How boring are bullet points? Well, how else can I convey the awesome things God is doing? There is too much.
-We celebrated our boys 2nd year graduation of school. The numbers are alarmingly glorious, with nearly every boy ranking higher than 10 in their class.
-We celebrated our cook. We have this amazing woman, who lives with us. I imagine it was her first experience of having the spot light shown on how special she is. LOVED her joyful tears
-3 boys have jobs, three are nearly guaranteed employment after apprenticeships, and 2 others have a great chance. That means all our vocational/night school tracks will be exactly where we hoped. God is so good and our faith was strong.
-Only 2 out of the four boys that left our house last month finished school. My heart still goes out to them, but glad 2 finished. I still hold out tons of hope for Lilly. As far as we know, he has joined a government economic empowerment program, making cobblestones for the streets of Ethiopia.
-Our program coordinator is working crazy hard to get our three year plan submitted and approved by the government. She is an amazing asset.
– NCC arrives in a month. Getting really excited to boast to my church family about our boys.
-Sunshine’s visit was amazing. We had what seems like a perfect 10 days. I’m blown away how our time together always goes better than I would ever expect. We met a couple who just moved here, gave up everything to build up Ethiopia through economic empowerment. All this with 3 kids! I am very impressed by them. Check out their website steadfastlove.org.
-Today is my close friend and brother Ermias’s birthday. He continues to be one of the greatest friends, examples, Christ followers that I have ever met
– We have less than a month left till our 2 year anniversary and the boys official “graduation” from our program. It is insane to process that and reflect on where we were and where we are now. The kingdom dividends to this project are immeasurable. We have a lot of changes coming our way, so praying for continued provision and direction. We will not move out of our house till the end of September and there are many things to get done before then. Also praying the boys and our team finish very strong. It is tempting to be lax since it’s near the end and our boys are already so amazing.
Special thanks to the four folks who blessed Sunshine and I by sponsoring her flight back!
I am not clear if I am just prone for roller coaster rides, or if that’s pretty much life for most people. After an amazing season of joy, blessings and so, I entered a pretty brutal two month stretch. Well, that stretch is behind me and my team. My team and I are rejuventated and excited about things to come.
So why is that?
Not in an order,
Our boys finished their second full year of school with us. To see the pride and joy in their face after finishing another year and getting through exams is all the rejuvenation a person should ever need. Love it. Bihilu has stood out to me. He is one of our shyest and quietest boys. After exams though these last two weeks he has been off the walls, playing around, laughing, and so loud. Love it.
We have 8 boys on the night school/vocational track. Like our faith expected, we are seeing great things happen with these 8 boys. With different boys trained in different things from finishing work to cooking, each has found an apprentice ship opportunity in the last two weeks. Almost all of them have been offered paying jobs either immediately or after the apprenticeship. Girum stands out in this category because he has always been a tough nut to crack. HE LOVES his cooking training and went out just today eagerly to seek employment. His proud recounting of his experience today was the best!
Another piece to my refreshed spirit is what I believe to be a huge directional blessing from God. My mind is consumed with dreaming, researching, and pursuing some ideas on the business front. I am not ready to spill the beans yet, but I can’t iterate how much this is an answer to prayers and it has giving me so much energy.
Last but not least and definitely the hottest reason, is Sunshine is coming to visit. This is the exact dose of Sunshine I need during Ethiopia’s rainy season. This is just another reminder of God’s provision and His utilization of the amazing support group I have at NCC and beyond. I can’t say enough about how grateful I am and how foolish I feel after spending a couple months fighting self pitty!!!
On a daily basis I wish people could witness, learn, see the things that unfold in our line of work. I get frustrated from wishing everyone had a chance to see the truth about God’s love and grace. Most people who read my blog have seen it I am sure, which makes me pray I will figure out a better way to reach those who have not seen the truth of it all.
PS: I couldn’t figure out how to make the photo’s look better. Oops
Losing Lilly : Lilly had struggled with the structure of our house over the last couple months. He took off one day, returned, only to take off again. We have not seen him since. Lilly was the boy that showed me his home in a sewer during my fateful trip in March 2009. Losing one of my favorites who I had so much hope for is a punch in the gut. Actually each boy that chooses a different path is a punch in the gut. I sometimes question my sanity, signing up knowingly for such a hard demographic to reach.
Direction: My mind and consequently my teams minds are flooded with ideas to start a social entrepreneurship venture that would solely benefit boys like the ones we work with. The dreaming is exciting, various, and intense as we wait for answers on which direction to take. There is huge opportunity for our boys and the ministry. Networking, researching, partnering, and brain storming is our priority right now. Can’t wait to prove the impossible to be possible via God’s power. We need people’s help in a major way. Resources regarding small business, HR practices, international business, loans, donors and more are just a touch of what I am spending my time on researching.
The Little Things: I am learning to find solace in the little things as I tough out this rough season. Mango’s, Avacodo’s and fresh coffee are just my beginning to taking better care of myself(motivated to do so by approaching marriage). Mango’s represent joy, they are so fun to eat since I learned how to really enjoy them from the boys and their very “unique” way of eating them. Avacodo’s are nostalgic, since the first time I ate them fresh and pealed by my own hands was soon after we and the boys were kicked out of our first house. Coffee.. Represents my dabbling of culture. Coffee began in Ethiopia and I have recently began to buy the beans fresh, roast them, then pound them into powder. It’s a very enjoyable process that the boys often enjoy with me, creating fun banter.
