Sunday, September 20, 2015

Home and Reliving My Trip

I can't believe I've been home for a week already. In some ways it seems like so much longer. I arrived home on Sunday and Monday I was absolutely worthless. Thankfully David worked from home and left late that afternoon for Miami so he was able to help with the girls. He left Monday night and Tuesday I was back in full swing. I enjoyed a lovely Axum latte and a decent bike ride. I attended my dog class Tuesday night with Tasha and she was a star. Wednesday went along as normal until Wednesday night when I was practicing a drill with Tasha and we tripped over each other...landed right on my knee on the sidewalk and thought I was truly hurt. Thankfully I was banged up but no trip to the ER was necessary...Thanks to Dr. Cox and his lovely bride who did a phone consult :) On top of that I was coming down with a cold thingy in Ethiopia that hit me full board around Thursday so that meant I was laid up this weekend. As of today I think I will live and life moves forward with David traveling all week and home on the weekends for the next month :( I just say I earned my trip to Ethiopia...13 days traded for 25....I'm still ahead :)

I couldn't post much while on the trip because the wifi was so spotty. The problem is that the wifi out here where we live is spotty too so I am trying to get this done with pictures while I have some extra help from David's mifi.

Day One in Ethiopia-
I'm going to try to start over and record a little about each day. I will also post photos to go along with the post. I'm sure this is more for me than for anyone who may happen to read it, but it needs to be done so that I can begin to process all I experienced and try to gain some perspective now that I'm home.

After many hours in the air we arrived at our hotel in Addis Ababa. I don't remember much about the hotel because I was so tired when we arrived.  We made ourselves go get some food at a restaurant that Jack and Pam had visited before. I think they served American style food because I seem to remember someone ordering pizza and I got some sort of chicken which I'm pretty sure I posted a photo of on facebook. What I do remember about Addis is how much it reminded me of Delhi, India. The traffic was nothing like India though, nothing compares to India's traffic and horn honking. But right across the street from our hotel was some sort of village made of tin. It is like they found a spot and decided to make their home there and that somehow it just grew into a village of sorts.Those type of villages were all over Delhi. There were also people just hanging out a lot. In America you don't just see groups of men hanging out in the middle of the day unless you are in a downtrodden neighborhood. Ethiopia is definitely downtrodden.

It immediately seemed dirty to me. Hot and dry and poor. Though there are many wealthy people in Addis, being in a "developing" country just has a different feel to it. The wealthy may be behind walls and gates, but right outside their compound poverty awaits. It is everywhere. Escape is only temporary. The poor are very resourceful though. Look at this ladder...pretty amazing.

We went to bed early that first day because we had an early flight to Gondar the next morning.
That was Day One.
Grace and Peace,

Monday, September 7, 2015

This was our first day at Operation Rescue Ethiopia(ORE) in Adwa with the seventy five children who are a part of the program there. I found out today that 90% of them are true orphans who have lost at least one parent to HIV. They are beautiful children who are attending school and then half days with the ORE program where they receive tutoring, food and medical care. It is a great program. They welcomed us with flower leis and songs. We gave them lots of balls to play with. It was a fun day and we get to go back for the next 4 days. I will try to load photos but the internet service is poor so it may not work.

Today when we returned to Axum I had the joy and pleasure to buy my friend, Filimon, his school uniform and school books for his classes that will start in 10 days. Filimon lives at home with his mother, but they are very very poor. There are many children in Axum that look to the foreigners/tourists to make their living. They are very aware that Americans are compassionate and will often buy trinkets from them. If they are really lucky they can find one who will "sponsor" them and purchase some things that they need. These are not homeless grown ups....these are children. Filimon is twelve years old and going into the 8th grade. Today before he knew that I was going to buy him anything he brought me 2 postcards with messages written on the back.
 To: Mom Jacky From: Filimon
Call me a "sucker", but I just want to do all I can to help him succeed. He is just a boy and I believe it is my calling as a Christian to meet his physical needs and hopefully have the chance to speak to him of Christ's love. Only God knows but that this was the very purpose He allowed me to come on this trip. I pray He is pleased because it gives me great joy to share what I have with Filimon. I may even get to meet his mother this week. Please pray that he will understand when I tell him that I am giving to him because God has given to me and because God loves him. I can't do for all the children, but I can do for this one and hopefully for him it will make a difference.

