Thursday, July 16, 2009

International Justice Day

Today is International Justice Day, a day for us to look at the world around us and figure out what we can do to help others. It may be providing wells for clean water in Africa or protection for children who may be sold into prostitution. I am attaching a link to a video made by Mocha Club-the group that I traveled to Ethiopia with last year! Mocha Club started in Nashville by 2 of my favorite artists, Matt Wertz and Dave Barnes. The other founder is not a musician (that I know of), but an awesome guy-Barrett Ward. Barrett and his wife Rachel lived in Addis when I was there last summer and are adopting 2 girls from Ethiopia. Okay, I'm rambling. A friend said earlier that International Justice Day should be everyday! And he is right! Everyday should be Thanksgiving as well. Take a moment today to be thankful for your home, your safety, and clean water that flows from a tap, not from a stream 6 miles away. Enough from me. I will let the video do the rest. Here's the link:

Family Update

I wish I could say things are better, but I can't. I stayed the night last night with Mom and it was the most time I have spent with her in over 2 years. And that is really hard to say. We did not argue like I thought we would, but it wasn't very peaceful either. I started a book last night when I got there and I finished it right after I left, so that tells you how much reading I did last night instead of talking. Talking to her is like talking to a wall. So I decided not to waste my breath. My grandparents are back up here tonight, so I get to stay at home! I may start on another book instead of sleeping, simply because I am so happy to be in my drama-free house. ha!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stephanie's Update

Steph and the team are having a great you can tell from her email!

Hey!We have had a lot more internet access this time around than I thought we would so I am going to take advantage of it! Sorry in advance - I typed this email on Tuesday night but wasn't able to send it until today. We actually have had internet at the house in Addis and here at the hotel in Nazareth. The only problem is there are 16 of us that have to share two computers here and only one at the house - and the service is SLOW - plus you have to pay for it by the minute. It isn’t very expensive but it is frustrating. I guess I should just be glad that we have access to it at all!Anyways - today we went to the Women at Risk center again. They have a bible study every morning so we went for that. I forgot how much I love to hear these people sing in Amharic! It is really pretty and they are very passionate while they are singing. Two of the women there shared their testimonies - well, I should say one of them shared. The other lady tried to share but she got extremely upset when she started talking about the time period when she lived on the streets since she had an infant daughter with her. I would love to know the rest of her story but maybe she will be able to share it some other morning. Two of our girls shared and I appreciate so much that they did. It is very hard to try and tell about our lives when you have just heard the horrendous things these women have been through. Our lives all just sound so wonderful and perfect - and for the most part they are - especially in comparison to what these women have dealt with. After the devotion time some of the team washed the women's’ feet and painted their nails while the rest of us colored with their little ones. We left for lunch and went to the market to get ingredients to make pizza with the women. Of course, we had to forget cheese while we were shopping - haha. We made homemade dough and sauce for the pizza while Dana attempted to find cheese for us at the other stores in town. She didn’t have any luck - I guess they don’t use cheese for much around here. That is so strange to me - but oh well. We improvised and make a kind of breadstick with the sauce spread on it and then rolled up. We just called them pizza rolls. I am not sure that the women liked them but they enjoyed making them and learning how to make the dough and sauce at least. I know pizza is an American thing and to them is very strange. They have tons of pizza places around Addis but the Ethiopians don’t eat there - only the tourists. So, that is what our day consisted of. It was a lot of fun and pretty exhausting! We will be going back there in the morning for their bible study and to spend some time with them before lunch. After lunch we have the afternoon off!!! I have no idea what that will consist of but we will see. I’m sure it will at least involve me e-mailing again. We are still trying to convince Dana, our leader, to let us go see Harry Potter since it comes out tomorrow. I think she will but it will probably be this weekend when we are back in Addis - I don’t know that they even have a theater here in Nazareth. Talk to you tomorrow probably!Love y’all-Steph

I was going to wait to see Harry Potter until Steph got home, but if they get to go in Addis, then I will not wait on her!! I am pretty proud of myself for offering to wait anyway ;)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


