Thursday, April 28, 2011

Month of Change- Day 28

In just over a month a team from Valleybrook Church in good old Eau Claire, WI will be heading over to see what all is happening in Ethiopia through Eyes That See.  They will be taking along supplies gathered by Kammerer Middle School in Louisville.  These notebooks, shoes, bandages and other supplies were gathered, along with a month's worth of change.  They are hoping to see a water filtration system go into our new site.

When the team is in Ethiopia they will see first hand the hard work done by our friends at Dallasburg Church in Kentucky and by my friends who were with me in March.  They will see the changed lives of our first graduates and the direct impact made by Christy and Phil as they worked hard on the beginnings of this project.  They will see the investment of Pat and Susan Kileen at Arise for Children and Lifeline and how God has used their faithfulness to change so many lives.  This team will also see the fruits of your generous donations over the past few months.

It is amazing to think that we are not even one year old, yet God is allowing us to see so much fruit.  Thanks for praying for us, giving towards these projects and always remembering us.  We are honored to be a part of your life.  As you finish up this "Month of Change" we are hoping that you feel encouraged by the results of what you are involved in.

We already have people contacting us about going to Ethiopia in the fall.  If you are interested in a future trip, please email me at  Thanks for all of your support.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Month of Change- Day 26

I have been reminded today how grateful I am to be partnering with all of you on this project.  I got an email about the Easter celebration at our compound and felt again how grateful I am to be partnered with you all here in the US and with all of our friends in Ethiopia too.  This month has been very encouraging for me as I know so many of you are engaged in what is happening through Eyes That See.  Thanks for your care and support.  We'll continue to give you updates as we close out the month.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Month of Change- Day 25

We are in the final week of "Month of Change."  These past few weeks have been great as we have heard stories of what is going on with coworkers, family and friends who are chipping in for the cause of our friends in Ethiopia.  I want to thank you for being a part of this month so far and let you know that I am praying that it has been an encouragement to each of you.

Practically, I want to tell you of a few simple things that will be bought out of the money raised this month.  We will be buying a refrigerator.  Right now the food for all of these people is bought each day and left out until it is used.  As you can imagine, this is more expensive and more dangerous than if we had a fridge to store it in.  The refrigerator will be about $500, so we are excited to be able to have that for all of our people.  Now that there are about twice as many people involved, it will be a real gift.

Also, Endris has started a library for the kids at the school and others in the neighborhood.  When programs are not going on, people are encouraged to come in and use our library. It has childrens books, textbooks, Bibles and other encouraging materials.  There are books written in both English and Amharic.  What we need for it are some bookshelves.  Some of the money from "Month of Change" will go towards setting up the only community library in that part of Addis.  We are very excited about this simple step.  Our compound is feeling more and more like home!

Thanks for everything.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Month of Change- Day 22

Being that is almost Easter, we thought we would send you this cute story from our friend Brittney Armstrong.

"Tonight the girls and I were going through our resurrection eggs.  We were reviewing the 2 eggs we did last night.  One of them had the silver coins in it.  (that goes along with the Judas story)  Welllll, I asked Avery what the coins were for and she proudly yelled, "FOR THE MONTH OF CHANGE!!"
This just shows she is serious about your work!" 

The Armstrong kids!

Thanks James and Brittney for the way you are raising your kids.  It is inspiring.  Thank you to little Avery.  You and your family are making a difference!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Month of Change- Day 20

Tomorrow is a Thursday.  This may not seem that important except that in this little compound in Addis six women will gather together for a Bible study.  These women, all of which graduated from our hair school last month, have been meeting each Thursday to learn what it is that God says and who He says that they are.  They are coming from lives where they thought very little of themselves, and this is brand new territory for them.  In the past few months they have found a new way of defining themselves, a new career, and a new God.  This God that they serve now is the loving Father that the Bible tells about.  

This week they will celebrate Easter.  They have celebrated it before, but it will feel new.  The story is now their story.  Jesus died for them.  He is now alive in them.  There is reason to celebrate.

Next Monday they start small business training as they get ready to receive the loans that have been given.  Two of the loans came in this week so that all ten will be passed out.  They are now dreaming of mentoring the new women in the program, showing them how live their lives in a new way.  For Misrak, Helen, Hiwot, Miten, Woubijig and Fikerte, all of life is new.  They are committed to meet each Thursday to continue to experience all that life has for them.  

