Friday, August 29, 2008

School is in!!

Well, Abigayle and Anna have been in school now for one week!!

Abigayle has already brought home test papers with A's and Anna's progress reports are A's!!

We have two good, smart cookies!! Abigayle's teacher is Mrs. Laphoon and she is really nice...she loves to teach she has been a teacher for 31 years!! WOW

No word from the adoption...we will be waiting 5 months the 7th of Sept. It is all in God's timing.

Bev is getting us ready though, her and Roger just got back from the Ukraine on a mission's trip and she has given us fanny belts, backpacks and a suit case!! We are set in that area...she has reminded me how to pack internationally and what to pack...also I need to get my second Hep B shot...Paul has gotten all of his shots when he was in the National Guard a few years ago so he is set...I have gotten Tet nus, Hep A and Hep B...that is all really that is needed to go on this trip. I have gotten some things for the ladies at the HOH, but still need to get things for the men. I am bringing crayons, and deodorant that Walmart has donated to the children and adults at the HOH.
Now I am going to start getting travel stuff...I figure if I start buying a little here and a little there by the time it is time to travel it won't be so much $$.

Okay gotta go...

You can read it, study it, examine it, and read it again; but unless you live it, and experience it you will never know the magnitude of it!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Article in USA Today August 24, 2008 Let's Pray for all Ethiopia!!

