Introducing…

Agegnew Tasew

We are pleased to introduce you to our new Project Coordinator for the Children’s Hopechest Chapa Carepoint.  Agegnew was born in the Sidama region of Ethiopia which is the same region (similar to a state) where the Chapa village is located. He attended Awassa University, graduating with a degree in Agricultural Economics and Management. Agegnew is an active member of the local Makaneysus church and is very excited about his new position as Project Cordinator impacting hundreds of children in Chapa.

Welcome Agegnew!

 

A Birthday Wish { for 17 kids}

Everything about her is changing.  Like the newly emerging flowers and budding trees ready to burst this spring,  she is beginning to blossom into a little lady. We can see it as she searches for independence and boldly professes her ideas and opinions. It’s a miracle to watch happen right before our eyes.

Today she turns seven and marks for us all a new season, a fresh start if you will. I think it’s what I love about birthdays. It’s a day to reset,  reflect, to explore and dream of what is next.  Tonight we will celebrate the gift that this child is not only to our family but to all who know her.  We’ll celebrate her birthplace and pray for the woman who gave her life in spite of harsh circumstances.  We will embrace all the changes we see on her horizon and discuss the ways we see God working in and through her little life.

With spring sports and two of our kids in lead roles in a musical (Footloose) opening next week we have been a tad busy and frankly planning a bday bash fell off the radar.  When we finally dug in she insisted all the girls she knows be invited.  She is a wee bit social so you can imagine the list.    We love hosting birthday parties but all those gifts?  We have grown to wish birthdays could be less of a lavish affair.     “Ava for your birthday what if we shared the story of the Chapa children who need sponsors in order to grow up strong and educated just like you?”  I said,  thinking aloud.  ” We could ask friends to consider sponsoring a child from Chapa or making a donation toward new uniforms or shoes instead of gifting something to you.”    Ava did not hesitate.

So this weekend when we host our two hour basement dance party birthday bash we have asked that kids (parents… thank you)  do not bring a gift.  Instead we are spreading the word about these 17 children of Chapa, Ethiopia who long to be part of our sponsorship program.

Click here to see their profiles:

The children of Chapa long to have someone walk alongside them.  To bless them with letters, prayers and loving support.   We are asking you consider giving to them in honor of Ava. Give to them in honor of your own child and the growth you see as you are watching them bloom this spring season.

Peace on the journey,

Melanie

 

 

 

Providing Strength and Dignity… {orgs you should know}

It’s been weeks since I have had the chance to share and update. There’s always so much I want to share.  I’ve attempted this post for days but all last weekend fought a vicious stomach bug with what appears to be a good five to six days between victims. I’m the third in our home to be hit and thank God is was the weekend so my husband was here to help, and I don’t mean our kids. I spent 30 hours thinking of the film Unbroken and realizing that I am simply a whimp. I think I might have gone swimming with the sharks rather than doing even one more day on that life raft. Stay well people. There is no shame in walking around with dry cracked hands. This bug is worth washing often.

Last week I promised to update the blog to reflect the main ministries our team will be supporting while in Ethiopia very soon.  Last Thursday I shared a special morning with the awesome women of my Moms In Mission group. This group of women are such an encouragement to me and to many they surround themselves with! They are beacons of light and hope in our community.

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We meet twice a month and this year we have focused on encouragement. Every meeting another member of the steering committee shares her story of where or how she was encouraged and it always has me walking away feeling like we can never underestimate the power of the “atta girl” or “job well done sister.”  We need to say it and mean it. We need to say it loudly and often. Women posses such power in their ability  to craft their words to build up another women often struggling with similar daily battles.   And so it was fitting that we created women’s encouragement kits  to take with us on our journey to Ethiopia in just a few weeks, our sisters here in Grand Rapids reaching out to their sisters in Ethiopia. Thank you all for your donations, interest and prayers and I do hope you will follow our journey and learn more about the following organizations we support.

No Ordinary Love is a ministry very near to our hearts. Wait until you read how many children have ended up at NOLM to be restored and eventually reunited with their families who once thought they were sending their young children into the big city to hold down a job. The blog and photos speak for themselves and NOLM has become a beacon of light in a very impoverished area where many women and children are supported weekly with community services.

