Monday, October 31, 2011


Well, after a long day, or two, of travel, I made it home.  Tired and increasingly short with my wild kids, I crawled in bed and my husband who's been amazing, put them to bed by himself for one more night.  Thanks love. 
This morning, I took the first warm shower in 10 days.  It was too warm.  Is it possible to miss the cold showers of Ethiopia?  I guess so.  I don't speak of the warm showers to put my friends in Ethiopia down.  It's just a difference, that's all.  I also shaved, tweezed my eyebrows, used face wash, face cream and did my hair.  Each for the first time in 10 days too.  Not that I couldn't do those things in Ethiopia, but I had promised myself to leave my vanity at home.  And even when I desperately wanted to tweeze my eyebrows, I could find the tweezers.  They magically appeared this morning.  Imagine that.
In between playing with my kids, I mostly unpacked my stuff.  Still need to put it all away and vacuum out my suitcases.  Yes, I brought home a million tiny little pieces of grass seed.  Don't worry customs, I will promptly compost it where it will get up to 140 degrees and kill anything that might be in there.  On the plane, I began editing photos.  Mine combined with Farmer Joe's, aka Yosef's, and a few of Lory's, I have over  2500 pics.  I need to finish that in the next few days so I can share some at a presentation to my bible study group on Thursday night.  I guess I know what I'll be doing each night after my kids go to bed.
In the coming week or so, I'll get some more specific posts up.  But to summarize a few things real quickly, our crops project was mostly successful.  Implementation will be key.  And follow up and building examples on the FOVC campus is crucial.  Which means, I will continue to go back as my hubby and finances continue to allow.  Starvation is absolutely REAL and sickening.  One of my crops widows was near death due to  a lack of food.  Education of food is important too.  More on that later.  There's 38 new kids on the FOVC campus.  I wonder if that's due, in part, to the closure of so many orphanages in the Southern area.  All the kiddos received their sponsor gifts that made it through customs with ease.  It was amazing to see how much the kids had grown since 4 1/2 months ago.  I enjoyed Ethiopian food more than other times I'd been there.  The FOVC staff was loving and helpful.  Each of them were so protective.
I came home last night ready to curl up in my husbands arms.  Unfortunately I was asleep in the van before we ever got home.  I'm so thankful for how he loves me.  For how he allows me to use my gifts to serve God through serving others.  We just had lunch together and what a treat that was.  I love that husband of mine.  He's awesome.
Thank you to everyone who made the trip possible for me.  By the financial support, prayer support, encouragement to go, asking me to go, going with me.  And to those who helped Ryan on the home front while I was away.  Thank you!  And for anyone who wants to participate with FOVC in the future, please let me know.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

one quick pic

Okay, maybe two. Cause I first added the wrong one. But it's worth sharing too.

My main reason for going on this trip to Ethiopia was to provide training to the crops widows. This training is one the many ways that FOVC is giving long term help while they provide food during this short term famine. If you've read my blog before, you know that I was pretty excited to take this little garden seeder over for the ladies to use. The picture below is of one of my crops widows using the seeder to plant vegetables behind the FOVC school. One of many encouraging parts was seeing these ladies excitement for use of the seeder. I gave them vegetable seed to take home and plant and told them to borrow the seeder to do it.

Another cool picture. This is of Judah's bio brother - the younger of the two. While there in June, this sweet little boy was scared of me and ran away crying. This time he was bashful but not scared. He came just as we were getting ready to leave. I'm so glad we didn't miss him! I thank God (and my friends) for making this prayer to see them again a reality!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia :)

