Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Hanging out with some mothers in our
 first year at Grace
Today we celebrate 6 years since we first arrived in Ethiopia. I look back on the last 6 years with its many ups and downs. How far we have come! I am blown away with all that has been accomplished, the people we have met, the lives I am privileged to know. I am blown away. Not in a million years would I have comprehended all God had for us in the journey. I am humbled and grateful beyond words that he chose our family. Completely grateful.

Lydia at 8yrs old feeding Marcie's
babies in Addis.

I heard a great sermon on Sunday called ‘What’s your problem?’The speaker spoke about problems not really being problems at all, but an important part of fulfilling the dream. His dream of having a wife and family did not envision 2am nappy changes. But it is PART OF THE DREAM. We often want the victory, not realising or willing to see that we need to have victory over something first. Just as a farmer cannot receive a harvest without the Ox first ploughing the field. I loved this analogy as it so relates to life here for majority of Ethiopians.

It is so good for us to get out of our own headspace and look around. Once we have the dream, we can so easily look at stretching times as problems, when they really do not have to be problems. If we embrace them and ‘count them as joy’, have the perspective that they are what we signed up for OR a growing opportunity to get to where our dreams lie, then our attitudes can so much more easily reflect joy and gratefulness for ALL that we have.
So grateful for my princess Berhani

I want to be more like that, always.

I am so grateful for the life that we are living. Sometimes when 'problems' arrive, and I am tired and drained or have too much on my plate, I can so quickly say ‘I didn’t sign up for this’, but if I stop and think, I realize that I did in fact sign up for this. This is part of the dream. I have wanted this dream for as long as I can remember.

And what is more amazing than living my dream. The thought that if God has done ALL THIS in the last 6 years, beyond anything I could have fathomed, what must lie ahead!?

What are you grateful for?

Have you forgotten that your problem can be part of your victory, an important part of fulfilling your dream?

Dee xx

ALSO, JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THAT ON MONDAY 18th OF JUNE THIS BLOG IS MOVING TO It comes with a revived Grace Centre Website that it easier to use! I encourage you to sign up on the new blog if you would like to continue to take this journey with us. God bless and thank you so much. x

First photo with the directors and our families together

Grace long term volunteers!

Hanging out with some of the staff from Grace
that we are so blessed to know!

This photo was taken on the day our first baby 'Hope' died. It was an unbearably sad day. From it, was birthed 'Hope Memorial Clinic', a health centre that serves hundreds of families.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Let It Rain. Let It Rain. Let It Rain!

Today’s blog comes with a plea for prayer and an expectation that God will move. A couple of weeks ago I posted photos on my facebook of the kids celebrating the rainy season beginning. They ran around and splashed in puddles and had a shower in the pouring rain. Since then it had rained only once. The weather has been so hot and dry, but not much rain. This is a concern. A much a bigger concern than watching my garden die.

The Amhara region in Ethiopia is largely responsible for producing much of the countries staple produce. There is a great concern that the rainy season has not properly started. In saying ‘great concern’ I mean huge desperate concern.

This morning we sat together in the Grace HQ lounge room with our leaders as we do each morning at 9am ready to start our day in prayer. Worku our Senior Social Worker came with a burdened heart. The burden for his mother’s village and the surrounding areas who were desperate for rain. The village people are so worried that they are calling a day of fasting and prayer. No food or entertainment. A day dedicated to seeking God’s face and believing that He will move and bring the rain. We are going to join with them and fast that day and believe that God will move!

So we prayed this morning that God would send the rain. Today we saw Him move as we watched the clouds come over and received the heaviest rain we have had this year! What an answer to prayer, what an encouragement! The clouds have again past over, but we are believing that God will continue to send the rain. This is just the beginning!

We ask that you please join us in praying for rain for the areas of Ethiopia that need it. Pray that enough rain would come and crops would grow full and well. That God will be glorified and hearts would be turned towards Him.

I’ll keep you updated!

Dee x

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Part of Her Life. A Part of the Miracle!

Little Hiwot, Tigist's daughter,
when she and her mother first
arrived at Grace 

The other day I was walking to work and my heart was overcome with so much joy as I saw Tigist approaching me in the distance. She was heading from Grace to the nearby clinic to pick up her TB meds. To the normal eye at first sight, one may be horrified at her frail, skeletal body. But to me she was FAT and BEAUTIFUL! How could I think this? Only 4 months before, Tigist and her daughter Hiwot were very close to death.
Many prayers were said and tears shed as it looked like they were not going to make it.
Tigist was brought to Grace by a kind Ethiopian man who had been at the hospital visiting his mother and saw Tigist and Hiwot in the frightening position they were in, with no money to cover their costs. He came ready to plead with Grace to do something. Anything.

