Washing thier Feet… {Another lesson from our visit to Chapa}

We called it a foot care clinic.  For months the idea of caring for their little feet swirled in my brian. My sister so wanted to make it a medical teaching moment and while that sounded good, we were unclear how the whole thing would go. We both liked the idea of teaching them the value of caring for their feet and giving each child a footcare kit to take home. As the trip drew nearer we began to price the nail clippers, files, etc that it would take to run the clinic and also create the kits. The costs were very prohibitive.   We began to think we would wash the children’s feet but anything more would have to wait. Within two weeks of that conversation my sister called to announce that someone would be donating all the nail clippers we needed to make individual kits for the Chapa children. My sister created the kits and when they cleared customs we knew it was meant to be. Our team would create a  simple footcare clinic and my amazing sister, Haven,  would carefully and lovingly check each child’s feet for ulcers, chiggers or anything that might require medical attention.

It was a highlight for all who participated and I am not just speaking of the kids.  Without a care in the world, the children were able to sit for a few minutes as we washed their little toes and ankles. We trimmed their nails and inspected every angle of their feet. Soon after we began washing, Tadesse had the bright idea to clean each of the children’s shoes. Watching him serve the children in such a way is still difficult for me to describe. His caring and his interest in their comfort was so beautiful. Many on our team were not so sure about washing feet but after watching Cheri and Haven,  most took turns jumping right in. We even had the Ethiopian leaders and translators acting as faithful and loving servants of the children. It was a beautiful act of love, trust and faith. Most of the children would slump down in totally relaxation and giggle in delight. It seems that feet are ticklish no matter the country of origin.

As we celebrate this holy week I am reminded of Jesus and the washing of his disciples feet. Can you imagine the Messiah humbling himself to cleanse your feet? They must have watched with wonder as Jesus circled the room, kneeling down to perform that which was intended for the slave of the house.  It is easy to assume that the idea of footcare for the children of Chapa surfaced as we asked what we would do as a team to love the children during our visit, but instead I believe God gave us the idea so that we might all experience the power of humbling ourselves as willing servants. It is human tendency to search for ways for others and sometimes even God to serve us. This is often the way of the world, yet Jesus gave us the perfect example of humility and generosity on the eve of his death and then the very next day would give us his life, carrying the cross and the sins of the world to his death. Jesus provided an example of long term benefit. Service to others lives on and on and can be given away over and over again whereas living to our own benefit in our own way only brings temporary contentment and joy.

As you view the images of washing the feet of the children of Chapa I hope you will consider the attitude of humility that Jesus had as he washed  the filthy feet of his friends. Jesus did not impose his own conditions, instead he acted with teaching and love in mind. He acted as an example of pure love so that he might show how God the father loved him and tells us to love one another at all times. I’m grateful for the spiritual awareness mission trips often bring but ask yourself where you can wash the feet of another right here right now today. Where can we be the listening ear, perform a selfless act or give away something we might truly treasure during this week of miracles?Jesus died so that we might have life and every day that I seek him in all my actions it becomes abundantly clear that we must be willing to lose our life so that we can find it.

For I have shown you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.  John 13:17 

best little grin… hands down!

 

Her passion for the children was contagious…

 

sweet Tadesse… clean shoes for clean feet

 

so much love…

 

a favorite day…

 

Happy Easter. He is Risen Indeed.

Melanie

 

 

 

Just Say Yes… {The One Child Campaign Experience}

Having been home just one week, I find myself looking through my photos over and over again trying to process all that we did and saw while In Ethiopia. I am always grateful that I get a bit crazy about needing to document our adventures through photos. As I comb through all the images I see the answer to the most common question I am asked before and after my trips, so what do you guys do when you are in Ethiopia? It’s a fair question but a tough one to answer without people’s eyes glazing over.  So instead of searching for the words to explain what we do I thought I would let the images do the talking. The images show just a few of the many reasons why I continue to say yes. I have been called to come alongside the hurting and the broken in Ethiopia and I am deeply passionate about sharing the plight of women and children with you. Join me and see for yourself how God will use you to be His hands and feet.

