Friday, July 29, 2011

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 6-16 2011

I made this video documenting my trip to Ethiopia.
These faces are permanently burned into my memory and half my heart was left there. There is not  a day that goes by that I don't think of the children I met and everything I saw. I cannot wait until the next time... 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Heart Changed Forever

Well, everyone said my life would be changed forever. I just didn't realize how much. I fell in love with the culture, the children, and the hope that one day there will be no hungry bellies, no bare feet, no poverty, and no more tears...

There will be the Day
I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that trys to grab
The many trials that seem to never end, His word declares this truth,
that we will enter in this rest with wonders anew

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we’ll hold on to you always

I know the journey seems so long
You feel your walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you’ve walked out all alone

Troubled soul don’t lose your heart
Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that’s in store
Outweighs the hurt of life’s sting

I can’t wait until that day where the very one I’ve lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced
To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery this is why this is why I sing….

There will be a day, He’ll wipe away the stains, He’ll wipe away the tears, He’ll wipe away the tears…..there will be a day.

One day there will be no more pain, no more tears, and all of us will meet Jesus. What a great thing to think about after this trip. God broke my heart for what breaks his, and he opened my eyes to things I have never seen before. I am so thankful for the things I saw, what I experienced, and the memories permanently burned into my mind. Our God is a God to the fatherless...

'He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow,
and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.' Deuteronomy 10:18

"Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." ~Saint Teresa of Avila


I am so excited about the burning in my heart for God's word and being obedient to serving as his hands and feet. I am so thankful I have so many people that love and support me on my spiritual journey. God continues to use me in many ways...

What a great way to end my summer. I am already thinking about going back for several weeks next summer. Keep reading my blog to hear the awesome things going on in my life!


School starts soon, where I will be getting 20 new faces to learn about, to teach, and to help grow.

Young Life will be starting up soon too!!  I can't wait to see all the amazing things that will happen this year!!


Thank you for your

continued love and support!!

Day 8 & 9: The last 2 Days...Slumber Party, Korah, and Goodbyes

Our day started with another long drive to Hope Ethiopia. A 2 hour drive, one down a paved road, and the other down a dirt road. A beautiful drive!

We pulled up to kids surrounding the vans. We got out and headed towards an open field...The boys played soccer and we did crafts and painted nails. I tried holding a little boy (2yrs) that was crying, but he latched onto his brother instead. He was so pitiful...clothes ripped, flies around his tearful eyes, and a sad face. Some of the children would laugh and smile, but so many of them wouldn't smile at all. Older kids were taking the crafts the little ones made, and it hurt my heart. I thought about Yosi alot that day...

After playing with the children we went into a gated area to pass out clothes, underwear, shoes, blankets, diapers, and toys. The village lined up outside the gate, coming in one by one. To see their faces light up was the highlight of my day! Towards the end it got very sad...we ran out of clothes and shoes. Mothers were throwing there babies over to our team, guards hitting people to get back (I had to learn this is part of their culture, and they are doing it out of anger). The people ended up breaking through the gate and we had to get our bags and get out of there. We come to help and there is never any way of knowing how many people we can help a day, so it is sad when we run out of things to give. 

That night when we got home, I asked Maste to go to Korah and ask Yosi's mom if he could spend the night with me so I could bathe, clothe, and feed him on our last night there. He agreed, and an hour later in walked my little angel. I cannot explain in words the joy he brings to my life. That day in Korah changed me...and I fell in love.

I immediately picked him up and he just hugged me, but wouldn't smile. He seemed nervous and unsure about where he was. I knew he would be hungry, so I sat him on my lap as he ate a piece of pizza. Then we headed upstairs to take a bath. When I told him what we were doing he started to cry, so of course I said we didn't have to. He was scared...never seeing a shower or bathtub before, I would be too. Instead of a bath I wiped him down with baby wipes, scrapping mud from his feet, and then putting baby lotion all over him. I tried changing his clothes, but he wasn't quite ready I gave it sometime, and before I knew it, he was taking off his shirt ready to change.

When he finally was comfortable, he was running around the house, playing, and having so much fun. He loves playing with cars and the soccer ball.
It was finally time for bed and he crawled into bed, I read him a story, and we laid there. He rubbed my face and fell fast asleep. He slept good all snuggled up next to me. I will never forget that night. It brings tears to my eyes as I write about it. I miss him so much!
The next morning, Yosi played as I got ready.
Then we ate breakfast and played together until heading to Korah.

