STACEY GAGNE – As we walked up to the home of little Mascelloo, the first thing I noticed was the drawings on the wall (I think drawn with chalk). There was obviously a creative little someone in the home and I was excited to meet them.
Mascello has an adorable little smile. When we entered the home of the little guy in the purple Tele Tubbie tshirt and stitched up clothing, you couldn’t help but love him. He has the sweetest, shy little smile and was hiding behind a curtain separating their one room home into two. He is almost 7 and his name means the cross. He’s registered for the new project that WJTL listeners have the opportunity to sponsor. Mascelloo lives with his older brother and his mother, Trungo. Trungo works collecting dung, carrying it on her shoulders and she sells it to make a living. There was a pile of dung outside her home drying. She also works as a maid to earn money to pay her rent. She is too frail to do any other sort of physical labor. Trungo is divorced and not originally from this village or area… she had moved following an Uncle who left the area once they were settled. Mascello’s older brother is 12 and he was out collecting dung while we were there for our visit. When asked what her wish was for her sons, Trungo shared that she wishes for them to study and grow… to have opportunity that she did not have. I think we were all moved by the amount of work this woman is undertaking as she tries to provide for her family.
Trungo was proud to pull out Mascalloo’s tattered writing tablet and nub of a pen that he had and show us his work. I gladly gave him several pieces of paper and the pen I had with me at the moment and we drew a little together. This little guy has talent and a desire to draw that I am sure could be cultivated as he has opportunities to go to school and learn.
I am excited by the opportunity we have to change the life of this family. With the help of Compassion and the local church, we can help make their life easier, safer and healthier and offer the greatest gift of all … the gospel. A member of our group prayed for Trungo to receive the Lord, though she was hesitant. There is great opportunity for her to see the love and provision available to her family and really commit her life to God. I know our being there in her home offered her hope that things would soon change.
There are so many families like this one … one parent barely hanging on and working so hard doing unpleasant labor that yields very little reward. She’s just trying to keep her family alive. We have the opportunity to make such an impact with a small investment. I pray Mascelloo is sponsored quickly during our 26 Hours of Compassion. Please be praying for him and all the other boys and girls who dare to hope that they will be sponsored.
STACEY GAGNE – This morning in church we sang the song: Healer. As I sang the lyrics “I believe you’re my Healer, I believe you are all I need. I believe you’re my portion. I believe you’re more than enough for me. Jesus you’re all I need” my heart returned to the home where we made our final home visit on Friday.
It was the home of a little boy named Masresh who is registered to be sponsored from the Tedecha Mekane Yesus Church. This is the church project we will be sponsoring during our upcoming 26 Hours of Compassion. When we entered his home, his mother was breast feeding a 2 month old baby and he was sitting on a pile of blankets on the floor… his bed. The father in the home passed away when she was 8 months pregnant. This baby is named Mitiku which means substitute (for her husband) and Masresh means something like compensated… because this 6 year old came into her life after she had lost 2 other babies. The mom was wearing black as she is still in mourning. They are extremely poor… dressed in basically rags. Mom washes clothes and does maid services in the village to try and support her family while Masresh (6 years old) stays home and takes care of the baby. Their rent costs 150 birr per month. When we asked what her hopes for Masresh were, she smiles and says for him to have a job… any job so he can be self sufficient.
After being in the home for a while, we discovered that mom was open to Jesus, and had been a part of a Pentecostal church years ago. I had the opportunity to pray for her and with her and she prayed along with me to receive Jesus as her Savior and commit her life to him. As we were leaving the home, we noticed that there was something that was hanging in her doorway. When Yoseph, our guide from Compasssion, asked her about them, we found out that they were little bags of something (which turned out to be dirt) that someone had promised her would protect her. Yoseph assured her that with Jesus in her life she doesn’t need superstition… that He is her protector and provider. She willingly allowed him to remove them from her doorway and he later dumped them out on the ground. We wonder how much she had to pay for this false protection. Her neighbors had bottles of water hanging on their door, which were related to some other type of superstition.
