses for prayer.  I will be starting this next week when this kiddos start school.  I think I will be more successful then.

So, I have one more week and I'll be done with my summer of 7.  I have a lot of thoughts and maybe some insights about 7 (me) but I'll save them until I do the five pauses for prayer.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Epic fail- a week of distractions

Possessions- Part 2-was going great this week until I was presented 7 bags of handy me downs from an unexpected source.  Yep, we gave away over 500 pieces of clothing June  16 - 29 and here I was with more clothes.  Honestly this was a gift - it was if God was saying- see, I will provide. 

What would I do with the clothing?  I wanted to shove them in the closet and deal with them in the fall.  Instead, I spent a day sorting and bagging.  I kept a few things for Henry but most were re-bagged for more first time adoptive moms who do not have a stash of clothing for the fall. 

Then I decided to move Igor into his own room and move Merone in with Henry.  This allowed me to go through and give away more things from the kids' rooms but I was not focused on "7" per se.  I was trying to get my children settled.  Then I was busy with life- swim lessons, doctor appointments, contractors, and you know parenting...

We did manage to remove a stereo, DVD player and a space heater from our house but we have more.  I need more time so we'll try - Possessions- Part 2- for one more week. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer of 7 x 2

In June we started our summer of 7.  It hasn't gone as planned.  The first week was Possessions- giving away 7 items of clothing for 7 days.  Our 7 turned into two weeks (or 7x2) of clothing give away.  
I hate to say it but Possessions Part 2 is also moving to 7x2.  We'll be doing it again next week.  This week we went to the beach (courtesy of some awesome friends) for a few days so we haven't gone through every room.  I've done the kitchen (14 items), the children's bookshelves (50 books) and Rob went through his things (14 items).  I also spent some time in boys' bedroom with a trash bag (only one item to give away).  The boys and Merone picked out 8 toys to give away but there are more we can part with.  The biggest item (by size) is the boys' toddler bed which was stored in the attic.  We delivered it to a couple who is expecting child number two.  It was so sweet to see our well loved bed set up in another little boy's bedroom.

Here is our modified list of 7
June  16 - 29: Possessions- We will give away 7 items of clothing and shoes per person (35 items) a day for 7 days.

June  30 - July 13: Possessions- Part 2- We will give away 7 items a day of (non-clothing) for a total of 49 items

 July 14 - 20: Media -  We don't have cable or Netflix or any gaming system so this will be Internet related.  The cruel details are to be determined (I'm thinking a facebook fast? shudder..)

July 21 - 27: Clothes- We will wear just 7 articles of clothing - items and exemptions to be determined.

July 28 - Aug 4: Stress- We are going to do a modified version of the seven prayers from the book.  It will probably be five pauses for prayer.

Aug 5 - 11: Spending-  This may be modified but for now we will not purchase any items this week.  (exceptions would be any medical emergencies and RX's that may need to be filled)

August 12 - 18 : Food-  We will eat 7 foods which is currently being negotiated.

We may have to modify the dates again while trying to keep to the spirit of 7.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Summer of 7: Wrap up on the second week of clothing

Our 7 days of purging clothing turned into 14 days of clothing after I found more boy clothing in the attic. 

At first I had a hard time giving up items of sentimental value.  Then I realized I still have the memories without the item so purging was much easier. 
All totaled- we purged a whopping 512 pieces of clothing in two weeks!  Wow, is an understatement.  I had no idea we had so much clothing for the boys!

Now- what do we do with all the clothing?  I e-mailed a couple moms who recently adopted their children.  I asked if they would be interested in some of the boys' clothing.  The Answer was YES!!  One mom said the clothing will be a huge blessing.  I am so glad we can bless families with our excess and we will lighten our load.

During this process I realized that I am storing up treasures in my closets... ugh.
Matthew 6:19-21(NIV)19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Some changes we will be making - When I receive hand me down for the boys, I will not put it in a closet thinking I will "get to it later".  I will go through it and then pass on what we do not need.  We will be implementing my husband's rule- for every one clothing item received we will give away 2 pieces of clothing.    