Ethiopia's new famine: 'A ticking time bomb'
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
KONSO, Ethiopia — Once, the farmers walked for hours to bring their sorghum and maize here to market. These days they trod the same paths, parched grass crunching under foot, to carry their starving children to a feeding clinic.
Like crops, the children are weighed (in a nylon harness seat attached to a scale) and measured (with a tape to record arm circumference). The most severely malnourished are kept overnight for up to a month; the rest go home with a week's supply of Plumpy'nut, a nutritional paste.
The clinic, part of a system that didn't exist five years ago, will save almost all the children from starvation. But it can't sate the hunger that has shattered their families' livelihoods — forcing them to sell skeletal cows for a few dollars, to eat this year's food reserve and next year's seed, to keep children out of school, to flee the land itself.
"We give birth to the children," says Urmale Kasaso, whose listless 4-year-old son's cheeks are puffed up like apples from malnutrition, "but we can't grow them."
Ethiopia, perennially one of the world's hungriest nations, now faces what Oxfam, one of dozens of international aid organizations responding to the crisis, calls "a toxic cocktail."
Its ingredients: drought that in some places killed the entire spring crop; global inflation that has doubled the price of food; armed rebellion in the Somali region that has disrupted food delivery; and assorted plagues, from insects to hailstones.
Unlike 1985, when images of a famine that killed 1 million Ethiopians shocked the West — "We are the world!" pop stars sang at the globally televised Live Aid concert that raised more than $250 million — this year aid workers say there probably will be no mass starvation. An expensive, elaborate social welfare apparatus, erected largely by the world's rich nations to avert another 1985, will not permit it.
Those good intentions, however, have helped produce another problem: A nation that has long seen itself as the most independent in Africa faces an ever-growing dependence on food aid from countries who now must deal with increasing food problems of their own.
At least 14 million Ethiopians — 18% of the nation — need food aid (much of it from the USA) or cash assistance, according to government figures and aid agency estimates.
Since 1985 the population has doubled to almost 80 million, and per-capita farm production has declined. Meanwhile, the global cost of raising and moving food keeps rising.
It all makes Ethiopia's hunger "a ticking time bomb," says Peter Walker, a Tufts University famine specialist.
The problem is personified by Urmale, who like most Ethiopians is known by his first, given name.
With his 4-year-old son Kusse strapped to his back, he walked three hours to the clinic here run by the government and supported by Save the Children USA, the humanitarian aid agency.
The boy had shrunk to 20 pounds after the family's crop failed and market prices outstripped the cash allowance his family gets from a government anti-famine program. Now he's gaining almost a pound a day.
But Urmale, 30, says the boy's three older siblings have a question for which he has no answer: Why did you bring us into the world if you can't feed us?
"It is sad, but I try to calm them," he explains.
"I say, 'Let me go and search for some food.' "
'What else can I do?'
The hunger has spread across two-thirds of Ethiopia, from the slums of Addis Ababa to the parched countryside around Konso to the "green hunger" region where the rains came only after the spring growing season.
The nation's emergency grain reserve is tapped out, and last month the emergency food ration was reduced by one-third. The government says 75,000 children are severely malnourished. Some people are eating cactus, roots and other famine foods.
Oxfam America staffer Rob O'Neil, who visited the Somali and Afar regions, reports that in one village people pounded their animals' food pellets into a porridge for their children.
Such coping strategies get people through to the fall harvest, but also deepen their poverty.
Dararo Darimo, a widow who walked for an hour to carry her grandson to the clinic here, knows that selling her cow only put off the day of reckoning.
"What else can I do?" she asks. "I don't want to see my grandchildren die."
Gale Kalalo, a young mother whose breast milk has dried up, says her family has only a few days' food left. After that, they'll sell their three goats, one by one. After that, they'll leave their farm and move to the city.
The hunger will be waiting.
Urban Ethiopians traditionally were untouched by the hunger that droughts brought to the nation's subsistence farmers.
Now all Ethiopians face annual food-price inflation of more than 75%; only Zimbabwe's problem is worse, according to World Bank economist William Wiseman.
Messret Tesfay, 27, lives with her daughter in a slum of Addis Ababa, the nation's capital. Her husband has left her. Her home is a one-room brick mud hut wallpapered with old newspapers. But she's always been able afford to make injera — the spongy flatbread on which (and with which) Ethiopians hand-eat their meals.
Now, however, even this national staple is denied her.
She says the cost of teff, the iron-rich cereal from which injera is made, has doubled in the past year to more than $2 per pound. That's forced her buy small pieces of cheaper, pre-made injera, or to make injera with a substitute, such as sorghum or rice.
For a moment, her stoicism cracks. "Too bitter," she says of the alternatives, making a face. "Too hard."
Even some middle-class residents of Addis Ababa, the capital, are being forced to put off weddings, carry lunches to work and eat two meals daily instead of three.
Bassie Terefe, 28, a program officer at a humanitarian aid agency, doesn't go out to dinner any more with friends. He knows that sooner or later he'd have to pick up the check, and he can't afford to.
