written from Ethiopia by Joy Casey, Adoption Ministry Director

Shout to the North and the South
Sing to the East and the West
Jesus is Savior to all 

Lord of heaven and earth!

Jeff, Mark and I sang this, along with other songs that declare God’s praise, many times during the six days we spent in the three remote towns in Western Ethiopia where we have established Widows and Orphans Homes. Along with the rewards of seeing the children and the uniqueness of each place, came intense spiritual warfare that kept us on our knees. The closer we got to the Sudan border, the more intense the battle.

Tezera, our orphanage director, and Abebe, our country representative, spent long days meeting with various governmental heads and working through the massive bureaucracy that is the hallmark of working effectively in Ethiopia. Without prayer (and lots of it), I am convinced that very little headway would be made. Because of God’s grace, we found favor with the officials of Nekemte, Gimbie and Dembidollo and our orphanages are flourishing. It is hard for us Americans to understand how relational everything is in Ethiopia, and without solid relationships on many levels, nothing gets accomplished.

The trip is a rough one, road-wise, but also spectacularly beautiful. I love getting into the “real Africa” away from cities and observing day-to-day village life, harvest time with old-fashioned haystacks dotting the landscape, and the thrill of seeing families of baboons and black and white monkeys swinging in trees. The avocados are as big as grapefruit, and we bought bananas from a youth selling them for a penny a piece right from a freshly picked bunch. Unbelievable flavor!

The joy of my work is being with the children, and I like nothing better in this world than to enter one of our centers and see the progress of the children I left behind 3-4 months ago and then peering into cribs with tiny new people that I can hardly wait to get to know. We have several toddler boys now, and they are scared of us White newcomers at first. After sitting on the ground with them for awhile and letting them get used to me …. placing a small piece of candy first on their knee, then in their hand, and eventually into their mouth …. they warm up and allow themselves to be tickled and played with. What an honor to give hugs, kisses and tickles to these precious children god has assigned to us! Jeff got out his harmonica and played songs and the little boys had a grand time interacting with him.

Kara Portilla (from Into The Streets of Ethiopia) and her mother have joined us for a few days and tomorrow we will spend the day with the street ministry that YWAM has in Addis Ababa. We have three families who have come for their court dates this week and I love seeing them and introducing them to their children. Two of the families will be making the journey to Nekemte and Gimbie to see the orphanages where their children are from. It is a busy upcoming week!