The change that you are giving throughout this month is having a direct impact on women like these six.  Thanks for your commitment.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Month of Change Day 19

My reasons for choosing my place of employment, Rachel's Place, to support "Month of Change" is:

1. Children love to have their pictures taken.
2. Children love to give change in a funny looking bank.
3. These children know the needs of the children in Ethiopia.
4. These children believe that "change" can make a difference.
5. These children know that JESUS loves the children of the world.

Need I say more?

Thank you Nikki and Matt for having "Eyes That See" and praying that many changes will happen as a result of your journey.

I love you guys more than words can express!

-Connie Jo Fox

Monday, April 18, 2011

Month of Change- Day 18

We have a little change jar in our kitchen.  It is a semi scary piece of pottery that Ezra made in school this year.  We decided that this would be our "Month of Change" jar.  The kids have gotten pretty excited about it.  Several times I have found Ezra digging around the van for quarters.  The fun part is they end up in the jar and not his pocket.  Carter wanted me to buy dinner with cash, hoping that the amount would be like $12.13 so that we would get more change in return.

Yesterday our kids got some money and each one decided that they wanted to put some towards Eyes That See.  They are really understanding what is behind it to, that people will get some food, clothing and schooling that they desperately need.

It isn't that often that our kids get to feel that they can make a huge difference.  Sometimes they are too small or too young.  Sometimes the amount of money that they can give can't go far enough.  I've been really encouraged these last few weeks that none of this is true right now.  Our kids are encouraged and excited.  They feel that they can change Ethiopia and they want everyone to be involved.  They are thinking beyond themselves and dreaming up new ways to help people.  I'm glad that we are doing this "Month of Change" not just for Eyes That See, but for our family as well.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Month of Change- Day 15

When you haven't seen someone for a while, it easier to see the change in them.  We hear this a lot with our kids.  They live with us, so we don't notice them looking taller, or sounding like they are from the south.  When someone else sees or hears them, they always notice the difference.

One of the most drastic changes that I saw in Ethiopia was the change in Wobegig.  When Wobegig described herself, she said she was always angry and always hurting.  Life had been hard for her and she was struggling just to survive.

Wobegig's first day

When Nikki and Christy were able to visit her in February they were moved by her circumstances.  She had become content in a home that many of us would not want to walk in.  Her life was coming together and she felt a sense of worth.  Over the following few weeks she got sick.  This is often enough to defeat someone, yet she did not give up.  She continued on in the program and graduated with her class.
Wobegig's home.
The day that we left Ethiopia I got to talk with Wobegig for a short while.  I told her that we all loved her, even those of you who haven't met her.  I told her that on her graduation day she looked beautiful and so proud.  She looked to the side and said, "I did."  At first I wasn't sure if she meant beautiful or proud.  I think she meant both.  for the next few hours we laughed and ate as peers, the way that it is supposed to be.  I'm blessed to have crossed paths with Wobegig.  

Many of you are giving change this week towards Eyes That See.  This change has gone towards the loans given to Wobegig and the rest of the graduates.  It also is going towards the next group of women who will experience the same change that she felt.  Thanks for giving of yourself.  Enjoy your day.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Month of Change- Day 13

One of the most rewarding pieces of Eyes That See for me is watching kids be kids.  We all know that kids are growing up too fast and this could not be any more evident than in Ethiopia.  These kids that we work with are worrying about food, clothing, shelter, their siblings, and disease.  Often times these girls and boys look so serious and sad.  When they first join our program you can see the calluses of life all over them.

We have told about it before, but the kids come to our site mainly to be kids.  They know their school is paid for, they will get to eat, and that they don't have to worry within our walls.  You can see all of these worries fall off of them as they walk past the front gate.

There is a sweet family in Kentucky who told friends about this project and raised some money for these kids.  Because of this money, every kid got a new pair of shoes.  They no longer only owned broken croc shoes, but now a nice pair of Ethiopian dress shoes as well.  With the rest of the money, this family wanted to buy something else that was needed.

In Ethiopia there is need everywhere.  There is always another person to feed, clothe or house.  At the same time, there is a need to see kids be kids and adults have dignity and joy.  The staff at LIA decided to invest in these things and buy a basketball hoop and table tennis set.  I can't tell you the joy that these items brought.  By providing the money for these two things our friends, the Rowe family, gave as much joy as a trip to Disneyworld.  Now all of the students in our program can play and laugh everyday.

our kids being kids.