This week begins  Possessions- Part 2- We will give away 7 items a day of (non-clothing) for a total of 49 items.   We'll see what we glean from this week.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One year with Merone

Refusing to pose for the camera!

Celebrating one year as a family

Picking up Merone from the Transition Home - June 2011

One year ago at the Guest Home in Ethiopia

Igor turns 10!

A friend often says the days are long but the years are short.  She is so right.  
I cannot believe that Igor has turned 10 yrs old!!!  He asked for a very low key birthday party.  He had a few friends over for a pizza party and then they went to see Madagascar 3.  He really enjoyed his birthday celebration.
Happy Birthday Igor! 

Hit the rewind button please!

Saturday started - Possessions- Part 2- Where we planned on giving away 7 items a day of (non-clothing) for a total of 49 items.
I went into the attic to pull out some items to purge when I came across MORE CLOTHES!  ugh...  I spent two hours going through the clothing and had to take a break.  Here's just a few of boy's clothing that no longer fit. Talk about excess!

This is a good reminder I must go through any hand me downs right away so I can pass on what is excess.
Clearly one week was not long enough to purge all the excess clothing we have!   I have hit the rewind button.  We are modifying the 7 Schedule- this week we will continue giving away clothing and shoes. 
June  23 - 29: Possessions- We will give away clothing and shoes an additional 7 days.  Let's see if we can give away another 200 pieces of clothing.

I will update our Summer of 7 schedule later this week.
Interested in how others are doing? check out the blog hop:

Friday, June 22, 2012

7 Days of purging

The purge started off strong then was slowed down by my son turning TEN!  Days 5, 6 and 7 we purged things but not at the previous rate.  I finally purged items from the hall closet!  The number of coats, pull overs, rain coats, etc was insane but has been trimmed down.  The final three days we purged 42 items. The grand total purged - 247 items.  WOW!  This total does not include several items in the laundry basket to be purged.

 Until I looked in our closet with fresh eyes I had no idea how much we had.  Before we were married my husband had this policy-  purchase one new item then purge two old items.  He has tried to stick with this policy over the years.  Now I can see the benefits of doing this.  Our budget does not allow us to purchase clothing on a whim or because of a new style but I am certainly guilty of holding on to clothing which "brings back memories", clothing I like that doesn't fit or clothing I like enough only to wear when everything else is dirty!

For me "The Purge" was an excellent reminder that the purge must be done each season AND when I get a bag of hand me downs for the boys I need to go through the items and compare them to what we already have.  Otherwise, I will find 12 pair of sweat pants in the closet!  Ugh.

Starting tomorrow- Possessions- Part 2- We will give away 7 items a day of (non-clothing) for a total of 49 items.  May the purge continue.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 3 &4 of the Purge- slow going

This morning I went to pull out my swim suit cover up but it was in the dirty clothes basket.  No problem, Plan B- I'll go to my tier 2 options except they are not there.  I purged them on Saturday.  Plan C- I pulled out a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.  Life goes on without Tier 2 and 3 clothing!

Day 3 and 4 were harder to purge than the previous days.  I went to the coat closet opened the door, felt overwhelmed and shut the door.  We have more coats than we need but prioritizing what we need and what we "want" seems to be harder for me than clothing.  I will get back to the closet when I have more energy and dare I say a plan?

It's harder for me to give away Merone's clothing.  To give it away means our family is complete.  And when my head isn't stuck in her closet we will tell you our family is complete.  Giving Merone's clothing away means it's final (gasp!). Or maybe I want her to stay at age 2 for many years to come.  So after giving myself a pep talk-  I pulled out 6 outfits and a pair of shoes.  Then it was on to Igor and Henry's closet. 

