Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday August 19, 2009

Strong Hearts International
CWAE and Acacia Village
Wednesday August 19, 2009

Today we started are day with heart shaped waffles, which was only appropriate as we were on our way to Strong Hearts International. As we pulled up outside the compound, the doorway open and you could hear the voices of many children having fun inside. As we entered the compound we were warmly greeted by Gedinet, The Executive Director of Strong Hearts International. The ministry at Strong Hearts is one where they believe that it is not just food, clothing, shelter and money that can solve poverty, but by building relationships and then freeing the people from the bondage of sin with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Strong Hearts has a Street Ministry, Child Care and Youth Development Ministry, Soccer Ministry, Drug Rehab Ministry, Bible Study Cell groups, and let’s not forget the Leper Colony Ministry which is a community of over 10,000 people that live around Addis Ababa’s Garbage Dump. At the Learning Center where we were, there were about 60 children which about 75% of them were from the Leper Colony. Gedinet stated that at one point they asked the children “Not” from the Colony what they wanted to be when they grew up. The answers were like doctors, and other respectable jobs. When they asked the Children from the Leper colony, their answer was a “Garbage Scratcher”. See this is what their parents do. They spend all day scratching the ground to find something to eat. Nice huh? Remember this is a Leper colony so many of them don’t even have fingers do to the leprosy.

We also met with Bisrat tonight who works with the children at the “Drop In Center” or CHE (Children’s Home Ethiopia). It turns out that he grew up in the Orthodox Monastery and became a monk. Then someone came into the Monastery and told him about Jesus. He then on his own he read the Scriptures to see what they said to him and he asked Jesus to be his Savior. We the Monastery found out that he was a follower of Jesus; they kicked him out of the Monastery and thru him in jail for three days with no food. After 3 days they took him from Jail and put him on the roof of a vehicle and took him 5 km away and dumped him. He was age 18 at the time. They would not let him ride in the vehicle because he would make the demons posses it. I learned a wealth of knowledge about the Orthodox church which anyone adopting an older child that’s been raised that way may want to know, especially if they are Christians.(e-mail me) Bisrat now belong to a church that feeds the lepers once a week and share the Gospel with them. The lepers believe that the sins of their forefathers have brought this on them. The reason the USA does see this is because we were founded by Godly men, and even today we have “In God We Trust” on our money. They also believe that Ethiopia is a demon possessed country and that is why it has such rich and fertile ground but its people are so poor. After all look at the Middle East, it has nothing but sand, but is so wealthy. Apparently the people have not heard that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”! This gives you an idea of how many years of false teaching has hardened the hearts of some. But on the other hand, those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior are radically transformed. Praise God! And their testimonies are so powerful to here!

Besides the visit with Gedinet and Bisrat, we also visited CWAE (Christian World Adoption Ethiopia) where our girls came from. I delivered letters and gifts from the girls to the Staff and Nannies. It was a very emotional time for me just re-walking the steps of 6 months ago as well as seeing Zewdu, Robel, Baza, Helen and Huddush. I also got to see Danna’s (from Beth’s message board) 3 children who are just waiting for their Embassy date so they can go home. (which Robel said should happen very soon) They are doing great and if they have any cavities when they come home you can blame me as we gave them all lollipops. I also delivered a few notes and “lots” of lollipops to Degnesh, and gave her a “Huge” hug for my 11 year old daughter.

After shaking hands and handing out lots of suckers we traveled out of Addis to the location of the new CWAE “Acacia Village”, which is under construction, and will house 200 children when complete. We even got the grand tour from Huddush, the Director himself. They hope to be moving children in by the end of the calendar year. I guess their construction crews work a little faster than ours, but with the equipment they use I can’t see how.
We did have a little unplanned excitement today. As we were on our way to CWAE, when Joseph ran over something in the road and got a flat tire. The poor guy felt so bad and Bryan and I made sure we picked on him the rest of the day about it. He is such a good sport and just a great guy and can take our American humor pretty good. I’m not sure if any of them will ever want to see us again, but we have had a lot of fun with Joseph and the staff. They gave us their Facebook addresses, but we keep asking them if they will “really” accept us as friends or if they are just being nice. But we told them that they better accept us or we could jump on a plane and be here in 22 hours to settle it with them. Anyway we left Joseph with the flat tire even after I offered to change it for him. So Bryan, Matadel (Mat tea) from the guest house, and I started walking. It wasn’t very far and we soon arrived at CWAE, and Joseph caught up within a half an hour.

The other exciting thing that happened was when we were visiting Strong Hearts International and the children requested Bryan, myself, Joseph and Ephraem to either sing or dance for them. Oh yeah you got that right! So naturally I had to start. I guess its part of being a leader. Anyway, I sang He is the “King of Kings”, Bryan sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children”, Joseph did about a 5 second dance, and Ephraem sang “This is the Day the Lord Has Made” in Amharic. This was the first request of the children. After this they started to ask us questions, like what size shoes we wear, how many children in our families, what did we want to be when we were younger, how old we were and a few more. They also sang for us and told us a few jokes. I videotaped a lot of it, but sorry; Not Bryan and I singing! A man has to know his limitations! I’m surprised you couldn’t hear the dogs howling all the way in America!
That’s all for today, and only one more to go. Keep praying for us and our families as we miss them so dearly.
Thank you and God Bless!


  1. Just remember, John and Bryan, that the Bible says to make a "joyful noise"...nothing about singing perfectly on pitch (though I could help you with that if you want!)! Thanks for the updates!!! It's making me even more excited for February!!! God Bless! ~Lisa

  2. John so great hearing from you....Keith and I and Finley of course think about you often, and I will be checking in to see all the wonderful things you are doing. Hope you and your family are doing great!!!!!!