My Etsy Shop!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Confession and Some Special Links

Y'all are great-I loved the comments about what things you look forward to about the holidays! Go read them from yesterday's post if you didn't have a chance so you can see what everyone shared! I should use more exclamation points!!!! And no worries about being super "spiritual" in your holiday traditions-we totally watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on Thanksgiving weekend, too, haha!!! Also, my friend Kelly in the comments MIGHT have been being a teensy bit sarcastic about our housegroup because I will let you in on a secret-I HATE CHRISTMAS CAROLING!! I really do. I LOVE to sing, and I LOVE music, and I do lots of sing-y things, but I loathe Christmas caroling. I just hate tromping around ringing on doorbells and such and having to awkwardly stand there singing cheesy Christmas songs at people while they try to smile and not feel awkward also while they listen to you. The whole thing is weird to me and I am not a fan, sorry. I realize I may have just lost most of my 3 followers with that admission...;) But I am happy to be the one who stays behind and make hot chocolate and cider for the weary carolers to come back to at the end-does that count for anything??? (Oh, and in regards to the other part of the comment about miming, do not even get me started on how I feel about miming....)

Ok, now that I have painted such a lovely picture of myself, how about I share a few links that I think are worth taking a look at. First up is something that is VERY dear to my heart and is the exact post I have been trying to write for about a month or so now. It is a post written by a woman who is a missionary in Haiti and the post is about mission trips and working with impoverished people in other countries and a great book that we, too are reading. I have written, fretted over, edited, and ultimately deleted a post several times that was trying to say the very same things the author shared in this post so when I read it I was thrilled b/c now I don't have to try to write it, I will just link y'all to it and tell you to go read it! Ha, it is not being lazy, it is being efficient... I do believe it is worth your time to read it if you are at all interested in missions. Go ahead and read-I'll wait here.

One other link that I wanted to share is to my internet friend Christie's blog. Christie is moving to Uganda in just about 2 weeks to live and work in a village called Bugabo. She has partnered with local people there to help build a school and she will be teaching at this school as well. The children in the village need sponsors to pay for all the needs that go with getting an education. Now, before you say no thanks, get this-sponsorship for a child in ONLY $100 FOR A YEAR!! Hmm, that is less than $10 a month. $100 will cover tuition, uniform, shoes, school supplies, a meal during school, and medical/dental visits (as needed) for one year. That is a pretty sweet return on a small investment. I know not everyone can do this, but for all those of you who wanted to sponsor kiddos in Korah but missed the cut off, here is your chance in Uganda! Christie will be living in the village, with the children and families, in their culture, and being a part of helping them help themselves. In a time when everyone is looking for a "good deal", this is a pretty AMAZING deal for $100. Christie is very open to answering any and all questions about this, too, if you need more info so feel free to give her a shout about it. She has literally given up everything in her life, the entire American dream and all that comes with it, to live among these people she loves. Let's help her do it! Go check out her blog now, if you would please!

And since I have written several posts without pictures, I will leave you with one of my weird kids on Halloween just so you can have a complete picture of how our family rolls :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Well, Hello There!

Y'all, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth, I just needed some time to process in my head and heart all that went on on my trip and also spend some much needed just-family time with my hubby and girls. I hope you understand, you seem like an understanding bunch ;), and I will be back to posting more regularly. Sometimes I just need a break from the blog/facebook/email world, ya know? And especially after the trip, I needed to re-group a little since the world did not stop spinning for me and I had to jump right back into mom/school/work/life duties-how rude of that world! But, I am getting VERY excited about the holidays coming up and really looking forward to the time with my family and friends, celebrating the millions of things for which I am thankful and also preparing to celebrate the reason for every single thing I am/have/do, the birth of my Savior!!!

