Sunday, January 27, 2013


Elsa lives at Kidane Mehret, an orphanage run by two Maltese nuns who have been working in Ethiopia for over 40 years.  They have had her since birth, and she is now nine years old.

What makes Elsa's story extraordinary is that she has hydrocyphilas and was not expected to live very long.  But here she is, a living, breathing example of the power of selfless love being poured out day after day after day without fail.

There have been families who have wanted to adopt her, but because of her condition, she would not survive a plane ride, and so the sisters continue to care for her.

They tell me that Elsa is blind, but she can hear.  An Italian family donated a small cd player that sits in her bed w/ the radio on so that she can listen to music (or talking or static...whatever happens to be playing at the moment).  They are careful to move her around, giving her floor time on a pad or to the tv room for cartoons or outside for some sunshine and fresh air.

She stays in the baby room with the other 20+ babies, some with disabilities and some with none.

But, oh, how these children are loved!  The sister explained to me that they have tried to perform surgery on Elsa 3 times to place a stint so that they can relieve some of the fluid build up in her skull.  And each time has failed.  And still Elsa lives.

Her bed is close to the door of the baby room.  Any visitor who walks in will have opportunity to meet her.  It's not easy.  She forces you to come face to face with a hard reality.  And yet, I think she stays there loved and cared for so that visitors like me can come face to face with love lived out in such an incredible way.

It's hard to visit an orphanage.  I image, though, that this orphanage is easier than others.  The love there was so tangible, so present in the way the sisters greeted us when we arrived with Tizita, the way they showed us around the compound, the way the children ran to us and greeted us and loved on Tizita, the concern in their voices when they told us about the newborn that had to be transported to the hospital last night.

These sisters live out love in a way that rocks my world.  I didn't come away from there with a hopeless feeling because of the need (and it is great) and the broken stories (and there are many).  I didn't come away discouraged because the atmosphere was full of the hope of Jesus and His power to save, redeem, and rescue.

What a privilege it is to be a part of this story and to be changed forever by these women and all of their helpers who spend their lives caring for the least of these. 

I am so challenged.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"El que invita paga."

A couple of weeks ago, Roger Cunningham, missionary to Chile, spoke at my church and challenged us to "cross the chicken line," to take risks, to go on adventures with God, and to remember that "El que invite paga" or "He who invites pays."

And don't you know that's true.  When God invites you to go on an adventure, He pays.  He takes care of every detail and gives me the job of listening and trusting and walking in faith.

Little did I know I would have a chance to trust Him in such a big way so quickly.

Last Thursday, I received a text from my sister who is in Ethiopia going through the adoption process for her little girl.  In a miraculous turn of events, she is able to bring her daughter home much more quickly than expected and has decided to stay on and wait for the paperwork to go through.  Meanwhile her husband and son must return home.

She asked me (and my little sister) to go to Ethiopia to help her.

We said yes and that began a crazy ride of a God story where plane ticket money and itineraries and unplanned breakfast with our dear German sister and standing in lines to get our visa and walking through customs and immigration into the airport where our sister stood waiting with our new niece.

We said yes because my sister said yes and here we are sitting in the guesthouse listening to street noises and cats meowing and children and families.  We've dropped into this international community of Danish and Italian and Dutch and American families who are choosing to be forever families to these children needing love.

I am amazed.  I am in awe.  I am so humbled by the generosity of HE who invited me to come on this journey to Africa and into the lives of the Ethiopian people.

And, oh, it is so true...El que invita paga.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Falling forward

When I read this blog post, I grabbed on to this idea of "falling forward."

So much time spent falling back, looking back, stuck back there in the past which keeps me from being present in this moment with this life I have right now.

I still struggle with inability to tackle smallest of piles without largest of overwhelming feelings washing over me and I am so ready to be done with that.  I have a choice in the midst where I can go with the overwhelming feeling of failure to accomplish what I want and need to or I can stand and declare that I'm falling forward into His grace and mercy that says: "I work all things together for good."

And what do I have to truly complain about?  Nothing, really.  Just so, so, so much to be thankful for.

This year I will keep focusing on falling forward into gratitude and thanksgiving and a life lived in the moment however messy that moment presents itself to be.