A note from Alex!!!!
Aser met my brother Ashebir in Addis and given to him the first money for pure water well project for my family and community.So Ashebir will be starts within three days and get pure water for the first time in their life.I want to say thank you so much to my sister Jen and her family, Aser and all champions of EC and others. Bless you!
As I reflect on the journey over the past few short months, I am humbled by the friends and family who have taken up their piece of the action to partner with and be who Embrace Compassion has been called to be. I just want to say THANK YOU to the hero’s and champions who have risen up to lend strength, expertise, wisdom and financial investment.
Because of these beautiful people, the well has been officially funded in Alex’s village and now we are able to begin sponsoring some of the children and to help them receive an education with only a very small investment.
I have been so delighted and inspired by a few of these special friends giving in their own way….
Bryan Putnam, a master athlete, running, biking and swimming, beyond what seems even possible to man, in a race called the iron man, boggles our mind in and of itself. To take it to the next level, he has given selflessly and offered to share in his victory and glory by completing the race on behalf of EC. Bryan’s family and friends have begun to send in a stream of donations in honor of Bryan for the families in Ethiopia. Embrace Compassion wants to say thank you Bryan for sharing your gifts, talents and most of all dedicated hard work for the betterment of the Ethiopian people and for the clean water that is being gifted to Alex’s family for the first time ever in history. You are a true Champion.
Michael Schmidt has donated countless hours to use his God given ability to produce our beautiful website and blog. His gift is one that cannot be mimicked by many and truly has brought exposure around the world where otherwise EC might not be known. This gift is evidenced even as you read this posting, as it would not be possible without Michael. Michael, you truly are a Champion and a one of a kind blessing. Thank you.
Mike Byrd is an Embrace Compassion Champion. Mike is glue, pulling the pieces together, volunteering his home, his time, his advice and support in almost every capacity. Mike’s knowledge of water, statistics, the map of Ethiopia and the need is vast. He shares everything without hesitation. He doesn’t stop with helping run the organization but puts his pocket book where his mouth is and steps up to the plate. Thank you Mike for being a champion and for blessing EC so very much.
Magan Byrd could have been lumped in with Mike but she really has her own Champion hero heart. Magan is so very encouraging, walks alongside each and every step and is constantly sharing the story she believes so deeply. Thank you Magan for sharing your experiences with us, for encouraging everyone, for loving Ethiopia in such a contagious way and for being a Hero. Your sacrifices are beautiful.
Cyndi Groth is a Champion. From the beginning, Cyndi advocated and found a special place in her heart for the children and specifically to bring together blankets. We delivered so many blankets to the children in ET thanks to Cyndi, her friends and her mom. Her love is contagious and her encouragement in irreplaceable. Thank you Cyndi for being a Champion.
Amy Elder, my Hero, is the reason this all began. Okay, maybe God had it planned all along but she is the one who was willing to allow God to use her and allow me to go along on my first trip to Ethiopia with her family. Not only did I get to know the Elder family in such a special way but my eyes were opened and my heart was wrecked and motivated by this first trip. David has walked faithfully and supportively through this adventure. He and the kids have helped redeem countless numbers of donated soda cans as well. Sacrificially giving of themselves, their time and their treasures. (not to mention those cinnamon rolls!) Thank you Amy and David for calling me your family and sharing the adventure that opened my eyes. You are my Heroes.
Waneva and Cory are Champions. On our very first trip to Ethiopia, they procured from Tursi’s soccer club, somewhere around $5000 in soccer jersey uniforms for the children. This is one of the very best gifts we could have taken with us. Such a high honor for the children to receive them. Not only have they given in this way, but Waneva has graciously become the volunteer administrator for the organization. EC would not exist without such generous volunteers. Waneva and Cory, you are Champions, thank you.
Dan and Nicole are Heroes. They have been “all in” and supportive on a deep level. From the beginning they listened, allowed their hearts to be moved and jumped in on the opportunity to contribute. From sacrificial contributions to Saturday morning package making, they have shown their love for us and for Ethiopia as only a Hero could do. Thank you for being a Hero.
