I love this time of year when we turn toward giving thanks. For years now we have had a construction paper tree that Christy puts up on our wall around November 1st. Our nightly ritual is then to write on a paper leaf something that we are thankful for and hang it on the tree. As our family has grown, it means that the tree gets fuller and fuller every year with everything from “food” to “family” to “EHE” to “Church” to the names of both old and new friends on it. It helps us to refocus and recenter on gratitude.
For me, that is the beauty of the Fall Season. A time to refocus on gratitude towards God for all He has done and is doing. A season that leads us into advent where we refocus on the greatest of gifts in the coming of Jesus.
I thought I’d list out a few of the things we are thankful for here in Ethiopia as we enter into this season. I’d love to hear your list, too.
We are thankful that we now have the privilege of serving 196 Children and their Moms. To see hope in their eyes means so much. God has blessed us so hugely at EHE.
We are thankful that the Moms are not just being served, but they are growing in dignity and initiative. We recently took a survey and found that out of the 111 families who have been in the project for at least one year, 95% of them now have a savings account. The average amount they have saved is 1,832 ETB or about $92 USD per family. This is a huge change given that they came into the project with virtually nothing.
We are thankful for the privilege of educating over 100 children in our school, who otherwise would not have a quality education. The number one dream that Moms in EHE have for their children is that they would be educated. Now it is happening before their eyes and they are filled with gratitude, too. (To view a recent video of our school, visit http://vimeo.com/111960062)
We are thankful for the ways we see children and Moms growing holistically. Despite huge issues such as malnutrition, blindness, HIV, TB, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, infections and disease, children and their moms are becoming physically healthy and growing in strength. While once having no one, now these moms have each other and community is building among them and a safety net is developing. While many Moms once had no skills and were illiterate, now many have started to learn to read and write and others are being trained with a skill or working towards a micro-grant. And all the while, Moms are seeing a glimpse of who Jesus is and His desire to know them informally day to day and formally through Embracing Hope Spiritual Ministries.
We are thankful that we’ve been able to provide dignity building jobs in jewelry making for moms with special needs within the project. But we are thankful that it doesn’t stop there. We now have Moms being formally trained in Hairdressing and Tailoring, We have Moms who are being trained to start their own injera business and french fry stands. We have other Moms that soon will be trained to start their own cafe. We have other Moms who will soon be trained to start their own businesses in petty trading. And there are more opportunities to come.
We are grateful for an amazing staff who give their all here in Ethiopia. Many of our staff could choose to work somewhere else in the private sector and make much more than they do working with us. However, they are committed to seeing the lives of Moms and Children changed. We are grateful that they see their work through the eyes of ministry unto God. They are the greatest of gifts to us.
We are grateful for an amazing US Board who continues to look with eyes of faith and wise stewardship. Their hearts to see more Moms and Children served is remarkable.
We are grateful for a great church here in Addis Ababa that we get the privilege of serving in. IEC continues to grow and it is a unique expression of the nations gathering for worship. With fresh eyes toward the future we are dreaming of ways to see God’s Kingdom multiplied through IEC’s ministry throughout the capital city and beyond. It is an exciting time.
We are grateful for how God has added to our family. Now with our 6 children, we are filled with joy. Our 6 kids are outstanding and we love watching them grow in all areas of life – especially as they relate to God and others. We are blessed.
And finally we are grateful for you and how you have continued on this journey with us. We’ve now officially been in Ethiopia over 5 years and what a ride it has been. God has used you as an encouragement to our family and to make a difference in the lives of Mothers, Children and Staff at EHE as well as in the lives of folks at International Evangelical Church – Addis Ababa.
Thank you for your encouragement and support. We are grateful for you.