Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Back to "Normal"

(whatever that is...) Just a quick post to let everyone know that we arrived quite safely in Louisville. What a marvelous trip! God knew what He was doing when He brought this team together.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that our hearts were broken for the people of Ethiopia. They live with as close to nothing as you can get, yet they have more joy than most of us will ever hope to have. This experience was something we won’t forget – no – it was even more than that. It was literally life-altering.

Keep checking this blog for more posts and hopefully photos from our group. Also, if you’re on Facebook, I’m sure you’ll see about a billion photos and videos going up shortly.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your prayers. They were needed and appreciated. Do not grow weary in praying for the people of Ethiopia.

Funny Stories from Rebekah

Okay - Rebekah wrote the following hysterical stories a couple days ago. Unfortunately the internet was being persnickity... so here you go. ENJOY!

Julie and Holly burned a cake in the oven. Why? Well, folks over on this side of the world think (for some incomprehensible reason), that Celsius is way cooler than Fahrenheit. Julie and Holly forgot that part when they were reading the directions for the cake.
Directions: Bake cake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Julie and Holly: Okay, well, THIS oven doesn't go to 350! We'll just set the oven to 300 degrees, hahahahahahhha baking cakes is so much fun!!!!!
Emily (several minutes later): It smells like the cake is burning.
Julie (after walking to kitchen): Holly! Holly! Where's Holly! Holly, oh, Holly!!!!!
Holly (after running inside): Oh my gosh, we burned the cake!!!!
Julie: !!!!!!

After understanding that the oven was indeed Celsius, we quickly pulled up (on the new-fangled interweb, via google) a fahrenheit/celsius converter to discover the meaning of all this. Thinking we had turned the oven to 300 degrees F, we had actually turned it to 300 degrees C, which means it was ACTUALLY 572 degrees F!!!!! Hence burned cake, and hence Julie currently mixing new cake mix.

Now. The story of the hour.

(WARNING: This story contains intense scenes and some violence. Not recommended for people who think spiders try to kill them in their sleep.)

Once upon a time...

It was late. Emily and Tammy were asleep. I was lying on my pillow, drifting off to the sound of piano music in my head (don't make fun, I'm serious. No one understands us musicians).
As I was thinking my last conscious thought, I heard it.


It was soft; barely audible to the human ear- unless it's about an inch away from your head.

That sounded like a bug, thought I.

I took hold of my alarm clock, and immediately shined its light on the very spot from whence I had heard the sound- right next to my pillow. "ohmygoshohmyGOSHOHMYGOSH!!!!!!" I declared as I leapt up from my top bunk, nearly hitting my head on the ceiling.

It was a spider. But not just any spider. This spider had come for revenge. This spider had come for the revenge of his many brothers, whom we had killed over the course of several nights spent on the plains of Africa. This spider had come to kill in return. He was... The Assassin Spider.

Needless to say, this awakened the delicate sleep of mine own roommates, Tammy and Emily.

"What's wrong...?" Asked Tammy.
"Oh... do you need help?"
"do you need me to turn on the light?"

Tammy turned on the light, and Emily got out of bed. I apprehensively and fearfully knelt before my pillow in order to discover the whereabouts of the Assassin Spider. Emily stood at my side, ready to assist if needed. After much mental debate, I finally summoned the courage to look under my pillow to see if it was there.

It wasn't.

Emily lifted up the mattress, to see if it had gone under there.

It had.

Screams ensued.

Funny thing about screams. The scream of someone trying not to be murdered is much different than the scream of a delighted child on Christmas morn. So it is with the screams of three females at the sight of a spider under a mattress. It is a very bubbly, impulsive, uncontrollable sing-song scream that causes one to dance about in a strange manner.

After our little ritual of dancing and screaming and me dropping the mattress back over the spider, Emily retrieved some footwear and I lifted the mattress back up. She slowly aimed the sandal towards the would-be assassin. But she did not fire.
'aaAAGGHH, I CAN'T DO IT!!!' She said.
"I'll do it with you, Emily!!! We'll do this together!!!" Declared I.
So together, the three of us, in an act that would've made the Three Musketeers proud, smashed the sandal upon the helpless body of the Great Assassin Spider!!!

"Did we get it?"
"I don't know...I don't see it..."
We looked at the bottom of the sandal. No spider guts. Dang it.

"We didn't get it!"
"Oh no, did it fall onto my bed?!" Cried a fearful Emily.
As I descended from the bunkbed, Emily and Tammy peered toward the headboard of Emily's bed. "Can you see itAGH THERE IT IS!!!!"
Emily proceeded to Spider-Scream and dance in my direction. I took her under my arm in an effort to comfort her.

As we stood there, helpless, with no hope in sight in our battle against the mighty African assassin, a ray of light dawned in our hearts.

Julie, the famed and legendary Spider Killer. She will kill it.

"Julie... Juuuliiieee...." Tammy and Emily called, summoning her from her room just down the hall, as I ascended my bunkbed to take a rest from the warfare.
She finally immerged, and entered the battle zone. "Hey guys... what's going on?"
"It's a spider!" We said.
"Oh, okay, I'll kill it. Where is it?"
"It's over here!" Emily and Tammy guided her to the very spot.
We watched, hopeful in the midst of our fear, as Julie boldly approached our deadly enemy. After seeing and assessing the situation, she spoke."Oh. Ohhkay, that's big. Let me go get Brent."

