Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trip To Korah

I am late on posting due to not having internet service here in Addis- and Blogger is giving me crazy problems posting pictures. I was able to get a few, but please click the link at the bottom of the post to see the pics from this amazing day....
To sit and try to describe our day in Korah seems impossible, but I will share my heart along with the pictures as best I can, even though it will not do it justice. We had all heard wonderful, sad, heart wrenching things about Korah and I believe nothing could have prepared us for such heart break and yet such amazing love we saw in the children.

First I must tell you that Korah is a district of Addis. It has 130,000 people that live there, so I have been told. Korah is a landfill....a trash dump....

and a place that women and children call home as they reside in the dump,
dig through the dump for anything they can sell to survive,
and raise their children in the dump.

We met up with Sumer on our way to Korah. First of all, I need to tell you about this amazing woman of God. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what I would witness in her life when she and I met about 6 weeks ago in Brentwood, sitting at the Puffy Muffin, sharing our hearts over chicken salad sandwiches. She told me that she was leaving within a week to move her whole entire family to Ethiopia. She was selling everything they owned and moving herself, her husband and their three small children to a place called Korah to serve the VERY least of these. She was introduced to Korah only last December while on a mission trip to Ethiopia. They took a tour through the dump and she left with a changed heart and a calling laid on her life so strong that when she approached her husband about moving there, he didn't call her crazy, he just told her that he knew and had a peace from God that they had been called to missions. He said that God told him to go and he told Sumer where. So now here they are laying down their lives for the children who get forgotten. As soon as I heard she would be here while our group was here, I immediately knew we would be making a trip to Korah.

So off we went to a place we couldn't even imagine if we had tried, to meet my friend, Sumer and to take a trip to Korah.

We start out looking for sheep to buy. We have decided on this trip that we want to provide lunches for the children we visit each day. Well.....a real treat here in Africa is....sheep! So we pulled over on the side of the road and purchased four lucky sheep. Two would be lunch and two would escape the slaughter, only for a later date of their choosing. We drew an immediate crowd. First there was all 22 of us looking in horror at these poor sheep, knowing their destiny as they are chosen and loaded up on the top of our bus (alive), and then there is the crowd gathered all around us just to look at the Americans, grossed out, and horrified over the sheep. Yes, they got a big kick out of that.

We made our way to Korah where the roads turn to dirt, the children have no shoes, their clothes are torn, the smell of sewage increases, and little eyes filled with such love and wonder look to see who is coming.

As we drive in, I see little faces peeking through the mud huts.

Some wave and wonder who could be coming to visit them. Up until Sumer started her ministry, they never had visitors. They are a very poor, leprous, community that is forgotten and never given any aid.

We pull up to find hundreds of excited children waiting for us to arrive. We all get out of the van and are immediately drowned by children on each side of us. They were the most excited little dirty faces I had ever seen. Everyone in our travel group was so taken back by these kids. I think it is seeing the unbelievable circumstances contrasted with such love and joy of heart pouring out of these kids.

Sumer took us inside what she calls the shelter that they have set up for the sponsored kids. It was a modest place made out of mud walls but had separate rooms for the kids. You should have seen the pride and joy on the faces of the kids who showed us around their new home. YOu would have thought it was a castle. Well, compared to what some of them have witnessed it was. I noticed I kept hearing the same word a lot by all the children.....SPONSOR. They all are very aware of the ones who are sponsored and will be attending the boarding school in the fall and those who get a hot meal a day. As the children would play with you, they would ask if you would sponsor them. They call Sumer their mother, they see what she is doing for the first time in that community to make a difference and they are grasping at the thought of taking part in that dream.

We first split our group and part of us walked through the actual trash dump and part of us went to visit some homes in the community of Korah. I was in the group that walked through the dump. When you approach the dump you see beautiful scenery start to become scarred by the reality of their lives scattered everywhere with the trash of the city. We made our way down a narrow windy path and ended up at a family's house in the dump. They invited us in and told us how thankful they were that we came. One of their sons is sponsored and they could not be happier. They are very poor and told us of their need. But regardless of their need they fixed us coffee. I was asked to stand up and share the gospel before we left in order to tell them who it was who sent us to them to help. It was a very humbling and amazing experience to watch the eyes of this African family stare at mine and take in every word as another man translated. We left their house and made our way all the way up through the dump. It all just looked like a landfill until we topped this hill. Then I saw movement in the distance and was horrified to discover it was hundreds of people digging through the trash for whatever they could find. As we walked through I could feel their shame. I could feel the heaviness of the place and yet I turned around to see Sumer embracing these women who were digging through the trash. They grasped her face and kissed it and what I was told was that she had their children in her summer program and had gotten them sponsored which kept them from digging through the trash with their mothers. As I left I ran across a young girl in purple who gave me such a sweet grin that I almost couldn't believe it. I felt shamed of the things that we take for granted in America. I thought of how upset we get when we as much as spill a drop of coffee on our nice, crisp, white shirt.....and yet I see this little angel smiling and laughing with all her heart while standing on and surrounded by trash. These people literally live among the pigs and yet you feel the spirit of God working through them.