I went through Igor's clothing.  As I looked at each item I  wondered, will Henry wear this in a couple years? If I give too much away will I have to buy clothes for Henry in the future?  Once I got into the pile of clothing I realized there was much we could purge.  Igor owns 12 or more pair of sweat pants (all hand me downs)!  No child needs that many sweat pants.  After the purge he owns half that and I may go back to purge some more.  I also found more of Henry's clothing that no longer fits or I know he will never wear.  Boy does it feel good to open their closet and see the floor and have room to hang things.   

Last night Rob went through his side of the closet and pulled out 22 pieces of clothing.  WOW!

The tally for Day 3 and 4:
28 items from Henry and Igor's closet, including 3 pair of shoes
22 items of baby clothes
6 of Merone's outfits and a pair of shoes.
22 pieces of clothing from Rob's closet.
78  + 127 (Day 1 and 2) = 205
The goal was 245 items but now the goal is to purge items we no longer wear or need.  We will easily exceed the goal of 245 pieces of clothing/shoes.  Tomorrow I will go through the dresser drawers and the coat closet.  We still have a lot of purging to do.
Interested in how others are doing? check out the blog hop:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 2 of the Purge

Yesterday the kids attended two birthday parties so the house was quiet.  I used the time to start the purge.  I went through my side of the closet and started pulling out items that do not fit, don't look good on me or I would only wear in a clothing emergency.  What's a clothing emergency??  It's when my favorite clothing is dirty so I must resort to my second tier clothing.. these are clothes I wear if I have to not because I want to.  It's sad that I have several tiers of clothing.  I pulled out 35 pieces of clothing without having to make hard choices.  I decided to see if I could pull out another 35 pieces and I did.  Although the second purge of 35 included 5 pair of shoes.  I did pick more carefully in the second round but all 70 items needed to go and I still have plenty of clothes to wear.  Talk about excess- ugh...
A couple things that struck me:
  • It only took me 15-20  minutes to pull out and stack 70 pieces of clothing and shoes.  
  • While it was not hard to identify the clothes that needed to go I found myself thinking- I bought that when I was with, or I wore that when I worked full time, or that's the suit I normally wear to such and such.
  • I associate clothing with people and memories.  For me holding on to the clothes I no longer wear is like keeping old friends in my closet... except the reality is there are no friends in there- just clothes.
I have decided my clothing will go to the thrift shop in town.  They sell clothing at fantastic prices and all the proceeds get funneled back into our local elementary schools.  

My next stop was Henry's closet.  I knew he had clothing in his closet we could purge.  I was surprised at how much we could purge.  Most of the clothing was clothes that no longer fit him or I knew he would never wear.  This process took me much longer than 20 minutes because I wanted to match up the clothing sets.  The clothing in very good or good shape was being handed down another family.  Everything else is being sent to the thrift store or made into rags.  The count in Henry's closet- 57.  Serious excess!

The current total for day 1 and 2 is  127 items.  WOW!!  Who knew we had so much??  We are half way to our 245 goal and we still have Rob, Merone's and Igor's closets to go through.  Now, it's not about meeting the goal which I thought was set very high (HA!).  It's about removing the excess clothing and shoes.
Interested in how others are doing? check out the blog hop:

7- The goals

Rob and I read Jen Hatmaker's book-  
"7 : An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" - 7 is the true story of how Jen took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

For  while I've been uncomfortable with all our "stuff" BUT I love our stuff.  I know, I have a problem if I LOVE my STUFF!!  So we are participating in the Summer of 7…several other bloggers have started and I think I (we) will be more accountable if we write down our goals and share our experience.  For the next 7 weeks we will get rid of the excess and live with less.

So, we will be sharing the next 7 weeks of the changes we are making, our victories and challenges of our 7. 
Here is our list of 7
June  16 - 22: Possessions- We will give away 7 items of clothing and shoes per person (35 items) a day for 7 days (245 items).

