Ethiopian Home Visits with Transformation Love

Monday, the first full day with the team.

After picking up the team and taking them to the bank, we are off to do our first home visits with the team.  We purchase 6 bags of food to bring to the homes we are visiting.  I could see by looking into the team’s eyes that they are very excited to go, but they have anxiety because of the unknowns.  No matter how much you prepare someone, it is impossible to be ready for what you are about to experience. 

These homes are made of sticks with mud and straw mixed and spread on the walls, tin or a tarp covers as a roof, a door is made from sticks and metal nailed to the sticks, dirt makes for a floor and one light bulb hangs from a single wire off the ceiling for light.  You will not find running water or sewers in these homes.  The average size of a home is 9 feet by 6 feet. 

This is just what you see with your eyes.  Then you have to deal with all of the smells, which are horrendous!  All of these homes are very close to the garbage dump.  It is just sickening.  It is sensory overload for most people who visit for the first time.

We arrive in the Korah area, park the taxi and start walking to the first home.  The team is very quiet and just taking everything in.  Children around us stop to watch us walk by, because we are all white!  Adults are starring at us wondering what these foreinges (that is what they call us in Ethiopia) are doing now. 

We make it to the first house and we are welcomed Ethiopian style (3 kisses and hugs).  The team of seven can barely squeeze into the home.  The mom quickly grabs more stools from her neighbors so they can all sit down.  It is very tight, but they make it in.  The mom and children are happy to see everyone and offer the team some coffee she has prepared for them. 

The team is a little quiet.  They will be asking all of the questions for the profiles of the children as we visit each home.  The team will be making 14 home visits during their stay in Addis Ababa.  Transformation Love is challenging all 7 of them to try to get 2 children sponsored each, when they return home.  We are praying they will work hard to get these 14 kids sponsored, so the love can transform their lives too.

We visit Eman’s home in the afternoon.  She is waiting for us and greets us with smiles at the gate of the compound.  Eman is the Muslim woman with the blood cancer. I wrote about earlier in our blog.  The team squeezes into her home and the women immediately ask to hold, Amar, her son.  Eman picks him up and puts him into loving arms and smiles.  He looks at all of the white people visiting his home in amazement, but doesn’t cry!  The team starts asking questions for the profile and Eman tells her story about her blood cancer that she has had for three years now.  Eman is so ill; she can barely take care of her son.  She is in need of sponsorship for her little baby boy, so he can have formula to drink.  She has been giving him mashed food instead and he is breaking out in a rash.  The team is touched by her story and some of them have tears in their eyes.  They pray over Eman and ask God to heal her and that God would love and protect both her and her baby.  I am praying that someone from the team will sponsor this baby boy.     

We finish the home visits for the day and take the team out for dinner.  Most of the conversation at dinner is about digesting everything that they have seen today.  It is a lot to take in, but they handle it very well.  They did an excellent job for their first day of work in Transformation Love.  Praying God will help them to be strong and will be able to endure the rest of their time here.   May give them a good night rest and keep them in good health.

A Sunday Morning Blessing from Kentucky

We recently had a mission team come to join us in our work from Kentucky. This is Sherry's account of the first day of blessing for our ministry.

Sunday morning, Rekik, Sammy and I wake up at 6:00 a.m. so we can greet the team arriving at 7:00 a.m. at the airport. We arrive at the airport at 6:50 a.m. and see that people are leaving the airport already!  Oh no!  We hope they didn’t arrive early and we missed them!  We park and run up to the exit ramp outside and wait.  Finally, 3 ½ hours later they are coming down the ramp.  The team didn’t realize we were going to meet them at the airport.  We wanted to surprise them!  We bought roses to give them, which have wilted now :(   
We really wanted to follow them to their guesthouse, so we would know where they are staying.  They walk down the ramp and I call out Tracie’s name and the team stops to say “hi” and we hug them and give them the wilted roses. We follow them to the guesthouse, say goodbye and make arrangements to pick them up at noon.