Did you know that Ethiopia has it's own calendar? I am like 8 years younger here! They also have their own time. Their days begin at 6am instead of midnight like ours. All this stuff kind of blows my mind. I honestly can't wrap my little American mind around it.

Today at ORE they had the coffee ceremony for us. They roast the coffee over an open fire, hand grind it and boil it and then serve it with freshly popped popcorn. It's so fun! I think I should learn to do this for family and friends! It is quite a process though they make it look easy. Needless to say I am loving being here. Jack and Pam (our team leaders) have done a great job and we are all working well together. Thank you for praying for us. Please don't stop. We have 5 days to go!
Much love,

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Losing Track of the days

We arrived in Axum today after spending a full day and night in Gondar. We toured an Orthodox church that is over 400 years old and we visited the Royal Compound that had at least 6 castles or more. They were beautiful and amazing when you think of the fact that they were all done by hand and built without machines of any sort.

We haven't had access to the Internet for the last 2 days. These are some thoughts I wrote while sitting in the airport waiting to depart for Axum. I'm not going to take the time to rewrite it all, but am just going to post it as I wrote it.

It is Saturday, September 4, 2015. The days very quickly run together on trips like this.
Let me start by saying, Ethiopia is poor.  My only reference is India and I would say that Ethiopia is “India poor”.  It is dirty and dusty and the people are resilient and amazing. We middle class Americans are such wimps. Yet, I find myself in awe of the people here. Those who walk with Jesus take nothing for granted. They find themselves walking in constant dependence on God. Nothing is assumed. The poor really do have something on us.  I understand now what Renaut meant when he said that when you tell an Ethiopian that God answers prayer they know its true. We are so completely self sufficient in America that we just don’t know what it is to truly depend on God.
So today when we were leaving our hotel, which was set high upon a hill, we saw many people out to exercise…that blew my mind. In a country where so many are poor they are still exercising. Our guide said they were probably wealthier people who had been advised by their physician to exercise. So now I have to try to absorb this concept when my mind was already blown by the poverty. I think it is just so difficult to understand another culture, period. Certainly not in a 10 day period.  My heart is so overwhelmed by being here. I just keep having to stop and absorb that I am in Africa. And then in another moment my senses are bombarded with the fact that I am in Africa. We go from being in a hotel most  Ethiopians could never afford and touring their castles and churches to driving down the road with donkeys, and cows, and sheep and dogs that look half starved. In America you would be arrested if you had an animal in these conditions and here all the animals look as though they are starving. I showed our waiter last night pictures and video of Tasha and told him how we treat our dogs. He laughed at the photo of Tasha in the front seat of the car and asked laughingly if she was driving. America is so messed up in some big ways. It’s bazaar . When life is survival for a culture even the animals seem to know it.

The people at the Goha Hotel were courteous and beautiful. I wish I had asked to take a picture with them. I am bummed that I didn’t think of that until right now. They are so hospitable and want to know that our stay was good.  Funny story, I asked for a latte and the young waiter brought me a cup and proceeded to fill it with steaming milk…to the top…no coffee at all. When I asked him where was the coffee, he poured in the tiniest bit…I added sugar and then burnt my tongue on it. It was scalding. We laughed and laughed. I think Jill snorted! It was great. 

We played Farkle outside in the beautiful weather on the veranda of the hotel and quiet Kevin Cox beat us all. We are bonding together and these first two days will add such value to our relationships and to each individual so that when things get tough and we are tired we will be able to give each other grace. Taking two days to adjust to the time difference has been a wonderful plan. We are becoming a team. A little piece of Mosaic Church here in Ethiopia.

 I find the Lord removing my inner criticalness and calling me not to discern the value of people, but accepting their value and embracing them for exactly who they are. I’m not proud of that sin that lives within me but I am awed by God as He changes me from the inside out and is teaching me by His Holy Spirit that every single person deserves love instead of constantly deciding if they are worthy of my love. I know how terrible that sounds. I am just being honest. God is doing a mighty work in me as He has allowed me to be a part of this team and I am humbled and amazed. 

