Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What I'm up to with Journey4Hope

Two things going on in my world of journey4hope. The first is that I've been working on making ethiopian magazine bead necklaces that are for sale. Here's one I just sold today. To see more, click on the necklace tab above.

The second is that I really, really would like to sell the rest of the Feed Hope puzzle pieces. I'm super thankful for Megan's willingness to do this fundraiser and would love to honor her and get all the pieces sold. After all, who wants a partially pieced puzzle? To see more about that, click on the Puzzle tab link above.
And last but not least (I know, I said just 2 things), I'm praying and thinking about the next trip to serve FOVC in Ethiopia...

If you wouldn't mind sharing the links to the necklace and puzzle pages, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Let me know you stopped by,

Tamara B

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Wish List

I'll start by admitting that I love receiving gifts. I day-dream about what I'll spend my Christmas money on... whiter teeth, a new purse, new clothes of all sorts, partially funding a dish washer, and a list of other things. And while our family moves our focus from a season of thanksgiving to a season of advent, I'm still human. And I still want things. Want. Not need.

Look at the above picture again. It's more than my two boys in front of the Christmas tree. For me, it shows a struggle and an inner battle. I've recently been to famine-stricken Southern Ethiopia where people are starving and literally teetering on death. There is so much NEED there that my WANTS are ... I can't even think of the word to describe it. Realistic people might say "but there will always be those situations". And to that I reply, but I've seen with my own eyes the need, the desperation, and the difference we can make. No, I can't expect every one else to think like I do, but I can take a few minutes to share with you.

Semi Feral Mama recently had one line on her blog recently that sticks in my mind:
In 24 years can an AP [adoptive parent] look at their child and say, “Yes, I knew your mother was going to die, but the contract I signed said I couldn’t help”? Will the child think, “Wow, my Mom is so ethical”?
That comment was in relationship to adoptive parents meeting up with the birth parent who was suffering from famine related problems. My thought about the above comment also applies today as I took my two younger kids shopping and then decorated a tree with my family later:
In 24 years, when I stand before my maker, will the Creator of the universe tell me "I told you over and over again to care for the orphans and widows in their distress" or will He tell me "what you've done for the least of these, you've done for Me"? While I won't give every penny of my checking account to caring for the orphans and widows, I will be held accountable when I meet my maker. And as we continue through advent season, it's my prayer that I'll look forward to the coming of Christ more than I look forward to opening a few gifts or spending some Christmas cash!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

About Time

While I ignored lunch time and gave my kids gardettos instead, I managed to update both the necklace page and the puzzle page. Please amuze me and check them out :) Each of the pages have new text and new pictures. Happy viewing.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shop with a Purpose

New necklaces have arrived.  Well, they haven't really arrived cause I made them.  But I'll be posting them this weekend.  Stop by the Necklace tab and see what's new -- I'll be posting them Saturday morning.
Shop with a Purpose.
100% of the proceeds go towards my volunteer work in Ethiopia.  By purchasing a necklace, you're providing education to widows in the crops program and giving them Hope for their future.  That is something that I'm thankful for.
With love,
tamara b

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I still complain

I have so much. Yet, I still manage to complain.

Early yesterday morning I jacked my back. I immediately did exercises and took meds but even so I had to find a spot on the couch and rest rather than take care of my to-do list. When I woke today, I was thankful for the 12 hours of sleep I'd gotten. But a few hours later, I was getting tired of laying in bed all day long. And as several more hours passed, I still wanted to complain about how uncomfortable my bed was. And then I thought of this guy:

Sunday morning driving down the road in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I saw this guy sleeping. On the sidewalk. Near the road. With nothing but some raggedy bags for clothes.

Do you get it? Where I live, I don't see this on a regular basis. My friends, it doesn't have to be a third world country to see a homeless person. It happens right here in our towns. People that have to count on soup kitchens to help. In Addis Ethiopia, there's one soup kitchen. It has been in place for ~20 years. Yet, the idea hasn't caught on there. The soup kitchen's stats on the numbers of people they serve is impressive. Yet there are many people like this guy who will never receive help. And there are many more just like him.

