Sunday, August 12, 2007

Enlarging the place of my tent....

I signed up for this trip as an "in the process" adoptive mom. My husband and I were almost done gathering our paperwork for our Ethiopian baby boy. I knew this trip would be opportunity to serve the Lord I love and serve His people and the country where our kids would come from (since I was already planning our next adoption in my mind, even before the first one was finished. That's just how I work). I wanted to meet the people and the culture and the land...connect.

Connect I did. I will forever be changed by what I saw, what I experienced, what I touched and smelled.

In fact, now we are adopting two children! The Lord worked in my heart, as well as my husband's, and we feel burdened for all of the children. So many. So precious. So many "older" ones with not much of a chance. Why? Because they are not a baby any more. (By older I mean over 2 years old.)

I saw plenty of older ones that desperately need a lap to sit in, a family to love them.

I saw the most handsome 14 year old boy. He'd been at the orphange since he was 7. No problems, just not a baby anymore. Do you have room for him? Do I?

Praise God, for He has changed my heart forever through this trip.

"Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations and will resettle the desolate cities." Isaiah 54: 2-3

And I turned the big 3-0! What a special way to celebrate my birthday! Thanks ya'll!

Here's what I'm clinging to these days:

"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

See you in Ethiopia!

love, jill :)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lalibela School Children

This was one of my favorite towns in Ethiopia. It was a tiny little town nestled in the northern mountains, full of color and lively people. The kids loved learning and it was evident school was their hope for a future.
In this photo one little boy was sharing his English arithmetic with me. I exclaimed how proud I was of him and his writing skills and the others came running to show me theirs!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

We walk by faith...

..and not by sight. This is one of my favorite hymns and is taken from the Book of Corinthians where we are challenged to place our trust fully in God's promises and not in what we may or may not physically see. Looking back on this mission trip, I realized that the sweet kids and selfless caregivers that we met in Addis Ababa and Lalibela are living every day according to this teaching. They are faced with so many uncertainties for their futures and hardships that would bring many of us to our knees, yet remain deeply convicted that God will fulfill the promises He's made to each one of their hearts and souls.

Peace! Many people I've shared my pictures with have been struck by how pretty and huge the kids smilies are.

I celebrated my birthday Ethiopian-style during the first week of our trip. The restaurant staff at Roha Hotel in Lalibela were kind enough to make this pretty cake.

This trip was an intense two weeks for me and I took away so many blessings and cherished memories. Sometimes I wonder if the kids that we jumped rope, played, prayed, and sang with will remember us. I feel like they will.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Prayer Warrior

Let me introduce you to Abigail. She is a 15 year old darling young woman who has grown up at Hannah's Orphan House. Although she has no earthly parents, she is NOT an orphan as she is God's daughter and there are NO orphans in God's kingdom. Nor does she have the perceived typical attitude of an orphan. Her eyes are bright and she is full of God’s love and joy. Most of the children at Hannah’s Orphan House exude this joy…if they have been there long enough. There are a few, who recently arrived, that still show signs of despair and sadness, but I know with Hannah’s love and Godly influence, this will change over the years.
The kids at this orphanage wanted to know what U.S. children were like. We told them some of the unfortunate things that have happened to children in the U.S. like not being able to pray at school and watching too much T.V. and the children in the orphanage wanted to pray FOR the children in the U.S. That was amazing to us...that these children who live in an orphanage would want to pray for the children in the U.S., most of whom live in prosperity and grow up in families. Abigail volunteered to lead the prayer. She was the most amazing intercessor I have every heard. As she prayed, not a timid prayer, but one with power, all the kids would say Amen after each passionate statement she made. Except they pronounce it "Ah-Meen". I think the war paint on her face was so appropriate! We had no idea what she was saying, but most of us were in tears as we witnessed this extraordinary time of prayer.
I aspire to pray with such boldness and passion as Abigail one day. If I could adopt anyone, I would love to have adopted Abigail, but again, she has a Heavenly Father and through Hannah's Orphan House, He has provided her stability and a Godly inheritance.
I cannot wait to see Abigail again! She is one that has remained in my heart as I know God has wonderful plans for her and has brought her up in His power and love

Monday, June 26, 2006

We Are One Body in Christ

This trip was such an eye opener for me. I knew that the Lord has a special place for everyone, but this allowed me to see it too. He brought together many different people with different talents and personalities and was able to use each one of us to do His work. Our team worked together as One Body in Christ's Name. Not only that, but the beautiful people of Ethiopia we were there to minister to, ministered to me. I was amazed to see these people with so little material goods still so joyful, loving, kind, and willing to share the little they had with complete strangers. I felt a connection to many of the children because so many reminded me of the children I teach back in the states. I saw children helping one another, giving each other hugs, playing games together, laughing, sharing, singing, and, most importantly, praying for one another. These are all things that I witness everyday as a teacher. It is so refreshing to know that no matter what situation children live in, children all over the world are the same when they have Jesus in their heart. Nothing can keep us from being one body in Christ Jesus as long as we let Him into our hearts. --Courtney

Sunday, June 25, 2006

No Orphans

I sat in church today and listened to a woman sing a song I had never heard before. As she began to sing, the faces of these precious children flooded my mind. When you hear the words I think you will understand why.