The heart of Compassion is to “release children from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults”. It is exciting to know that when Masresh is sponsored there will be people speaking into his life, visiting his home, teaching him about how Jesus is more than enough, and displaying that love through helping meet their desperate physical needs. My prayer is that his mom will see it illustrated that God is with them, protecting and healing her and her family. It would be amazing to have someone from our listening area be the one who helps make a way for this to happen.
I’m thankful that we have this opportunity to speak up for children that otherwise have not had the opportunity to ask for help, themselves. Please consider what you can do and be in prayer as we look ahead to our 26 Hours of Compassion February 20-21. I can’t wait to find out that Masresh has been sponsored and perhaps even take you there to meet him and his family yourself!
STACEY GAGNE – On our last day in Ethiopia, we finally got to visit our brand new Compassion project. WJTL listeners have the opportunity to impact many lives through Compassion International! This was probably the most intense level of poverty I have seen. In the many beautiful faces, there were also hygiene issues, some severe malnourishment, clothing that is basically rags, etc… This church and community is located in Dukem, about 30 km outside of Addis and outside the borders of the nearest small town. There is a big problem with drug abuse, prostitution, witchcraft and other dangers in this area because of it’s location off one of the trucking routes that leads to the city. Just our presence at their church will put a spotlight on them that will draw in the community who is currently easily swayed toward other influences. As they see the results of Compassion impacting families locally, neighbors will take notice and come to see what is causing the change. What an opportunity!
We received such a warm reception … greeted with flowers (which you’ll see haphazardly stuck in my hair in some pictures) and mobbed with many hugs, kisses and little hands wanting to touch us and be held. I’m sure most of these children have never seen people with white skin, so we were very interesting and even scary to some of the little ones. We had the chance to address the children and parents as a whole and express our love to them and the promise that sponsors from the U.S. were soon going to be investing in the lives of their children. We spent a lot of time playing with the children, blowing bubbles, singing songs and just loving them. The church leadership shared their vision to impact the community with the love of Jesus, to break through the lies many of them have received and have more resources to equip them to meet the great great need. They presented us with coffee, bread and popcorn and prayed many blessings over us and over our listeners back home for caring about their community. My heart was overwhelmed to the point of tears by the presence of the Lord and the deep deep passion these church leaders have for children and for the gospel to be spread.
A future blog will fill you in on the home visits we took that day. I am still processing a lot of what I saw and felt. God is good.
When I think about how great WJTL’s impact will be felt in this community, I am truly overwhelmed and excited. The food, education, spiritual impact, love and encouragement that is going to be made available is going to go much further than you probably could even imagine. They are already anxiously awaiting our return. I hope many of you are able to come back with me in August. I am anxious for you to hear more stories and take action coming up on February 20-21 during our 26 Hours of Compassion.
STACEY GAGNE – Last night we sat in the presence of 2 young adults that are changing the world. Our staff had dinner with students from Compassion’s Leadership Development program. Bezaye Alehaligen and Sisay Aseta are already dynamic leaders in their community and are being equipped to do even more amazing things.
Love is a powerful thing. As we listened to the testimonies of Bezaye and Sisay and heard from the LDP Specialist Amanuel; it was evident that the love and hope that children receive from their sponsors and the leaders from the churches that invest in their life completely changed them. Thinking about the little boys and girls that I saw yesterday morning and their mothers looking to us in desperation and hope for sponsorship; and knowing that these 2 came out of the same situations and are on their way to being Engineers and Counselors was very inspiring.
As is the case with many children here, both of these students grew up in a single parent home where much was required of them. Bezaye is a young woman who lost her mother when she was 14. Her father worked nights and was unable to give the children any attention. She was required to fill the mother role for her family. She was blessed to have grown up within a Christian home, but as she shared “it was once a normal life but that all changed”. She shared how Compassion came along side of her and besides helping them financially and spiritually… she was very impacted socially as she got involved with the church, gained friends she would never had a chance to have and gained hope for a bright future. Now she is at University studying to be a counselor with the desire to sponsor her own child out of Ethiopia. She also hopes to have a family and adopt one day. She is highly involved in the community and her church and besides all of her studies; she is a film actress, singer, clothing designer and more. She shared about how she would wait in suspense for the letters from her sponsor. LDP Sponsorship is $300 a month. Can you imagine putting someone through college, Biblical and life skills training, mentoring and volunteer programs and more for that price in the U.S?