Next I would invite you to the learn more about Children’s Hopechest and the wonderful connect community model they have successfully implemented in several nations to allow resourced sponsors to fully engage in the lives of children in need of education, prayer and community development. As a Sponsorship Coordinator I love advocating for and visiting the children of the Chapa community. Connecting with the Chapa village, especially the women and children has been one of the great joys of my life. We see the influence of Jesus among the people and we see more women and children feeling honored and empowered through the connections that have been formed and sustained.

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Another ministry very dear to me in Addis Ababa is Women at Risk Ethiopia. What a deserving group of women we spent time with last year and take a quick look at their stunning works of art. The program exists to assist prostituted women ( in Addis Ababa, the capital city it is estimated that 150,00 women end up in prostitution with 74 % becoming HIV positive. ) in getting off the streets and into a holistic environment where they learn how loved and valuable they are in the eyes of God. The program is generally a year of teaching, skills training, nurturing and ministering to the women to aid in keeping them for returning to the streets. The program works and what I understand more fully in the last several years is that all women want to have value and worth. They want to feel respected, chosen and healthy in their life’s purpose.

Lastly, I discussed the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa. There is a beautiful film called, A Walk To Beautiful that documents the health risk of fistulas obtained by laboring for many hours even days without any medical help. The film will open your eyes to the plight of many young women who have not been educated to understand their physical selves. They deliver a baby only to soon discover they are leaking urine with no hope of medical attention. They are then shunned by family or villagers who also do not understand, thinking perhaps the condition is a curse. In 1974 the wonderful Dr. Catherine Hamlin founded the hospital to reach the poorest of the poor suffering from labor injuries and you must see what they are doing throughout Africa to educate medical providers and women of child-bearing age about the often repairable condition of the fistula and more.

I can’t wait to share this image of the women here praying for the kits as they enter the hands and hearts of the women we will serve in Ethiopia.

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Of course we do not pretend that such a token is a means to changing much of their pain or challenging circumstance, but we visit and we engage as messengers of peace, hope and dignity restored. We connect because we are called to fight for the health and wellbeing of women everywhere. We are called to the widow and the orphan and we are told to do whatever we can to reach out to the least of these and remind them that in the eyes of God they always matter. Each woman has a story and a voice just waiting to be validated and heard. The world is blessed, people are set free and transformed when they find the courage to tell.

What you do in the present- by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself will last into God’s future. These ways are not simply ways of making life more bearable until the day we leave it behind altogether… They are part of what can be called building for God’s kingdom.     -N.T. Wright-Surprised by Hope 

A bold thanks for all who partner in the work we are doing. We are together on the journey of loving, leading, advocating and connecting.

Peace and Grace,

Melanie

Making Christmas Matter… Get Involved With Us!

5650869a-6a9f-4be1-bd26-e061b3339d22One of our goals with Begin With One is to encourage all communities toward acts of giving or getting involved in simple grassroots efforts toward big change. Whether you are part of a book group or the corporate world your influence and your giving matters and we all have the power to encourage one another to action.  Here is one way we hope to help you and yours make Christmas matter.

Do you ever find yourself looking for ways to make Christmas really matter? I know we do. With all the celebrations, goodies and get together there is no other month quite a special as December yet we find ourselves always searching for ways to weave the true meaning of Christmas into the hustle and bustle.   It’s not easy. This year our family is celebrating the birth of Jesus by raising support for classrooms desperately needed for thousands of children in Chapa, Ethiopia where our Children’s Hopechest Carepoint is located.  I return there in just two months with a team of fifteen from all across the country.

This year we are reaching out to family, friends, church and work family and current Chapa sponsors to ask you to donate to our Change Your Story campaign

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We have set a lofty goal of 25,000 to bring at least three more classrooms to Chapa along with desks, blackboards, supplies and perhaps tutoring, all sustainable projects that provide a hand to a hard working and deserving community.

This year our family would like to challenge your family to GET INVOLVED. It’s easy and fun and the kids will love seeing the smiles faces in this video as you explain the project. My children walk around quoting the smiling children in this video, “You can change my story.” It will make you smile.

Don’t Let Another Story Go Unchanged || Change Their Story 2014 from Children’s HopeChest on Vimeo.