My trips are organized and run by my dear friend, Caleb David of One Child Campaign. Like me, he believes that short term mission trips help to create awareness and build relationships, funnel resources and develop partnerships for long term sustainable solutions.  Caleb and I both feel that being part of a mission team, listening and learning first hand, is vital, yet the real work begins when individuals return home. From there we have watched congregations or networks become inspired to act, sponsorship programs started, missionaries supported and so much more. Who knows why God is calling you to Ethiopia but no matter the reason I encourage you to say yes. Say yes to stepping outside of your comforts. Say yes to being vulnerable to the pain of the destitute and the orphan.

Please take a look at upcoming trips by visiting the One Child Campaign website. Caleb’s gift is the way in which he allows team members to view the need in Ethiopia while deeply respecting and honoring culture, ministry partners and the human spirit. Your One Child trip will be an authentic look at Ethiopia and her needs as well as where you can engage to become part of the solution.

And now a glimpse into what it is we do while in Ethiopia…

caring…

 

creating…

 

Engaging…

 

praying…

 

teaching…

 

 

feasting…

 

honoring…

 

reuniting…

 

returning…

 

laughing…

 

listening…

 

advocating…

 

loving…

 

delighting…

 

playing…

observing…

 

Looking forward to sharing more soon…

Peace and Grace,

Melanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our return to Chapa… {an invitation to join the Chapa family}

As we made our long journey to Ethiopia I could hardly contain my enthusiasm. After a couple of days in the bustling city of Addis Ababa we would head south toward Awassa and then on to the small village of Chapa. It had been a  year since visiting Chapa for the first time and the beauty I saw then in the faces of the children and the people of the Chapa community was enough to make me long to return with others to share in the wonder and joy I saw.

We traveled in vans, luggage piled on top, looking as conspicuous as ever as we turned down the narrow side road that would lead to the Chapa school. The area was a tropical paradise.

making our way with our three awesome drivers… Randy rules!

The children began running alongside, chanting, cheering and smiling from ear to ear.  Those who were walking, working outside or peeking out from their home would stop to wave and even bow with gratitude.  Their joyous welcome was contagious and the drive toward the school was one we won’t soon forget.

Our welcome…

 

four little onlookers…

 

As we entered the Chapa compound we were greeted with a warm welcome of kisses, hugs and songs from the children. I stood for a moment feeling as I did last year, thinking that only God could have delivered me to such a stunning place. It is true. God will deliver and use you if you are willing to say YES. He is the creator of healing and maker of dreams and He uses everyday people to be His hands and feet if you are willing. There is so much to share about the days we spent soaking up the children of Chapa that it will likely take some time to process and share.  Often we GO believing we will be ministering to the destitute and the broken, but without a doubt it was the community of Chapa that ministered to each of us. Their needs are great. The village is rural and very poor. Children’s Hopechest discovered Chapa a few years back and came alongside the community church to create a school.  The Chapa Carepoint was born. From there a sponsorship program was created. Sponsoring a child at Chapa means that the children have access to discipleship, healthcare, uniforms, school supplies and monthly food to share with family. Sponsorship works and from what I witnessed during this visit the entire school is starting to do more than just survive. I saw children who look healthier and more full of life.  I witnessed HOPE.

This is what HOPE looks like as these three children rock their blue uniform sweaters. Attending school provides a future!

 

It was in this church that the children raised the roof with their praise!

 

 The Chapa community is so worthy of His great love and support. In one year sponsorship has grown but we are not done yet. Now it is very personal and we are on a mission to share the vision we saw for the children of the Chapa village.  Even with language as a barrier,  it was clear that the children have BIG dreams and we feel convicted about coming alongside them, community to community,  in order for them to become the children God intends.  Their future is bright! Join me in spreading the word about the faith and hope we witnessed at Chapa. Sponsor a child or share this link with others who might. God delivered us to the small remote village of Chapa so that we might see Him more clearly through the eyes of His children and I already yearn to return.