While I lay in bed today, I continued to think about people in need of help. And I thanked God for letting me play a small little role in loving people in Southern Ethiopia. And I asked God to help me do more. I'm excited to see what God will do with FOVC and their pojects in the coming year. Maybe you'll play a small role too...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Need Water

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Southern Ethiopia, where FOVC exists and millions of people live, is being brutally affected by a drought. This picture below shows what is normally a stream bed. But because of the lack of rainfall, the stream has run dry.

Can you imagine having your source of water dry up? As if they don't walk far enough for water, now they have to walk farther. Adding more labor and difficulty to their already hard day. And not just that. Those who've planted crops are watching them wither. And die.

Planted crops [minus] water [equals] dead crops.

Dead crops [equals] hungry people

I can't even begin to imagine their hardship and I've been there. We can't fathom it. For one full week I had some crazy stomach drama going on. I hardly ate. I would wake in the night feeling hungry. But eating would just make me sick. So, I went without. Even so, I can't imagine the hunger they feel. Unlike me who chose not to eat, they have no choice. They have no food. And no water.

The good news is that through FOVC's crops for widows program, we're bringing hope. We're teaching them to grow crops during a drought. And on the next trip, I plan to set up water catchment basins and drip irrigation systems. While I'd love to take a family vacation next year, I know that feeding hope is worth so much more and look forward to another opportunity to serve in such a way!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vegetable Gardening

These are my ladies. Eight of them. Walking for hours to get training and receive HOPE. Both things they're lacking in their current state. Hard working ladies who just can't get ahead. After all, when drought ruins their crops, they don't collect crop insurance, they go hungry. Joe and I were excited to serve and teach these women for the week:

Each day we taught on a different topic. This particular day, we talked about planting vegetables, composting over the garden bed, and using the seeder that was donated by Earthway Inc. mentioned in this post.

After trying to explain to the women how to create an ox-drawn harrow and not succeeding, I suggested that the ladies bring their hand tools the next day because we needed an even seedbed to make use of the vegetable seeder. They, of course, brought their hand tools and got right to work.

The ladies received training on how to use the seeder with the different seed plates. They were excited to try it out and I was thrilled to watch them. When they were comfortable using the tool and had the seed bed prepped and ready to be seeded, they picked the right plates for the various vegetable seeds we had and started planting. What a sight!

When the 4 rows had been planted, it was time to give a little more education. While water is scarce, and it's a long walk to get water, we explained the importance of watering the seeds to get them to germinate and grow. It will be a hard sell. But if they can see it happen where we planted the veggies, then maybe they'll go through all the work to do the same thing. Yes, it is a long walk to water, but water is so important. So, we watered the seeds while I prayed for rain.

While the seeds were watered on one end of the raised garden bed, the ladies finished planting garlic on the other end.

When the planting was finished, we had the ladies compost the garden bed. It wasn't the best option for compost. But it will help retain soil moisture which is incredibly important during a drought.

Not knowing if they would grasp the idea or not, we did it anyway. And the next day when it was hot and still hadn't rained, we went back to the garden bed. When the ladies pulled back the compost (aka dried grass) and saw that the ground underneath retained the moisture (from the mixing of the top soil with that below it) than the uncovered earth, they got it. Lesson learned today.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do Something

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post titled Bethany's bracelets. I shared the story about Bethany making the bracelets out of a desire to help the hungry in Ethiopia. It was right after I came back and she was hearing me tell people often about what I saw. It warmed my heart that she came up with this all on her own. While there wasn't much to her pipe-cleaner bracelets and they wouldn't likely raise a lot of money, the love poured into her efforts was priceless.

If a 4 year old little girl can do something, so can you!

Did you catch that? You can do something too. You don't have to be an expert. You don't have to be a super creative artist. You don't have to be rich (although we all are compared to the rest of the world). You can be a 4 year old little girl with a desire to do something. And DO IT!!!

