I’ve been friends for 14 years with my bestie Julie Neal and she NEVER ceases to amaze me. Julie obeyed God’s calling when He told her to dig a well in Chuko, Ethiopia (birth village of her son, Cruz) and never gave up! Her VERY famous brother could have helped her in a heartbeat, but she trusted God would do exactly what He said He would do and persevered. She wants to share with you her big dream you can’t refuse.
Have you ever had an experience that flat out changed your life? Looking back over past posts I wrote during the fourteen months on our mission adventure, I came across this personal favorite, the story about Sisay, who changed my life. I have often wondered what it would be like walking back in old testament times and witnessing the miracles of Jesus. One of my favorite bible stories is the healing of the lepers when only one came back to thank Jesus. Read More
Hi, my name is Adam Derloshon and my family and I are moving to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to serve with the amazing ministry Embracing Hope Ethiopia. Honestly, this whole story started a little more than 4 years ago when we felt God tugging on our hearts to adopt; our son Zek has been home for about 3 ½ years. Read More
My Life Is Crazy Too is a series of reader submissions. Your life is a story – this is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. “Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the STORY of your love.” Psalm 89:1 If you would like to submit a story to this series, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Today’s crazy guest is Nancy Kirk, adoptive mama.
It was shortly after deciding to adopt from Ethiopia a couple years ago that we got into a conversation about adoption with our dear friends Chris and Natasha (Chris also happens to be my husband’s brother). They had adopted from Ethiopia several years earlier. Read More
The theme this summer on our Simply Love mission trip was Gold. I love this upbeat song by Britt Nicole, my daughter Hannah shared with me as we prepared to leave for our mission adventure. The team taught lessons to the girls and boys in Uganda and Ethiopia that they are worth more than gold. We played the song so many times at the different ministries we served… we had it memorized! We sang, danced, and cheered with the Kings and Queens of Africa. Team members made hundreds of stars with the song laminated on them. There’s even one hanging in the Man Up Cave … we don’t want them to ever forget how valuable they are day and night.
Today I said goodbye again. I just ended the 14 day Visiting Orphans mission trip with the most amazing 23 mission-hearted people who rocked Ethiopia and Uganda loving big and serving even bigger!! Hannah and I left the team last night and at the last second realized we missed the opportunity to say goodbye to our friends due to flight attendants splitting us up in 2 buses when we landed in Addis Ababa. I started bawling, so we grabbed the few remaining on the last bus and hugged like crazy! I think the one of the best parts of a mission trip is bonding and sharing life changing experiences with complete strangers from all over the world. If you have never gone on a mission trip … I promise if you’re willing to open your heart wide and set aside your fears and comfort and conveniences, God will use you in a mighty way to share the love of Jesus Christ to the unreached people groups around the world. I can’t wait to share the miraculous stories from the mission trip with you. I watched with my own eyes God healing widows in Uganda, and orphan’s spirits open again through the loving touch of the team.
I started writing this post and started crying. I hope I can get through this without making a fool out of myself sitting at Panera. This is the biggest blog announcement I’ve ever made and I’m crazy nervous to share with you. It’s not that I don’t think you’ll fall out of your chair when you read it, but that I won’t do a good job sharing my heart. We are moving as a family to Haiti starting November 20, 2012!! Read More
I love my two brothers, Greg and Mike Smalley- they have been a constant joy in my life. I’m their
older big sister and was very bossy growing up. I’m sure they loved having two moms telling them what to do all day long. It’s wonderful now that we’re all grown-up, to support and encourage each others passions, gifts, and talents in life!! My brother, Greg is moving soon to CO to work with Focus on the Family and my brother, Michael lives in TX with a growing ministry in marriage and family counseling.
I had no idea God would open the door for three more brothers in my life, but He has allowed me to embrace sisterhood again! I met all three men on my first mission trip to Ethiopia and feel so honored to have them adopt me as their sister. It’s my duty as big sister, to make sure they are being taken care of, prayed for, supported, and encouraged as my brothers! I’m equally as honored to embrace their band of brothers (all eleven) living in Korah and supporting the entire team!! We are family.
