Wednesday, May 25, 2011

{hello sweet Tigist}

Well folks I have hit a little glitch in my Africa photos. See, most of the children that I met had NEVER seen themselves let alone a camera... so when I let them see themselves after taking pictures... Well to make a long story short I let them pass the camera around {which I would totally do again just to see their faces when they saw themselves for the 1st time}... but you can surely see where this story is going? YES the camera got dropped and well... the rest of the pictures along with the last days of my trip are lost. NO worries though- I did manage to get a few pics of Tigist & I together with my phone. She was just as I expected- sweet & gentle. As it turns out, she had gotten married just 5 days before we met- I haven't gotten that letter yet, {she is after all 18}, and her new husband was positively precious too- Dominq. They held hands and looked very much in love- I'm very pleased with her choice {he too is a follower of Jesus}! I asked her what she did while Dominq was away at work during the day {he bikes 1 hr 1 way to his job everyday, but is lucky to have a job so he doesn't complain about his commute AT ALL}, she said "well.. I do my household chores... then- I jump rope!" She was so innocent and proud of herself. I told her that I too could jump rope & she hugged me even tighter {I think she was proud of me too}. We had a marvelous visit, asking questions back & forth for hours. I bought her a shower {her 1st ever} at the hot springs there where we met. It was amazing- just this simple 3 walled natural hot spring. They had a men's & women's section and she thought it was amazing. I just marveled at how much I take running water for granted. I also bought her & Dominq a soda and their 1st ice creams- you should have seen them eating them {they didn't know to turn the cone & lick- I just kept thinking that my A-man would have loved teaching them ALL about ice cream!}! We had the day out of our lives & ended our visit with a few gifts. I showered her with frivolous things that I wanted her to have like {lip gloss, nail polish, & sun glasses} and practical things like {clothes, medicine, & toiletries}. She accepted every single gift with hugs & total contentment {just the way that I always want Prissy & A-man to act when getting gifts}. I cried off & on during our visit- knowing that it was a once in a lifetime day & also that the day would eventually end... Our parting was tearful too, but knowing that she has Dominq and that she is happy- made it a little easier for me. I know that God has Tigist in the palm of his hand and that is better than in my arms!!! Please keep her in your prayers for me....


p.s. here is a little picture from my roomie Meagan of me passing out some By "A"- my company has now gone International!!! If I ever go back to Africa- I'm taking an entire suitcase of hair bows!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

{this week...}

So... although I am NOT nearly through my Africa trip photos yet, my life here has NOT slowed down at all. Here is a peek of what has happened this week @ Harris House!


I spent Mother's day this year in Africa with Tigist- but when I got home I found this sweet letter from my little Prissy. I tucked it away where I keep my "want to remember this day forever things"! It makes my heart smile!!!
Dear Mommy,
Happy Mother's Day! There are so many things I have to thank you for! I love the way you fix my hair pretty. And thank you for when you buy me clothes and toys. I am glad that you send me to a Christian school. I am blessed to have you Mommy and that you chose God to be your Savior. I appreciate that you helped our class during Valentine's bags. You are the best Mom! Love Josey.

...my cup runneth over!!!!


Here is my little Prima Ballerina @ her recital last weekend. She was wonderful- her brother was even captivated by her dancing. I asked him if it was good {since I was back stage & didn't get to sit with him & Joey}. He said "I didn't not like it too much this time!"- which I believe translates to "good job dear sweet sister of mine"!!


Here is my little Precious Ballerina stopping to sign some autographs....


Prissy- "Momma I'm not bragging, but our costumes are the best this year. I promise, you can ask anyone!" I {heart} her honesty!!!! They were beautiful!


Me & my little Prissy- I just want to say that it is MY PLEASURE to stay backstage with her! I love that she wants me there & although it is a lot of work- I have a ball helping all the little & big ballerinas. I cherish these times with her & hope that she will want me there with her for many more years to come!!!!!


and a little certain someone graduated from Pre-school last night. Isn't he the most handsome little guy y'all have ever seen? YES! He is!!!!!!!!