June  23 - 29: Possessions- Part 2- We will give away 7 items a day of (non-clothing) for a total of 49 items

June  30 - July 6: Media -  We don't have cable or Netflix or any gaming system so this will be Internet related.  The cruel details are to be determined (I'm thinking a facebook fast? shudder..)

July 7 - 13: Clothes- We will wear just 7 articles of clothing - items and exemptions to be determined.

July 14 - 20: Stress- We are going to do a modified version of the seven prayers from the book.  It will probably be five pauses for prayer.

July 21 - 27: Spending-  This may be modified but for now we will not purchase any items this week.  (exceptions would be any medical emergencies and RX's that may need to be filled)

July 28 -  Aug 3: Food-  We will eat 7 foods which is currently being negotiated.

This isn't Jen's list because we modified it for our family.  For those wondering where recycling is on our list- no fears- We recycle every stinkin' thing that can be recycled.  We a have a garden and belong to a CSA.  We buy many things locally so we thought the list above would be a good start.  May the adventure begin!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer of 7

Rob and I read Jen Hatmaker's book: "7 : An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" 
We are going to spend the next 7 weeks purging and modifying our life style.  We are also going to share our challenges and victories along the way.  We have created a new page "Summer of 7" on our blog if you would like to follow along OR join us!! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Father's Day

Father's Day is right around the corner.  If you are like me, I struggle to find the "right" gift for my dad.  This year we'll be blessing our dads with a gift from the heart, the gift of shoes and school uniforms.... no, not for them... the shoes are for a child in Ethiopia.

Grace Baptist, sponsored by Children's HopeChest, is a care-point for orphaned and impoverished children. Through the support of sponsors, Grace Baptist is able to provide food, clothing, education and Christian discipleship! However, the children have many other needs. One great need is school uniforms and new shoes for the children who are new to our care point.

You can celebrate your father (or husband) all while making a difference in the lives of these children just by making a monetary donation directly to Children’s HopeChest. (Your donation is 100% tax deductible.) You can choose to donate whatever amount you wish, but we ask for a minimum donation of $5 for each Father’s Day Card.  A school uniform costs $17.50 and a pair of shoes costs $18.

Please go to Tracy's blog for all the details on how to make a donation and have the cards mailed to your father or husband.  The cost of printing the cards and postage is being donated so 100% of your donation is going to shoes or school uniforms.

Sponsorship- does it matter?

Our team has been back for about a month.  They continue to process their experience.  I thought this was a beautiful perspective on sponsorship written by Laura.

One of the best parts of my trip was meeting Sonneit, a shy 9-year old whom I sponsor through Children's HopeChest.  I got to hug this little girl.  The sweet girl I've been praying for.  The adorable girl whose photo is pinned on my fridge.    I got to see where she lives.  I got to meet her guardian.  I got to enjoy her.  We got to play together.   And she opened up.

 Sponsorship organizations often tell you things like, "the children love letters and photos from their sponsors."  And I used to think that was a ploy.  The child my small group sponsored when I was in middle school never looked happy in his photos and I figured that they made him stand there so why would he be happy?  On this trip I realized some things about these kids:
  1. They don't smile automatically when a camera is pulled out.  Apparently, that's an American thing.
  2. They LOVE their sponsors. 
  I had children all week showing me their sponsor photos.  One boy kept saying over and over, "My sponsors are Julie and John.  Julie and John.  Julie and John!"  They would show each other the photos and then snatch them back to their chests.  And for those of us sponsors on the trip, they couldn't get enough.I love the children's reactions to sponsors photos and notes.  Thank you so much for making care packages for your sponsor child(ren)! 

Next year's trip is, March 9-18, 2013, please joined us.  As of today, 17 people have signed up for the 2013 trip.  E-mail me if you want more details or are interesting in going. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New clothes & food delivered

Last Saturday the following the items were delivered to the children at our Care point- Grace Baptist Church in Kombolcha, Ethiopia:
sweat pants, a jacket and socks for each child

2.5 litters of cooking oil for each child/family

 25 kgs (55 lbs) of Teff for each child/family

 I love the smiles on on the children's faces!! thank you sponsors!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

One year ago we were in Ethiopia for our court date.  We were delighted when the judge granted our adoption of Merone.  We are delighted to be her parents.