Rekik and I arranged for all of our Transformation Love sponsored kids (105) to be at the compound for the team to meet them.  Today the team is teaching all of our sponsored kids Sunday school!   The children started showing up early in the morning.  They are so excited to meet the team.  Finally after a long wait for the kids, team arrives at the compound.  Immediately the team is greeted with hugs and handshakes from all of our kids.  The love is being shared already!  I love our kids!  They are so full of LOVE!

We take the team into the office because they have a gift for Transformation Love.  I asked the team if they could bring over a couple of used laptop computers for our office.  They blessed us with 6 used laptop computers and one new Dell Laptop!  Rekik and I are so blessed, happy and surprised!  What a huge blessing this is!  Thank you, God, for blessing Transformation Love with all of these computers; we are so thankful to the team for this huge blessing given to Transformation Love – Ethiopia office.

Rekik and I soon realize they are not done blessing us!  The team starts to pull out all kinds of supplies for the office.  They brought crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencil sharpeners, stickers, construction paper, glue, books, puzzles, scissors, pencils, etc.  WOW!  Our cupboards were bare and now they are overflowing with LOVE!  Transformation Love – Ethiopia is being blessed and the team hasn’t even started working yet!  Praising God already for this wonderful team! 

The team goes outside and starts playing with the kids.   I brought soccer balls and jump ropes with me that the kids are already playing with and the team brought Frisbees and balloons.  The kids love playing with the team and all of the new toys.  It is a wonderful way to get acquainted.  Some of the team made balloon hats and animals for the kids.  They can’t make them fast enough!  Everyone wants one!  What a joy it is to see our kids so happy and having a blast with the team.  They taught the kids an awesome Sunday school lesson and gave them a coloring activity.

A.J. and Tracie (the leaders of the team) ask me if their little guy they sponsor is here.  We found him and Rekik told him A.J. and Tracie are his sponsors and you should have seen his face!  He pointed to himself and said, “My sponsors?”  We told him yes and his eyes got as big as half dollars and his smile went from ear to ear.  He runs up to them smiling and gave them both hugs.  Tracie is a little teary eyed and A.J. is amazed because he had been playing Frisbee with him and didn’t even realize it was the child he is sponsoring.  What a wonderful surprise for all three of them.  The three of them were thrilled to finally meet each other face to face.

The team is exhausted from just flying in, so we made it is a shorter day for work.  They blessed us beyond measure already.  It is time to take them out for a quick dinner and back to the compound for rest.  Thank you God for blessing us with so much of your love today!  WOW!

The story continues... an afternoon of God moments with Transformation Love

Saturday afternoon, we are back at the compound after a lovely time with our teens at the conference.  Rekik and I have thirty minutes to prepare for our Transformation Love meeting with all of our beneficiary women.  We called this meeting to inform them about the activities the team is doing with them.  I say a quick prayer because it is very cloudy and it looks like it is going to pour down rain any minute.  We are meeting outside for this meeting because we don’t have a room that will hold everyone.  Please God, don’t let it rain until we are done with our meeting.
 I can’t wait for the women to arrive!  This is my first time seeing most of them since I arrived on Wednesday.  I love being with these beautiful women, but I am wondering if Eman will come.  She promised she would come for all of the team activities and would attend this meeting.  I wait anxiously as the women start arriving.  I love greeting all of our women with Ethiopian hugs (it is a kiss on one cheek and then the other cheek and back to the first cheek again).  I am always amazed with the love that we have for each other.  We certainly have a beautiful love for each other which God has given us.  It is a love that is so amazing.

As I am greeting our women one by one, I hear a knock at our gate.  I look up and it is Eman!  Praise God she is here!  Thank you, God.  We both run up to each other and hug and kiss Ethiopian style.  She says to me in English, I love you.  Those words melted my heart!  I whispered back in her ear, I love you too.  Then she walks over to a chair and sits down.  My heart is so full of joy to see her again.

