Monday, February 28, 2011
Over the past four years we have begun to learn to see people the way God does. We wouldn't have it any other way. Thanks Durant for being in our family and for opening the door for us and many others to see what God is doing. Happy 6th Birthday Nati!
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
- Make or find your container. It can be as simple as a cookie jar or coffee mug or as elaborate as the old school Valentine’s boxes we made in elementary school.
- Send us your email address, the site where you are collecting change, and a photo of you with the your “Month of Change” container.
- Print off a copy of the “Month of Change” flyer that we will send you and have it available to explain what we are doing.
- On the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 30th email us how much change you have collected so far. No dollar bills. Only change counts! We will not post individual totals, but we will celebrate what comes in as a whole each week.
- Make the daily emails available to anyone who is interested and enjoy being a part of changing people’s lives with your pocket change!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Ethiopia is truly my home away from home. I have better relationships and feel more alive and comfortable in my own skin when I am there. But don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the United States and consider it a gift that I get to live here.
As typical in Ethiopian culture, Christy and I were sent off with a coffee ceremony! This is truly an honor and a sign of respect and love. This time though was the most honored I have ever felt. I got to light the candle starting the ceremony and also cut the bread!! This is the first time I've gotten to do this and it is also not customary for women to do either of these practices. So I felt very honored!!
And in true Nikki fashion, I entertain everyone as I struggled to light the candle (4 tries) and couldn't get the bread to cut all the way through!!
We were given kind words of thanks and appreciation and also gifts to go home with. A couple of the women stood up and shared their hearts with the group. We had coffee, bread, popcorn, and barley, and we ended with worship. It was a great send off.
I have to say thank you again for your support of Eyes That See. We know all of this is only able to happen because of God's love for you and all His children. Thank you for your obedience.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Before they left they took some pictures of life in Ethiopia. These are some typical sites you will see around the city.
|Woman carrying brush|
|Spices at the Merkato|
|view of the city from Mount Entoto|
|Typical shop in Addis|
Sunday, February 13, 2011
|Nikki and Fikirte|
Saturday, February 12, 2011
It is common practice for kids to make their own soccer balls, because they can't afford a real one. We will use Eyob's ball to show students back in the U.S. a tangible piece of life in Ethiopia.
Friday, February 11, 2011
One of our goals with this program is to help these women become self-sufficient. The commitments below are short-term because we believe they can reach that goal
within a few months after graduation. We'd like to offer you the chance to be a part of making a
difference in their lives. We leave Ethiopia in just over 24 hours and we'd really like to be able to leave by telling them that for the next several months their immediate needs have been met.
**Sponsorship fulfilled** Sinite - monthly school tuition for her daughter - $5 - asking for a 1 year commitment
**Sponsorship fulfilled**Helen - monthly vitamin D for her 2 1/2 year old daughter- $10 - asking for a 1 year commitment. Her daughter is having trouble walking and is very weak due to the lack of Vitamin D
**Sponsorship fulfilled** Helen - monthly school tuition for her older daughter - $5 - asking for a 1 year commitment
** Sponsorship fulfilled** Helen - wishes to have her situation kept private, but she is in desperate need of monthly assistance of $30 - asking for 4 month commitment
Misrak - monthly school tuition and food provided for her daughter - $20 - asking 1 year commitment
After school children - 20 pairs of shoes at $10 a piece
If one of these needs is to be met by you, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your prayers for us while we have been in Ethiopia.
- Be Praying. We will only accomplish what God allows us to, so please continue to be praying for Eyes That See and the children, women, and staff involved.
- Share the Stories. If you have been thinking about some of the blog posts, the conditions people are living in, or how easy it is to make a difference, share with the people around you. Let the stories live on around you.
- Partner with us financially. As we continue this project and begin the next one, we are needing more financial partners. Take a look at where you are at and see if there is any room to join us in changing the lives of our friends in Ethiopia.
|Mitean opening her graduation gift!|
Before coming to our program, Mitean described herself as angry, irritable, and unapproachable. But now with a smile on her face describes herself as hopeful, patient, and kind.