There's another reason I re-visit that post. Because not only did Bethany do something, but her post encouraged someone else to do something too. Over the weekend I got an email from someone else who wanted do something. This woman has a big heart. She bought every one of Bethany's bracelets and then turned them around to spread the news to others. At her bible study group this week, she handed out the bracelets to everyone. She then shared Bethany's story with the ladies and encouraged them to do something. To give in some way. So, by buying the bracelets, she'll feed a hungry person for all 4 months of the famine. And in addition to that, she's spreading the word to her friends and encouraging them to do something too. Now, how about that for DOING something. Way to go! And thank you for how you're serving the people of Ethiopia with your heart!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wine to Water...

note: I dislike blogger. I edit my pics to have the right layout and when I upload them, it's still WRONG. Please understand that blogger is goofing it up, not me. Now, that I vented about that, back to my regularly scheduled post.

Let me start by saying that I am so thankful for my dear friend, Oscar. He's the owner of Ramos Torres Winery. And not only does he make amazing wines, he makes some great hors d'ouvres too. The tri-tip was amazing and if I wasn't so busy chatting, I would have loved the rest of the food too. Anyway, thank you Oscar for the many ways you served, and gave, to the wine social fundraiser.

A wine social. What's that? Who goes to those? The wine social was mostly a hang out time. In a winery. With wine. And food. But not everyone was drinking wine. In fact, I know of at least 4 people who had no wine to drink at all. Yet they came to socliaze and hear about my work with FOVC. I'm thankful to my friends and family who showed up. Thankful to know that God is working in the hearts of some and I could provide some information and encouragement. And they could see that average people like me can do something.

We socliazed. Laughed. I even gave a brief little presentation. I could talk all night long about the work that I'm a part of through FOVC in Ethiopia. But I'm not huge on being the center of attention (unless I'm cracking a joke). So, I wasn't overly comfortable with that. And I would have done much better if I'd had a little outline. I hope my simple words were an encouragement to the others to get involved.

We also had a little silent auction on the side. I've been burned by an auction before but I thought a hand full of items would be really helpful. Oscar donated a wine gift basket and Ryan and I donated some Ethiopian items like cofee and necklaces. My friend Denise donated some Ethiopian art blank cards and some ethiopian necklaces.

For those looking to do a fundraiser, here's what I liked that we did and what I didn't like. I'll share the negatives just so you can learn from my deficiencies. I partnered with a reputable winery. A local winery. With someone who was willing to help. The hard part is though it was local to my growing-up home, I wasn't there to work on details and sell tickets. Next time I'll look to partner with several friends who are eager to sell tickets. The event was before the holiday season which means that items for purchase would have been a great opportunity to buy Christmas presents. Timing was bad in that two classmates were getting married that same night which took some friends away. Timing was also bad in that it was very close to my return from Ethiopia and the weeks prior to the wine social were given to the Ethiopia trip. I also loved the idea of socializing for an hour, then welcoming everyone and giving a short presentation. I could have improved on my presentation. I needed to have somone who was responsible to host while I was busy chatting. My friend, Kristine, helped take money and greeted people as they walked in. But, I could have also used someone to keep track of time, make sure water was on the table, and welcome everyone to the party. I wasn't able to do that well and chat with people. The other thing I would change is to show pictures, not just have a slide show on my lap top off to the side.

This was my first time. I know. I need to give myself a bit of a break. It went well. I'm thankful. We were able to raise money from the sale of the tickets and the silent auction. The money raised will go towards helping me get back to Ethiopia for the next time where I plan to set up some water catchment basins and drip irrigation systems. I'm looking forward to it. Friends, this wine social raised money for water... I'm not Jesus and can't turn water to wine or wine directly to water. But, with the help of those in attendance, this wine social will be bringing water to the crops or widows program. Thank you.