If you would like to join me next year Visiting Orphans in Ethiopia, I can guarantee you will get a hug from each one of my brothers!
I met Bisrat (Bissy) in June 2010 with my Visiting Orphans team in Ethiopia. He has an incredible big heart and biblical wisdom. His testimony is both heartbreaking and inspirational. Bissy told me once that he will never stop telling others about Jesus- he lives and breathes this commitment with all his heart! I’m grateful that my brother has helped us locate missing pieces with our adoption. He was the one who introduced us to the police officer who helped with the relinquishment of birthmother- Zoie’s Crossroad Miracle. If you would like to meet Bisrat and follow his adventures in Addis Ababa, please “friend” him on facebook. (click on his full name above)
I met Maste last year, but it was on my trip in February that we really bonded. I watched this young man grow in wisdom and kindess for orphans… helping lead my big crazy team with joy. (just look at that smile) I love that he became such close friends with my hubby, Roger and worked together to bless the community of Korah. Here’s what Maste wrote to me when I came home- he has no idea how much I cherish his letter…
It was a blessing to know you. you are energetic and devoted GODly women.
James 1:27 GOD care for orphan
GOD use peoples to care others.
You have an amazing husband that he thought me about giving. Roger told me that the secret of life is giving to needy. it was practical lesson for me. he was feeding street kid at the post Office. Tell to Roger am glad to know him.
The gift that I gave to you is I never gave for anybody in my life. Flag shows one country. I gave to you my country Ethiopia for you. hopefully your support will be frutiful and change Ethiopia.
May peace of the lord be with you and your family always
Sammy is one of the dearest people I have ever known in my life. The instant I met him, I fell in love with his spirit for the Lord, community, orphans and Korah. In June, I will share his personal testimony and it will blow you away! How can someone go through so much persecution and still worship the Lord and obey His will. Sammy and I bonded last year, but our friendship bloomed this past February working again with Project 61. I tell him he is the Brad Pitt of Korah! Sammy understands the true meaning of Man Up. Protect and Love the fatherless. I’m grateful everyday knowing he is there taking care of his neighbors. God gave him the incredible gift of tenderness and strength. One of the last things we talked about… his band of brothers working in Korah- that NO ONE is left behind. I want to continue to make a difference in the life of children and the needy side by side with my brothers!
If you have a special message of encouragement for my three [adopted] brothers, please leave a comment today and spread some crazy love.
(thank you Cherrie Cornish for the beautiful photos!)
I waited to share my final blessing of the mission trip, because I’m still processing the miracle God orchestrated for Roger and me. The desire to meet Zoie’s birthmother has never diminished in our hearts and we knew being in Ethiopia together, we would make every effort to reunite. It was thrilling for me to take Roger back to the clinic Zoie received her immunizations with her birthmother. I watched my hubby weep with emotion holding the book with her name and information. He was able to witness with his own eyes the single word “Kore” the only tangible information we had locating where Zoie was born. (Kore- Korah community living on the trash dump) We believe it is not a coincidence that God allowed our daughter’s birth home to be in the very same spot Visiting Orphans ministers to the fatherless. It was His plan all along to bring us together. We are so honored to lead mission trips with Visiting Orphans and work directly with Project 61 in Korah… our brothers and sisters. Read More
My crazy readers, will you join me on my Visiting Orphans mission trip and pray for our extraordinary team for the next 12 days as we travel to Ethiopia and minister to orphans. You support, prayers, and cheers have meant the world to me. You sent me over 600 headbands and bows for the Princesses in Korah, twin sheet sets for new bedding at the orphanage in Holeta, and monetary donations to spread some crazy love in Ethiopia!! I’m grateful for you!
I have the most amazing guest bloggers scheduled for the next 12 days. Please stop by and read their stories- laugh, cry, cheer, and share your thoughts. Thank you for your continued support growing My Crazy Adoption Blog to empower moms and caring for the Fatherless. Together, we are the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. (prov. 31:8-9)
I will not be able to update you on my blog in Africa, but I will share daily journal notes and photos on my Facebook starting February 15th- 27th. I hope you will join me on my God adventure to Addis Ababa. I will share my incredible mission trip here starting in March- Missions Sweeps Week!!