Sisay is a young man with HUGE dreams for the future. As he is studying to be an engineer with the goal of working in Aviation; his long term goal is to be Prime Minister of Ethiopia. For these students, the goal of seeing their community transformed for Christ is great. He shared both at dinner and during our sharing time that He longs to see someone in leadership that follows the Lord and leads with servant leadership. Sisay lost his father at age 4 and said that his CDSP sponsor from childhood became like a father to him. He would even write letters to him saying “Dear Dad” and “Love your Son”. He shared how he spoke into his life in many ways including socially, spiritually and about education. Sisay’s prayer request was for the rest of his family to know Jesus. He lit up to share that he does have some aunts and cousins that have accepted Christ. Sisay said “Compassion is an angel on my shoulder. When I went out of line there was always someone there to bring me back in line”. He gushed about the church leaders, project directors and social workers that taught him discipline while meeting his basic needs.
We have the opportunity to speak into the lives of children who have the potential to be world changers. Our letters may come at a time that they need to hear the voice of God through us encouraging them to press on and reminding them that they are loved. I hope that you will consider this opportunity to sponsor a child. February 20 and 21 we will be giving you more information and offering you an opportunity that will change lives!
STACEY GAGNE – Today was the kind of day where by the end of the day we had to remind ourselves that we did indeed see and do it all in one day. In quick summary: we visited a brand new project, one of my teammates met her sponsored child, 3 people made decisions for Christ (2 moms and a teenager), took 2 home visits, had dinner and heard testimony from Leadership Development Program students and leaders and even did some shopping and packing. With so many experiences to update you on. I will start by just sharing some photos from the day. Stay tuned for specifics soon! Praise God for the work of Compassion International here in Ethiopia!
STACEY GAGNE – Today was the day that we spent at the FBI Church, or Faith Bible International Church. WJTL has gotten to be a part of helping this church partner with Compassion as many of our listeners joined the Child Sponsorship Program in 2010.
What a difference a couple of years makes! When we were here in 2010 there was final construction taking place on the building that was newly built and dedicated. Now they have a huge thriving church with plans to build a school on the property in the near future. They also discussed plans to put cobblestone or some sort of pavers in the front entrance area where the kids play futball.
The church holds a weekly healing service on Wednesdays. It was sort of strange to be in a packed out church in the middle of the day on a weekday, however many of the people who were there have flexible jobs, no jobs, or are just so desperate for the Lord and healing that they were there. It was a powerful powerful service full of energetic worship and amazing encounters with the Lord. We saw God move in miraculous ways!!! They honored us as guests and invited us up onto the stage to share with the congregation. That was quite an honor.
We spent a good deal of time playing with the kids that were there at the church that were not in school for whatever reason. I blew bubbles with them, learned some playground games and danced with them.
Our afternoon was very special as we visited the homes of two little boys: Fitsum and Daniel. Fitsum lives with his father, sister and cousin. His mother passed away when he was only 1 year old and so his father has a lot of responsibility trying to make a living as a laborer and pay rent on his one room home. He repeatedly shared his thankfulness for Compassion and for our visit as he has very little camaraderie in his life. We were able to provide the family with several important items including rice, coffee, flour, pasta, oil, and tea.
Visiting little Daniel was special to me, as I am friends with his sponsor! I was able to represent her, bring the gifts that she had purchased for him and his mother and get to hear from his mom. He is blessed to have both parents in his life and they live in one of the nicer homes that I have visited… A two room home that even had a television. His mothers biggest prayer for her children is that they would thrive and grow up with hope and a future that she did not have when she was a child. She was gushing with thanks for Daniels sponsorship. That little boy is beaming and thriving. Praise God.
We wrapped up our day having dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant with traditional food and dance. It was a fun time to spend together as a team and enjoy the rich culture!
