Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What if I don't know much about Ethiopia?

I have met several people lately who feel embarrassed that they don't know much about Ethiopia.  There is no reason to be embarrassed.  The beauty of living now is that we can begin to learn so much so quickly.  If you want some quick facts that can help you begin to understand this country I recommend going to BBC Africa.  Here's a link to quick facts about Ethiopia.

I hope this helps!

Project 1 student: Yonathan

I only spent about two hours with him.  His story is a difficult one.  His family, consisting of his mother and his brother, is struggling to make it.  Yonathan is an excellent student, but for obvious reasons his mind drifts from school to home all too often.  His teachers were hoping we could help him out so that he could focus on school.  When I met him I just wanted him to be able to be a kid again, or maybe for the first time.

Yonathan is an incredible 13 year old.  If there is anyone at Project 1 who is going to pull a trick on me I am sure it is him.  He loves playing soccer with the other kids and his laugh is contagious.  His eyes have seen a lot of life and they are heavy as if that is true.  Still, his heart is young, pure, and beginning to hope.  He is excelling in the 8th grade and is dreaming of what may be ahead for him.  When we asked him how we could pray for him, he said, "Pray for me to have a successful life and to succeed in school."  I look forward to watching him flourish.  For those of you who have invested in Project 1 so far, I want to thank you for impacting Yonathan.  His life is truly different because you had courage to give.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Project 1 -Hair Styling School

Here are pictures of the women who are going through the hair styling school in Project 1. There are currently 10 women who wanted to leave their current life of prostitution to discover the plan God has for them.
Through this program they receive counseling, prayer support, hygiene and daily care instruction, daily meals, and a hair styling school.

Because of your financial and prayer support these women are able to discover their God created identity and begin to see what their worth in Jesus is. Just $50 a month supports the needs of one of the women in our program.

There is one thing that sticks with me the most about this group of women. Even though there have probably been times in their lives that they haven't felt all that beautiful, maybe even felt worthless or shameful, they are now choosing to learn to be able to make other women beautiful!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Here are the winners of the prizes from Eyes That See......

Andy, Hannah, and Elijah Brown - Zebra from Ethiopia

Tim and Jina McCormick - Coffee from Gobena

Lauren Lebsack - Scarf from Ethiopia

Kristy Paulson - not-for-sale-yet Eyes That See t-shirt

Congratulations to our winners!!! Happy Thanksgiving!! Thank you to all of you for your wonderful support and encouragement to Eyes That See.

Drawing today!!

Thank you to all of you who sent us your contact information. You are now officially a part of the Eyes That See data base!!!

The results of the drawing are coming up soon..........

Stay tuned.......

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another gift that you can win.....

So if you've already sent your information to me nikki@eyesthatsee.org than you are entered to win this awesome prize......

1 lb of Fair Trade organic Gobena Ethiopian Coffee from our friends at Gobena. Please check them out to see the good things they are up to!

There's still time to get in on this gift - Thursday (Thanksgiving) is the last day to enter!!!

Thanks to the many of you that have already sent us your information. We are so glad to have you be a part of Eyes That See.

Heading Forward

The past few months have been incredible.  God has shown Himself so faithful in this first project.  The students are learning and growing.  The women are gaining hope and practical training.  We are seeing God's faithfulness as His word is being taught to everyone as they come by choice to learn the Bible on Saturdays.  This is what I want to do with my life.

We are at the point now where the kebele (sub city in Addis) is pleading with our staff to take more students in sponsorship.  The need is so great, and we are feeling led to take this step of faith.  The difficult part, of course, is that this costs more money.  It would cost about another $1,000 a month to bring in more children to this project.

At the same time, we are feeling that in the next few months it is time to open our second project within Addis.  We will spend time describing this in the next week on this blog and in a newsletter.  What we are asking is that you would join us in prayer for these projects.  Pray that God gives us courage to believe the funds will be available to care for His people.  Some of you will be led to give towards these projects.  Some may be called to support monthly, while others will be led to give a one time gift either now or before the year's end.  If that is you, please take courage and believe that He is faithful.  We are praying that God will provide richly in these last six weeks of the calendar year so that the needs of His students and women are met.  If you have questions, please email me at matt@eyesthatsee.org.  Thanks for everything friends.  We are honored to journey this together.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What good could come from this?