Thanks for the example, Rowe family, and thanks to everyone who is a part of this "Month of Change."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Month of Change- Day 12

Over the past few months we have been asked many times how it is that this work is done in Ethiopia while we live in Louisville.  The answer is that we work with some phenomenal people.  We have so many good staff people, but I want to take a moment to highlight two of them.

Matt talking with Endris (middle) and Yonas.

Endris is the Project Manager for LIA.  The work that has been done with the women and children at Project 1 has been done under his leadership.  He does a wonderful job of caring for the people within his project and investing in not just their physical needs, but their emotional and spiritual needs as well.  We have known Endris for the past several years and we are honored to be partnered on this project.  Also, just yesterday Endris' wife delivered a healthy little baby!  What a gift.

Yonas is the Ethiopian Director for Eyes That See.  He has a bachelor's degree from Addis Ababa University and is currently working on his master's in counseling.  Yonas has been a faithful friend for years and, along with his precious wife and son, is a great addition to our team.  Yonas will continue to keep our licensing up to date, host teams that visit, communicate with the different project sites and represent Eyes That See to anyone who needs our presence.

Please be praying for these men over the next few months as these projects continue to grow under their leadership.  We are so glad to be working with them and the many other staff members as well.  We hope each of you has the pleasure of meeting them someday.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Month of Change- Day 10

We are already ten days into the month and some of you have let us know how much you have already raised.  Thank you so much and please continue.  We want to have a total from everyone by Thursday so we can let everyone know our total on Friday, our midpoint of the month.

Many people have wondered what we are going to do now that the first group of women have graduated.  We are excited to announce that this week the second group will begin going through the same hair school.

Endris with our second class.

Our first group of graduates will be opening their salons and now these students will learn how to cut hair, but also how to leave their old lives behind.  They will be mentored by our graduates and will continue to go through counseling.  We are praying that we will see the same type of life change in these women as we have seen before.  

Thanks for investing in each of these lives.  It is because of donors like you that we are able to invest in the lives of these women and their children.  We will let you know individual stories in the coming weeks.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Month of Change-Day 8

One of the most striking things from the past trip was seeing the change in Yonathan.  When I first met him, he was going to stop going to school since there was no money available for him.  He had a bit of the typical middle school rebellion in him and he was going to take on the world on his own.  He would smile, but the smile quickly left for a hardened look.  It was just Yonathan against the world.  He was going to be the man of the house.  He was going to be the provider at 13.

first photo of Yonathan

Thankfully his teachers stepped in.  They said his mind would drift from school to his mother, and they could only imagine how great of a student he could be if he was ever able to concentrate.  We were given the opportunity to step in and help.  He goes to LIA nearly everyday now.  Yonathan is excelling in school and able to speak confidently in Amharic or English.  In fact, the principal of his school said that he has become the top student in the entire school.

When I saw Yonathan he had a ring on his finger.  I asked if he was married and he just smiled and hid.  When I asked where he got the ring he told me it was his mother's.  Sure, there was pain in his eyes, but there was hope as well.  The pressure of carrying her and his brother was off of his shoulders.  It still wasn't far from his mind, but it wasn't his to carry alone.

Yonathan (in the middle) with his friends.

During "Month of Change" you are helping children like Yonathan.  Thank you for investing in him.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

From Ezra's Eyes....

The following post is from our 12 year old son, Ezra. He is sharing a unique prospective on what Eyes That See means to him. Ezra spent 10 years living in Ethiopia. If he doesn't go on to play pro soccer, he will probably kick us out of our job in a few years when he takes over Eyes That See.

If you asked me the way I look at Eyes that See, this is how I would answer. I can put myself in the kid's spot, and I would wonder what am I gonna eat TODAY, what time do I wash my uniform, and when do I do my chores. Those are very challenging things for kids my age. Here in the US most kids don't have to worry about that because their mom or dad do that for them.

Kids in Ethiopia that get help from Eyes that See are relieved from that worry because they have somebody to help them. They don't have to worry about uniform, school supplies etc...

