Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Made It!

Well. I made it! It's been a week since I've been here. 
The flights here were way easy, besides a guy who refused to let me put my seat back to sleep! But overall, it didn't feel as if I had just traveled for 24 hours. 
We had a crazy experience in Germany! Our first plane from San Francisco got in a little bit late, so when we landed in Germany, we had 5 minutes til boarding on our next plane! Well, if you have ever been to the Frankfurt airport, you'll know it's not small. At all. We ran for 40 straight minutes, took a train, and barely made the flight! We were the very last ones on the plane. Nickoli put it in good words saying "It felt like we were on the amazing race!" He was right. I saw Levi get a look from a guy giving him dinner when Levi pointed out who all was with him. "FIVE kids!?" It was too funny.
Jet lag stinks. My new sleeping hours are 8pm- 4am. And no matter how hard I try, I can't stay up past 8 and I can't sleep past 4. But at least I'm getting 8 hours of sleep, yeah? 
Wednesday morning we went and met the moms of all the forever family houses. And then on Friday I got to meet the 13 kids in the intake center! My heart melted as little Nati grabbed my hand and walked me downstairs, and as I played peek-a-boo with a little girl, Kalkidan. 
We've gone to lunch and dinner with American friends, and I must say, it was nice to be able to understand them! (Levi said that I can take Amharic classes if I want...yes PLEASE!) 
And we went to a NGO Bizarre, a place for forenges(sp?)(foreigners) to go and mingle and shop. I saw a woman who looked like Angela Porras, and I almost cried right there. (Miss you Angela!) 
Sunday we went to church. Jessie stayed home to finish unpacking and such and I got tapped on the shoulder twice with people saying "Jessie! You're back!" As Ruth would say, I said "I'm not Jessie!" and they responded "Well then who are you!?" That's not exactly how it went, but close enough! 
Yesterday, Monday, I went over to the office to get information about all the sponsorship kids. The stories I heard broke my heart. Mother, father, or both parents dead from HIV. The kids diagnosed with HIV. Paralyzed. Vision problems. The list goes on and on, and my heart just broke and broke. Seeing pictures with the names and stories made it even worse. And in two weeks I get to meet these kids! I'm excited to meet the sponsorship families, and the kids in the forever families. 
Today, I woke up at 3:30, sick to my stomach! It's not pleasant. Moving hurts. No food will stay down. And the fetal position is my new favorite position. Not a fun day. 

Well there's my first week! I'm hoping in this next week I can get a little bit more normal sleeping hours! 

Thank you Jesus for allowing me to go on this amazing adventure! Use me to be Your light to everyone I encounter! 


For understanding of more of the technical terms (forever families, sponsorship families, intake center, etc.) head on over to bringlove.in and browse around and it will all be explained to you! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Two Weeks?

Two weeks? More like 12 days! 


These next two weeks are gonna be crazy! I'm moving halfway across the world!
So much happening/to do with so little time!
 Coffee dates, Youth, Church, Packing, Shopping, Birthdays, Parties, all on top of every day life!
A little photo splurge of my 'lasts' before I go with what's been going on!
Happy Birthday Ashley!
 Happy Birthday Tsehay!

There have been a few girls nights going on... :)

I went to my last Theology, led by the amazing Ryan Murphy! 
I got to hang out with my cousins for what could have been the last time, we aren't sure...
I got through two unexpected shots.
 I recieved an early Christmas present from Mom and Dad! :D
 And did some shopping to prepare myself. 

