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Last 2 slideshows from Ethiopia Email me for link to others-alexander@integrity.com

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

last day


Our last day in Ethiopia. We woke up, had a yummy breakfast and went down stairs to meet the Glimmer of Hope staff and a group from Austin, Water to Thrive, that was there to inaugurate a huge water project. We all drove to Gadamba, about 45 minutes out of Addis. We were once again greeted with singing and very joyful people. This project was massive and would service 11 different villages in the area. It had a big generator to pump the water and to hear the hum of the machine and know that it was responsible for providing clean water to SO many people, made it a beautiful noise. They had a special ribbon cutting ceremony and then we began walking to various water points benefitting from this project.

I walked down the road, arm and arm with a beautiful elderly woman. As we walked, the tears just streamed down her face. Tears of joy as she now has clean, safe drinking water. I hugged her tighter and her smile just made my day. Kristin walked with a precious elderly man and he wanted her to know (via translator) that he has lived his entire life in this village and has never had clean water. He is 75!





We got to the main road and the group appeared to split in two directions, the Glimmer crew and Julie, Julie and I going to the right. We didn't notice that Kristin had gone left as the crowd was very large. She was very drawn to the colorful clothing worn by many of the people. Well, sweet Kristin is clicking away on her camera. Taking pics, yelling "SAKI" for them to smile. She said she noticed several people holding up a guys picture and she assumed that it was the area administrator or something.........then she got a tap on her shoulder and some sweet man pointed to our direction, and told her that she was in the middle of a funeral procession!! Not meaning any disrespect to the grieving people, we later just laughed and laughed at the cultural mishap that was made. You have this gorgeous blond in the center of the funeral telling everyone to smile!!


She made her way to our group. We headed to the local school next. After spending some time there we said good-bye to the group and headed back to the hotel to pack up our things. First we made a quick stop by the Bejoe to give Genet some things and meet the lovely Belleme family!

We packed up and then met Surafel, the TOMS head in Addis. He has truly the most amazing story. One of grace and redemption. It was a gift to sit with him and hear of his heart for his country and the Lord. Surafel wears many hats in Ethiopia and is making a huge difference in the lives of many! We look forward to seeing him again in October.


After checking out we drove to the Gladney care centers one more time. Good-byes to everyone there, saw the Funderburk family one last time too. I spent some time with one of Eyasu's sweet buddies. They entered care together and by evidence of the many pictures we recieved of them together while we were waiting, these two adored each other! He is still there but prayerfully he has found his forever family! His face lit up when I gave him a picture of the two of them together from when we picked up Eyasu last November. He kiseed it and ran upstairs to hide it under his bed. We then met up with Eric, MC, Mohammed, two from Kidmia for a dinner at Makush. I love this place. Good food and beautiful art. I walked away with two pieces that I LOVE. They are so precious and of course gave me a very "special price!" Seeing the paintings hanging on the walls of our home- transports me back and I love them for that!

We took Kristin to the Bejoe as she was staying a few extra days to photograph Kidmia. So sad saying good-bye to her. I may not have mentioned before that she was my big sister in our sorority at Baylor. Don't you know the Lord just smiled at the time knowing that we had such greater adventures awaiting us in the future than what we thought was simply a few fun years together in school. She is a huge blessing to me and I'm ever thankful to have been on 2 trips with her to Ethiopia (SO FAR)!!

Off to the airport I went with the Julies!! I also had the pleasure to meet this Julie in the Bole airport. So precious. She asked me about Abe and I cried. I think being away from my little guy had caught up to me-- I was ready to get home. Julie, thank you for not thinking I was some crazy lady. :)

The flights were awesome, easy, easy without kids! I couldn't wait to see my crew. This was my final journal entry written on the flight home.

"SO very much to process, simply humbled to have been called to this journey as I will never be the same. Sara Groves "I saw what I saw and I can't forget it" keep playing in my head. We WILL do something for the people that gripped my heart and I am excited about that more than anything! I will long to return, long to be in Ethiopia. He alone knows our future there, if it is more children, what capacity we will care for the people there. I'm so blessed our family will be involved- so blessed! About to land and I can't wait to get my hands on my babies and my man!!!"