Friday, May 11, 2012

One team member shares

Derek went on the trip to our care point wondering if he'd be bored while in Ethiopia.  He wasn't.  here's his blog post:
What I took away from the mission trip…
When people ask me how my trip to Ethiopia was, I give them a very general “It was really good. It was eye opening and life changing.” While this statement is true, it just scratches the surface of how I really feel inside about my trip. I hope you don’t have lunch plans cause this could take a while. Just kidding…
            The weeks leading up to this trip I was really getting excited and ready to go but deep down inside the devil was working on me I think. I had this feeling that I was going to get there and not want to be. Was I wrong? Finally getting to Kombolcha after 15 hours of plane travel one day and 8 hours riding in a sardine can the next, I was starting to feel that this was going to be AWESOME. When we pulled up to the care point and there were kids there to greet us as we got out of the vans like we were famous was a really good feeling. I shook so many hands and still hadn’t got in the gate!!! Once in the gate I heard clapping as I walked down this path in the trees. It started out a faint sound but as I got closer the volume got louder. As I walked into the “church”, which was a cleaned out chicken house, the noise was incredible!!! So many hands clapping and kids smiling at me was a little overwhelming. I stood in front of these kids and just took it all in. WOW!!!! As I stood there, I was scanning them looking for the girl Deanna and I sponsor. I couldn’t find her though. After we got introduced to them, we went out to hug and meet them. I shook their hands, fist bumped, and hugged so many of them as I could. Greg and I started a huge rock, paper, scissors game. I’m not sure who was winning because there were so many playing. The ladies in our group were taking pictures and hugging as well. Thank goodness for digital cameras because the kids love to see themselves in the pictures after you take them. During this time, I’m pretty sure Sandy hugged and kissed every single one of these kids. IMAGINE THAT!!! Here was another warm fuzzy moment for me. Getting to interact with them was a blast. I was still looking for my sponsored girl and couldn’t find her. I felt down a little bit cause I couldn’t. Where was this face on my refrigerator???
            The next morning when we arrived, the kids met us again at the gate like the paparazzi. Before we got started, the kids sang a few songs in Amharic. That was a joyful noise to hear. This is how each day would start. Then a Bible story would be told, we used the Easter story. After the Bible story, the kids would break down into three groups to go through a rotation of stations. There was arts and crafts, recreation and a care package station. The care package station was where the kids would receive gallon Ziploc bags packed full of stuff. Toothbrushes, underwear, t-shirts, beef jerky, granola bars, toys, stuffed animals, small sewing kits for the girls and flashlights for boys just to name a few things. Also in each one was a picture and a note from who packed the care package. Arts and crafts had different projects for them each day…salvation bracelets, foam cross necklaces, decorating t-shirts with puff paint, and prayer journals. Recreation had different games to play each day too…various parachute games, playing with Frisbees, jump rope, volleyball and the kids taught us some of their games. Each day was split into two sessions, morning and afternoon. Throughout the day, there were so many hugs and so much love shown.
            With the outline of the week done, I want to tell you really how my trip to Ethiopia was. On our first full day at the care point and in the first rotation of stations, I was flapping my arms with the parachute when one of our other team members came up to me and said that our sponsor girl was at the care point station waiting to open her care package from us. I FINALLY got to meet Seada!!! As I walked over to where she was, I realized that she looked totally different from the picture I had. As I got to her I bent down and hugged her. Now I had a body for the picture on my refrigerator. We sat down with her and watched as she unpacked her care package. She was like a kid at Christmas and couldn’t get the items out quick enough. She took the picture out and looked at the picture and then at us. The smile on her face was huge. Another member of our mission team had someone make and donate dresses for the girls. We helped her put it on and her smile grew bigger. With her new dress on over her dirty and torn clothes, she was happy!! We moved on to our letter which someone translated for her. As I was sitting