Perhaps you could honor a teacher or a special sitter with a donation made to the Chapa children in their honor. Have your children make a card with a quote or a link to photos of the Chapa community  here. What about honoring a grandparent, pastor or coworker with a donation made in their honor. So often we are purchasing gifts with far less meaning and as a family we have found that people really cherish supporting children desperate to rise out of poverty through education.

So please take a step with us. Together we can change their stories and live out the good news this Christmas. Please share this and encourage others. Change begins with one… one dream, one voice and one action. Thank you for your generous support and please share any and all ideas you might have.

Peace and Grace,

The Strobel Family

It all Began With One… {Dreaming Outloud}

It began with a nudging that I believe was born many years ago out of challenge and loss. When I spoke of adoption it was as if a light was turned on,  a wild flourescent glow that could not be dimmed.  My husband reacted with an openness I still cannot believe considering the chaos of our lives at the time with three little guys four and under.

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 What I can clearly see today, nearly 7 years later is the fingerprint of God as the great connector. What we thought would be one journey to one little girl became more than a thousand connections, signs of wonder and a literally blueprint set before us that we were to further engage to help the one.

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And while many children all over the world are orphaned and need to be brought into forever families I was quickly shown just how many children remain on the streets in deep dark poverty with no place to turn for protection, guidance, food and shelter. Such children might have an ill or struggling family member or perhaps he or she was sent into the city to find work in order to survive. What I saw in the developing world was like nothing I had ever seen before. My life and all the prioroities I had ever known were ripped in two. I was broken and gripped by the one (millions really ) that were left behind all alone in a broken and hurting world. Who would be there for the one?

After four years of seeking, listening, going, adopting, serving, trusting, questioning, sponsoring and learning we believe the time is now to move Begin With One into a nonprofit corporation so we might continue to be the voice of those in need both in Ethiopia and right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  We know God has placed in us a passion for the fatherless and the vulnerable and we are eager to serve in whatever way possible to change the world for one.  While we do not have all of this fully defined we do know the  power of yes and the redemptive grace provided when investing in and empowering change in the life of others, one prayer,  one idea and one action at a time.     Sometimes all each of us can do is change the life of one, knowing that the action often produces a domino effect. We must be the change, open to being used as a vessel of hope and love for others.

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Today it is no secret to many of you that God has orchestrated and surrounded us with a network that defys distance or circumstance, creating a vivid masterpiece of brilliant connected strokes. Nearly everyday I feel His power using me to again say yes no matter if it is with the adoptive Mother in the grocery store or the Missions director of a local church. Maybe it is the hurting child in Ethiopia or the team member in need of a life changing wake up call. My job is to say yes and trust where He will lead.

At Begin With One we seek to be  the voice of those already doing great work in Ethiopia. We hope to advocate for their needs and showcase God’s redemptive power in their works.  We seek to connect our high resource communities of family, friends, neighbors, team families, coaches, teachers, church members and more with daily needs that literally impact women and children one life at a time. We want to help others act and advocate for the one.

We seek to help the one. Just as God showed us that we had a daughter waiting in Ethiopia and then later a son, He also showed us the beautiful community of Chapa. He has connected us to ministries such as No Ordinary Love Ministries and Women at Risk Ethiopia just as we have been called to learn more about Family Promise and Wedgwood Christian Services right here in Grand Rapids. Orphans, widows, trafickked and displaced children and of course those who have been abused and neglected deserve our voice. They deserve to know that they are valued and loved.  We are called to be the voice, changing the world one child and one vulnerable person at a time. So many are waiting.

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We cannot do this alone. Get to know us, ask questions and share your ideas.

Stay tuned for more information soon as so many things right now are an exciting work in progress!

Join us. Be the voice. Partner. Change a life.

Begin With One.

Trust Without Borders… { The Making of Something New}

The words of the song speak to me so deeply…

“Spirit lead me where your trust is without borders.”

Thank you Hillsong United.

In just a few days the One Child Campaign July team will be on the ground in Ethiopia. This year I am feeling more deeply connected than ever to the mission of the team and watching how God will make something new from the trust and obedience of those going.10555242_10203469983143304_1822386174_n

Just yesterday I ran into a woman I admire who will soon leave her comforts of home and two of her children to lead a team to Guatemala with her husband and two sons. Her words stuck with me, “We are just so unsure about what God is gonna do with this random group.” I smiled and tried to reassure her, realizing how similar I have felt on each mission trip and team I have been a part of.