As we walked back I watched as one young girl just held onto Sumer as they walked. She caught me looking at them and smiled and told me that Sumer was her mother. You see, Sumer has brought this young girl into her own home along with 6 other children from the dump to give them somewhere to sleep at night when they have nothing.

Shane's group who split off from ours went to visit houses in the dump area. When I caught back up to them later, they all just looked shell shocked. I described the dump and they said it could not have been any worse than they conditions they saw these people in. They said the went into a home that was so small that the 14 children that lived there (most having HIV) had to take turns going inside to sleep on the mud floor. Shane prayed over the family and the whole group said that when they got up to leave that there were puddles all over the mud floor from all of their tears.....

We were also blessed to be able to feed these kids lunch. This was a special lunch that we had planned ahead to provide for not only the sponsored kids but for the children in the area who don't have a sponsor but just need food. Sheep is a delicacy in Africa and something that most only get on holidays. Before we left for our trip we had lunch with our friends Jeff and Sharon, who gave us some donation money that they wanted to be used to bless the children on this trip. We decided at that lunch that day that we would provide the sheep with that money. Now you can see the fruit of something that started as a plan thousands of miles away given by a couple living in Ky who wanted to do something to help. They fed about 150 children on this one day in Korah and I will tell about the next day in my next post but they provided the sheep for that group as well.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous at the thought of watching an animal be killed, even if it was for food. I won't go into detail about how they did it but I included some of the not so graphic shots to give you an idea. The best is watching the groups face in the background as they watch this slaughtering. They prepared the sheep into a stew, we also bought bread for all the children to have with it. It was so neat to watch our group get to serve these children what they like to call a feast of a meal. As I sat and watched these kids lick every bite, right down to knawing on the bones of that sheep, it made it all worth it. As gross as it was to watch, the joy that I saw on their faces as I watched them eating and laughing, all the while knowing that they didn't have to dig a meal out of the trash, made my heart sing. I looked around and watched love pouring out of my group into these children and back at them. I looked and saw Collin, my 14 year old, playing with a little boy, teaching him how to do a cool handshake. That particular little boy had holes in the bottoms of his shoes that made me sick to see. I saw another little boy that clung to Lauren, my daughter, and stole her heart to the point that she decided on her own that she wanted to use her own money she had gotten from babysitting to sponsor this child. She couldn't quit talking about him for the rest of the day. I saw almost everyone's hearts on our trip just melt over these kids. They had nothing and yet they had so much. We came to give and yet they gave to us so much more. There was one boy in particular that followed us the whole day. He said the word "Sponsor?" every time we got close enough to hear him and he always followed it with a great big smile. Well his determination and desperation for a sponsor won us over. We told him that we would sponsor him and you had never seen a more excited little boy. He is about 10 years old but acts 20. He said he would call us mother and father and he has white sister and brother. He ran up to the little boy that Lauren said she would sponsor and said "You, Lauren, sponsor....Me, mother, sponsor.....WE BROTHERS!!" and then they just gave each other the biggest hugs, they were so excited. None of the kids get jealous when they hear another one is sponsored. They congratulate them and are so happy that their dream has come true and that they will now get food and an education. Well, little Ceasar, our new sponsored child, immediately picked up my backpack and started carrying it around on his back. He immediately took ownership and pride in his new sponsor family, it was so cute. Then he just told everyone he saw that we were his sponsors.