With Stephanie being gone, I am having to pick up the family slack for both of us. Usually this is pretty easy. But not right now. Our mom was diagnosed with depression in '99 after I was diagnosed with Leukemia and Lymphoma. For a while, the medicine worked as it should. Then, things took a wrong turn. After my parents divorced a few years ago, Mom became another person. Stephanie and I had little contact with her. It wasn't because I didn't want to be a part of her life, but I could not understand the things she was doing. So I chose to stay out of daily routine. Recently, things spiraled out of control. After much research, I feel that my mom was wrongly diagnosed. I am not sure what her official diagnosis should be, but if she were simply depressed, then her situation would not be what it is today. Lots of changes are occurring in our family-even as I write this. Please pray for healing for my mother, strength for my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and peace for all of us. I am not usually one who pours out these matters in a blog, but I just want you to know that I will need your unconditional love and support for a while. Don't get me wrong. I have always needed my friends! But right now, I need you more than ever. The only explanation I have for everything that is happening is that my mom is sick. She has been sick for a long time, and has not received the proper treatment. I can compare this to my illness. If I had not gone to the doctor and remained in the hospital for a few months, I can honestly say I would not be alive right now. And mental illness can be as deadly as a physical illness that goes untreated. I went through 2 years of chemotherapy and still visit the doctor once a year. And I know that it will take Mom years to overcome this as well. Thanks, in advance, for your prayers!


Stephanie and the group have traveled out of Addis, the capital city, and into Nazareth. Apparently, it is a much warmer climate with camels wandering around, rather than just cows. I know how the livestock just roam in Addis, but I am accustomed to cows. Not so much to camels! But I cannot wait to see the pictures! Here is her latest update. Please pray for healing for the sick people of the group. The elevation and climate are so different from ours that water is truly a vital part of everyday life there. Here is her letter:

Hey again!We are in Nazareth which is about 2 hours southeast of Addis (I think). It is a lot warmer here! Today we haven’t accomplished much. We are dropping like flies around here. We had a couple of people get really sick to their stomachs yesterday afternoon. So we all just fixed sandwiches and soup at the house. I had a grilled peanut butter sandwich ;-). It was fantastic, of course! This morning a couple of the girls got sick and one of them passed out in the hallway. She is a little better but now one of the other girls is sick. I am not sick and hope it stays that way!!! But anyways. We left the house this morning and went and ran some errands in Addis and then headed out here. I was dreading the ride because of how horrible the ride to Ambo was last summer, but I was pleasantly surprised! They have greatly improved the roads so it was paved the whole way. We were in quite a bit of traffic for the majority of the time and if you knew our bus driver you would understand that I was afraid for my life! We made it safely - even though Sammy refuses to ride behind ANYONE. After we checked into our hotel we went to the Women at Risk center. They offer a program for women that are prostitutes to help them with skills so they no longer will have to work on the streets. It seems like a great program and we are excited to get to learn about all they do and get to know them this week. Tomorrow we are all going to make pizza with the women and hopefully do some kind of arts and crafts with their children! There are four little ones that are there all day while their mothers are working and then there are 11 older children that are school age but they are coming to the center tomorrow since we will be there. The center has 11 women right now and that is the maximum they had hold due to resources. They offer them counseling and a salary for the work they do at the center while learning skills that will help them get a job after their 9 month time period is over. The first set of women that finished the program opened a cafe in town so we went there this afternoon to meet them also! The have a pet cat - everyone was petting it and it decided to attempt to climb my leg so I of course picked it up and held it. Most of the pets and animals around here are not very friendly - I don’t think they are used to being shown any attention - but this particular cat was very sweet. But anyways! Oh, they have camels here!!! We are so used to seeing donkeys and goats everywhere in Addis and Ambo but with the warmer weather here they have camels! Yay! Now we are going to attempt to find a pizza recipe and go to the store and buy the stuff to make it with the women tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed that it isn’t a disaster! Haha!I’ll e-mail again soon.Love y’all-Steph

The bus driver, Sammy, would be labeled with "Road Rage" here in the States, but there, it is totally normal. I felt at home with his driving when I was there! But I was a bit scared a few times. Luckily, we never hit any goats or people, but we had a few close calls ;)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Update from Stephanie

Reading her letters makes me feel as if I am there. And then I have tons of questions to ask her when I reply! I have decided to just include her letter, rather than telling you what it says. Some of her sentences don't make sense, but she said they are super tired! And I know that plane ride to Addis is not one that you can relax and sleep. But I am glad they made it safely and are having a great time! Here is her letter:

Hi everyone!!!

