In just a few short hours, we are leaving to go to Ethiopia for our missions trip. In the end we decided to not take Ayana and I am going to miss her so bad! We will have an intense schedule of things that she couldn't go to while in country and I didn't want to leave her with someone she didn't know all day. Our nanny and my firend Lindsay will be watching her. She will be in her bed and stay in her routine while we are gone. I have never left her this long and we will be so far away. Please pray that our strong bond will not be affected long term by us being gone and that she does well.
Also, please pray for our trip and for God to work in His perfect plan.
Here is our schedule and the description of some of the places we are going to:
Day and Date Morning Afternoon
Sunday the 24th Church (Beza International) HIV colony in Entoto with Beza
Monday the 25th Bright Hope School Kechene drop-in-center
Tuesday the 26th CHE drop-in-center Mexico & boys halfway home Lafto Thomas Center Orphanage and Bole Bulbula Village VBS
Wednesday the 27th Boys at the City Dump Leper Colony/Hospital
Thursday the 28th * Optional Morning After School program with Baers
Friday the 29th Hannah's Hope Transitional Home with Almaz Ephrem's Soccer Ministry
Saturday the 30th AHOPE HIV Orphanage IEC Ministry Bazaar
Sunday the 31st. Church (Bible Army Church) Afternoon wrap up and debrief
Beza International is a bilingual, Evangelical church that in the past 3 years has grow from 12 to over 3500. They are extremely intentional in reaching out to those in their community and have an amazing outreach to those affected by HIV and AIDS. The worship service is similar in style to what you might find at an Assemblies of God church.
The HIV colony in Entoto houses over 4000 individuals with HIV and/or AIDS. The site is located on a mountain top overlooking Addis. The initial reason that those with HIV came to the area is because of a local Orthodox church which was understood to have holy water to cure their disease. Unfortunately, there has not been a documented case of such holy water healing. Beza church began a work that is now reaching over 400 in the community. One way they are able to reach this people group is to provide them a job making jewelry and other handy crafts. This provides them a sense of dignity and also helps them to open up to the only real answer in Jesus Christ.
Bright Hope School is one of the oldest schools in Addis with no formal funding. It is located near the Leper colony and dump. In November of 2009, a church came to the school to build the first ever wall around the campus (keeping out hyenas and also protecting the children from any other unwanted visitors. We will join a team that is spending a week at the school. Keep in mind that the primary need is to simply spend time with the kids. You don't have to be a professional at anything...just be willing to give your love and open your heart to the love they have.
The Kechene drop-in-center is a community based model of care. They provide schooling, discipleship, and a solid meal…all wrapped in a blanket of love. Peter Aberra started the center after leaving his position of Area Director for Young Life Ethiopia. People thought he was crazy to leave a job as the director of an American (well-funded) ministry. He left by faith because he saw a need that he couldn't help but do something about. These kids have nothing...and have everything...a fantastic picture of the joy the Lord can provide. We partnered with Peter to help him start a second drop-in-center just one street away from the guest home.
Children's Home Ethiopia (in conjunction with The Forsaken Children USA), have a drop-in-center in the Mexico area of Addis that serves to connect with children on the front lines of need. They build relationships with children who have nowhere else to go. Some have no parents and are on the streets...others may have one parent or grandparent, yet are on the edge of having no adult to care for them. Some have even been found to live under plastic tarps in the median of the busy road outside their center. For those with no adult whatsoever, they have begun a halfway house in Lafto (near the guest home). This provides a sense of family and provides a commitment to these kids to be there for them.
The Thomas Center Orphanage and Bole Bulbula Village is run by pastor Abdissa Benti. Last year, Dave asked Pastor Abdissa where the team could serve. Although he pastored two churches, runs two separate orphanages/transitional homes…he took us to an area that he knew had more need. That area is Bole Bulbula. Although one can see the airport runway from the village...it has been largely passed up. The main source of income is generated by selling cow dung (which is used for fuel...and to build humble buildings). He started a new church now reaching 75 kids and sharing the good news of Jesus.