I feel like there is still so much to do. 
Sometimes I feel like I just don't know where to start at. And other times I feel as if I have more than enough time to accomplish it all.
In one corner of my room I have a suitcase sitting there, with bags of stuff around it all waiting to be packed. It's unreal, really. I've been waiting for almost seven years for a trip somewhere in Africa, and now I have this amazing opportunity to go to Ethiopia where my siblings are from to learn life lessons, and about how Tsehay and Fekadu grew up. I really can't wait to see what God has for this next season of my life. 
My room is now mostly in boxes, about to go up in the top of my closet. That's a weird sight. I always expected to be here til I got married. I guess God has different plans! 
(This is the unboxed part, but the *mostly* cleaned out closet!)
With the days growing shower, the enemy is definitely on the prowl. I have had a few days where I wanted to just give up. Last week I had this super weird stomach ache, that I can't describe without you thinking I'm literally crazy. Yesterday was the first say I woke up and felt decently normal, and today was an alright day too. It's been over a week with this feeling, but I am believing that it will be gone soon! Along with this weird thing, I noticed some spots on my lef. I had absolutely no idea what they were, but I showed Mom. I was hoping for her to look at them and say "You're fine," but when she looked at them, it wasn't a "You're fine" kind of a face. Less than 2 hours later I was at the doctors office. I was definitely worried. I don't really know why, but I was. I let a group of my closest friends know what was going on, and they prayed with me as I went in. It ended up being something really minor and now it is being treated. Thank you Jesus, and get behind me Satan! :)
The one thing I am still waiting on is my fundraising. I need about $1,500 before I leave. I am believing in Him to provide. :)
Welp. 
12 more days!
Let's do this. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Falling Apart.


Today I looked at my count down and saw this:


Whaaaat. That's a month and a half. Less than that.

These past few weeks have been hard... As many of you may know, I have lived in the house I live in now since I was 2. So as I am preparing to leave, I am literally leaving everything I have ever known. As I am preparing myself for all of this, the devil is attacking me in every possible way. The biggest way being that he is trying to make me feel alone so that when I leave in 42 days I feel like I have no one. The funny thing is, I know that it's a lie. I know that I have family and friends who are going to support me and love me and pray with me through these next months. But that isn't stopping him from attacking me. My closest friend and I haven't talked in over two weeks, when we normally talk every day. Another close relationship I used to have has completely fallen apart, and we see each other every day and walk by each other without saying a word. I feel hatred towards some of my closest friends that don't deserve it. A bunch of these relationships are falling apart, and I feel lonely. Besides dealing with loneliness so much more is going on as well. Past issues are coming up, trust issues, stupid drama.. All of which I want nothing to deal with.. I am falling apart.
So today as I am preparing to leave behind everything I know, I am going to leave behind all these stupid little things the devil is trying to get me down with.

So today, I'm going to close with one thing.. 

GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Encouragement

When I graduated in May, my mom presented me with a scrapbook of letters from my family members and close friends that were full of congratulations and encouragement. I opened it up today to reread them, and in every one is something everyone should know and learn. Here are a few of them. 

"Don't waste your time being hurt or angry. Let Jesus do that for you. LOVE. Love everyone. See beauty in everyone and everything. Sometimes it's easier to do, but even when it's hard... find the beauty." ~Kristin

(From a poem) "Anger is one letter short of danger." ~from Grandma

"Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith and He will keep you in His grace." ~Aunty Cathy 

"You can make a difference in this world, you can find what you want to do and go for it with a passion and joy. Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ~Grandmama

"This is a huge step in your life. You are graduating! Remember that now is the time to realize who you are in Christ." ~Brittany

"Keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your heart soft, close and willin. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing or when it looks like they are succeeding more than you. Delight in the Lord, wait on Him, follow His lead and learn to be satisfied with Him alone. Trust His timing for future direction, future spouse, and future success. Take time to really let God develop His character and His beauty in you." ~Pastor Steve and Stephanie

"Life can be trying, so plan time for things you enjoy." ~Gramma Cathy

"You are special and unique and NO ONE else can walk out this destiny so we would encourage you strongly to seek after God's voice to hear what His desire is for you." ~PB and Rachel

"Keep your eyes fixed on Him alone for all things and through all things for He will never let yo down." ~Auntie Beth and Uncle Tim

"I know being 'special' can be difficulty. Being 'set apart' has its disadvantages. But the blessings far outweigh the frustrations. God has such incredible plans for you and only you can complete the tasks He has set aside for you. No one can take your place or do it better. He has a reserve of strength for you in the difficult days of being 'set apart for Him.' Remember, He will ALWAYS be at your side. People will fail you and let you down. He will NEVER leave you. His love for you is immeasurable." ~Mom

And my absolute favorite: 

"PS. Don't forget, boys do have cooties honey." ~Marcy Jo. :)

Okay, that last one was slightly sarcastic, but only slightly. ;)

But seriously, when you read these read these as if they were being written to you, not me. These are true for everyone. And everyone needs to read and learn from them. 