For those who are interested in giving a donation towards my involvement with the crops for widows program, checks may be written to FOVC and mailed to me. Email me if you need my address. Checks written to FOVC are tax deductible. Thank you!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Starvation is Real

I got the chills just thinking about this post. Starvation is real my friends. A mix of emotions overwhelm me as I look at this face below:

This is one of the crops widows Joe and I were training for the week. Her name is Boltase. Upon meeting my crops widows, I greeted each of them with a hug. When I hugged Boltase, it was like hugging sticks. Literally. We use the term "skin and bones" with ease here. At least I do. But this woman, she was skin and bones with no body conditioning on her.

She looked rougher than the rest. As we interacted with each of the women, I kept an eye on this lady who just looked bad. When we talked of walking to a nearby widow's farm, Boltase informed me that she was too ill to walk with us. When we sat in the shade, she sought the sunshine. Something wasn't right.

Starvation is real. I knew there was a chance I'd see it up close and personal.

That night lots of things went through my mind. One was of Boltase. A woman I didn't really know. But a woman created in the likeness of God. A woman who walked a long ways to receive some training and hope. How could we let her down. I talked to Dr. Jo about her. First thing the next morning, I took Boltase to see the lovely Dr. Jo.

I stood there awestruck at what I saw. As I think through those minutes again, I feel a sickness in my stomach. Starvation is real. Even in Shanto, where FOVC exists to help many, they are unable to help everyone. Dr. Jo checked her out, asked her questions and treated her with medical care and love. In this picture below, Dr. Jo had to use a children's blood pressure cuff on Boltase because an adult one was too big. Her arm was literally the size of a two-year-old.

Starvation is real. I hate it.

In the words of my sweet friend, Dr. Jo, her patient was "so far beyond empty, I don't know how she's still standing". She was severely malnourished and severely dehydrated. Her kidneys had begun to shut down. She had no reserves left. Dr. Jo also shared at some point that in a matter of 2 to 3 days, we wouldn't have seen Boltase again. There was no way she would physically be able to move.

But there's good news. Boltase, by no strength of her own, made it to the FOVC campus. While there, she was seen by a medical doctor who.saved.her.life. Can you grasp the weight of that? Literally dying. I know, I know you might think twice about it. But when you see it face to face, it's heart wrenching.

Pedialyte multiple times a day along with some other medical intervention and within 3 days I watched this person, who didn't even have the strength to smile, be able to raise her hands, worship and give praise to God for what we were doing for her.

Friends, it's so much more than a crops project. It's so much more than providing food to those facing starvation. It's giving hope. To those who supported my trip to Ethiopia with encouragement, prayer, and finances, I just want to say thank you. This woman is alive and smiling because of it.

With the happy news, please don't be fooled. Boltase has a long road ahead of her. With the lack of rain in Ethiopia, I saw crops withering. Without rain, their crops won't grow and that will only further impact the health and eating habits of Boltase and others around her.

Dear God, I know that You know. Let it rain Father. Let it rain!

Bethany's bracelets

Today, all on her own, Bethany decided to make bracelets for people in Ethiopia who are hungry. Earlier in the day she made Judah's birthmom a necklace and said the next one she'd make to sell for her. But it was later that she grabbed a bag of brand new pipe cleaners. Twisting them into a bracelet, she worked on each one. When asked what she was doing, she informed me multiple times that she wanted to sell them to help hungry people in Ethiopia. It melted my heart. She cares. Trying to help her dress them up a little bit to make them worthwhile, she was adamant she do them herself.

Now, hours later with a pile of pipe cleaners on the couch, we sit in the living room holding her. While she has a heart for the hungry, she's still a curious little 4 year old and just put her hand underneath a running treadmill with lots of tread. The end result was a screaming child, a yucky/ouchy hand and a momma ready to puke! While she's still all worked up and hasn't calmed down yet. I brought up the bracelets to see if it would distract her.

Through her tears she said "they're for people in Ethiopia who don't have any food"

Child, oh how I love you! We may dress up those pipe-cleaner bracelets a bit but because of you're big heart, I will try to sell them on here on my blog.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A few of my favorite scenes...

disclaimer: the views expressed on MY blog are mine, and not necessarily that of Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children. That means, if you don't like what you read here, talk to ME about it, not FOVC. Thanks.