Amazing how well our flight went... and how frustrating it was all at the same time.  Who knew that the last 32 hours would pass so quickly.  Much quicker than my 37 hour labor with Scott in case you're wondering.  Thought I'd share a few things I jotted down that Joe and I collectively got to experience on our trip here.
- I'm so glad I've been here, done this before.  It could be pretty overwhelming to fly to Africa with a friend who's never been and then meet up with your driver/guide who you've never met.  But it wasn't overwhelming at all.
- I thank God for the opporunity to go and love because he first loved us.  I get to love on 8 widows this week. Will you join me in praying for them?  You could pray for one each day and that would be awesome!
    day 1: Trunge
    day 2: Latashe
    day 3: Bontashe
    day 4: Aster
    day 5: Matafe
    day 6: Martane
    day 7: Shibre
    day 8: Galate
-  Listening to John Piper's message about Adirnirom Judson's life is a tough challenge but interesting timing as i'm going to serve.
-  I've seen so much waste in the airports and airplanes.  Particularly with food and water.  At Chili's I in Detroit I watched the water pitcher fill and then overflow while being left unattended.  Of course, I got up and fixed it.
-  While the seats certainly aren't luxury, I thank Godd for sustaining my back so far. (written from Amsterdam to Addis) and my most discomfort was my tailbone, not my back.
-  Pretty smooth process until security in Amsterdam took away my pliers and brand new crescent wrench.  I begged and pleaded and even asked if they stewardess would carry it on and hide it and give it to me later.  She could have even put it in the cockpit!  I even tried informming them that my whole trip was based around those tools  putting the seeder together.  I did all but cry.  No mercy.  Stupid Amsterdam security.  You're the same guys who confiscated my bottle of wine a few years ago!
- arrived in Addis.  Shoulda had Joe get in line for visas while I exchanged money.  I hate exchanging large sums of money by the way.  LONG line for visas followed by a long line for customs or whatever was next.  Almost 2 hours after landing, we were headed to luggage.  I didn't expect it to be on the conveyor but I did expect it to not be lost.  More drama ensued.  Lack of communication mostly.  Did you know that KLM doesn't have a bag delivery when they lose your luggage?  I think Ethiopian airlines does.  Plus with Et Air you don't have nasty security guys taking stuff away.  Yes, I'm bitter.  Anyway, we then started the process for lost luggage and we're told we'd have to come back to get it.  All donations.  I needed them!!!  Joe and I weren't satisfied with the lack of looking through the rooms of bags they had so I went hunting for them.  The sweet employee told me one spot to look, then another.  Then across the room, 100 yards away, he spotted what he thought was my luggage.  Could it be????  I ran over and sure enough, I picked  up all 4 suitcases of donations!!!!  Thank you Lord.
-  As I drug all four suitcases through the airport, bypassing the customs guy who wasn't very happy but I just kept smiling at him I made it to Joe who had our ticket stubs in hand.  We headed back to the guy I smiled at and let him make sure it was our bags we had and not someone elses.  And as we put the bags on the conveyor belt, I continue to pray asking God to let those bags go through with ease.  Prepared to fight and then pay for them to be allowed through, I about fell over when they didn't ask one.single.question!!!  Thank you God again!!!  I hadn't prayed for an easy flight but I had prayed and prayed for gifts and a seeder and all the medical stuff to make it through customs. 
- Another bit later our guide tells me that he's reserved one room with two twin beds.  While I trust Joe, I really did want my own room.  And out of respect for Joe's wife and my husband, I thought it was very important.  Thankfully, we got to the guest house and each have our own beautiful rrom.
- It's 1230am on Sunday here.  I'm in much need of a shower and some sleep.  I didn't catch Ryan on facebook but I did get to chat with my dad and that was a treat!
ciao for now.  We head to Shanto tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Today I stayed home from work to pack and get my house in order.

Well, it's almost 3 and I'm almost done packing. But I still have a list of things to purchase on my way down to the airport. And I've made a bigger mess in my house, not cleaned. At all.

In preparation for leaving, I also wanted to take some time with my family. So, this morning I took my kids to school. After a quick visit to the chiropractor, I joined Bethany's class for a field trip to the pumpkin patch. Then after a few quick errands in town (like mailing out a bunch of FOVC shirts), I headed back to the school for lunch with Scott. Only I was a bit early so I also got to join him for recess whereI pushed him on the swing and he grinned from ear to ear. Then lunch. By the way, I learned today that my son, who fixes his own sandwich, doesn't eat the bread. Hmm. Son, leave off the bread next time... or just eat the bread so you're not starving by time school is out.

Eventually I made it home to begin taking the piles in our reading room and putting them in suitcases. What a chore that is to figure out how to combine the lighter weight stuff with the heavier weight stuff. I'm taking in some IV fluids for Dr. Jo which really impact the weight. Each bag weighs 2 1/2 pounds! So, I got a little creative with my packing. And when I finished, none of my bags are full but each weighs the 50 pound max. side note: one of my pet peeves is having a full suitcase but I guess I'll have to get over that.

Tomorrow, I'll be meeting the other half of my crops team, Joe, at the airport. This is where we'll finalize our packing. I'll kiss my husband good-bye, get a little anxious, ask God to take away my anxiety and set off for Ethiopia.

Tamara volunteers with FOVC to help teach widows

to grow their own crops, therefore giving them the

means to feed and sustain their family unit.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

7 days left...

and my to-do list is still quite long. Normally that list includes getting the house in order and tying up loose ends at work. This list, well, it doesn't even have room for that.

I'm so thankful for friends, family, and the love of my life who've pitched in to help or loved me enough to ignore the things in my home that I've ignored lately. In the last two weeks we've had someone cook for our family on Wednesday night, and someone else cook for us on Thursday night. Little things like that sure help.

