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21 posts from April 2009

April 30, 2009

Uganda Updates

Right now we have a team in Uganda being led by Brandi McElheny. You can follow their team at any of the following blogs/Twitter feeds:

Brandi M - or Twitter: @BrandiM
Ria from MN -
Anne from FL -
Amanda from MI-

Brandi wrote to us today:

Things are going great so far!  We exchanged our money in Kampala (got a GREAT rate!!!  2215 ugx for $1usd.)  This is great news because it extends our money much farther!!!

We visited 2 sites today. . .Rapha (ours!) and a possible site that looks extremely promising with 32 double orphans (mostly AIDS) currently and room for 200--really amazing place.  We also discussed creating a care point for the village around Rapha and their needs.  Both Joseph and Arthur (who runs Rapha) seem very interested. 

Arthur currently has 250 kids in school that would be a part of the care point (right now, when the children who live there eat lunch, all the other kids have to go sit on the grass.  our women who came early to volunteer sat with the kids yesterday and they just talked the whole time about how hungry they were).  However, he said that once funding was available he could easily see a waiting list up to 400 kids wanting to come to that school and receive lunch.  Great possible expansion. 

We'll hit the ground running tomorrow morning and get to Soroti as quickly as possible for Child Headed Household ministry all day Saturday - Monday.

We are very excited and hopeful for the launch of our ministry in Uganda. I would encourage you to read through the blogs from the team members--all volunteers helping CHC establish a strong ministry.

To donate now to support our Uganda launch and help the children Brandi is meeting right now, go to our secure donation page and put "Uganda Launch" in the notes section.

Featured Author and Top Book Pick

Michelle Sutton, edition of Christian Fiction online Magazine, has chosen Scared as this month's top book pick. You can see the review and ad here. I am very excited about the good reports my first novel is getting. Hope you all enjoy it.

There are only 4 people on the planet, that I know of, outside the publisher who have a copy of book. Brandi McIlhaney is one, and she read the entire thing on the plane to Uganda yesterday. Quite a feat to knock out 300 pages that quick! Her blog is entitled, Living Freely, and she will be posting about what what is happening in Uganda. Children's HopeChest is very excited about our new ministry in Uganda and we want all of you who have a heart for that country to join us. Here's what she said:

"I'm here!  No time to write much b/c it's 1 am here and I haven't slept in days.  Thanks for praying, I've been feeling it already.  We had great seats on the planes, but I didn't get much sleep.  I did enjoy myself though.  . . .

In fact. . .how about joining me?  Since I don't have lots of interesting stories to write about, how about taking the time to click over to amazon and pre purchase your copy of SCARED.  I got a pre-copy from Tom and read it on the plane here.  That's what I spent my whole last flight doing =)

It was AMAZING.  Seriously, a must read.  I don't even want to write more for fear of giving it away.  It was thrilling, captivating, dramatic, engaging, heart wrenching, sob invoking, God speaking, revealing. . . .and so many more things!  Truthfully, I was excited but nervous to read it.  I mean, what would I have said if Tom's first foray into the fiction world was just "so-so"????  Thankfully, it was REALLY good!  You guys know me and I rarely encourage anyone to actually BUY things, especially a book (I'm a library girl, myself).   This is SO worth it though!  Really, go buy a copy.  You're going to LOVE it!  

I can't wait to read it again with you guys!  Really, even if you don't have a huge passion for Africa, but you'd like to learn and be sucked into a great story at the same time, BUY THE BOOK!  Comment on this blog and we'll do a whole blog party about it!  There is so much I want to post about it and my thoughts, wrestling with God and my emotions.. .but not until you've read it.  I feel like I've learned something and been changed by the very reading of this "fiction" novel.  Thank you, Tom.  You pretty much messed me up."

April 29, 2009

Slum Capital of the World

Answer: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A shocking 99.4% of those living in Addis live in slums according to Mike Davis in his book, Planet of Slums. Sure there are more cities just as bad, but this ranks right at the top. 

This statistic is startling. Having just returned from there, I can tell you that slums are everywhere. In fact, I've referred to the entire city as a 'shanty-town.' But I had now idea the statistic was that high. All the more reason we need to focus on helping the orphans and widows of the city through the programs we offer. Many of you have asked when the next trip will be: October 2009. Please let me know if you're interested in going. 

I can't help but ask the questions, "What if I was born in conditions like this?" "How would I escape?" "How would my children have futures?" "What opportunity would I need from others to help me raise my standard of living?" Below are some pictures of the slums from our trip. The first picture is of a woman smearing fresh cow-manure into the containers that make injera in order to see them. Next time you complain about your job, think of her.

