Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Fundraiser...In Awwww!!!!

So when Kevin and I decided to do the garage sale, we were hopeful it would be big, but didn't really know what to expect.  Since Saturday when we posted about it... 
  • We have four family donations in our house right now,
  • About five more to pick up this week, including two full loads in the truck tomorrow from one place.
  • Others who will have items before the 20th,
  • Fliers to hand out at garage sales this weekend are almost done.
  • Thank you post cards are designed and we hope to order tomorrow.
  • A strategy for item placement and pricing.
  • Collecting boxes and bags to move items and give to people we are selling to.
  • Volunteers to help with baked goods.
  • Some volunteers to help with pricing
  • Some volunteers to help with the day of.
  • And some volunteers to help organize ahead of time!
We filled up our room upstairs on the second day, and then Kevin cleaned the carpet in the basement and we have been sorting things, returning calls, scheduling pickups and checking prices on ebay.

I should have taken pictures, but in all of the excitement I forgot.  Anyhow, we are in awe of the generosity of others and really, one person started most of this.  A friend from Facebook called had us pick up some items, told someone else about what we are doing, who told someone else, who called and has the two truck loads for tomorrow, and then they told someone else, who has a bunch of furniture they were going to sell, but decided to help our cause, so more phone calls to return tomorrow.

So we have confirmation, that we need to do this fundraiser and we will be raising some serious money for it!  We are very excited at how excited all of you are and want to thank you again and again!  And please, keep those donations coming, if you don't want it anymore, we do!!!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Fundraiser...And How You Can Help!

After much prayer and contemplation, Kevin and I have decided to do a fundraiser for the travel expenses back to Ethiopia.  This is totally out of our comfort zone and it's our first time at this rodeo...

But between the truck breaking, the window incident, Mr. Peabody's vet bills, the first trip costing twice as much as we planned (thank you fuel prices), the speed of the process (praise God!), the cost of travel shots/medicines, Dane's dental surgeries and eye therapies, my recent medical bills, etc. etc. etc. it's been a year of financial out pour. 

So we will be doing a Garage Sale.  As is typical Patty-style, we have started this a little later than we probably should have, but we are going to make the best of it and power through it!

We will hold it at our house, in the front yard, garage and backyard the weekend of September 23-24th.  We are shooting to raise the cost of the travel expenses for the second trip and anything we raise beyond that will go for the items needed by the Mati Orphanage in Ziway, Ethiopia that need to be purchased in-country.  Some of the things they needed that we would need to buy there are water container to filter rain water to clean water, printer/copier, laundry machine.

So, we are all in and here's what you can do to help:
  • Donations of used household items (no encyclopedias or hide-a-beds please, pretty much anything that Goodwill will take we will).  If you are willing and able to drop them off, we we love that, but if not, we will pick them up.
  • If you are at a garage sale, know someone who is having one, or having one yourself let them know we will take their "leftovers" same rules as above, on pickup and restrictions) and I can send you my phone number privately if you would like and I will be making fliers for this shortly. (If you are planning any big yard/estate sale shopping days, please let me know and I will give you fliers to drop off!)
  • Pricing, Cleaning and Organizing - We will be doing runs to houses and garage sales through the 20th of September, but we will need to have people check the incoming items for potential high value items on eBay and then pricing and cleaning items as they come in so that we can get top dollar without a bunch of left over items!
  • Setting up and tearing down on the sale day(s).  We will have the ability to do some pre-setup since we will be using our garage and our backyard, and we probably won't tear down at night.
  • Sign makers and posters!
  • Baked goods for the days of the sale - We will be selling drinks, snacks and probably some hot dogs too.  If you are a whiz at making treats, cookies, etc. or have a way with the BBQ, we would love your help as part of the fundraiser!
  • When it comes time for the Garage Sale - Tell all of your family and friends for us!
  • Pray for success of the event and to raise enough money for the trip expenses as well as the Mati Orphanage items!
A couple of disclosures: If the items donated are something the orphanage and/or foster home have requested, we will earmark those to go to Ethiopia (see 8/12 post for more details).  Next, at the end of the garage sale, we hope to send any leftover items on to another good cause, but it may not be adoption related if we do not find another family doing a garage sale as a fundraiser that is able to take the items.

