Today during a Christmas pageant while watching all the sweet little angels sing, my close friend turned to me and said, "Mel you are going to have one of those." I nodded and smiled but could hardly catch my breath as I took in the power of her words. She is right I think. :) At some point we hope to add a little girl to our world of three boys all dressed as shepherds. Perhaps next year we will have three boys all dressed as shepherds and one sweet Ethiopian girl dressed as an angel, silver halo and all.
We adopted a family for Christmas and I chuckled as I began to read down the list and noticed three boys and one girl. Of course I can shop for boys, but you should have seen all of us today combing the aisles for clothes and gifts for a six year old girl. I was like a lost soul, a person visiting a foreign land. Trying to make sense of sizing and which Polly Pocket gets the best reviews was simply hilarious. All four boys (husband included) all just smiled as I held up each item searching for approval. I think our adopted family will be very pleased this year and we will be eager to deliver all the many gifts we selected together.
Bob and I had a night out over the weekend and used some of our time to wrap up a few stops we needed to make for final gifts. Two of our boys will be receiving ipods this year as we try to get them more interested in music. While enjoying all the flash and furry at the Apple store Bob looks over at me and announces, "OK you can pick the color of the ipods if I can pick her name." As if that is an equal pick. Ha! Needless to say we chose the ipod colors together.
And just what will our Christmas look and feel like next year?
Every now and then we have a moment or two when we are reminded to take a step back and remember why we are here. Last night I took my two oldest sons to a Hanukkah ceremony at the Jewish Temple here in town. The Rabbi had agreed to meet with our Cub Scout group to help the boys understand ways they could become closer to God. It was incredibly cool. The Rabbi was cool and he did such a nice job explaining Judaism that I waked away with great clarity. But there were two points that truly cut to the core of all faith. We are here to Repair the World. Wow that one truly resonates with me. He asked the boys ways in which they can do that and their answers were so awesome. He explained that Jews believe that the here and now is very important and that they must do their part to repair what they can today. The other take away for both me and my boys was this... If you meet someone who is Jewish and worships in a Temple, do not be afraid or judgmental, but instead ask if you can check out their religion, explore it and allow them to be who they are. The premise is easy but one we all so often miss. Just be tolerant. Be aware and accepting of someone else's customs and faith. If we can remember to remember that we are all here to glorify God and we are all doing our part to repair the earth one exchange, one act, one prayer at a time well then really there should be little to fear. The evening progressed into many songs, latkes for dinner and dreidels and chocolates galore. The boys loved experiencing the Celebration of Lights and I felt that God was working in reminding me to teach my children to walk in the light. Walk in God's light and in all things do you part to Repair the World. I love that!
Here are the facts about the water crisis from water.org. Every day, thousands of people die from lack of access to clean water. The safe water issue is intimately linked to hygiene education and proper sanitation, which is why we take an integrated approach to bringing safe water to the world’s poor.
Water 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease.
43% of water-related deaths are due to diarrhea.
84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0 – 14.
98% of water-related deaths occur in the developing world.
884 million people, lack access to safe water supplies, approximately one in eight people.
The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.
Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.
An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.
About a third of people without access to an improved water source live on less than $1 a day. More than two thirds of people without an improved water source live on less than $2 a day.
Poor people living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city.
Without food a person can live for weeks, but without water you can expect to live only a few days.
The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 13.2 gallons per person.
Over 50 percent of all water projects fail and less than five percent of projects are visited, and far less than one percent have any longer-term monitoring.
So there were two sweet little boys who recently arrived at Hannah's Hope in Ethiopia. They are orphaned due to a father who left the family and severe poverty. Now I have to say they are cute and I mean cute! As the mother of three rambunctious boys, I found myself saying to myself of course, what is two more? The sheer noise of five boys would probably send me right over the edge but I have to say the boys called to my heart. All God's Children did not have a family ready to accept two boys, ages 2 and 4 so they sent out an email to all the families wait listed for the Ethiopia program. The buzz was amazing and within hours we were all talking about and advocating for the right family to step forward. I kept checking email just to hear if there were changes and as an answer to many people's prayers, a family who was wait listed to adopt one boy within 6-8 months stepped forward. They were touched by the spirit of the two boys shining through in their photo. The boys have a home!!! This is big news. Even bigger is the question that the family is now asking. Where will we find 10k in 10 days to be able to accept the referral of the boys. What a commitment and what a leap of faith. I do not know them personally but they inspire me. They inspire us all to have courage and faith even when the boat feels rocky. We will pray for the money to come, blending a family into six and saving two sweet and smiley little boys who just want to remain together and be loved.
IN SEARCH OF OUR KNEELING PLACES In each heart lies a Bethlehem, an inn where we must ultimately answer whether there is room or not. When we are Bethlehem-bound we experience our own advent in his. When we are Bethlehem-bound we can no longer look the other way conveniently not seeing stars not hearing angel voices. We can no longer excuse ourselves by busily tending our sheep or our kingdoms.
This Advent let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that the Lord has made known to us. In the midst of shopping sprees let's ponder in our hearts the Gift of Gifts. Through the tinsel let's look for the gold of the Christmas Star. In the excitement and confusion, in the merry chaos, let's listen for the brush of angels' wings. This Advent, let's go to Bethlehem and find our kneeling places.