According to Wikipedia, "slum, as defined by the United Nations agency UN-HABITAT, is a run-down area of a city characterized by substandard housing and squalor and lacking in tenure security. According to the United Nations, one billion people worldwide live in slums.[3]

IMG_9503 DSC_9013 IMG_8905

April 27, 2009

Back from Africa - More Pictures Up

It's 4am, and the jet-lag is getting the best of me. I thought I would make the best use of my time by uploading some more pictures to Facebook. Day 5 can be found by clicking here. They're shots of Compassion Family Int'l and Kolfe Boys Home. Day 6 of Kebebetsehay, Kechene, and Moses orphanage are here

Hoping to get back on track soon. At my son's soccer game an hour and a half away, I totally forgot my camera and left the entire backpack on the field. I'm sick to my stomach thinking about. Pray someone honest finds it.

Here's a few pictures of what you would see on the streets of Addis Ababa. While I was there I read in a book that 94.5% of the urban population in Addis lives in slums. This is a very poor country that needs our help. We have 7 new orphanages available for your church, company, or online community to sponsor. 3 are already spoken for. I'd love to hear from you ASAP if you'd like to be involved. Thanks for praying and following the trip. My blog hits were through the roof so I know many of you were reading the posts. I read every comment and every twitter message. I'm deeply grateful for you and love the passion you have for serving the least of these.

April 23, 2009

A Hope and a Future

Today I met a girl who represents hope and future to me.

One of the passages we are fond of is Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future."

So many orphans are the young boy I met whose eye collapsed when a group of bullies held him down, and used a plastic bottle to suck the fluid from his eye socket.

Today I met a young woman who was abandoned by her parents and ended up living with her aunt. All during this time she lived under the constant threat of being raped by her cousin every night.

It's hard to put that in perspective or have any frame of reference for these kind of circumstances. I cannot imagine being a young and vulnerable girl, raped by a family member. A hope and future? Yeah right. Maybe for somebody else...

As an orphan she had no place to go except the street, and so she left that home for good. It couldn't get much worse.

That's when she met Hannah.


Hannah is "mother" to over 175 kids in 19 different homes. She puts 6-8 together in one home with a mom. The entire network runs on Hannah's love, grit, and determination. I love it! Hannah is one of the most phenomenal caregivers I've ever met.

Hannah took in this young girl and put her in one of her homes.


Now she lives in one of Hannah's homes with five other girls. She's learned to cook, she's going to school, and she studies the Bible everyday at Hannah's community center. She's almost done with high school and wants to become a doctor so she can help others.

A hope and a future.

We have a great opportunity to support Hannah's home, and because of how she has these homes set-up, it is a great way for a family, a small group, or another smaller community to support. Sponsorship of one of Hannah's homes of 8 kids would be $3,264 a year...If you're interested as an individual or a group, let us know.

Give online today to support Hannah's Homes on CHC's donation page.

April 22, 2009

The Poorest of the Poor

Today our team had the privilege of being with some of the poorest people in Addis Ababa. Mother Teresa used to say that by serving the poor she could be with Jesus all the time. That's what today felt like.
The first orphan care point was called "Gospel for all Nations." 42 children are helped by this ministry, but the help is extremely scarce. They don't have any sponsorship or funding coming in. The little they do have is money the pastor takes from his own pocket. Just like Walter in Swaziland...

The children are orphans--sons and daughters of prostitutes.

We went to their homes. We touched their faces. We hugged them as if they were our own.

The place was filthy and filled with stench but we knew God had us there for a reason, to see what Jesus looks like is the worst of circumstances.


I met an 18 year old sex worker with a baby. She was really a beautiful girl and one of our team members asked why she sold her body.

"So I can have food to eat," she replied. 

Nobody should be forced to sell themselves so they don't starve.

The second home we visited is called Shalom, it is a place for street kids.  These kids have been abused in the most horrible ways. The boys and girls have been raped and most of them have HIV/AIDS. One boy had TB so bad he coughed the entire afternoon.

They slept on the hard wood floor of this run down building trying to stay safe from the evil that waited for them outside the door.

One saint of a lady named Telagne has given her life to serve these kids. They have absolutely no support. I asked her where they got money for the little food they had. She said, "from my wages." I was awed by her sacrifice.

We canceled the rest of our plans for the evening and decided to have a HUGE pizza party complete with Coke, Fanta, and bananas!


The kids said to us, "we've never had a Coke before."

Tomorrow we're buying them mattresses, blankets, shoes, and food. Oh, my heart is broken for these kids. They are just children, 7, 9, 12 years being the oldest.


At the end they asked if they could pray for us. Are you kidding?