That was when we knew, in our very souls, that this wasn't just any Assassin Spider. This was the kind that required male assistance. And male assistance came, in the form of Brent Irwin, our Mighty Defender of All Things Good left in this World of Insects and Nasty Things.

He challenged the Assassin Spider to a duel, which the Spider accepted, and proceeded to SMASH his GUTS.

We all cheered and sighed in relief, and once Brent and Julie had left the room, turned out the lights and proceeded to attempt sleep.

The end.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day 6 in Ethiopia!

So today started off great! We didn?t have to leave until 10am (which
is 2am in KY)! Crazy to think that we are going to be back in KY in
just a few days and will have to adjust to this time difference!
Anyway, we had a 2-3 mile walk to church this morning. Let me
explain, a walk here isn?t like a walk in the states. There are such
extreme smells, livestock randomly in the road, and children with no
parents begging for money, and huge rocks. Oh, not to mention its hot
and high elevation. The church service was so cool! It?s like
getting a taste of heaven! These people are not ashamed to praise the
Lord! There was a guy in the front row with a yellow shirt, his name
is Job. Man, he blessed our hearts! He was dancing, and raising his
hands and just worshipping! It was as if he was right in front of
God. Not ashamed! I LOVED it!!! Then Steve and Holly got up and
introduced us and we sang 2 songs! What an experience! We sang ?How
Great is Our God? and ?Amazing Grace?! They loved it! Wow, to listen
to them sing in Amharic is indescribable! So amazing! So then we met
with a group of the leaders and they shared their hearts about the
needs that the church has. Man, I was convicted! To walk hand in
hand with kids who have no mom or dad and are carrying a bag of trash
from a huge dumpster that stunk so bad and that was their food for the
day. Their clothes are torn, dirty, and smelly, snot is dried on
their faces and flies landing all over them. They have NOTHING! And
to think that the camera that I was carrying cost more than what they
would ever have. I am so blessed! So we are burdened for these kids!
We actually got to pick a few of the needy kids to support. We will
hopefully get to meet them before we leave. How cool to actually get
to meet the family that you are supporting! Such a blessing! For 30
bucks a month they get food for the whole family, clothes, school,
school supplies, school uniform, a birthday present and a Christmas
present. I spend more than 30 a week for just food alone! So eye
opening and heart breaking! I have been praying for God to break me
this whole trip and today broke me. The kids just run from nowhere
and grab our hands and walk with us until we tell them to ciao (that
means goodbye). To realize that these kids that we are walking the
streets hand in hand with have nothing blows me away!
So we ate lunch at our house and then we had the afternoon off! That
was great! Emily and I sat out in the sun and talked all afternoon.
Everyone else got ?toasted? by the sun, except us! We got some sun
today! The rest of the gang played a game in the house, took naps and
emailed peeps back in the states. Then Steve, Emily, Seth, Justin,
Julie and I went for a walk with our cameras! We met some neat people
on the walk. Steve, Emily and I went to where there was a wedding
ceremony going on outside so we took a bunch of pictures! They took
pictures of us; we are feringie (foreigners). That was funny! A guy
carrying a big photo of the bride and groom asked us to sign the
matte. So we did, and laughed and they laughed at us! Julie, Seth
and Justin went a different way and they met an atheist, so they were
able to share their faith with him. So cool!
Holly brought us ?hamburgers? for dinner! Almost American food! I
can?t wait to have some good ol American food! That?s about it for
today. Tomorrow we have to get up at 5am to leave for a 4 hour bus
ride to a place called Debre Bihan. We will be staying there tomorrow
night in a hotel! Should be a bus ride to remember! I am sure it
will be full of singing, laughing and maybe a bit of sleep. Hopefully
none of us have to pop a squat on the way! ? We miss you guys so
much! We are having a great time. God is teaching us so much! We
are anticipating what God is going to do with us once we leave here!
We will see you soon! Your daughters, sons, sisters, and brothers,
husband, fiancé, aunts, uncles, friends!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Half Way Through!

