Wednesday, December 28, 2011

God is...WOW!!

Crazy Miracles happening this Christmas season!

Will fill you in on the details later, but for NOW, I only have 2 African Magazine Bead necklaces left!

Let me know if you want one of them!  $12 each!

Thanks!  Hope your Christmas was Amazing!  I know mine was :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Thank you to those who purchased T-shirts and necklaces!  I have even had a few donations from people I have never met!!  Shirts came in today and should be in the mail tomorrow!

I have been praying so hard about Abenezer.  I know that if it is God's will that he be with us this summer it will happen.  I love Mark Batterson's Lion Chaser's Manifesto.  The line that keeps standing out to me is this, "Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention."  That is SO scary.  

To some people $3400 is nothing, a drop in the hat, a tiny portion of their income.  I am so blessed in my life with family, friends, passions that God is growing in me, love for life, good health, soooo many things.  Money, I have not been blessed (cursed??) with.  And honestly, I praise God for that.  It forces me to trust Him, seek His help, follow His dreams, His passions.  And WOW, what an adventure it has been.  I look at how God has provided over the past year and a half.  I have been to Africa THREE times!!!  THREE!! Each of those provided by God in crazy miraculous ways.  God put this passion in my heart for orphans and I don't have an option but to do what He tells me to do.

I want to make this disclaimer.  This post is not to ask you for money.  I have been so worred.  I have been asking God to show me how to raise these funds.  I have racked my brain for new exciting ideas for fund-raising, wondering who I should bug next - ha!!  But, you know what?  I don't want to be able to take the credit for raising this money.  I don't want to look back and say: "I worked hard and I sold this many t-shirts, and I raised this much with a dinner, and I made people feel something - which convinced them to give."

I want to say, "WOW, there is no way this could have happened if God had not stepped in."

I will still do fund-raisers, I will still keep everyone up to date as things progress, I may even ask for your help.  But I want you to know, God gets all the glory.  He is the one who assembled this puzzle, he knows how it ends and what the final picture looks like.  I am but a humble servant, in awe and amazed at what my King can do.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Last Chance for T-shirts!!!

UPDATE:  The t-shirts are IN and I did purchase a few extras, just in case.  If you want a shirt, leave a comment with the size you would like and I will let you know if I have any available.  ALSO, I have 9 African Magazine bead necklaces left.  If you order a shirt or a necklace by noon on Friday, you can still get them before Christmas.

Thank you!!!

My Super-Man Up and Wonderlady shirt sale ends at MIDNIGHT TONIGHT!!!

Please order soon if you want one!  Thanks for all your prayers and support!!

ALSO, I will be selling the African Magazine Beads until Christmas!!

Thanks again for your purchase and prayer support!!!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Be A Hero!

UPDATE:  The t-shirts are IN and I did purchase a few extras, just in case.  If you want a shirt, leave a comment with the size you would like and I will let you know if I have any available.  ALSO, I have 9 African Magazine bead necklaces left.  If you order a shirt or a necklace by noon on Friday (Dec 16), you can still get them before Christmas.

OK, for one week ONLY!!  I will be selling the Hero Simply Love and Hero Man Up T-shirts!!

The mens shirt (which girls can wear too) is slim cut, unisex, and Awesome!!  The front says "Man Up", the back says "Protect and Love the Fatherless".

The women's shirt is also slim cut (jr size, order one or two sizes larger than normal).  The front says "Simply Love", the back says "Protect and Love the Fatherless".  I LOVE this shirt!!

I also have several African magazine bead necklaces for sale.  These are beautiful, durable, hand-made necklaces that come in many colors. 

Remember, each purchase helps us bring Abenezer home.  If you have not read my story, click here.

Shirts are $25 each, and necklaces are $12 (please add $5 per shipment for shipping costs - only pay shipping once, even if you buy several items).  Just click on my Paypal "donate" link and type your order in the notes, or send a check to:

Randi Shetley
PO Box 296
Fowler, KS 67844

Thank you!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Son of my Heart

Many of you know this story, some of you know part of the story, and a few of you may have never heard of my Ethiopian friend, Abenezer.  I will start at the beginning.

My first mission trip ever was with Visiting Orphans in July 2010.  My friend Kari Gibson was leading this trip, and God provided all the finances I needed to go on this incredible adventure.  My prayer before this trip was that I would be able to make a difference in the life of one person.  I knew what I saw would be overwhelming, and I knew I could never make a difference in the world, but was hoping I could make a difference in one life.

One of the most memorable parts of this trip was our visit to Korah, the village outside the city dump in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  An amazing group called Project 61 had begun a sponsorship program for kids from Korah.  These kids could now be placed in a boarding school with 3 meals a day, a bed each night and education.  

