As for me, I know of nothing else but miracles. - Walt Whitman

Friday, April 29, 2016

Hope For Gambella...

In the fall of 2014, I traveled to Jalen and Jordan's hometown of Gambella, Ethiopia on a mission trip with All God's Children International. Kiersten and Kerri went with me, and we spent a few days working to start an orphanage. If you have followed this blog for awhile, you may remember my photos and journaling about our time there. Below is an update from Kiersten, who just travelled back to Gambella a couple of weeks ago.

Dear Friends,

I’m writing today to update you all on AGCI’s ongoing orphan care work and my recent trip to Gambella, Ethiopia. This work and these children are my passion. Even in the face of such devastation and poverty, it’s incredible to see God continue to pave the way for AGCI to transform lives, even in the midst of the recent tragedies in the Gambella region. Please join us in praying for the children and families affected by these recent attacks and kidnappings. 

This year, AGCI is celebrating 25 years of working to revolutionize orphan care worldwide. Our Hannah’s Hope partner home in Gambella is a part of this revolutionary work and acts as a safe haven for children 0-13 years old. A team of special mothers at the home provides 24/7 care while trained social workers help to identify long-term family care plans for children in need. Children may stay at the home temporarily until their family can stabilize or require more long-term care based on their medical needs or family situation. 
On this recent trip, our Ethiopia staff and I were able to do a three-day training with special mothers and other orphanage staff. The most amazing part was seeing the training concepts in action as the staff worked to implement what we had learned during the week. Through training and education, we’ve empowered Hannah’s Hope partner staff to make a tangible, lasting difference in the lives of countless children in Gambella who will enter the home in the years to come. You can view pictures from our Gambella caretaker training and meet the children by clicking on the video below.

Our Hannah’s Hope partner home has directly cared for 15 children over the past 12 months with nearly 20 additional children currently receiving full time care or being supported within the greater Gambella community. With the decline in inter-country adoptions and the drought impacting rural communities in Ethiopia, orphanages all over the country continue to grow and families continue to end up in crisis. Many children, particularly in Gambella, are in desperate need of care and support.   

One of these children is Sifen. 2-year-old Sifen was brought to our Hannah’s Hope partner home in February by her birth mother who is unable to support both her daughter and her elderly father by working as a day laborer. Sifen was born with anal atresia and was brought to the local hospital as an infant in an attempt to try to correct her condition. Unfortunately, due to a mistake made in surgery, Sifen’s spinal chord was damaged and she is now paralyzed from the waist down. Sifen needs regular therapy and additional medical attention to reach her full potential. Although her past is heartbreaking, we know God has a plan for this little girl! Thanks to our AGCI advocates, prayer warriors and supporters, we’re advocating for healing and wholeness for Sifen and so many other children in need through the Hannah’s Hope model of care.    

Wondering how you can help children like Sifen? Become a child sponsor with AGCI! Sponsorship allows us to ensure these children receive the 24/7 love and care they need to thrive! 
In addition to sponsorship, AGCI is currently working to raise one-time support for some much needed improvements to the home—construction of a block work kitchen, bathroom and additional bedrooms for the 14 children still waiting for an empty bed. 

Lastly, we ask for your ongoing prayers for the children, families and communities in Gambella, Ethiopia. We have seen God move mountains and believe He is the great healer and protector!

AGCI Hannah's Hope Partner Home - Gambella, Ethiopia from Videos for AGCI on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

So in Love...

...with this beautiful, blueberry-eyed boy. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

5 Months!

Mr. Q is 5 months old today! We are praising God that our gorgeous little boy is slowly but surely recovering from viral pneumonia and an ear infection. He has started rolling all over the place, too; however, he is much better at rolling from his back to his belly than from belly to back. Q's cutest new accomplishment is giving big, sloppy kisses! :)

Quintin Bennett 
14 lbs, 14 oz.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pray for Ethiopia...

My heart is aching for the people of Gambella, Ethiopia...the region in which my twins were born. Over the weekend, South Sudanese gunmen carried out a raid in Gambella, killing 208 people, wounding 75 others, abducting 108 children, and stealing 2000 head of livestock. I can't even imagine the pain and suffering that these people are dealing with.

 I have visited Gambella twice, and have friends and family there. It is a beautiful place that holds a big piece of my heart. A year and a half ago, I helped to build an orphanage in Gambella Town. Kerri, one of the women that traveled with me, recently stated, "A work in my heart was done during my time there on those dirt roads lined with sweet smelling mango trees. The place where the tallest and most beautiful ebony skinned people live. Gambella is a tribal community rich with culture and relationships, along with deep and extreme poverty and difficult circumstances. A juxtaposition of sorts that is hard to describe, yet seared into my mind forever...Gambella will always be a part of me, not only because of my experiences there, but because it is my daughter's history and beginning years of her life. While her life is much different now, I am reminded every day that she is a gift from this beautiful and complicated region." I feel the same...and am thankful that God brought 2 little boys from half a world away into our family. As I think about the fact that Jalen and Jordan could have been involved in the raid, or in the recent clashes between tribes in their hometown, I want to squeeze them tighter, hold them closer, and earnestly pray for the children who live in such danger every day. May God have mercy.

Will you join me in praying for the people of Gambella? May God deliver the kidnapped children and bring peace and comfort to the region. Also, Ethiopia as a whole is reeling from a widespread famine right now, and millions are starving. Sometimes it is hard to fathom what is going on across the world...we hear of heartbreaking stories, but they are easy to dismiss because we don't know the people or don't understand what they're going through. Ethiopia has become a very familiar and beloved place to me over the years, however, and I entreat you to remember this country and its people in your prayers. Thanks, friends.

A few photos I took in Gambella: