Monday, June 28, 2010

It Has Been Awhile!

Well, this is my first post in two years! Some how adopting our third child from Ethiopia has kept me fairly busy. Lots of challenges, transition and growing for the Mandanis family and me personally. As I sit back and take stock of my life I am amazed at the beautiful tapestry that God has woven in my life. If you had asked me 10 years ago what my family would look like I would have never envisioned it as it is today. I am so thankful that God holds the master plan and I can relax and trust that he has plans to give this family a hope and a future. All I have to do is be willing to be "radically obedient and then I can enjoy the ride" as my friend Lysa Terukurst says.

What is on our hearts now? Many topics that are tough to talk about. Sexual slave trade, bonded slave labor, poverty, AIDS, malaria, unclean water and the orphans crisis in Africa!

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 started reading. 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 felt that God was asking me to go and see for myself. I spent ten days in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 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. We could not look the other way and could never forget! And so began our journey to bring our son, Tam home.

Our trip to Ethiopia to bring Tam home reminded us again of the plight of these children. We knew we were being asked to never forget, to never walk away, and to never stop caring. After much research we decided to partner with Children's Hope Chest and the Kidd Family to reach out to our networks to help children. Andrea's husband, Pete took one more trip to Ethiopia on a "vision trip" and hand picked an orphanage/community center to come along side of and help. We have 88 children who are in desperate circumstances. We are currently working on sponsorship for these children, raising capital to help with improvements at the orphanage and I am hoping to lead a mission trip with our sponsorship community next summer to let these children know they are precious and dearly loved by the Lord. Your can also write to these children via letters or email and attach pictures of your family.

The website for Children's Hope Chest is and you look at who they are what they are up to around the world! Also here is a link to an interview done with the CEO that tells his personal story and his heart for helping orphans.

Here is the link for the Tom Davis interview:

Thankfully out of 88 children who need sponsors, we only have around 11 left! The family we partnered with (The Kidd Family) are adopting a little boy from Ethiopia (4th child and 2nd from Ethiopia) and will be moving there for 2 months. Ethiopia recently changed their travel requirements and are asking families to travel twice with a two month window in between. Their little guy is only 14 lbs at 1 year old and is severly malnourished. They have made the decision to move their entire family to Ethiopia to be with him during this time. Talk about amazing and sacrifical hearts! They are going to be visiting our care point/orphange while they are in Ethiopia and assessing the needs and loving on our kids. They have offered to bring care packages for our sponsorship community. We currnetly have a sponsorship community of 44 families who want to come along side this orphange/community and make a difference. God is definitely at work! I am so thankful for all of these families and desire to reach out and make a difference!

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