Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Church Partner

I know that everyone in Wisconsin knows about Valleybrook Church, but we have begun getting support from people around the country.  I want to take a moment to publicly thank Valleybrook for all of their support over the years.  Valleybrook is the community that Nikki and I worshiped with for our whole marriage, as well as the church where I was a pastor before Eyes That See.  When we said it was time for us to leave and go to Louisville the church was so supportive.  People have been in prayer and support throughout the move and transition.  Valleybrook has also been very generous in supporting Eyes That See monthly out of their missions budget.  They are also helping us with bookkeeping, communications, and whatever other needs come up.  Thank you so much friends.  We love you guys.  We'll see you in December!

Monday, October 25, 2010


The Eyes That See website is up and running!! Information and updates will continuously be added so please check back often.

We are still adding some finishing touches, but we just couldn't wait any longer to share with you all the great things that God is doing through Eyes That See.

Thanks again for all of your support and prayers. It's so fun to have you along on this journey with us!!

Check it out here..... Eyes That See

Friday, October 15, 2010


Hi everyone
Would you be praying for us this weekend? We have our first talk at a conference in Indiana.  We get to do a breakout session that may only have two people in it, but we are still pretty excited.  I haven't taught in a few weeks, so I may go extra long winded.  Please be praying for God's guidance and for eyes to see His Kingdom.
Susan from Arise for Children will be teaching three breakouts herself.  It will be a good day.
Thanks for all the prayers and support

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our friend Endris

Many people who have gone to Ethiopia over the past few years either through Arise for Children or along with Nikki and I have met Endris.  He has a heart that is to serve Ethiopia and see God's Kingdom established among his people.  Last summer he received the government license of Love in Action and Eyes That See has taken this on as our Project 1.  It is at Project 1 that all of the sponsorship, after school programs and everything else is currently happening.  Endris has assembled the staff, done the legal paperwork to begin Project 1, and by Friday will have all of the children officially licensed for the sponsorship program.  When Phil and I were in Ethiopia we took some time to ask some simple questions so you could get to know Endris.
Phil and Endris taking a break

Full name:  Endris Amedo
Position: Director of LIA
Family:  a wife and three children
Work Experience:  previously worked retail as an assistant manager and then went position as Senior Bank Officer at the Bank of Ethiopia.  He surprised the bank when he said he was shifting his career to go into work that would benefit children.  Since then he has worked with three different organizations gaining experience before starting LIA.
Dream for Ethiopia:  Endris' dream for Ethiopia is that as he serves the Lord by teaching the Bible and leading LIA that he will see lives restored, women rescued, and children living in better conditions.  Endris loves to share the gospel with those who are around him.
Favorite Ethiopian food: Kitfo (Matt's least favorite food in the world.  Seriously, raw beef?)
Prayer request: Pray that God fulfills the dreams and visions that He has placed within Endris.  Pray that Endris leads a life that is for God's glory alone.

Endris and the staff

Please be in prayer for our staff in Ethiopia.  We pray that God honors their work everyday.  Thanks for joining us!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Water Projects

I know that sometimes within the US we don't realize the importance of clean water.  We are just used to it.  Even The Karate Kid makes fun of how we are used to water, hot or cold, depending on how we want it.  We have tap water that is usually great and bottled water everywhere.  We can't even really imagine life without water.

A few years ago Nikki and I spent some time with a good friend in Ethiopia.  He could not figure out why she would drink water all the time.  To him, even with his several college degrees, water makes you sick.  The headache he lived with was just a part of life.  When we saw the water that they were used to using it all made a lot more sense.

Two years ago I was able to help to dig a well in Wolayta.  When I went to see the site there was a guy standing nearby with a bottle of water he was drinking.  Here's a photo of his drink next to ours.  It's not tea, just water he was used to drinking.

This is why we, along with so many others, are so passionate about getting clean water to people who have none.  Our dream is that each project that we work on will have an Edge filtration unit, or something similar to enable people to have pure water.  Over the coming months we believe there will be two more projects starting. If you are interested in helping us with our water projects, feel free to contact us!

Monday, October 11, 2010

More updates

I know last week I would be telling you about the 10 children who are a part of the program.  That is still coming.  We are just waiting for the families to finish registering with the government, and then we will introduce you to each of the children.

As we are waiting for this, I know some people have wondered what the money that was raised went towards.  Before I left for Ethiopia, you had donated over 5,000 USD.  Here is a rundown of what all was purchased and completed when we were there.