We made it! We are here in Addis. Just wanted to let y’all know that we made it fine - the plane ride from Dubai to Addis was pretty bumpy but it was ok. We have a TON of stuff as far as donations - you would not believe the amount of craft supplies we have - I have a feeling we won’t even use half of it. But oh well - they can find a use for it after we are gone. Yesterday we went to Hannah’s - which is an orphanage - and visited with them for a while. It rained the whole time so we piled into their big tv room and watch Chasing Liberty - it was in english with english subtitles - so one of the boys used the microphone and translated from the subtitles for the kids that can’t read english! It was a little strange but very funny!!! We had pizza for lunch - yay! And we had it again today - yay! Today's was awesome - even better than ours at home! We went to an Ethiopian Cultural restaurant last night for dinner. We eat their traditional food while they sang and danced. It was fun but we are all so exhausted and still had to come home and finish organizing all the donations. We finally went to sleep around midnight for our first normal night of sleep! Today we went to Kids Care where all the little babies are for a little while. After lunch we went to St. George’s Cathedral here in Addis and had a tour of the church. It was really pretty and something we didn’t get a chance to do last year - so that was nice! We back to the guest house we are staying to no electricity. Apparently on Saturdays they don’t have electricity here. The guest house we stayed at last year had a generator so we never went without electricity or hot water - not this year. But oh well! So we all took a nap - which was wonderful!!! Tomorrow we are going to church with our translator and to lunch somewhere and then hopefully to the market. We might get the chance to go to the internet cafe too. We have internet at the guest house - but without power it doesn’t do much good - haha! Oh, we have the same translator (plus two new ones) and the same bus driver as last year - so that is neat to get to spend time with them again! Monday we are heading out to Nazareth to a women’s center to spend some time with them! We are planning on doing crafts and maybe baking with them so that should be fun. One of the girls is going to teach all of us to crochet - I am excited about that!

I hope everything at home is going ok! Everyone here is really nice and no one is sick yet so lets just hope it stays that way!!! I am probably about to go back to bed - haha! We have all been so exhausted just from traveling and not getting to sleep like we should. So I will gladly go to bed early even after taking a nap! But anyways - I will e-mail again when I can!

Love y’all-


P.S. We have had pizza for the past three days - haha!

So you can see that they are loving the food! The Italians tried to take over Ethiopia during WWII, so that is why there is an abundance of pizza restaurants. I ate spaghetti at every nice restaurant we went to last year. It was the safe option for me. I was not brave in trying their foods. But, I will admit, the night I did try injera, it wasn't too bad. They make the food really spicy, so it hides any bad tastes! 

The Women's Center in Nazareth is a project that Mocha Club started a while back to help rehabilitate women who have been in prostitution. This center helps break the cycle and give these women job skills to better their lives. Many of these women are second and third generation prostitutes, so the center is helping show them another way of life so that they can change this pattern in their own daughters. And I think that it's really cool that the women are teaching them something in exchange. Last year we visited many places, but we never got to really exchange talents, so I am excited for Steph to come home and teach me to crochet! 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ethiopia Trip Update

I just got my first (of hopefully many) updates from Stephanie. They were waiting for their plane in the Dubai airport and had wireless internet to use, so they all took advantage of it. I can just picture them all surrounding computers trying to write to everyone at home! Steph said that Dubai was simply amazing. She said she felt like she was in an adult Disney World. They got to see the world's tallest building, a 7-star hotel, and they had Coldstone Creamery at midnight! She said nothing ever closes, and they were glad, because they planned on doing a tour of the area when they got there-which was late! So instead of sleeping, they toured Dubai. Way to use all of your available time! They got to sleep some on the plane, so she feels rested. I'm sure that will change! Ethiopia has a way of wearing you out-but in a good way. I slept good every night I was there because I was simply exhausted. When you pour out your heart, spirit, and energy day after day, it can be a little tiring. But I know they are going to have a blast. I cannot wait to hear about the adorable little ones at Kid's Care. Maybe my little one is there. But for his or her sake, I hope not! I will keep you updated on Steph, as well as my emotional roller coaster, as she updates me.

I did really well today. I worked outside for most of the day, so I kept my mind busy. My yard looks like a professional was here. And I am not a professional! But I had neglected it for a while, and my focus had not been on the weeds, so I took care of those today! Tomorrow I am planning on laying out and reading a book. I'm sure that will keep my mind busy too!