My first day in Korah, I met 3 incredible kids.  Sentayu, Binyam and Abenezer.  These three teenagers followed me everywhere and treated me like a princess.  They would carry my water bottle, my backpack, and when we were hiking to the community soccer field and back they each had an arm on mine to make sure I didn't slip in the mud. Sweet, sweet boys.  Binyam spoke English very well, so I talked to him the most, and he would translate for the other boys.  Sentayu smiled a lot, and Abenezer quietly followed us around.  When our team supplied the kids with a meal of injera, sheep and veggies, the boys insisted I sit with them.  They even offered to share their food with me - wow - not sure when they had eaten last, but they were worried about me.  I hugged each of them goodbye, not knowing that was the beginning of a relationship that would change my life.

On the last full day in Ethiopia, we got a BIG surprise.  Six of our team would be able to spend the night in Korah.  We would sleep in the shelter with some of the kids who were being sponsored.  It was a giant sleepover!!  It was sooo much fun!  The kids made us coffee and popcorn.  Someone brought in a TV and VCR and we watched a movie together, all crammed in a little room and sitting on wooden benches and wood slat floor.  

When we arrived at the shelter, Abenezer was one of the first kids I saw. I was SO happy that one of my boys was there!  He ran up to me and gave me a big hug, which surprised me since he had been so shy a few days earlier.  He sat next to me the entire evening, looking thru the photo album of my family.  Within 20 minutes, he knew the names of each of my kids and Shane.  He poured over that album, staring at it. memorizing each face.  While we watched the movie, this sweet 14 year old fell asleep on my shoulder.  By the end of the evening, he was calling me mom, and I was calling him my son.  The next morning, my team had to leave.  I hugged Abenezer goodbye, gave him a pic of my family, and told him that God had BIG plans for his life and to trust in God.  I told him I would never forget him.  

I meant that, but I had no idea what God had planned.

In October of last year something amazing happened.  I got a phone call from my friend Kari.  I had purchased 2 t-shirts from her and was entered into a contest.  Much to my surprise (and Kari's), my name was drawn and I WON a mission trip back to Ethiopia.  WHAT?!?!  It was a wild feeling...and a bit scary.  Why had God given me this trip?  What did it mean?

Well, February 2011 came around and I was on my 2nd trip in 6 months to Ethiopia.  We went back to Korah, but since it was February, all the sponsored kids were away at school.  We did, however, have an incredible experience in Korah.  A beautiful 14 year old girl named Mercy was very sick.  Her mother, Mulu, asked our team to pray for her daughter.  Mulu is an incredible lady, with more faith than I had ever seen.  Mercy had actually died several months before, but after a prayer from Mulu her daughter was raised from the dead.  Yes, dead.  She was alive but, still sick.  When a few ladies from our team prayed for this sick girl, and sang over this sick girl, they didn't know they were about to witness a miracle.  Less than an hour after our team left Mercy and Mulu's house, Mercy came walking down the street.  Compeletely healed!!  We sang praises to God, and took Mercy shopping for a new outfit for her new life.  It was an incredible day.

God made it possible for 5 members of our team to take a 5 hour trip to Shashemene school, near Awassa, to see our kids.  Two of our team had sponsored kids through Project 61 and wanted to meet them.  Kari and I wanted to see the kids we had met the summer before.  

Abenezer had no idea I was coming.  When we arrived at around 10am, all the kids were in class.  We had to wait until noon to find the kids.  Even then, this is a HUGE school, so as I was waiting in the cafeteria, wave after wave of kids came in, but no Abenezer.  Finally, one of the Korah kids came running in to me and said "Abenezer is coming!".  I saw him out the window and ran to him and caught him up in a big Mama Bear hug.  He was shocked to see me, and there were tears in his eyes when he looked at me.  I had wondered if he would remember me, since so many Americans tour Project 61.  Then he showed me something that rocked me to the core.  He told me he wanted to show me his belt buckle.  He lifted his shirt, and on his belt, made into a buckle, was the photo of my family I had given him back in July.  He was wearing my family around his waist!!  Wow.

Abenezer gave me a tour of Shashemene school, I saw his dorm room, the restrooms, the cafeteria, and the beautiful campus.  I asked him to remind me to give him the gifts I brought for him.  He told me he had a gift for me, too.  We stopped back in his room and he pulled his backpack out of his closet.  In this backpack was a package, wrapped in shiny red paper, just for me.  In it was three necklaces that he made     for me ( I am still wearing one of those as a bracelet, I never take it off) and a comp notebook.  In it were drawings for each of my family members, and at the end, his entire life story.  What an incredible gift...that he had been keeping in his backpack for the day he would see me again.  Again, wow.  Remember the picture album he looked at over and over again at the sleepover?  I brought that album back with me and gave it to him to keep.  I also gave him an Amheric bible and reminded him that God had big plans for His life.  I told him I loved him, but God loved him even more.  I told him to keep seeking God's will, even when it is hard.

We had a tearful goodbye, and I told him I hoped to come visit him again soon.  