So, to get things back rolling here on the blog, let's do a group discussion. What things are you looking forward to most this holiday season? Share them in the comments so we can all learn a little more about what this little Sheep flock does during Thanksgiving and Christmas and beyond and maybe get some fun ideas to add to our own holiday traditions! I will start with one that is weird and fun all at the same time: the last few years we have done, along with my sister's family (8 of them), a Mayflower dinner some time the week of Thanksgiving. We find an obnoxiously cramped and uncomfortable space (we have used a basement shop/tool room, an outside children's wooden playhouse, etc) and cram all 14 of us in there, much like the pilgrims were on the Mayflower (minus the barf from seasick folks and stink of various "functions"-we are not THAT committed to simulating reality) and we have dried beef and stale crackers and one year even had "ale" (gross!!!) for the kids to take a sip of since that is what they had on the ship as water was not available. Then we read the story of how the Pilgrims did this and more (one baby was even born aboard the Mayflower mid-journey!!), for a LONG time on a cramped ship going where they knew and had NOTHING, so they could come here to a new land where they could be free to worship the one True God. Funny how that part often gets lost in the stories of the Pilgrims and Indians and school plays-but the reason for their sacrifice and suffering was their commitment to honoring God's words in the Bible and not being forced to worship their earthly king. Many of them lost their lives and lost loved ones and suffered so dearly for the cost of religious freedom, so that I can sit here many many years later freely typing about the God I love. So, we laugh about our Mayflower dinner b/c it is weird and cramped and uncomfortable and the little ones cry and fuss and it is not really all that fun, honestly, and that is exactly the point. :) It is a very, very small taste of how it was for those first brave women and men and their families-I have nothing to complain about and so very much to be thankful for.

Ok, your turn-share your family traditions/jokes/things the holidays would be complete without in the comments! :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

An AMAZING Last Day!!