Being transferred to Grace’s ‘Hope Clinic’ with a fulltime nurse and carer by her side, Tigist, about 25yrs old, started at a mere 25kgs! Each day she continued to put on weight began to heal inside and out. But the miracle does not stop there. Hiwot, her 4 yr old daughter who had almost died of malaria and malnutrition when she first came to us, is now thriving and has found a permanent place in all our hearts at Grace! Each day she paints our faces with smiles as we are greeted with her love, enthusiasm and giggles every day.

They have found ‘family’ through Grace.

Tigist and Hiwot. Their smiles say it all!
Today Tigist greeted me with her arms outstretched and said  ‘Nay, Arkist Dee’('come here Aunty') just as her daughter Hiwot does and gave me the biggest hugs and a kiss on the cheek and told me she loved me. How blessed are we to serve these people! How blessed are we to be able to have a part to play in their precious lives.

I am privileged and so very humbled to be able to meet and speak to and love on these families in person, but without YOU it would be impossible. Seriously...  IMPOSSIBLE. 

I want to thank you with all that I am, for supporting us and Grace with your prayers, financial support and aid and donations.

I know Tigist and Hiwot thank you with their smiles, thank you FOR their smiles. They are so grateful for life itself.

Again THANK YOU for being His light. His hands and feet. His heartbeat Thank you.

Dee x

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Easter- Melkam Fasika!

It was Easter in Ethiopia this weekend, a week later than the rest of the world. Here it is called Fasika. I love Easter in Ethiopia. Actually it is my most favourite time of year here.
Little Salam poses for photo on Good Friday

Most Ethiopian Orthodox Christians finish a 55 day fast on the morning of Fasika (precisely 3am in the morning). The last 3 days before Fasika, many strict Orthodox will not eat anything or drink any liquids at all. They will spend as much time as possible at church praying so that they
can feel closer to God.  

We are so blessed to be able to celebrate Easter in Ethiopia. There is so much opportunity to share God’s love and have a response of understanding and desire to really know Him. Many hearts are turned to Christ and are open to His sacrifice.

We held an Easter program on Friday for our families at Grace. At the end we showed the Jesus film. Most of the mothers had never seen his life brought to life like this. They do not have TV's nor watch films. It really moved me to look into so many mothers eyes as they left, seeing that they were REALLY so very grateful for what their Savior had done for them.

Thank you Jesus for all you have done. Your sacrifice was not in vain.

He made the ultimate sacrifice so we would truly know Him and know His love. Let’s not forget about the many who are still yet to know His life changing sacrifice.

The mothers and children watching the Jesus film

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Step Forward!

Some days it is hard to step up and be all I am expected to be. Like today, I want to run and hide. I want to go back to being the person who has responsibilities only for my husband and children. And some days even that is a challenge. I don’t want to have to be confident and bold and to be seen... and criticized. Today I cannot see what Jesus sees in me, why He picked me for this extraordinary life, the extraordinary opportunity to speak into peoples’ lives. I want to disappear.

Do you ever have days like that?

So I took my heart to God today. “I don’t know what you see in me. Can you please show me... again?” I turned to my bible for answers, for his love, his redemption and what I needed to hear.

In Mark 3:3 the words in red on the page stood out to me. “And he said to the man with the withered hand “Step forward”. I went back and read from verse 1 all the way through. And read again. I could not get my eyes off the words STEP FORWARD. I so related to the man with the withered hand, with all my imperfections and shortcomings. Jesus was asking ME to step forward.

All of a sudden the answer became very clear. I knew it well, had lived it well, but through circumstances, daily life and self-pity, I had taken my eyes off the answer. HIM. It was not about- MY Ability, MY Strength, MY Godliness.

It is about HIM.

It is about Obedience. Obedience to STEP FORWARD. He is the healer, He is the redeemer, He is what is needed. All I am asked to do is to step forward so I can be used. Used to be able to display His miraculous power, His Love, HIS ABILITY. He will use my withered hand or whatever I have on hand that I consider imperfect.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me

Today, I encourage you to Step Forward. All of heaven is waiting on you to STEP FORWARD. No ‘buts’, no thoughts of your inabilities, is not about you, it is not about me. It’s about Him. It’s about why he came. It’s about the lost and their need to find Him.

It’s time to move our butts forward. It’s time. He's calling you to “STEP FORWARD”


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This Story Has To Be Told!

