Hey hey! Yesterday we met with one of the SixtyFeet missionaries--a gal named Kirby from Jacksonville. They have been working with the children's prisons for a while now. Only a small percentage of the kids there have actually committed any crimes. The majority are either abandoned by their parents or guardians or were caught in a round-up of street kids. As you can imagine, the conditions are not good at all. The SixtyFeet team has found favor with the staff and wardens at most of the facilities, but some higher ranking officials don't like the publicity that has been generated. SixtyFeet's license to operate is under "review" so they can't go into the facilities for a couple of months. This is terribly difficult for them to deal with because they know the condition of the children inside. It turns out that the children's prision isn't closed, just closed to visitors for the time being. We also met with an amazing Ugandan woman named Mama Phoebe. She and her husband quit their jobs about 14 years ago to start a school for orphans and destitute children. Uganda was ground zero for the AIDS epidemic, with the better part of a generation being lost. This generated a huge number of orphans. Almost every family has taken in nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, etc, but the burden is simply more than the society can handle. Mama Phoebe and her staff interact with about 1300 kids each day. They provide schooling for about 800 of those, including room & board for about 250. Another One Child team is coming in August, and they are planning to spend a couple of days at Rebecca Sorensen's school (which I mentioned yesterday) and a couple of days with Mama Phoebe. It was really quite amazing to find such incredible ministry partners on our first trip to Uganda.
Our flight landed in Ethiopia about 7:30. It only took about 15 minutes to get our visas and go through customs (which is a miralce), but then we had to wait about an hour for 2 of our bags to make it to the baggage claim. In Africa they have a saying that goes "Americans have the watches, but Africans have the time." We are staying in a new guest house which is really nice & the staff here is unbelievable. Today will be a little bit slower since it is Saturday and not as many places are open. We are planning to visit MARK 10:14 Ministry, a ministry which seeks to lift street kids (and their parents where possible) out of poverty through vocational training, sharing the gospel, and helping meet physical needs while they get back on their feet. I think we are going to hear some of the boys share their stories. We are also planning to visit the America World Transition Home today. This will be an exciting reunion for Caleb and I as we both have two children who were cared for by the wonderful nannies at the transition home. I brought pictures of the boys to share with the nannies. They all remembered Sam (or "Mickey, Mickey, Mickey" as the used to call him) when we came to get Isaac. Tomorrow we are heading out into the country side to go to Children's Hopechest Care Points in Shone and Awassa. We will be gone for 2 or 3 days, so I dont' know if communication will be possible. I'm really excited to finally get out of Addis and see the country side. Such a trip has just never worked out on our previous trips to ET.
If you want to know more about Rebecca Sorensen and her ministry go to her website: www.myfathershouseintl.org