Friday, March 13, 2015

The End Is Just The Beginning - The Story Of Mek

The end is just the beginning. I really believe this to be true in many ways, but for now I am talking about our sponsored child, Mek on Entoto Mountain. If you read my previous post about Meki (a few months back), you will remember that God had answered a huge prayer of mine (and many others) for Mek to be able to come to America for an open heart surgery that would save her life. He was so faithful in all of those details so I knew that once she arrived he would continue to rain down blessings over her. I'm ready now to share with you all "the rest of the story."

On January 4th at 10:30 PM, Mek boarded her first flight ever in order to come to the United States of America for heart surgery. She was so excited...actually giddy! The plane was almost more than she could take between the meals, drinks, and TVs on the back of each seat. It was so fun watching her and the excitement was contagious to all of those around her.




Once in America, she settled in at my home with my family for 3 weeks while waiting for her surgery date to arrive. During this time, she experienced many things including snow, riding a bike, a trampoline, the TN Aquarium, Chuck E Cheese, gymnastics class, playing instruments, and being read to and tucked in every single night in a warm and cozy bed. She learned what it was like having 2 siblings close in age and a dog in the home (I will just say that our 10 year old cocker spaniel has grown on Mek...kind of). She quickly got accustomed to opening the pantry and food being there without doubt. She learned to like American food and we experienced our fair share of Ethiopian meals as well. The time she was here before surgery was glorious, hard at times, rewarding, and overall just something that I can hardly find the words to describe.


"sleepover party"

1. relaxing in the swing
2. sister-sister
3. learning to eat from the ice cream carton
4. first trip to Chuck E Cheese - don't knock the Santa hat 
I didn't have the heart to tell her no...


1. Japanese steakhouse (her fave "American" food)
2. TN Aquarium
3. First snow
4. Sleepover



On January 24th, we made our way to Indianapolis for her impending surgery on the 29th. We left at 5:00 AM and only stopped once. We were on a mission; you see, she was meeting her official sponsor for the first time ever once we arrived in Indianapolis. Her sponsor, Jessica flew up from Charleston, SC to spend the first week with Meki as she underwent her pre-op testing and surgery. As fate would have it though, surgery was postponed to the following week so the two of them got to spend lots of quality time together outside of the hospital! They toured around, made new friends through the Gift of Life program who sponsored her surgery, and watched a lot of High School Musical!



1. Gorgeous drive on the way to Indianapolis...
but someone named Mek wouldn't know...she fell back asleep!
2.  In front of the wall at hearts at the Ronald McDonald house
3. At the hospital ready for her pre-op testing 

Meki with her sponsor!


With surgery postponed...
1. she was treated to a trip to the Indianapolis Children's Museum
2. then to the rhythm museum
3. Then her sponsor took her to Dr. Kinnaman's (Gift of Life coordinator) 
home for some play time. Haha!
4. and finally she had time to close out a 
Rotary Meeting in Indy... (the Rotarian Club here partners
 with Gift of Life to fund the surgeries)


On February 1st though, Jessica had to say goodbye and I returned for the week. Two days later, at 5:30 AM, we ventured to the hospital with 2 suitcases prepared to stay for a week. Two hours later, I was giving Meki a hug, praying over her, and starting the long wait for her surgery to be done. Nothing could have prepared me for what the surgeon repaired once he opened her chest though. The two holes in her heart (the ASD and VSD) were HUGE! Even he was surprised at their actual size and how little residual damage she had to her vessels given their size.


waiting for her turn to be taken back to the OR

1. prayers for God's protection over her and his wisdom and guiding hand over the surgeon
2. These were the size of the holes in her heart. Actually, these are the
 patches that are in her heart now...cut to the exact size of the holes. 




After 4 hours, Mek was being weaned off of bypass and the surgery was complete! She now had the perfect physical heart to match her loving spiritual heart. God had healed her by using a wonderful surgeon and his team! Several hours after this, I was able to finally see "my baby." She was in the cardiac ICU hooked up to arterial lines, two monitors, blood pressure regulating medication, IV fluids, and a light sedative. She had oxygen on and a chest tube in. She had an IV in each hand and a central line in her neck. Despite all of that, she looked like a little angel lying on that bed...and she sounded heavenly when she opened her eyes, saw me, and said "hi mommy."




I leaned in to tell her that her surgery was finished and her heart was all fixed. I told her that I was so proud of her and how brave she was. I let her know that I loved her to the moon and back and that her only job now was to rest. She drifted back into sleep and rested well that evening.


The next several days were a blur. She was progressing so well that she was moved out of the ICU 24 hours after surgery and was discharged just 4 days after having her chest and heart cut into! She left the hospital only on Tylenol and Advil and didn't really need it after 2 days. As a matter of fact, that little cutie danced upon arriving back at the Ronald McDonald House! There is a psalm says "let us praise His name in dance"...and she did.