Some other random thoughts I jotted down on my phone today:
In my daily life where every need I have is met before I even ask...medical, sustenance, housing, clothing, and still I am called to rely on God for do I do this?How do I live and rely on God? The best I can come up with is to live outside of my natural live a life that I cannot live on my own...every single day walking into situations where I acknowledge my need for God. Sometimes I take real risks and do things that seem a little crazy because I want to live this life for something other than myself. American Christians often think that raising Godly children is the goal...and not that I don't need God in my parenting because I surely do, but much of it I can accomplish in my own strength. I must choose to place myself in situations that if God doesn't show up, I'm sunk. How do I do this in my day to day "Axum Coffee drinking"life? What must I change in my comfortable life that will allow me the privilege and joy of reliance on Christ in my every day? How am I living that allows me to see God answer prayer? Where am I standing and waiting for God to show up? 

The people in Ethiopia are sweet and friendly with their broad smiles...I see Fitsimti in the beautiful young women everywhere I look...and Birhanu in the boys playing soccer on the fields...though no one's smile compares to his. What must God have in store for them? It could only be His hand that has placed them in such a place of safety and plenty.

In Ethiopia body odor is real.

Flying into Axum there were people living right next to the airstrip. 

This was a long and random post. Tomorrow we will begin our work at ORE with the children. I'll post more later.
In His love, 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

So we made it to Addis Ababa. According to Jane's guide book Addis is the 3rd largest capital city in the world. The weather is quite nice. There's a lovely breeze which we are thankful for since the hotel doesn't have air conditioning. So our windows are open and the city is alive with 3rd world country sounds...shovels scraping, horns honking, people calling to one another...although it is much quieter than New Delhi was with all their horn honking. There is not alot of traffic where we are which is interesting. We are not too far from the airport so maybe that is why. We are staying one night here and then heading to Gondar tomorrow morning bright and early.

Our flight was uneventful thankfully. It felt like it went on forever. They fed us several times which was nice. I love airline food. I really do. A little bit of everything and I find it quite tasty. I know that's weird, but it's true. I couldn't sleep much on the flight but a couple of times I was out. One time my seat mate crawled right over me to get to his seat because he didn't want to wake me up. Wasn't that considerate of him? I was amazed when I woke up and he was back in his seat and I didn't even feel him crawl over me. I watched several movies which was weird for me. Usually I start a movie and fall asleep. I finally watched " Woman in Gold". That was a good story. I also watched "The Longest Ride" which was enjoyable. I had never heard of it, but it had a cowboy on it and was rated PG so I thought I'd give it a try. At the end I saw that it was a movie by Nicholas Sparks and that seemed to fit. Then, just for Cat I watched "Legally Blonde" because it is listed as a Classic choice. Though I had all that time to veg out and just do nothing, I'm not so much a fan of the long flights.

When we arrived at the airport we had to wait in line to get our Visas. After that we had to claim our 24 bags/crates at baggage claim. After that we were to go to a scanning machine for them to examine all our bags and ask us questions and possibly confiscate or charge us extra taxes. This was the prayer I asked you to pray that we would get through customs with no problems....well, did the Lord ever answer your prayers!!! They didn't examine a SINGLE bag!!! Seriously, it was miraculous. We were just waved right on through. God's unmerited favor just slows me down and I stand amazed! Thank you for praying. Don't stop!!!

Here are some photos from our hotel window. We are staying at the Addissinia Hotel if you want to look it up.
Much love,

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Prayer Requests

This never loaded last night so I'm trying again this morning....
Our team met at the church to load up at 4 this afternoon. After a word of prayer by Gabe, our missions pastor, we all loaded up. With all our suitcases and medical equipment checked I am happy to report that we had an uneventful flight to Dulles in Washington DC where we will catch our flight in the morning to Ethiopia. I'm now settled in for the night planning to wake up for breakfast at 6. I realized that I haven't really given specific prayer requests so I thought I would do so now. 

Because half of our team is traveling for medical missions, we are traveling with medical equipment. Please pray that we will have favor in customs on the Ethiopia side and that all our medical equipment will arrive safely.

Please pray that we can all get our bodies switched to Ethiopian time quickly...on the flight over if possible.