A-man with his bestie Ethan


A-man with Sydney {I think they have a little crush on each other}. He keeps telling me that "she's not like Prissy & you Momma- Sydney likes Legos and blue and spider man, and... she likes dirt too!" I think I may have some competition- ha ha!!!!


Have a great weekend!!!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"faces in Africa"

here are some of our Compassion team-
{Jo Ann, Louise, Melisa, Me, & Crystal}


{She spoke absolutely NO English, but I totally understood her. Her smile said it all- and that's all she did once I pinned this little pink bow in her hair!!!!!}


{this little one is HIV positive. Both she & her mother have been taking medications for HIV through the CSP- Compassion Survival Program. She is learning about Jesus everyday & I pray that she & her Momma will live long & happy lives!!! She wouldn't take off the little Princess ring that I gave her- she just kept touching her hand to make sure it was still there....}


{This young girl walked an hour to come & see us this day. She & I made friendship bracelets, we colored, we danced, and she helped me not miss my little Prissy so much. She was 7 too- and I'm convinced that our meeting each other was no accident!!!}


{This was taken at one of the Compassion Survival Programs- this little girl's mother is HIV positive & so far she is not! That in itself is a blessing but this program is as well. Through CSP mothers get prenatal care & nutrition during their pregnancies as well as health care for them & their infants after delivery. The women walk to these campuses and basically take classes to learn to care for their babes & hear about Jesus all at the same time! It is truly amazing to see God's hand upon them....}


These guys are the future of Ethiopia. They are in the Compassion Sponsor Program & have U.S. sponsors. They knew their sponsor's names & where they are from. They were so polite & pleasant to be around. Most of them walk 30 minutes to an hour to go to school & church. When I told them to "stay in school". They responded with "Of Course!"- that's the Ethiopian equivalent to our "Yes Ma'am"! David David {his birth name- I didn't question it, but had to laugh wondering if somewhere it had gotten changed in translation} is the boy in the red t-shirt. His father is dead & his mother is an unbeliever. He goes to church & school solely on his own accord all by himself! Please keep him in your prayers- he is precious!!!!!!!


{This little girl kept putting her hair bow in her pocket- she was afraid someone would take it. It was the first "new" thing that she had ever been given...}


I couldn't help noticing this little guy peeking through during a home visit. Our group became quite the attraction {most of those people had never seen white people before (Fringes=white foreigners) let alone big buses & cameras!}


{more by "A"- I fell in love with this little girl right away- maybe it was her piggy tails that reminded me of my little Priss. She is new to the Compassion Sponsor Program & didn't have a sponsor yet.... but she does now! Malaytee is our newest member of the family!!!


{Prissy sent a little purse full of dress-up jewelry- the girls went crazy over them! They were gone in about 5 minutes at our 1st project site!!!}


{and NO! I have zero shame giving out candy too... They had suckers for the 1st time, & gum, & lip gloss, & tick tacks & any other thing that I could find in my bag!}

more to come....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

{clearing my head}

{my sweet roomie Meagan & me! she's just like Joey- kind, quiet, & extremely smart- we were perfect together!!}


I'm still in a bit of a whirl-wind {hence me getting up @ 3 am and showering thinking I'm still back in Africa}.... I came home to the sweetest reunion from my darlings- I CANNOT even begin to tell y'all how much I missed them & their little ways- no doubt my new friends were pure-T sick of Prissy & A-man stories but I didn't even care. At one point someone asked me {she was young and unmarried} "so tell me something that you don't like about being married"- my response- "Honestly I can't think of one bad thing about my sweet husband- I miss him so terribly bad!". I got home just in time for Prissy's final ballet dress rehearsal- in which I: scooped her in my arms, kissed her cheeks off, and proceeded to make a masterpiece ballet bun- all in about 2 minutes. Later that night when I was tucking her into bed she said "Momma I thought you were gonna hug me more when you first saw me?" My eyes filled with tears...... I apologized and stayed in her bed WAY longer than usual! I came home to find: my laundry all done, my house clean, my fridge & pantry stocked, fresh flowers all throughout the house, my silver polished, my car cleaned, & the peace that comes from knowing that my Cooner had been there while I was away & had taken care of everything for me! My kiddos have not heard the words "no" or "not today" for over 2 weeks- so please have grace for them if you see them out- ha ha!!!