After spending a week in the city with a family friend of her sponsor, she returned to my home and stayed another 3 weeks. During this last bit of time we have had with her, she and I have been having talks about "her story." Everyone has a story to tell and I have told her that God has given her a story that brings great glory to His name. We have talked about how He has given her a responsibility to share her story and tell about how she once was sick, but God healed her for her good and His glory. I've told her that her story will show people the love of God and how much He pursues us and wants us to know and love Him. I wasn't sure it was sinking in, but then yesterday, she brought me a piece of paper with a lot of Amharic writing on it. She said "mommy, I've been working on my story. Can I read it to you"? It was perfect! She is ready to share her story with anyone who will listen... allow me to tell you what she said it says:

"Hello. My name is Mekdelawit Girma. I am from Entoto Mountain, Ethiopia. I am 11 years old. My heart was very very sick and I could not do anything like run or play soccer with my friends. Then I met my mommy,Kelly Blevins, and she found out my heart was sick with two holes and helped me come to America to get it fixed. I had big surgery and then got better. I thank my God, mommy Kelly, Jessica, Dr. Turrentine, Stephanie, and everyone. I am so happy now to go home and jump rope and play. I will tell everyone my story. That God fixed my heart."
Be still my own heart! What a precious little girl who took the time to write her story. She was so proud of herself and I beamed with joy.

Know that your prayers, the ones you spoke relentlessly for our precious Meki, were answered and that God WILL receive all the glory and praise for it!

Goodbyes were spoken this morning as I accompanied her to her flight back to Ethiopia. We parted ways with many tears and much sadness as she boarded the plane and I watched her depart. Our home is going back to a family of 4 instead of 5. We will miss the giggling, the incessant movie watching with her, even - dare I say - Chuck E Cheese and watching her dance with that overgrown rat.

The end has come for her in so many ways. The end of fatigue, the end of sickness, the end of breathing problems. However, this has allowed her a brand new beginning with life filled with hope, joy, and great health. I hope you will pray for her to always boldly share her story and encourage others in their own trials.

CHANGE THE WORLD FOR ONE...MEK IS ONE!

Friday, March 6, 2015

New Partnership In Ethiopia: Talita Rise Up

As most of you know, our mission is to inspire and empower ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference in the life of a child in need. We do this through advocating for and partnering with different Christ-centered ministries both locally and abroad. 

We aim at partnering with ministries who strive to take care of their own communities passionately and sustainably, with a strong vision in their hearts. 

With that being said… We are VERY excited to announce our newest partnership in Ethiopia:
Talita Rise Up

Talita Rise Up was started by an Ethiopian mother and son who initially had a burning passion to support the destitute girls of Ethiopia. They began pursuing this passion by building a ministry that supported the young girls of Yirgalem, a town in Southern Ethiopia located about six hours from Addis. This was, and still is, the first ministry of any kind in the area. But after spending time in the small, rural town they realized that many of the town’s people were abandoning their babies. These babies were being left in toilets, trash cans, and even forests where they would be found by wild animals. Knowing something had to be done, Atkilt and Abenezer devoted themselves full-time to the opening of an orphanage. Once opened, the police began bringing abandoned babies one by one, each with a heartbreaking story. As they were handed over nameless and unwanted, they were given powerful names with meanings by the orphanage staff such as Bloom, Increase In God, Miracle, as well as names from the Bible. They then began the long and tedious process of being able to officially place the babies up for adoption to find their forever families. With limited funding they were able to successfully place one newborn baby who is now living with their forever family in the US. Shortly after, however, Ethiopia decided to close all adoptions in Southern Ethiopia, which had a huge negative impact on their ministry. With no adoptions taking place and all adoption agencies moving out of the area, this ministry was left with no money and a home full of children, majority of the children being babies under one year old. Since then they have leaned in on God and done their best by asking friends and relatives for funding to continue caring for the amazing children that call the Talita Rise Up Care Center their home. We, as a staff, have come to know and love Atkilt and Abenezer. Ordinary Hero is thrilled to come alongside these leaders to support their vision and connect them to you.

Babies at the Center
Talita Rise Up Care Center
Founder, Abenezer, and a boy from the community

What will the partnership entail?

There are currently two teenage girls, one boy, one toddler, and eleven babies living at their Center. Their immediate needs are sponsors for the children living at the center, as well as sponsors for the staff members so that the Care Center can properly support the children. Once funding is sustained at the Care Center, we will begin to advocate for the families in the community, most of which are living in extreme poverty. 

In addition to advocation we will be taking our teams out of Addis for 1-2 days of serving in Yirgalem beginning in April, and will begin to watch the miracles unfold! Get excited team members!

How Can You Help?

Sponsor A Child: 
We will start by advocating for Degitu. Degitu is 17 years old, in Grade 10 and is preparing for the national exam. When Degitu was earlier in her teen years, she was taken captive and sexually assaulted. Once she heard about the center, she escaped and traveled a long way from her birthplace to find refuge at the center. She has been living there since 2012. $50/month will help cover her basic needs while living at the shelter. To sponsor Degitu, email kblevins@ordinaryhero.org.


Sponsor A Nanny: 
Our nannies are who keep the babies growing and loved! Even through financial hardships they have proven that they are committed to the children of Talita Rise Up. Help us support their monthly salary with a sponsorship of $50/month. To sponsor a nanny, email kblevins@ordinaryhero.org.

Additional Needs: 
If you would like to meet some of the additional Care Center needs, you may make a one-time donation by clicking here, which goes towards any of the supplies below. Simply include Talita Rise Up and your chosen item in the Message section. If the need has already been met by the time you give, we will put your donation towards another need listed below:

- Enjera Maker… $125
- Stove... $50
- Crib Mattress… $50
- Teenage Mattresses (2)… $60
- Nanny Mattresses (2)… $60
- Baby Formula (20)… $10/can

Continue to watch our Facebook and Instagram over the next week for more information about this ministry and continued sponsorship opportunities. Don't forget to advocate by sharing. Thank you for your support and love! 


Any additional questions can be directed toward our sponsorship coordinator, kblevins@ordinaryhero.org.