Instead, he stays home nights, reading newspapers.
"You isolate yourself," he says. "You feel ashamed."
Hallelujah Lulie, 24, a freelance journalist, says food prices have postponed his plan to leave home and get his own place. At this rate, he says, he'll never become independent, much less get married.
"I need to learn some life skills," he says. "Now I'm dependent on my mom."
Detecting malnutrition
Famine detection, prevention and alleviation have become a major industry here.
The USA alone will give about $460 million this year just in food aid, part of a $1 billion non-military foreign assistance package. (Ethiopia is the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid in sub-Saharan Africa, behind Sudan).
With each famine, the industry grows.
In 1985, when scenes of emaciated babies and open graves galvanized world opinion, international groups such as Doctors Without Borders and CARE came to stay.
After the drought of 2003, in which more than 13 million people needed emergency food, the government and foreign donors created a system designed to make famine history.
Its components include the Productive Safety Net, a public works program that gives food or cash to more than 7 million poor Ethiopians; the Famine Early Warning System, which uses local indices — rainfall, household income, the average price of a cow — to alert government and aid agencies; a national network of government health extension workers, with two workers per locality, to detect and treat early signs of malnutrition.
In the 2003 drought, Ayelech Echetu's 18-month-old daughter, Hagira, wasted away. "We didn't understand malnutrition then," she says.
But this spring, when the drought hit, a community volunteer visited her home. She examined Ayelech's 4-year-old son, Mattios, and told her to take him to a government clinic in Tulla.
The boy has gained several pounds on Plumpy'nut, but his mother has no illusions about the future. She has sold the family's only goat. The cow is next. Then, she says, "we pray."
A bottomless dependency
Beneath the system designed to stave off famine, Ethiopian agriculture is weaker than ever.
Per-capita farm production has fallen by more than one-third since the famine of 1984-85, largely because the population has doubled — up to an average of 5.4 children per family — and the average farm plot has gotten smaller and drier.
The "green revolution" that transformed agriculture in Asia and Latin America after World War II largely bypassed Africa.
Most Ethiopians farm as their ancestors did — with oxen, wooden plows and rainfall. Farmers agree the latter has become increasingly unreliable.
"In my grandfather's time there was rain. In my father's time there was rain," says Urmale, the farmer who carried his son to the Konso clinic.
"But now the rain is decreasing and decreasing and decreasing. … So there is nothing to eat," he says.
Walker, the Tufts University famine specialist, says the nation also suffers from a centralized agricultural policy that does not encourage small private enterprise or even allow small farmers to own their land.
He says federal officials "issue well-meaning edicts (such as), 'Increase food production 30% in your district.' " Local officials may report good results, Walker says, but "the reports we get is that production is down."
Sisay Tadesse, a spokesman for the government's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency, denies that local officials tell higher-ups only what they want to hear and were slow this year to report the drought's impact: "The situation on the ground is known by everybody. We are working transparently and closely with our partners," foreign governments and aid agencies.
After some hectic scenes at underprovisioned rural feeding centers this spring, "all the stars are aligned now, and the situation is stabilized," says Glenn Anders, head of the U.S. aid mission.
But hunger remains a touchy issue in Ethiopia. The famine of 1973-74 brought down Emperor Haile Selassie, and the one of 1984-85 marked the beginning of the end for the regime that ousted him.
Moreover, the nation's reliance on others for food undercuts its sense of itself as the only African nation not colonized in the 19th century, and the only one to conclusively defeat a European power: the Italians at the Battle of Adwa in 1896.
Being synonymous with famine "hurts the image of the country," says Sisay, the government spokesman.
That may explain why Ethiopian leaders sometimes seem to be in denial.
In June, long after drought had created a food crisis, the country's health minister told reporters: "We don't need to beat the drum of hunger for Ethiopia every year."
Ethiopia can ill afford to play down its food needs; other nations' own economic worries have left them less willing or able to feed the likes of Ethiopia.
"We're past the time when food was abundant and cheap to transport," says Charles MacCormack, president of Save the Children USA, who points to spring floods in the Midwest and the price of oil as signs that U.S. largesse is finite.
This year there's been "push back" from food donor nations, says Anders, the U.S. aid mission chief: "There's this fatigue: 'Here's Ethiopia again, looking for food again.' "
He says Ethiopia and other African nations need agricultural development: hybrid seeds, irrigation systems, market roads, storage facilities. But foreign aid largely goes to keep people alive, with food or medicine (notably AIDS drugs). Only 0.7% of U.S. aid to Ethiopia goes to improve farm production.
So Ethiopian farmers will continue to wait for the rains — and the hunger.
Although some farmers gather in the fields at night for traditional rain-seeking rituals, Ayelech Echetu is a Christian who does her praying in church. Why, she is asked, did God not send the rains this spring?
She smiles and says what Ethiopians have been saying for a thousand years: "God is very kind. He will give us rain."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Go Ethiopia!!

