Friday, January 14, 2011

Ethiopia: Day 13 (1/9/11)

We were supposed to be home last night but we are here in London. We board at 1:30pm and take off at 2pm. Lord, please have mercy on us and allow us to see our families. I praise you in this storm! We made it to Minneapolis on time and have a3 hour lay over. We found a Chili's and a McDonald's!

The flight to Denver was short and made it in despite the snow storm only a few minutes late. I could hardly wait to see Betsy and the kids. They were waiting for us as we got off the train. We had a great homecoming and traveled safely home in the snowstorm.

Overall, the trip was life changing. I lost 8 pounds. I would like to go back and take Morgan and Betsy. Morgan has a compassionate heart that would do well there and Betsy because her teaching skills would come in handy to equip and train there teachers in Shanto.

Until next time....

Ethiopia: Day 12 (1/8/11)

Well, we boarded the plane at 1:00am and at 1:45am were told that there were mechanical problems and that we needed to get off the plane. We ended up sleeping on the ground of the Addis airport and woke up at 5am. They were waiting for the first morning flight to arrive from Dubai and that would take us to London. We finally left at 9am and headed to London. We will miss all our connecting flights and won't get into Denver until Sunday now...

We arrived in London at 2pm (their time/now 7 hours ahead of mst). The walkway to get off was malfunctioning and we exited the back of the plane down stairs. We looked all over the airport for where to get transitioned. Three hours later we found the right place and are now on a Delta flight tomorrow at 2pm going through MN to Denver.We will arrive in Denver around 10:45 pm but we hear there is a snow storm headed to Denver. God help us.

We stayed in a decent hotel overnight. I called Betsy to let her know the news.

Ethiopia: Day 11 (1/7/11)

The last day in Ethiopia. We spent most of the day at Children's Heaven; an orphanage for girls in Addis.
They prepared a festival with singing and dancing. One thing I know about Ethiopia is that they know how to have a good time!

It was Ethiopia Christmas the next day and they had a tree with this manger scene underneath the tree.
The girls are opening their backpack full of treats provided by the Ethiopian Orphan relief organization.
We set up dresses and other items for the girls as we did at FOVC. They are trying the dresses on.

We headed for the airport and arrived there at 10:30 pm. Our flight is scheduled for 1:30am. There were many security checkpoints but we made it through each without any issues. This will be a long flight home!

Ethiopia: Day 10 (1/6/11)

I awoke at 5am as my friend Dave handed me the phone. It was Betsy! I was so happy to talk to her. She was able to connect to us. I got to talk to Morgan and lucy also. I had such a peace afterward because of being able to communicate to them. Thank you God!

Today was an easy going day in Addis. We went to the Ethiopian museum. There we saw "Lucy" the earliest remains of a human bones and many ancient artifachts some dating back to the Queen of Sheba and her trip to visit king Solomon.

This was interesting as they describe how they got the name "Lucy" and the meaning.

Here are "lots" dice as described from the Old Testament.

Ethiopia: Day 9 (1/5/11)

We stayed the night prior at this beautiful lake resort. We had hot showers and a clean place to stay. The views are beautiful. We had a nice breakfast buffet this morning and a good dinner the night before.

This was down at the beach.
We had a few hours this morning before we had to leave and I enjoyed sitting under this canopy over looking the lake and reading a book. I spotted a couple hippo's out in the water but to far for a picture.

On the way out, kids were selling these handmade sculptures they make out of the soil found there.
We arrived back in Addis Ababa at 9:30 pm and went right to bed!

Ethiopia: Day 8 (1/4/11)

This morning we woke up at 5:30am. Our last day in Shanto. We spent the morning at FOVC finishing up last minute tasks and saying good bye. We said our good bye's with hugs and kisses and there were many tears shed on both sides. We headed out toward Addis in a different direction going through the Rift Valley (also known as the lake country). Our first stop was for lunch at a beautiful lake resort. There were monkey's all around in the trees...
Here are a few pictures of the country side as we drove through...
This was a hot spring that fed into a large lake.
They had many beautiful distinct trees that are not found in America.
This one I was convinced was used as the crown of thorns upon Jesus head. It was pretty hard to think about.
When the sun set it was beautiful but became very dark really quick since there is no electricity in most areas. The stars were brilliant also and it was hard not to praise God for his creation!