My conclusion is this. Mission trips are so much more than we can envision before we go and for those of you in question they are far from a vacation.  Mission trips are those uniting to action and learning to take leaps of faith, hope and trust. For me mission trips offer a way to lose myself in order to find myself and allow something new to be revealed. I have watched over and over again as the something new happens to both the one who serves and the one who is served. There is just such beauty and power in it even in the challenging and the unknown.

Afterall it was Jesus who pulled those from broken stories and injected himself into their shoes.  In many ways the same is accomplished as we venture out to the place and the people to whom we are called, to the fields of  the marginalized and those gripped by injustice and needing to survive. We are then injected into their stories,  so that we might connect on a deep and spirit filled level.

Going and inviting others to go is an invitation to experience the stretching required to walk, albeit briefly, in another’s shoes. It is then we might be opened in a rare and contemplative way. Prehaps our own brokenness or our own great strengths and calling are revealed in glorious and life changing new ways. Perhaps we see the Father as He invites us to see Him and maybe we are forced to rely more deeply on Him. Maybe too we see the rare beauty of having less or the total reliance breath after breath on a merciful God.

When we face and really open our eyes to see the brutal and often unending injustice and marginalization we find all over the world are we not forced to reconcile our own freedoms, resources and power of influence? Will we dig deeper and pray for the ways in which we might stand in the gap? This is exactly what Jesus does own our broken behalf and it is an honor to do the same.

God pursues us in so many exciting and unique ways. We are all called to a different mission. Maybe it is a hurting child in your community, your neighbor in need of a listening ear. Maybe you are being pursued to bear the burden of children in need of families through our local foster care system. For us God’s pursuit includes the children and the ministries we have grown to know and trust in Ethiopia. For us it is being their voice and developing lasting relationships by investing in their pain and their stories.  For us it is using their stories to invite others in and asking them to transcend all borders with great hope and trust.  For us it is encouraging others to return home changed and ready to share how we all can change the world one life at a time.

We partner with One Child Campaign and look forward to their big week ahead as 25 people step out and head to Ethiopia for a week of learning and growth.  Follow along as they seek to learn and connect with many organizations and people we love. Here are a few:

Chapa Carepoint- Children’s Hopechest

No Ordinary Love Ministries

Women At Risk Ethiopia

What can we learn by watching them engage, love, honor and serve? What will be the something new?

Grace and Peace in the week ahead,

Melanie

 

 

 

A Walk to Extraordinary {home visits in the village of Chapa}

The local leaders, Children’s Hopechest national staff and our wonderful translators were ready to head out. Only half of our group decided to journey along while the other half of our team committed to finishing all the foot care for the children. Arrangements had been made to meet several of the sponsored children’s families and or caregivers and while we had little idea what we were getting ourselves into we were ready. It turned out to be a journey of a lifetime.

Starting our three hour hike...

Starting our three hour hike…

Cactus and false banana leaves line many of the homes in the Chapa village. While the huts are meager they are very well kept and it is obvious that each person does their part to keep the land and the home in the best shape possible. We began to climb and with the altitude it was not long before we were all breathing heavy and realizing we were heading into the stunning mountain range that surrounds Chapa. Many of the children ran alongside us so excited to share their village. Children giggled and held our heads, assisting us up rocky terrain. All I could do was focus on my breathing and further surrender to God who had delivered me to such a place of spectacular beauty.  All I did was say yes a few years ago and from there all of the research, exploration and threads were woven to steer us in the direction of returning to Ethiopia and specifically the village of Chapa.

There are few words to describe the feeling of villagers running out of their huts to greet you shake your hand and smile.  It was clear that they were so flattered that we would come such a great distance, returning for a third time, to further invest in their community. The hugs, the handshakes, the broken communication of mutual love, adoration and respect. It was extraordinary. A few of us were able to see the homes and meet the caregivers of the children we sponsor at Chapa. Tears flowed and the gratitude given to the one who needs no translation as parents and caregivers waved their hands in the air shouting “Jesus” over and over.  We shared how honored we are to sponsor their children and how we look to the future where all the children in the village will be able to be educated and grow to become whatever it is they are called to be. We expressed the privilege we share to support them as a community and that we all serve an amazing God who would connect the threads of so many in the USA with their extraordinary village in rural Ethiopia.