She sang "There are no strangers,

there are no outcasts,

there are no orphans of God.

So many fallen, but HALLELUJAH,

there are no orphans of God."

author unknown


Saturday, June 24, 2006

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

This is just the beginning...

I have been dragging my feet, not really sure what to post. This trip was incredible on many levels and so "not about me", since I was partnered with my 9 year old daughter, Taylor. I really miss all of our new friends from the States that made up this team. God sure knew what He was doing putting together such a diverse group. It honestly couldn't have been any better, in my opinion. I appreciate everyone and what they added to the team in both personality and spiritual gifting. We definitely had a blast! And then the interpreters that God provided, feels as if we left family in Ethiopia. They are precious and some of the most impressive people I have ever known.

As a parent I can't describe the blessing it was to watch my daughter in Ethiopia. It is amazing to watch her personal relationship come to a light that I don't normally get to experience in the bustle of every day normalcy. I know she has a unique relationship with God, as we all do. I know that He has an incredible plan for her...but I got to actually see it. I know this is just the beginning of His road for her life: seeing how He will grow her, use her, bless others through her. It was such an honor to experience it. I am excited to see what He has for her future. I know it will be great!

Taylor and I feel enriched. The people and the culture in Ethiopia are rich with values , caring, and a spirituality we are not used to experiencing here in the States. I feel so honored to have been a part of their lives for two weeks, to receive their love, care and encouragement. And we enjoyed experiencing and learning about their culture, loving and playing with the children, meeting families that are trying their best to provide for their kids against seemingly insurmountable odds, meeting strong Godly women who are obeying God's call on their lives and enriching children's lives because of it. I love being able to say that we have amazing brothers and sisters in Christ in Ethiopia and that God is moving on the continent of Africa. Praise be to God! He is so good!

We will be elated to return to Ethiopia, if God so wills it. Papa Duck, are you proud of me? I didn't say "like" once! ;) We sure miss all of you!

Out of the mouths of babes

I am convinced that the most wonderful sound in the whole world, is the sound of these children singing. They hold nothing back in their praise. What a joy to hear "I have decided to follow Jesus" and "Heaven is a happy place" coming from the lipse of these children. "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise"... Psalm 8:2. Not only did we love it, I'm sure God was very pleased.
The children at the Kechene center touched my heart deeply. Though they come from some difficult circumstances, you could never tell it from the joy in their eyes, and the smiles on there faces. Their faces are burned in my heart forever.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Living Stones

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

I Peter 4-6 NIV

The rock churches of lalibela are considered to be the 8th wonder of the world...pictured is St George... it's carved from solid rock about 11 meters deep.... and 800 years old! We spent a couple of days visiting several of the churches and I was reminded that WE ARE THE CHURCH! We don't "go" to church.... we are called to BE THE CHURCH!

That's what is so amazing about getting away from the daily grind to experience all God has.

The little boy pictured with me was with his family an an orthodox service in Lalibela... he touched my heart... may he know the living Christ.

So, why are you just waiting for another "church" service looking at the back of someone's head? Get OUT and BE the church.... trust God for the greatest adventure of all.


The Great Adventure

The Great Adventure

I've been thinking an awful lot about the great adventures we had while in Ethiopia. Giving our lives away for the sake of the gospel was truly amazing... not to mention the incredible physical adventures - riding mules/hiking up a mountain!

How many people can say they have ridden a mule up the side of a mountain in northern Ethiopia?! Not many. Another friend did it in Honduras. And, can you imagines calling a travel agent and requesting this? What would this cost? Yet, we did it. We rode mules up THIS mounatain... for very little money. BONUS!

Just today I was speaking to someone regarding a pending mission trip to Guyana, South America. Part of that GREAT ADVENTURE is riding a glorified canoe with a motor up a jungle river 100 miles into the interior to a community called Black Water... all part of serving God's mission on earth. What would that adventure cost? Thousands!

I enjoy adventure... remote places. I've driven the autobaun in Germany, worked in 4 countries, etc. Fear of the unknown keeps So many people from experiencing the GREAT ADVENTURE of serving God... yes, life is hard... sometimes painful.... yet God is faithful through it all. He wants to adopt us into His family and take us on amazing journeys if we'll open up our hearts to Him.

What are you waiting on? Saddle up your horse (or mule) and get out of your comfort zone!