Ethiopia: Day 7 (1/3/11)

We started the morning early again and arrived at 7am. This is our last full day in Shanto with FOVC. Here is a picture of the orphanage we raised money for and are helping to construct. We goth the building walled in (before we left) and they need more funds to complete.Yes, that is right; you don't see me in the picture. They wanted to build it not destroy it so I stayed away, ha. I took part in many other activities.
Here, Allison and I are helping the kids with a few crafts to remember our stay.
Then, we distributed crayons and coloring books. This was a big hit as most of them have never colored before!
Later in the afternoon we visited 10 homes of widows and orphans. We delivered food and sewing kits and then prayed with them. They were so thankful and praised God with hands lifted high and some broke into dance. This was incredible and a yeah God moment.

While we were there one of the group members established a sponsorship program for the orphans at FOVC and I believe all (current) orphans have been sponsored! A few other activities that were going on was a pastor conference to about 100 local pastors equipping them with Bibles in their native tongue and teaching them. Everyday locals would come to hear the word of God preached and on the final day it was estimated that 15,000 people came and heard the word of God preached, wow! Also, a clinic was set up by our doctors and each kid had a check up.

I will always remember how happy, joyful and grateful they are in Ethiopia.

We ate dinner around 10pm and in bed at midnight.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ethiopia: Day 6 (1/2/11)

We woke up at 6:30 and headed out to Shanto. My body is taking a beating physically and very tired. The boys at FOVC played in a soccer tournament which was fun to watch. They are very good! We provided the soccer jersey's for them to wear and they were very excited. Here is one of the goalies and the goal made out of cypress trees.

After the game, we set up all the donated pillow case dresses in a classroom and had the girls come in to try them on.
They were very excited to get a new dress and they looked beautiful!
We had so many dresses left over that we wanted to share them with other girls outside of FOVC in Shanto. We had the guards let in 5-10 girls at a time to give them dresses and hair bows. Everyday the kids in Shanto would gather to see what was going on inside FOVC.
Desalegn took a few of out for a walk in Shanto. We walked through the country side and ended up at a party for a new homeowner. They were celebrating and having an auction to raise money for the man's new house. A few of our members got in the mood and danced with the locals.

The kids who danced were very good and loved to put on a show for us...

At dusk, they built a bon fire and celebrated some more with dancing and singing. We left late and skipped dinner which was ok with me:) I wish I could communicate with Betsy and the kids. I miss them so much! I pray for them every night.

Ethiopia: Day 5 (1/1/11)

Today we drove to Shanto. Shanto is a very remote village in Southern Ethiopia and located in a beautiful valley. When we arrived, we parked about 500 yards from FOVC because they had a celebrating arranged. We paraded down the street with hundreds of children by our side and dancers out in front keeping rhythm to the beat of drums. We came up to the FOVC (Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children) property and the children inside were holding signs welcoming us there. They had another celebration inside with dancing and music.
Today was awesome and incredible; the best day yet. I love the Ethiopian country side. The children are wonderful and so happy. Below is a picture (left) of Desalegn and (right) his majesty; like our governor. They are welcoming us and thanking us for our support of the people. Desalegn is the man who started FOVC and wanted to give back to his community after graduating from college. He is an amazing man of God.
Some of the events were games (below teaching them duck, duck, goose), coffee ceremony, dancing, constructing, medical team set up, pastor conference and loving the children.
It was very dusty in Shanto so when we went back to Soddo for the night to rest it was nice to take a shower even if it was cold. Tomorrow we head back for more activities and a soccer match!

Ethiopia: Day 4 (12/31/10)

I am missing Betsy and my girls so much. Our friend, Lory, was able to get Internet access and email at the guest house so she was able to send an email back home and copy Betsy so she knew we were safe. Once we leave the guest house we no longer have connection. We left a calling card back home but they haven't been able to get through to us yet.

