Sep 23, 2011

Open Hands

I've been trying to go through my 900+ pictures of our trip.

Last night, I had my slide show going and The Angel saw this picture:

She asked who this was.

I told her it was a girl in the Hands For The Needy program whose name was Zahara.

Zahara's mom was run over by a trash truck at the dump, scavaging for food.

Zahara's mom was one of the people for who our team provided medical attention.

The Angel stared at Zahara's face awhile and then she asked:

"Mommy, but what is she doing?"

I explained that Zahara was praying and giving thanks

before our first official feeding at the center.

The Angel wrinkled her nose.

"Mommy, I KNOW that, but what is with her hands?"

I gave it my best shot.

I told her that opening your hands in prayer was a physical sign that

you were open to what God was doing in your life;

like a sign that you were accepting whatever He says to you in prayer.

She skipped off.

I've been struggling with being home.

More so that in trips past.

The tears are constant.

The hurt is real.

The brokenness of my heart is like a scab, rebroken and gaping.

I want very much to use these emotions to effecutate change, but in His timing and for His glory; anything else is about me, or Africa, or Kaleab, and that's not how it should be.

This morning as the kids bowed their heads over their breakfasts,

I tried to lift up thanksgiving without tears.

As I clasped my hands and closed my eyes,

I focused on saying aloud for what I was thankful.

Before 'amen', I looked over at The Angel, whose hands were extended outward

and fully open.

Lord, there was a reason you wanted the children to come to you.

Thank you for using two children, on two sides of the world, to show me how to pray.

May this transition back home be no transition at all, but merely a daily reminder to myself to radiate Your light through the stories I write with my life and I re-tell of those I have met.

Sep 22, 2011

ET Trip Recap: Day One

We arrived in Addis Ababa early in the morning on Friday after two days of traveling (one day was not 'traveling', as we were delayed out of OKC and spent the day sitting at our home airport). The Hero said I did really well on the flights, which is great for me because as most of you know I HATE to fly. After meeting two of our team members and spending two hours through customs and baggage claim, we had arrived safely back in Africa. I couldn't have been more excited. For 18 months I had been aching to be back and here we were at last. Even my breaths felt at home.
Seeing Yemamu again was beautiful and throwing my arms around his neck brought tears. Seeing him again so clearly reminded me of the paths that God intertwined to fulfill His purposes and it began 18 months ago with Yemamu being assigned to show us the city by our adoption agency. Through those two weeks of seeing his heart and his passion for the people he was raised with in Korah, God planted the seed for Yemamu to start Hands for the Needy and I began to love this man like I did my own family. Yemamu proved to be such an amazing guide and trustworthy soul, I referred everyone travelling to Addis to meet him, which led to him being introduced to Amy and then my LoPa partners, which led to LoPa donating our profits to Hands for The Needy.
He took us to our guest house, a two minute walk from Korah, and let us rest before dinner. We napped and when he asked us what sounded good for dinner, our entire team laughed and screamed "We're in Ethiopia, Ethiopian food." We spent dinner talking and telling stories about our kids and learning about the projects that HFN had going and the progress that had been made in just a year of existence. By the time we left dinner, our team couldn't wait to see the center and meet the kids that we were going to be supporting.
Some people need time to adjust to time changes, sensory changes and the differences between being on one continent after directly coming from another. Not me. Not this trip. I felt like I was home. As if for the first time in 18 months there were no expectations of me, no time lines or due dates to follow and I felt my soul relax, as if it had settled on the back porch with a pitcher of lemonade and was watching the sun set. It was beautiful and all I could pray for that night was that God use my being to bring Him glory and to embrace every opportunity to show His love.
As The Hero and I climbed into bed that night, I felt like a kid preparing for Christmas morning. After a year of praying, planning and seeking God's direction, we were finally going to see the faces and touch the hands of those we would be serving. I barely slept.

Sep 19, 2011

I wrote this Saturday morning as we were touching down in OKC. After two days, it's still all I can piece together without losing sight of my computer because of the tears.