On my to-do list today:

  1. Start packing the stuff I won't need in the next 7 days.

  2. Track down a few high quality items for the FOVC wine social silent auction.

  3. Sweet talk, or beg, at least 10 people to buy tickets to the wine social.

  4. Make cookies with Bethany and her girlfriend who's here for the weekend.

  5. Pray for the FOVC crops widows.

  6. Prepare a meal for a neighbor who's having surgery.

I'm sure there's at least 10 other things but I'm sure you don't care to know it all :)

Friday, October 14, 2011


I updated the wine social, puzzled and the necklace pages. So click on the links at the top and see what new info I have up there.

I had some cool pics of the RamosTorres winery to share but my hard drive crashed. All the more reason to buy a ticket to the wine social and check it out yourself :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting Ready

Like all of you, I'm a busy momma.  And I think several times throughout each day about a blog post.  But I never get it done.  Kinda like cleaning my house lately.  But, it's really fund and important for me to share with you about what's going on with my upcoming trip.  So, here's a few things you might like to know:
1. FOVC hit their $30,000 fundraiser mark for the Feed Hope relief project.  But, just because they raised the $30k and just because the fundraiser is officially finishing up, doesn't mean there isn't a great need there.  The $30k will feed lots of people but there a lots more that won't be fed.  My point here is that while I'm super thankful for the many who gave, if any of you still want to give on behalf of the families in and around Shanto, you can mail the check to my house and I'll hand carry the money to Ethiopia.  And it will go towards feeding people.  100% of it.
2. Last weekend I put 998 miles on my old minivan.  Friday, the two littles and I headed down to a cute college town to visit SemiFeralMama, one of my travel buddies.  Our kids played together while us adults chased the kids and chatted some (first pic).  It was good to see them again.  Saturday afternoon SFM and I left her cute college town and headed to a bigger city to the West to see CaptainMurdock, another of my adoption travel buddies.  They hosted yet another very successful fundraiser for FOVC's Feed Hope relief project.  Murdock's daughter whose super fancy secret blog identity I can't remember right now had her own little mini fundraiser too (pic 2).  Her heart was beyond precious!  The third pic is of some of the "shower" hosts counting out the generous donations.  You can read the details about it on Murdock's blog
3. Did I mention that I suprised Murdock.  That was the fun part.  The other fun part was meeting some of Murdock's friends - some for the first time and some for a second time.  She picks good friends.  I loved them.
4. On our drive home, I was way to tired to stop and see friends so I continued on I-35 heading back home.  We left at 10am and got home by 840pm.  I guess we stopped a few different times and shopped and ate and shopped and ate some more.
5.  I really haven't made any necklaces lately.  I know some of you have asked about them.  I've made a few special orders I guess (pic 4).  I plan to make more necklaces but just haven't had the time, energy, or strength in my back.  I'll make some more in the near future.  Maybe on my flight to Ethiopia.
6. While I was on my little adventure South, my external hard drive started to crash.  It would connect, then stop.  It was wierd.  Well, it's done working all together now.  EVERYTHING is saved on there.  So, for my missions meeting on Tuesday night, I didn't have the stuff I needed.  For the the trip to Ethiopia in 8 days, there's stuff I need from my hard drive.  Grr.  To say it simply, I could really use for this hard drive to work next time I try.
7.  I leave in 8 days.  Our reading room is becoming piled with things to take: seeder, sponsor gifts, vitamins, feed hope shirts, a few medical things, and I don't remember what else.  Eventually I'll have to start organizing that.  Two of our team leave late Friday night/early saturday morning.  Joe and I leave next Friday.  Boy am I getting excited, even though I have a ton to do yet!
I thank God for how He allows me to be a little part of showing love to His people in Ethiopia.  I am also so thankful for my husband who is supportive of my never-ending need to be helping someone out.  But I'm not Wonder-Woman.  I get tired and cranky too.  So pray for me.  For strength and energy and patience.  Especially when it's Thursday and my babysitter doesn't work out and I have to leave bible study and my kids are naughty.  Oh that I can love like God loves.
More from me another day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ask and it shall be given to you

When I was preparing for my 2009 mission trip to Mexico City, we were encouraged to write support letters. Even if we could afford the trip without financial assistance. Why? Because doing so allows others to be involved who might not otherwise get to do so.

Last year while preparing for Ryan and I to head to Ethiopia to serve with FOVC, we were looking at big expenses for the trip and wrote letters asking friends and family to support us financially. One friend was very generous and sent us a check for $500. Thanking him over the phone, he shared that he believed it was important to do things like this. That he wasn't in a position to "go", and was thankful to give to someone who could go. It was his way of getting involved. We were both blessed by his giving.