Luckily we spent our last day in Korah, so I had more time to spend with him before I left. He got a little jealous when other kids would come up to me. He would kick them, and I tried to explain to him that was not ok, but my Amharic is not that good! I may have spoiled him just a little bit!! :)
We walked around in Korah, then went down the street and watched the boys play soccer. When they finished we headed back to serve lunch, ingera and tibs. Yosi didn't eat much.
I was getting anxious because I knew that it was getting close to leaving. I wanted to visit his house, but they said it wasn't safe, so his Mom came to pick him up and I got to meet her. She is young, around 20. I gave her money, clothes, and some food to take home with her.
It was time to say my goodbyes and there was no part of me that wanted to. With tears in my eyes, I hugged and kissed him one more time and watched him walk away with his Mom. 

Day 7: Moutainside

We started our day heading North to an orphanage. We drove, and drove, and drove...Clay finally says, "I think we past it an hour ago." Geeze! That would have been helpful an hour ago!!! By that time Kelly calls the director and he decides he doesn't want us coming now. In this orphanage none of the kids are adoptable because it is not supported by the government.

Instead of going to the orphanage, we headed to the mountainside where the boys played soccer and we clothed some children. I sat with one little girl, dressed her and fed her some crackers. She was a doll!

The news spread fast that we were there, and the kids started to line up.

On the way out Kelly's bus picked up 3 women, and their loads of eucalyptus plants. These women, around age 60 walk up the steep mountainside 3 times a day, 12 miles each way, carrying 70 pounds each. Kelly had their loads thrown up on top of the van, gave them new shoes, and took them to the bottom. I hate that I missed seeing this, but our driver had left before them. Hearing about it makes me smile!

I was sad we didn't get a lot of time with kids that day, but we did make a difference in some peoples lives today and that is all that matters! :)

Day 6: Korah and Project 61

We started our day by purchasing 40 sheep before heading to Korah. Thanks to everyone that bought sheep on the OH website and  the VBS students from Hopkinsville, KY!! THese will feed a lot of hungry bellies!
We arrive in Korah to kids ready to love on you!! My heart was so happy to see all the smiles. Korah is a small community within Addis. Sumer Yates from Thompson Station Baptist visited Korah several years ago and fell in love. So...she moved her family there and started Project 61. I admire her so much and it is so evident how much she loves the Lord and is living as his body  here on earth.  
'Project 61's primary purpose is to partner with local organizations in under-privileged areas to develop communities and their residents. Project 61 also connects sponsor families to provide boarding school, clothing, family support and character development.' Check out their website and sponsor a child!!!

'Project 61 provides you an opportunity to directly impact the life of a child. Due to AIDS and other illness, children are often left alone and without hope. However, YOU can make a difference in their future.
Currently, $750 per year removes a child from a city landfill and places them into a private boarding school. But, the altered living conditions are only the beginning.'
Women that are changing the world!!
Sumer Yates, Kelly Putty, Ashli York

Early in the day I met a boy name Dejene, very smart little boy, around 12 years old. His sponsor lives in Canada and sends him to Boarding school. He has no family, so he lives in Korah with Project 61. A room with bunk beds where 10 to 12 children sleep. We sat and listened to the last part of a Bible study together, him leaning over to me every few minutes telling me what he was saying. Then our team got to sing with the kids. Me being the teacher, got up front and  we all sang our hearts out...Jesus loves me, Yes Lord, and we threw in some other songs too... Tooty Ta, one of my students favorites at Crockett!

After singing, we walked into the street and  that is when a little boy stole my heart...
That day I fell in a little boy latched onto my leg, I reached down, picked him up, and we were inseparable after that. Eyosiyas, known as Yosi, is a 4 year old that made my heat melt. He would just kiss my cheeks, and held onto me so tight, putting his head next to mine. I knew right then that this was the child I was suppose to sponsor.
I found Ashli immediately and asked her if I could sponsor him. She said I would have to ask Sumer because he was so young. She looked at me and said, do you know that is? I replied no...She said "that is Worldu's nephew." I was so excited because a month ago I went to Thompson Station Baptist to learn more about Korah and Project 61 and  I met Worldu, who was visiting the US with Sumer. Little did I know a few weeks later I would fall in love with his sweet nephew.

I wasn't the only one that day that fell in love that day...

I got to feed Yosi, meet his Mom, and find out from Sumer, that YES I could be his sponsor!! What a great day! It was a great day for many of the memebers on my team.

Deborah  and her daughter Kenya got to meet their sponsored child's family.
And Amy got to meet a child she sponsored and considers her son that
now lives in the dump at Korah.
Very sad day and happy day at the same time.

Day 5: Break my Heart for What Breaks Yours

As we are driving 3 hours into the countryside to Woliso, God puts the lyrics to Hosanna in my head...