Two benefits to this kind of life is 1) Ethiopia is on a different calendar and 8 years behind us (it's 1998) 2) I lost 12 pounds running around doing this... so, be thinner and younger by serving God!

Check out these lyrics by Stephen Curtis Chapman:

The Great Adventure

Saddle up your horses

Started out this morning in the usual way
Chasing thoughts inside my head of all I had to do today

Another time around the circle try to make it better than the last

I opened up the Bible and I read about me
Said I'd been a prisoner and God's grace had set me free

And somewhere between the pages it hit me like a lightning bolt
I saw a big frontier in front of me and I heard somebody say "let's go"!


Saddle up your horses we've got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace
Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other - this is The Great Adventure

Come on get ready for the ride of your life

Gonna leave long faced religion in a cloud of dust behind
And discover all the new horizons just waiting to be explored
This is what we were created for



We'll travel over, over mountains so high
We'll go through valleys below
Still through it all we'll find that
This is the greatest journey that the human heart will ever see
The love of God will take us far beyond our wildest dreams

Yeah... oh saddle up your horses... come on get ready to ride


Little Elsa

This is the picture of little baby Elsa who has the condition, hydro-encephalitis as described in Jennifer's blog below. Please pray for her healing..


Monday, June 19, 2006

KONJO KIDS (beautiful kids)... (-:

A couple of precious hearts from the Kechene Center... I gave my bible to the girl, Meskerem. She has such a beautiful spirit. God bless our kids there in Addis... I miss them.
Mary Beth

Have You Met My Son?

My Ethiopian son.... I want to adopt this little boy and do all the cool father and son things - t ball, camping, fishing, hunting... guy stuff. I don't think he's available, but I'm finding out... Charlie

Thank's Heather. This photo is a valued part of my life - FOREVER!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Street Children of Addis

I can't not think about the hundreds of street children we encountered in Ethiopia. What an amazing opportunity to be than hands of Jesus.

The following is a dipection of street children in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, retrived from the BBC's section: In Pictures.

Blink and you will miss the underground children in Ethiopia's capital city. They live in tunnels, sewers and drainage holes, hidden beneath Addis Ababa's teeming streets. They move from one makeshift shelter to the next, chased away by police or the rivers of water and refuse that flow when the rains come. Growing up amidst the traffic, they learn to hustle at a young age seeking change or selling small items to drivers at traffic lights.

Across from the main post office, there is a sewage drain. It draws little attention. Thousands of people walk across its steel bars every day without giving it a second thought. This is good for Mohammed and his friends. They do not want their home to be discovered. The space is not more than half a metre high, and though it is five or six metres long, only one small portion is covered and unexposed. When it rains, the boys huddle together among the rubbish and waste.

Among the reasons for the high numbers of street children in Addis Ababa are extreme poverty, hunger, violent conflict and drought in rural areas. Often, the children come without families, orphaned by disease, escaping abusive and neglectful parents, captivated by tales of wealth and opportunity in the big city. An exact number is too difficult to pin down accurately, but various estimates put the total number of street kids in Ethiopia between 60,000 and 150,000.

Text and pictures: Will Connor and Mesay Berhanu


Saturday, June 17, 2006

The group...BEST ever!

Two thorns among roses.... that's Papa Duck (far right) and Muffin (in the cool Ethiopian ski hat)!!

Ok, NOBODY better dare take down the photos of my twin brothers, Bruk and Bebi!! I LOVE those two guys so much...

Yes, this was a FUN group! I must confess that this was the best group I've ever experienced - even through all of the hard work and challenges.

This is what you can expect when you sign up for the next missions trip to Ethiopia!! So, what's holding you back? Charlie aka MUFFIN

Friday, June 16, 2006

Newly discovered extended family in Ethiopia

Ethiopian twin brotha Sir Awful with inexplicably matching sense of humor, DNA test to follow...

My Ethiopian twin sista from anotha mista
(credit to Taylor) with Happy.

Muffin's twin brothers from otha mothas.

The Poor

You will always have the poor among you...

John 12:8

This is a little boy I came across is Lalabela who touched my heart. I was constantly reminded that we will always have the poor among us...

Someone asked me today if I'd recovered from Africa. I sat for a moment before replying that I NEVER want to recover from Africa! May Africa always be in my heart and mind.


"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word."
Psalm 119:114

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13

This is my daughter, Rachel, holding a little girl named Happy. Happy does not look too happy because her mother died recently and she is new to Hannah's House. She is an under stimulated baby. My hope is that someday Happy will know all of God's promises and that she will experience what true happiness is. Happy stole my heart and I pray for her daily.

I am so proud of Rachel and her heart for little kids and especially orphans. I can see how drawn she is to them and they seem to respond to her as well. Rachel has already stolen my heart many years ago.