Karla my friend and a Champion. Not many people have the gift of encouragement like Karla. Quietly, consistently, sharing love and you can do it messages, Karla never lets us lose hope or give up. Such a delight to have this wonderful friend who is a business woman of her own right, come and put together the simple envelopes and notes for our friends in Ethiopia. Karla has been consistent with her gifts of time and resources and EC would not be who it is today without her. My Champion, Karla, you are loved. Thank you
Lynne V is a Champion. While going about an ordinarily happy life, she has stretched to share the story and to bring awareness to the need for clean water in Ethiopia. When it might be easier to be a successful busy business woman, and not mess with other distractions, she has consistently taken interest in and taken the time to participate and acknowledge the cause. Thank you Lynne for your encouragement, your support and your belief in helping Alemayehu’s village. You are a Champion.
Jill Dawes is a Hero. The countless hours behind the scenes, the encouragement to say more cans have been redeemed, you are a blessing beyond measure. Your quite and faithful way of participating and encouraging has not gone unnoticed. You truly are a Hero. Thank You.
Encouragement and gifts have come from so many, almost impossible to list them all. You all know who you are. I want you to know that I appreciate you so much and Embrace Compassion would not be who it is without you. Claudia, Toni, Jessica B., Jacob and Kristi, Scott G., Wendy D., Erin J., Diane K., Sheri and Darin, Lisa, Phillis, Sandi, Brett and Chyrl, Tatiana, Marda and so many others in some small and large ways. You truly are Champions on behalf of the children and people of Ethiopia.
While reading a blog post from either Christy and Jerry with Embracing Hope or Project 61, I really don’t remember, it stuck with me the vivid description that was given regarding the families in the garbage dump. Many of them start out in the dump and no nothing different. Some start with a future and some hope, such as the young woman who has one semester of her nursing degree completed or a young woman or man with a small business. Usually, something changes, a baby is born, someone gets sick, a family member dies, they lose their place of business operation, are evicted from the shanty where they are sleeping and because of their total lack of margin in resources and support from others, they are completely derailed.
Even if the path was less than glamorous, they had a plan, they were working to be successful, to provide for their family and to have a life. Once that monumental moment occurs, they have to grasp at what they can get to survive and in this area of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia know as Kore or Korah, and they go to the trash dump. They hunt and gather plastic bottles to recycle for small amounts of cash, look for food that might sustain them temporarily or other possible items of value. Usually these sweet people get stuck. They can never get barely what they need to get through a given day; much less earn what they need to get back on track toward a sustaining life.
Then it kind of hit me. What about me? What are my soda bottles that I settle for? What do I substitute for God’s best in my life? What are the temporary fixes that I settle for?
Do we choose ordinary jobs that take too much time? Do we accept friendships that bring us down, distract us from real truth, and drain our being rather than iron sharpening iron? What about time wasted, maybe not on purpose but little by little on meaningless, insignificant and certainly not eternally lasting “stuff”? Do we even substitute God in our lives altogether for instant gratification in life that brings long term pain rather than the sustaining life that comes from living with relationship with Jesus and the guidelines he gives us to meet our eternal goals?
I agree that there is such difference between some of us and from those in Ethiopia and the devastated poor society that even a missed breath or meal could mean literally the end of a life. We have so much more opportunity but our laziness, selfishness and complacency will often keep us from being willing to dedicate ourselves to make the changes needed to make ourselves available for God’s best. Yes, some of us have hard stuff that happens to us too. But, is this really the only reason we haven’t bothered to go after God’s best?
This was the challenge that God put before me today, to look at myself and to be aware of any “plastic bottles” that I am tempted by or chasing rather than staying strong with the margin God has blessed me with and trust him to work through the difficult times and go for his best, whatever that might look like. And you?
Thankful to my husband and my two beautiful children, I had the very best day possible. We packed up early Saturday morning with a picnic lunch in tow and enough clothing for a night. As we have now adopted Alemayehu, at his age of 28, of course he joined in on the fun and traveled with us to the Oregon coast for an overnight visit that would be unforgettable.
The ocean is one of my very favorite places. I am a highly sensory appreciative person for the good and the bad. I love the sounds of the waves crashing and the gulls screeching, the smell of the fresh salty air and the mist that it leaves on your face, and the general peaceful sense of leaving your cares behind that the ocean brings for me. We love to stay at the Inn at Spanish Head where Shane and I spent a few nights of our honeymoon, 16 years ago. It has transitioned over the years into not only a romantic spot but a family favorite. This trip brought relaxation, pampering, escape, unusually beautiful sunshine and an array of peacefulness and family love. I so appreciated the attention showered on me from my favorite people, my family.