listening and watching her, the tears grew in my eyes. After she had the letter read to her, she went to Deanna for a hug. Then she came to me for one. We had pictures made and then more hugs. Then I had to go back and help with recreation and Deanna back to arts and crafts. But instead I had to go and sit on the porch and gather myself. I had known her for maybe five minutes and she felt like a daughter to me. As I went back to the rec. group, I now had this feeling this was going to be a good week. I played and grew close to all of them but there was a different connection with Seada. Every time she was in looking distance we would make eye contact and just smile at each other. Since she was our sponsor child, we got to go and see her house and her family. I had said before we went on this trip that I wasn’t sure I was ready to see that but our day had come to take our visit. As we were riding to her house, she was entertaining herself with balloons. She blew one up for me and her. Well, the van stopped outside this gate and we were there. The gate was a rusty piece of metal roofing and she opened it and it was like another village behind it. We walked down the path with little Seada leading the way. We reached this mud house and this woman came out with a smile on her face. We walked into this small room and sat on mats they used for beds. It was an 8’x8’ room. That is the size of my bathroom at home. We talked with her, Seada, and her older sister, with the help of a translator, for just several minutes. This was her house. Just this very small room with two mats on the floor, a raised bed and a small hutch with their belongings in it. She shares this room with her mother, a 15 year old sister and a 9 year old sister. Her father passed away sometime from sickness.  They would use the front porch for their kitchen. Her mother didn’t have a job but would buy things at the market and resell them for her income. She was doing this to put food on the table. We told her mother that we love and pray for Seada and her family. Her mother told us that she was very grateful and gave them hope.  When we were done talking, we went out on the porch and took some pictures with them. After the pictures were taken, I hugged all three of them. The hug with Seada was very emotional because I had this pain for her. I picked her up and just held onto her tight as I was telling her that I loved her so much. The emotions got the best of me and I had to get out of there. I pretty much ran back to the van and got in and just balled. Deanna took some more pictures of her house and then walked hand in hand with Seada out of the gate. I saw her face and just couldn’t imagine living like that. What I just saw is what I call Ethiopian reality. It makes me very grateful for what I have and what I take for granted.
            Another thing we got to do was attend a Wednesday night prayer service. I don’t have the slightest clue what they were saying as they were singing but Jesus was in the room. You could just feel him there. One of the deacons spoke and was really thankful that we were there showing God’s love to the kids. It didn’t matter that they were a different race, spoke a different language, and lived different lifestyles…they still need to be loved.
On the last day, you could tell there was a different feeling in the air. Since this care point was the farthest one out, not many teams come and see them. When they do come and visit, they just stay a few hours with them. We had grown close and very attached to these kids but especially Seada. As the day wore on and the time running out, the kids would just cling to you. I spent most of my day right next to Seada, holding her hand, letting her sit on my lap and hugging her. We had a huge feast at lunch and then played some of their games with them. Then it was time for our good byes. Each team member spread out and the kids came to us with tears in their eyes. I hugged and cried with so many of them. The pain was ruthless. My heart had been ripped out of my chest. As I hugged each one, I told them that I love them. Then my little Seada came up to me…I picked her up like I did on her porch and hugged her telling her how much I loved her and just wept. She also was crying also which didn’t help. I watched as the last of the kids walked out of the gate and cried. I already missed them…these kids have been forgotten and we went and gave them hope.
Derek and Deanna's blog is: http://doitfortheorphans.blogspot.com

Monday, May 7, 2012

They have returned!

The team has been back for a week! The trip has been described as amazing, personal, beautiful, hard, raw, and extraordinary.  I will have pictures for you soon!  there are thousands to go through.  it's so hard to pick a few to post.

