Monday, January 9, 2012

Hopefully, I can get further today. I was pretty upset when I realized on the way over to the EHE project that I couldn't do the pictures for the kids and the moms b/c my suitcases were somewhere in never land. They were telling Larry and mom that they did not know where they were and Ethiopia was telling me that they were in Dallas. I was trying to keep my cool, but I was not very excited. I came to the point that morning over to the project I started to think that the suitcases were not going to come to me and that I just needed to let go and be okay with that.

I went to the project and got to spend a lot of time visiting with Jerry and Christy Shannon. It was so great to hear how things started out and how much the moms had been impacted. I got to meet the little girl that I sponsor and take her picture. She is usually really shy about new people, but she was all smiles with me and crawled all over me. I took pictures of all of the kids and played a lot. They were so happy and cute. Some of the older ones (they are all 3 and under) kept talking to me in Amharic, but I could not understand them. They love to get pictures made and look at themselves on the camera after. I sad down and worked on some ideas on jewelry for the beads that had been made.

At the end of the day they were doing distribution of goods to the moms. They get Teff and oil every 3 months, plus they got clothing distribution and sanitation distribution b/c it was Ethiopian Christmas this weekend. It is such a great project and it is so good to see how much the little that EHE is able to do is impacting the families. I am blown away to think that these childrens' whole trajectory of life has been shifted b/c of what the Shannons are doing. Some of these babies were very sick and on the brink of death when they were enrolled in the program. To see them walking and smiling and growing is amazing. Many of the moms were not from Addis Ababa, but had come here either looking for a better life or with husbands that have since abandoned them. They have no family and no one here. One of the amazing and great things that has happened due to being in EHE is that the moms have developed community together. They aren't alone anymore. Last week the Shannon's got approved to expand from 31 children to 60, so they will begin this week hiring new staff and interviewing applicants to expand. I am so blessed to be able to be here and see such an amazing program impacting so many people. I feel like the ripples of these type of programs are going to go so much further than we can imagine. If you are looking for a really great and impactful place to give consider this program. At the end of the day I was able to meet Hannah's mom (the little girl our family sponsors). It was so amazing. She told me through the translator thank you and that it was beautiful what I was doing to help. I took a picture with them. It was so great. I am going to print one for her to keep as well.

At the end of the day, Jerry got a text from Levi that the airline called and asked why we hadn't come to get my bags yet. Levi had called just a couple hours earlier and was told that they were still in Dallas. Needless to say, we were very excited. I ate dinner with the Shannon's then Levi picked me up and we headed to the airport. Getting out of the airport the bags have to be run through the xray machine again. They thought my sidewalk chalk was medicine, but when I showed it to them, they let me through. All in all it was a good day. The Bring love In project got an approval letter too, so they are one step closer to being open. Lot's of good news.

At this point it was Wednesday and I had still not been able to take a hot shower, or any shower for that matter.

Thursday we left in the morning and headed north outside of Addis Ababa to the Portuguese bridge. It is an area about two hours north out in the country. It was beautiful. I got some really great pictures. It was super super super cold. I thought I was going to freeze to death. I just thought that the Benkerts house was cold. I did get to take a hot shower. That was really exciting. It was my first hot shower since leaving Dallas on Saturday. We had a great time. In the cabin, though, I had trouble getting to sleep. I was seriously freezing. Even with two wool blankets on the bed my feet were frozen. And the bed was made out of concrete with a thin pad on it. As I dozed in and out trying to sleep, I just kept thinking, "oh man, there are people sleeping in this cold on hard floors and that is just the life they have. I get to go back to the states and have a soft bed, warm shower, and heat. I feel so sad for those who have no other options.

We got up and had another relaxing day at the bridge watching the kids have fun then we headed back. Since the next day was Melkam Gena (Ethiopian Christmas) we passed a market that was swarming with people preparing. I got some really great pictures as we drove. I hope to be able to post them when I get back to the states.

We got back into Addis late last night and we were all totally warn out. I was also burnt to a crisp. We are closer to the sun and closer to the equator. When I got up this morning, this was the first day I really really missed my family. I can't wait to hug their necks. Two weeks was a lot longer than I thought it would be. Jessie Benkert and I went to the movie and lunch today (Saturday). It was really nice. I am going to church with the Shannon's tomorrow. I will try and update next chance I get.

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