We left Ethiopia Friday morning about 11:oo a.m. I cried all the way to the airport. Sobbed as we got out of the taxi and hugged Yemamu, Sisay, the rest of our team and Kaleab. Our flight to Dubai was almost four hours and I wept like a baby most of the way. During our six hour layover, I tried to talk to The Hero, but each time I opened my mouth, all that came out were tears. Our overnight flight to Atlanta was not much better.
And as I sit typing this, we are about an hour outside Oklahoma City, and I'm tearing up. Please understand, after 10 days, I am ready to see my children. But a huge piece of me is still in Ethiopia.

Re-entry is always hard. It usually takes me weeks to back to a routine. This time is different. I don't want to go back to how it was before. I don't want to walk into a grocery store and forget those that struggle to find food on a daily basis. I don't want to eat another meal at a restaurant and forget those 12 boys who eat, sleep and scrounge for their every necessity at a trash dump.

There is so much of our trip that I will eventually be able to share; to attempt to attach words to what occurred those beautiful 10 days. It's just not today. There will be much that I cannot share for awhile; and parts of it I never will. Today the hurt is fresh, raw and while I always want it to be there, I don't know yet how to verbalize or write it and I know you couldn't understand my mumbling through all the crying.

Sep 15, 2011

Cursed and Unimportant

(Guest Post by: Layla Payton)

I have a disorder that causes me swallowing difficulties. Sometimes it gets so bad that I have to go on a baby food, or a liquid diet. I am on the baby food diet at the moment.

I think an ulcer may be causing this particular flair-up, but I really don't want to talk about that right now. That's not the point of this post. The point of this post is attitude. I usually go into a major funk when I have to go on one of these diets. I LOVE to eat. I LOVE to bake. And I LOVE to eat what I bake. Take my food away, and I get a tad grumpy. Okay, probably more than a tad. I start to feel sorry for myself, because "everyone else" gets to eat a cheeseburger.

No, not everyone.

There is this little place. You may have heard of it.

It's called, "Africa."

I have some friends who are there at this very moment. Friends who stood in an official's office today. They dug in their heels and said (in so many words), " We are not leaving until you sign the paperwork." And they didn't, until a certain official signed that significant paperwork. Paperwork that NOW legally allows them to feed 60 children in Korah.

My sweet friend, Lindsey Andrews, posted this on her Facebook status:

"I made our entire team (5 of us) go the government office this morning. He about freaked to see all of us sitting at his desk BUT paperwork was signed and filed with the government!!!!! We are ready to start feeding tomorrow. THANK YOU JESUS!!!!!!!!"

(Yeah, now you know why Lindsey is often referred to as: "Bulldog." That's what you get when you have someone who is CrAzY in love with Jesus, AND an attorney.)

Do you know about Korah?

Please watch this if you don't.

(You'll need some Kleenex.)

"Cursed and Unimportant."

What if that was said about YOUR children?

What if that was YOUR child digging in the trash for food?

Yeah, kinda puts a whole new spin on things. Things like complaining about having to eat baby food.

I eat like a queen.

Enough with the "poor me," already.

The following is a post from Tom Cox, who was also in Korah:

"Visited the trash dump and met some boys that live in a make shift hut. They collect plastic bags and sell them by the bundle. They get about $0.30 per bundle. On top of that, they do this while dodging the bulldozer. The cool thing is, they are pooling their money together to send one of the boys to school.

That's the love of Jesus!"
...that'll give you a GREAT BIG attitude adjustment!

Sep 2, 2011

What We Really Need

Many of you have written asking what you can do

or send

or give

while we are in Ethiopia.

The Hero and our travel group have talked

and prayed about it a lot.

The team has decided that we are loaded and ready to go.

But on a personal note, there is only one thing we really need:



PRAY some more.

Pray for my flight anxiety.

I HATE to fly.

Pray for our team.

Individually and collectively.

That we would be at every moment, the hands and feet of the One who sent us.

Pray for The Angel and The Dinosaur.

We've never been away longer than two nights at a time.

Pray for this momma's heart.

I'll leave part of here and leave the rest of it in Ethiopia.

If you are interested in writing a guest post while we are out,

send your post to andrews dot africabound at gmail dot com

by Monday night.