Solomon... our sponsored boy (how do you like the knock off poloshirts that were donated?)

Solomon… our sponsored boy

 

Darling Miserret.. our sponsored girl

Darling Miserete.. our sponsored girl

 

My favorite photo of the entire trip. Misheret with her Grandmother so grateful for the opportunity of education.

My favorite photo of the entire trip. Miserete with her Grandmother so grateful for the opportunity of education.

 

So many hugs and photos were needed for such a special moment...

So many hugs and photos were needed for such a special moment…

The typical home in the village of Chapa...

The typical home in the village of Chapa…

 

 

They asked for nothing but instead thanked us for returning and advocating for them. They thanked us for believing in their children and loving them right where they are. In those moments there was no distance between us, no language barriers and no difference in purpose.

One of our team members meeting her sponsored child and family...

One of our team members meeting her sponsored child and family…

Experiencing the entire trip with my thirteen year old son will forever be a highlight in my life. For him the hike through the hills of Chapa is a highlight in his life and we often refer to it as the day we felt like we were in a National Geographic film in a community we have grown to love. Hayden’s generous heart was further opened and watching him die to himself and let go of barriers and fears was so special. A trip to Ethiopia is not easy. The conditions are difficult,  the smells, the food, the language and cultural barriers and the overall poverty hits hard yet the exposure and the stretching is so needed.  While living easy lives filled with opportunity and privilege is not wrong, it is my deep calling to help my children to know that not everyone has the same protection, education and support that they have been born into. I long for my children not to simple be happy but rather to seek out ways to surrender their lives to help those who struggle.

"Best day ever Mom." Those were his words upon completing our walk...

“Best day ever Mom.” Those were his words upon completing our walk…

 One visit to the Chapa community and anyone would be all in, wondering how to help to fulfill their dreams and ideas, protect and educate the women and children and more importantly how to go deeper into who they are as a community. I already long to return…

If you wish to sponsor a Chapa child please go to:

http://www.hopechest.org/community/chapa/sponsor/

Peace and Grace,

Melanie

Where to Begin? {so what did you do in Ethiopia?}

I’m home and happy to return to the joy and chaos of family.  Stepping out of my role as Mom for nearly two weeks is a challenging feat yet I am always amazed how God equips and provides even when the days leading up to departure make me wonder what I am doing. Returning is never easy and neither is the question, “So what did you do in Ethiopia?” I warned my teammates that the question would come often and that there is generally little time to give the long answer that is etched on my heart.

What did I do in Ethiopia?  I wrestled. I wrestled with the poverty and sheer hardship I witnessed. I wrestled with the injustice of mere children who everyday are drawn into cycles of servanthood, marriage, pregnancy and prostitution. I wrestled with the issues and lack of education, voice and equality faced by women.  I wrestled with the idea that millions do not have clean water, proper sanitation,  health or dental care to keep them comfortable or extend their lives.   I wrestled with exhaust, crowded crazy traffic, livestock running wild, no telephone service and many angry chigger bites. I wrestled. I wrestled with real people and their stories of survival, difficult daily life and how their faith and perseverance carries them through.

So why do I go? Of course that is the follow-up question.  I go because I have literally been transformed by God’s call in my life and I am supposed to champion the solutions to injustice, poverty, violence and pain He has shown me through the organizations I am now deeply connected to. It may sound like crazy talk but it’s the only way I explain why going matters and why I believe others should experience the same feeling of wrestling and tension.   You see deep inside I am always loaded with fear and many unanswered questions. It is likely you are too. Aren’t we all? Will we hear the right call and is it God’s call or will we instead do what we want to do and miss the challenge set before us? It’s easy to be gripped by such thoughts and even easier to say no in response to fear. But we do what is asked in order to glorify the one who calls us. I am a work in progress but beginning to get right with that notion. Sometimes it is not about being correct or perfect in our understanding but instead it is all about obedience to get to the point of understanding and radical trust.  We can be weak in ourselves yet rest in the understanding that God’s got it. I also go because I find Ethiopia to now feel like a home away from home. I see regal beauty and I continue to be inspired by the people who seek God is absolutely everything, their next meal and certainly in any opportunity bestowed upon them. This reliance and gratitude has taught me so much and shown me where I lack.  I go because there is so much for me to learn from a people I have so grown to love.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10)

