Thursday, August 25, 2016

Handful


Yep... that's what this little goofball is...

And depending upon the hour - he can be a handful of crazy - or a handful of love!

Either way...

We LOVE this handful!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Gaggle of Goofy Gals


This group of gals right here - they love each other fiercely!


And for every bit of love they have for each other...


they match it with goofiness too!

Hey ladies... get FUNKY!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dust Pans and Egg Sandwiches


We are SOOOO blessed to have somebody like Heather in our lives.

Right now - she is over in Ethiopia - spending her days at Brighton Academy - doing anything and everything from cleaning, to teaching, to playing with kids.

She represents our family well - she honors Brighton so well - and we'd trust her with this whole thing any time.

Another thing she is doing is capturing stories for us. Stories to share.

Real life stories of real life people.

And we hope to keep sharing these types of things and never ever stop.

Check out one of our latest peeks into her day...

I struggled fighting back tears all day today. I know that must come as a surprise to you all but just follow me.

I had a different driver starting today. He is just stepping in because my driver went to the country for a couple days. When I got in the car this morning he asked me my name and I told him and he said "my name is Emanuel. It's a bible name...a name for God."

I immediately knew I was off to a good start...in the car with God. "S" called me as we were getting close to the post office and said that is where he was so we picked him up and took him to the school. He started cutting up with the staff and I started playing with the little boy in these pictures. His mom is one of the cleaners at the school so he and his little brother are literally at the school all day. They have no toys so they find ways to keep themselves busy with paint can lids and sticks and whatever they can find.

Today he found a ping pong ball somewhere and so I went looking for a trash can so we could at least play basketball. He found the dust pan before I found a basket so after the rain stopped we went outside and I pitched the ball and he SMASHED it "out of the park."

I was shocked that he even had the concept! We played for at least an hour with him hitting it over the wall at times landing in some very questionable "puddles." I prayed over my hands every time I had to reach in that bio hazard but I had to keep playing... he was having SO much fun and squealed and jumped up and down ever time he hit it.

A short time later his older brother came in and saw what we were doing so he found an empty water bottle, smashed it flat and that became his bat. Y'all, I couldn't take it.

I started thinking about all the things we take for granted, and all the toys that sit in the "playrooms" of American kids...whole rooms...full of toys...and these boys found such joy in a dustpan and a water bottle. Then I started thinking about what their future looks like and the lack of opportunities that they have...it's heartbreaking.

Who knows that if they actually had a bat and a school where someone would see them play if they would wind up in the big leagues? They won't because unfortunately they're here...and their mom is poor, and they don't have cleats - they have pink plastic shoes, and they have to practice with a dustpan...but honestly tonight, I'm thankful for a dustpan.



I sent "S" with some money to get me a phone card, get himself some minutes for his phone and buy himself something to eat. He came back with 2 phone cards for me, a phone card for him and a can of tuna. He put the minutes on my phone and said "look mom" so I could see that he actually bought the amount I asked him to get.

I said "do you have any left or did you spend it?"

He said "I spent it."

No problem...he did exactly what I asked. I kept playing with the kids, and taking pictures and Nebiat said he was taking "S" and they were going to the subsidy office to get the approval to pick up the school books. They came back and "S" had a bag in his hand.

I said "what is that?"

He said "it's your lunch me buy for you because you didn't eat yet. Me see you eat egg sandwich Sunday so me know you will eat it. Come, you eat...me even bring ketchup."

Umm....he wrecks me. Did I want an egg sandwich with "mayonnaise" from who knows where on the streets of this city? Absolutely not, but was it quite possibly the best thing I have ever eaten? By far...not because it tasted good, not because I was really hungry and just HAD to eat.

It's because it came from a kid who has nothing and gave me something.

It came from a boy who could've kept the money and bought himself something to eat when he is hungry tonight but cared more about me not going hungry. I ate half and was done so what does he do next?

Instead of finishing it himself, he calls "B" in the office and splits the rest with her. Tonight I'm thankful for Ethiopia streets egg sandwiches.



Ended the day visiting one of my favorite people "E" and her family. She was the cook at the guest house I stayed in the last two years and I absolutely adore her. She just had a baby so I went to see her and hold that sweet baby. I also had my crew with me and we invaded the place!

In America, when someone has a baby, people typically take food to the new mother and family...not here. As soon as we walked in the fire started for the coffee and out came a COMPLETE meal for US. "E" wouldn't have it any other way.

She LOVES to take care of people, she wants people to feel welcome, she is a beautiful soul, she loves well and she loves Jesus the most. Nebiat said "E is my prayer warrior" and THAT she is. I have had her pray for me countless times and I promise you it feels like heaven is closing in. She is SOLD OUT to Jesus!

My friend "S" was with us...and she is Muslim. I sat on the couch holding that baby and looked up to see a sticker on the wall that said "I belong to Jesus"... right above "S's" head. I couldn't help but wonder if she felt something different in the room. Jesus was definitely in there. I love how Christians and Muslims co-exist here. I believe that's how Jesus wants it. How else would "S" see Jesus if they went their way and we went ours? Tonight I'm thankful for "I belong to Jesus" stickers.



I love this country.

I love the people in it that make it SO worth coming back to.

I love that my relationships with them continue to grow.

I love that God shows me just what I need, exactly when I need it.

He just keeps doing it...


Heather... your love for our family, for Brighton's legacy, for Ethiopia and now for the school - means the absolute world to us.

You're a true angel in our world - never stop doing what ya do - cuz ya do it well!

"Thank you" seems so tiny in comparison...

DUST PANS AND EGG SANDWICHES!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Responsibility


Meron and Mebbie have stumbled upon a pretty cool opportunity to show just how responsible they are!

Our cool neighbors trusted them enough to offer to pay them to take care of their dog and two turtles for 4 days while they are out of town!

The girls are PUMPED!

As I watched these two walk over to our neighbor's tonight to get some instruction...

I couldn't believe how grown up they are!


Girls... I know you will do an amazing job cuz I know just how ya are... but do me one favor while you're at it...

STOP GROWING UP SO FAST!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Good Times in a Good 'Hood


Despite what ya might think if you only perused our neighborhood Facebook group - we live in a pretty dope 'hood full of pretty dope people!

Yesterday - steps away from our side yard - our neighborhood put on an all day pig roast and festival complete with face painting, tons of food, cotton candy, jumpy houses, a band and more!

The kids were so pumped to go!


Z-Dogg got a baseball painted on his face...


And Mebski Love - who loves her savior a LOT - leaned in to me and said:

"Daddy - I am gonna have them paint 'M & G' on my face - it will stand for Mebbie and God!"
I love her heart!


There were human-sized hamster balls that they ran in...


And pushed their friends in too!


Bouncy houses provided some excellent fun...


And some serious slide action too!


It was a day full of fun and friends and sunshine that brought on big 'ole smiles...


like THIS...


And THIS...


AND THIS!

Halfway through it all I headed back to the house to do some much needed yard work... and I usually wear my headphones while working in the yard - but today I chose to not wear 'em and it was awesome to just hear the buzz of a bunch of kids and families having a great time at the end of summer!

Thanks 'hood... for being so good!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sometimes It's All Ya Need


Sometimes - all ya need is to look across the field and see this little dude flash this smile at ya...

And ya know all is well!

Thanks Z-Dogg... for the smile of reassurance!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Anywhere, Anytime...


This girl can fall asleep... just like that. [snaps fingers in air]

This is her about 2 minutes after walking in the door from a night of hanging out with the coolest friends and neighbors in the coolest neighborhood!

Anywhere... anytime!