A lot of these are repetitive in some way, but it just shows how important they really are!!

I hope you find some of these as awesome as I did. 
:)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blessings.

God is so good.
Since I have made my decision to go to Ethiopia, God has proved himself to me in more ways than one.
One of them being financial help.
Since this summer started, I have started working at a day care, nannying for another family, and have gotten lots and lots of babysitting jobs. That in itself has been a total blessing!
On top of that, a family handed me an envelope with the exact amount of money I needed to pay for my plane ticket. GOD IS GOOD.
Then, I said something on Facebook about collecting can/bottles stuff for recycling, and I get a call form my Grandma. My grandpa is normally pretty good about turning in his recycling, but it just so happens that it has been about 2 years since he turned in anything, so my Grandma said she would give me whatever they got from that! (Ended up being over $120!)
That same weekend I went and babysat a little girl, and the dad just kept handing me random bills before/after their date. The mom paid me after. It ended up being about $25/hour to watch their one child. Whhaaaat?? Unheard of.
Now today, I got out of the shower, and mom knocks on my door and says "Do you want another blessing?" I was beyond confused til I see an envelope in her hand with my name on it dated December 20, 2007. This money wasn't my moms. It was back when I used my parents as a bank. I had completely forgotten about it. Over $200 in it back from 8th grade when I was saving for something. Something I don't even remember. Something that now means "Addis Ababa, Ethiopia."

So many other things have happened. And now my financial worries do not worry me any longer. Yes, I still need to raise about $4,000 for the rest of my trip, but to God that is like a penny. I believe that if I am supposed to go, then I will go. I believe it will all work out in the end.

All I have to say is, God is good. And no matter what, you have to trust in him. Through all these miracles and blessings that are happening, it's a confirmation that I should be going. If he didn't want me to be going, he wouldn't be blessing me like this.

Praise Jesus! He deserves all the glory!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Patience.

After I told my parents, things got easier. I wasn't stressing about keeping secrets from them. And it was then that I could really concentrate about whether or not I was going to take this seriously, or if I wanted to go back to my original plan and go to Sierra and become an emergency room nurse...

15 days after I talk to my parents, I get a Facebook message:


And with that message, it all became real to me.

These people heard a rumor (obviously started by my dad..) and wanted me to come spend time with them in Ethiopia? It didn't make sense to me! I was just an 18 year old girl, hadn't graduated from high school yet, and they were inviting me to come spend time with them? The same people I was having dreams about? Coincidence? I think not!

I didn't know what to say. I shut my computer, and just sat there. I prayed again right then, and then went to sleep.

I told me mom the next day, I was obviously giddy and excited, that it all might happen. I didn't know if it would happen. I was still praying about it. But now the door was open. And it made it more real to me that if this was really what God wanted to do, than he would have his way and make it happen.

For two weeks I opened that Facebook message to reply in some way and just didn't know what to say. I mean, I really didn't know if I wanted to go yet. But when I did finally decide that I thought this was something I really wanted to do, I ended up talking to a friend, and they told me just to share my heart with Levi and if he still wanted me to come after I told him my story than I would decide to go.

So two weeks after I got the message, I sent one of my own to Levi, saying everything about my heart for Africa, how it started years ago! In 6th grade I received a prophesy about Africa, and that was the initial seed planting. I thought that with the adoption of Tsehay and Fekadu that they were what that prophesy was about. But it came back up when praying about what to do after high school! So I went on for a bit about that, and sent my message.