It seemed like (Dione...that's you word) in the middle of some very poor living conditions that you might consider hopeless, there was hope. This hope was in the name of Hannah's House and the other learning center we visited. These two women knew Jesus and in the name and power of Jesus, they have given some of these kids hope and they are learning about Jesus. This hope is spreading into the neighborhood. It reminds me of the parable of the mustard seed. Jesus used the smallest seed to show that the kingdom of God has small beginnings but will grow and produce great results.

I miss seeing all of you and really enjoyed meeting you and getting to know you.

Mike.......Papa Duck

Thursday, June 15, 2006

When I am weak, I am strong.

Her name means She Has Seen Alot. I was thankful that Sheena carried her the whole time we were there. She had just arrived and she just wanted to be held. She has the softest hair. I really liked the sister that was running the orphanage, a very bubbly loving lady from Malta. I think these little ones are in good hands with her.

This is my little buddy. Sister is hopeful about him. When he came in, he was very emaciated, but he is starting to fill out! I carried him around to all the other kids the rest of the morning and he never made a peep.

The one little girl, Elsa, made an indelible impression on me. She was disfigured with hydro-encephalitis. She wasn't even able to take a bottle. The caregiver had to syringe the milk into her mouth. I didn't really want to see her at first, but while Mary Beth prayed with her, I was convicted to see her as Christ does. As I looked upon her, I could begin to see her delicate little nose and chin, a very pretty little girl that Jesus cherishes and holds in the palm of His hand.

When we went to Mother Theresa's to see the people who have no where else to go with AIDS, cancer, handicaps of all sorts, we brought some baby wipes, ostensibly for ourselves and to wipe the children's runny noses. Little did we know what a huge hit they would be. The kids wanted them no matter what they were. We didn't get alot of time there, but one child gave the universal arms up signal and got to be carried a whole 15 feet. She thought that was the best. It really warmed my heart to hear her laugh. Sheena, it was just like you said. It made the whole visit for me.

I really liked the people of Ethiopia. (When a local pronounces it they don't say the 'th', and it sounds like 'Utopia'.) The children we saw seemed very well behaved and sweet natured. Even those outside the orphanages seemed to have good dispositions. I felt alot safer there than many other places I have been. When people ask for something, they don't want much. OK, maybe a dictionary. Mostly, give them a bite to eat and that's all they want.

Our translators were 'top shelf'. How they understood my sense of humor, I will never know. They were some of the unexpected blessings of the trip. We would call it lagniappe down here.

I was continually amazed at how God ordered the group into our stations at the orphanages and kept us on task and getting on very peaceably (OK, that's me notwithstanding. Thanks for putting up with me, guys!)). And even though I was WAY out of my comfort zone around children I didn't know, He was able to get me to get after those kids and love on them.

After our adoption from China this fall, I can easily see us going back to adopt from Ethiopia, (Lord willing and the levee holds... OK, no joke, but you get what I mean). It sounds like the adoption system will be trustworthy and the cost will be much more reasonable than most others. Almaz, make that happen. So the only question left is, Lord, who is it, a new baby or a sibling group?

Thanks for the great photos, Mary Beth! God bless you guys, JLay

The Children of Ethiopia...

Nothing prepares you for the sweet spirits of these awesome children. They've been through SO much in their lives and still love life to the fullest! It really humbles you to think about all the things we whine about in the United States... and the things we miss while away. All that matters is people... visit Ethiopia and experience it for YOURSELF! This little boy really touched my heart... I felt as if he were my son.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

From the Mouths of Children... (and big kids!)

These kids have seen a lot... Many of them have lost their parents to AIDS. And yet their spirit is not broken. The faith I have seen in these "poor" children is unbelievably rich. I can only pray that my faith might be as unwavering in the face of such tragedy. I thank God for showing me, through these kids, how much deeper faith can and really should be... Mary Beth

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

From Charlie

Hey guys... hope everyone is well. I will be posting my thoughts when I have some thoughts. I'm about thought out for the moment ;-)

Are y'all bored with life in the US since returning? I discovered everything I missed, with the exception of relationships, was things... real internet, 24 hr flush capability, etc. Just stuff. Stuff's fine, but it's just that - stuff.

I've been looking at beach houses -- off season (Sept onward to spring) is cheapest. It may be next yr before we do it b/c we want the whole gang there if we can... I'm looking at other options too. Although, ocean front is really nice!!

I realized (hey, this may be thoughts....) how much I became attached to each of you. It's difficult trying to share everything with those who didn't come... ya know? I have been praying for friends... and hanging out with Mike was a blast! Bruk & Bebi were exceptional roommates....

Anyway, this is my ramble. Pray for health... have been sick all week.


We're Home!

This blog has been set up for the team members of the Visiting Orphans Ethiopia trip 2006...