Friday, October 21, 2011
Head on over to Eyes That See. It's a great website filled with information on our new projects. You can sign up to receive updates right from the website. You can also donate online now too.
Come check it out!!
Thanks so much for your support. We could not do this without you!
Matt and Nikki Ness
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
The main reason i want to join eyes that see is because its mission is based on the bible and it is Christ centered. Growing up as an orphan myself, I always imagined myself being one of these women on the street or one of the orphans abandoned. But God helped me and now can see what my sisters are going through and it's my turn to be there for them. I would like to see those women under such situations to know Christ and become self sufficient. This is what i feel.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
They also collected many supplies for us that will be going over to Ethiopia on our next trip. We will definitely be hanging out with them again!
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
We will be having a board meeting while we gone and after that I hope you fill you in on all the ways that Eyes That See will be continuing to share God's heart to those we work with. As always, there is room for YOU, your church, your small group, your school, and your work to be a part of Eyes That See.
Can't wait to share with you.........
Friday, July 8, 2011
Yonathan is 14 and in 8th grade. He's got an older brother Abenezer who is 20. He lives with his mother who is healthier than she used to be and he talks about the way he loves to be with and help his family. I asked him what he wants to do when he's older, and he quickly responded "I want to be a doctor". I asked him what kind, and without hesitation he spouted "Lung Specialist". When I asked why, he boldly shared "When I talk to people in Ethiopia they tell me there have only been three Lung Specialists here... pause... I'm going to be the fourth". When I ask how he got interested in this to begin with he shared that one of his close friend's mother's has lung problems.
He's someone I've come to love to put into head locks, and a teenage boy that will finish the food I can't. Yet his heart and vision for his own people is unique and specific. It has been a blessing to get to serve and teach him. His story and life humble me and fill me with hope. Yonathan is a kid that believes he can make positive change and he has a deep rooted faith that he can share in two languages. I'm excited to see what kind of story is written with his life.
Friday, July 1, 2011
This post is written by Janet. Janet is one of the members of the latest team to travel to Ethiopia......
It started just three months ago.
A vision of a little African boy looking up at me, came to me as I was falling asleep one March night. I immediately heard myself asking, out of the blue, "Is this about Ethiopia, God?" And, over the next few weeks, I became aware that yes, God had absolutely invited me to join Him in His work through the mission trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with several others from Valleybrook Church.
I had never thought seriously of such a trip and did not see this coming. I was not sure I would have even "qualified" for such a mission. But God had plans for me beyond what I would have come up with myself! He was persistent. He removed my doubts and cleared the obstacles that seemed at times overwhelming.. And... it was this little boy He showed me, who drew me to a mission that God revealed would break my heart wide open for the women and children of Ethiopia... those with whom I eventually had the privilege of witnessing the power of love, of sharing, and of believing! My gratitude for what He has done in my life these past four years, since I accepted Him into my life, can barely be expressed in words, and when I can get those words out, it is rarely done without accompanying tears.
Even before we left, I so identified with, and had a heart for these women and children with whom we would share a week together. Like for these women, living with shame, insecurity and self doubt, was my identity for many years...until I found myself at Valleybrook and the healing began. My story of His work in me, is one of forgiveness, freedom and redemption. There is no way, through my own efforts, that these changes could have happened. Nothing, without Him. And it was my hope that I could help others find the same answers.
Our arrival in Ethiopia, after a 12 hour long plane ride from Washington DC, brought to me a new awareness of life in a different part of the world. I knew that this trip would offer me an opportunity to feel the emotions of one who is in a land where most spoke a language I could not understand. Having never been to a third world country I can remember feeling overwhelmed by several distinct differences
First, were the thousands of men, women and children that walked alongside and sometimes in between cars, taxis, buses navigating the streets in a way that none of us could quite fathom. Their beauty caught my attention but so did the magnitude of those who seemed to be struggling. The sights, sounds and smells were all so foreign to me and it gave me insight into what it must be like for those who come to the USA for the first time.
Secondly, I knew I would see poverty but I was not prepared for the mile after mile after mile of "homes" that were made of corrugated aluminum, cardboard, sand. Having not been inside one of these homes, I cannot tell you what it was like to live within these walls.
To my inexperienced eyes and comparatively privileged lifestyle, I jumped to the conclusion that it must be horrible, but then I thought of the thousands who do not have a shelter of any sort, so these homes could be coveted by many. Who am I to judge? And how did it affect me?
I felt humbled by what they did not have and indebted for what I do have.