I go because I have been connected to such beautiful people and stunning places of refuge for those in need and I’ve been asked to share their challenges and successes with others. I have been asked to engage others in the fight and show them the on the ground people, ministries and safe places where God reigns and redeems.  As I scroll through the hundreds of photos I see poverty and brokeness but the overall theme is one of beauty, deep faith and the people who long to have someone come alongside to provide a hand, not a handout but a hand.  In less than three years I see so many changes with the people we partner with in Addis Ababa and beyond. I long to share their stories with the hope of reminding us that God chooses ordinary people like you and like me to be his messangers of hope and his deliverers of support, prayers and ethical solutions.    My eyes have been opened and I cannot pretend that I have not seen.

Let’s begin with the Chapa Carepoint…

This is the Chapa Carepoint. Here young children begin school and receive uniforms, education, food allocations, community connection and discipleship for local leaders as well as the Children's Hopechest staff who visit the Carepoint monthly. Chapa is growing in the number of children they can educate and serve due to monthly sponsors. More kids are waiting and sponsorship is $34 per month.

This is the Chapa Carepoint. Here young children begin school and receive uniforms, education, food allocations, community connection and discipleship for local leaders as well as the Children’s Hopechest staff who visit the Carepoint monthly. Chapa is growing in the number of children they can educate and serve due to monthly sponsors. More kids are waiting and sponsorship is $38 per month.

 

Her name is Semirete and she is so precious. Her eyes just sparkle and she is a smart student. Semirete might not be in school were it not for sponsorship. In Ethiopia there are schools in place but all studetns are required to have a uniform, shoes and school supplies that must be supplied by family or caregivers. We sponsor Semirete and we are eager to see her become a strong and faithful woman in her community.

Her name is Semirete and she is so precious. Her eyes just sparkle and she is a smart student. Semirete might not be in school were it not for sponsorship. In Ethiopia there are schools in place but all students are required to have a uniform, shoes and school supplies that must be supplied by family or caregivers.This is not possible for many or the boys in the family are sent to school while the girls remain at home to work. We sponsor Semirete and we are eager to see her become a strong and faithful woman in her community. Looking forward to sharing more details about her and meeting her family in the rural countryside.

 

This is Soloman and he attends school at Chapa due to sponsorship. We have watched him grow and remain healthy over ht epast couple of years due to the Chapa Carepoint and all that is provided for him and his family. It is likely he will stayin school and mature into a leader in his community.

This is Soloman and he attends school at Chapa due to sponsorship. We have watched him grow and remain healthy over the past couple of years due to the Chapa Carepoint and all that is provided for him and his family. It is likely he will stay in school and mature into a leader in his community.

 

These little charmers followed me around on our first morning while I snapped photos of the clean water stations and latrines now installed at Chapa. He was so proud to sit atop the water ing station and have his picture taken. HIs smile is radiant and he is another example of how pouring into the children through education and protection creates healthy children with a hope for a future.

These little charmers followed me around on our first morning while I snapped photos of the clean water stations and latrines now installed at Chapa. He was so proud to sit atop the water ing station and have his picture taken. HIs smile is radiant and he is another example of how pouring into the children through education and protection creates healthy children with a hope for a future.

 

The children begin their day lining up and singing the national anthem. It is obvious that they are so filled with pride about their country, their school and their opportunity to attend school thanks in part to sponsorship dollars and the annual visits we make to connect and help the Children's Hopechest leadership to further dream about what is next for this rural and needy community. These children have such a bright future!

The children begin their day lining up and singing the national anthem. It is obvious that they are so filled with pride about their country, their school and their opportunity to attend school thanks in part to sponsorship dollars and the annual visits we make to connect and help the Children’s Hopechest leadership to further dream about what is next for this rural and needy community.
These children have such a bright future!

 

Perhaps you too are wrestling with a call in your heart. Whatever it is I want to encourage you to go deeper and ask for clarity. God is the great provider of truth and purpose. Thank you for reading and please if you are inspired by the hope and promise of all God is doing in the small rural village of Chapa in the southern region of Ethiopia please share their story.  To learn more about children in need of sponsorship and next steps for the Chapa community please click here. Stay tuned as I have so much more to share.