At this point I started trying to figure out a way to make Abenezer a more permanent part of my life.  I asked about adoption...not a possibility since he did have a living birthmom (whom he had not seen in many many years).  Also, adopting a pre-identified child is VERY difficult, if not impossible in Ethiopia right now.  Next, Shane and I talked about getting him a student visa.  If we were not able to do that, we wanted to at least get him a tourist visa so he could spend a summer with us.  We visited with an immigration lawyer about what it would take and prayed. A Lot.

My greatest fear was that I would tell Abenezer that we wanted to get him a visa...then something would go wrong, it wouldn't work, and he would be crushed.  

In August of this year, Shane and I had the opportunity to lead a trip to Ethiopia and Rwanda with Visiting Orphans.  I was SOO excited for Shane and Alexis to meet Abenezer.  The reunion was awesome.  We met with a big hug, and sparkling eyes.  I introduced him to everyone on our team, and we had some great conversations.  

Here is where things get crazy.  I have only told this story to 3 or 4 people.  Even now, almost 3 months later, I'm not sure how to explain it.  Abenezer told me there was a prophet in the village, and that the prophet had told him some amazing things.  She told him that he would be a man who shared the Gospel of Jesus around the world.  He wanted me to meet this prophet.  When he found her I almost fell to my knees right there.  The prophet was Mulu, Mercy's mother!!!  When she realized I was "Abenezer's Mother", she was so excited to talk to me.  Abenezer, Mulu, Henok (our translator) and I all went into a small room away from everyone else.  She told me that she dreamed about Abenezer before she had ever met him.  She knew this boy would be traveling to another country to talk about Jesus.  In fact, three days before this, she had told Abenezer a Forenge (foreign) woman would be coming with a group of other Forenge to visit him.  She had had a vision about that very moment in that room with the four of us talking about Abenezer.  Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.

I knew in that moment that I did not need to be afraid to tell Abenezer our plans to bring him to America for a visit.  It seems God had already told him., we are in the process of getting his visa.  I know God will provide, but I feel like I need to share this story, and give you the opportunity to help us bring Abenezer home.  He has his passport, but now is the hard part.  Visas are not given easily.  Lawyer fees and visa fees and airline tickets are expensive.  But it seems God has a plan, who am I to question it??  Please be praying fervantly for this precious boy and for our family and for this situation.  I do belive God has a BIG plan, which means the enemy will be working hard against it.

My CURRENT fundraiser (Feb 1-9):  I have a gorgeous king-sized, hand made quilt up for auction on ebay.  It has a cool coffee cup theme and is tagged Protect and Defend the Fatherless.  SO cool.  Here is the link

I have the $3500 to get Abenezer here!!!  Praise God!!  Phase one is complete.  Now we are on to phase 2.  I need about $2500 to get my airline ticket to Ethiopia and for my lodging for about 10 days.  I really feel like I need to be there for Ab's visa appointment.  His chances of getting the visa approved will increase 100 times if an American is there to insure he will return to Ethiopia.  THANK YOU SOOO MUCH for your help so far, God is doing great things!!!  I can't wait to see what happens next!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

God Chooses the itinerary

August 9th 
We awoke this morning after a relatively good night’s sleep.  We ate breakfast at the hotel, and loaded up to go to our first orphanage.  Jane called to see if there was anything the orphanage needed.  They asked for food.  Wow.  Everyone pitched in and we bought $195,000 (not dollars...Francs - the equivalent of $325 USD) of supplies for them.  We bought porridge, rice, diapers, sugar, beans, and laundry detergent.  We made our way to the orphanage and arrived around 11:00.  
I felt like something was wrong as soon as we arrived.  I had seen pics of the orphanage and this did not look the same.  We were told that there were visitors there from the American Embassy singing for the kids.  Clue #2, the orphanage knew we were coming and were expecting us.  The orphanage director was very kind, and told us some amazing stories of how the orphanage came to be.  When he asked who we were, we told him about Visiting Orphans, and he said “Why have we never heard of you?”.  Clue #3.   He gave us a lovely tour of the facility, then we joined the kids and listened to the end of the concert.  I held a lovely little girl on my lap (I think it was a girl, they all had their hair cut short).  Finally we had our final clue.  Emmanuel called us on Jane’s phone asking us when we would arrive...oops!!  At least we hadn’t already given away the supplies they had asked for!  
I do believe that God makes divine appointments sometimes, and I think there is a reason we visited this orphanage! I will be passing on their info to Visiting Orphans so we can put them on the itinerary next time.
We had lunch at a lovely Rwandan buffet, and were measured for hand made Rwandan skirts.
Finally, around 3:00pm, we made it to the orphanage.  They were sooo happy to see us.  We parked on the side of the street, grabbed our donations and the supplies and followed them across the street.  We walked up a hill, then walked up a steeper hill, then jumped across a small ravine, then up an even steeper hill.  Most of the Muzungus (white people) were panting pretty hard when we finally made it to the orphanage!
At first, it was pure chaos.  20 Muzungus with candy, bracelets, whistles, stickers and 95 kids wanting them makes for a pretty insane picture.  Eventually we realized we could never make it even, so we gave the toys to the director to give away later.  We, with Emmanuel’s (The Director) help split the kids into three groups by age.  We did some great art projects with them.  The youngest kids glued cotton balls onto light blue paper to make the sky (God made the sky and God made us).  The primary/elementary kids made paper dolls and colored them (We are all connected and all friends), the tweens and teens drew their name on a piece of construction paper and decorated with glitter, sequins, and crayons (God knows your name).  For about 30 minutes it was very organized - ha!!  As the kids finished their art projects, Jenn and Chris were setting up the camera equipment.  They would take a pic of a child holding their art project, then printed them, right there in the orphanage, then stuck them on foam board and let the kids decorate.  It was a BIG hit!  The kids loved seeing their pics and loved even more that they got to keep those pics!!
We finished the day in Heaven.  No really, the restaurant is called Heaven!  Brad and Chelsea Carpenter met us there and we had some amazing food, and great conversation with them and the team.  It was really great to spend time with them!
Tomorrow we leave early for Giseny.  We didn’t empty many suitcases today, so we will have to fit 22 people, 41 suitcases, plus our carry-on bags in a bus made to carry 24 people.  It might be a tight 3 hr drive tomorrow!!
PLEASE continue to pray for us, lots of traveling in the next few days.  Praying we can really love these kids and make a difference that lasts longer than one day!!

