Sunday, September 8, 2013

Backwards to go Forward

Children eating from leftover money since Feb.

 It has been 6 months now since we discovered that Kechene Care Point had secured two funding sources, one being used for the kids and one being used for other purposes not appropriated for the school. As my earlier post, "Working through Sadness," stated, it has been a difficult journey and a HUGE step backwards. I have been waiting for deadline after deadline for this man to admit that he did wrong and for the "authorities" to take him away and reprimand him. If that happened, we were going to step in and continue sponsorship with the 156 people who had been committed to supporting these beautiful children. 

Children enjoying food this summer from last sponsorship deposits.


However, the deadlines were never met. The director of Kechene never admitted any wrongdoing and therefore did not own the problem. Could this happen again if we continue sponsorship with Children's Hopechest at Kechene with this man as their director? YES! This is a problem on many obvious levels for Children's Hopechest, for me, and for all the sponsors. We CAN NOT continue to send money to a man who could take from the destitute when money was meant for them. Therefore, we regretfully and with deep sadness, yet conviction, have to pull out of the Kechene sponsorship program. 

I have been in prayer about this for months. I have asked God for justice, for clarity, for direction, for peace and for children to be cared for!! And...I have actually had my prayers answered! It has not been easy, however, but over time God has given me clarity, direction, peace, and above all notice that 156 children are getting fed and will go back to school this month to continue their spiritual journey to eternity with their Savior. There is no justice yet for the man who did wrong, but that is not for us to do. Matthew 7:1-2  "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Library shelves and books from last summer's art show fundraiser and other donations.

The clarity-
It seems clearer than ever that God is not ready for me to go back to Ethiopia. I was looking at all our goals on the right margin of this blog and everything was met in a very timely manner, except one area, my trip back to Ethiopia. I had fundraisers, a sale, family putting money in for my birthday and Christmas, etc., but  whenever I would expect a great increase, it just didn't go anywhere. Then, when I was to get my ticket and trust in God for the rest of the money, we got word about Kechene being in trouble and going to visit would not help the situation. I had clarity about what not to do. 

Tables being made from the art show fundraiser and donations.

The Direction-
Now what?  Several messages that I feel I have gotten recently have been all pointing to a friend of mine who became very involved in "Schools for Haiti." Her father had started the non-profit family organization by first going to Haiti and building schools for Haitian children. He became such a relief to the people of Haiti that he was considered family to them. Now, since his death in 2012, Penny has gone twice and plans on traveling several times a year to continue her father's legacy and bring others with her. She recently told me she is in need of over 100 sponsors! Again, after much prayer, I felt like this was the direction God was calling me to go, helping Penny and her family with "Schools for Haiti." 

Uniforms being made for the children at Kechene from last sponsorship deposits.

Obviously, since Feb., I have had very little peace about our school starving of food, money, schooling, medical supplies and support due to being misled and having to possibly abandon them completely. I was unable to share any of this with anyone except those who were close to the situation. I was lonely and sad and NO peace about the situation. It was a really tough time. However, as time does, God has healed that brokenness and desperation. He has shown me wisdom through others, like our son, that would share that it's not about what I have done or not done, but rather what He will do and to rest and have peace knowing He has it covered. Matthew 11:28  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  I have since had peace and understanding for something so sad and so BACKWARDS.

Backwards to go Forwards-
But then last week in church, I had the words I needed to bring all this out of despair and go forward! It was a great message on "Uncommon Courage" and the courage to follow your calling. I thought this was going to be hard to hear and accept since I felt my calling may be done and dead. However, not so!!  The notes I took went something like this, 

"With God, the way FORWARD is often BACKWARDS." 

Judges 7:2b-3 "In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mt. Gilead.' So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten-thousand remained."

With the story of Gideon, I was reminded of his lack of courage and God's amazing faithfulness. Even though so many of Gideon's army left, God continued to move him forward with the mission. Gideon kept losing more and more men and God kept promising strength from Him. Gideon had to go by faith instead of his own strengths.

God doesn't call the equipped, but rather he equips the CALLED. 

It was such a great message for so many situations, but for my "calling," I felt like God was saying, "Yep, we took a step backward, but now it's time to go forward." Things were learned, people were moved to do great things, people changed, children's souls were saved, children fed and clothed and loved. Families got to be a part of something other than themselves and REALLY made a difference in a little one's life. I got to be a part of that, but that isn't necessarily all there is. God's plan is still unknown, but moving forward is not an option, it's a command. 