Would you pray a special blessing over my team today!! We need strong prayer warriors to cover us the next 12 days!
Here are a few prayer requests:
The JRA team of 30 will be ministering for 12 days in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Project 61 for extreme needy children living in the Korah city dump, two TOMS Shoe Drops, as well as ministering in rural villages sharing God’s love. We will also visit Fistula Hospital and our very own, Trevor Birch will perform music for the courageous women featured in the movie “A Walk to Beautiful”.
Wednesday- 02/16/2012 Day 1
You will travel to Washington DC where you will meet up with
the rest of your team and travel on to Addis from there.
Thursday- 02/17/2012 Day 2
Arrive in Addis Ababa around 8 am. Check in at the Ethiopian
Guest House. Rest, unpack, and afternoon shopping at Post Office (optional) Dinner out.
Friday- 02/18/2012 Day 3
Visit *** Orphanage. Lunch at the EGH and afternoon visit to Fistula Hospital. Pack your day bags for overnight Ambo and Holeta.
Saturday- 02/19/2012 Day 4
1 hour drive to Holeta to visit children there and to minister in
community. Spend the night in Ambo.
Sunday- 02/20/2012 Day 5
Orphanage and home visits in Ambo. Outing with the children. Return to Addis for
afternoon shopping and dinner at EGH. 8 pm team meeting with Sally Baer.
Mon & Tues- 02/21-22/12 Day 6 & 7 TOMS shoe distribution- 8am to 5pm. Lunch on the ﬁeld and dinner at EGH.
Wednesday- 02/23/2012 Day 8
Ministry at the Korah Dump and Project 61. Dinner out as a
Thursday- 02/24/2012 Day 9 Ministry at the Korah Dump and Project 61. Dinner at EGH.
Friday- 02/25/2012 Day 10
Ministry at the Korah Dump and Project 61. Visit to sponsored
children. Dinner at a traditional restaurant.
Saturday- 02/26/2012 Day 11
Check out of the EGH. The team will split to visit Drawn From
Water and Kidane Mihret orphanages. Farewell lunch at the
Hilton & last minute shopping. Leave for airport and depart for
US at 10:15 pm. Arrive in DC at 7:40 am on the 27th.
In March, 2010, Sam Nuttmann and I traveled to Ethiopia to do work for Ethiopia Reads. Ethiopia Reads (ethiopiareads.org) is a non-profit that builds libraries in schools throughout Ethiopia, they also set up donkey mobile libraries to bring books to kids in more rural villages, and they publish books in local languages. Read More
Do you remember your favorite sleepover? I have never been a big fan of sleepovers- I like sleeping in my own bed. Well, I have changed my mind and can’t wait to have another sleepover party at Korah in February 2011. This was an out of the box adventure that all started when I heard Sumer share about the amazing shelter for children in Kore that need a safe place to sleep at night. This is a little house of love made for children who used to sleep on the dump. I casually asked Sumer if my team could sleep there for the night too. She was thrilled to help us plan a crazy sleepover party at Korah. The only problem- due to space issues, we had to pick 6 out of our team of 30. The extraordinary team was amazing and soon had 6 packed up to go.
I had nooo intention of sleeping over, but wanted to go for the party. I told my team I would tuck them in bed and head back to the Guest House with Sumer. It was dark when we arrived and the kids were ecstatic to have us all there. We had 4 mattresses and our over night bags. They popped popcorn and had delicious hand ground coffee waiting for us. They added little chocolate cookies on top of the popcorn as decoration. I was a mess!!! I was overwhelmed with love for Project 61 and the 14 precious kids who slept at the shelter. Their stories were heart wrenching to hear. The abuse and horrors they had to deal with sleeping on the dump broke my heart. I asked my two boys- What is the scariest thing about sleeping out on the dump? They both told me it was the hyenas that hunted at night. How can I possibly wrap my brain around that kind of fear. I held the boys close to me- to protect them and knew I would be spending the night at the Korah Shelter!!
I snuggled up with my new friends and watched a movie, munching on popcorn. It was surreal.