The Adventure Begins

Aug 6 - Aug 8, The Adventure Begins!

Shane, Alexis, Keighley, Amanda and I left Fowler at 6:15 and had an uneventful drive to Wichita (thanks for driving us, Shawna!) and boarded our flight to Chicago. We were a bit nervous because we only had 40 minutes between flights and O’Hare is a huge airport. We made it there on time...and our flight was delayed. We finally got to Dulles in Washington DC and met Katie and Abby, the other two teenagers on the trip. We caught a shuttle to the hotel and waited for the rest of the team. We had planned to meet at 6:30 for dinner, but almost every flight had been delayed. At 7:30 those who were there (the Fowler crew, Amy, Carmen, Katherine, Danellia, Katie and Abby walked to McDonalds. We had a great time getting to know each other, then walked back to the hotel...through the rain!! We decided it was just preparing us for the rainy season in Africa!
Tena, Beth, Jill, Miranda, Chris and Jenn arrived later that night.

We woke up early the next morning to board our flight. The Fowler team and Miranda were the only ones who were able to send their luggage all the way to Kigali, so we had a lot of luggage to get to the airport. We made it in two trips in the hotel shuttle. Shane took the first group, I followed with the second. When my group arrived, we had a bit of a problem. The back of the shuttle was full of our luggage. Behind the last row of seats was a plexiglass shield. The door to the back of the van was jammed! Shane tried to help the driver open it but it wouldn’t budge. After 30 minutes and a borrowed screwdriver from airport security, they were able to remove the plexiglass, and remove the suitcases. Whew!!

We were able to get our team checked in, and other than a $150 fee for Carmen’s extra suitcase, it went very smoothly. Tena had one bag that was overweight, so we distributed the extra weight to a few of the carry on bags. Shane and I were the last of the group to head to the gate. On the way there, we got a call from Amanda telling us that Alexis had been stopped at security. She had taken some of the extra luggage, and had a bag of lotions that were in Tena’s donation bag. We told them that we had some extra baggies and could split them between us. When we got to security, they were nowhere to be found! We called them back and somehow they had ended up at security on the other side of the airport. It was getting dangerously close to boarding time, so we told them to leave the lotions behind and get to the gate. We finally made it to the gate just as the plane was starting to board. We said a quick hello to Tina, Debbie and Melinda and boarded our flight.

We had a 14 hour flight to Ethiopia, then a layover in Addis. We were all a bit tired at that point. I told everyone we would have a chance to eat, shop a bit and get online once we reached the airport, but they sent us to terminal one, which didn’t even have a vending machine, let alone internet access. After an hour sitting in the smoky waiting area we loaded our last flight to Kigali. We made it safely, but the whole team was exhausted, a bit nauseated, dehydrated and cranky. We did get every piece of luggage (yay!) and met Jane in the lobby.

We were planning to check in at the hotel first, but decided we needed to get to the genocide memorial before it closed. We grabbed some water, coffee and smoothies at the cafe, then went inside to the memorial. It was absolutely heartbreaking. There are 293,000 people buried in mass graves at that site. The guide did a great job of telling the story of the Hutus and Tutsi tribes (we were so tired from the flight, many of us had a hard time keeping our eyes open while he talked).

Finally, we arrived at our hotel. It was beautiful! We stayed in apartments in groups of four. Ate dinner together, then finally went to bed.

Tomorrow we visit our first orphanage, Kimisagra, in Kigali.

Monday, August 1, 2011


We leave on Saturday for Rwanda and Ethiopia!