As always, spending family time with Alex always brings a piece of unpredictable adventure to our weekends and time together. This weekend was especially enlightening into the uniqueness of our culture and the joy we share in watching Alex enjoy life like a child, so many ordinarily delightful ventures for the very first time.
Without having much idea of what to expect, except what he had seen in text books or Hollywood movies, Alex was amazed by his first sighting of the Pacific Ocean. Many times he reminded us that this is the very biggest ocean, you know, I learned this in school! The salty taste of the water, the sand squishing through his toes, the surprise of a sneaky wave all brought the ocean to life right before him. Big bright eyes and an equally over sized smile showed his great appreciation and enjoyment of the surroundings and his American family. I don’t know who appreciates the relationship more, Alex or the rest of us. When we met him, only a few months ago, he was a gift sent from God to soothe our longing for Ethiopia and to share in a mission to love on the people who cherish their country.
The “firsts” we don’t ordinarily remember or take for granted are some of the ones that take me by surprise the most when Alex is so taken off guard by something new to him. This weekend Alex uncovered and was certinally surprised by opening his first hide-a-bed. The microwave popcorn dumbfounded him as he kept trying to figure out how that was all going down. Even the instant coffee and powered creamer was amazing to him when trying to find grounds by stiring his spoon quickly and raising it to the surface of what was once just hot water. “Where did it go?” The silliest and most shocking surprise was his very first dunk in a swimming pool.
Alex explained that he had been in a pool before one time, with his brother at work. You know, it was this big round hole dug in the ground with some water in it. Sure, Alex….not quite like the chlorinated and sparkling beauty calling our names in front of us. As a matter of normal brother like bantering that takes place regularly between Shane and Alex, before you knew it, unspespecting Alex was softly pushed into the pool! While Shane was delighted by his little joke, knowing that Alex loves to have fun and certinally he would just hop back out being that he was inches from the edge, I began to panic. Alex did not turn to get out of the pool as expected but took off across the pool in a full windmill arm projection. So much water hurling ever which way and Alex barely moving except away from the edge. I shouted to Shane, “He CAN’T Swim!” Oh no, what was he thinking? Shane looks at me a bit perplexed and realizes what has just happened. What really was only seconds, seemed like minutes as we watched Alex struggle across the pool. Would Shane need to jump in to save him? Would Alex be traumatized forever? Oh My. We have really done it now. Our sweet friend, brother and son, all rolled into one and we have totally been inconsiderate of his lack of exposure to American normalties and we may even drown the sweet guy in our ignorance! “Shane, you have to save him!” Shane begins to shout, “Alex, Stand UP!!!!” Of course Shane was aware the entire time, which I was not, that Alex was only in 4 feet of water. “Alex, Stand UP!!!” If you have never been in a pool, how would you know how deep it was? Alex didn’t know how to swim. He has floated down a few rivers, but never been in still water. “Alex, Stand UP!!!” I didn’t care, I just couldn’t stand to see him struggling across the pool. I suppose he could drown in 4ft of water if he couldnt figure out it wasn’t deep. But only a few seconds passed and although I had so much panic go rapidly through my mind, Alex grabs desperately to the side of the pool and clings for dear life. His contagious and gigantic smile swirls around to Shane and he says “You going to Save me?”!!! Oh my word. Shane says one more time while Alex in holding onto the side of the pool for dear life, “Alex, Stand up.” Alex stands up and begins to laugh histarically. Oh my word, by now the panic is over and we are all dying with laughter. Relief, panic, humor and craziness all being set aside and exchanged for our families laughter. To say the least, Alex enjoyed the water immensely that day and we all took pleasure in giving him tips on trying to swim. He worked tirelessly, to make his way through the water and to learn to swim. The effortless part of his swimming skills are still in need of some development! He never gives up.
That evening Alex took us to dinner, we watched a movie in the hotel and generally just enjoyed one anothers company. At the outlet mall, Alex bought his first pair of swim trunks which were debuted on Sunday and truly amazing to him and how quickly they dry as opposed to the short pants he wore Saturday.
Our family has truly been blessed by having Alex as a member of our family. He has taught us to appreciate the simple things, to love each other more deeply, to cherish the moments we have together and to trust God with a future that is only known to him.
The best Mother’s day ever….thank you to my sweet family, all 4 of them.