So thats it- trip is over and we are working furiously on our dental trip in October! The Lord blew open wide the doors for this first EthiopiaSmile trip. Moody felt called to ask several other dentists to go with him to help the people of Ethiopia with their dental needs. He originally prayed that 5 would commit. He then felt led to step out and pray in faith that 10 dentists would be raised up and GO. We have 18 going with us in October. 18 dentists. In a country that has 76 dentists to meet the dental needs of 80 million people. We are so humbled by this trip and so clearly SEE him in every step. Moody and I aren't "detail" people and the details are falling in place. Soli Deo Gloria!!

That so many (30 non-dental peeps are going along to simply love the people of Ethiopia with us) would choose to take time away from family and work to go and love, is incredible to me. Several of my dearest friends are going. I get to now share a HUGE part of my life with them in real, tangible ways. We will have the opportunity to treat those living in government run orphanages, transition homes, Korah, Glimmer projects, communities just outside Addis, medical clinics that service the very poor.......My heart is so full just thinking about it. I know He has so much for each and everyone that said "yes" to this trip. We are praying that this would be the first of many. Several left comments after Moody's trip last June and I fully planned to write a post asking if any of you wanted to go, but literally the trip filled so fast, I never had a chance. EthiopiaSmile 2 anyone???? June 2011.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

day 6


The prayers started early this morning, 5:45 to be exact. With my good buddy, Ambien, I got a great nights sleep though and I was ready to go! We decided to just eat bars this morning so we could head out quickly. We were going to visit several proposed projects around Tercha today.

Our first stop was the hospital in Tercha. It services 800,000 people. 2 full time medical Drs. Yes, 2 to 800,000. They live at the hospital and average about 3 hours of sleep a night. We had a meeting with the Drs and a few of the administrators of the hospital where they discussed their most pressing needs. A huge need is for a new maternity ward. They said that if a woman came to the hospital with a very difficult case, the closest hospital that could treat them is a full days drive, on the bumpy roads. I have given birth 4 times, in a hospital, with an epidural and I just can't imagine that scenario. These women deserve better. We saw a beautiful woman that had labored for days, her uterus ruptured and she lost her baby. So tragic.




From the hospital we headed to the Dawro Development office for a wonderful celebration and special ceremony for our group. When we pulled up we were greeted by lovely dancers performing traditonal dances from this zone. They also had a Dinke which is supposedly the worlds largest wind blown instrument. The entire performance was incredibly entertaining! The shoulder shaking continues to amaze me!

Tameru said some very nice words about our group and time together and then I was asked to say a few words. :) Nothing I love more than a little public speaking!! It really was a great opportunity to thank them for their incredible hospitality and let them know how much we love their country. We were then presented with gifts from Ato Domani. So kind of them.



After the ceremony we went to visit the local high school. We had MANY pens to hand out and what started as an orderly line to pass out the pens got out of hand really quickly! We put a stop to the pen giving and went to tour the campus.

The kids were sweet, wanting to pracice their English. The head of Education for the area was there and gave a passionate plea for a new lab for the high school. He said how are they to compete with the other students for a place at the University if they have to take Chemistry without a lab. He was very charismatic and you could tell he loved these kids.



We then stopped by a Primary school. The property was lovely! We walked in and the kids were so precious, standing in 2 lines, clapping and singing for us. The conditions of the school were terrible, classrooms that were falling apart. We were able to pass out lollipops, pens, and a few soccer balls. They were so amazing!





One final school stop on our way out of Tercha was by far the worst we had seen yet. No child should have to attend school in these conditions. They have no water source nearby either. The kids were very sweet and presented us with flowers.





We made a little pit stop along the way and just taking in the view was so overwhelming. I loved these moments, not planned, where you got to connect with the local people. We passed out some fingernail polish and other goodies. It brought us so much joy. A highlight for sure.



We made it to Soddo where we spent the night. Another yummy pasta dinner, really cold shower and lights out!
Saturday, July 17, 2010

walk for water

This is a powerful video that was made just after we left Ethiopia. Eric, MC, and Tameru headed up north to visit various projects going on up there. This is a 14 year old that volunteered to truly experience what life is like for those in Ethiopia. Please take a moment to watch and try to understand what it would be like to have to make this hike just to get water! We so take turning on our faucets and clear, pure water coming out for granted. I know that I do. Love that the Glimmer folks took video of this journey. Praying my big boys get an opportunity to experience something similar on our trip in October.