I have a few shirts and bracelets left in stock! We still need a couple hundred dollars for our trip. Please think about buying a shirt for $25 or a bracelet for $5!

Photos of the t-shirts are on my facebook page, here is my current stock:

Black Africa Swirl shirt, I have two 3XL and one small left - these are mens fit, so run a size big

Black Women's Heart - slim fit, womens (fits a size or two small, order big!) One medium, one XL

Gray Man-up - I have 4 small v-neck and one XL crew neck.

Bracelets are only $5 each.

This week only!! FREE SHiPPING - order by Thursday!!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Simply Love Bracelets!!

New Simply Love Bracelets!! Only $5.00 Each, If you buy 2 or more, shipping is FREE!!! All Proceeds go to our Trip to Ethiopia and Rwanda this August! We have child and adult sizes, be sure to specify which you want!!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Go! Shirts for our Aug Visiting Orphans team!!

We have the design for our Visiting Orphans Rwanda/Ethiopia trip!!! These will be available for our team for $15 and for non-team members for $20. Order by Tuesday, we need to get the order in!!! Don't miss out!! Just select the shirt you want on the drop down box and click "Buy Now". Don't forget to send me a message with your t-shirt size!!

Africa in 30 Days!!! Woo Hoo!!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011


As of today, I am officially a Field Rep for Caring Adoptions!

What does that mean? It means it is now my job to unite adoptive parents with their new children! WOW! Can I say "Best Job Ever"????

I have had so many families over the past several months ask me about adoption, and now I can actually help them through the process!

The program I am part of places bi-racial and African American newborns with their new forever families. This will be my first opportunity to work with a domestic adoption program. I am so excited!! I will help prospective parents with the initial paperwork and be their support as they go through the process.

If you, or anyone you know, is thinking of adopting domestically, email me and I will get you more info!!

Be praying for me as I start this new endeavor, I can't tell you how excited I am!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I can't believe our trip is coming up so quickly!! We will leave on August 7th, which is only a month away!!

We still have a bit of fund-raising to do. If you were planning to buy a Simply Love t-shirt, we still have several left!! We have the girl cut, heart Simply Love, and the men's v-neck Simply Love (Back says: Man Up, Protect and Love the Fatherless). You can click on the Buy Now button and select the shirt you want (Tell me what size you would like in the notes). Or, if you would like to support either Alexis or Shane without buying a shirt, you can simply (no pun intended) click the Donate Now button. My way is paid, but Shane and Alexis still need a total of around $2000 before we leave!!

Please be praying for our team, I am SOO excited to meet everyone and to see what God is going to do through us. Thank you for all your prayers and support! I love loving orphans!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shirts and Bags


Alexis is still having the bag/shirt sale thru the end of the month! Buy 2 shirts, 2 bags or one of each for $40 instead of $25 each!!

We only have the Black Heart shirt and the V-Neck Simply Love Man-Up shirts left, but have all sizes available. Just click on the Buy Now button and tell me what sizes and colors you want!!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Finally...a post about my trip

It has been over a month since I returned from Ethiopia for the February Visiting Orphans mission trip. People have been asking for my stories, but to be honest I am still processing everything I saw and experienced while I was there. I don’t forget some of the experiences I will go ahead and start writing. I will warn you ahead of time, this may seem fragmented and strange, right now I’m not even sure where to begin.

For those who don’t know, I actually won this trip. My BFF, Kari Gibson had a giveaway on her blog and she randomly chose 3 people out of almost 600 and my name was chosen. I was So excited, yet a little nervous. Why did God want me on this trip so badly? What was I going to learn, and who was I going to impact in such a big way that he GAVE me this trip?

I could go day by day and tell you what we did, who we saw, what we ate and how I felt every moment, but I’m afraid by page 10 people would stop reading - ha! So I will talk about my favorite moments.

We had the chance to go to several cities in Ethiopia. We were in the capital city, Addis Ababa for several days. It is a VERY large city. It is in a valley surrounded by mountains and the views in the morning are so beautiful. However, being a large city will no rules about auto emissions and mostly diesel engines, the air pollution is horrible. This is also a city of extremes, you will drive past expensive Mercedes, Jaguars and Land Cruisers, while at the same time you see kids living on the streets, mothers holding babies and begging on the street corners, and people with disabilites with no hope for the future. You can stay at the Hilton or Sheraton for over $200 US dollars per night, and within 50 feet of the hotel, you see the poorest of the poor living in corrugated tin shacks with no running water or electricity.

This may sound strange, but my favorite place in Addis is Korah (or Kore). This piece of land was originally given to a doctor around 60 years ago as a leper colony. He had asked the king for a place to try to help the lepers, and he was given this area outside the city. The city has since grown and that area was soon established as the city dump. The lepers, their children and grandchildren still live there. It was once known in the city as the place for outcasts: AIDS and HIV positive people, drug addicts, thieves, those cast out from society or rejected by their families and all who were considered worthless were forced to live on the dump, digging through the trash for daily food. Now over 10,000 people live in an area the size of Fowler (my hometown) living off of the dump and looking for items to recycle for a few Birr (One birr = 16 US Dollars). You may wonder why this is my favorite place. It is because of an amazing ministry called Project 61.