The city dump is less than 10 minutes from Ethiopia Guest Home, and years ago was far removed from the center of the city. Over time, the city has grown out and it is now unavoidable. Women and children scavenge alongside of vultures, dogs, and pigs (which they do not eat in Ethiopia). Sammy is one of the translators on staff with Ethiopia Guest Home. He grew up in the dump and leper colony (near each other). He still knows many of those at the dump and has helped build a bridge as the Lord has done much in his life. We are looking at creative ways to help give a hand-up vs hand-out to those who long for something more.
The Leper Colony (Korah) is home to the only Leprosy hospital in all of Ethiopia. Alert Hospital is well known throughout the world…yet extremely primitive. There is still a stigma on those with Leprosy as individuals are often shunned by their families. We have connected with Kasa...a man in his 60's who came to Korah in 1967. Without any fingers, he manages to make rugs and makes a living for his family with the income generated from the rugs. Other women there cut plastic bags (originally used for milk storage) into strips that they then make the most amazing purses from. Whether purses or rugs, tapestry, etc...The work provides both physical therapy through motion in their hands as well as a sense of dignity. We are looking to deepen our connection with these individuals and lay the groundwork for sharing the gospel.
Bingham Academy is an International School (only those with a foreign passport are permitted to attend), that serves missionary families, business families, and other internationals in Ethiopia. We will tour the school and find out more about the history and goals they have.
Prayer walk to the Orthodox Church near Lafto. We'll see many faithful Orthodox believers making the trek up the hill/small mountain to connect with God. Additionally, women in Orthodox churches cover their heads with a white scarf ( Men also wear the scarf, yet do not cover their heads. While we may have different specific beliefs, it's important to see the preservation of the Christian faith through the Orthodox church as Ethiopia has a long historical connection with Israel as the Queen of Sheba (from Ethiopia) had a son from King Solomon...it will be a quiet time of prayer at the church.
Tom and Sally Baer are full time missionaries in Ethiopia who are rather new to Ethiopia. They have located a remote area about one hour away and started an after school program designed at building relationships and addressing real needs…which in time will lead to open hearts to the gospel. We will spend some time with their family...hearing about what life is like in Ethiopia and learning about their ministry. We will then buy a sheep or two on the way to their project and kill them together with the people of their community and have a celebration feast. We'll have some great time to connect with the kids there as well.
Hannah's Hope Transitional home sets the bar for orphan care. Children there have been referred to parents who are in the process of adoption. Almaz is the Director. You'll notice a real peace and Joy of the Lord at the center. We'll spend time with younger and older children and hear from the staff as well.
Ephrem Hagos has a soccer ministry to boys on the streets of downtown Addis. Two years ago when we first connected, he was working with 25 boys. Now, his work has swelled to over 100. He started a soccer league for boys on the street…the first of its kind in Ethiopia. He has long term dreams of getting each of the boys sponsored so that they can stay in school. He would also like to have a place for those with no parents of any kind to be able to come and sleep...and receive a solid meal. We'll take some of the boys for ice cream and hear from them about the challenges they face and the hope they have.
AHOPE is the largest HIV + Orphanage in Addis. As there is a tremendous stigma on those with HIV, it's a miracle AHOPE even exists. We'll spend time with the children and provide them with the same love that every child deserves. There has been an increased movement by those in the states and Europe to adopt children who are HIV +. Having spoken with these adoptive parents, they all said that medically...HIV is a breeze. It's the social stigma that exists everywhere that they run into. We'll have some time that night to remember these families in prayer.
The International Evangelical Church (IEC) is one of the oldest churches in Ethiopia started by missionaries with SIM. On the last Saturday of the month, over 50 ministries converge to sell items they have made that in turn help them to pay for the various ministry activities they incur costs for. While it is great to bring home a souvenir...it's even better to bring home a gift that makes a difference.
The Bible Army Church. A trip to Ethiopia would not be complete without a trip to an extremely charismatic church. These are people who love Jesus…and who have some energy about it. There will be dancing, shouting, maybe some people rolling on the floor. It's refreshing to see such energy in the expression of faith...something I'm sure we could use more of.
Well anyway, that's it for now. Gotta go to bed and get ready to go! PLEASE PRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!