Rainy Season: It fast approaches. It truly is a rainy season, but what compounds it is the seemingly forever without Sunshine. We are praying for a miracle gift for Sunshine to visit me during rainy season. The flights are obviously ridiculously expensive and way out of our budget, but our emailing, Im’ing, skyping (when it works) is wearing on us. Seems like a lot to ask, until I remember what I gave up to be here. So humbly, almost meekly
I am asking
.. Anyone got a spare $1700 laying around?
This describes me.. I wish I had enough outlets in Ethiopia, but I don’t. Luckily the three guys that live in the house plus Big Ermias, a friend, are going out of town for two days. It is a small but more then needed trip. Leaving the house to the boys is a good challenge for them and it communicates how much we trust trust them.
We introduced Foster Care to parts of Beza and are waiting on the Lord.
We unfortunately lost two of our favorite boys.
We are praying and hoping for other divine ways to build up these boys. The business arena seems to offer many opportunities in Ethiopia. I am moving in that direction in expectant faith, but need God to step in so clearly. It is so fun to dream, but some of the first steps are hard to discern.
Include my burn out in your prayers. I try avoiding it affecting others, but I see it in my relationship with Sunshine, coworkers, and a tiny bit with the boys.
Take out the first L and you get failing. That is what it feels like for us right now. We are at the end of our ropes.
The boys are struggling. The team is struggling. We don’t feel like we have enough resources or support to manage the difficult issues. It is so mentally exhausting that asks so much from us.
The ups and downs do more then turn the stomach. Our boys emotional curve balls are hard to handle when they show willingness to throw everything away because of their inability to understand their emotions.
We have four boys on the brink of throwing away all that has happened over the last 2 years. Others consistently fight for power, showing their desperate state of needing to feel like they are in control of their lives. A need we understand, but lack the expertise on how best to handle. When we have so many lives under our care, the power game is a lose lose situation.
I can’t even write clearly, but want to be real about our struggles.
Just pray I guess..
My team and I all have mental relief now because we were able to discover that the theft in our house was not our boys.
This is a huge praise. We talked and prayed about this issue SO much. Finally with God’s clear help, we took steps to squash the issue. I set up a miniature sting operation and caught the person stealing from our ministry. I can’t express what that feels like. First, I feel like I finally took care of my manly responsibility in protecting this house, my team and these boys. Second, the torment of suspecting and wondering about our boys is over!!
There are so many examples of this type of theft happening all around us. It is scary, depressing, and infuriating. For a person to sink to those depths, especially considering the people in our ministry and our purpose, is just sad.
On another note, our team has one of our most important meetings on Saturday. In sum, it is a meeting to encourage the Beza congregation to adopt a revolutionary form of long term “foster care” for our boys. This meeting’s outcome will determine our entire ministries direction, our boys lives directions, and the direction of each person’s life that is involved with our beloved boys. We are expecting great things to happen as the will of God continues to shine through our ministry.
On Saturday I talked to the boys about our duties as men, to stand up for justice, protect women and children, and not fear the consequences of chasing what is right. The lack of loving and Godly strength, commitment, dependability, and courage I see through out so many groups of men plagues my mind and soul daily. I pray my anger turns into wisdom able to encourage and convict my gender. I pray our boys represent a different group that can stand tall as strong men following the example of Christ. Now that would relieve my soul!
Yeah, this defines me well. I am amazed sometimes how stupid I am and how often I revert back to my trusty ol’ stupidity.
I was reminded by Pastor Sahle that in one of the best miracles ever, Peter ASKED to walk on water. It wasn’t Jesus who asked Him. So first he asked, then he sank. That is stupid if you ask me. That is what we all do so often, especially me and the boys. For years I prayed for God’s will to be clear in my life and now when it is so crystal clear I find myself sinking in frustration, doubt, insecurities, and a general “who-es-me” mentality. How dumb. God is so good though, that He stays with me even though I am so simply stupid. Sometimes I revel in the ability to be so stupid, because it glorifies what God is doing even more.
I am an older model of our boys, teenagers. Political corrected-ness aside some of our boys are just stupid. Yeah I know better than most what the trauma, neglect, past circumstances create in them, but our wonderful boys are really forgetting that they prayed hard and hoped forever for the opportunities they have now. Their immaturity prevents their actions from showing they get that on a daily basis. I praise God for the boys that do get that, but how frustrating some of the other ones are with their behavior.
Our team spent 8 hours on Saturday and countless other hours these past two weeks on figuring out how to remind our boys of the contrast between their past and now. I preached to them about focus and consequences last Saturday. We also played detectives to find the major transgressors. I hope it sunk in just a tiny bit.
We appreciate all the prayers for these great boys! We also need people in a big way, people that help define what God wants us to do next and long term. The ideas are like an exciting avalanche, just need clear direction.
My favorite quote:
“I am not a smart man, but I do know what love is”