We start the meeting and tell the women about the schedule for the next nine days.  They are all so excited to have a team coming to spend all this time with them.  It has been ten months since the last team was here with them.  This is really a special treat for them!  We serve them soda and just enjoy fellowship with each other.  Just catching up on what has happened the past three months in our lives.  Ethiopians really know how to fellowship, that is for sure.  I love this quality about them.
After everyone leaves, Eman comes into our office.  She sits in a chair in front of Rekik’s desk.  She starts telling Rekik that she is very sick.  The medicine for this cancer is making her very nauseous.  She is crying and says she is sick right now, but she really wanted to come, so she forced herself to come here.  Now Dawit has just arrived from the teen conference, totally exhausted.  I looked at him and asked him if he would pray over her.  He looked at me and said yes.  I turned to Eman and asked her if Dawit could pray for healing over her and she agreed.  Dawit got up and told me to come with him.  I told Dawit I have never done this before.  He just took Eman by the hand and walked to my bedroom with her and I followed.  He asked me to close the door.
Dawit places one hand on her forehead and his other hand on the back of her neck.  He looks up to God, closes his eyes and starts praying for her.  I stood behind her with one hand on her shoulder and my other hand lifted up to God and started praying the way I knew how.  Eman is wobbly and receptive to the prayer.  After Dawit was done praying for her, she started crying and telling him all she wants is to be healed so she can see her baby grow up and become a man.  Dawit tells her all about Jesus and how much he loves her.  That Jesus is the only one that can answer her prays, help her and heal her.  She is resting her head on Dawit’s shoulder crying, he has his arm around her shoulder, as he is talking to her with so much love and truth.  He is so full of compassion and a Christ-like love.  She asks Dawit if he is telling her to believe.  Dawit tells her no, I am telling you to cry out to God and ask Him to show her the truth.  She is silent and then replies with an “ish” which means “okay.”
Eman thanks us for praying for her.  I give her some money so she can buy some protein to eat before she takes her medicine.  This will keep her from getting sick from the medication she is taking.  We go back into the office and I told her we would take her home.  She was so happy to hear this because she lives so far away.  Sammy, Dawit, Eman and I get into the car and we start to drive her home.  She reaches over and holds my hand and smiles.
I look out the back side window and look up to God in the sky and just thank Him for this time with Eman.  At that very moment the sky opens up and sun rays started shining through.  I hear God saying she will come to know the truth and the light.  I quickly told Dawit (who had my camera) to take a picture of the sun peaking out of the clouds.  God just spoke to me through these clouds and I wanted a picture of them!  I smile and thank God for this beautiful message.  I look at Eman and squeeze her hand gently.  She smiles back at me. 

We arrive at Eman’s compound and we hug good-bye and she tells us to wait.  She runs into the compound and quickly returns with her baby in her arms, full of smiles.  She opens my car door and places Amar (her baby) in my lap.  He is such a handsome little guy.  I hug him and kiss him.  Dawit takes our picture together.  Then I hug him and hand him back to his mom and say goodbye.

We slowly drive away.  Wow!  What an amazing day this has been.  Thank you God for allowing me to experience you in a very close and intimate way today, you have truly blessed me today.  Thank you for sharing your love.  I am so blessed by you.  I pray you bless this team that is coming tomorrow with you love too. 

Student Ministry - Ethiopian Style

On Saturday morning my son, Dawit (from our Transformation Love Sponsorship program) invited me to his Youth Fellowship Conference.  This conference has five church youth groups attending that day.  I love ministering to teenagers, so I was really looking forward to attending this event.

Arriving at 9:00 a.m., Rekik and I walked into a fairly large sized church, River of Life Church, which is full of Junior and Senior High School students.  Guessing 120 to 150 youth have their heads bowed and are praying.  We quickly took our seats and joined them in prayer.  They prayed, lifting their hands up to God and crying (literally) out to God for an hour.  WOW!  You can feel the Holy Spirits presents so powerfully in the room.  It is an awesome experience. 