That is the blessing that Eyes that See has been for those kids. I can't explain in words the different feeling I had. You have to be your own parent and take care of yourself. You eat by yourself, wash clothes by hand, and still keep up with school. You don't want to fail and be in that grade for a long time. You have all of that going on in your brain. It was really hard for me and I even had a grandma taking care of me.

Parents are different, and not having that was just different. When someone does that for you the kids get excited. I would have been really excited to come to Eyes that See to come and eat and stuff. When you run out of pencils at school you know you could get another. When you need a backpack or anything, someone is there. It is also a big blessing that parents who are living don't have to worry about the needs of the kids. They want to care, but they have to work extra hard for food and stuff. It is a really hard time for the parents going through so much stuff. It is usually a mom and she often will share about life with the kids. That is hard because you can't do anything about it, but you worry about it. Sometimes you have those worries that you can't do anything about and you just get stressed out. Other times you get really sad because your mom has to work a really long time and you can't help.

For some of these kids, when they find out their moms have to sell their bodies at night, well that is a hard thing to think about. It would be really sad to have your mom not be able to get a job because of lack of education. I'm glad that Eyes That See helps with the lack of education. They give education so that the mom can get a job that she doesn't have to hide from her kids.

I know it would be hard, but try to spend the next 24 hours trying to put yourself in that position. Then you can probably understand things better.

-Ezra Ness

Monday, April 4, 2011

Month of Change- Day 4

Calcium.  I can honestly say that I have never thought about the need for calcium.  I remember drinking milk and thinking that I would grow tall like Michael Jordan because of it, but I had never seen the result of living without calcium until the last few years.

Two weeks ago while we were in Ethiopia we got to see Natnael again.  I had met him in September.  When we first met I was told that he had special needs.  I knew that he was a bright boy, but looked pretty weak.  I also knew that culturally you don't ask what his needs are, so I just prayed for his health.

In December Endris, the LIA director in Ethiopia, began using money that was wired to buy Natnael milk.  When he asked me permission I didn't fully understand.  Of course he could buy milk for Natnael, I thought.  I had no clue that this might save his life.

Natnael's grandma watched over this milk.  They would bring it to her house, and though the whole family suffers from lack of calcium, she made sure that only Natnael drank it.  This milk was for him to get strong, and they would hope help would come for them as well.

On our last day we went to Natnael's house. It was about the size of our bathroom.  In this house his mother, grandma, aunt and uncle lived.  They welcomed us in and thanked us for caring for him.  Days earlier they were given calcium pills that my friend Andy had brought them.  Natnael's family brought the pills to the doctor and he had told them how this would change their lives.  When we told Natnael's family that they could all take the medicine, tears filled their eyes.  They were so grateful and began dreaming of what life would be like with healthy bodies.

As we walked out of their home I couldn't help but put my arm around Natnael.  Through him I was able to meet a beautiful family and see even more clearly how blessed I am to be able to know them.  I watched him walk quickly back to school.  He was getting stronger and healthier just like his grandma had said.  All because of calcium.

As you give towards Eyes That See this month you are making a difference in people like Natnael.  Thank you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 2 of Month of Change!

It's off to a good start! Thanks for sending in the pictures. We love being a part of this with you. Friends, family, and co-workers can still join in. It's not too late!! Also, if you have emailed us about being a site (remember this can be your kitchen counter) then you will be receiving some cards in the mail to hand out to people explaining what Month of Change is all about.

Thanks again for seeing our friends in Ethiopia!

The Reppe boys with their Month of Change bowl!

This guy scares me a little so I will make sure to give him my change!

This week we will update you on Yonathan's school work, the health of Natnael's family, the next steps for our recent graduates and more. Thanks for all of your help. Spread the word at church this weekend and we'll be updating you everyday!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Month of Change Begins!

Hello everyone.  The "Month of Change" begins today.  We are very excited about how many of you are taking part in this event with us.  From Kammerer Middle School, to families around the country, and even the Boys Scouts here in Louisville.  Thanks for all of your participation.  Each day I will send out an update on the month and the projects that we are working on.  These will be posted here, and if you would like them in email form, just email me at
Grace and the "Month of Change" jar

Marquis family showing support

The fireflies at Rachel's Place

Everyone who is hosting drop off sites, please make sure we have your addresses as we will make certain you have the flyers to go with your drop off jars.  Watch for stories on this blog or in your inbox!