A young man named Sammy who was born and raised in Korah found out about Jesus through some young missionaries who were brave enough to enter the dump to spread the Gospel. A little over a year ago an amazing woman named Sumer went to Ethiopia on a Visiting Orphans trip, visited Korah and felt God calling her there. She and her family moved to Addis and she and Sammy and some other amazing Ethiopian men of God began Project 61. In the past year over 250 children who once lived and worked in Korah have been sponsored and are now either in boarding school (getting 3 meals a day, a bed and education) or attend school nearby. These “throw-away” kids, now have a hope and a future.

The village of Korah is still a devastating place to visit. On this trip we had the honor of visiting the homes of those who live on the dump. We also had the opportunity to help make-over the homes of a few families. By the time rainy season begins, their roofs should no longer leak and they will have plastic on their floors instead of dirt. We were told - just giving them something to sweep and clean boosts morale and gives these people a feeling that they have a home, not just a shack made out of trash. We visited one house that was maybe the size of my living/dining area. We were told 8 families...22 people lived in that tiny space. Unreal.

On my first trip to Korah last July, I actually had the opportunity to go out into the dump, walk through the mountains of trash, see the pigs and dogs that lived there, shook hands with ladies “working” there looking for recycling, and talked to some teenage boys who asked if they could be sponsored and attend school. When I was back in Feb., the dump was closed to all Forenge (foreigners) because of the amount of people making videos and telling the world about the conditions there (the government didn’t like the bad press). Instead of visiting the dump, we were able to go into Korah village and meet people in their homes. We had the chance to pray with a few famlies and I had a chance to meet a precious lady who was a leper. She was not more than 5 feet tall and probably weighed 80 pounds fully dressed. When we told her we would try to help make her home a little better, she had tears in her milky white eyes and wiped them away with her fingerless hands. She looked like she could be in her 70’s but I wonder if she was older than 35. The disease is terrible. As she was wiping her tears away I knew she needed to know she was worthy. I gave her a hug and told her through the translator that we were honored to be in her home and that God loved her. She hugged me back and just wept.

The ministry team at Project 61 has begun a feeding program for some of the lepers at Korah. The men with leprosy make their way to the Project 61 shelter and other volunteers go to the homes of the widows with leprosy to feed them. Some on our team had the chance to feed the men. Keep in mind, most lepers have lost their fingers so it is very difficult to feed themselves. They are also feared, so can not work. Several of our team had the chance to feed these precious men. In Ethiopia, silverware is not used. Everything is eaten with a spongy sourdough bread called injera. You scoop up your food with the injera and eat it all with your fingers. Watching these loving Christians hand feeding lepers was an amazing thing. I told those who had the chance to do that, that they were literally being the hands and feet of God. When we get go heaven God will say “Come with me into my kingdom, for when I was hungry you gave me something to eat, when I was thirsty you gave me something to drink, when I was naked you clothed me and when I was sick and in prision you came to visit me - for whatever you do for the least of these, you also do for me”. I can’t even express the power of that moment watching my friends “feed Jesus”!!!!

One of the most amazing things I have ever experienced happened at Korah. On our first day there, a young mother came to us, begging us to come to her house to pray for her daughter. We said we would, but as they day went on, I am sorry to say we forgot. The next morning the mother was waiting for us, and once again asked if we would come pray with her daughter who was very sick. 5 ladies in our group decided to go with her. I wish I would have gone, but the homes are so tiny, I didn’t want to overwhelm the household. Here is the story I got from my friend, Kari, who was one of the five. This lady’s daughter was a beautiful 15 year old girl named Mercy. Five months before this, Mercy had been very sick and had actually died. The mourners came to the house, a tent was being brought to the house for the funeral and this incredible mother decided to go into a room by herself and pray. The thanked God for giving her daughter to her, but she understood that God was taking her back. She in turn told God she was giving Mercy back to Him. When she walked back into the room where her daughter lay, Mercy sat up. She was literally brought back from the dead! The next five months were spent going to doctors to see what was wrong. The ladies from my group saw several papers with medical testing and MRI’s that were hard to understand. Mercy was alive...but still very sick. As she lay unmoving in her bed, these five American ladies laid their hands on Mercy and prayed for healing for her body. As they were praying, Christie from our group remembered a lady in her church telling Christie that she needed to sing over Korah, so they played a song on their video camera and sang the song “Healer” over Mercy. They finished praying, then left to walk the mile or two to join the rest of our group for our service projects at Project 61’s facility.