And for reading this post, we will post the first ever picture on the blog of Dane's little brother, Isaac!  100% of your help on this will be to help him get home and to help his "classmates" from the orphanage in Ziway!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Girl Who Likes Zippers and Velcro (and shares Patty's Humor)

Many of you know that when Kevin and I arrived in Addis, there was some confusion and our little man had not been brought up into the city yet.  This was actually an answer to prayer because we hadn't fully decided if we would go down to the area he had been living or not, and this confirmed, we had to go to pick him up. 

It turned out to be a terrifying drive, but a totally enriching experience.  The caregivers were awesome, we were able to take them much needed supplies and the children were just awesome.  Let me say that again, the children were AWESOME!  Here's a sign that they made that we think shows why:

When we arrived it looked like a relaxing day were the kids were just being kids, and as soon as they saw the van, it was time to sing and rejoice and be excited, for someone's Mommy and Daddy had arrived.

Now remember we were traveling with two guards and a translator, so I jokingly called it our "entourage." The children started singing about Isaac's Mommy and Daddy along with the caregivers.  (Isaac's name is pronounced e-sock in Ahmaric) so if I ever call him that, it's because that is what we were calling him there.

And then...The person who looked just like the photos we had received...arrived...wearing a bright pink shirt with ruffles, light blue shoes, some brown pants with a pink stripe and a TERRIFIED look.

They tried to hand him to Kevin, and you would have thought we were hyenas.  Now, one thing about me, is that I am the queen of inappropriate giggles and you guessed it, I started laughing.  Hysterically.  How ironic that we should travel 20,000 miles and a terrifying drive that we felt was miraculous to live through, and then the main man, the person we traveled to see was NOT happy to see us.  And then there was a little girl who shared my humor.  Here name is spelled different, but let's just call her Iris.  A beauty, 3-5 years old with a rich and cheerful laugh.  I had a friend!

Now, in the many books we have read about adoption and "attachment" we knew Isaac's reaction was a good sign, because it means he has built healthy relationships with his caregivers and he wasn't willing to run up to just anyone.  It took about two hours and some serious patience, and then he decided to warm up to Kevin.  And then we went through a much shorter process, but an upsetting process of him transferring to me.  We learned that he really liked to be talked to and point out things in the courtyard (what little guy doesn't like that kind of attention?).

He decided to get down and take us on a tour of the place.  It was actually pretty fun.  Especially to know his favorite place is where all of the boys go to the bathroom (early potty-trainer I hope!).

So then the chorus of Isaac's Momma and Isaac's Ba Ba (Daddy) started again and the children all sang and then they pulled the children and caregivers away and the orphanage director arrived.  Some how the little girl who shared my humor stayed and hung out with us, and she and Kevin started playing a game.  We were wearing REI/The North Face, clothes with a ton of velcro and zippers and she would unzip or unvelcro a pocket and then giggle and let Kevin figure out which pocket.  I got some gorgeous pictures of her and Kevin and just her. I will never be able to post these, but hopefully I can share these with people in person.

So in the change of surroundings they started just calling us Momma and Ba Ba.  And little Iris got confused.  She thought we were her parents.  Oh my goodness, it was heart wrenching, and how do you respond to an orphan who thinks you are her parents?  I started correcting her when she called us that and telling her we were Isaac's parents, but I was fighting back the tears.

So we met with the orphanage director, went through Isaac's records and then it was time for us to head back to the city and take Isaac to the Foster Home. I asked if Iris had parents and with the language barrier I got a mixed answer.  The good byes for the caregivers, nurses and orphanage director were very emotional and very difficult.  Seeing how much they cared for Isaac, it felt like we were doing the wrong thing. But knowing they were at their capacity and there were many children in the area who were waiting to be placed there, everyone knew this was the right decision, just a tough one to follow through on.  Oh, but parenting is really about the follow through, right?