Before lunch we went to a marketplace where I found a few gifts to bring home.

I haven't been wanting to eat much since the food does not sound good to me. I brought a lot of Power bars from home and some Beef Jerky. We also have many bottled waters to drink.

The smell in Ethiopia is something I haven't been able to get used to yet.

After lunch, we headed to Soddo (7 hours south of Addis). After dark, around a corner on a mountain hill, we came upon an overturned bus with many Africans screaming and wailing. Our two doctors jumped into action and we helped where we could. It was pretty bad. Two people were in critical condition. The doctor's were only able save one. Other's had wounds or broken limbs. After stabilizing everyone they could we decided there was not much more we could do and a couple hours later continued on the road. The scene was right out of a movie. It was pitch dark and we had small flashlights with us. We used clothing from our suitcase as turnakits. God definitely put us in that path to be able to help His people.

We arrived in Soddo around 10:30 pm and went to dinner. I still wasn't very hungry and ate mainly bread and drank bottled water.

We went to the hotel around midnight. I roomed with one of the teenage boys and the room was very nice. We head to Shanto and FOVC (Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children) in the morning.

The trip has been very overwhelming emotionally, spiritually and physically so far. This is one adventure I will never forget!

Ethiopia: Day 3 (12/30/10)

We made it! The ride back from the airport is shocking! I didn't quite picture the city of Addis and capital of Ethiopia to be like this. The smell is overwhelming and there is garbage everywhere.

Our guest house is nice and has hot water. I am in a room with 6 other men sleeping on a bunk. We spent the afternoon in Korah; one of the worst slums in Ethiopia. Project 61 is a Christian based organization established there to help these families. What we saw and did there was life changing! The people are so friendly and welcoming to us. We went in groups of 4-5 (with a translator) and visited families delivering food and praying with them and for them. The children are everywhere. The ground is a thick mud and they live in one room shacks with 4-6 other's.

That night we ate at a nice Italian restaurant that had an art gallery inside. I bought a picture to take home. I went to bed at 11pm and then awoke to a migraine around 3am and threw up. In the morning I felt much better and the doctor with us said it was probably due to exhaustion.

Ethiopia: Day 2 (12/29/10)

We made it to Frankfurt with 5 minutes to catch our connection (we originally had a 3 hour layover). We ran to our gate and it was empty...We found out that they switched our gate and had we known upfront we would of made the connection because it was close to our arriving gate. Ughhhh. It is 3pm in Germany. We are waiting in a customer service line for flight connections to see what we can do.
It is now 7pm in Germany and we were able to connect on an Ethiopian Airlines flight leaving at 10:30 but will be stand bye. We grabbed a bite to eat and drink...
We all made it on stand bye. Again, thank you God! Going to sleep now as I have been awake for over 24 hours (with the time change).

We arrived in Addis Ababa on 12/30/10 at 7am.

Ethiopia: Day 1 (12/28/10)

We arrived at the Denver airport at 9am. It was hard to say goodbye. The hugs and kisses felt a little more special from Betsy and the girls. Everyone was already at the airport when I arrived and we proceeded to check in the luggage.

One of my bags of donations was 15 lbs overweight. Luckily others had room and we rearranged to get under 50 lbs. I received my boarding pass, we prayed as a group and headed on the greatest adventure I have ever been on.

Upon reaching our gate; we are delayed 1 hour due to high winds in New Jersey. We only have 2 1/2 lay over in Newark. We also met the Hank's family from South Dakota. We are now a group of 15 heading to meet up with others in Newark.

We are now on the plane sitting in Denver for 2 hours and the pilot came on and said we will take off in 40 minutes. Gos has a plan and we need to be patient for His timing and let His plan unfold. If He brings us to it, He will see us through it!

We made it to Newark and made our connection to Frankfurt right as they were in the middle of boarding. They also had a dely due to high winds for take off- thank you God!