You know how when you meet someone so extraordinary, or something happens in your life that is so compelling, so out there that you can’t help but want to share it? How can you not! That’s how I have felt about Workinesh and her daughter Shashi. The change in their lives has been so amazing it is hard to believe unless you have seen it with your own eyes. The change has been so impacting, I wanted you to know about it too. A story like this can’t be left untold.

Last week I sat in Workinesh’s home as she made coffee and we celebrated Shashi’s 2nd birthday. We sat and reminisced, she shared her story with those that had not yet heard.

The first day we met Workinesh and her children
Baby Shashi and her twin sister were brought to us 2 years ago. They were 4 weeks old, weighing 2 kgs each. Their grandmother brought them in, she feared for their lives, she knew that they would be dead soon. We were told that their mother, Workinesh, was at home very sick and unable to care for the children. Workinesh today tells us that neighbours had stopped asking how she was, but would only walk in to check if she had died yet. Workinesh remembers laying on the bed while the children slept on the dirt floor. She waited for them to die before she did. She said that if she did not hear a noise for a while she would think ‘oh good, they are dead, it is better this way as they are starving’. Workinesh never once breastfed her babies, she was far too sick after giving birth. Their grandmother would beg from neighbours for milk for the first month, until she came to her daughter one day and said, "If these children stay with us, they are dead, can we at least give them for adoption so that they might live."

So we found the twins, their older brother and grandmother at Grace’s gate in need of much help. We visited Workinesh and found her close to death, we spoke about the medical help she needed, and about the care of her children. We offered to take the children into temporary care until she was strong enough to take them back. Looking at her, it was an obvious concern of the ‘what if’s’ that were left unspoken. There is always hope, especially when God is involved, and more than that, there can be miracles when God is involved. And over the next year we watched one in front of our very eyes. But not without loss...
Very shortly after the twins came to us Shahsi’s sister passed away. She was HIV+, and struggled to gain weight. It was a sad loss. We visited Workinesh regularly and told her of Shashi’s progress. Sister Ababu was so diligent at bringing Workinesh to all her appointments and making sure she took her meds and ate right.

I think there are 2 kinds of miracles in life, both God given and God breathed. Both are God’s amazing ability not our own. Sometimes we have to work hard to see it happen and sometimes we do nothing at all, but the outcome is always only in God’s hands. This miracle took prayer, faith, diligence and determination.

The first time Workinesh was healthy enough to hold Shashi again was amazing. Everyone present could not believe the amazing change in Workinesh, nor could she believe the amazing change in Shashi, the daughter she thought she would never hold.

Today Workinesh tells the story of when Shashi was first reunited with her, 1 year and 2 months after she came to grace. The relatives did not believe it. They had all presumed Shashi was dead or in a foreign country, never to be seen again. A huge party was thrown in Shashi’s honour, a celebration of a child that they thought was lost, but very much alive and in her mother’s arms!

To look into Workinesh’s eyes, they are full of such love, admiration and pure joy for her daughter. And there is such a sweet, sweet bond. It is a beautiful thing to behold.

I look at Workinesh’s life, and feel such honour to have met her, to have been able to play a part in keeping her family together. I see the bond of a mother and daughter, who against all odds are happy and expectant of the future, and seeing this, I know that there is hope for all of us!


Workinesh overjoyed to see her daughter Shashi.
Celebrating Shashi's 2nd birthday

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wow. What a month. Wow. What a year.

January 1, 2012

After a week of settling back into home here, we entered our crazy life, catching up on the last 3 months and awaited decisions.
Many new faces greeted us. New young mothers and a few new employees at Grace. A lot happens in 3 months, whether we are present or not, there is need, and hope is found through Grace.