I might add that our guards played with the other children and turned from tough guys into teddy bears about two minutes after we arrived.  But when it was time to go, the tough guys showed up again.  And, one slight problem, Iris jumped in the van and was ready to go with us.

I think I cried for the first half of our trip as I remember seeing the caregivers pulling her out of the van screaming for her Momma and Ba Ba.  Isaac pretty much slept in Kevin's arms the whole time, and Kevin was tense and freaked out by the driving.  I was just feeling the cause of the orphan like never before.

So immediately after we dropped Isaac off at the foster home it started with the massive rains and I'm not really sure the driver could see two feet in front of the van.  In the process of getting back into the van, I cut my leg on a rusty bar (thank you tetanus shot) because I couldn't even see two feet in front of me (and according to Kevin I am a class A klutz).

We got back to the guest house and shared about our day with our fellow guests, and that night we discussed what had happened with Iris.  We both knew that God had presented us with this situation in order for us to respond.  And respond we did.  We asked every person with the agency and the orphanage if she had parents.  We got mixed answers, and the day we returned to the US, we called our agency and asked about her status.

And as far as attaching with Isaac, it got better each day we were there.  I'm sure I'll post more details about that later.

Yesterday, we found out that Iris has parents, and they came in right after us and moved her to the Foster Home, so we may see her again!  Praise God! 

We feel like God presented us with the option to test us and see if we were willing to put our plans on hold for what He would have for us.  We feel like this situation confirms our call to the cause of the orphans.  We are not sure what this looks like in the long term, but we know that God knew we were Isaac's parents long before anyone else did.  We know that there are millions of children without parents worldwide and we know that God has given us a glimpse into what needs there are.  According to the Ethiopian Program director there, he said that International Adoption doesn't even address the increased pace of needs in their country.  There needs to be a long term solution, but as of right now, no one has that solution.

And we know that "The Girl Who Likes Zippers and Velcro" will not fall far from our hearts.

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” ~Mother Teresa

Saturday, August 13, 2011

You Asked, I'm Telling...Donations for the Orphanages

So many people have asked what kind of items they are needing at the orphanages, so these are the items they told me.  Keep in mind that some of these items cannot be brought into Ethiopia, so we would have to buy them there, and some we are still checking on exact details and prices, these are marked with an *:

{Remote} Orphanage
Clothe Diapers
Children's Blankets
Clothe Diaper Covers
Reusable Grocery Bags (Costco type would be best)
*3000 or 5000 liter water tank, to capture rain water and purify into drinking water
*Computer Printer
*Photocopier (3 way printer would work)
*4WD Car
(They also do work for HIV/AIDS education there, which is why the printer and copier are so important.  We are trying to find out if there are any specific needs for the HIV/AIDS portion of their work).

Foster Home in Addis
Clothe Diapers
Clothe Diaper Covers
Slip on Shoes for women and children
Children's Blankets
Reusable Grocery Bags (Costco type would be best) 

Guest House for Foster Home
Wired Mouse for Computer
Working phone (not remote, just plug in wall type with large numbers)
Computer Printer/Copier
Reusable Grocery Bags (Costco type would be best) 
Small toys that can be sanitized with bleach and water
Color Crayons and Paper/Color Books

Now we are not 100% sure how many bags or how much room we will have to take things this time, but we will prioritize the items based on the essential needs, which are listed here. Toys will be given the lowest priority on these lists and most likely, Kevin and I will buy a few things to leave there based on the room available. If there are any specific items you have and want to check on feel free to ask.

I have made contact with a person at each of these places and right before leaving, we will get an updated list and let you know too.


It's the {Not So} Small Things

While we were in Ethiopia we obviously saw some significant differences in our ways of living.