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart from what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I go from nothing to

It is so amazing how God put those lyrics in my mind that day and time. The things I saw that day will be burned into my memory forever.
 When we arrived there were kids running to follow our vans to the orphanage. We pull in to see sweet faces eager for us to be there... smiling faces.

We tour the orphanage...we see malaria nets covering the beds, beds made neatly, but no toys or any sign of life there. Sad.

After looking around, I walk up to 2 young girls holding diapers, ripped shirts, and flies covering their faces. For the first time I started to cry.
I walked away knowing why God put those words on my heart that day. I knew then what it meant...I see what breaks God's heart, and mine was breaking too.

Day 4: On the Streets

We got to sleep in until 9:00 this morning, pretty exciting! All of us were tired. We went to a church called Beza. It was amazing! The worship was in both American and Amharic and I loved every minute of it. It was the most unique experience I have ever had. I am glad I got the opportunity to share that time with my team as well. The sermon was very appropriate for our visit, Duh, God knew we were coming! It was based on Matthew 28: 18-20, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations." and  Mark 16:15, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all of creation." Just what we were doing in Ethiopia...being  his disciples, sharing His word and his love! Amen!! :)

Me and Christian at Beza. So exciting to know
 Christian was just
saved last year (through Young Life)
 and his heart is on fire for the lord!!
After church we headed to the market.. It was hard to shop because their were moms holding their babies begging for food, money, or anything we would give them. We passed out a few suckers with notes attached telling them, 'Jesus loves you.' We held our bags close to us because they would try and steal things. Very sad, but this is all they know. There were also 'street kids' asking you to buy gum, shine your shoes, asking for food, and watching your every move. These kids no nothing but the streets. They literally live on the streets. Some as young as 5 years old...heart breaking.

Kids in Ethiopia love to play soccer. Clay, Tucker, and Andy all played soccer growing up, then in college, and Clay coached the Ravenwood girls team up until this year. Soccer, AKA Futbol is a way for kids to have fun and forget about the daily struggles and their hungry bellies. The street kids impaticular LOVE to play. Clay brought and left them balls to play when we left. Their faces light up when they see the boys bring out the balls to play. Not only thie street kids but Clay, Tucker, and Andy. Playing soccer is one of their gifts, and they were able to minister to kids by simply playing. I love this!!!
Ashli fell in love with this 16 year boy, Sammi last year when she came with OH. Now as Ashli lives in Ethiopia, serving the kids and making the biggest difference in so many of their lives. Sammie now lives with her, along with 2 other boys that once lived on the streets. Ashli, your amazing girl!!!
After playing soccer with the kids, we headed to Kaldi's. Everyone was so excited to go get coffee at a place so similar to Starbucks. Mmmmmm!

After dessert at Kaldi's we headed to dinner. Funny I know, but we were still getting use to the food at this point. We went to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant called, Yoda Abyssinia. You sit down in chairs around a very small round table. There was entertainment that was amazing!! They have singers and dancers from all different cultures. The dancing was my favorite! Well, until I was called on stage! I will get to that...
The waiter came and brought a bucket of water and soap. He had us get soap in our hands and he then poured water over our hands to wash them before dinner. Then they brought a plate of injera, with meat and sauces. It looks very different to anything I have ever had, but it was pretty good. It would take some getting use to. In Ethiopian culture, they eat injera with almost every meal. They LOVE it!

After dinner a waitress kept coming over and talking to Maste and looking at me. Hmmmm, of course I was very curious as to what they were saying. I need to brush up on my Amharic for my next trip! Lol!!
 Maste proceeds to tell me that she thinks I am a famous singer. Me being so gullible believe him and go on talking with he group. Then I notice the dancers on stage looking over at me, and then they come and get me....OH NO! I don't get embarrassed easily, but I am guessing I was turning every shade of red at this point. They pull me on stage, wrapped white linens around me and one of the dancers and sat us down in these chairs in the middle of the stage. They proceeded to dance in front of us. I am just sitting there not knowing what in the world is going on. Then they make me get up and dance....OMG!!! I looked like so silly up there for sure! After the dancing, they lead us out and have me wave to the crowd and bow... ok I will do what I am told. I still had no idea what was going on. When I get back to my seat I was told I was just married!! HAHAHA! Well, pretend married. Too funny! I am glad I got to experience it, but Maste...I will get you back!
*Oh I forgot to mention that the President of South Korea was at the restaurant too.

After the entertainment, we had a coffee ceremony. This is very common in their culture. They burn incense, serve coffee, roast something that I'm not sure what it is, and serve popcorn. Interesting!
It was a fun night with great company and lots of laughs!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 3: Moving Mountains!