My perspective on "what matters most" has changed. Needs vs. wants. God has turned my head around, after already turning my heart inside out.
Island of Hope
Discouragement could come to those who witness these conditions. But I want to tell you about what I call the " Island of Hope" amongst this debris and chaos. It is the " Eyes That See" organization. Having spent time in the Eyes That See (Love in Action) compound, I want to tell you of what my eyes saw.
I saw children in the after school program that have an opportunity to learn, play, be loved.
God put us in a place that initially may not have looked like much...I saw the photos before I came to Ethiopia and remember thinking that there were some pretty bare walls and rugged surroundings. But when I got there, and spent some time with the women attending the salon training and the kids attending their program, I realized that these "bare walls" are far more alive with warmth, opportunity, hope! Pictures do not do it justice. Being there does. Watching and experiencing the interaction between the instructor and the women; between the teachers and the kids; between the counselors and the women, between the staff and the students; all spoke of love, guidance, concern. No wonder this compound has initially been called "Love in Action" because that is exactly what one witnesses!
And the amazing part? That I/we were blessed to have the opportunity to engage with all of them. We had the privilege of playing with the kids, not just teaching them something but being taught by them!
About trust, about engagement, about openness. Not just watching the women in their training but of sitting beside them, sharing ourselves as best as one can without speaking the same language, and being allowed into their world eventually with the aid of an interpreter.
My heart was transformed.
While we could barely speak with one another due to the language barrier, we did "connect". I found myself taken in by the children...their bright eyes, their engaging and beautiful smiles spoke more than words can convey.
That they "allowed" us to be part of their world is an invitation that is never to be denied and forever to be cherished. The stories for each of these women and children go deep, and while I may only know a fraction of what they have experienced in their lives, I know that some are now living with hope. The sadness and loss, shame and confusion that have plagued them are beginning to be replaced by hope and for some, faith in a Father that they may never have known before.
I know that my own story, which I was able to speak of ever so briefly with the women during the Bible Study we led, shared several similar points: having doubted the existence of Jesus and God; having felt shame, insecurity, regret; having doubted my own worth and not being sure I deserved forgiveness. I began sensing some of the women's recognition of the same experiences.
Going first, out loud, through an interpreter, being vulnerable because I am being obedient, was not what I planned but it is what He planned. And he provided us this opportunity in this island of hope amongst a land of both internal and external chaos, fear, debris.
Which brings me to this: I was continuously reminded of the starfish story I'd heard years ago, which speaks to the difference we might make because of how God uses us and our gifts:
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed
a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.
Approaching the boy, he asked, What are you doing?
The youth replied, Throwing starfish back into the ocean.
The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.
Son, the man said, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can't make a difference!
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish,
and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said
I made a difference for that one.
Before the trip, everyone said "You will be changed by this trip", "You will be a different person when you return" . These are the encouraging words heard before this trip. I hoped they were right. I saw and heard about the changes others experienced when they journeyed on a mission trip. And I discovered that indeed, it is true when you trust Him to renovate your heart.
So, the many individuals who prayed for us, need to know that their prayers were answered:
· That He showed us exactly what He wanted us to do, what projects He wanted to use us for; that our team was protected; and that fear was expelled by His love (for me personally, He brought me to Psalm 91 my second sleep-deprived night there);
· That these women and children are discovering truth, and hope, in a world where there has been so much loss and pain;
· That we were received, and were able to receive others, with eyes that see and ears that hear;
· That when He opened up the door to share the Forgiven and Set Free ministry with women who are hurting, He gave me words to speak healing into their lives.
Now that I am back, I am looking at our world with eyes that see...differently. The shed in our backyard would be a haven for many in Ethiopia...a concrete floor, solid wood/sided walls, a shingled waterproof roof which houses our lawnmowers, snowblowers, rakes, shovels..would provide a home for perhaps a family of 10, protected from the elements and from others who might mean them harm.
I look at our yard, at our streets - clean, easy on the eyes, easy to navigate, not congested. Perhaps it is not fair to compare Eau Claire with Addis Ababa. Perhaps a better comparison might be with New York City or Chicago. But this is my world, here in Eau Claire and that's all I can compare it to.
I have so much to be grateful for. None of this is deserved, I know that now. It is all a gift, blessings from Him. Whether one is a therapist in a Midwest town or a woman in Ethiopia who hangs on desperately to her child, providing the only way she knows how... we are both loved by God. What can I do to help her? I can pray. I can send support. I can appreciate more, what I do have. I can realize that what I do have, are not all needs, but probably many more, wants. I can do with less. I can share more. I can love more.
