My journey outside my nice little life began when I attended a leadership conference for my church at Willow Creek Church in Chicago. In addition to the many seminars they featured a segment called "What One Woman can do." They highlighted three women who had heard God speak to their heart about the compelling issues going on around the world and decided to do something. I was so touched and moved by all of these women. After these women spoke they had exhibits outside from organizations around the country that are making a difference. I grabbed books, pamphlets, brochures and all at once my eyes were opened to the stark realities and hopelessness of the majority of our world.
I noticed article after article in magazines and newspapers about the plight of orphans in Africa. I began a personal journey to learn what was happening and began educating myself on these serious and compelling issues. The numbers were staggering. I learned that there were 45 million orphans in Africa and 5 million in Ethiopia alone mainly due to the AIDS pandemic. Young children were watching both parents die and often caring for them throughout their illness. In some cases they were left to care for their younger siblings all alone. As I evaluated my own very blessed life, I felt compelled to make a difference in some small way. Although there are many serious and challenging issues in Africa, which can sometimes be viewed as overwhelming, I firmly believe that each of us can make a difference one life at a time. I spent ten days visiting orphanages and seeing first hand so many children who have been orphaned by AIDs. The numbers were staggering but the children and their faces would haunt me for the next 10 months. I spent many sleepless nights sifting and processing what I had seen. Our family talked for hours about our responsibility to help others and what kind of response God was asking from us. My husband and I both agreed that after seeing the desperate needs first hand we could not look the other way. And so began our journey to bring our son, Tam home.