We quickly moved into worship, Ethiopian style!  The teens invited a guest singer and everyone is on their feet jumping, dancing, clapping and singing praises to God!  The entire room is so full of joy, praise and worship.  I don’t understand the Amharic Language very well and my spirit is so full of joy, praise and is worshipping God right along with them.  Oh my, these teens are so on fire for their Lord and Savior!  It is amazing!  I don’t even have words to describe what is going on right now. 
Phew!  You have to watch this video and you will understand what I mean.   
Dawit (my son), 16 years old, is called to be a pastor.  God is already using him in mighty and powerful ways.  This quiet, shy young man gets up, all dressed up in his black suit, smiling and walks up onto the stage.  He takes the microphone and shares a message to us about Jesus’ love for us.  Everyone is engaged listening.  He tells them God will never turn His back on them.  They are never alone, God is always there with them and for them.  The teens moved by God’s message to them through Dawit.  Some of them are crying.  Many are responding with “Amen.”   God is really moving and speaking to these teens. 

Dawit and four other young men move to the front of the stage and teens one by one are coming up to be prayed over.  Now I don’t know if you have ever experienced an Ethiopian altar call, but it is powerful!  These five young men each took one teen at a time.  My eyes are fixed on Dawit, he places one hand on the forehead and one hand on the back of the neck, he looks up to the sky, closes his eyes and starts praying for this teenage girl.  In a very short time this teen is falling back.  I am thankful a young man is standing behind her to catch her fall and gently lays her on the floor.  She is limp and not moving at all.  Dawit still is praying over her casting some sort of evil out of her.  He is blowing in her face several times and praying for her to be set free.  Finally she is moving her head.  They help her sit up and Dawit helps her walk out of the church.  He talks to her and prays over her some more.  They both come back into the church and Dawit takes another teen and he starts all over again. 

This is so amazing to see the Holy Spirit moving in these teens.  You can feel His presence so strongly in the room.  My eyes fill with tears and I just bow my head and start praying for all of these teens.  I pray that God will set them free from all their strongholds, from their sins, from their selfish desires, from the worlds desires, to cleans and purify them and to make them like Jesus. 

One of the young men walk up to Rekik and I with oil in his hands, he takes Rekik’s hands and oils them and then prays over her.  Then he takes my hands and oils them and prays over me.  The Holy Spirit is moving in me and is speaking to me very clearly.  He joins Rekik and my hands together and asks us if we are working together.  We say yes.  He tell us the Spirit told him this and he prays for us and our work together in Transformation Love.   He tell us he sees a big full circle and it was blocking us and now God is allowing us to break through.  God is moving Transformation Love forward and we are to follow Him.  Rekik and I look at each other with tears in our eyes.  We hug each other and both say, God is answering our prayers!  Halleluiah, Praise God!  Thank you, Jesus!  May we both be your faithful servants!  We are both so amazed that a young man (15 or 16 years old) can pray for us like that.  We are so blessed and moved.

I look at my watch and see it is 2:00 p.m.  Time went by so quickly.  The conference ends at 2:30 p.m.  Praise God, more than 30 teens are set free and are smiling with a new beginning.  I am renewed and revived.  This was so worth coming to, not only to support my sons work, but to be blessed by God too.  Thank you God for allowing me to see you at work in and through these teens!    

All of our teens in Transformation Love are attending this fellowship youth group that Dawit leads.  They are all growing and maturing into very strong Christians.  The faith they have in God is absolutely amazing.  Please keep them in your prayers as they surrender their lives to God and follow Him.

 Later this day Eman arrived at our compound around 3:00pm. You will hear what happened next in our next post.

Eman - The Begining of a Transformation

Sherry just returned from Ethiopia and this is one of the many God stories she has to share about a young Muslim woman and her baby. Today we are going to share about Sherry's first encounter with Eman. Keep checking back to read more.

A beautiful young woman!  What a privilege it is to meet her face to face.  She came running to our compound full of smiles, knowing I was there.  Rekik introduced us and reminded me she is the new mother with a 5 month old baby boy.  I immediately asked her where her baby was and she said her sister is taking care of him at home.