Sometimes we wonder what we have to offer.  Most of us our busy.  Most of us feel like our money is tight, our schedule is tight, and our mind is crammed full of things we are already forgetting.  Often we feel like we don't have anything really good to offer, so what is it even worth?
Last September I went to Ethiopia.  Many of you sent money along for our first project.  When I got there, rooms had already been worked on and were looking pretty great.  At the same time, I remember standing there thinking, 'I must be crazy.  Why do you have us doing this God?  What will really come of it?"  I was standing looking at rooms like this trying to imagine ministry happening.

I remember being excited about the new roof, but still wondering what would be able to be done in rooms like this.  I talked with my friend Phil about it and we trusted God would do what He had planned.  Before we left on the last day we got to meet the students at Project 1 and began to see what God would do through everyone's faithfulness.
Since we left so much has happened.  I got an update today that had me crying in Starbucks.  There are now ten women going through life skill and job training at Project 1.  They have had rough pasts and are now given a place to rest, dream, and move forward into what God has for them.  They decided together that they wanted to learn to do hair.  With that in mind, a salon school was started.  Here's one of the photos I received this morning.

Look at how this room is transformed! Look at the potential here!  I'm so grateful to be able to see God's Kingdom moving so powerfully, through very small, and simple things.  Thanks to all of you who are taking part in Eyes That See.  We are praying about expanding this project and will announce our new project next week.  All of this is dependent on God stirring the hearts of His people.  Thanks for joining us in this journey!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One of the prizes...

Here is one of the prizes that you can win if you give us your contact information. Deadline is this Thursday, Thanksgiving!!!! Drawing is Black Friday!!!

An Ethiopian Scarf - makes a great Christmas gift for you or someone else!!
(Cute Ethiopian boy not included)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Data Update!!!

We are looking for you.

If you support, pray for, or are just interested in Eyes That See then please send us your contact information - email, mailing address, phone number - we want to add you to our data base.

As an incentive we are giving away 4 prizes to 4 randomly drawn names from our data base!!

One of the prizes will be the first-ever-not-even-for-sale-yet Eyes That See T-shirt!!!

Entry deadline is Thanksgiving Day!! Drawing will be on Black Friday.
Thank you for your support and interest.

Please send info to nikki@eyesthatsee.org

Thank you!!

Computer need in Ethiopia

I've had several people ask us if there are any practical items that are needed right now for Eyes That See. We will give a list in the coming days of items that are needed and of the cost of parts of the program for people who want to donate this way, but I want to put this item out there right away. Like most organizations, we are in need of computers.  I have a great friend who has donated a desktop for Eyes That See, and now we are need of a few laptops.  Laptops get to Ethiopia easily and are needed for all the legal work of the projects.  We need one laptop yet for Project 1 and will need two more when the next projects begin.  If you have a laptop around that you would like to donate, please let me know.  We would love to partner with you and put it to good use!  You can email me at matt@eyesthatsee.org

Women Empowerment at Project 1

I'm very excited to announce that our women empowerment program has begun at Project 1.  Ten women are going through life skill training and have chosen hair dressing as the skill that they would like to learn.  Messeret Kelayu is a professional hair dresser in Addis and she is training these ten women to have a career like hers.

You can imagine what this means for these ten women.  They are given a new beginning.  They have children, no husbands, and what looked like a hopeless future just got brighter.  They are learning to care for themselves.  They are able to learn a trade.  At the same time, they are given the support of nine other women walking through similar situations.  Most of these women are orthodox, and are now hearing the Gospel for maybe the first time. Please be praying for these ten women.  Pray for God's mercy on their life, His protection over their families and His favor on their new direction.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Project 1 student: Meskerem

Eighth grade is an important year in Ethiopia.  It is the grade where students turn towards preparatory school, vocational school, or leave school to find work doing whatever they can find.  We are so glad that we are able to step in and impact this year for our friend, Meskerem.  Meskerem is a seventeen year old girl who lives with her grandmother, her two brothers and her sister.  