** Sorry this took me a few days to get posted, I have been doing a lot of sleeping since I got home :)**

Well, God pulled out all the stops in sending me out of here with an absolutely great day! I awoke to a Bisrat alarm-I heard his voice calling “hello, Jody?” throughout our house and he showed up at our bedroom door where Danielle and I were asleep. Things here are so different, I just honestly have to laugh about it. Can you imagine that in the States?? hahaha. He came by b/c he was supposed to come with me to the airport to say goodbye when I left but he had something come up for his job so he could not-at least that is what I think happened, I was half asleep for most of it....
After he left, we realized we needed to get up and get moving anyway as we were supposed to head to Korah pretty soon so it all worked out ok. We got to the church office there and did our standard wait around until we could figure out what was going on for the day and while we were waiting, the people with the clay and tools showed up! We were so excited, I wasn't going to miss it after all! D and I got an area set up in the shelter to work with the women on beads and we (surprise!) waited while Pastor and Sammy were supposed to go round up the ladies. We sat for a bit, chatting with Murad and Daniel, the guy who was serving as the translator for the clay lady. Then Murad announced we were actually not doing the clay until next week. WHAT?! I won't be here next week!! I was really heartbroken and not even sure what had happened. I know that is just the way things sometimes go here, that you have to hold plans loosely, but I felt tears welling up in my eyes, thankfully behind my sunglasses. This was the thing I was most excited about on the whole trip! Everything else had gotten switched around and I could deal with that, but this? Not so much. However, I knew good and well there was nothing I could do about it so I asked if we could just go visit the babies one more time before I left. Off we went behind the church, along the rocky trash path to her home with Murad. The babies were asleep completely covered under a blanket (how they can breathe under there I do not know) so I didn't want her to disturb them just b/c I wanted to see them. We asked if things were going ok and how her supply of formula and diapers was and then I asked if she had chosen names for them yet so I could pray for them. Well, this is where God began to show me why I wasn't off doing beads. The mama told Murad she named them the names I had called them the other day, Sarah and Judah! I could not believe that, this time the sunglasses did not hide the tears. She had not named them yet b/c she was waiting on the “right” names, and then she said she liked those that I called them. Oh my heart!! Murad said “Jody, you are very lucky.” No, no luck here, just undeserved blessings from the Lord! I told her I was leaving and would not get to see her again and she came and gave me a big hug and we exchanged kisses on alternating cheeks and I gave her another tight squeeze-now I can pray for those babies by name! The especially fun thing is that we had always planned on using the name Sarah for one of our girls but just never had for one reason or another, and I know my hubby LOVES that name, so that is why I liked it for that tiny sweet girl-so I feel like we really DO have a Sarah now! We said goodbye and I was already on cloud nine as we walked away from there. But alas, God was not done yet!
I had brought a couple shirts for the child my dad sponsors and I wanted to see if I could by any chance find him and give them to him personally. Sammy and Murad talked back and forth and talked with some kids, or as we like to call it their underground communication network, and came back saying “ok, let's go”. I asked how they know how to find people since there are no street names and no addresses, and I explained addresses in America. M laughed and said, “no, here it is not like that, you just ask people and guess”. It seems ridiculous, yet somehow they always know where to find people, it is unreal. You have to see it to understand how crazy it is! We walked for a good bit, past chickens and donkeys and large mats of hot peppers drying in the sun to make into berbere powder, a very hot and spicy pepper blend they use here in most dishes. He lived far from the church and eventually we found his little home tucked back at the end of an alley of sorts. The tin covering the walls was rusted and flimsy and we had to duck to go through the tiny doorway. It was totally dark inside, with the exception of a patch of sunlight from a dinner plate-sized skylight cut into the roof. The floor was dirt covered with dried grass and the walls were made of tarp material rather than the typical mud. It actually had multiple rooms and ornately embroidered maroon curtains, in stark contrast to the dirty, cobbled-together rest of the house, separated the kitchen/bedroom from the main room. The actual sponsored child was not at home as he was taking an exam but his mother and 2 sisters were there and they graciously welcomed us into their home. We explained who we were and I showed her the things I had brought for her son from my dad. She was very happy to have them and then sweetly asked us to sit so she could make us coffee! I am telling you, I love these people. Can you even imagine such a thing in America? A random foreign stranger shows up at your door and asks to come in and then you sit them down and make them coffee? No way, jose! We sat and she ducked through the fancy curtains to prepare the coffee. The 2 younger sisters were there, smiling shyly at us and helping their mother. They were both absolutely beautiful! I called them over to share something in my bag with them, my “modern day phylacteries” as I was calling them. Phylacteries were the things the Pharisees in the Bible wore on their foreheads and wrists, little boxes strapped on with scriptures inside and they were worn in response to the verse Deuteronomy 6:8 that says “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” I had almost the same thing, silly bands that are in the shape of pictures and colors that represent the Gospel story! :) (They are called Believer Bands if you want to get some, btw) I had 2 sets in my bag and, with Murad's help, I showed the girls each band, telling them what it represented. There is a black apple, a red cross, a white heart, a green plant, and a gold crown. I shared with them (and their listening mother) that we all have forgiveness and new life offered to us in exchange for sin that we all have-and this forgiveness is b/c of Jesus' death on the cross and if we choose to accept that amazing gift from God, we have a place in His kingdom in heaven! Then I gave them their own set to each wear on their wrist to remind them of that Truth and to also share the story with their friends if they wanted. They were excited to have them and so was I! I couldn't help but think that if I had been up at the shelter making beads, this would never have happened and I saw once again God's perfect timing and plan revealed to us. I was just thrilled to have spent my afternoon in this home, sharing the greatest gift one could ever get, eternal life in Christ through His grace. This day alone made the entire trip worth it to me.
