It was hard to believe that this was our last day. We have met so many amazing people, made such life long, lasting relationships, some of us have found children to sponsor, who will now be in our lives forever and we will watch grow up and thrive, and some think they may have found their children to adopt on this trip. I can't tell you how pleased and blessed I am to have had the amazing team that I did for our very first OH mission trip. The Lord has blessed Ordinary Hero and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. We had a team of such amazing people who are all like minded with the same goal in mind.....to bless the children and the people of Ethiopia. Along the way God had many neat moments for each and every one of us on this trip which confirmed without a doubt that each person was called to be there. I want to take a moment to highlight my amazing team and encourage anyone who would like to join us next year to start thinking about it now and contact me.
Here is our cast of characters.
Here below, we have Terri from Nashville, wife and amazing mom of three small children.Next we have Stacy from Utah, wife and mom to two small domestic adopted African American children.
Robby, son of Gina, and one of our awesome 14 year olds on the trip.
Rachel from Chicago area, single and awesome school teacher.
Part of my family below....Hubby Shane(who turned 40 on our trip...Happy Bday), 18 yr old daughter Lauren and 14 yr old son Collin....pictured with our two new sponsored kids from Korah who are now part of the fam :)
Michele from Utah, wife and mom to one biological and one adopted domestic African American.
Melissa from Nashville, wife and mom to one small baby she bravely left with Dad :)
Lydia from Clarkesville TN, our awesome 17 year old who hung with us adults like a champ :)
Kelly B from Clarkesville TN wife and amazing mom and hopes to adopt one day.
Nick and Kate from Arizona, newly married and Nick is a rapper. They were the hip ones on the trip :) The kids loved Nick's hair.
Jodi from Virginia, wife and mom to 4 children, 3 biological children and 1 adopted from ET
Gina from Nashville TN, wife and mom to Robby and his sister and hopes to adopt from ET.
Dana from Nashville TN, wife and mom to one little girl under 2. She organized our art projects and did a fantastic job.
Clay from Nashville TN, single and soccer coach for local High School. He helped organize all the soccer fun on the trip. Did a fantastic job!
Carol from Nashville TN, mom and amazing prayer warrior. She works as a prayer partner for 700 Club and used her gift many times on our trip. God moved through her. She's awesome!
Caitlin from Nashville TN, single and school teacher. She had a gift with the children. She was awesome! This was her first time to ever fly :)
Blake from Nashville TN, newly married and soccer coach. He was amazing with all the kids playing soccer. They were impressed with his skill.
Ashli from Nashville TN area, single and working as a waitress. She has such a heart for children and missions and worked so great with them.
So as you can see our team pretty much knocked out every excuse not to go on a mission trip. We had everyone from single, to newly married, to mom who was nursing and left baby behind, to mom of several small children, to young twenty somethings with little ones all the way up to us 30 something's with teens and then early 50's with grown children. So there you have it...our awesome group!!
We ran by El Olam orphanage again to drop off some things for them. It was so good to see those kids again. They were so excited we were there. We couldn't stay long but just long enough to get in some good kisses and hugs. They all ran up to the balcony and stood there waving to us as we drove away and they watched our bus. It was so precious and sad at the same time to have to leave.
We started our day at Korah, where I took pics of the waiting children while the rest of my team worked with the kids in their summer camp. It broke my heart to see these beautiful children, some with a parent, and some with a relative, and some with just a family friend who was taking care of them because both parents had died. They all brought these children in, in hopes of them getting adopted and finding a life outside of Korah. I could truly feel God's presence as I worked with these precious little ones, making funny faces and getting them to smile, knowing all the while that their whole destiny hangs in the balance. Most of the adults just truly had hope in their eyes as they gave us the child's story and there were a couple of came in in tears with the reality hitting them like I can't even imagine. There was one mom in particular who could not hold back her tears. Her daughter was simply beautiful and precious and about 8 years old. This mother sat in tears telling us her story and then when we asked the reason she wanted to put her up for adoption she sat and wiped her tears and explained that she as the mother, has leprosy and is concerned for her future. I can't imagine what was going through her mind as she sat there talking to us. I simply can't wait to help find these children a family. One child in particular was a young boy around 7 or 8, I think and we nick named him Winker. He was so hilarious and stole the hearts of our whole group. He was always the first one we saw and he would run along side our bus waving at all of us. The last day we stopped and let him in and he was like a super star with everyone and their cameras. He started winking at everyone again which totally cracked us up. I have some really funny video of him. The winking thing started one day between he and my son, Collin. I think Winker quickly learned that it got many laughs from the group and then started winking at everyone. It's the cutest thing. I can't wait to find him a home. There are also the little girls who would sit and stare at me with the sweetest, sparkly eyes and smiles and I couldn't help but wonder what their future holds. So I am working with Sumer to put together profiles of these children and will be putting out a password protected link to view all of the waiting children from our whole trip soon, once I get it all together. The current pictures you will see of this day I am not using for advocate purposes yet, but if you wish to ask me about a particular child feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We said our sad goodbyes and gave big hugs. One of the sweetest moments was when my daughter's little boy who she has chosen to sponsor reached deep in his pocket and pulled out a ring for her. It was a rubbed off piece of tin ring with what looked like a little heart on it. All I can guess is that he found it in the trash dump where he lives but it is now one of the most treasured tokens that my daughter has from the trip. She loves it and it just goes to show you how special you become to your sponsored child. It makes my heart sing to know that he reached down and found this little treasure and stuck it in his pocket while thinking of her. They are so grateful for you and love you like family. We pulled our two little guys we are sponsoring on the bus and gave them both a new outfit and a goody bag filled with little treasures and candy. They were so excited and thankful. They kept saying "postcard from America?" Wanting to know if we would send them a post card from America. I can't imagine how sad they must be knowing it will be so long till they see us again. But you can bet that they will get a postcard from America along with a new bag and school supplies to get them ready for their new boarding school.