Stay tuned for more updates on our visit to Chapa.There is much more beauty to share.

Peace and Grace,

Melanie

 

What a Process… { but He is in the details…}

I have done this a time or two. I have planned and packed, prepped my house, wiped the tears as I said goodbye to my family and prayed my way through the days of fear that seem to come before each of my trips to Ethiopia.  Yes, I have done this before, but this time feels very different. You see this time I feel a deep sense of community and committment from those who will be joining me on the journey. It is the craziest cool feeling of just knowing that this group came together for a big purpose. Just three months ago both myself and Caleb David of One Child Campaign, who plans and orchestrates the most amazing and authentic trips to Ethiopia, we were very unsure of who would be joining us this year. For weeks we were encouraging several people to say yes and we were hoping to end up with a group of 12-14. Then the amazing happened. Within one week ten people said yes and signed on to be part of the team. To top it all off we quickly discovered so many connections to one another that we were all wowed.  Now we are just days away from making the trip and the confirmation and peace I feel is awesome! I will keep packing and prepping my family all the while knowing that God has ordained this journey for myself and 19 others.

Four of us are mommas who all adopted from Ethiopia at different times and we get to return together to the place where our children were loved before they came home to our families. Someone pinch me. One woman on the team has helped me with the sponsorship program with the Children’s Hopechest Chapa Carepoint. Now she will get to enter the lush tropical village of Chapa and enter the sea of Chapa children who will be singing and praising God for our visit. I can’t wait for her to see the fruits of her labor. One of my teammates is my sister and it’s a bit of dream that soon I will get to experience a country, a culture and a people I love and respect so dearly with her. Amazing. I have both friends and friends of friends as team members and I am so eager to see how God continues to knit us together. I truly am humbled by that which He has begun.

This weekend we were able to get away as a family and spend time with some dear friends. I was a bit distant, feeling like all I could think about and talk about was the departure this week but our friends just listened and listened some more. I love how they work hard, just like my husband,  to learn all the connections, all the players, all the ministries and all the members of the team so that they too can share in the journey. It is a blessing to be encouraged in such a way and I was grateful for the time to hang with our kids and with friends whom we adore.  A couple of the boys snowboarded and seemed so old, just doing their own thing while a few of the other kids were able to spend time at a waterpark with friends just racing from one area of fun to the next. I had calm, quiet time with Ava and loved watching her get herself all bundled up for the snow only to last well you know how it goes with a three year old… It was good quality time off the grid.  The best part of the weekend was the opportunity our leaving provided for our teenage Ethiopian, Tadesse, to spend a few days with the Pastor of the Ethiopian church here in town. The visit was wonderful and we cannot thank Pastor Aberra enough for coming alongside us to help pour into Tadesse. The Aberra family welcomed him with his favorite Doro Watt and several opportunities to be among Ethiopian friends. Yesterday Tadesse called to tell me that he was part of a group Pastor Aberra organized to meet at the church after fasting for a prayer time specifically for me and for our team. I wept. I am honored that we have come to share in each other’s call to minister to and with the Ethiopian people and knowing the church body is supporting what we will venture off to do is incredibly humbling. Thank you.

It’s been quite a process to get to this point and all I can think to do is say thank you to so many who have supported us along the way. Just this afternoon these beautiful hadmade journals were delivered to us by a wonderful mission minded family. Their boys decorated journals, one for each member of our team,  to be sure we would be able to remember and document what we learn and see while in Ethiopia.

Then another friend dropped by with a huge hockey bag on wheels and another delivered a check to support the Chapa Feast. This trip has become a community affair and certainly that is as it should be. Our community reaching out to another is a beautiful thing. The outpouring of support has been awesome!