We eventually reluctantly left their home and headed to meet up at the coffee shop with the rest of the guys and Cherrie, all of whom had been off doing various things. We got there and saw the now-familiar mom and her little one who are beggars on the sidewalk, sleeping among the cars and foot traffic whirring by. It tore at my heart that this is their life, and I wondered out loud if she might be able to come to the bead training next week to learn that craft to earn income rather than put her and her daughter in harm's way every day. So, b/c he has a heart of gold, Murad went over and asked her if she lived in Korah, b/c the training is for only Korah people, and she said yes, she does live there! Long story short, it is tentatively set up for her to come either Tuesday or Wednesday to come to the training-PLEASE pray she does!! It could make such a difference in her and her child's life. Eventually everyone collected there at the shop and we set out for home, stopping on the way home to pick up our food for dinner, a live sheep from a herd on the side of the road! Yup, they were going to do a big sheep roast party since I was leaving-I just love these guys!! The sheep here look like our goats back home, but with fat tails. Our fat-tailed dinner rode home INSIDE the van, upside down on the floor while Yiesmachew held it by the ankles, and it protested with loud bleats every now and again. Almost the same as when I am bringing dinner home from Kroger.....The rest of the afternoon was filled with gathering the needed items for the party-firewood (the sheep gets cooked on a HUGE pan on rocks over a fire outside), bread, onions, cokes, etc. I was offered the chance to be the one to cut the sheep's neck, and really was going to do it, but at the last minute chickened out and was really glad I did when I watched them do it. It is just so gross, even though I had seen it before. Poor Cherrie was not watching as she HATES that part and I accidentally told her too many details about it and sent her into a fit of gagging-sorry Cherrie!!! :( The guys had a good time grossing me out by playing with the jaw bone and tongue of the sheep and I decided it would be a good time to go do something else. Little by little different people would show up and they all helped in preparing the meal-at one point Murad, Yiesmachew and our van driver Sammy were all peeling and chopping onions and out of nowhere Maste was there and cutting up chunks of the meat to cook while some other guys were chopping up tomatoes. It was just so fun to watch everyone working like busy bess and getting all excited about the big feast to come! There was no such thing as too many cooks there in the courtyard. Berhanu set up a beautiful coffee ceremony as well, along with the traditional snack served with it, popcorn. Talk about the royal treatment, y'all! I was floored, and my heart was beyond full from all the amazing events of this day with my Ethiopian family. Danielle and I each got a turn at the fire, cooking the sheep, which started out fun and was quickly ruined by the fact that I looked down in the pan and saw TEETH! So nasty, the jaw bone was in there!! I was so grossed out, they thought that was just hilarious-also, I was cooking beside Habtamu one of the other drivers and I thought, where the heck did HE come from?? I am telling you, people just show up all over the place! Here and there one of the guys would snap a sprig of rosemary right off the bush from the yard and throw it in the pan and Maste would come add more salt at various times to the meat and onions and tomatoes already in the pan. This could give Iron Chef a run for it's money, for sure-these guys can cook! Danielle made mashed potatoes to go along with it for the guys to try since they had never had them served like that before. Oh my word, they were SO good, D can also cook!!!! She makes a mean garlic mashed potato, y'all. I sat there, belly full of mashed potatoes and roasted sheep/goat and popcorn and coffee, surrounded by people who are my brothers and sisters in Christ, of all different colors and from different corners of the world, and thought how on earth did God see fit to bless my life in such an amazing manner?? My heart nearly then burst from my chest when the 15 year old boy from Korah, who now lives at Sumer's house, presented me with an ornate and delicate silver cross and said “for your Habesha baby” (meaning for my little Thing 4, adopted from ET) Seriously? I mean was he trying to just kill me from making my heart burst at that moment??? Oh how I felt torn between desperately wanting to see my family back home and yet not wanting to leave this family here. I am so thankful for the internet that will keep us in touch with one another!! The drive to the airport was hard, so many thoughts and feelings rolling around-I never like the beginning of all the flying anyway, it makes me nervous, and we were all a little sad that my time here was at an end, but I also wanted to get home and hug and love on my kids and husband. At the airport, we all gathered in a huddle, they guys, Cherrie, Danielle, Alicia and myself, and they prayed for me and for my trip, and D and I cried as she will stay another week. God has knit our hearts together so well during our time here that leaving her was especially hard-good thing she lives in America and is a little easier to visit!! Then it was finally time to make the dreaded walk up the hill, alone, b/c they cannot come past a certain point if they are not traveling, also. I actually sailed through security and check in ans the exit visa faster than I ever had and was sort of dreading sitting in the airport alone for 2 hours. God once again held me as I saw an American couple we had met a week earlier on the plane who were traveling for their first visit to meet the children they are adopting! They were again on my same flight back to Amsterdam and so we sat and talked the whole time while waiting for our flight. It turned out they had seen the video from my trip this summer as well as had read my blog, haha-small world! We had a great time laughing about our unique experiences over the last week in Ethiopia and we all agreed we were ready for American bathrooms again! Overall, this trip was not at all really what it started out to be, and at times on the trip that frustrated me, but God was more than faithful and the trip was so much more than I could have asked or imagined. He is just so good, ALL the time.