Go Ethiopia!! Great work!! I don't have pictures but these are the people who won at the Olympics...Sunday August 17, 2008

Dibaba Kenene won the gold for the ladies.

Kenenisa Bekela is the gold medalist for the men.

(L-R) Seleshi Sihine (silver), Kenenisa Bekele (gold) and teammate Haile Gebreselassie celebrate. (Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Something of the Heart

You can read it, study it, examine it, and read it again; but unless you live it, and experience it you will never know the magnitude of it!!

~Dee W.~

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why Africa Is Still Starving

Paleontologists hunting fossils of early man in the Rift Valley of southern Ethiopia call the area the cradle of mankind. This year it's bursting with life, especially in the fields where local farmers grow barley, potatoes and teff, a cereal used to make the flat, spongy bread injera. As a warm July rain falls on a patchwork of smallholdings half a day's walk from the nearest road, the women harvest yams, the men plow behind sturdy oxen and fat chickens, goats and cows roam outside mud huts. And yet for all the apparent abundance, this area is so short of food that many are dying from starvation. All morning, the hills above the village of Kersa have echoed with the wails of women walking in from the fields. They gather on a patch of open grass before a stretcher made from freshly cut bamboo, bound and laid with banana leaves. On it is a small bundle wrapped in a red-and-blue blanket. An imam calls the crowd together, asks them to take off their shoes and arranges them in two lines, women behind men, facing east. "Allahu akbar," he says twice. Then four men pick up the bier, easily handling its weight with one arm, and walk a short way to a freshly dug hole, into which they lower the bundle and bury it. Three other small, fresh graves nearby indicate Ayano Gemeda, 6, was not the first child to starve in Kersa this year. The distended bellies and chicken-wing limbs of children looking on suggest he won't be the last.
In the six weeks to mid-July, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) treated 11,800 Ethiopian children for severe acute malnutrition. At a tented hospital in the town of Kuyera, 50 out of 1,000 died, double the rate MSF expects for a full-fledged famine. "It's very bizarre," says Jean de Cambry, a Belgian MSF veteran of crises from Sudan to Afghanistan. "It's so green. But you have all these people dying of hunger." The verdure around Kuyera is misleading. It is the product of rains in June, too late for the first of two annual crops. From January to May, the fields were parched and brown. And one failed harvest is enough to turn Ethiopia, a nation of 66 million farmers, into a humanitarian catastrophe.
Hunger has swept East Africa this year, spurred by poor rains and rising food prices. The U.N. estimates that 14 million people urgently need food aid, including 2.6 million in Somalia and more than 1 million in Kenya. In Ethiopia, 4.6 million people are at risk, and 75,000 children have severe acute malnutrition. Nearly a quarter-century ago, an outright famine led to Live Aid, an international fund-raising effort promoted by rock stars, which produced an outpouring of global generosity: millions of tons of food flooded into the country. Yet, ironically, that very generosity may have contributed to today's crisis.
Over time, sustained food aid creates dependence on handouts and shifts focus away from improving agricultural practices to increase local food supplies. Ethiopia exemplifies the consequences of giving a starving man a fish instead of teaching him to catch his own. This year the U.S. will give more than $800 million to Ethiopia: $460 million for food, $350 million for HIV/AIDS treatment — and just $7 million for agricultural development. Western governments are loath to halt programs that create a market for their farm surpluses, but for countries receiving their charity, long-term food aid can become addictive. Why bother with development when shortfalls are met by aid? Ethiopian farmers can't compete with free food, so they stop trying. Over time, there's a loss of key skills, and a country that doesn't have to feed itself soon becomes a country that can't. All too often, its rulers use resources elsewhere — Ethiopia has one of Africa's largest armies.
Why do we get aid so wrong? Because it feels so right. "The American people," says U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto, "are simply not going to sit tight while they see children dying." Nor should they: a starving man needs to be saved first, before he can be taught to fish — or farm. But as the world rallies again to Ethiopia's aid, donors face a dilemma. "We're not getting to the real problem," says Yamamoto.
What would? Ethiopia thought it had found one answer. In 2005 a $1.4 billion five-year program identified 7.3 million Ethiopians unable to live without free food and gave them jobs in rural projects, such as roads and irrigation. The idea was to create livelihoods as well as to save lives. It was working, slowly. By this year, says a Western economist familiar with the effort, "a few thousand" had left the program and were making it on their own. Then came the double blow of drought and soaring food prices. Of the 7.3 million, 5.4 million suddenly needed extra food aid. The sobering lesson: even the best efforts to eliminate hunger are expensive, slow and uncertain of success. Depressing as it may be, this may not be the last time Ethiopia needs help.
With reporting by Kassahun Addis/Addis Ababa

Friday, August 8, 2008

Living By Faith

This whole adoption thing the last year has been an enormous faith builder~
Some say why would you adopt? Why would you put your whole life on hold stop saving money for retirement?? Why would you possibly go into debt over a child??