Peace and Grace,

Melanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Christmas Matter…

It’s three weeks until Christmas and I keep asking myself when I am going to begin to get it all done. The stress is starting to settle in yet I am trying to fight the urge to believe that all will be perfect and complete with enough time to sit quietly reflecting around my tree. Instead of perfection I want the peace and the profound awareness of what Christmas day really means. What is it all about and how can we take back our Christmas to make it mean what it should?

What if we did things differently? What if we let ourselves off the hook and allowed store bought cookies? What if we weeded through the Christmas boxes and chose to limit what we had to put out?  What if we sent the catalogues directly into recycling without wondering what we should add to our Christmas list? In considering these options I feel a calmness.  Maybe finding peace and the joy of the season means simplifying that which we have come to believe must be accomplished during the month of December. So often none of it has a thing to do with the true meaning of Christmas.

What if we changed the story of another instead of purchasing a meaningless gift? How cool would Christmas be if all the money we spent on stuff was redirected to being spent on people. Afterall there are people in need, people with dreams, people with gifts to share if only they had a little help.   I would like to share one  way to give a gift that gives back this year.  Visit www.hopechest.org/community/chapa/ to learn how to change the life of a child in need. Make a donation or sponsor a child and write a note to the school teacher sharing that in his or her honor you have helped a child in need. Sponsor a child in the name of your children or your parents this year and wrap a note or a picture of the child to be opened on Christmas morning.  Help us bring a library and books to the rural of village of Chapa. Make your donation here and share it with whoever you wish to honor this holiday season.

Let’s bring back the true meaning of the season. Let’s change a life with our gift to honor an important bus driver, teacher or friend in our life. In America we spend $495 billion on gift giving at Christmas. Let’s make the money we spend count. Maybe the investment in people rather than stuff is exactly what we need more of. We all long for a heartfelt and meaningful Christmas. Make your gift giving matter and show your kids this example of Christmas giving. Simplify and fight the urge to buy more stuff. Decorate less and expect less. Maybe this will be the year where the true spirit of the season shines brightly in your heart. Share you ideas and stories with me. I would love to hear them and learn from you.

Peace and Grace to you and yours,

Melanie

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Get Your Tshirt On and Help Us Help in Haiti and Ethiopia!

Hello:
We wanted to share BIG news with those of you who have been so supportive over the years about the work we as a family continue to be called to…
 
In January Bob will be headed to Haiti to serve as a Dentist with his father and a small team of people hoping to help those who live with tremendous pain every day from unresolved dental issues. We have become closely connected to the Haiti Foundation Against Poverty and we are honored to join their organization on the ground to serve as many patients as time will permit. 
 
Then in February I will be leading another team on a Vision Trip to Ethiopia. My team is filling up fast and we are hopeful that perhaps a couple of our children might be joining the team this year.  To learn more about the trip message me or visit www.onechildcampaign.com.  We will spend the majority of our time in the beautiful village of Chapa, teaching, learning and planning with the children and the community. You have heard me say this before but Chapa is a very special little corner of the world and we feel very blessed to be carefully and slowly helping to relieve poverty through sustainable education. The Chapa child sponsorship program is off to a great start with a big need for growth and we will soon be fundraising for a fully functioning school for hundreds of children in need. 
 
We are reaching out to friends and family not only to share what has been placed on our hearts but also to encourage you to join in on the fun and the mission. We are so encouraged by the call to go and serve but even more excited about involving our community to Be The Change in whatever way possible both here at home and abroad. We have designed tshirts to help spread our message but also to help us fund the mission of blessing others in these areas of tremendous need. This journey is not our own. We are a work in progress and just doing our best to follow God’s leading. Thank you for being a supporter of our story and thank you for partnering with us in whatever way you might feel lead. 
 
See the easy tshirt order info below or follow this link to place an order.
You may also wish to donate by clicking below.

Thank you all so much for your generosity and support.
Peace and Grace,
 
Melanie and Bob 
www.beginwithone.com

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All orders must be placed by 12:00pm on October 31, 2013. Orders will ship approx a week later.

from $25.00                          Africa - Begin With One - Ladies Black

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