I will be posting another blog soon with lots of pictures. I’m thankful for another day well spent here in Addis Ababa hearing and sharing the good news of Jesus and how His love is being spread through the work of Compassion International!
STACEY GAGNE- I think these beautiful photos speak much louder than words.
STACEY GAGNE – Greetings from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! Our team has had a very full and inspiring day today as we visited Ethiopia’s Compassion Office and the Sadamo Guenet Church project, also the home of Senait, the beautiful little girl that I have the pleasure of sponsoring.
We had the privilege of joining the Compassion staff with their morning devotions this morning. Not only did we receive encouragement as we worshiped with them, but they prayed for us. We spent time the Country Director Tsehaywota Taddesse. He truly shared his heart with us and shared the testimony of how God moved his heart for children. He shared how “God mobilizes the world for the heart of even just one child”.
It was eye opening to hear that there are 370 churches in partnership with Compassion in Ethiopia and many anxious to be added to that list! I love that Compassion has a heart to see local church bodies grow by way of families who become involved in the program and in turn become involved with the church body and learning about the love of Jesus.
This afternoon we headed out to Sedamo Guenet Church where we were greeted by the church staff, compassion site directors and families involved with the program. We were treated to a coffee ceremony, helped feed children their lunch and heard the testimony of several mothers who are a part of the Child Survival Program and have received Jesus as their Lord as a result of how they have been impacted. The CSP program is fairly new for this project, having been established in 2002. There are 36 children and 35 mothers currently involved. 183 children are registered to the Child Sponsorship program.
Our time with all of the children was very sweet; of course mine was focused on Senait and her mother Aberush. Oh how she has grown and looks so much healthier than she did in 2010! We played together, talked, sang, I had the opportunity to visit her home and present them with gifts. Mom, Aberush pulled out a special chest she had tucked away for her most special things and in it were the letters that I have sent to Senait. Wow. That brought me to tears. When it was time to say goodbye, there were many hugs and kisses as we walked out to our van. We were almost all loaded into the van and ready to close the door and Senait’s mom Aberush rushed back over to the van in tears and gave me one final long hug. Aberush and Senait live with the grandmother who pulled me aside earlier in the day to share how much her family has been impacted since Senait’s sponsorship. Though she is extremely young and shy, Aberush’s actions spoke that to me in volumes.
Child sponsorship matters. It impacts children, families and in turn communities and beyond. I welcome you to begin praying now about being involved in a families life and participating in WJTL’s 26 hours of Compassion February 20 -21. I also invite those of you who are current sponsors or even potential sponsors to pray about the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia in August with us to meet your child and get involved with a service project at the church where they receive their care. Our visits are a HUGE encouragement to them.
I hope that you are staying tuned to the live reports. You can also go back to listen to them at our wjtl casts page. More photos are coming soon and video will be edited and posted in the near future.
Serving with joy and delight here in Ethiopia!
STACEY GAGNE – I am thrilled to invite you to tune in next week to follow along as I report live for WJTL from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Compassion International. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with you!
Many listeners will remember that I took a trip to Africa on behalf of the station in the fall of 2010. The trip was life changing for me and also for the children and sponsors who were connected as a result of the trip and WJTL’s 26 Hours of Compassion Event we held upon my return. On this trip, we’ll be following up with the Faith Bible International Church Compassion project and also visiting the homes of some of the children being sponsored locally! I’ll also be visiting Senait, the beautiful little girl that I sponsor, and had the privilege of meeting on our last trip. Needless to say, I’m excited to bring some goodies to share with her and the kids at the projects that we visit.
Our team will also visit Ethiopia’s Compassion Office, meet some students in the Leadership Development program, and spend time at several other projects where I’ll get updates on Compasssion’s work there, where the needs are, and find out how WJTL listeners can get involved during our next 26 Hours of Compassion event February 20-21.
Join WJTL January 21 – 25 as I get a second chance at a once in a lifetime experience. I anticipate sharing many stories with you through live reports, blogs, videos and photos and more.