Forward- (for sponsors)

Moving forward could look different for one person to the next. However, after doing some research about a variety of non-profit organizations that allow you to sponsor a child, I would love to give you a list of trustworthy options. If sponsorship is not for you at this point, perhaps God is calling you to see first hand the least of these and what you can do to help. Or perhaps, you are feeling more like putting that $34/mo. into something that is more local and can touch those in your own communities. Whatever you feel moved to do at this point, please make sure that you pray about it and DO IT. It is so easy for us to let the $34/mo. be used up in our own families...and it WILL. When our little boy from Brazil died last Jan., my husband and I were tempted to just let the money go back to the bank account, however, there are so many needs. 

So, I encourage you to pray about it and choose wisely. I still endorse Children's Hopechest 100%, but CH and I understand how painful this was and if you want other options, there are many needs in many organizations and we are all working for the glory of His Kingdom!
Options for sponsorship:

Compassion International

Please pray with me as we move FORWARD and follow God's lead. Even though we are not with our original children at Kechene, the needs don't stop there. God wants us to continue to use us for His glory. 

Isaiah 6:8

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' and I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"

My continued Prayer-
Lord, continue to use us to glorify You and to seek your guidance in whatever way you are calling us. Continue to give us clarity, direction, peace, and COURAGE to do what you want us to do. Please continue to care for the beautiful children at Kechene and supply them with what they need for an education and to know your Words. We pray they know they are loved and that you will never abandon them. We pray for the director of Kechene and that he would admit to his wrongdoings and be a blessing to the children. Forgive him, Lord. Amen.

Penny Neal with some of the orphans needing sponsorship in Haiti.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Working through sadness

I have been putting off this entry for a very long time. This has to be the saddest entry I have made since finding the children at Kechene in Nov. 2010. However, I have to start responding outwardly other than just inside or in just answering questions of our sponsors.

About 3 months ago, one of the sponsors for Kechene visited the children and the staff. He went to spend a week with the school in order to help the staff, pass out care packages from sponsors, and just share the gospel  with the kids in different ways. He was able to do that, but while there, the American visitors discovered things that did not add up. Something was "fishy." It turned out there was another volunteer there helping the staff with funds and with their school. This could have been an amazing partnership since the other volunteer had a HUGE heart for those kids! The children were getting their meals, uniforms, shoes, health care needs, everything that our organization had communicated with the sponsors that they were providing for. Unfortunately, there was an overlapping of funds and thus, misused. 

What did this mean for Kechene? Well, it meant there was some extra money that was not going to the kids. So, after the sponsor got back to the States, Children's Hopechest  was informed and an investigation was pursued. As goes in Ethiopia, this took a LONG LONG LONG time. Meanwhile, we waited silently, praying, and hoping that it was not true. If we shared any of this information prior to the facts, we risked a lot; sponsors quitting prematurely, rumors, etc. So, we waited.

Three months later, the investigation was complete (with audit) and the man accused, not employed by CH,  was found to have indeed misused funds. Because he was not employed by CH, the non-profit organization was not able to fire him or ask him to leave. Unfortunately, he will not leave so we had to pull out of the sponsorship program temporarily. If the authorities in ET find this man to be guilty and act on it, perhaps we will get our children back to Kechene Care Point.

Where are we at now? Sadly, the children had no food to eat at Kechene since all funds had to be stopped, so they are now back in the Kechene neighborhood with nothing for them at the school. There is no food, no teachers to teach them, and no sponsorship program. We could not keep sending money to a place where this was happening. Now, the children suffer. This makes me so so sad.

I have asked God in my prayers, "WHY?" Why does this have to happen once we had almost all the children sponsored? Why did He bring us this far with prayers, money, and the love people had for these children to have them all go back to where they came from, literally? WHY?

My teenage son tried recently to help me with this empty question. We are working this out together, but he told me to stop asking, "Why?" It is the same question that the people in Oklahoma are asking, "Why, God? Why did you send another tornado? You could make it stop, but it didn't." It is the same question that a mother asks God about her child being hit by a drunk driver. It is the same question we ask for a loved one who is sick and not being healed. Why?