Meskerem enjoying the first day of Project 1

Meskerem was chosen for this project by her teachers because of her potential to impact her family and her city through education.  She is full of promise and life.  I can only begin to imagine what God may do through this young woman's life.  When we asked her how we could pray for her, Meskerem asked that we pray for her and her siblings' lives to change in brand new directions.  I know that God hears this prayer and will guide this family to lasting hope in Him.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Global Missions Health Conference

Matt and I have the opportunity to attend the Global Missions Health Conference today, tomorrow, and Saturday.

It's an event that is hosted at our church, Southeast. This is how they describe it.....

Each year the GMHC connects health care professionals and students with one another and other mission workers,agencies, non-profit organization leaders, and ministers. Through main sessions and breakouts, the conference provides information and training.

GMHC is the largest gathering of its kind. The conference is designed to encourage all believers with special worship and prayer times intended to strengthen connections to God.

We are so excited to have the chance to experience this event. Maybe next year Eyes That See can be a part of it. Please pray for God's favor during this conference.

Thank you for your support!

Project 1 student: Rekik

Some people remind you why everything you do is worthwhile.  Rekik is one of those people.  Rekik has lost both of her parents.  She lives with her grandmother now, but they have so little to live on.  Still, with this reality, Rekik has not lost hope.  She is doing well in school and is in the 8th grade at the age of 13.

Rekik is benefiting from the tutoring at Project 1
Rekik had such a wonderfully confident smile as she waited for Project 1 to be explained.  I know that she realized the opportunity that this is for her.  She is a smart young woman who seems ready to watch God move powerfully in her life.  When we asked how we could pray for her, Rekik said that she would like us to pray for her to have a successful life and for the health of her grandmother.  She is well aware that this may be the reason that she has been brought to Project 1.  There is hope written upon her face.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Project 1 student: Natnael

Some kids just grab your heart.  Maybe it's because he shares a name with my son.  Maybe it's because he has unique needs that remind me of my daughter.  Maybe it's just his laugh.  Whatever it is, Natnael is a young man I could never forget.
Natnael trying not to smile

Natnael is a 7th grader who is a joy in the classroom.  Facing difficult situations at home as well as with his health, Natnael is a joy to watch.  His family was struggling to pay for school, but now Natnael's concerns are lifted as he can study for his exams knowing that the family's need are met.  When he was asked how we could pray for him, Natnael said that he would like us to pray for "help for my family and a successful life."  We will pray for you Natnael.  I cannot wait to play soccer with you again.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Project 1 student: Hermela

Hermela is a beautiful 12 year old student in Addis.  She likes to laugh and play with her friends. While the boys play soccer, her friends lean close to Hermela on the wall as they whisper back and forth.  Like many Ethiopians, she loves doro wat.  In many ways, Hermela is like other 12 year old girls.

Hermela posing for a photo
Unlike many 12 year old girls, Hermela is navigating life without her parents.  She lives with her grandmother.  She has no siblings.  Hermela leans on her friends, her dreams and her faith.  She is in the seventh grade and her teachers note that she is an excellent student.  When Hermela was asked how we could pray for her she asked that we would pray that she would be able to support her family and keep her faith.  Thanks for praying for Hermela and her grandmother.  Thank you for being generous so she can enjoy being an almost typical 12 year old girl in Addis.

Project 1 student: Helen

The first day I met Helen she wore a smile that was brighter than the scarf she wore.  The whole time as we spoke, played and toured the facilities, Helen smiled at the opportunity that she was being given.  As a student involved in Project 1 she is benefiting from the extra tutoring and meals.  She also has the comfort of not worrying about how to pay for school fees next month.

Helen enjoying Project 1

Since Helen's mother is no longer alive, she lives with her grandmother.  The live in the Yeka subcity where she is in 8th grade.  As a 14 year old who has seen a lot of life she asked that we would pray that she would have a successful life and be successful in her education.  Thanks for praying for and supporting Helen. I hope you are able to meet her someday.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Today Arise For Children celebrated their 2nd Anniversary!! It was a good turnout and really fun to see all the children who have come home from Ethiopia!