Walk For Water from A Glimmer of Hope on Vimeo.

I have had many of you ask specific questions about this incredible organization and I can't wait to share more with you soon. Please feel free to email me at teamalexander at mac dot com if you have questions.

Let me know what you think after watching this- would love to know your thoughts...............

Will finish up trip this week. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

day 5, part 2



Back to day 5 in Dali. So we have darling little Daniel running fast and furiously to keep up as we walked all over Dali to see first hand the work that Glimmer of Hope is doing there. The first stop was to see some new school blocks that were being built. The view from these schools was just gorgeous. The people of the community were so warm. At one point a group from a local church sang for us and they were wearing beautiful red choir robes. They also had a very large drum they were using.......remember the drum?? Back to that in a minute.


All day long we were surrounded by people, beautiful, kind, loving, thankful people. We were presented with lovely flower arrangements by some of the local girls at one point. Just a memorable moment.


We then began to walk to a few of the water points. I didn't know exactly what to expect honestly. We were told to wear hiking boots as it would involve climbing and mud. :) We began to walk down a hill, a steep hill. The kids began to follow, the older men were trying to switch them with sticks to keep them from coming, and out they would pop out of corn fields, faces with huge smiles on them. We got to the first water project and it was amazing. Just a remarkable view all around! It was incredible to think that this was their water source. What was not too long ago, dirty, contaminated water that they shared with the animals, was now crystal clear! Glimmer does natural springs, deep and shallow bore wells. These were natural spring wells. They take an existing spring, cap it uphill, allow gravity to run the water down into a resevoir, then run it through purification into 2 spickets where the water comes out!!(I'm sure they would love my elementary explanation!!) I will never forget the faces of those filling up cans with this new, clear water! The impact is immediate.



We proceeded to walk from water point to water point. At each, the people would come out, singing, dancing, showing unbelievable gratitude for the gift of clean water. It was so powerful. At one project, I just sat up on top of a hill that was above the water point, just so I could soak it all in. Children came and sat with us, one little baby was being carried around by his sister (she was probably only 6) and he looked very sick. Just broke your heart, literally. I saw so many kids, with so much freedom. Little ones, 18 months up, just toddling around.....and I saw Eyasu in ALL of them. As he was relinquished at 2-- this could have been him. I know his uncle loved him dearly, it is just the reality of life there. Life is hard. Women work HARD to get the water, walk to the market, to come home to prepare the meals, etc. and this goes on and on and on. It occurred to me that children, taken from these rural areas, placed up for adoption, eventually into a home, would have issues with boundaries, rules, etc. It is so easy for us to place the feelings that we think they will have----extreme gratitude, thankfulness, security, etc when the reality is they often don't as life is simply so very different. They knew love in Ethiopia yet were had less restrictions............I never saw an adult look for Daniel all day long. It just made the love that I have for Ethiopia, my children from there, the children that I have prayed home, the children that will remain there grow to new heights!





After this one particular water point we started to walk up this particularly steep hill (did I mention we were VERY high up altitude wise???) and I was hurting. It was hot and this hill was not getting shorter. I felt like I was in decent shape but this hill (and the children blowing past us) made me seriously question that!! :) We got about halfway up and realized Kristin was still behind. Eric from Glimmer yelled up that she might be dehydrated. (She was carrying SO much weight in camera gear.) We kicked it up a notch as our water was back up the hill in our vehicle. I got to the car, retreived some water and ran back to where they were only to find an entire village in a circle with Kristin perched in the very center! All eyes were on her. I took her the water and she asked what we could do to divert the crowd. Sweet thing, I felt terrible for her. I think one precious man literally ran to his hut to get the chair that she was sitting on........oh are they hospitable or what???

Finally she felt well enough to move on. We walked towards our car and saw another large circle had formed, this time Julie Neal was in the center. Remember the drum that I have mentioned a few times? Well, Julie asked at one of the water points where she could find a drum like they had as it was just the kind she had seen in Awassa. Much talk went back and forth and she was told that they would find out. Fast forward to the crowd around her now. The pastor of the local Evangelical church in Dali wanted to present her with this beautiful drum. He gave a wonderful speech (via interpreter) about how thankful he was to God for bringing us there, how he prayed for our family back at home, etc.......it was incredible and we didn't have a dry eye. The drum that she had searched years for, was now being handed to her in this extraordinary way! I don't have pictures as I was so overcome with emotion, but know Julie H took some as did MC.

