July 25, 2011

Sally is Seven!

Sally's seventh birthday party will go down in history as the most wild party our family has ever thrown.


It all started when she asked for a surprise party. I don't know what it is with these kids requesting a surprise party. The moment they ask for a surprise, it ceases to be a surprise party. Nevertheless, I proceeded to embrace the circus that we call life and embellish each one of the talents we have working around the circus idea. Jojo the strong man, Daddio the juggler, Everett the Great Magician, Elijah the lion tamer, and grandparents painting faces. My mom and sister made an appearance as clowns. My mom, infamous for taking things to the next level, wasn't satisfied with just making balloon animals. They made a last minute trip to wal-mart for clown clothes (dress shirts my dad is probably wearing to work now), face paint, and balloons. Then they watched youtube late into the night learning how to twist balloons into animals.

Sally was indeed surprised, as we enlisted her grandparents to take her shopping while we prepped for the party and all of her friends arrived.

All of the kids were having a blast, we were just finishing up with the circus show when thunder rumbled. We raced inside and Sally began opening gifts when my father-in-law said something I never thought I'd hear. "Apryl, the police are in your driveway."

Then the power went out.

We immediately lit the candles and the party never slowed down. Who knew that the police and a power outage wouldn't even be noticed by 20 children as long as cake is available?

July 20, 2011

Trees of Glory Well Project

As we walked down the hill to the river, Girma stopped to show us the well. He explained that the entire property used to have running water, not just a pump, but faucets, showers, even a pool! When the Japanese construction crew finished their work and left, the property was sorely vandalized and the well was destroyed.

As time passes and volunteer teams come; windows are replaced and walls are painted. Buildings that have sat in disrepair are being used. Simret, the director, has high hopes for the property. Her dreams are big and it seems they all hinge on getting that well repaired and functioning again. As it stands now, the staff has to fill jugs in the village spigot to provide water for 100 children during the day.

The bids for the project came in a few months ago. I sat at the computer overwhelmed by the cost. Then I thought about how overwhelming it would be to Simret. I'm sitting at my breakfast table, with one of our three laptops open, sipping a cup of coffee, enjoying the cool temperatures inside my house while it begins to heat up outside. I am the picture of middle class America. In all of my affluence, a price that is staggering to me must be completely incomprehensible to a woman standing in the middle of Ethiopia, without electricity or running water. The staff at Trees of Glory don't have access to the internet to let the rest of the world know about their plight. They are counting on us. Jessica Irvin shot a video of Simret and Girma talking about their need for the well to be repaired. Specifically, they thank US for partnering with them in their efforts. What a humbling thought! I'm overwhelmed and thinking that we cannot possibly raise the funds in a timely manner, but they are relying on God to provide the funding through us. Stressing that their ability to care for these children is made possible by our prayers and support.

Since I began this post several days ago, the situation has become dire. Karen emailed last night with an urgent request. She cited news reports that are calling this the most severe drought in 60 years. As the drought continues, the price of food goes higher and malnutrition quickly becomes starvation. From Karen's message:

This fresh-water well project is more urgent than ever for Trees of Glory. The well will be drilled deep enough to reach aquifers that are not readily affected by cyclical droughts or rainfall - and part of the plans for the well include irrigation systems for the fields and gardens at TOG.

Please consider funding this project - and please spread the word. This is something we can do right now to make a tangible difference for the kids and staff at TOG - AND in the surrounding villages! And please pray for Ethiopia and the entire horn of Africa as they once again weather drought and famine.

To make a donation:
Go to www.hopechest.org, click on GIVE
Click on DESIGNATED GIFT and specify a $ amount
In the Reference Number, specify ET2119000
In the Notes area, specify TOG WELL

July 6, 2011

I'm Going Back...again!

I'm stepping up to the microphone again to make an announcement.

"Ahem. Is this thing on?"

With butterflies of excitement, and just a little trepidation...

"I am going back to Ethiopia with Karen this November."

My dear husband is so tolerant and supportive. I know he has a million things that 'need' to be fixed (like the growing crack in the basement wall). I never had to tell him how important this trip is to me. Or to Jirigna. Or to our kids, who are watching how WE live our lives. He just knew.

I mentioned the upcoming trip and then that I need to make a decision soon. He looked at me for a long moment and said, "Of course. It really isn't that big of a deal."

A highly unusual response for him regarding something that is indeed a pretty big deal. I've said it before; he's my knight in wrinkled business casual.

I'm cooking up some plans on how we can be a big blessing to our wonderful friends in Ethiopia and all of the beautiful children that they care for. I can't wait to see them again and I can't wait to share with them blessings from my friends in the US!

There are limited spots available, if you think you would like to join us. It's sure to be an amazing time. Email Karen at kjwistrom@yahoo.com if you are interested--November 11-21.