This past week holds some very special moments for Mitean. On Saturday she accepted Jesus as her savior. This week she got offered a job at a salon!! She hasn't even graduated yet, but they are so impressed with her ability that they are going to hire her part time until she graduates next month and then she will go full time! Christy and I are so excited that we are able to be here to celebrate with her.
Mitean wants to say thank you for your generous gifts which has enabled her to change from the inside out.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
She is 24 years old. Her name, Sintyu, means "survivor of many bad things." Having already lost both parents as a teenager, Sintyu lived with her brothers and sisters. She found herself pregnant at 17, and was asked to leave her home as she would bring shame to her family and the burden of another mouth to feed. Needing to provide for her child, Sintyu felt like her only option was to turn to prostitution. She did this and any other job she could find until she met her husband three years ago. They had a son together.
Sintyu started in our program last fall to get a skill that will help provide for her family. Even though she has a husband with a steady job, he is also an alcoholic and abusive. He feels because Sintyu's first son isn't biologically his this gives him the right to beat him and treat him like less. Sintyu says that this happens regularly. He comes home drunk late at night and begins kicking and hitting the boy. He is verbally abusive to Sintyu and yells slander in the neighborhood about her.
As Christy and I sat there we were amazed at how matter of fact she shared this information with us. Sintyu feels like this is her life until she can make enough money to move out. We asked what would it take to make this happen now instead of waiting until after graduation and she finds employment. We were told it would cost about $50 right now to get her into a new place where she no longer had to wait in fear of her husbands return. An additional 3 months of this same amount would put her in a position to become self-sufficient.
I'd like to be able to say hers is the only story like this, but Sintyu is not alone in her painful reality. Tonight Sintyu and her boys will sleep safely in their new place.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Thanks to Toms of Maine, Grandma's Lye Soap, and B Natural we were able to bring tons of bars of soap that will last them for awhile!
The women were very thankful for the bags. It was cute because many of them brought their bags back the next day!
This is a really special group of women. They are full of joy, hope, and peace. The recurring theme that comes out with all of them is how much their lives have changed because of the community they are experiencing with the other women in the program.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Her name is WoubeEjig. Her house leaves little to be desired. It has no windows, no running water or electricity, it is made of mud, and it's the size of a closet. But WoubeEjig was so honored that we would come and sit and see her home. As five adults crammed into this tiny place, we sat and listened to her story. It's difficult to try to even begin to share with you the hardship and struggles she has faced. Losing her father at a young age started her on a journey of addiction and prostitution. She is 35 years old. She has two children. A son who is 20 and a daughter who is 6. Her daughter is living with her grandma right now. Her small home with very few belongings had recently been broken into and robbed.
But the thing that stuck out most was her joy and hope. Because of going through the program, her life has been changed. She said because of the opportunity to go to the beauty school and receive counseling she is free from her addiction, knows who she is in Christ, and has hope for her future.
This is what Eyes That See is about. This is why we exist and why we need your help and support more then ever. There are countless women with stories like WoubeEjig who need the opportunity to feel the joy and hope that only God can bring them.
Currently we have enough funding to provide this to 10 women. All that is stopping us from starting another group of 10 women is $30 per student each month for 5 months. This is a total of $150 per student to have her life changed or $300 each month would support an entire class.
The way these young people's lives has changed is amazing. Each of them have lost not only one, but both of their parents. Some have family members taking care of them, but through Project 1 now have a chance to eat a meal after school, clean their uniforms so they can continue in their schooling, take showers, receive tutoring, and learn about the love of Jesus. The staff in charge of the project are very proud of the students and how far they have come. They commented that these children were not children who knew how to laugh and play just months ago...all they knew was loss and work. At Project 1, they have learned how to play, and how to be children if only for a small part of their day. And their joy is contagious - every moment that we weren't talking or playing with them, we were all laughing.
Monday, February 7, 2011
|Some of our first graduates!|
Friday, February 4, 2011
Thank you so much to the many of you who donated items for the women graduating! I'm excited to give them their encouragement bags filled with goodies. They have one month left until graduation day and I hope this is the encouragement they need to continue on their new paths. I will make sure to let each of them know how so many people in the United States are praying for them specifically.
