Some laugh that we actually sell sheep in our OH Store, but these sheep are a prized possession in ET. They are like giving someone Christmas dinner. When given many sheep you can literally pull someone out of poverty to live a comfortable life for generations, as they can then sustain themselves.
We had 3 top sheep sellers on this trip. LeAnne and Ali from Hopkinsville, Ky and Rachel from Morton, IL sold a great number of sheep in our past grant contests and were able to really come to ET to bless some folks with some sheep.
Everyone got a kick out of the sheep.
How do you transport that many sheep? Throw them on top of the bus, of course ;)
Fancy running across you here :) I just so happened to run right into Heidi Weimer and Elle Mihnovich in Korah. They are both from my TN area at home. Heidi brought her oldest son from Ethiopia back to see his birth country. She has 10 children with lots of them adopted from ET. Young Elle is here on a mission for the summer. Great seeing you guys!
We got into Korah after delivering the sheep to some of the families. Of course my whole team loved Korah. The children here are just so sweet and full of love in the midst of living in a trash dump community.
Amy from TN had sponsored a boy from Korah to go to Shashemene boarding school. He got into school and decided he couldn't stick it out and came back. Amy got to literally go into the dump and find him and tell him she still loved him and that he shouldn't give up hope for a bright future. This young boy that most would give up on because of his age came walking up from the dump with torn clothes and a sweet spirit that could barely look her in the eye. He knew exactly who she was because Sumer said he talked about his sponsor, Amy and her family, even though he had given up on school, all the time. I can't tell you how much it means to these kids to think that they have a sponsor and someone who cares about them. I'm sure since he quit school that he never expected to hear from her again but now here they were face to face and Amy got to share her love and hope for him along with give him a backpack filled with new clothes, shoes, a soccer ball and basic necessities that showed how much she cared for him.
Our time was over and we walked with him back out to the edge of the dump where our van was waiting. She gave him one last hug before he turned and left us with his great big smile while he then turned and walked back to his life in the dump. It was all Amy could do to get back to the van before she burst into tears. "It's one thing to see a picture of him from so far away and consider him family, but to come here and see it for myself....My heart can hardly stand it." she said.
Several on the team found children that have yet to be sponsored, that they made a connection with and are now going to sponsor them.
I can't stress enough what kind of relationships are made just through sponsorship. There were several on our trip who got to meet their sponsored child and their families. Your sponsored child becomes family to you and they consider you that as well. Deborah and her daughter Kenya, from Utah, got to meet "Winker" and his mom on this trip. Winker was a boy that stole all our hearts last year and Deborah and her family stepped up to sponsor him. They joined us on our OH trip this year and not only met Winker but got to go to his house in Korah and meet his mother. It really puts into reality the importance of a sponsor when you see the mud shacks they live in, trying to be raised by a single mother in a leprous community with health issues herself.
Last year, Winker (we nicknamed him that because he winked at everyone all the time) really hit it off with my son, Collin. Collin was sad he couldn't join us this year but when I walked into Winker's home I saw the photo album we had sent him with Collin's picture in it, sitting on the little table inside the front door. He had asked for Collin as soon as we saw him. Collin plans on coming back soon to visit him. You end up making impacting relationships for life in this community.
We then took the team over to the Leprous Hospital where we were able to go into the outside area and meet some of the ladies and men who make things to sell in order to survive. It was amazing to see them spinning cotton and making the most beautiful things with hands eaten up with leprosy. They had the most beautiful spirits.
She gave him a big hug and he was so proud that he remembered her Bday :)
Next blog post to come as we all head North outside Addis to the mountains....life changing moments ahead.