For one, they walked everywhere or took a "bus" that was a blue and white VW van from the 70's and 80's and played, how many people can you fit in this bus?  It was a 11 passenger vehicle on a good day and when it was raining once, I counted over 20 in one bus!!!  Yes, keep up the good work STA!!!  We like your A/C comfy seated limousines aka buses!!!  Definitely a {not so} small thing!
Street Full of Buses and Houses and Shops in the Background

When we rode down to Ziway and back, we rode in one of these vans.  The two of us, two guards and a translator/guide. All along the way people would try to get on our bus (as there was no way to mark it as charted), because it had quite a few less people than any of the other buses.  I was instructed to keep my electronics (read camera) low profile and if we came to a stop or slowed down to drop it out of site so as not to encourage anyone to come near the bus.  Right now, on the US State Department warnings, taxi's are seen as the biggest threat in Ethiopia.  So our guards would call anyone away from the van, or if they needed to come near it, they would watch them intently.  It was the same with our taxi-cab in the city.  They actually left the van running while they fueled it, which I am sure is dangerous, but they didn't want to make us vulnerable.  Hey, potAto, potaaato.  I guess that's something I take for granted each day.  When I park at the grocery store, the mall, or the open air market, I can leave my vehicle and lock it, and unless I am on a movie set, there's not going to be anything planted on my vehicle to endanger me.  Yeah, someone might break in and steal something, but it's a pretty remote chance. A {not so} small blessing.

It was amazing to see how the farmers were using Ox and Bulls to plow their fields, how they were using donkeys and horses to pull carts, how children four and up were herding animals right alongside the road.  It really looked like pictures I have seen of in US history books, yet they are making it work today.  The Ethiopian program director of our agency explained to us, "We are a very agricultural country, and while we are moving forward, we are still building the bridges to get to a more industrialized society.  We have no insulation from famine and disease, and what the people of your country are doing for these children is important for us to help build a better country and for them to live better lives." A big {not so} small thing.
Men at Work...Alongside the Road on the way to Ziway.

During this drive, I observed the number of people using five gallon containers to carry water back and forth (on their shoulders and heads), yes the National Geographic photographer in me wishes we could have stopped and I could have switched lenses and gotten some awesome pictures, but for some reason, our escorts were more concerned about getting us there in one piece than my photographic journal of the Ethiopian people.

For any of you who have read "The Hole in Our Gospel" you might remember back to what access to clean water and what shoes can do for a person, especially women.  The author of the book lives outside of Seattle and his wife decided to try to gather water from their local source of water and at the end of the day, she was exhausted and didn't have enough water to do 1/2 of what they normally do every day and hadn't even started the household chores.  Providing direct water sources can help so that children and women can go to school rather than spend the time carrying water, which allows them to move their society forward and provide incomes in places that were not possible before.  When we came home, I kept expecting to turn on the water and have it not work.  For the record, it's worked every time I have turned it on.  What a {not so} small thing.

And shoes, oh the shoes.  Let me tell you, while I hate wearing shoes, I LOVE to buy them.  And to think how the money I have spent on shoes go to waste in my closet.  Uggs, Ahnus, Crocs, Nike's, Adidas', Merrill's, Birkenstocks, ohh how I love my shoes...But when I return, I am taking MY shoes back.  My closet doesn't need the shoes as much as the people there do.  I am very much in favor of what Keen and Tom's shoes are doing in Ethiopia!  A pair of shoes can make a huge difference in a five-ten mile trek especially for those who are carrying heavy loads as many were. Another {not so} small thing.

In the orphanage in Ziway, the children spend a lot of time outside and wear shoes most of the time.  It's close to the hottest place in the world (year round), but the weather seems to me like southern California.  At the foster home in Addis Ababa, the children spend more time inside, as the weather is more like Seattle and the court yard for them to play is very small.  Here, when you go in and out of their facility you take your shoes off, but since the caregivers are going in and out all day, having shoes that slip on and off easily are very helpful! A {not so} small thing I take for granted entirely too much.
Kevin and Isaac's shoes (and more) outside of the foster home entrance.