Eman just put her baby boy on our Transformation Love waiting list for sponsor-ship.  She is so excited because a team from Kentucky is coming to visit her home and her baby. 
She came to our compound to show us where she lives, so we jumped into the car.  She gave us directions to her home and we quickly realized she lives very far away.  What a great time for me to get to know her better, so I started to ask her questions about her life (Rekik translated for me).  She was so happy to answer all of my questions. 
Eman is married, has one baby boy and is a very proud mom!  She loves her baby boy so much!  Her husband worked as a night guard and has quit his job so he can take care of Eman and their baby boy.  Eman told me with tears running down her face that she is very ill with a blood cancer.  She is taking 4 pills a day that makes her very sick and tired.  She is to take these 4 pills every night before she goes to bed with some type of protein.  However, they cannot afford to buy protein for her.   Friends and family are helping them out right now and they are barely surviving. 
She just had surgery a month ago and had to stay in the hospital for 3 weeks due to her incision wouldn’t heal because of the cancer.  She is still in a lot of pain from the surgery.  The doctors have told her there is nothing they can do for her and that she will eventually die from this cancer, which she has had for three years already. 
She wants to see her baby boy grow up and become a man someday, but she knows that is not going to happen.  Eman tells her baby boy that she loves him.  She tells him that someday Mommy is going to leave him and he won’t remember her, but she loves him so much.  The doctors told her that she should never have a child, but it happened.  Eman is so happy that her baby is healthy and doesn’t have her disease.  Then she broke down and just cried and cried and cried.  I scooted over in my seat and wrapped my arms around her and just held her tight. 
I looked up to the sky through the back window of the car and just asked God, “What do you want me to do, God?  I have no idea what to say or do.  Please God, use me to share the love of Jesus with her.  Holy Spirit, guide my words.  Give me the wisdom and the knowledge on what to say to her.  Give me the strength and courage to be your vessel, Lord.  May she come to know you, Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior.  And God, if it is your will, please heal this beautiful woman from this awful disease.  Just lay your healing hands on her, Jesus, and bring her back to good health.  I pray this in your precious and Holy Name, Jesus.  Amen.”  I held her the rest of the way to her home as she laid her head on my shoulder. 
We finally arrived at her home and she invited us in to meet her baby. She brought him out to us and handed him to me.  What an adorable little boy he is!  He looked at me very curiously because I am so white, I think, but he didn’t cry.  I played with him and then gave him back to his mom because he felt safer there in her arms. Eman cannot breastfeed her baby because of this cancer.  She has no money to buy formula for her son.  Her baby has a rash all over his body because she was feeding him mashed up food and he had an allergic reaction from it.  He cries a lot because he is so hungry.  I gave her 300 birr to buy two cans of formula for him.  
I then asked Rekik to ask her if I could pray for her and Rekik said, “You can’t do that because she is Muslim.”  I told her to just ask her.  Rekik asked and Eman said yes!  So I laid my hands on her shoulders and bowed my head and Eman quickly asked Rekik, “Wait, what is she praying for?”  Rekik told her I was going to pray for God to heal her and she agreed, so I prayed for God to completely heal this beautiful woman from this cancer.   She cried and thanked me.  I held her and hugged her and kissed her on the cheek and told her that I love her, but God loves her even more.
Rekik invited her to all of the activities that are going on in the compound with the team that is coming.  We told her that her baby would be sponsored before the team leaves and invited her to our meeting tomorrow.  She told us she would be there tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.  We said goodbye and walked back to the car and started to drive away.  I looked back and Eman was waving and full of smiles again.  I waved back as we drove away.
Feeling all kinds of emotions, sad, broken hearted, happy, excited and some anxiety, I thanked God for this hour of love He has shown me with a beautiful woman and new friend.  I can honestly say I love her so much.  I can’t wait to see her tomorrow!  I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in her life!   I can’t wait to celebrate with her when we find out that God has healed her completely. 
Thank you Jesus for this amazing day!  I can’t wait to tell you more about tomorrow!
Many Blessings,