To Ethiopia with Love

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”

-Isaiah 1:17 NLV 

Earlier this week the girls and I went shopping for boy stuff!

Can you imagine how excited they are to buy boy stuff? You see, as part of our sponsorship of a little boy at Kind Hearts Orphanage in Ethiopia, we are putting together a little care package that will be delivered to Dawit this fall.

So we bought a little toy car, a soccer t-shirt, chewing gum and lots of other little stuff — emphasis on little because it all has to fit in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag.

I had to keep reminding my little shoppers of this noteworthy detail throughout our shopping excursion. They are so generous, and they think so big when they are excited!

The girls also are full of questions about Dawit’s life in Ethiopia and why he can’t just go to the store and buy these sorts of things for himself. Oh, how tender and compassionate their hearts are growing toward this little boy living such a different life half-way around the world! Laurel is so ready to adopt him and be his mama herself. I keep having to explain that he isn’t available for adoption, not to mention that he’s older than she is and probably wouldn’t like her bossing him around!

Still available for sponsorship through Children’s HopeChest  are several children at Trees of Glory orphanage. For more information or to sign up as a sponsor, please contact Karen Wistrom at or hop over to her blog, Family from Afar.

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”

-Isaiah 1:17 NLV 

What to use, what to do?

“What to use, what to do?” That’s the deep question I’ve been asking myself and God lately in regard to homeschool curriculum this fall. I thought I’d have all this settled by now, but I don’t!

A fellow homeschooling friend recently asked me what I’d be using to teach religion/Bible to my 7-year-old second grader. That was a tough one to answer because I haven’t yet figured that out.

The previous two years we have used the materials and Bible lesson plans provided in My Father’s World since Bible study is a big chunk of their curriculum packages. I do not think I’ll be using MFW again until 3rd grade; we used their 2nd grade curriculum this past year so we’ve created a little gap. So now the problem seems to be too many options! And which combination of options is right?

Here’s a list of some the options I’m prayerfully weighing at this point:

  • Reading Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland. It’s for ages 4-8. We’ve had this book for a while, and I think it will work fine for both my 4-year-old and my 7-year-old. But it has only 86 lessons, which will get us just part-way through the year.
  • Reading the Bible in 90 days challenge using the Kids’ Devotional Bible. We may just do the reading part and not stress out about the 90-day part. The handy reading plan for 6 to 10 year olds is pretty nifty.
  • Enrolling in Awana at a nearby church (our home church doesn’t offer it yet).
  • Reading this new family Bible called the Mighty Acts of God by Starr Meade. Here’s a fantastic review of it.

On another note, Ann Voskamp, one of my favorite bloggers, just posted this comprehensive list of 29 well-loved picture books for children. And “well-loved” might downplay it a bit. She literally just duct taped many of these back together for her home library! I’ll be studying this list further to see which books might make good birthday and Christmas gifts. 

Ann also happens to be the author of another book I just received in the mail a few days ago. It’s called A Child’s Geography, and I am so thrilled about working through it this fall. 

The “Reaching out to His World” segment is what sold me on the book.

“Knowledge without love is an empty, heartbreaking gong. It would be a very sad state if our young geographers knew much of His world…but had hearts that were indifferent to the people with whom we share our home. What are we without love? Each chapter includes a “Reaching Out” segment that takes the information of  the chapter and places it into a practical context, encouraging geographers to  do something to show His love to His  world.  We are called to be Christ’s hands and heart to a hurting world. Let’s not fail Him!”   -Ann Voskamp, author of A Child’s Geography

Ann’s words were fresh in my mind yesterday when I stumbled upon the site of an organization I had never before heard about: The White Cross, which provides support for missions work in the U.S. and overseas. They offer a downloadable 56-page book of Mission Service Project opportunities, which I’ll be checking into further to see how what service opportunities might be a good fit for our homeschool and perhaps even our church’s children’s ministry.