I plan on updating the blog while on my trip. So please check back for updates.
Thank you for your prayers for Christy and me on this trip. Please continue to pray for:
- Our health and safety during the flights and time in country
- Our families hanging out without us back home (that's 2 dads and 8 kids)
- God's favor upon us
- Our eyes to "see" what God wants them to "see"
- His will to be done
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Our guest blogger today is Becca. I had the privilege of meeting Becca years ago when she became my daughter's (best ever) speech pathologist. Little did I know at the time that this meeting would turn into a friendship with a common thread of two cute little Ethiopian boys and a love for humanity.
Becca is a great writer. You can check out some of her thoughts at Live Out Loud.
If you’d asked me what I saw in Ethiopia ten years ago, many images would have crossed through my mind. I’d have described starving children with distended bellies. People who were sick and dying. Poverty. Sadness. Death.
Ten years later, very different images pop into my head when I hear the word Ethiopia. Cognitively, I know that much suffering still exists; it is this suffering that provides the need for programs like Eyes That See. But suffering and pain no longer define what I see in Ethiopia. If you ask me what I see in Ethiopia today, here’s what I will tell you: I see joy. I see hope. And I see family.
Ask anyone who has traveled to Ethiopia what it was like, and they will describe a number of things. Some of those things will be heart-breaking, for sure. But every person who travels to this beautiful land will also come back talking about the joy that radiated from the people they met along the way. In a land where so many people struggle to meet their basic needs, joy still rises up and through it all. Of the many lessons that Ethiopia can teach us, one of the most powerful is that joy comes from within.
Even with all the joy that emanates from the people, it would still be easy to look at Ethiopia and see despair. Over four million children are orphaned due to poverty and illness. An estimated 58% of the population is without access to improved drinking water. Nearly 12% of children will die before their fifth birthday; one in twelve women will die in childbirth. Healthcare is almost nonexistent. Education is limited in many places, and only 36% of the population is literate. Thousands upon thousands of people go hungry and homeless every single day. Children work on the streets. Women are forced to work as sex slaves.
So yes, it would be easy to see despair. Yet, the flip side of despair is hope and it is hope that I see when I look at Ethiopia. I see hope when a well is built and women and children no longer have to walk six hours at a time to gather dirty drinking water. I see hope when children stop dying from the diarrhea that comes from that dirty drinking water and start living long enough to build their own country’s future. I see hope when a school is built and children learn to read and write and dream. And I see hope when a single, HIV positive mother of three is able to support her family by learning how to be a hairdresser through the training provided by Eyes That See.
You can choose to turn away from Ethiopia in despair. Or you can choose to invest in hope. I choose hope.
Finally, when I look at Ethiopia, I see family. I didn’t always, though. Before my son, James, came home from Ethiopia, I had a tendency to brush this country aside. They over there-- they weren’t like us, over here. Then I held my baby boy in my arms for the first time and felt his heart beat next to mine. I felt his soft breath on my cheek as he slept on my chest. I loved him, and I raised him, and I watched him laugh and love and grow. And suddenly the lines between us and them were forever erased. Now, I look at the faces of Ethiopia and I see family. I understand in the depths of my heart that there is no “us” and “them.” It’s an artificial distinction that we as humans choose to create. But it’s false. We may be separated by the people of Ethiopia by an ocean and many thousands of miles, but in the end, we are all one. They are our family.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
At the same time, we have been asked a lot over the past few weeks if it is safe to travel to Ethiopia. Nikki is leaving soon with Christy and I will be leaving in March. The US government issues travel warnings for countries that they feel citizens should not visit. Here is there description from their website.
"Travel Warnings are issued when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff. "
Ethiopia is not on their list of countries and remains a fairly safe place to travel to. Of course, there are always dangers, but not more than other times. As Nikki's husband who is very invested in her safe return, I feel good about her going to Ethiopia again. Of course, for her sake I do wish there was a Jimmy John's in Addis, but the is simply personal preference on her part!
Please pray for God's work to be done and we know that this and every trip is in God's hands. We will be updating you on the progress of the projects in Ethiopia and the travels of Christy and Nikki as we get the updates. Thanks for being part of Eyes That See.