Monday, November 29, 2010


There are so many things that I love about this season...
about Christmas.

I love the music of Christmas
It is an invitation to worship!
It's the only time you'll hear people everywhere singing Jesus' name. 
I wonder if that's a good thing or if it's something that grieves God.  I think of how many times I've sung the familiar words of a Christmas hymn without thinking about what I'm singing at all.
I'm always a little shocked to hear pop singers belting out "Oh come let us adore Him!"  I imagine that one day even that will be gone from our airwaves, along with that once common greeting "Merry Christmas!"
The music of Christmas is a daily reminder to me to worship.

I love the lights of Christmas
They are warm and welcoming and good.  Light is good. 
I've always loved knowing that light conquers darkness.
The Light of the world has called me to be a light where I live and shop and interact with people!

I also love the message of Christmas.
It's full of paradox.
Strength in weakness.
Love in rejection.
Hope in desperation.
Peace in turmoil.
God with us!

May we spend this month ahead looking for ways to give ourselves to Him!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Africa Through Jeff's Lens - Part 3

As usually happens when you're the photographer, you don't end up in too many photos.  Knowing this is true, I asked Jeff to please be sure he was in at least a couple of pictures.  Here he is at the Widows and Orphans Home in Adama, showing two brothers some of the photos on the camera.

Here's a morning cup of Ethiopian coffee -
dark, strong and oh-so-good!

Jeff said he ate and enjoyed the local cuisine.  What is pictured below is a bit of a delicacy - most Ethiopians don't get meat often, if at all. 

It's called "tibs" and is beef cooked over a coal fire. You can also see the rolled up injera and a dish of chopped chilis and salt for dipping.

There are two villages in Ethiopia where Adoption Ministry has sponsored children.  One is the village of T'ede.  It is a 90 minute drive south from Addis Ababa.  There's always something to see along the road.

As the team arrived in the village, lots of children spotted the van full of white faces and came to smile and stare.

Here, Pastor Zerihun lives and ministers to many widowed women and their children. 

Pastor Zerihun at his pulpit

The parsonage

The church in T'ede

Adoption Ministry has sponsored nine children in T'ede and when one of our teams goes to Ethiopia, they get to deliver gifts from the sponsors to these children.  I thought it was so sweet how each child bowed as they received their gifts of new clothes and toys.

Next was a visit to the village of Gutumuma.  This remote area has seen over one hundred families convert to Christianity in the last year, thanks to the work of several evangelists.  They are pictured below, praying with the team.

**Very cool side story:  The young man pictured above with the glasses is one of our adopting dads who was in Ethiopia with his wife Jackie to meet their baby daughter for the first time and attend their court date.  His dad, Ron Sanchez, was a pastor on staff with Jeff at a church in Redmond, WA back in the late 80's/early 90's.  Jason was a little kid then but we both remember those days with great fondness and we're still all shaking our heads over how God brought us together again -
via Ethiopia!

The government gave a beautiful piece of land to these people and Adoption Ministry has been able to raise support for water to be brought in, a fence to be built to surround the compound and found sponsors for twenty children there.  A little school has been started, playground equipment supplied and the children get lunch - an egg, a chunk of bread and a cup of milk.  For most it is their only 'meal' of the day.

Jeff and I sponsor a little girl in this village. 
Her name is Kuftu.
She is one of eight children and her father is a pastor.

This is the picture we have on our refrigerator.

Jeff got to meet Kuftu and though he's sure she didn't understand who he was, I'm not so sure.  It was a highlight for him, I know!

You know how often you hear that a trip like this changes you forever?  Well, my husband is the type who avoids any hint of exaggeration or cliché so he hasn't been saying that he has a whole new outlook on everything.  But after seeing what he saw and meeting the people he did, there is certainly conviction and renewed desire to be asking God how he should respond.  As we've talked, we both feel that the thing that makes the biggest impression on you is the people there who are serving Christ.  They live in leper colonies, in tiny mud huts or in homes where the widowed and desititute are taken in and taken care of.  They are joyfully determined to live out God's word.