First day back... The first day back at Grace, I found myself choking back tears throughout the day. I dove straight back into the thick of it with a hospital trip to see 2 young Grace kids. One little boy had his appendix out. I stood shocked at the sight of his frail skeleton body. He was a young healthy boy three months before. The stench of the hospital made me want to throw up. It smelt the same as always, the smell of body odour, old blood, filth and urine. Tears welled up as I heard sister Ababu in a cheery voice say ‘oh, I am happy, it is cleaner today’. I couldn’t see ‘clean’. I could smell was death and rot and see grot and old bloody sheets that had not been changed for days.  I could feel the hopelessness and desperate need around me and it was overwhelming. I felt incapable and inadequate to my calling, and I needed fresh air. I needed to breathe. And when I did...breathe....I realised it was all a part of transition and re-entry. This site and occasion was no different from any other hospital visit, but after three months in Australia, I was no longer immune or used the sights of poverty that hit me in the chest and left me breathless as today.
We walked into the paediatric ward, with a courtyard of visiting family members. Each time we go, we discreetly keep our eyes open for situations that may need our assistance. Sometimes the nursing staff will alert Sister Ababu. It may be a desperate mother who cannot pay her bill. Sometimes it may be children who are there with a terminally ill mother but the young children have nowhere to sleep. The extreme illnesses of the children is the most heart breaking of all. Children with illnesses like asthma or pneumonia in Australia can easily access medical help and can regain health quickly. Here these illnesses are often life threatening.  My gaze skims the room. A little girl of about two sits on the bed moaning in pain. Her legs so swollen she cannot walk. Another small child, his chest so swollen breathing heavily, waiting for heart surgery, but unable to get it. A little 3 year old girl, her rectum sitting out of her anus screaming in pain. Kidist asked the mother how long she had been like that until they came to the hospital that day. “One month” she replied, (big breath...moving on). The little girl we came to visit, sits lethargic with her little sunken eyes staring at us. She had had diarrhoea and been vomiting for three days. This seems less of a concern than the other children in the ward, but we have seen children die from simple things like this. Sister Ababu spent years working in paediatrics at the hospital before we were blessed to have her work for us. She is well known and has the approval to walk in and attend our beneficiaries. She attends to baby Eyerus, inserting her IV and getting her settled. We prayed for Eyerus and her mother, and left. A couple of weeks later, Eyerus is doing much better and is back in Baby Day Care healthy and well.

Two weeks on... We are feeling more grounded and at home. I am blown away with the opportunity we have to make a difference and impact the world around us.

In just the last week-

-We found a very sick mother and premi baby in a house in need of admission into hospital. It was a close call and the mother may have died if it was not for Sister Ababu’s intervention. Mother and child are doing well and have made much improvement in 24hours.
It is amazing how close to life and death we are here.

We really need to appreciate every minute of every day.

- Grace Children’s Home celebrated with a Christmas party for the kids. Lots of fun, laughter and joy. Watching the children open gifts (donated by Lara Knight and the New York Mothers volunteer group, some children opening gifts for the first time in their lives. At a time where many children may be feeling loss, we are able also bring love.

-We were also able to bring Christmas presents to the Special Needs School. It was the first time for me to visit the class, I was moved to tears and so appreciative to be part of the special time, and to witness firsthand the joy seen on the children’s faces.

-Grace helped facilitate a 5 day Voluntary Counselling and HIV Testing course, thanks to Milli, a nurse from the US, volunteering with Grace.

-Kidsit and Worku left on a road trip in hopes to reunite a little boy with his father.

-Melishew held a one day training for 40 Grace Centre Day Care and Kitchen Assistant staff. It was a great way to spend the last day of 2011, and step into the New Year, being inspired and equipped. Melishew had the opportunity to learn many things during the 3 months in Australia and she was eager to share it with the rest of the ladies and see positive things being implemented in the centres. It was exciting to see Melishew implementing what she had learnt, and more exciting seeing the ladies excited about what they had learnt from her.

In the last couple of months we have had new children come into Temporary care, referred to us by Woman Affairs. Children who have been abandoned or had parents die. This has left us with little space, but much opportunity to love more children that very much need it, and a big reminder that we need to build a bigger place to enable the children to sleep, eat, learn, love, grow and play in a home that has enough room.

We are anticipating a great 2012! January will start us off with 3 groups coming to Grace. One from America and 2 from Australia. The American group, lead by Millie McCarty, will run a 5 day training program for newly graduated psychologists from around Ethiopia, some people from other local NGO’s and our 2 social workers, Kidist and Worku. Grace Centre is proud to be able to offer this training to the community as it is our goal to not just equip people at Grace, but the community around us. By building bridges and joining hands, more can be done for those in need. Leith Harding, who brings a team at least every year (more commonly every 6 months) comes with a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers. It is always a pleasure to have Leith and Zed with us, they are very much family and a great support to all that is being done at Grace. Leith will also be involved in selecting a psychologist that QUT Australia has funded for Grace.

With the New Year in, it brings excitement and expectation. At Grace, we are so expectant of great things this year. We are expectant that God will do above and beyond, prayers will be answered, lives will be changed, mothers and families will be equipped, budgets will be met, and goals will be fulfilled. We want to thank you for your ongoing support. Support through your prayers, through your sponsorship, your donations, your encouragement, and support through simply taking an interest in what is happening through Grace. Thank you for remembering the poor and needy, the fatherless and the forgotten.

May God truly bless your year this year!

Dee and Andrew x