Kitchen supplies
Our friend Tigist will be cooking for ten 7th and 8th graders three times a week.  Can you imagine how much they will eat?  I only have five, all younger than that and they eat more than Costco can provide.  As we looked at starting this program, we had to stock the kitchen.  A stove was already purchased, so we just bought the rest of the materials needed.
Tigist with the kitchen supplies.

Classroom supplies
Besides the paint and flooring for each of the rooms, the classroom needed to be set up for children to learn.  We were able to buy 10 chairs from our friend Hanah's dad in Nazaret.  They were delivered on time and looked great right next to the five new desks that were built for our classroom as well.
Phil and Endris learned a lot from each other.

The chairs were strong enough to hold us, so we were pretty excited to see them in use!
Sponsor children enjoying a treat.
Office furniture
Within Ethiopia it is very important to keep good records of how things are going.  For this project to succeed we needed to set up an office.  We were able to buy two desks and two chairs for the newly painted and floored office.
Office furniture.

Wash machine
My heart was grabbed by my son's story of missing school because of a dirty uniform.  For the children within this program, this will not be the case.  We were able to buy a wash machine where all the uniforms can be cleaned and taken care of.  All of the students will go home with clean uniforms ready for the next day!

brand new wash machine!

New Roof
I am truly honored to be friends with Phil Hollien.  He is a board member for Eyes That See and a wonderful encouragement to Nikki and I.  When we were in Ethiopia he purchased new tin to be on the roof of the buildings.  You have seen pictures of how much better it looks.  Now, all the work done inside will not be ruined by the rain.  Instead there is a safe, dry place to learn and grow. 

Thank you everyone for all of your help and support.  We'll keep the updates coming!

The Least of These...

When you think of it, this is a difficult concept.  Any definition of who this describes becomes slippery.  It’s a label no one wants to wear, yet Jesus clearly speaks about this reality. 

We just moved to Jefferson County, Kentucky.  You may have read about our school busing in the USA Today lately.  It is a case study in the “least of these.”  People from West Louisville are being bused to go to school with everyone else. People are upset, and stereotypes abound. 

We live in a nice area, next to nice people.  We often hear about “lower income families” and people with state assistance or health care.  Because of our daughter’s health situation, we have to stay at a salary right now to receive that state health care.  We are the unwanted neighbors that everyone is talking about, they just don’t know it. 

Some wonderful people are doing work in Ethiopia right now.  They are in one of the parts of Addis that is so difficult to walk into, yet even harder to walk away from.  I haven’t been to this place yet, but I’ve seen others.  Places where people are living in pieces of tin leaning on one another.  People drinking from the same river they use for a toilet.  These people would welcome death as an end to their pain.  When you are there it is so clear that they are “the least of these.”

I just returned from Addis to a city that is learning to love the poor in Africa.  The radio is raising sponsorship for children in Ethiopia.  Organizations are rising up to help everywhere.  People are changing the way that they live, but I cannot help wonder, are we missing “the least of these?”

For me, I want to devote my life to help those who are in need in other countries.  I want to work with those in West Louisville to see God’s Kingdom come alive in their midst.  At the same time, I have a hard time with passive Christians.  I pass them by.  Sadly, I’ve been known to judge them in my heart, seeing them as less than anyone else.  Isn’t that statement in my heart the very definition of “the least of these?”  Doesn’t my problem with the passive show the brokenness in my heart and where I need healing? 

For some of us “the least of these” are in Africa, and yet for others I know that is the trendy, easy scapegoat to use.  If “the least of these” are in Africa we don’t have to worry about our neighbor.  We just give our money, our time, our conversation and go on living unchanged.  I don’t think that is the gospel. 

Maybe for you, “the least of these" are the successful.  You would never say it out loud, but you can’t stand them.  Maybe they are the single parents, the delinquents, or the people on the west side.  Maybe it is those, like myself, who have their insurance through the state. 

I don’t know who “the least of these” are, but I’m pretty certain that there is not a definition to be placed on one people group.  “The least of these” is a matter of the heart.  Nikki and I have been talking about this all weekend and we are praying that some of you take time with your Father about this question.  Who are "the least of these" that He is inviting you to love?

Matthew 25:40
  And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

Friday, October 8, 2010

Shoes that never wore out

When I was in Ethiopia I got the opportunity to speak at Endris' church.  Endris' church has welcomed Pastor Dye, Pat Kileen and others to speak, and this time it was my turn.  I don't know how clear the message was for those seated, but it was one of those moments that was crystal clear to me.

For you to understand, you need to know this: I like shoes.  I know that isn't a manly thing to say, but it's true.  I like shoes.  Usually when you like something like shoes you like new shoes.  That's just the way that I've been.  Now that you know that I can go on explaining my church experience.