I've tried to include people in our work with FOVC in Ethiopia. Some allow me to share while others show a genuine interest and get involved. Maybe they can't spend 10 days in Ethiopia but they can do things like show me old corn planters, walk me through how horse/oxen drawn equipment, allow me to take equipment home to look at, share with others about FOVC via blogs, facebook, and chats at the dining room table.

Yesterday we sat in the living room with our friend, Marty. Yet another person I've invited to join this adventure from the comfort of his own home, er shop. I have a borrowed little garden seeder in my living room for him to look at. Marty welds, machines and does other "guy" things out in his metal shop. Before the Cardinals game started, we were asking Marty if he could duplicate something like this with metal that would stand up longer. The more we talked, the more I thought this little garden seeder would be ideal... to get us started. So, I began searching online for this little gadget - an Earthway 1001-B. Made with the large scale gardener in mind, this tool is

an "ideal row crop planter, the 1001-B is a tool that takes the guesswork out of planting any row crop. Here’s how it works: install one of the precision seed plates that best fits your seed, then adjust the depth of planting on the ground opener, and then set your 30” long row marker for the desired width, then fill the seed hopper with seeds, then begin pushing in your well tilled soil, that’s it." (taken straight from their website).

For those friends who plant their crops with a 12 or 24 row John-Deere corn planter, they can't imagine planting their crops with this tool. But, I love the idea of using this tool. The widows I'll be working with crop very few acres (probably less than 3), and this would get them started right away with planting their corn rather than the all-too-common method of broadcast seeding the corn. Our machinist friend, Marty, thought that the plastic and aluminum would hold up well enough that we wouldn't need to have it made of heavier metal. Which sure makes it easier to get to Ethiopia in my checked luggage!!!

I checked out Earthway's website and then began comparing with similar products online. From the comments I read, for a tool of this size and durability, the Earthway was the hands-down way to go. I decided that I would invest a little of the crops money I'd raised to buy this tool. I envisioned it being the beginning of moving forward with improving cropping for the widows of Shanto. I stressed the importance of planting corn but now they'd be able to see it.

However, before I ordered an Earthway Precision Garden Seeder, or the broadcas seeder, I sent them a the following comment via their contact button:
"I volunteer with a non-profit called Friends of Orphans and vulnerable Children ( I began a crops for widows project with them to teach the widows and community members how to grow a crop and feed themselves. This is in Southern Ethiopia. I've been looking at taking an earthway seeder to help them get corn planted (they currently broadcast seed it). If I can help them improve how they plant crops, along with other education, then these people will have a better chance at providing for their families. And as an adoptive mother of a child from there, I believe strongly in keeping families together compared to them deciding which child to give up for adoption because they're starving - our personal story but also a common one in poverty stricken rural southern ethiopia. I'm contacting you to ask if you'd be willing to donate a precision garden seeder for me to take with me to ethiopia when I fly over there Oct 21st. I would love to answer any questions you might have. Thank you in advance, Tamara B, FOVC Crops Expert, mom, and garderner"

You can imagine my excitement when I had the following reply in my inbox when I got home from work today:
"Tamara, Thanks for the email. We would be happy to help. I'll have a 1001-B and the optional seed plates sent to your address below. Sincerely, Jeff KendallVP Sales & Marketing, Earthway Products, Inc."

I read the email and immediately jumped up and interrupted Ryan's "quiet time" to tell him the good news. I was so EXCITED. I still am. Thank you Jeff and the Earthway Inc team for your partnership in sharing good news with the poorest of poor in Ethiopia. With your generous heart and helpful contribution, you'll join me in helping women keep their families together... something I've dreamed of since the day I met Judah's birth momma! Thank you, thank you Jeff. Your message in my inbox made my day. I'm excited to serve along side FOVC, working to to educate and support orphans, vulnerable children & widows in Ethiopia, empowering them to break the cycle of poverty and hunger as we offer them hope and independence for the future.

I have learned to ask. And it has been given to us. Thank you Lord Jesus for the peole You use to be Your hands and feet. Anyone else want to volunteer and partner with FOVC? Let me know!

[I in no way personally benefitted by posting such nice things about Earthway Inc. However, the people of Shanto, Ethiopia will personally benefit from their generous donation. And I certainly benefitted in that I was encouraged by their generosity. Hmm, maybe I'll put one of these on my Christmas list...]

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Necklaces and Wine

I had necklaces done earlier this week ready to add here for sale. I took them up to show Ryan's family last night and his aunt bought them. While I'm glad I have them sold, I also want to share why I didn't keep my word about having any new ones posted.

21 day until I'm heading to Ethiopia!

I'm having a wine social event back home in Kingsburg in November. Trying to come up with a creative and catchy name for the event. Got any ideas? Leave me a comment.