* This is a personal blog series on my trip to Ethiopia in Jan 2012. If you are looking for newborn, baby, family sessions, please see the drop down ‘Galleries’ above on the menu bar. Thank you!
As I write this blog post about Ethiopia, it’s been almost a month since I’ve been back. Yet each and every day and almost moment by moment, these people and my experiences are in my mind. I so love my family and I love American food and home, but my heart aches to return someday. It’s something that is almost impossible to express unless you’ve experienced it. What an impact this trip has made on my life and I’m so grateful to be able to share the stories and the faces of these beautiful people.
Our 5th day in Ethiopia, we were able to go to Trees of Glory. This is a feeding program for the abandoned, abused, poor children in the area that Trees of Glory is located in. An Ethiopian couple shared their story with us. A while ago his wife was pregnant with their 2nd child, a son. They saw their baby boy moving on the ultrasound and shortly there after, the baby passed away. They had to deliver this baby via c-section and have a hysterectomy. While the husband was waiting for the surgery to be completed, the Doctor came and told him that his wife died as well. Shortly after this his wife came back to life. While she was in this surgery and struggling with the deep and raw loss of losing a baby, God spoke to her and told her that her and her husband would be taking care of orphans and needy children. And that is why they began ‘Trees of Glory’. She still cries over the grief of losing this baby, but her and her husband have such a passion to care for the needy children and widows.
They have built a small home for widows and orphans so that they can recreate family structure within Ethiopia. Right now they are able to provide for a total of 8 in the home, but have goals to provide for more. To take broken children and women and create new families is beautiful. A theology teacher from the USA was speaking with us and said that the home that they invest in and built for the recreation of families is far nicer than their own. They love God and they love people. They also are starting a feeding program 3 days a week for the children. They had been praying for God to provide the income for them to be able to feed these hungry children, but weren’t sure where that money would come from. When we brought them sheep to cook injera for the kids this was the answer to their prayers and she openly wept on the floor thanking God for answering their prayers. There are amazing people in Africa serving God and serving the people that are in such dire need. Women who have been abused, dying of Aids and widows. Children who are also abused, neglected, abandoned, hungry and in need. There is a great need, but God is moving in Africa in enormous ways.
* Below, the husband of ‘Trees of Glory’ who lost his son and almost his wife.
While we were there Diane explained a little about Jesus. Since all humans have sinned against God he sent his only son, Jesus, who was without sin to die as a sacrifice for our sins. This does not mean God is bloodthirsty and out for revenge. The opposite is true. He is the God who loves us all so deeply that Jesus (God himself) willingly died a humiliating and painful death for us. It is an easy gift to accept. Two girls accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for them that morning. One of the girl’s had a very sorrowful presence about her, but after she prayed she became a new person. She was smiling and happy. It was an obvious change in her life immediately. Diane explained that we were her sister’s in Christ and gave both girls lots of hugs. The previously sorrowful girl later on thanked us and kissed us – but, it wasn’t us, it was Jesus.
John 11:25 ”I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
* Diane speaking to one girl after she prayed and accepted Christ.
* below, the girl who was sorrowful
… and full of joy afterwards.
(below) Children came forward and shared what God has done in their lives. This boy came and explained that he was playing on a bridge and fell off, but God rescued him and he survived.
This man was with the children and although he is older, he is also handicapped. He was so full of kindness and gratitude that he stuck out to all of us.
Another handicapped young man who was amazingly sweet. He wanted a photo with his cross necklace.
* As I turned from this woman I heard the holy spirit speak to me, “Take her picture and tell her she is beautiful”. So I walked back to her and did just that. Her left hand was born deformed and she had been peeking from behind a door. She politely let me photograph her and I touched her shoulder and said, “Conjo” which means ‘beautiful’. She is indeed beautiful.
As we served the children Injera I walked around and took a lot of their pictures. Looking at their faces tonight my heart just pumps for them. They are precious. I am so eager to return to Africa when God calls me. I have deep gratitude for God for removing the fear I had to go on this trip ( I struggled with the fear of flying and leaving my family for many weeks). After lots of prayer the fear in me died. That is the best way I can describe it. I am so thankful God replaced my fear with courage because this experience has changed me and blessed me in more ways than I could’ve ever imagined and can ever explain. Life has an entirely different meaning now.
* Click on the thumbnails and to scroll through the faces of these beautiful people.
We also ended our day by visiting Grace Orphanage. Cameras are not allowed in there. We were able to hold infants and hear their stories. The director showed us a book of before pictures of these abandoned babies. Babies found on top of garbage piles left to die covered with ant bites. Babies dying of pneumonia, malnutrition or starvation and many other complications. But their 3 months after treatment photos were amazing. These babies were thriving and surviving and waiting for adoptive families. These are babies born into unfortunate situations, but fully human created by God and deserving of life.
Later on that evening at dinner Aki shared with us a story of deep sadness and also of joy – of a orphaned boy, alone and on the streets he found eating dirt and with deep emotional and physical scars . I’ll add a quote from Joe’s blog, Wandering Africa, since he explains it best…After lunch we decided to pull Jeranya out of school for the afternoon so he could join Aki in a Bible study. I guess I better give a background of Jeranya, because his story is truly amazing to say the least. God is so alive in him and the path of Jesus shines around him! He is 15ish years old and is from a village close to the Sudan border. He lost his family a couple years back in a terribly tragic evil way. But God’s Awesome Grace and protection brought him out of this tragedy. He spent a total of 2 years on the streets all over Ethiopia. He had mental problems from this event in his life, but about 3 months ago God brought him off the street healed him mentally and made him new! (2 Cor. 5:19) Aki and one of his Kentuckian friends named Nathan found him in the mud of a river running through Addis. They felt God’s prompting to bring him out clean him and make him a long term guest at Amazing Grace Guest Home. He truly shines and praises Jesus; in fact as we speak he is jumping up and down singing praise songs! I’m not joking he really is and this is not a rare thing its constant! His smile now is one you could only imagine. When we walk down the streets people are amazed to see him. He was very famous around a city of 4 million. When he tells people his story he is truly witnessing to people about the miracles God can work out of terrible circumstances. He has made people cry, and praise God because of his story! So with that said we took him out of one of his first days of school ever, but God had a big plan for our day! We got finished buying him a belt so he didn’t have to where his pants rolled up high water style anymore. Then an amazing thing happened, a man stopped Aki and told him something this isn’t unusual since Aki knows everybody then when we walked away I looked back at this man and I saw him talking to a young boy and I had a presence of the Lord feeling in my heart. I asked Aki what the man said, and Aki told me, “The man said there is a boy that is homeless and needs some help.” So God prompted us to talk to the boy. We started talking to him and found out he is from the same Region as Jeranya. Aki can’t speak the language, so by God’s grace again we had Jeranya with us to translate!! The boy’s name is Mesganew and he has been living on the streets for seven months. His mother passed away and when his father remarried his new step mother kicked him out of their home to make room for her and her children. It’s really a sad story that even the father was ok with this. I have only known Mesganew for a day now, but I feel God brought all of us together for an amazing reason. So we now have 2 long term guests at Amazing Grace! He and Jeranya are already like brothers! It’s Amazing!
* Jeranya full of Joy
Please pray for these families and children. Please pray for Trees of Glory to be blessed so that they may provide for the children and widows. God is entirely good and can bring beauty out of sadness. We live in a fallen world and some day there will be no more sadness, death, sickness or pain. We hold tight to that promise. ~ Jill
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” (Rev. 21:4).