Tonight I keep refelcting back on the quiet conversation I shared with my husband as our plane took off from Addis Ababa after our first visit to meet our daughter in 2010. Neither of us could have ever been prepared for what we saw and neither of us could have been totally prepared for the pull we would immediately feel to be more connected and to give back to a country with so much need yet so much charm and deep faith.   We made a committment then that we would do something. Little did I know that God would take those words, that exchange of hearts and allow me the priveledge to return several more times to serve.  “I feel like we need to share what we now know about the orphan crisis with others. People need to see what we just saw and feel God’s presence like we just did, ” I uttered on the plane to my husband. From there we tucked the thoughts away , closed our eyes and quietly prayed.

It all began with one.  One calling. One step. One child. One journey. One prayer. Sometimes that is all that is asked of us and God works out the rest!

Peace and Grace,

Melanie

 

 

Join Us on the Journey… {Planning a Feast for Chapa}

Myself and a team of  20 from all across the country will soon be embarking on a fabulous journey to Ethiopia. We  will be working with several ministries and missionaries on the ground in unique ways to learn more about sustainable solutions to poverty and orphan care. We will seek to understand before being understood  and serve Ethiopia’s people with open minds in order to learn how to best meet their often desperate needs and also to embrace their spectacular culture. For our family it is a dream come true that 20 people will join me at Chapa, the beautiful Children’s Hopechest Carepoint where many children are in desperate need of basic things such as water, uniforms, mentorship, nutrition and education.

We have championed the Carepoint this year and been blessed with many family and friends, a community, who now sponsor a child at Chapa. The monthly sponsorship is transforming the Chapa community one little life at a time.  As the February trip draws near we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and offers of support and we thought of a cool way for you to be a part of our mission.

 Help us lift up the kids at Chapa with a big celebration feast.

My son Hayden made this video to help explain…

The meal makes a BIG impact especially while myself and the team are there in person spending time listening, learning, playing, loving and teaching. Last year we held a feast for the kids and it was so much fun to see their little eyes sparkle as they all shared in a giant meal of meat, vegetables, injera and even soda pop.

 As you know there is something about a hot meal that shows love and hospitality and frankly the relationships we started to build with the village women who prepared the meal all through the night were priceless.

 

Now this year we return with an even bigger goal… Could we feed the children who attend the Carepoint and perhaps even more who surround the school peaking in all day?

The Chapa community eager to see what we were up to all day with the kids…

Maybe we could invite many more in the surrounding village to a huge celebration feast to share God’s love and vision for their community. It’s a lofty goal but a girl can dream!

Any contributions can be mailed to:
477 Morraine Hill Drive SE Ada, MI 49301 or you may contribute via paypal here:




There is so much need at Chapa so any and all donations will be put to good use.

Thanks you for all your support of our team and for supporting our family in this goal. We are dreaming BIG for the Chapa kids and we hope you will follow our journey.

Peace and Grace today and always,

Melanie

Looking back… {Chapa Sponsorship: one year later and a Holiday Challenge}

It’s been one year since our family became Carepoint Coordinators for the Children’s Hopechest Chapa Carepoint in Ethiopia.  What an adventure it has been! This very weekend one year ago we were diligently working to pull off an event to educate our friends and family about how our community could transform a community far across the globe in a small village south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In this year we have been truly amazed by the outpouring of love for the children of Chapa and we are thrilled to report that 84 children now have sponsors to call their very own. Isn’t that amazing? We are so filled with gratitude for each of you who have opened your eyes and your hearts to change the world for orphans in their distress {James 1:27}. I even have a dear friend, our daughters adopted through the same agency in Ethiopia, who helped spread the word to her church family.  You should see what their small church community has done to love big on the Chapa children. Thank you Vineyard Christian Fellowship Church of Hood River, Oregon and thank you Cheri Rogers for coming alongside me in so many ways. When we all unite to share solutions it’s awesome what can be accomplished!