Hey everyone!
Well we are a little over half way through with this trip. It has really flown by! We wish we could post pictures for you all, but we haven't had the easiest time with the internet. But never fear, there will be literally thousands of pictures between all of us, we are one picture happy team. Ethiopia is a photographers heaven.
I want to share a little bit of what we did today, we started our morning early with visiting a Saturday Children's Program at a local church called Mekineesa (I think that's the best way to spell it to make it sound right.) They start the morning with Sunday School, we sat and listened trying to decipher what they were teaching the kids in Amharic (the official language) What I could gather was, they were telling the Children that God has the whole world in his hands.
When Sunday school was over, the cameras came out and chaos begins. The Kids LOVE to have their picture taken, and get to see what it looks like. And of course we always say one of the few Amharic sentences we know, "cornjonesh" which means beautiful/handsome. During play time, songs were sung, cookies and candy were served, and the whole team definitely got their "kid fix" as our team leader Holly would call it. :)
After the visit, we began a long walk through the streets of Addis Ababba to a local hospital. The kids ended up holding our hands and walking us all the way there, it is just so strange that little kids can just roam the streets like that. We then arrived at the hospital, it is called ALERT Hospital and it is facility for Aids/HIV patients, and Lepers. The feeling in that place was overwhelming. We first visited a small shop in the hospital where we could purchase purses, blankets, crosses and other things made by the patients themselves. It is the only way that they can receive income. On our way out we visited some of the housing that was specifically for the AIDS patients in their last stages of the disease. This was one of the more difficult parts of the trip for me and some of our team. To see people like that was something so new and so hard to understand. It really makes you cling to the fact that the Lord is Lord of all, and as our morning devotion in Habakkuk taught us "yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's he makes me tread on my high places." Tonight please lift they people in that hospital up in prayer, God knows them and loves them, and I pray that he will draw them to himself through their hardship, and above all he will be glorified.
Thanks so much to all of you who are continually lifting us up in prayer. Your prayers are felt, and God is working here with our team, and with the beautiful people of Ethiopia. We love you all and eagerly anticipate sharing the many stories of our trip with you!
your sister, brother, daughter, son, husband, fiance, friend, girlfriend, cousin, aunt, and uncle :)
Our team

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

WEDNESDAY - This was our first day too meet up with the LIA staff and be introduced to their vision, mission, and goals. Dr. Yared who is the executive director of LIA led us with this hour meeting. From there we left for the church partner known as "Presbyterian" to see the programs they have been able to start because of their partnership with LIA. The compound has a school for grades K-6 currently and they hope to expand to higher grades in the coming years when the government approves development on their property. From here we went on two home visits and met a boy who's parents had passed away and was adopted by a woman within the church. The second visit was more touching than any of us could have ever prepared for. The woman in this home had attended a drama during the Easter program at the church and was encouraged to come forward. She fell to her knees and said, "I have heard about Jesus, but I will believe if you (God) will heal the paralysis in my arm." Immediately she was healed and trusted in the Lord. Her husband is a Muslim and protested her to the point of stoning and attempting to kill her. Her story touched all of our hearts!

THURSDAY - We began our day at the LIA office where we were able to join in their prayer and worship session that they begin with every day! Somehow hearing God being glorified in another language is an incredible reminder about how truly great He is. I was asked to share a word of encouragement with them as a devotional thought, but it seemed backwards because their example of loving God and loving others was moving to us. We all agreed we could learn more from them than we could offer to them. We left for another site visit, this time to the church called "Antioch". Again we met the pastor and LIA rep at the school and church here. After hearing their outreach opportunities there, we prayed for them and then went across the street to see a run down shanty that we could help rebuild in the afternoon. The man living here was a beneficiary of the church in that he received meals every month to help sustain life. He is a very elderly man and to add to his condition, he is also blind. Upon our return we were able to spend the equivalent of $70 to buy him a nice mattress to sleep on, blankets, and plastic covering to wrap around the structure (we could not buy metals and other building material without government permission). As some constructed, we had drawn a crowd of childern which all stole our hearts. We learned some of their games and took many many pictures, and even had some opportunity to share the love of Christ-Emily has a great story about this!

FRIDAY - Today! Yea we started with a new location known as "Marcato." The spelling is wrong but very phonetical. lol Here God had incredible timing. Our visit landed on the quarterly handout day where the community received soap, school supplies, and other items as needed. The compound is small but incredibly packed! Half of our team shared with the "hardcore" young men who are being targeted by LIA to get them out of the street life of stealing and drugs. The other half addressed the mass of others in the outer part of the compound. Brent shared his story with the "hardcore" group and was very impacting to their life. And because of the majority of children in the outer part, Steve's children ministry experience excelled greatly here. We then went on many home visits to both "hardcore" men and those who are targeted in the "poverty stricken" area. Their testimonies of God's work in their lives blew all of us away. God is so great to work within these men and change their hearts for Him. We were able to pray for them as an encouragement.

Alot to absorb, but our internet connection just started to work where we are staying. More posts to come and hopefully more frequently as well!

Families your sons and daughters and husband (Kelsie) all say hello and we love you and miss you greatly! Mom, Dad and Hannah I am doing well and can't wait to share pictures and stories with you! Sammi I Love you and can't wait to see you again!


With the team having trouble posting via the internet in Ethiopia, they will try to send an email to the states with the info to be posted. In the email received early this morning, the team is doing fine. They had tried to attach a document with the update but the attachment didn't come with the email. When the updates are received, we should be able to post them. Continue the keep the team in your prayers. It's almost 9:00 p.m. in Addis.

Friday, February 13, 2009


So our current status is: safe and sound! It is Friday evening around 8pm for us which is around noon on Friday for you blog readers. The past three days have been an incredible blessing for our team. So I will share a day by day recording of what has happened in our trip so you may know what has been happening in this void of blogs.


This was our first day too meet up with the LIA staff and be introduced to their vision, mission, and goals. Dr. Yared w