I obviously can't answer this question, or any other question from a painful experience, but I think my son was onto something when he was trying to console me. I told him that I feel so helpless. Here we were going along so well, getting people to see what we saw with these children and getting them lined up to change their stories. Then, something totally out of my control comes along and puts us in a helpless situation. Our hands are tied, just helpless. He looked at me as if he was the parent and I the child and said, "...and isn't that the best place to be, mom?"

He's right. We NEED God now like we did before there was even one sponsor. I didn't get this school sponsored, God did. I didn't get the uniforms paid for, God made it happen. I didn't get shoes purchased, God brought us a little girl from Missouri and worked through her. God may have used us all as vessels, but He is the one true Savior. Yes, He could have stopped this man from stealing or had him leave the school, but something has to grow, something has to change in someone else before that happens.

"God won't protect you from what he'll perfect you with." This quote I heard in the car the other day was just what I needed as I fought back tears thinking about this helpless situation right now.  Maybe there is something we all need to learn from this. I don't know what it is for you, but for me, it's what my son may have pointed out.

I am helpless, God. Take this over. I surrender Kechene and the children to you to care for them and protect them from life. I can't do anything about it and it makes me sad, but please watch over them and take this from me. We love those kids. If it be your will that the children come back to the school, please make that happen somehow, but you've got this. AMEN.

Matthew 6:33-34  33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

                                       Kechene children playing while having a sponsor visit in Feb.

Kechene student so happy for the visit and care packages.

Injera served to the kids at Kechene during the Feb. visit.

Children receive much needed supplies.

One of the children getting his care package from his sponsor.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Abandoned children find rest

Imagine this headline in your local paper...

"Abandoned children find rest with a school"

Here is the article that actually happened at a care point in Ethiopia (a school that feeds twice a day and cares for the vulnerable). Can you imagine?

The Infant Boy Abandoned by his Father
 Abel Tesema (ET2110181) is the second child in the family. He has one sister. Her name is Eyerus Tesema (ET2110180). They both joined Kind Hearts School during this quarter.
 Their mother Asenaku brought them to the CarePoint and asked to enroll both of them into kindergarten. As Asenaku told their story, it was hard to believe that they have managed to survive this far.
 Asenaku was married to a man named Mulugeta and they lived together in a rented room in a private compound. Until Abel’s birth her husband supported the family by working as a daily laborer while she took care of Eyerus. When Eyerus was still young, Asenaku gave birth to Abel.
 Shortly, after the birth of Abel, Asenaku’s husband did not return home after work as he usually did. She was surprised by her husband’s abandonment only 15 days after their infant son was born. Mulugeta never came back again.
 When she recalled those days, her eyes filled with tears. It was so difficult for her being left by her husband since she was at home with an infant son and a little girl. She asked neighborhood friends for help until Abel was grown enough for her to carry him on her back. Those days were miserable for Asenaku and her little ones. It was so hard for her to feed them and support herself.
 After a while, she began working as a daily laborer in order to get a meager income for daily bread and house rent. She carried Abel on her back and left Eyerus to the care of neighborhood friends until came back from work. She was worked as cleaner and washed clothes at someone’s house.
 When Eyerus and Abel became old enough for school, she was unable to provide school materials and pay the school fee. It was beyond her capacity to bear.
 One day she heard about Kind Hearts School where her children can attend school for free. It was just like heaven for Asenaku to have this opportunity for her children. She went to the local government to get the document proving her situation that she is unable to send the children to other schools and enrolled Eyerus and Abel at Kind Hearts.
 Abel is a sweet boy and easily makes friends. He enjoys playing with older children. Now he is a model for the other younger children at Kind Hearts School.
 Dear sponsoring families, even though Abel and his sister were abandoned by their father, you have become part of their lives and are changing their future. One day Abel will tell others what the Lord did for him.

This is very typical and the miracle of that school being there for the family is also happening every time someone sponsors a little one. You can too at Kechene. Make a difference in an entire family's life!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I would like a sponsor.

Please sponsor me.
I love letters, pictures and your encouragement. 
Thank you for this school so I can learn like my neighbors and friends.

Contact me for sponsorship. $1.13 a day can assure these children 2 meals a day, an education, their health check ups, a staff to watch over them, and a connection with a family who prays for them and cares for them from afar.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thank you Sponsors and Friends for 2012!