Around an hour later, guess who came walking down the street with her mother! It was beautiful 15 year old Mercy, walking towards us, smiling and healthy! She was healed! Can you believe that? Just like Bible times. We all gathered around her and said a prayer of thanks and sang a song praising God for being so amazing! The next day, Mercy came by in her school uniform on her way back to class!! Wow...unbelieveable, but I saw it all with my own eyes!!

We had several other amazing days visitng orphanages, taking sponsored kids on field trips to play soccer and do crafts. We held orphaned babies and fed them fomula and prayed over them. We gave toys, bags, candy, wooden cars, necklaces and lots of love. We played with a parachute and made balloon animals. We hugged, played, kissed, served food, cried and just sat silently with our new friends. I sat in a home with one family and they sent one of their children to buy bottles of Orange Fanta for their honored!!! There were so many great things that happened that it would take an entire book to tell the story.

I guess I will end with my favorite day. First, a little history. When I went to Ethiopia in July and visited Korah I met a beautiful quiet teenager named Abenezer. He didn’t speak much English but we talked a bit through his friend Binyam. I spent the entire day with Binyam, Abenezer and another friend of theirs (whose name I can’t pronounce!!). They carried my backpack and my water bottle. When the group went on a hike to the soccer field, they held onto my arms as we climbed a large rocky hill. They pointed out mud puddles and were sure to keep me from stepping in them. Such sweet boys!!

A few days later, 6 of our group had the chance to have Korah’s first sleepover. We bought our pillows and blankets, ate popcorn with the 17 kids who slept at the shetler, the young girls served us coffee in a Ethiopian Coffee ceremony (which honors special guests), and we watched a movie together. One of our team brought glow necklaces so we turned out the lights and the kids laughed and screamed at the glowing colors. During this time, Abenezer sat beside me. He told me he wanted me to be his sponsor, even though he already had one. For a while, every time I called him my friend he would say “no”, point to me and say “sister”. By the end of the evening, I was calling him son, and he was calling me mother. At one point he lay his head on my shoulder and fell asleep. I told him that he was important and that God had a plan for him. I told him to go to school and work hard so next time I came to visit we could communicate even better. The next morning I hugged him goodbye, gave him a wallet sized pic of my family, told him I loved him and that I was his American Mom and that I would come back to see him as soon as i could.

In the six months after I left Ethiopia, I was able to send and receive several emails. Abenezer and I tried our best to stay in touch. At one point I asked him to write and tell me about his life...his story. He sent a one page email with a bit of his background, how he lived with an aunt for a while and lived on the street for several years.

In December, I learned Abenezer had been very sick. He was taken out of school and missed several months of classes. I emailed Sumer to see if there was anything I could do to help, send medicine, money etc. She said all they could do is pray and wait it out. In January he was well enough to go back to school.

During my trip this Feb, all of the Korah kids, including Abenezer, were at boarding school at Shashamene...about a 4-5 hour drive away from Addis. I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep my promise to go visit. God is good at working out details. Three people on our team had sponsored kids from Korah and they wanted to meet their kids, too. We hired a driver for the day and had a little road trip to Shashamene. When we arrived at 10:00am, the kids were all in class. The two hour wait seemed to take forever. Sumer had told Abenezer that I would be there at some point, but he didn’t know what week...or possibly even what month, so he had no idea I was there. I sat in the cafeteria and watched as group after group of kids came through the line. Finally one of the teenage boys we met earlier in the day ran up to me and told me Abenezer was coming. I saw him walking up and ran up to meet him. He smiled REALLY big...looked like he was about to cry, then hugged me. I told him to go ahead and get his food and I would be waiting for him at a table. He went outside to get in line...but when he made it inside, he came straight to the table. I asked if he was going to eat, but he told me the doctor said he couldn’t eat injera and shiro (the main food they eat at the school) because it would hurt his stomach. I was worried he wasn’t getting enough food.

As we sat and talked, he said he wanted to show me something. Remember the family photo I gave him in July? He had turned it into a belt buckle! He was wearing my family around his waist! We went outside to sit under a tree and talked some more. He told me when he was sick, he had a dream that I came to visit him. He also asked about each member of my family. I told him I had a gift for him and that I would give it to him before I left (I bought him an Amharic Bible, socks, underwear, some candy and a KU Basketball t-shirt :-). He told me he had a gift for me, too!!

He showed me around their campus (several of the students gave us funny looks as we walked around - who was that strange white lady with the crazy red hair running around with Abenezer??). When we arrived at the dorm, he showed me to his room. One of his roommates was at the one desk in the tiny dorm room doing homework. The room consisted of the desk, one window and three sets of bunk beds. I said, “Do you have 6 boys in your room?” Abenezer said, “No...ten.” Ten??? Wow. Some of the boys share a bunk. Granted, sharing a bunk bed is much better than sleeping on the street or in the dump. Abenezer went to the closet and pulled out a backpack. Inside was a package beautifully wrapped in red and silver paper. My gift, which had been in his bag, just waiting for the day I came to visit. Again, wow. I unwrapped the gift and found three strands of magazine bead necklaces which he made for me. There was also a comp notebook. Inside were pages and pages of flowers which he had drawn and colored. Each page had 2 or 3 Bible verses. The second half of the book was titled “My Story” and, starting with his birth, told all about Abenezer’s life, up to and including the time when he was sick. It was incredible.