I crawled in bed tonight knowing I need to post about the trip. Like SemiFeralMama has said, all (2) of my fans are eager to hear and read more. While I really want to share it with you because my trip was amazing, I also want to be realistic. Friends, I got home late Sunday night. And each night this week I've had something going on. I've had no time to do laundry this week, no time to mop floors, no time to change the sheets, or fix a meal, or write a blog post. I haven't even taken sufficient time to dig in the Word this week. What I have been doing is fighting a head cold, go to scheduled meetings/activities and beg people to come to the wine social. So, if you're a California friend, please buy a wine social ticket (or 10) so I can cross that off my list. Thanks.

Okay, now to my Ethiopia post. I will post about the crops. It went well. Still lots to do there. But for now, I'm sharing with you a few of my favorite scenes. There's more for sure.

Tutu (vet/protector/brother), me, Dr. Jo (medical doctor, FeedHope brain), Aki (friend, guide), and Joe down front (crops expert, perfect teammate). Love these guys!

Left the table for a potty break and who knew we'd find a kiddie
playground. Of course, we took advantage of that!

If you know me, you know I have no problem stopping on the side of the
road, snuggling up to some locals and snapping a photo.

and if you don't know me well, you'll rarely find
me looking like this:

Aki, my "official" friend once he added me on facebook,
was a great guide. And a lovely photographer and great
help translating. Looking forward to seeing you next
time Aki! Thanks for putting up with us last week!
Seriously there, are lots of pics. Between Joe and I, we had over 2500. Joe has great pics so some that I'll be sharing here are actually his. Just so you know.

Oh, and there's nothing with the disclaimer at the top. Ryan thought by me writing that would make people think I'd been scolded. I haven't. I just want to prevent it. While I write about my trip and my experience, it will be my opinion. That's all. It's pretty simple.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What do you think of when you see this picture?

We were walking back from one of the widow's farms when Aki's phone rang. We had a brief discussion with Lory who was back at the FOVC campus. And then I laughed. Out loud. Only in rural, super rural, Ethiopia does one walk down a foot path (cause it's commonly not wide enough for a vehicle although it was in this spot), talking on an iphone. And not my iphone - I'm not cool enough to own one of those. It was Aki's iphone.

And the other thing that I love is that in Joe's picture here, he captured Aki taking a picture. No, he's not the paparazzi, he was my guide, and is my new friend. He liked my camera and I was happy to let him be the photographer. No, I'm not cool enough to have the paparazzi or a bunch of people following me around. But I am talking on an iphone in the middle Ethiopia!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

High Five

I haven't had much time to put together real thoughts about the trip.  I'm still thinking through how to share and how much to share and what all to share.  But as I'm sitting here editing Joe's pictures, I came across this one and loved it.  I love that people are smiling.  And my little kindergartners that I'm working with saw it and asked "how come they're so happy" just after seeing how tiny and dirty their house was in comparison to ours.  Then I got to this pic and they have big smiles.  I'd love to say that they're always smiling this much because of the hope they have within them.  Like we should be.  But the reality is in that moment, the reason for the smile is because I taught the kids a little High Five game that Uncle Mike does with my kids.  You tell them "up high" and get a high five, then say "down low" and get a low five and then cup your hand and say "in the hole" and when they stick their finger in your cupped hand, you reach out and tickle them.  The kids loved it.  Everyone laughed.  So, I love that they're smilling in this picture.  And I love that, if only for 30 seconds, I could bring some joy to their lives.
I've heard the question many times recently "Will FOVC let someone go who's not skilled?"  Friends, don't deceive yourselves.  The definition of skilled should not be limited.  Sure, not all of us are medical doctors or veterinarians.  But you know what, I'm not either.  I may be considered the crops expert but there those out there who know more than me.  I'm just willing, not super expert.  I know some basics and am willing to learn a lot while I volunteer.  You don't have to be an expert to help.  After all, kids need loved.  Can you play the high five game?  Then you too could be helpful on a team trip.