An Update on Kind Hearts

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” -James 1:27 (NIV)

If you recall this post from a while ago, you already know that our family is sponsoring Dawit, a little boy at Kind Hearts Orphanage near Addis Abba, Ethiopia. We just recently received the March 2010 newsletter from Kind Hearts, and it was full of wonderful pictures and encouraging news of how the children there are being fed spiritually and physically through the sponsorship program coordinated by Children’s HopeChest.

In the newsletter, Ato. Wendimagegnehu Mecha, the executive director of Kind Hearts, says, “Children’s HopeChest is a guide in a time of crisis and a gift from God. Our hope flourishes through this organization. We are grateful for your support and we require further assistance to ensure the proper survival and holistic development of the children. Thank you.” 

There’s much work yet to do, more children will be enrolling at Kind Hearts soon, and Children’s HopeChest is currently developing another location with nearly 100 children that will need sponsors. If you would like to sponsor a child, please contact Karen Wistrom at

For more about Kind Hearts, I encourage you to follow this blog by Karen Wistrom at Family From Afar, or download the Kind Hearts newsletter PDF by clicking here: Kind Hearts Newsletter March 2010.

Thanks for your consideration. May God bless you!

A Love Story

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24 NIV 

A little over a year ago, very dear friends of ours adopted two beautiful little girls from Ethiopia. Over the past several months, we have had the honor of walking beside them as they have gone through the many ups and downs, joys and struggles of the adoption process.  

Can you imagine, for a minute, the language and behavior challenges in adopting a 6-year-old and a 1-year-old into a family that already has three children under the age of 8? Whew! And can you imagine the joys of hearing orphan cries turn to shrieks of laughter and limp arms turn to passionate embraces? 

The last several months have not been easy for our friends. Not easy for one minute. Day after day, they are the hands and feet of Jesus to these girls as they feed, clothe, educate, parent and love them. God called them to this great endeavor of caring for orphans, and He never promised it would be easy. But God did promise to bless their faithful obedience to Him and His word, and God always fulfills His promises. 

Our friends’ faith in God and their love for these two precious daughters continues to amaze and inspire us. We’ve seen true compassion. We’ve seen faith in action. We’ve seen unquestionably sacrificial love. We’ve seen incredible obedience to the Lord. What a joy to see God so clearly at work in their lives! What a testimony! They have made such a profound difference in the lives of these girls, and God is writing this great love story on the hearts of their biological children as well.   

I don’t know if our friends will ever comprehend how much they have spurred our family and other on toward love and good deeds. Truly they have encouraged us and kept our hearts from being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Passion like theirs is uncommon and quite contagious.

In fact, their uncommon, contagious passion has encouraged us to sponsor a little boy in Ethiopia through a program called Children’s HopeChest. Our sponsorship provides this precious little boy direct help for emotional, educational and medical needs. He will receive age-appropriate Bible training and discipleship classes that will offer opportunities for a national believer to share Christ through word and deed. He will receive birthday and Christmas gifts and parties. And we will offer him encouragement through prayer, letter writing and relationship. Our prayer is that we will make a profound difference in this young boy’s life. Our prayer is that this little boy will know how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Christ, a love that stretches across the globe from Minneapolis, USA, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and beyond. 

Likewise, we pray that this endeavor will further teach us how long and wide and high and deep the love of Christ is. We pray it will make a profound difference in our hearts and the hearts of our two daughters. We pray this will soften our hearts so we are more tender toward those in need. We pray that, in however small and remote a way, we will be the hands and feet of Jesus to this dear little boy. 

Of course, dear readers, I want to spur you on toward love and good deeds as well. So I’d like to encourage you to prayerfully consider sponsoring a child through Children’s HopeChest. Find out more at

May you also know how long and wide and high and deep the love of Christ is, and may you spur others on toward love and good deeds.

This post is part of Rachel Olsen’s devotion carnival, in which she asked readers to write a devotion on the topic of love.