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving week ahead and move into the holiday season, I want to thank each of you who sponsor a child or children at Chapa and also those who have taken the time to support us as a family as we fundraise and share our dreams for Chapa. I am so excited to see what God has done in the past year  and I am even more excited about the ways in which God is paving the way to do even more for health and wellness in the Chapa community in the near future, but one dream still remains… I want each child to be filled with the pride of knowing that they have been chosen. I want each child to feel God’s love through letters and prayer. I want all the children of Chapa to share with one another the names and cities of their sponsor.  It is that deep feeling of self worth and love that is created when you sign on to call a child from Ethiopia your own. So I ask each of you reading this to not only consider sponsorship but more than anything else, I need help in spreading the word. Please share this post and in doing so help me to find sponsors for 80 more children who wait.  Here is the best news… I have a generous family willing to contribute $500 toward the Clean Water for Chapa Project for each new child sponsorship between now and February 1, 2013 ( the day our team departs for Ethiopia) How cool is that? God is stirring hearts and honoring our work on the behalf of these children. Let’s make this big dream an awesome reality!

This February myself and a team of 12 others {yes there are a few spots remaining} will be returning to Chapa. We will return to spread love and hope among the children. We will seek to be his hands and feet so that they might see God’s mighty love.  We will meet with school and church leaders, listening and planning so we can better meet the needs of the children and surrounding community. We will play, laugh, dance and sing. We will hug, cry and pray with children and we will hand deliver the word that they are cherished by sponsors from around the globe. For many children in Ethiopia sponsorship is everything. See for yourself  below with the look on this sweet girl’s face when we gave her a care package from her sponsor family. So precious!

Again thank you for all of the support we feel for the Chapa children and let’s work together to give the waiting children of Chapa a sponsor of their very own.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,

Melanie

 

 

 

Bringing Clean Water to Chapa {providing health and hope one precious drop at a time…}

Women and children in Ethiopia might spend up to six hours a day gathering water. These containers generally weigh 40lbs and the water is unclean.

{Click here to go directly to Chapa donation page.}

I don’t know about you but it is rare that I’ve ever had to worry about water. I turn on a faucet when I need to wash hands or visit the front of my fridge when I am thirsty.  We have hoses, washing machines and showers, yet water is at the heart of a daily crisis faced by billions of the world’s most vulnerable people—a crisis that threatens life and destroys livelihoods on a devastating scale. When we brought our daughter home from Ethiopia she was very sick from parasites, thought to be contracted from contaminated water.

Nearly 90 percent of all diseases in the world are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene. Every year there are 4 billion cases of diarrhea as a direct result of drinking contaminated water. This results in more than 2.2 million deaths each year—the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing every day.The weakest members of these communities are the most vulnerable. Every day water-related diseases claim the lives of 5000 children under the age of five. That’s roughly one every 15 seconds.

Unlike war and terrorism, the global water crisis does not make media headlines, despite the fact that it claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. Unlike natural disasters, it does not rally concerted international action, despite the fact that more people die each year from drinking dirty water than from the world’s hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes combined. This is a silent crisis experienced by the poor, and tolerated by those with the resources, technology, and the political power to end it. Yet this is a crisis that is holding back human progress, consigning large segments of humanity to lives of poverty, vulnerability, and insecurity. This is true throughout much of Ethiopia.

With your help we can change the water crisis for those at the Chapa school and surrounding community. Clean water at Chapa would bring hope, wellness and restoration to not only a school compound but also to the surrounding community. Help the Children’s Hopechest staff on the ground in Ethiopia to provide the precious gift of water by clicking here. No gift is too small and we welcome your prayers of support too. After the money is raised to complete the project, the best organization will be selected for drilling and completion of pipeline and filtration process in Ethiopia.

Please click here if you wish to learn more about the connections between the global water crisis, poverty and water related disease.

*Thank you to Jon Morton Studios and Living Water International