I am grateful for the opportunity to see our sisters and brothers in Addis Ababa and speak of what I know to be true about my faith and what each of them can look forward to and hold on to. I am eagerly awaiting to hear the stories of the women with whom I was able to spend time praying with. We are not so different though our lifestyles would suggest quite the opposite. But we do not want to be fooled by the exterior of our surroundings; it is what is inside that makes us related to one another.
I thank God for those who made this trip possible, and for Matt and Nikki who in their obedience started Eyes That See and opened it up for others to join in. I will look forward to the posts by my teammates who shared in the witnessing of Love in Action. Until then, God bless, and "Selam"!
Monday, June 27, 2011
and discovering her extraordinary heart. She is more than a
hair-dressing instructor for the women in the project and she's lived
a trying 25 years but a gentle spirit of gold is what she has to show
Meseret used to live near Somalia where she trained women in her own
salon, about 10 years ago, but she always had a heart for the poor.
From my understanding she is now divorced and has one son from a
marriage that God had his way in. Her strength is personified in the
way she carries herself and pursues the women she teaches. The things
she has walked through has made her extremely approachable and a
valuable resource for others craving restoration. I got to ask her a
few specific questions, all of which confirmed my suspicion that she
was someone extremely special...
What's special for you about this job?
God has restored my live from poverty of all kinds and I have found
freedom here. This is a place God has restored me physically and
centered my life. I have found a spiritual restoration as we often
pray together and are free to speak of God and worship. There is a
different atmosphere; it's one of helping, training, sharing tears and
stories, and restoration. There's even a sort of spiritual connection
with the staff and people from America.
What has changed in you because of this opportunity?
I used to work for money, now I work for people. I am here for the
glory of God. I get paid, but God helps me to rescue and help people.
God is here. We have nothing to fear because we are family and
friends. I feel rest and safety. My joy is in people coming here.
So many great, godly and encouraging people come here that I hope God
What do you hope and want for the women in this program?
This group especially is very energetic and they strive for the best.
I hope they will continue to train and follow their dreams with that
energy. They are a very special group and I expect a lot. I also see
their bible determination. In the beginning they were not interested
in having a bible study, small group or prayer time. But just last
week they brought their own bibles, carrying them proudly. They are
making breakthroughs, asking questions and wanting to learn. There is
an atmosphere that you can't avoid. You can't be here and remain the
same, so I expect spiritual transformation for the women as well.
How do they bless and encourage you?
Just this week they were sitting, waiting and looking bored, worn out
and down-cast. I, on a whim, invited them to pray with me. They
willingly got on their knees and cried to God. It's these moments
that are so valuable and change is so visible.
What are your prayer requests?
My biggest request is for the salvation of the women I am with daily.
I hope for them to give their heart and soul to Christ. Many are
restless, without peace and with unmet needs. I want them to know
Meseret has a beautiful and unmatched patience about her. You can
tell that the women love and trust her. Her presence is joyful and
inviting; I don't even speak her language but I find myself wanting to
be around her. Her heart and faith are big and unmistakable. I know
God is using her as a conduit of blessing and change.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I think it is because it is very hard to understand and accept that Addis Ababa, Ethiopia exists at the same time Cottage Grove, Wisconsin exists. Our Sabbath Day really gave me freedom to reflect on this question and marvel at the work God has done in my life. As I starred at the beautiful lake with the mountains in the backdrop I was reminded that God is Holy. God is Sovereign. His ways really are higher than our ways. God grieves the hurt that has come upon His children more than we can understand. This hurt is not exclusive to Ethiopia or Africa, but is evident throughout the whole world. Nothing is as it was supposed to be. Ethiopia gave me a clearer picture of how truly sin has separated us from God.
But our God is not dead, He is alive. He is still in the business of restoring lives. God is at work in Ethiopia. Endris, director of LIA, opened up to us and explained the heart behind LIA and Eyes That See. Fifteen women that come from very broken backgrounds (prostitution, drug abuse, physical abuse, etc.) are invited into freedom. They receive professional counseling, spiritual counseling and attend beauty school taught by a teacher that genuinely loves them and believes in them. They are fed at LIA. Endris and others visit the women in their homes. They keep track of the women. They love them. There is hope for them because of LIA. The same holds true for the children. They are selected to come to LIA because of their great need. They are either single or double orphaned and they do not have adequate means to survive. The children that come to LIA are also selected because they have great potential and dedication. They are tutored at LIA in math, physics and english, are fed a meal and are importantly given a chance to be kids. As Endris told us of the troubles of Ethiopia he spoke with such passion and heartache. He told us, “the need is so great. So many are starving. But for these fifteen women there is hope.” He told us again, “the need is never ending here, but our God is a great God.”