Please pray for God to be our strength as we adjust to the altitude, food and anything else I don't even know to ask for yet :) 

Most of all ask God to give us His favor as we seek to love Him and love others for Him. May He supernaturally remove any and all prejudices and judgmental attitudes from our secret selves and to allow us to serve and live well. 
Thank you from the bottom of my grateful ❤️!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saying Bye to Momo

So this weekend we said goodbye to our Japanese student. Momo was with us for the month of August. She was beautiful and delightful, agreeable in every way. The students come to America to see the sights and practice their English. The program we are involved in is called Mission to Japan and the students come knowing that Bible classes are part of the program, though most of them have no religion at all. Japan is a country whose people give very little thought about God. Momo told me that before she came to America she did not think about God and had no opportunity to learn about God. That is not uncommon, but rather the norm for Japanese youth. We open our home to them to allow them to see what American families are like. We welcome them to our table and our hearts, but the truth is, with all my heart I want them to meet Jesus. Even now, I am moved to tears thinking about any of our students coming to believe in Christ and to follow His teachings for the rest of their lives. To meet them again in Heaven is my heart's desire. So we invite them to witness our messy lives, our imperfect homes, our parenting, pets, and marriages hoping that somehow in the midst of it all they might have their eyes opened by the One who loves them and that somehow they might get a glimpse of our passion for Jesus and His passion for them. If they can see Him then all the sacrifices will have been worth it. It's not the hardest thing in the world one can do for Jesus, but it is hard....BUT if they see Him then it is all worth it and that is why we continue to do it even though it is difficult. Momo was able to see Ellie's baptism at church two weeks ago. She told me that she was "touched in her heart" though she didn't understand why. I pray that she will continue to wonder about that. We had a lot of time to talk together, just the two of us, and I pray that those conversations will be replayed in her mind over the next few weeks as she moves back into her normal lives. I pray that God will bring Christians into her life and that everywhere she turns she will meet people who know Christ, though she had never noticed them before. I pray that she will read the Bible she was given and be swept away by God's love and plan for her life. I pray for her eternal salvation.

Is hosting difficult? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Will we do it again? Most definitely. Hosting a person from another country is like going on a missions trip without ever leaving the comfort of your own bed.....I wonder what my bed in Axum will be like??? Stay tuned....

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Heading to Ethiopia

It's been years, literally, since I've blogged. I wouldn't have thought that much time had passed, but it There is certainly no way to catch up the last 3 years here and really that's not the point of this post, but I am stunned that life just flies on by as though it were nothing but a moment when in reality we have lived a ton of life in the last 3 years.

On September 1st I will be traveling with a group of fellow Christ followers from Mosaic Church to Axum, Ethiopia. We are a group of twelve, seven women and five men, who desire to bring hope to hurting people. There are two surgeons in our group and several nurses who will be working in the local hospital there. The rest of us will be working with a team at Operation Rescue Ethiopia which is located nearby in Adwa. ORE is a non-profit organization who's objective is to take orphans, street children and extremely poor children from their vulnerable situations and help them to achieve their maximum potential-academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We will lead the children through some Bible classes and serve the workers there in any way that we can. ORE is one of the ministries that Mosaic Church partners with. I am so privileged and excited to have this opportunity to travel to Ethiopia to share the love of Christ.

Why go to Ethiopia?, you might ask. Well, let me give you a little background to this story. I became enthralled with Ethiopia several years ago when I read a book titled, "There is No Me Without You". I think Ellie was two at the time. As a result of reading that book I decided we needed to adopt from Ethiopia. Shocking, right? I asked David out on a date and told him about my desire. He assured me that our family was full. Still, my heart had been challenged and changed. My mind had been opened to the pain of this ravaged country and its hurting children.(Though we weren't called to adopt, we did begin to sponsor a young Ethiopian boy named Alemgena). Then, three years or so after reading the book, we were called to be a part of Mosaic Church where the pastor and his wife "happened" to be in the process of adopting four children from Ethiopia. If we weren't called to adopt from Ethiopia I could certainly pray for and embrace those who were and so I did. These beautiful children have been a part of our church family for over 3 years now and Ethiopia has become even more dear to me.

My heart is so full as I anticipate traveling to a country who's children have already touched my heart. Please pray for our team that we will be a light that shines brightly, a love that loves deeply and eyes that see the value of every single person we meet. May we represent God well and make His glory known as we serve in His name. He doesn't need us, but He has welcomed us into this story. I am humbled and amazed.

Our Team:

God bless,