Here's what the team did at our care point with 160 kids!  The camp was divided into half days.  Some children go to school in the morning and others in the afternoon so the children came to camp when they were not in school.  The camp consisted of singing, bible stories, arts and crafts, rec and care packages.  Each day the children were given fruit and granola as a snack in addition to all the activities.  On Friday all the children came to camp in the morning for fun and games then they enjoyed a lunch feast of lamb (tibbs), shiro, and vegetables. 

The children were so grateful to receive your care packages.  They LOVED the photos and letters!  They showed off pictures of their sponsors to anyone who would stop and look. In addition to the care packages you sent the team was able to provide the children with - water bottles, backpacks, dresses and feminine hygiene kits for the girls, cars for the boys, beach balls, first aid kits, new t-shirts, and more.  THANK YOU to those who donated items or funds!  We also want to thank Daniel (a pre-schooler adopted from Ethiopia) who raised the funds for the feast which fed over 200 people. 

I cannot wait to share more.

Monday, April 23, 2012

And they are off!

 The team of 16 sponsors and friends left Saturday morning for Ethiopia!  With many bags packed full of care packages, sew important kits, balloons, balls and more.  Here is a photo of the some of the luggage packed containing 120 of the 166 care packages and 140 sew important kits.

At Dulles Airport the team saw the space shuttle on the tarmac. 

They arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia yesterday morning where they enjoyed a nap, some sight seeing and a traditional Ethiopia meal. 
The team left for Kombolcha early this morning.  They will meet with the children at our care point  this afternoon for soccer, games and a lot of hugs.  Tomorrow will start the 4 day camp program we have prepared for the children.  This will include handing out 166 care packages and a feast! 

Thank you for sending your care packages, donations and for praying.  We appreciate you all! 
The internet is not always available or reliable in Kombolcha so I probably will not have pictures of your children until the first week in May when the team returns.
Until then, please keep the team, the translators, and the children in your prayers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Project Sew Important Update

In January I asked if  you would join our church for Project Sew Important.  Almost everyday I receive an e-mail from you, your friends, friends of friends, even your grandmothers asking about the project!!
I have been overwhelmed by the number of women who wanted to help. God was behind it all so I should not have been surprised but I was.

I wanted to thank you for helping, spreading the word and/or praying for this project. Our original goal was to provide kits containing reusable hygiene products for 96 girls at our Children's Hope Chest care-point in Kombolcha, Ethiopia. That meant sewing 192 shields and 960 liners- a very time consuming task. We knew it was a huge undertaking but we thought we could do it.

Because of the overwhelming response we have enough kits for our care point, and the girls at two other Children's Hope Chest care-points- Project Greenlight and Trees of Glory! Praise God!!

Project Sew Important will continue! We will continue to provide vulnerable girls with feminine protection.  Many are still sewing and we are receiving items for the kits.

Thank you all for caring for the girls in Ethiopia who miss many days of school because they lacked protection. I love how many came together to be the body of Christ and serve.

Next month we'll post photos of the girls receiving the kits.

I love going in to the office to see what's in the mail!  Here are just a few of the items sent in the last few weeks and items made by our church's prayer shawl ministry.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who made this possible

 Here's 550 liners of the 1,510 needed for the kits!

Completed kits ready for packing!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A couple adoption mamas recommend I read this book- What's Eating Your Child?  They said I would love it and they were right!!  If your child or children have any of these conditions:
 mood swings, allergies, ear infections, eczema, anxiety, tantrums, ADD/ADHD, picky eating, lack of growth, and a host of other physical, behavioral, or developmental problems

Check to see if your library has the book or buy it!!   Author Kelly Dorfman, a nutritionist,  reveals the hidden connections between nutrition and chronic childhood ailments while giving you simple, straightforward tools to understand and solve their children’s problems.
I love the book so much, I have read it twice in the last month.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Update on Project Sew Important

On Sunday we had our first sewing event for Project SEW Important.  Here are a few pictures from our event.