Also as we moved down the hill into this amazing open space, the soccer began and I met up with the most amazing little girls. This little girl who couldn't be more than 4 attached herself to me and had the cutest little spunky spirit. She hugged me and she kissed me as tight as she could. I would set her down to take a picture and then she would run right back when i was done. She had a sweet sister that stuck by her side and an older sister that I saw as well. These little girls stole my heart, totally. I have to admit I was thinking of how they might fit in the fam,, they were so precious.
I left that day determined to help these kids. Sumer told me she has room in this particular boarding school in the fall for about 75 more kids to be sponsored. Ok, that has to happen. Then I'm thinking, what school are you picking next because we are getting more than 75 sponsored. We are planning an Ordinary Hero trip to ET every summer. I plan on building relationships and watching these sponsored children flourish and watching my different travel groups be heart changed just for taking part in it. I also now have two little guys to check on who now know that we think of them and consider them family. Since my daughter has fallen in love with one little one and sponsors him now, does that make me a Grandmother?? :)

We sat in one of the small rooms at the shelter and heard the heart of all the leaders involved there. We asked them their vision and their dream for their community and they told us. They would love to pull out of the cursed land of the dump area and purchase land, put in a well, build a school, an orphanage, a care center, a day care, etc. There is hope to re build that community and raise those people out of mud and mire if we all join together. Our hearts will be forever changed. I will have more information soon if you are interested in sponsoring a child yourself. I want to check with Sumer first and make sure I am giving out the right info. But I'm telling you, people, this is the real deal.

I will have to wait on my next post since I am so tired and about to fall out, it is so late here. Yesterday was an interesting day. It was a completely different experience than Korah. It was much more oppressed and hard and heavy spirited. It was good, though to see the contrast. Had we not, then we would think that all of Africa was as sweet as the kids we had encountered so far. But there is another side that is quite a bit different. There is not a starvation for love, there is a need for survival mixed with the environment and the people that breeds hardness. I know without a doubt that we came in letting our light shine in this place, probably even brighter than Korah because of the heaviness there. We brought hope to some who had none. We were used by God to show that hope still exists, even in the places where it looks like it does not exist. This was a completely different experience that I will tell more in my next post.

For those of you reading who are checking in on family on our trip, just know that we are all being used by God. We have an amazing group. I could not have asked for better. I feel so totally blessed by this trip.

More later......

To view the online album of all the pictures from this day CLICK HERE.


  1. tell us how to sponsor..everyone in America is reading these posts about Korah and Sumer's program and wants to sponsor a child..People are broken over these children...tell us HOW!! kj

  2. Kelly, I am already putting together a team of about 20 people to go to ET next summer. We worked with YWAM this year and want to again, but want to be part of something that is relational, yearly and hands on. Would you email me when you get back? Would love to talk to you about possibly partnering, if you are interested. We visited Korah while there this past year and were deeply affected.
    Thank you!
    Andrea better than good 10@ gmail.com

  3. I am loving reading your blog. I was on the First Baptist Cleveland TN trip that was there the first of June (stayed at EGH). We met Sammy and visited Korah twice and the dump once. Incredible! When we were there, we never heard the word sponsor. I think that must be a new thing since Sumer has been there and done so much. Those kids are amazing. I didn't expect to be so welcomed and loved. I can't wait to read more about your trip!

  4. Wow Kelly! I wish I could have made this trip but my prayers are following you all. I love this post but it flips my world around. I can't tell you what I feel but I know that we have more than they could want. I know that I need what they have. Thank you for going and obeying. I love you and your family's heart. God Bless. Keep shining YO! :)

  5. My heart is pounding. How can I join forces with you to restore hope in this community?
    After pouring over your words in this post, all I can say is: thank you. God bless your team and the impact that you are making. Thank you for showing God's love to these people. Wish I was there . . .

  6. What a Blessing to read how your group has given hope....and although my brain is still processing all of this...I shared the story of your group with our campers that are here this week. (I read it on Talk is Sheep). It was amazing to see the wheels turning.....my message- how God calls us to do different things. Can not wait to hear more!!!

  7. Kelly - thanks for posting and sharing your heart! Please HUG Sumer for me and Sammy! Tell them we send our love and prayers!

    Never the same because of our time in Korah!

  8. Came back to say GORGEOUS PHOTOS from your trip! They speak a 1,000 words!

    Love them all! Every smile and every tear!


  9. Kelly, you are doing so much good. I love reading the posts about your trip. It makes you really think about what's important in life. Give all those sweet children hugs for us and save a spot for me (for the next trip) I totally want to join your amazing group! You and your group are in our prayers. Wish I was with you. God Bless, michele

  10. Kelly,

    I love your pics. We went to Korah in June. I feel in love with the people. My church, Thompson Station Church, is the home church of Sumer Yates. We are having a Korah night on August 31st. With your permission I would love to print some of your pics for our Korah slideshow. Please contact me at kparrish@thompsonstationchurch.org

  11. Hi! I have been following your blog for some time. I am traveling to Uganda with Visiting Orphans in June. I wanted to share several organizations on my blog, including Ordinary Hero, and wanted to see if you minded if I used a photo from this album? Thanks!