We stood in a circle and they stretched out their hands toward us, blessed us, and prayed for us.

I've never been so humbled.

I saw the Kingdom of God in a new light today. I long for Christ to come back not so I can have a mansion in the sky or to get my eternal reward, instead I want him to come back so these children don't have to suffer anymore. No more pain, no evil perpetrated on them day and night, no tears, ever again.

If you want to help with the expenses for the shoes, food, blankets, and mattresses (we're buying these things out of pocket right now in Ethiopia), just give online at put "Shalom Ethiopia" in your note.

Photo Update

100 new photos from Days 3 and 4 of the trip. Check them out here.

April 21, 2009

"The Mighty One Has Done Great Things for Me."

I met an orphan girl named Mary today.

As I was thinking about her story after we left the orphanage, this scripture came to mind on Mary's Magnificat. One of the most passionate love songs to God reverberates in the beat of Mary's every word:

And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me, holy is his name."

Mary almost said this exact thing to me today.

She's a strikingly beautiful young girl of 13 and filled with a love for her Savior that's humbling. She even wants to been in some kind of full-time ministry. Seeing her smile radiate and experience the genuine love she has inside made me believe her every word.

That's her life now, but her life a year ago was a nightmare.

Her parents lived in the country and were extremely poor. A man they knew promised to help pay for her education if she would come live with him in the city. They agreed and he turned her into a slave.

When he started to abuse her she ran away. Another family took her in but they were just as cruel. She found out her parents were sick and dying and begged for them to let her visit them one last time. They refused, so she ran away and ended up on the streets.

No one would help her, compassion could not be found. Scared to death at 12 years old and all alone, she stayed up day and night for 3 days trying to protect herself.

A few days later, a group of 4 boys beat her and raped her.

Wonderful Ethiopian people helping children on the street found her. Beaten, bloodied, unconscious.

I stood in tears listening to the director tell me this story. I went back and found Mary and listened to more of her story today. She told me of her love for others and Jesus - Her Magnificat.

Mary Before


Mary Today - the Mighty One has done great things!


You can become part of Mary's story. I didn't have a special fundraising push on my blog this month, but you are invited to respond to any of these stories with your prayers and your gifts. Just note the orphanage or person we highlighted, and we'll use your gift to support them. Give securely, and online, on our donation page. Thank you.

Photos on Blog Now

I got the photos from our first two days on the blog...see the photo album on right that says "Ethiopia April 2009" or just click to get those pictures.

Pictures are always on Facebook first...another post coming soon. Thanks for your prayers.

April 20, 2009

My heart is full.

ETKID We've just returned from visiting two orphanage sites called Hope for the Hopeless.

I can't remember the last time I've been overwhelmed with so many things at once - love received from the kids, stories that broke my heart, joy that filled my soul as we danced and sang together.

Multiple sets of tears that streamed down my face, and prayers that opened the door for the Kingdom of God to show up in powerful ways.

Hope for the Hopeless is a ministry that rescues kids from the streets of Addis Ababa. Most of them are double and single orphans. They've run from abusive situations for safety. These amazing people find them, love them, and heal their broken hearts.

I will never look at ministry to street kids the same again.

They have two facilities, one in the city that houses kids and transitions them, another about thirty minutes outside the city where they live in community with staff and go to school.

Overwhelmed! I'll say it again.

ETKIDS We entered the gates and each child came up to us, hugged us (I'm talking full body hug) and thanked us for coming to see them. They are so filled with life and hope, I can hardly believe it.

I asked them about their dreams for the future. They want to be preachers, astronomers, gymnasts, professional soccer players, and good mommies and daddies.

One little boy has a degenerative eye disease, he'll go blind without a miracle. There was nothing we could do but pray. So we laid hands on him, and he started to cry. He had no idea what we were saying, it was a very touching moment.

We got down to a little business on the soccer field which was a blast. My boys would have been proud of my performance!

Then we sang songs together for 45 minutes. It felt like heaven, I'm telling you. Our team could have stayed there all night. Nobody wanted to leave and after being there for hours, it seemed like a few minutes.

When we left each of them hugged us again, this time a little longer, and with the words I love you in our ears. Some community of folks gets to sponsor this orphanage. I'm telling you, it's one of the most amazing places I've ever been.

If you're interested, let me know ASAP. There will be a line! They have a little support but it has waned with the economic crisis. There are so many great things to be done with this group.

I can't wait to get back. I'm coming with the sponsoring group to put on a camp at this place!

If you want to make a gift to support Hope for the Hopeless, donate now. We can use any amount to launch sponsorship here. Put "Hope for the Hopeless" in the notes section.