During our recent visit to Ethiopia I felt very called to the village of Korah in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. There have been numerous rumblings lately about the tremendous need to help the children of Korah who are growing up in and around the local trash dump. The village was established 75 years ago as a place to send people with leprosy who were said to be cursed. Now there is a 3rd generation of people living in Korah with nearly 100,000 suffering from such things as leprosy, HIV, misc disease and of course malnutrition. There are many children of Korah who have been forced to live and work at the trash dump in hopes of finding food and possible items to sell in Korah's center of town. With the start of the Great Hope Church in Korah and the building of a shelter, along with the ministry of local Sammy Liben and Sumer Yates, there is now a feeding program and a sponsorship program in place to rescue the forgotten children of Korah and send them to boarding school where they can escape the horror of the conditions of living and working in a large trash dump. For more information please visit:
www.help4korah.blogspot.com or www.p61.org where you can learn more about how you or your organization can help the people and the children of Korah.
Please send me a message or email Erin Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org to request sponsorship information.
I will soon be posting the photos of my day recently spent in Korah. I must tell you it was life changing and beyond anything I have ever done to stretch, change and rearrange myself. God helped me to help the people who I met. Much of what I could offer was nothing more than the snap of my camera or a warm touch or an inviting smile. The needs in Korah are beyond our wildest imagination yet God is over Korah and there is already amazing work being done. I invite you to view the following videos to learn more about the beauty and the needs of Korah's people.
CLICK HERE TO LEARN HOW TO SPONSOR A CHILD
You will need to turn off the music below in order to enjoy this video. Go down to playlist and turn it off.
It's a fair question and one that people ask frequently. It goes hand in hand with "Why didn't you guys choose to adopt domestically?" Let me explain...
Ethiopia is deep in the midst of ongoing poverty, disease and famine. Ethiopia is the fourth poorest nation in the world with nearly 5 million orphans struggling every day to survive. Nearly 2 million people are infected with HIV and many children will watch their parents die of the disease. One in every ten children do not make it to their first birthday and one in six die before their fifth birthday. Obviously such statistics are staggering and there is no doubt that the country of Ethiopia has a great need to allow families in who are eligible and willing to rescue and adopt their orphaned children.
This journey for us has taken many winding turns. It is the true nature of adoption and in all honesty it is just something you just get used to. For us adoption began as a two fold feeling of wanting to add another child to our family and also feeling God nudging us to help where the need was the greatest. We began researching the high need category right here in the USA. There are numerous differences between a first world (so to speak) and a third world country. Here in the US we have a foster care system in place where children can be placed until adopted. We do not have the same institutionalized orphanages which are often developmentally detrimental to many children. In many countries there is nothing in place to help the orphaned child but the orphanages. Thank God they exist or children would have absolutely nowhere to survive. It also became increasingly obvious that a birthmother in this country would have to select us and we would have to become increasingly more comfortable with an "open adoption." We were not certain that was the right path for our family so we began the lengthy research into high needs countries where we fit the criteria to adopt a female. Believe it or not with three bio boys we did not fit every countries criteria. This adoption stuff is a bit crazy but you have to follow the laws. :) Nepal and Ethiopia both immediately began to tug at our hearts. We knew that adopting from either country felt right. We began with Nepal but soon realized the it was Ethiopia where we belonged all along. We made a country switch-a-roo and here we are today.
A couple of other tidbits about Ethiopia that made us feel such a strong connection. Ethiopians value and love their children and their families. That is not always the case. Many countries throughout the world place little or no value in children. In fact many countries are totally unwilling to deal with the orphan crisis at all. Ethiopia is one of just a handful of African nations currently to allow the adoption of children. Ethiopia has followed the Hague Adoption Convention and places great importance on the welfare of their children. Ethiopia's government has also acted with integrity so far in complying with timelines and requirements that are reasonable for all parties, agency, adoptive family and the child. This is a good thing as many countries have lengthening timelines or have closed their doors to international adoption altogether.
So Ethiopia has stolen our hearts. Their needs are so great but the passion to live appears to be greater. I am beginning to understand what some say when they say, I need Africa more than Africa needs me. I am feeling that and sometimes I cannot even verbalize why. We need Ethiopia. We need to be stretched and have our hearts broken for the orphan, the widow and the least, lost and lonely. With two trips now ahead we continue to prayerfully ask God to make us vessels. Use us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in places where people and children need us most.
I want to also say that there is no right or wrong when it comes to following you heart into the land of adoption. It's just like anything we do in life. We have all been given the powerful gifts of choices and free will. Adopting a child no matter where he or she is from is a very personal and spiritual journey. If you are being lead to seek adoption for you and or your family- just do it! How can one human being ever regret such an endeavor!
We are a family of five who are feeling the call to add another sweet bundle of joy to our world. Our hearts and our minds are carrying another child who is currently in Ethiopia. She is thousands of miles away yet we know she is meant to round out our family! She has already been chosen for us as we have been chosen for her. We wait with great anticipation, with excitement and prayers. With three boys ages 9, 7 and 5 there is rarely a dull or quiet moment around here and we are all eager to open our hearts to the beautiful little one we will call Ava.
We are following God's lead as we make our way through all the hoops to Ethiopia and back with the daughter and sister of our hearts.
*There are approximately 5 million orphans in a country less than twice the size of the state of Texas.
*Only 24% of households have access to safe drinking water
*One in ten children die before their first birthday.
*In the 1980's one million Ethiopians died of starvation
*Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school; 88% will never attend secondary school
*Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000
*Children and family are honored above all else
*Between 60-150 million kids live on the streets
*82% of the population survives on less than 1 dollar a day
*1 in 3 people are HIV+, the average life expectancy is 37
PRODUCT) RED is not a charity, it is simply a business model. You buy (PRODUCT) RED stuff. (Motorola, AmEx, Gap, Armani, Converse, Apple) (PRODUCT) RED gets the money. It then buys the pills and distributes them. Sick people in Africa take the pills, stay alive. And continue to take care of their families and contribute socially and economically in their communities.