Broadway update

After talking with Sandy, I think we are going to do a Broadway review type show. She is going to round up some of the old theatre people, her dancers, and our new theatre people and come up with a great show. I am super excited!

Broadway is coming to Pulaski...again

When I was growing up, Pulaski had a theatre. Not a movie theatre. A theatre that had performances such as The Wizard of Oz, Steel Magnolias, Fiddler on the Roof, Music Man, and my theatre debut...Carousel. I loved being a part of that performance. After watching So You Think You Can Dance last night, I posted something on my Facebook page about missing dance class. Today I got an email from my dance instructor-I took from age 2 until my sophomore year of high school. Sandy was my teacher at age 2. She was in high school and had classes in her parents' garage. What a start, right?!?!? So she emailed me today and said that she would love to help with the adoption by organizing a fundraiser. I was thinking her dance students could sell t-shirts or raffle tickets for a prize or something. And then she says that she was thinking about doing a Broadway show. Now I know this can be done because Pulaski used to have people every weekend throughout the year come to see the shows at the Giles Heritage Theatre.

I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am about this! What an awesome fundraiser! Sandy even mentioned Julianna doing costume design. So you know I have already called her for that! And, she has accepted the challenge. I know she has a lot on her plate with her own fashion career, but who could pass up the opportunity to design the wardrobe for Pulaski's first Broadway show in 10 years?!?!?

So now Sandy is going to start rounding up set designers, sound and lighting people, and we are getting this show on the road! Well, maybe not literally. But, who knows...We might be that good!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Thanks to Amy for helping me figure out this thing I call a blog. Now that it is much cuter, I am hoping to attract more followers!


Today Dana and I took Steph, Derrek, and Amanda to the airport. I don't get up before 5 AM for many people, so they should feel special. We took them to the airport for them to head to Ethiopia. To say that my heart is broken wouldn't really do this feeling justice. I am so excited that Stephanie gets to experience the people of Ethiopia for a month this summer, but I am also sad that I am here in the comforts of my home rather than at the airport meeting strangers who will become life-long friends. I know they will all have a blast and come home with more memories than they could ever share, and I can't wait to hear as many stories as they can remember! Last year as we returned home, we knew that we could tell the stories of the beautiful people and landscape of Ethiopia, but unless our family and friends were there to witness it with their own eyes, they could not truly understand where we were coming from. And I think I am the saddest about that. I will not be there to see these things so that I can fully support Stephanie as she comes home to share. It was such a peaceful feeling to know that I had her to back me up on the details of playing in a field full of cows and children. Or of the faces of the children at the various orphanages. I pray that she has a wonderful, life-changing experience. I am already anxious to hear about it and she isn't even there yet!

But, as Julianna and Catherine pointed out today, this is a part of my process of changing to become a parent. I am going to have to miss out on month long mission trips, but I think this would be easier to deal with if my child was here. I would have a constant distraction from crying. So, since my little one isn't here yet, I guess I am going to have to clean house, mow the yard, and read lots of books to keep myself occupied. I know this month will fly by! I just pray that it seems like a lifetime for my friends in Ethiopia. I pray that God uses them each day to touch the people of that beautiful nation.

Last Week

I didn't update last week because I was with Catherine and her adorable children in Memphis. We stayed with her in-laws, and they have dial-up, so that meant I was not using the Internet. Guess I am spoiled by my high speed! Reese had zoo camp at the Memphis Zoo every day, so I just went to hang out with Catherine and play with the kids. To listen to Reese tell stories every afternoon of the stuff she did at zoo camp was worth being away from home for 5 nights! She got to play with a baby penguin one day! I was so incredibly jealous! We spent 2 days at the zoo while she was in camp to enjoy the animals and the beautiful weather. This week filled with kids and fun events made me wish that mine was here now! We went to the sprinkler park and played, had popsicles, played on the swing set, and jammed to Michael Jackson. It took us a while, but Reese finally warmed up to his music. Now she wants to learn the dances! Some people say that your life stops when you have children, but after last week I have learned that life doesn't stop, it just gets more exciting!



About Me

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I am single, 30 year old teacher in Tennessee. I am anxiously awaiting a child from Ethiopia. I cannot wait to add this adventure to my life!