My answer: God gave his SON Jesus and Jesus brought us out of the life that we live full of sin and mire. And he adopted us into his family and made us his child. That is the ultimate sacrifice. Yes, we are sacrificing some earthly things for a little while, but oh great joy this journey has been!!

Paul, myself, Abigayle and Anna are learning faith!! We are learning to pray together, we are learning compassion, we are watching God provide right before our eyes, we are learning to walk in his will. Yes, we have had struggles, down times, and worries. But God lifts us back up with a gentle hand and leads us on!! WE ARE LEARNING FAITH!!

No, we have not had a referral yet, it has been 4 months and 2 days since our "official waiting" began. Anytime...God's Timing is Always Perfect!!

John 14:8 I will not leave you as orphans for I will come to you, after a little while. A father to the fatherless a defender of the widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Having that said, here is a wonderful clipping from: Stephen Curtis Chapman
This man has blessed our lives and lives of many other people more then any one would ever know!! Thank you!!
FRANKLIN, Tennessee (CNN) -- According to UNICEF, there are 143 million children in the world who have lost one or both parents.In America alone, there are half a million children in foster care, and approximately 120,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. In many countries, children are too often orphaned or abandoned because of poverty, disabilities and disease; every 15 seconds, a child loses a parent because of AIDS. These are staggering facts that can seem overwhelming and discouraging, but I believe that God has a loving plan for each child, and that plan is you and me.Caring for these children is not the job of governments or institutions; instead, it is the job of families, people and communities. As Christians, our compassion is simply a response to the love that God has already shown us. Mother Teresa would constantly remind those who worked with her that the Bible clearly teaches that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. So in a very real sense, caring for orphans is a chance to meet the person of Jesus in "the guise of human suffering." This is an invitation from the heart of God to know him and to experience his love.Nine years ago, my wife and my eldest daughter, Emily, traveled to Haiti on a mission trip. Having been exposed to extreme poverty for the first time, Emily returned home with a determined passion to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children.Only 12 years old, Emily went on an all-out campaign to persuade us to adopt. She bought a book on international adoption with her Christmas money and would read it to us regularly. She began fervently praying and writing letters to Mary Beth and me, encouraging us to consider giving a waiting child a home. Emily knew God was leading us in the direction of adoption; however, Mary Beth and I were not yet convinced.My wife and I had always supported the idea of adoption, and as Christians, we understood the importance of loving and caring for others. But what I had not yet grasped was that adoption is a physical picture of what Jesus has done for me. I did nothing to deserve God's love; in fact, I was living as an orphan, without hope. Yet God chose to pursue a relationship with me, and through the death of his son Jesus, I was adopted into God's family.My wife and I began moving toward adoption with fear and trembling and asking all the questions people ask. I remember Mary Beth crying herself to sleep at night saying, "What are we doing? I can't do this." However, God kept reassuring us that this was the direction he was leading us. It was a huge journey of faith for us.In May of 2000, we found ourselves in a hotel room in China's Hunan province, welcoming the newest member of our family, Shaohannah Hope. From that moment, we began our journey into the world of adoption, orphan care and Shaohannah's Hope. We went on to adopt Stevey Joy and Maria. Recently, our youngest daughter, Maria, passed from life on this earth and is now safely in the arms of Jesus. We have been completely overwhelmed by the love and support of so many during this time of deep, deep sadness. Through all that we've experienced, one thing we still know is true: God's heart is for the orphan.In our travels to Latin America, Africa and Asia, we have visited many different orphanages. If you look past the surroundings and into the eyes of the children, they all have the same look. They seem to convey, "I don't think this is what I was made for. Where do I belong?" These children are crying out for the hope of a family, for the hope of community, for the hope of a permanent love. Our mission, and the mission of our adoption charity, Shaohannah's Hope, is to show hope to these children and to mobilize people, families and communities to be living examples of God's love for them. We started Shaohannah's Hope in order to connect willing families with waiting children, but the reality is that there are many orphans who cannot be adopted. Even though we may not be able to bring them into our homes, we still have the opportunity to show them the hope we have. If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world. We can each do something, whether it is donating, adopting, fostering, mentoring, visiting orphans or supporting families that have taken in orphans. You can change the world for an orphan.