We were sad to say goodbye to the people of Dali as they each took a piece of our hearts. The drive home we spoke of our experiences, what we saw, what the Lord taught us. He showed us so much of Himself, so much of what breaks His heart, what matters to Him.

We also spoke of how impressed we were with the amazing work that Glimmer was doing in Ethiopia. Most of the projects that we saw were only funded in October. They are serious about being efficient and effective. They have a VERY clear model of what they do and they don't stray from that. They have excellent working relationships with the development associations that they work with and they are changing lives of those living with extreme poverty in Ethiopia. More on Glimmer later......

We were all enjoying the scenery and Julie N. told Asafe to stop the car. We all looked up and saw two boys playing soccer up on a hill with a rag ball. Julie quickly jumped out of the car and we were saying "na" for him to come. He looked scared as he should have been, not often do cars drive by, much less ones full of white women telling him to come! She threw him a brand new soccer ball and his face was one of the most precious I have ever seen. He LIT up. He looked at the ball, then at Julie and seriously as if manna from heaven had just arrived! I wish I had a better picture but we were so in the moment. One of the highlights of the trip for me.




I was so full. The rest of the drive home was slow going as a heavy fog set in and we just prayed we were going in the right direction! We made it safely back to Tercha, ate dinner and hit the sack. I didn't hesitate to take my Ambien and I was out.
Saturday, July 10, 2010

day 5, part one

Has it really been over a week?? Wow! This guy has been playing in his world series baseball tournament all week and we have spent more time waiting for it to stop raining than actually playing baseball, think I would have found time to post. :)

Ok, back to the trip. I had a very comical nights sleep! I will be honest, I was looking very forward to my uninterupted nights of sleep on this trip and this one didn't really meet up to my expectations. I wish I had a pic to show you. Try to imagine me with my head lamp on, crawling under my mosquito net, working hard to lay on my sleep sack and tiny little travel pillow, now removing the headlamp and closing my eyes. Only problem was this very loud bug of somesort was just outside my window and it didn't let up for one second. I forgot to take my Ambien, thinking surely the 2 beers Atto Domani made me drink would knock me out.....I was really not wanting to crawl back out of the bed to get it either. I longed for some ear plugs, really being envious of Kristin across the way as I knew she had hers firmly in place, and somewhat jealous of the Julie's who I envisioned were snug in that sweet queensize sleep sack! I then had the brilliant ? idea to place the roll of toilet paper left on my bedside table (oh how toilet paper had a way of showing up everywhere, just not in the bathrooms!) in my ear and holding it in place with the velcro strap of my headlamp and then keeping my other ear firmly planted on my pillow. I'm sure I looked ridiculous!! I finally got to sleep and was quickly awakened to the chants over the loud speaker from the local Muslim church. Ahhhhhh............
(our dinner napkins, aka Charmin)
I got dressed and we all headed to breakfast, then had a meeting with the Dawro Development Assoc. and then we were off to Dali. The drive was breathtaking, the views incredible!
(driver Daniel snuck in the pic)
Arriving in Dali, we received the most unbelievable welcome!
To get out of the car and be surrounded by those singing "Halleluia" over and over was something that I won't ever forget! They were so full of joy. There were instruments being played, dancing, flowers, just general happiness all around.
Shortly after arriving, I met Daniel. Oh sweet Daniel. His face and smile will be forever etched in my mind and heart. He was at my side very quickly after getting out of the car and everytime that I would smile and approach him, he would play coy and run off, only to return almost immediately. I asked someone his name, found out it was Daniel and I started calling him by name! He was pretty much with me the rest of the day. The elders of the community would try to scurry the kids off as we were walking from one project to the next, we even drove to a few projects and lo and beyond, Daniel would appear at every turn.


I'm getting sleepy and the rest of this day is just too important to try to crank out quickly, so I will leave you with Daniel for today and finish our Dali day hopefully tomorrow.

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emily
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from becoming polluted by the world." James 1:27
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