The man who runs the program named Sammy grew up in the dump. He sat one night and told us all his heart wrenching story of growing up, being an outcast, his father having leprosy and getting taken off and shot and left for dead but then someone found him alive and nursed him back to health. He was healed from his leprosy and married and had Sammy and lived at the dump. His mother died when he was very young. All Sammy wanted in the whole world was to go to school. He told us that the man who started Young Life Ministry accidentally found them one day and stumbled into the dump. He said it was the first time someone shook his hand, especially a white person, and took an interest in them. He said no one had ever visited the dump before. He said they invited them to come the next day to play games and eat snacks and sing songs. He said it was through these people that he felt the love of God for the first time and gave his heart to God. Since then he has grown up and now devotes his whole life to helping bring hope to the people in the village he grew up in. I just wonder how many Sammy's there are out there. I just wonder how many children will have that story because of the hugs, the games and the love we showed to them on this trip. And I wonder how many children will now get sponsored because of us being there and God working through us to show his love and bring them a better life.
This place stole our hearts and I can't wait to announce that they have filled up the boarding school with sponsored kids and would then move on to another. God is good. I do hope you prayerfully consider sponsoring one of these precious children who, without a doubt, would have no hope of ever having a life without your help. We have seen first hand just how special a sponsor is to a child and how they consider you family. We will be going back each year and can take gifts from you to the children and really help create a connection if you like. We love our two little sponsored guys already and can't wait to bring them hope from their new family in America with each little package they get. They will know they are loved and we will see them flourish with a new future and a hope set before them.
To find out about sponsoring a Project 61 child contact Erin Allen at Erin@p61.org . You can visit their site at www.p61.org . This is all still fairly new for them and they are still working on getting up a photo listing of the kids who still need sponsors. You can always just have her pick for you if you like. After seeing it all first hand, I can honestly say that it is so important that all these kids find sponsors...I can't even tell you. It is $700 for the year and that takes care of their meals, clothes, school fees, transportation to get there and living expenses for the whole school year. If you break it down monthly it is not that much. I can't wait to see how many children get sponsored. They have had 20 new sign ups just since our trip and I haven't even put the contact info out until now :)
After we left Korah we stopped in the market and picked up a few trinkets to bring home. We then went to the Ethiopia Museum and ate dinner. After dinner we headed to the airport. We said our goodbyes to our most amazing guides, Bissy and Maste and also our awesome door guy who we had grown to love. We boarded the plane and settled in for our 14 hour flight back to America. We all definitely left our hearts in Ethiopia with those children who are considered the least of these. We landed in Washington and had a very long layover where most of the group got to get out and tour the sites of Washington.
When I think of the trip I can't help but here the praise songs that come from the children. These children sang everywhere we went. Their sweet voices were so pure and just rang with God's love as they sang about His love every time. I hear those voices in my head as I type and all I can think about is Psalm 40: 1-3 as I can only pray for those sweet children who sing their hearts out while living in the worst of circumstances and all the while they wait on the Lord to act on their behalf, putting their trust in Him.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
This is a trip that will go down in history as our first group trip and it is one that we will never forget. It is the beginning of many more. We look forward to playing a small role in bringing hope to Ethiopia in the future. Many thanks to all of you who donated towards this trip to make sure that each of our team members were able to go and to make sure that we were able to bless the people with many donations once there.
To view pictures of the last day of our trip you can CLICK HERE.