So we ask ourselves, "Are we?"

You can read Part 1 and Part 2 as well!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Africa Through Jeff's Lens - Part 2

Toward the end of Jeff's trip to Ethiopia, he and Mark went to visit the leper colony and the neighborhood by the dump in Addis Ababa.  Almost all of this huge city is marked with extreme poverty but this area is the most destitute.  Mark has served there in the past and has become friends with a pastor who ministers to the people who live on the ragged edges of society.

These are difficult photos.  This isn't the beautiful African savannah.  It's not even the happy-ending result of a lot of relief work.  This is reality for hundreds of thousands of people in one corner of the world.  And here, some faithful Christians are living and ministering to the very 'least of these' in Jesus' name.

The church at the leper colony.

The sanctuary with the burlap floor.

Mark Wolbert with a man who has lost both legs to leprosy.

This woman has AIDS and lives day to day in a mud-walled hovel.
Jeff asked if he could take her picture.
I know how hard it is to walk around with a camera in places like this.  But it's so important to bring these images home.

Another resident of this neighborhood cooking her family's meal.

One of many 'homes' with trash from the nearby dump that is burned for cooking fuel.

A women let them peek inside her home.
Many people live here.

This mother and her daughter know the pastor and also showed them inside their home.
Just look at that beaming face!

Jeff was captivated by this beautiful girl in her red frilly dress.

She was so happy to have her picture taken.

There were so many beautiful faces in that dark place...

It is so good, on this Thanksgiving Day, to remember these precious people who God loves and to ask what He wants me to do in response. 

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  Isaiah 61:1-3 

Part 3 Gifts delivered to two villages
Part 1 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Africa Through Jeff's Lens - Part 1

Nothing like a peek into someone's life in a hard place to give you perspective while you're stuffing a turkey or assembling ingredients for a pumpkin cheesecake pie!

Jeff returned from three weeks in Ethiopia last weekend and I thought I'd share some of his 7,693,432 photos.  He had an amazing time.  He served as the photographer/videographer on this trip for the ministry I work for, Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia.  He and Mark Wolbert went with Joy Casey, our ministry director, to process new children in our orphanages, update photos of kids who have been there and visit many cities and villages in central and western Ethiopia.  It was a National Geographic journey to be sure!  Be sure to check out our blog That We Might Be Adopted for more amazing stories from their trip!

For today, I'll share some snapshots taken while on the road to three of the remote orphanages which are almost to the Sudanese border.

Before leaving in the morning for a trip out west, you go downstairs to the dining room of the Catholic Guest House where breakfast awaits you.  Normally, it would be Ethiopian pancakes with marmalade or sometimes eggs but since they left so early, cold cereal was on the menu.

Here's the van that carried them across Africa - it's actually a really nice van in comparison to many you see on the road!

Some sights along the way...

As soon as anyone spots a white face looking out the van windows, they come running, waving, laughing, staring... precious faces!

These young men were selling sugar cane, which Tezera, our orphanage director, bought for the widows. 
She said they LOVE to chew on it!

The team bought bananas from this boy.

Do you see what I mean about feeling thankful? 
The women carry the load in Ethiopia.  Literally.
You see this everywhere.

As you get closer into town, you see lots of interesting things along the roadside...

These couches would brighten up any home!
I wonder if the tables they're on are part of the set??

Roadside ping pong.  Foosball is also very popular.

Someone found an interesting place to make coffee!
Coffee originated in Ethiopia and it's a huge part of the culture. 
It's very strong and very delicious!

Kids peeking through the fence outside of the orphanage!

At last, after an eight or ten hour bone-jarring ride, you sit down to dinner.  Injera (a spongy, sour flatbread), some wat (stew) made with either beef, lamb or goat, dabo (bread) and a bottle of orange Miriinda (like Nehi).

In Dembidolo, their hotel rooms opened right out
to the path in front. 

Jeff's room:

They fell into bed to rest up for another busy day!

Click here for Part 2  The leper colony and dump in Addis Ababa

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