I think if we really saw our lives the way that God sees them, we would feel the need is never ending, even in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin. For me this trip to Ethiopia was about coming awake. Our God is real, we are the body of Christ and He has so much in store for our world. Matt told our group that he and his wife are not special, they just believe God. Their willingness to believe God has spurred people to freedom. They have shown God’s love to women who would never imagine that they have value and lifted huge weights off the shoulders of young children. They have saved lives. All because they take God at His word and follow Him. This is the same quality that made King David “a man after God’s own heart.” We cannot afford to shrink back. Let us all take God at his Word and live by faith.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
me into her family's home is 21, like me. Her name is Betlhem and many of
the women call her "Beti". She lives with her mother, father and three of
her five sisters. It was a good first site for me because she explained
that her family is of "good social status"; they raise cattle for a living.
Her family is healthy with the exception of her father who struggles a bit
with Uric Acid, a condition resulting from eating raw meat.
Beti went through primary school and two years of college for housekeeping
and laundering. After college she applied to work for a number of hotels
and businesses, but was turned away because most places are looking for 2 or
more years of experience. She enjoys what she is learning now and happy to
be at the hairdressing school. She shared that hopes and dreams to open her
own salon after graduation even though it may be difficult as rent and
here are expensive.
She would ask for our prayers for "continued health and for good things to
come in her life".
I have included two pictures, one of Beza, Beti & I laughing (because a lot
of our time together was joyful), and one of the three of us with Beti's
mother. Although the photo I will remember most vividly in my mind is that
of leaving. It was pouring rain, as it often does each afternoon here now.
Beti took my hand and pulled me under her umbrella to walk me out of her
street and back to the van. With one hand she held the umbrella over our
heads, and with the other she supported most of my weight as I slid around
on the muddy rocks. Again I was reminded that in every intention to serve,
I am humbled to be taught exactly what that looks like. It's a blessing to
emotionally and literally walk through the 'tricky' and 'sticky' parts of
life with her and each of these women.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Thank you again for your support and prayers. The team could really feel them.
Monday, June 6, 2011
the eyes of someone here for the first time. I have heard over and
again from our team how beautiful the people are. They are struck by
the beautiful eyes of our friends, as well as their “million dollar
smiles.” Still, it is not until several days pass that we are able to
begin to see why God has brought us here.
Our first day here we got to see the new class of women. Immediately
it reminded me of when Nikki and Christy were here and went house to
house. The women are at about the same stage in the program. The
counseling is helping them to make sense of their stories and they are
beginning to believe that there is hope available. As we walked in we
saw that they had moved the salon to a bigger room where there was
more lighting. In the corner was a photo of the first graduating
class. I wonder how many photos God will allow us to put on the wall.
A few hours later the seventh grade arrived. As they walked in our
team was so excited. We don’t know their language, so we spoke
through the universal language of superballs and soccer. It took
several day, but just yesterday Kyle said that the kids are running to
greet him instead of the other way around.
This team is a gift. They will spend some time writing what they have
seen so far, but I want to thank you right now for your prayers and
support. It has been a great trip already, and we are not finished
Saturday, June 4, 2011
If I didn't have Jesus now, it would be hard to know what is good and bad because without Jesus there is no Holy Spirit, without the Holy Spirit there is no way of knowing what is good or bad. Parents can't always protect you from every single bad thing, sometimes you just have to depend and trust the Holy Spirit. That is the best thing Jesus has given us.
- Ezra Ness
12 years old
Friday, June 3, 2011
This is 22 year old Roman. She is one of the women in our second group of The Kezhiah Project. She is unmarried and without children so this is a very critical time in her life. Now is the time for Roman to make a huge decision about her future.
Because of Eyes That See, she will have the opportunity to receive a trade/skill and finish up her education. She has currently only completed the elementary level. Not only is her life changed and she is now able to provide for herself, but she also gets to feel the love of her Father God through it all.
Thank you so much for your continued support of Eyes That See. We will be hearing from the team that is currently there very soon.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Included in that group is Eyes That See's very first intern Ashely Watt. She will be working for Eyes That See for 6 weeks! We will be hearing from her about her journey during that 6 weeks.
Please keep this group in your prayers for:
- Safety and good health
- Seeing what God wants to show them while on this trip
- Giving them strength and energy to do His work