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Ethiopia

I’m not sure how to share all that has happened since I last found the time to catch up on my blog.  We traveled to meet Teagan in early May.  He is absolutely precious.  As a nanny carried him down the stairs to meet us for the first time, he called out “Mommy! Daddy!” and our hearts melted as his smile reached out to us from across the room.  I can not convey how wonderful it felt to finally hold this sweet child that we have prayed for and loved through pictures for so long.  There was a great deal of giggling, bubble blowing, playing catch & cuddling in a very short time together.  We were able to form a connection without words and when it was time to leave all too quickly, we hoped he somehow understood.  We know that our days will be very different when he is home, filled with medical appointments, therapy, and the challenges of finding a new way to be a family together.  With our willingness & God’s grace, we are ready for our life together to begin.  Here is a slideshow of our time together.

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After our time with Teagan, we set off for an amazing adventure in southern Ethiopia.  I have been struggling since our return home, trying to find a way to put my experience into words.  Then I finally remembered that the few of you that actually visit my blog are not here for my writing anyways.  So I am hopeful that my pictures will tell the story of why Ethiopia has forever changed my heart.

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Our time in the south focused on learning more about an amazing program we support called Look Development and meeting the children that we sponsor through this program.  We were so impressed by the staffs’ passion for serving the children & families in the communities they work with and their efforts aimed at developing long term income generating projects that will allow the families to eventually break the cycle of poverty.  One of the highlights of the trip was visiting one of our sponsor children, Tirfe, and her family at their home in Awassa.  As we navigated the narrow roads to her village, the children quickly noticed us and began running alongside our van for several miles with the sweetest joy on their faces.

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Each of our children have a special child that they chose for sponsorship and Tirfe is Riley’s sponsor child.  It was incredible to meet her after praying for her with Riley this past year.  We were even able to pass along a special stuffed animal that he picked out & poured much love into for her, along with clothes, shoes, seeds and blankets for her family.

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Inside her family’s home, we shared a traditional meal & coffee cooked over an open fire and prayed together.  And as they praised God for their blessings & his mercies, I sat on a jerry can & looked around the impossibly dark hut, at the lack of bedding or any other signs of comfort, at the shoeless children & the dirt floor and prayed that I would remember when I return to my life of abundance.  That I would be filled with new desires and stop chasing things that do not even matter.  That I would live more intentionally, love more generously and be more thankful for all of my own blessings.

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We fell in love with the people in Tirfe’s village.  The entire school came out to see us, the children clutching prized remnants of notebooks in their hands while they warmly greeted us & posed for pictures.  Although our time there was brief, I have no doubt that a life long connection was made that day & that we will return again.  We have committed to becoming more involved with supporting the program and our first step is to help find sponsorship for the children.  Currently only 2 out of 160 children in the program in this area are sponsored.

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After waving goodbye to the village, we traveled to Shone to see the rest of the program and to meet two more children that my family and my parents sponsor, Addise and Bereket.  Thank you to everyone who gave donations that allowed us to provide our sponsor children and many other families in the program with new shoes, clothing, school supplies, soccer balls, blankets and seeds.  Everyone was so appreciative of the support and it was such a thrill to see them immediately put on their new clothes and a new pair of shoes.  We also had a chance to visit a group of the Look Development parents who are being trained in making & repairing shoes as a business. They were so grateful for the opportunity to learn a trade that will lead their family towards a more secure future.  Other groups of parents in the area are being trained in woodworking and in raising livestock.

ld7-11Despite the program’s success in supporting these struggling families, it is not always possible for families to stay together.  Children who have been orphaned through the death of their parents or other desperate circumstances live in a small care center that Look Development opened last year.  Like the other parts of the program, the care center runs completely on donations and provides long term care in a setting that is as much like a home as possible. These are the adorable faces of the children that live there and as you can see, they have become a family to each other.  Aren’t they the sweetest little group?  I wanted to bring them all home with me.  More pictures from the rest of our trip coming very soon!

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June 7, 2012 - 2:13 pm Riann - Soul food to see those photos...what a joy to find this post. God is gracious to allow us to see Ethiopia through your lens, Amie. Thank you for sharing this gift.

June 7, 2012 - 2:44 pm Laura - oh my heart...these faces...the stories behind them...God is moving, friend. Love this, thanks for pouring your heart and soul into capturing these moments.

June 7, 2012 - 11:36 pm Beth - Your photos say it all Amie! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

June 12, 2012 - 1:44 pm Aimee - Truly amazing Amie!

June 17, 2012 - 7:18 am Von Baker - The pictures were definitely worth a thousand words.

June 19, 2012 - 5:39 pm autumn - Your photos are amazing and capture the spirit of such beautiful children. Your new son is just stunning. I remember his face as well. He has that type of charm that is not easily forgettable. As a fellow HOLT mom to a SN child from ET - my heart is with you.....our medical appointments seemed endless but today Sam is walking and his legs are healing. Its been such a journey- one that my head and heart find difficult to even put into words sometimes.

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