I will never forget the time I spent with my team and friends from Korah. Alicia, Sammy and the rest of the P61 staff that took the time to make us feel so welcomed and special!! It was the best cookies, popcorn and coffee I have ever had!! I fell asleep watching The Lion King with 3 kids wrapped in my arms. I kept praying that they would feel a mother’s love. I knew they did not have that in their lives, so for the next few hours I was determined to love them like my own children. I held their hands and gently stroked their hair and prayed for each child for special blessings.
When we finally tucked the children in bed, we headed to our tiny room with 2 mattresses to share- four of us girls:) It was dark and no electricity. I will be very honest- I was afraid. I had no idea how I talked my team into this and how I ended up there too. There was no lock on the door, but we had a broom stick jammed under the knob. I started to feel nervous and that brought on the giggles. The four of us giggled and laughed and spooned (well, I was the big chicken spooner with BF Randi) We had layers of clothes on just in case we needed to bolt out of there in a flash. The only thing I remember that made me stop laughing was the thought of having to go to the bathroom in the outhouse in the dark. I prayed for a bladder miracle that night!!! I fell asleep listening to the eery sounds at night and could hear a faint bark of a hyena. I knew with all my heart that we were safe in His Korah.
We woke up to the sound of roosters and the hustle and bustle of Kore neighbors. It was very difficult for me to say goodbye to Dawit and Beleling B… they were my Kore sons. I told them I was so proud that my daughter, Zoie was born here in Kore and asked them to be her adopted brothers. They hugged me tight and agreed to pray for their new sister. I will NEVER forget my favorite sleepover. I can’t wait to go back in February with my new team – the invitation is open for anyone that wants to have the best night of their life!!
I can’t believe what God has done with the Missions Trip Project!! He is tugging and stirring hearts to travel to Ethiopia and minister to his precious children. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your WILDEST dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (Eph. 3:20)
Here’s what blogger, Lori shared-
My 20 yo purchased her t-shirt today! Our neighbors are going to think we bought stock in something by the name of SIMPLY LOVE…but, that’s fine with me! I love how you said early on that God knows who is going and how this amazing opportunity is going to impact their lives…and the lives of others. Let’s daydream about the lifelong RIPPLE EFFECT that your step of faith is putting into motion!!!
One of the special things we will do on the Ethiopia Missions Trip in February 2011 is visit Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa. We are praying for our return trip a real ministry opportunity to share God’s love when our team spends time with the women healing at Fistula Hospital. In July, we received special permission to take photos inside the Hospital showing the beauty of Fistula. This was a rare chance to do something like this- photography is not allowed. (Thank you Feven) We asked team member, Carrie Chlebanowski to tackle the job- she took beautiful photos of the precious women!!
What I loved so much about visiting Fistula Hospital was the beauty of the women, literally from all over Africa. It’s hard to describe a place so full of hope. You could see the hope pouring from their smiles. We met a precious woman, about 18 years old, who had lived in a small room like a prisoner. Her family abandoned her and she lost all ability to walk or function normally… she was physically deformed. Her back was so bent, I thought she was very old. The staff told us that she was their miracle girl!! She was in therapy when we met her, she gave everything she had to walk across the floor with the help of special equipment. We cheered and clapped when she made it to the end of the bars. Hope. Healing. Love. Fistula Hospital.
A documentary film was made of Fistula Hospital and it follows the life of five women in Ethiopia who take the long difficult walk to beautiful. It’s stunning, and heart breaking, and full of hope, and new beginnings. I highly encourage you to take the time to watch the film. [watch the film here]
Trailer- A Walk To Beautiful
My BF Juju traveled to Ethiopia a few months before I was there in July and visited Fistula Hospital. It was so exciting that one of my favorite bloggy photographers, Kristin J was also able to take photos and made this incredible slideshow. She invited me to share it with you. Click here to view. Kristin also now offers Adoption Photography Packages to travel with families to document their adoption!
I want to know what you think about the hospital and the treatment of women in Africa with Fistula. Leave me your thoughts in the comments.
BIG CRAZY NEWS- We have 15 people signed up… only 10 more slots open to fill! If you are feeling a passion about this trip, please continue to pray and fill out the application when the time is right!!! Spots are filling up fast!!!!