It's always funny to me how we expect God to move how we would want Him to.  For me, if God is asking me to be on my feet I assume that means He will give me new shoes. In Ethiopia, like the US, they ask for what they want.  Another illness to be cured, extra food or money, new clothing.  These are good requests, but they have taken our lead in missing the miracles.  The requests there are much more humble and innocent than mine, but still something became more clear for me on this visit.  We spend way too much time telling God what to do.  Often we miss what He wants to do in us and for us.

When I got to talk at the church I talked about the time the Israelites were in the desert.  People within the room were in deserts of their own.  We talked about the pain, the longing to be somewhere else.  We talked about how you just want out, and humbly I looked at faces who understand this more than I can pretend to understand.  

We spent time on these words in Deutoronomy 29:4-5

"But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.  I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet."

Their shoes never wore out, clothes never tore.  What an amazing God!  I don't want to be staring for new shoes while He is restoring the very ones my feet are standing in.  I want what God has for me.  

When you look for it, there is nothing more powerful than a person filled with true joy in a difficult situation, THEN seeing the situation redeemed.  There is nothing like a person with no means of surviving still thriving when mankind has no way to explain it.  That's my God.  He is always flooding His people with promise before the fulfillment happens.  The truth is shoes that never wear is way more miraculous than an unending supply of new ones.  For Ethiopia, I can't wait to see how He will walk His people through this desert.
I'm praying today that He gives us eyes to see His goodness and His Kingdom.  Maybe we'll even begin seeing all that He is already restoring.

Thanks for joining our friends in Ethiopia in trusting that God will redeem and restore us all.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I know Matt mentioned while he was in Ethiopia they put a new roof on part of the building that will be housing Project 1 but I thought I'd share some pictures of it.

The old tin

The new tin

Abush fixing the roof

We were able to have a new roof put on several different sections of the building that were leaking.  It allows for the classroom, office and kitchen to all have dry ground.  That's just one more thing that we take for granted!

Our General Service Man

If you go to the first project of Eyes That See you will immediately meet Aweke Getu.  He is a slender, smiley man who always seems to be adjusting his Ohio State baseball cap.  Every time that I saw Aweke he had a smile on his face and was ready to help.  Aweke is a huge asset to this project as well as to Eyes that See and Arise for Children.  He is responsible for the buildings and grounds of Project 1 (LIA) and does a wonderful job overseeing all maintenance and repairs.

I spent some time with Aweke and asked him for some basics about himself.  This is what he said.

Personal info:  His name is Aweke Getu and he is has a Management Information Systems degree and Computer Science diploma.  His family is from the Nazaret area.
Work Experience: 11 years at the Pentecostal Theological College, with five years as an officer there.  He has also operated a guest house previous to this project.

Dream for Ethiopia:  Aweke talks passionately about how he feels a strong burden for the poor and beggars in Addis.  His dream is that they will see God provide for them in real ways.  

Food:  Aweke loves Doro wat (Chicken stew)

How can we pray?  When I asked how we can pray for him, Aweke asked that we pray "That God fills my heart through His vision and His word.  Pray that God fulfills the dreams that He has put in my heart."  

I can't wait for many of you to meet Aweke.  He'll make you feel right at home (if you like Ohio State anyways!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm back

Hi everyone.  Thanks for all the prayers and support.  I'm back from Ethiopia now and feeling well.  The trip was successful in a lot of ways and Phil and I are excited to be home telling everyone about what was done.  Throughout the trip we were able to fix up much of the building-finishing the classroom, furnishing and painting the office, and redoing a whole kitchen as well as putting new tin on the roof where necessary.  This took a lot of time, but Abush and Aweke did hard work accomplishing everything.

After helping see what needed to be done on the building we were able to buy the supplies needed: the wash machine, kitchen materials, desks, chairs, everything for day one that would help the project succeed.  On our last day we were able to meet the children who will attend our program.  

Through this partnership with Arise for Children, 10 children will have their school paid for.  This means that their monthly school fees, uniforms, books and supplies will all be provided.  Along with this, they will have three days of tutoring a week.  One day will be in English, one in Mathematics, and one day is a Bible study. 

 When they arrive after school there will be a time to play soccer, relax, and be a kid.  Then, a meal will provided.  For those of the kids that would like the assistance, we have a wash machine to keep their uniform clean.  After the meal they will have their tutoring and be able to go home well fed with a mind engaged and a clean uniform in hand.  I will take time to introduce you to the staff and kids in the following days.  For now, thanks for all of your support and prayers.  God bless all of you.