Now... my visit was amazing & unforgettable. Africa is not a pretty country, but it's people boast a beauty that is immeasurable. I went thinking that I would teach them {and I did in terms of health, baby care, & English}, but I truly got the education. They have so little but are so incredibly happy. They love each other & truly "consider others better than themselves". A pastor there told me that "comparison is the thief of joy"- SO TRUE! I wonder how much better off we would be if we could just be content on our circumstances & not want what another has? Anyway... I could write all day about what they taught me or about how precious my Tigist was- but I have to leave y'all wanting more- ha! I hope to get my camera down-loaded this week & show you some highlights. For now- I'm just enjoying toilet paper & clean water- don't take those things for granted!!!!!!!!


{I couldn't help noticing this on an intern's desk at one of the Compassion offices..... He is learning English & wants to be a teacher when he graduates. Knowing what I know now- it makes me that much more certain that God is doing amazing things in Africa!}

Sunday, May 08, 2011

{Happy Mother's Day}

Today I am still away in Ethiopia... but couldn't let this day go by without letting Cooner know how much I {heart} her! By now I am 10 days into my mission trip and that means 10 days since I've talked to Cooner- {a record for us}. I was thinking & thinking about how I could bless her today & then just started remembering ALL of the things that she's done for me over the years like...

How she used to fix me up EVERY time we left the house {no kidding even when we went to the IGA she had a bow in my hair} and now Prissy knows where I get it from..

How she would go without even essentials for me to have better...

Or how in nursery school- she made personalized cookies for everyone.... with braided hair & pony tails... I can still see them!

How she could whip up a dolly dress in minutes if I asked her to....

How she ordered 6 coats to be made for my cabbage patch dolls in the winter {because I was worried about them getting cold}...

How she wrapped up EVERY single girl scout cookie order with paper & a big gift tag that said "thank you for ordering from Ashly".... because she thought they needed a little something special!!!

How she {gently persuaded me} to model in the style show by buying me a new doll...

How she quit her job to stay at home with me.... and would be waiting for me when I got off of the bus....

How ALL of my friends wanted to spend the night @ my house for the fun craft projects that she had planned....

How she would teach all of us new songs {oldies} on the way to gymnastics every Wednesday... and we would sing them at recess....

How the teachers would ALWAYS ask her to volunteer, because she was the best & always said "yes"...

How she gave me her best pans to make mud pies in the Sycamore Inn {our brilliant grapevine tree house in the woods}...

Or how she would come into my room in the middle of the night to feel my head & give me medicine...

How she took me prom dress shopping in B-town & made me promise NOT to tell Daddy how much they cost {is that love or what?}

How she would come every week to take me out to dinner when I was in college...

How she made a corness board for my dorm room... because I thought it looked a little bit "too cookie cutter"....

How she cried when I got engaged & even harder when I tried on my wedding dress...

How she poured her heart into my wedding & made it beautiful! And how I cried so hard when I left her... that Joey didn't know what to do with me {no kidding}!

How when she is out & sees something that I would love... she buys it & sends it to me!

How we talk 3-10 times a day on the phone {and I sometimes when the phone rings, say.... I only want to talk if it's Cooner, to Joey- sorry... it's the truth}!!!

How she came and held my little Priss & told me "everything would be alright & I was going to be a wonderful mother" and how I somehow believed her....

How she stayed with Prissy while my little A-man was in the NICU & loved on her just like I wanted... And when we finally came home... How she had spent a blue-million dollars on flowers for my porches to welcome us home with!!!

How she comes to my house & jumps right in; doing laundry, projects, cooking.... and makes thing better in such a magical way!

How she comes to town whenever we ask to keep the kiddos.... cause the Lord knows I don't let just anyone keep them!!!!!

How she is always thinking of others {to a fault} before herself...... She is precious to the core & these & a million more reasons are why she's my kindred spirit! I love her more than any daughter ought to be allowed!!!!!!!!!!

And how could I forget...
She has yet to miss one of my kiddo's b-days- and y'all who how crazy I get with their parties!!!! I mean really what other mother would dress up like a pirate for their grandson daughter???

Mother's Day