I can’t believe I’ve only been home 3 weeks from Africa! It took me a long time to recover physically and emotionally, but now feeling the excitement bubbling inside my heart to share the good, bad and craziness with you. I think the best place for me to start is from the beginning. I would never have had the opportunity to lead a trip to Uganda and Ethiopia without the incredible ministry of Visiting Orphans. I stumbled into the leadership role of an extraordinary team of 30 for reasons I still do not fully understand. I am grateful for all the twists and turns that happened to redirect me, change me and guide me to serve in Africa.
The executive director of Visiting Orphans is my friend, Amanda Lawrence. We have never met in person, but have a shared passion for missions, orphans, adoption and craziness. She opened up her heart wide in faith and allowed me to jump on board due to our relationship with America World Adoption. She has lead countless mission trips all over the world and taught me so much about leadership and serving with her grace and love for orphans.
My personality, as you know is a little on the crazy side, but Amanda poured her patience in abundance as she worked with me during the months preparing for the trip. The best part, announcing to her that I was going for a week to Alaska with my family the week before the trip. She never wavered in kindness, understanding and willingness to help.
I wanted to give my best effort as a newbie leader and allow God to lead through me. God lovingly taught me through my team how important it was to be flexible, patient, joyful, loving, and courageous every step of the way. I was so humbled. I watched my team demonstrate love and generosity and compassion to every single person they ministered to.
(Thank you team- Ashlie, Ernie, Randi, Dee Dee, Vit, Kevin, Judson, Juliana, Kari, Carrie, Joe, Emily, Darrell, Cherie, Ashlie, Amanda, Beza, Carly, Chaye, Cynthia, Cynthia, Eryn, Janette, Jen, Karen, Kinsey, Lindsey, Marge, Rebecca, Sarah for loving radically in Africa!!)
In the next few weeks, I want to celebrate on my blog the incredible people we met in Uganda and Ethiopia. I have so many stories and photos to share with my readers. I want to dig deep down in my heart and tell you how God changed my life. I pray that God will use our craziness in Africa to help spread His message of love and service and ministry to orphans.
I want to invite you to join me on a bloggy adventure to Africa. I hope that you will read the stories, leave your comments and share your own personal stories of mission trips and orphan care. We are all in this together. If you have any questions please email me.
My New Crazy Mission Trips 2011
I will be leading two trips in 2011. Please join me serving orphans in Africa!! You can go directly to the website Visiting Orphans to sign up today!! The first 5 men who sign up for the trips will receive a FREE Man Up T shirt!!!
10 Day Ethiopia Trip: February 17th – 26th 2011
- Leaders- Kari & Roger Gibson and co-leader Kelly Blackwell
10 Day Uganda Trip: June 2nd – 11th 2011
- Leaders- Kari Gibson and Michael Smalley
Men Needed- Visiting Orphans has available spots for an Uganda Mission trip Dec. 28 to Jan. 12!! Sign up today!!
Visiting Orphans vision is simple:
- To enlist Church volunteers to visit orphanages so they may meet physical, emotional and spiritual needs of orphans.
- To develop relationships, provide comfort and to share the Gospel with orphans.
- To provide financial aid for child sponsorship, medical assistance and construction to improve the living conditions of orphans.
- To mobilize Christian churches to help orphans experience the blessing of family.
Visiting Orphans mission is simple:
Visiting Orphans is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Established in 2005 by America World Adoption Association as a way to further help the orphans of the world. Visiting Orphans works to fulfill the biblical mandate given in James 1:27 of “visiting orphans” in their distress.
Visiting Orphans has conducted many missions trips for churches, schools, and individuals from around the United States to orphanages around the world including China, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, Ecuador, Peru, Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Russia and Costa Rica.
Looking ahead, VO’s plan of action is to begin mobilizing and working more directly with churches in the United States. While we will still work with individuals and schools in order to bring people to orphans and expose them to the hardships they face, partnerships with churches will drive our expansion and positive impact on orphaned children around the world.
Mission: Visiting Orphans works with Christian churches to help raise orphan awareness in the hopes of each orphan experiencing the blessing of family through:
2. Transitional Services
If you are part of a church looking to start or expand your orphan ministry we would love to assist you!