Did I mention how cold it was in Addis?  It was definitely Seattle winter weather, and Kevin and I had known this (in our heads and when we packed), but somehow when we were going to Africa in August, we assumed it would be warm.  I cannot describe how much I love polar fleece, as they don't use A/C and heat.  So it probably gets down into the 40's and 50's at night and it's cooooold.  But it made me think about the children in the foster home.  For the whole facility they have ONE small heater.  They use it in the isolation room to keep the sick children stable, but what about the other children?  They have blankets, but for those of us who like to use (non) down comforters in the summer, those blankets are very thin...So next comes what else I am taking back, blankets, clean, lightly used children's blankets...And then, what about the people living on the streets.  The {not so} small things become even bigger.

Laundry baskets, yes simple laundry baskets we would buy at a dollar store, are prized possessions there and they would transport just about everything (besides laundry) in these baskets.  Now, I have gone through two laundry baskets this year, and both of them were made of higher durability products, so I can't even begin to imagine how all of the things they were doing to these baskets would allow them to last long, but I will tell you, those baskets get a much bigger work out than ours. And when my handle breaks, I get very frustrated, but they used robe, and zip ties to fix theirs, no duct tape though. Yet another {not so} small thing.
Laundry Baskets and Washing Bins

Housing, ranging from teepees, to huts, to sheet metal over sticks, and for the very rich, concrete buildings, was very different.  Our guest house was very simple, but it was VERY nice for there.  We were right next to a huge housing district with sheet metal roofs and satellites.  We didn't get to go into any of these houses, but I asked the guest house keeper and she said they are generally one room 10ft x15ft.  One bed if they have one, wood stove, or fire pit in the "yard" and a TV.  And usually 5-10 people live in each home to share the costs.  I am right now sitting in a room two times that by myself with a "few" more amenities than that. Our house is about 20 times that size.  Housing is yet another {not so} small thing.
Home Along Side the Road to Ziway.

Disease and Medical.  The first day we are there, all of the families in the guest house decided to go to the open market and get some food.  Kevin wanted to sleep off his motion sickness, so I went out with the group.  The very first thing we encounter 10 feet from our gate was a man with gang green and the flesh literally rotting off his body.  It was horrifying.  I asked the guest house keeper and there are no government programs for people in these situations, additionally, you have to pre-pay at the hospitals, and most couldn't even afford or have the means to get to the hospital.  I pray for that man, but as I have worked through some "serious" issues this week, and it turned out to be a reaction to the anti-Malaria meds I have been on, which they don't have even have access to that medicine, even though they are potentially exposed to it daily, I can't imagine what I would have done in his position. A painful {not so} small thing.

And the last, {not so} small thing, is the amount of hope they have.  Despite all of the challenges they face, Ethiopians in general have a very happy disposition.  They do not complain, and they hope that things will go well for them.  Talk about not sweating the small stuff.

I attribute this hope to three things, but first off, the lack of "things."  The more that we accumulate, the more we want to be like the Jones' and the more dissatisfaction we have. 

Second, is their faith.  According to the Ethiopians, Addis is the only place in the world where Muslims and Christians can co-exist in peace.  I couldn't figure out why they feel this way and why they can co-exist here and no where else, but I can tell you that the people we met were devout to their faith and found hope from it. 

And the last is their work ethic.  I feel like I am a hard-worker, but after seeing the excruciating pain and difficulty the people in Ethiopia work at, I now am going to categorize myself as lazy.  Their hard work builds their pride, which I believe builds their self-worth and hope.

I'm not sure that America has all of the ideas right or wrong, but I know that I have become dependent on too many comforts and am ready to break that dependance.  I am going to look at the faucet each morning and thank God when it works.  I am going to thank God when I go back to my truck and no one has broken into it, or done harm to it, and I will thank God for the medical advances and capabilities that are available less than three blocks from my house.  In other words, I will be thankful for the {not so} small things in my life.  I hope you can too!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

For God so loved the World...