Thank you everyone for your support in 2012 for reaching goals beyond what we thought was possible! With your help in 2012, we were able to get more children sponsored, a library funded at the Kechene Care Point and money raised for the "Change Their Story" Campaign. I will let the Kechene Staff summarize the year for us in the following excerpts from the most recent quarterly newsletter...

From the children at Kechene:
 Every sponsored child is grateful for the support to receive meals, education and school supplies. They want to “thank all sponsor families, community leaders and Children’s HopeChest.”  They are also thankful for the special gifts received from sponsoring families; like school uniforms and school supplies.
 In general, they are grateful for all the support that they receive. All express their feelings of gratitude to the sponsoring families, community leaders and Children’s HopeChest.

Dramatic change of a little girl’s life

Elsa Kezo (ET2101127) was born in 2006. When she reached school age, her family could not enroll her in school. They were unable to provide for her the required school uniform and school supplies. They soon heard from a neighbor about the good news of Kechene (IEICA) School. Her family immediately set out to gain information on how to enroll Elsa to send her to this CarePoint at KG level. Elsa’s mother went to the local government office and obtained the clearance document. With the document her mother gladly brought Elsa to the school and enrolled her.
 She is now an upper KG student and model for the other students in her class. She is an outstanding student. Elsa’s favorite subject is math. And her ambition is to be a doctor.

 Dear sponsoring families, connect community leaders and Children’s HopeChest, this great gift has happened through your significant contribution. She is thankful for what you have been doing for her.  

It is stories like these and many others that I read about in some of Tom Davis's books (founder and leader at Children's Hopechest) that I realize the impact and how deep it goes once a child has the support of a family from afar. "Priceless" and "Scared" are two novels written by Tom that I highly recommend that give an account of these children's lives through their stories.  

Thank you so much, on behalf of all the staff, children and families in the Kechene neighborhood in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. God is working through you to make a difference! It is not a choice but a command for us to care for the vulnerable and the orphaned. You are doing just that.

We do have 28 more children to sponsor due to more children coming to the drop off center/school. Please pass this along for friends and family to consider and visit the website 

Sponsor a child at Kechene

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Library is Funded!

Soon, the children at Kechene will hear that they will be getting a corner of their school turned into a library!

This was a vision I had one day when thinking through the school's needs. I really felt God prompting this team to get those kids some books! When I brought it up to Children's Hopechest, the CH team in Ethiopia responded quickly. They were thrilled! However, there was no place to put the books. They had no shelving. They had no tables and they had no chairs, with the exception of their benches that they cram several children, shoulder to shoulder, on.

So, within a few months, we had a HUGE art sale. People from all over our area brought in their crafts, photography, paintings, jewelry, and so much more. People came to shop and we raised over $1000! The money started to grow.

Then, we received over 120 colorful and unique pieces of art from the children at Kechene. Sponsors generously donated money when they received their child's work. The money grew some more. Little by little, donation after donation via the website and our partners around the country, the money grew.

Now, we will be able to send $3700 to CH in Ethiopia at the end of Dec. Therefore, in the month of Jan., the staff at Kechene will be busy shopping for much needed reference books, some much needed new textbooks, building shelving, tables, chairs, and maybe even purchasing some books for fun!

This was a wonderful thing to get accomplished since there are no places in the Kechene neighborhood quite like this care point. Now, the children will have a place within their little school to read, explore, study, and learn! Thank you everyone for your part in this project! You make a difference one step or project at a time!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Karen's Team visits Kechene...and other updates...

 Karen's team is just returning now from a full week in Ethiopia. Karen's team was loaded down with donations and full hearts to share with over 500 children in the capital of Ethiopia and the countryside.

They had a full load of care packages they handed out .

They brought donated blankets to the children of the dump area in Addis Ababa and another care point, called Korah.

They provided a special injera meal for everyone at 2 care points.

They also brought our toothbrushes and other small supplies to Kechene.  

Karen's team visited Kechene for a short time one afternoon and was able to play with and entertain the children. 

They stopped by a fruit stand and bakery to buy some bananas and rolls for all 160 children at Kechene. They LOVED them and           enjoyed their visit very much!

More to come upon Karen's return. 

Thanks Karen and the team for your love and dedication to these children!! 

Karen and her girls with one of their sponsor daughters at Kind Hearts Care Point.