We went to Yezelem Minch, a local orphanage that provides different programs for children within the community: sports programs, sponsorships, child headed family support, etcetera. We met with the director  and then headed out to a small area in Addis hang out with kids and feed them their one meal of the day.

We brought fingernail polish, suckers, jewelry, and a few snacks, but we were not able to pass anything out because they started to crowd around you and push you and  try to grab things out of our bags. They wanted everything we had. It was very hard to say no, but we had no choice. I learned the word "beca" (enough) very fast.

After their bellies were full, they all went home, and we headed out. We went t o a little cafe to eat our cold lunch of pasta. We did have a Coke, that was exciting! A little taste off home.
That afternoon we went to an orphanage called El Olam. Ashli York, an amazing girl from Franklin moved to Addis last year after going on this trip with OH and is now helping restore this orphanage. She is "Moving Mountains!"
The kids are so loving! I got a million hugs and my heart melted at the happiness in their smiles! Although these children are without families, they are the happiest children I have ever met. They sang to us, and I can still hear the sound of their sweet voices. Saying goodbye was sad, but I knew we would get t o see them once more before we left.

Day 1 & 2, Very long, Rewarding Days!

After a sleepless night, I woke up to a 6 a.m. wake up call. Can we say EARLY!!  Get up, shower, breakfast, and head to the airport. Weigh our bags, check in, and wait...
We left DC at 12:00 noon (US time, 8am in Addis). I was exhausted, but couldn't sleep! I was now going on a total of 6 hours of sleep, in 72 hours. Wow! For people that know me well, that usually doesn't cut it. I'm the girl that requires 8  hours every night or I don't function so well, and if I'm being 100% honest I am a little grumpy! But oh well, who needs sleep right? I have been waiting for this trip for a year. I was pumped!!
I watched the most amazing sunrise through the plane window. God makes everything so beautiful! A long 13 hour plane ride, no sleep, but I was so anxious to be there!!

We arrived in Addis and I step off the plane to, "the smell of Ethiopia," as I was told. It is a smell I will never forget and nothing like I have ever smelled before. We go through customs, get our Visa's, and then a guard tells us to go ahead through security. Then as we do we were asked to come back. This turned into a 5 hour ordeal of going back and forth with officials. It ended with half our group sitting outside the airport and half inside, waiting, and waiting, and waiting..  They finally let us go after going through all our bags, a million questions, and anxiety among the group. What a way to start our journey. We finally made it to the guest house where we settled in and then spent the afternoon playing with the kids that lived near the house. Tin-sia was a favorite! Abenezer walked up to me, clothes ripped, and his shoes falling apart, so I took him in the guest house and gave him new clothes and shoes. What a great way to start my trip!
There were lots of little boys outside wanting to play each day, but very few girls. Clay, Tucker, and Andy had fun playing soccer with them! To see their sweet faces light up made my day! God is good!! Bed early, 8:00... I finally slept 12 whole hours!! Yay!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ready of Not Here I go...

So as I leave today, I'm feeling a little anxious, but VERY excited!!! I do have to say my biggest concern as now, is our carrry-ons. They can only be 15 pounds, so we are all a little worried, considering no ones is 15. So please pray that they will have a good desk clerk when we arrive in all the airports.
I want to thank all of you for support! For the generous donations, purchasing a shirt, dancing your booties off at Zumba, donations, and just the sweet notes, emails, and phone calls. It means the world to me to have such amazing friends. I am very blessed to have you in my life!!
I leave tonight and fly into DC. I will have my phone tomorrow until 11:00 am, then I am switching it to an International phone, but it will be my same number. If you want to send me any prayers or encouraging text (before I leave or during) I would love it! The only thing is  they are .5 cents a text (starting Thursday at 11:00), so just one please!!!  I won't  respond, but know that I love you and appreciate you thinking of me. We will spend the night in DC, and leave for Addis at 12:00 Thursday. When we get there, we will check in and the head to an orphanage to feed the children and spend the day there. This is going to be a life changing experience for me and I am so excited to see this amazing journey God has put in front of me. I would like to ask for your prayers when we are gone. Please pray for my anxiety. As many of you know, I am a nervous person in certain situations. So pray for my peace. Please pray that God will show me so much about Himself as well about myself and how I can live through him and glorify his name daily. Pray that I will be able to communicate God's love to the children we meet. Also, pray for our team, as of now I only know 3 people, but I know I will be as close as ever when we return. Pray that our team will have unity and that our travels will be safe, and that we all remain healthy.
Thank you again for your ongoing support! I couldn't not have done it without you!

Follow our trip on Kelly's blog at

John 14:15-21

"If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."