Some of the most powerful words in the Bible to us...

God.Love.World. which means Hendricksons.Love.World.

Created by StrangeFire Studios, Palouse, WA

And in order to follow this calling, we had to have complete faith in the last year, but more specifically the last couple of weeks.  At the last minute, some of our travel arrangements changed and things were not quite as tidy as we would like as we left work.

In addition, on our trip, we ran into a few things that could have been frustrating too.  When we arrived in Addis Ababa, we had to wait for almost an hour for our ride, late at night after 44 hours of traveling and a surprise stop in Sudan.  Then when we got in the car, the drive was supposed to be five minutes.  Twenty-five minutes into it, we had to wonder what was going on.  We arrived, I asked about payment and there were some language barriers and we decided to discuss in the morning. 

Well, morning came at 5AM local time as a local mosque and the Orthodox Ethiopian church were singing in Arabic and Amharic and kind of competing.  It was beautiful, but loud and for those on a different time table, this was not helping the change and our fear factor as to where we were really at.  Then there were the rapid dogs that were fighting all night, and a misguided rooster who wasn't sure when it was supposed to wake everyone up.

Add to that finding out we were at the wrong hotel when we woke up, but it was a blessing in the end with all of the fantastic people we met (which we later found out the hotel we were supposed to stay at was still waiting for our arrival), Isaac wasn't in the city and we wouldn't see him for another day which would require eight hours of traveling in less than desirable conditions.  Kevin wasn't feeling well, so I joined the group of people staying at the guest house and we went to a market and dinner without Kevin to make some lemonade out of lemons.

As the National Geographic photographer I aspire to be, I was taking pictures of this that and the other, when out of no where, I was grabbed by some local men and they tried to shove me in their van.  I had read the guidebooks that warned of this and responded appropriately, and they were not able to take me, thank God.  I have to also thank the people we were staying with, as they were also quick to respond.  (Please note, I did not go anywhere without Kevin and a security person after this).

But after all of this, I still had an overwhelming love, and appreciation for the Ethiopian people.  And I can't quite figure out how in a place I felt so out of place how I could feel this way, and it all boiled down to this...

For God so loved the world...What does it say that He did?  "...that He gave his only Son, for whoever should believe in Him would have everlasting life."  Basically, He put it all on the line for us.  So here we are in a place, where we have left (at that time) our only son, we are feeling unprotected, resources are scare, our expectations were ruffled, we had put it all on the line, and things didn't seem to be working out. 

What was our response?  To whine and seclude ourselves?  No...It was prayer, and I don't think we have prayed more in our lives.  Our prayers of our own safety, the safety of the Guest House, the safety of the children in the orphanage, the children at the foster home, the families traveling, and those without food.  Our family we had left behind and more.

It became impossible to take any action that didn't require prayer:
  • Before food and drink - to ask for the food to be a blessing rather than causing food poisoning,
  • Before driving - to ask for protection from all the wearies of driving in their driving conditions,
  • Before meeting Isaac,
  • At the orphanage,
  • While traveling back to Addis with Isaac,
  • When returning to the Guest House,
  • While traveling to the Foster Home,
  • Before we went to bed,
  • When we woke up...

Pretty much, we became dependent on God, which is what we are supposed to do as Christians.  This dependence brought about some revelations, of which were how spoiled we are, and how we have not been loving the World as He would.  Why did it take this scare for us to turn to Him (again)? 

Well, the Lord has our attention and we are praying through what he has presented us with.  The orphanage that Isaac was in recently had two children die because of their lack of access to transportation to medical resources, in addition to this they have many other needs, the foster home has some needs, and quite honestly, Ethiopia still has millions of orphans.  So Lord, now that you have our attention, please tell us how we can love the World the way you desire for us. 

In His Name.

One Less...

August 2, 2011, Isaac became Isaac Hendrickson.  There is officially one less orphan in the world, and one less in Ethiopia and Dane is officially a big brother!

Matthew West - One Less