Firfirey & Tracey this past September
His name is Firfirey and he was living at the dump until this year. I can still hear him saying my name in his thick African accent...it makes me giggle and my heart melt just thinking about it. I know his name and he knows mine.
Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend their not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes." - David Platt
I still so clearly remember standing in the trash dump on January 7th of this year. I remember the smells, the noises, the exact spot where I stood, and the names of all the people standing around me. I remember God so clearly saying, “This is it, this is where I would be if I still walked the Earth, and this is where I want you to be.”
And then later as I walked into my room, and saw the outline of her sunglasses on Angela’s ash covered face, I remembered the prophetic words of Isaiah…“Bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.”
I had two boys in mind to begin the journey, a beautiful young girl had captured the heart of my friend Tabby, and another guy on our trip was partial to an older boy. And so it began, we were going to move 4 kids out of the trash dump. I don’t know how it happened, I have no good explanation other than divine intervention, but word started to spread and we started to get people committing to sponsor other children.
My initial hope was for 100 kids. But for a long time that seemed like an unattainable goal.
And when we got in a new set of profiles that almost doubled our initial list I started to worry, but thankfully the plan was not dependent on me…God had a plan and I was just along for the ride.
And as you all know, 9 months after my first trip to the trash dump on Ethiopian Christmas day, we moved 250 kids to a boarding school in the beautiful countryside.
We have had some growing pains, and faced a steep learning curve. About running a ministry, and dealing with the local culture. A major bump in the road was when the school informed us two weeks before school started that the cost of yearly tuition had increased by over $100. Now initially that took the cost of tuition alone up over the amount of the sponsorship, and I again started to get very worried.
Thankfully, we serve the One who calms the storm with a word, and the very next week the value of the local currency changed in favor of the dollar and we were back to the original amount! Not good for the local economy, but good for us.
And we have learned that one or two outfits is not nearly enough. Their clothes are constantly dirty and wearing out quickly. They do wear their uniforms to school, but only during school hours, and then they wear their personal clothes. The children all need more clothes.
Nonetheless, along with the blessing of 250 kids, comes the strain of the getting them their necessary supplies. Our teams have paid thousands of dollars in excess baggage to take over clothes, shoes, and school supplies. We will continue to pack shoes over because the quality of shoes in America is so much better, and we are so grateful for the donations of shoes that we receive from Soles for Jesus.
We have decided that it is best to buy their other necessities such as clothing, toiletries, and school supplies in their local community. Usually the items are cheaper, it supports the local economy, it saves us money in baggage fees, and it opens space for sponsors to keep sending fun packages and letters and for teams to bring over other necessary items such as medical supplies.
Therefore, we are asking for monetary donations to purchase more clothing, toiletries, and school items for the children. We are hoping to get every child another pair of pants or a skirt, and two more t-shirts. They each also need a towel, and we will continue to buy body soap, laundry soap, notebooks, and pencils for the children every two months.
All donations will go 100% to the needs of the sponsored children at the boarding school, and all donations are tax-deductible. Please mail donations to:
PO Box 126
Thompson Station, TN 37179
Or if you are a member of my home church, you can make out your check to Project 61 and place it in the offering on Sunday morning.