The day ended way too soon. It was a bittersweet goodbye. Once again I told him I would think about him and pray for him every day. He told me he “had no other wish than this, that you would come to see me.” He also told me he would cry when I left. Which I saw him do as we were driving away.

It is a lot to take in. I jokingly told him to climb into my backpack so I could take him home with me. On several occasions he has told me he would love to see where I live. Honestly, I don’t know what to do with all this. Adoption is not an option (he still has parents, he has just never really known them). I could try to get him a student visa (very difficult to do), but he turns 15 in April and is only in 6th grade since he has not always been able to attend school (There are no public schools in Ethiopia, you have to pay tuition and pay for your uniform - that was not always possible for him). Even if I could get him a student visa, he would be really far behind the rest of his class. SO, be praying with me about Abenezer. I don’t know what to do other than visit when I can and continue to love and encourage him.

Now what?? Well, I am going back in August. I am leading a group with Visiting Orphans to Rwanda and Ethiopia, and Lord Willing, Shane and Alexis will be coming with me. Each trip brings new joy, new heartache and a new view of this world we live in. There is so much more to tell. So many more stories I could share...but it may take another few months to figure it all out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Simply Love shirts in stock to pair with your new Canvas Tote - 2 for $40!!

Extended through April...or until we run out of stock: Buy a Simply Love T-shirt and a Simply Love Canvas Tote and SAVE $10!! You can buy them individually for $25 each or buy two for $40!!

This is the "original" Simply Love Tee and one of the best sellers!! These are slim women's fit, so choose a size or two larger than usual. We have 1 - small, 5 - XL, and 1 2XL. I also have one medium regular unisex fit left in this style.

If you have kids that want a Simply Love shirt, this new design is available in XS! I have five Extra-Small and 3 XL in stock...perhaps a Father/Son gift??

More Simply Love Shirts

This "Heart" Simply Love shirt is a teen girls cut. Choose a size or two bigger than a normal t-shirt. We have 3 - Large, 3 - XL, 1 - 2XL

I only have a few left in this style! Unisex cut, it is great for men or women. I have 4 - XL and 1 - XXL in stock

This "World" shirt is one of my favorites! I have one XS and 4 - XL in this style. The back has a quote from St. Augustine "God loves each of us as if there were only one of us."

Available Simply Love T-shirts, Continued

This simple style is great for guys and girls. It is a unisex cut and we only have 2 Extra Large shirts left!!

In this gray Man-Up shirt we have 1 - XL v-neck and 2 - XL crew neck shirts left

This is a ladies style, but with a unisex cut. We have 2 - small shirts, 1 - medium shirt and one XL shirt. The back of this shirt says "Love will always find a way".

Through the month of March, Buy a Simply Love shirt and tote and save $10!!

I just added a new way to pay for Simply Love Shirts and Canvas Totes!! Look to the right and you will see a "Buy Now" Paypal button. Simply choose your option from the drop down box, then leave a comment with your T-shirt size or tote bag color or both.

Thank you so much for supporting Alexis on her first mission trip!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Help Alexis go to Africa this summer!!

For the month of March: Buy a Simply Love tote bag AND a Simply Love T-shirt (In stock shirts only) and save $10!! Normally $25 each, you can get both for $40.00!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Alexis is Going to Africa!!

Our oldest daughter, Alexis, is going to Africa with us in August! She has 5 months to raise $3600. To fund-raise, she is selling these awesome Simply Love canvas bags. They are $25 each and come in 6 colors. Just click on the Chip-in button to pay online, or bring a check by the house and choose your bag.

Thanks for your support!!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

And The Adventure Begins...Again!

After spending 5 days working as "Rose" at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN, I am heading to Washington DC to meet half of my team. We leave for Ethiopia in the morning.

I had a fitful night of sleep, anxious, excited, afraid and ready to go. It really seems we have been getting a lot of opposition from the enemy this time around. I think God has some AMAZING things planned for us and satan does not want those things to happen. I appreciate the prayers of all my friends and family as I head back to Africa. Something big is coming. I pray I have the wisdom to know what to do, the discernment to know and understand God's voice and the courage to do whatever He asks me to do.

Here we go...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Simply Love Tshirts

I am selling t-shirts again this year for my trips to Africa in Feb and August. The shirts are the Simply Love Africa design and are $25 each, I will pay for shipping. Right now I have several in the unisex black (girls order a size smaller than usual, men order a size larger than usual). They are slim fit and super soft.

I do have just a few of the men's gray Man Up Shirts, but they are going fast! I have 4 extra large shirts and 1 medium in that style.

To pay, simply click on the Chip-In button and pay with a credit card.

Thank you so much for helping me love on orphans!