We are so happy to partner with this great agency.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Project 1 student: Emebet

Emebet is a sweet, young sixteen year old.  She lives in Yeka with her parents and her brother.  She is blessed by this family, but the circumstances around them cause her to be in great need of help if she is going to be able to graduate the 7th grade and beyond.  Her teacher commented how she is a very good student who just needs someone to see her.  Eyes That See is honored to be a part of her journey.
Emebet posing for photo after school.
Emebet has an infectious smile that makes you want to laugh right along side of her.  Seeing joy settle on her is a great reminder of why Eyes That See exists.  When she was asked how we could pray for her she said "pray that I will keep to my religion to the end of my life."  Thanks for joining in praying for her to truly see her Father's goodness in her life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An Amazing Gift

I realize that Nikki and I have the unfair advantage of seeing so many people respond to what God is doing by make great sacrifices.  We also get to see lives changed and transformed through God's goodness.  I hope that you are able to see that in real ways as well.
For just a moment, I want to tell you about the mail I received yesterday.  There is a sweet girl in Altoona, Wisconsin who has a desire to see the people of Ethiopia.  At her grandmother's thrift sale Reagan had a lemonade and cookie stand.  She worked all day telling the customers about the people in Ethiopia that she was working so hard to support.  Some people responded generously.  Others walked away, but for everyone who went to that thrift sale, they were given the opportunity to see God's Kingdom at work in real ways.  Reagan sent the money she raised along with a sweet note that will go to the students at Project 1.

Thanks for inspiring me, Reagan.  We really love you and your family!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Project 1 student: Addisalam

Some children are just sweet and soft spoken.  Some blend in throughout life, even when they have big hopes and dreams.  Addisalam is a kind, quiet, seventh grader.  He is eleven years old, though his family no longer celebrates birthdates.  His dad has passed away and he now lives at home, just he and his mom.  His teachers say that his behavior is excellent and that he is a good student.
Addisalam smiling for his friends.
When we asked Addisalam how we could pray for him, he asked that we would pray for him to "have a successful life and have God help my mother."  Addisalam is a sweet young man.  His life is being transformed as you see him and care for him.  I don't know if he would have the words or confidence to same them yet, but I will thank you on his behalf.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I first met Tigist in September of 2009. She was working as a nanny at an orphanage I was working at. Her situation and story was difficult to hear. She was found in the alley outside of this orphanage crying and without a place to live. Thankfully this orphanage offered her a job caring for the babies.

I've wanted to share Tigist's story with you for a long time and I had every plan on doing it until now. When I sat down to write her story I just couldn't do it. It just didn't feel right. Maybe someday I will be able to, but now is not the time. I felt like having you see Tigist as who she is... a child of God and not seeing her as her past. So many times a person's past becomes their identity. We see this often with our work in Ethiopia. A poor choice or an unavoidable circumstance becomes the label these individuals live with forever. Slowly over time sometimes they believe this is all they can be.

I'm personally quite passionate about not allowing one's past to define them because I, like many others, have parts of my history that aren't that pretty to think about. If I would have allowed those yucky parts to define me I would be no where near the person I am today. I would feel worthless, unlovable, and not useful in God's kingdom. But thankfully, because of Jesus and His amazing love, He has redeemed my story.

Through Eyes That See, redeeming one's past and putting a new mark of God's child on them is exactly what we are praying to do. Our hearts are desperate for you to have Eyes That See your neighbor, the family across town, or the young mother in Ethiopia as exactly who they are - children of God.

Tigist and Endris enjoying Addis.

So it isn't her whole story but for now here's a little bit about Tigist:

Name: Tigist Girma
Position: Cook and Cleaning
Family Origin: Oromo
Experience/Education: Completed Grade 10, Nanny, and teaching children
Dream for Ethiopia: She is praying for the country to be restored
Favorite Food: Injera
Favorite Color: White
Prayer Request: That her life as well as her son's life be restored!

Project 1 student: Abraham

I am proud to introduce you to Abraham, one of our first students to benefit from the sponsorship and tutoring program at Project 1.  Abraham was the first student that I got the chance to spend time with at the project.  He is a wonderful young man who plays some serious soccer.  Abraham is fifteen and is in the sixth grade.  He lives near LIA in the Yeka subcity.
Abraham on our first day.
Abraham's father has died.  He now lives with his mother and brother.  His main teacher said that he is an excellent student and that, with encouragement, he will be able to excel in helping his family, friends and neighbors.  When we asked Abraham how we can pray for him he said "My mom has no home.  Pray that God gives a home to my mom."  Thanks for your support and prayers for Abraham.