You know with the new Facebook messages, how you can see when people read the messsages? Yeah. I checked back constantly to see if the message was read, just so I could see the response when/if he responded. I saw that he had checked it one morning and just sat there waiting to see if he would respond. Well he didn't respond that day.. Or the day after.. Or the day after. My mind went negative. So he read my message and just ignored it. Awesome. "See, this wasn't a thought from God. He never really wanted you to go," I told myself each day that I didn't get a response. I remember almost crying to the friend that told me to share my heart, and told them that he ignored my message, so it wasn't from God. That friend told me to have patience. Because he was on the other side of the world, where the power might be down or whatever might have come up. I told them they were right, and went to bed.

Of course due to my finally beginning to be patient, and calmness about the whole thing, I woke up the next morning and had a message from Levi... The first line saying "Emma. I have been trying to get time to sit down at y compter and write you but every time I have the power is out or the internet goes down ...." So my friend was right. I was just being too impatient. The rest of the message said that they wanted me to come back with them in October when they returned to Ethiopia after a summer here, than I could! For however long I wanted, a month, six, a year! So with that message not only was the confirmation about going there, but also that long term was possible! God is so good!

I made my decision that I was going to go within the next few days. And Levi and I talked a little bit more back and forth about random things. He explained to me about what I would be doing, and the job sounded perfect for me. He was coming to America soon and we would talk then.

It was all coming together. I had a place to stay. A job to do. And Jesus with me to make it all happen.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Parents.

That night after my talk with Bob, and really thinking about it, I didn't know how I could tell my parents. I knew that as soon as I saw them, I would feel guilty for not telling them. Yeah, it wasn't something to feel super guilty about, but still. My mom knows almost everything, and at this point what she knew was that I was going to Sierra in the fall and transfer to a school with a real good nursing program when I was ready. I didn't think it would be a big deal, telling her something different like Africa, but I still didn't want to deal with it at that moment...

Good think we had a girls night that Friday! We all went to Anjuli's and had a crazy sleepover with lots of laughing, getting in trouble for being loud with her parents (sorry Mr. and Mrs. Watson!), and peanut butter cookies. Mmm mmm. Were they good! (Thanks Katrise, Lisanne, and friends!) Anyways, the next day we had a pancake breakfast, and outreach, and by the time I got home it was time to leave for church Saturday night. SCORE. I didn't have the time to tell them.

Sunday on the other hand was a different story.. It was the day we were doing yard work. We were up pulling weeds as a family, Dad, Mom, Sam, Tsehay, Fekadu and I. Dad was down on the lower level and mom and I were up top. She brought up college in the fall and that's when I told her... "What if I chose not to go to college, Mom? What if I went in a completely different path?" She asked what I was thinking and I told her. She was super acceptive about it. And encouraged me just to pray and make sure that that was really what I wanted to do with life, and that no matter what I chose, she would be there for me through thick and thin and she would help me with anything in order to get me there. I had my moms support.

Now my dad...... I was fully convinced he would deny the idea, and tell me that college was the best idea and all that..... My dad would take convincing.

Let's face it: Emma can be put to better use in the kitchen than she can be out in the yard. Emma always makes lunch when the family is all busy doing family projects. It's just how it is. Emma and Dad that is....

Mom walks in while we are making lunch and says "Emma, tell your dad about what you just told me." Obviously, Dad was curious and wanted to know about it all. I went around it, saying "I wasn't ready to share it." and every other excuse I could think of.. He finally kept pushing me away from what  I was doing saying "Just tell me..C'mon..Tell me!!" Dad's can be so frustrating sometimes! ;)

I just kept cutting up cheese, pickles and stirring the tuna we were making. Finally, I just said "I'm not going to college." He looked at me like I was crazy. So maybe that wasn't the best way to tell him.. I continued to tell him that I was thinking about maybe going to Ethiopia instead, and that I had been having dreams about the Benkert family. (I had no idea what the dreams meant, just that they were in Africa and that could possibly mean something, like I could go to Africa like they did? No idea.) He was quiet for a minute, and I was scared he was mad. But after a little (or big) awkward silence, he said "Well, I can talk to Levi for you."

I was completely shocked. Completely. Dad supported me.