Summer at Hope Overflowing

This has been an exciting summer for Hope Overflowing!  Between Menge visiting the United States, my daughter Audrey and I visiting New Life home in Ethiopia, and inviting new staff into our vision, Hope Overflowing is experiencing dynamic change.

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Our in country director, Menge, travelled to the United States for about 5 weeks to share what God is doing at Hope Overflowing, Ethiopia.  While in the US, he visited about 6 different states and spoke in many churches and community groups.  The purpose of this visit was to inform and inspire, as well as give Menge time to connect with old friends and families, while hopefully finding rest. 

Also this summer, I, Krista, and my oldest daughter, Audrey, had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia for a week to visit and encourage our boys and staff in country. We were welcomed with traditional grass spread throughout the house, a coffee ceremony put on by our cooks, Tigist and Yabsalom, and lots and lots of hugs.  The boys were eager to practice their English they have been learning and we spent a lot of time just working through conversation with them.  This usually lead to a lot of laughter.  We even attempted to teach a formal English lesson in their classroom.  The boys were excellent students! 

A highlight of this trip was the amount of time we were able to engage with the boys.  Puzzles, games, UNO, and a game of soccer was played in our efforts just to be with them.  Spending time with them, getting to know their individual personalities, and conveying our love and the love of Jesus was a priority that we felt was executed well not only by us, but also by the amazing staff.  

Currently at New Life Home, we have two other male staff members living and caring for our boys.  Getachew is full time and has a great servant's heart. Frequently helping the kitchen staff and managing the purchasing of food and supplies, he is a consistent and loving presence in the home.  The boys love and respect him, asking him for help with common household tasks, and playing him in FIFA on PlayStation.  Watching their interactions you can see they trust him deeply.  Our other full time staff member is Ebiyot.  With a contagious laugh and a big heart for the Lord, Ebiyot is a strong leader in the home, dissolving conflict and guiding the boys through the love and mercy he has found in Jesus Christ.

Being with the boys and staff at Hope Overflowing was incredibly encouraging for us and we hope equally so for them.  God is moving and changing lives!  Our boys long to learn about Jesus and are sensitive to His love and the love offered by others.  They welcomed us with open arms, and some even wept when we left.  The tears and parting gift drawings were a testament to the relationships and commitment we were privileged to make during the week, and we hope to continue building in years to come.

 

A Little Bit of Hope

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When we returned from Ethiopia in early February, after spending time with the moms and their children living on the streets, I heard this song and cried and prayed this for them.  It has become their song to me, and I know it is a “Christmas” song, but my heart hears and sees them when I listen to these words:

The world waits for a miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope
Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel
A child prays for peace on Earth
And she’s calling out from a sea of hurt
Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel

And can you hear the angels singing
Glory to the light of the world
Glory, the light of the world is here
The drought breaks with the tears of a mother
A baby’s cry is the sound of love
Come down, come down, Emmanuel
He is the song for the suffering
He is Messiah, the Prince of Peace has come
He has come, Emmanuel
Glory to the light of the world
For all who wait
For all who hunger
For all who’ve prayed
For all who wonder
Behold your King
Behold Messiah
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
The world waits for the miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope
Oh come, oh come Emmanuel
— Lauren Daigle - Light of the World

Our hope and prayer is that these women and their children would know the love of Jesus. Frequently, our team visits them and cares for them.  Many of our moms are struggling with drug addictions and illness, so our staff will take a sick mom or child to the local hospital to receive care. We are thankful to be able to serve these women and are anxious for God’s leading in the next steps.  For now, we will continue to love, care, and pray for, and with them.

At New Life Home, our boys are doing great!  They have settled into a regular routine that includes part-time school and English class. Growing and changing every day, they seek to follow God and want to love others well.  This is huge! God is doing some major transforming and healing work in their lives. Our 13 guys are thriving in this caring environment.

With that, Menge says that there are more and more children calling him everyday asking to come.  Asking for the same opportunity. This pulls at our hearts, and especially our staff there who sees and knows these hurting boys on the streets.  Again, we wait and pray and seek God’s leading and providing in caring for his children and how Hope Overflowing can assist.

Here in the United States, we are working on securing our NGO status for the Ethiopia government.  This requires many documents - state sealed - and sent on to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC.  We have a legal assistant volunteering their time to help make this happen as we are gathering all of the necessary paperwork.  One of the items on the checklist is a letter from a U.S. government office approving of the work we are doing in Ethiopia. I will be meeting with a local state representative the end of this month to receive that letter. As you know, we already have our 501c3 (non-profit status) here in the states, but it will make it much easier for the staff to operate in Ethiopia with legal NGO status on their side.

Please continue to pray for our boys and their home.  For God’s protection on all who enter there. For encouragement for them and our staff as they faithfully serve.  The compassion, love, and strength to continue to serve well. We are immensely grateful that God would allow us to be a part of this good work and praise Him for all that He is faithfully doing!  Amen.

Menge has been invited to speak and share about Hope Overflowing in several churches here in the United States this summer.  He plans to be gone from New Life Home for a month. Pray for this time to be restful for Menge, as well as inspiring and encouraging to believers here who may be hearing for the first time of this great work.  We would also love prayers for the boys and staff while Menge is gone, as they love him so much and their daily routine will be a little off without him.

We feel silly saying this, but Menge asked that we let you all know that Peter and I were on the local news for Mother’s Day.  They did a very short piece on our adoption as well as Hope Overflowing! Who knows how God will use that - but we pray and know that He will.  Actually, we found out after it aired that the camera man who came to our home had just lost his newborn son and our story was his first job back.  The producer told us that we got him to come back to work by our inspiring story. God is good.

Easter Celebration!

“Easter was fantastic!!” says Menge, after a full weekend of Easter celebration.  It began on Saturday when our New Life Home boys and staff visited four AHOPE group homes to provide sheep and some financial assistance to make an Easter feast possible for these kids. AHOPE has multiple orphanages with several older kid group homes. Kids range in age from 13-17.  Hope Overflowing has had an ongoing, supportive relationship with these kids for the past 2 years. Hope Overflowing stayed and played games with the kids at AHOPE and had a great time together!  

These are pictures of our guys from New Life Home and staff delivering sheep and enjoying time together!

The group then visited Kuma, the guard who kept an eye out on our boys when they lived on the street.  Kuma was a protector and provider of a safe space for our guys and frequently reached out to our staff regarding the well-being of the boys.  Hope Overflowing was providing Kuma with a little money every month to help keep watch over our boys on the streets.  This time the boys were able to come and thank Kuma for being such a good friend and we will continue to love on him and provide him with financial assistance for he and his son.  Kuma was amazed at the growth and changes he sees in the boys!  They are a witness to him of the love of our good God.

 

On Easter Sunday, New Life Home hosted over 40 people!  We are so thankful that God has provided such a wonderful home to be able to do this!  Seven street moms, and their little ones, came and spent the day with us. We were able to give them gifts - mostly clothes and diapers.  They feel at home with us and their sweet children made the holiday even more special! Fun games were played and the resurrection of Jesus talked about and celebrated.  Hope Overflowing is still in process of following God's leading in caring for these amazing women and their children.  We are hopeful to be able to provide more for them soon!  Keep praying!

Children from Bete Sida orphanage were also our guests for the day.  Hope Overflowing has been volunteering at Bete Sida for the past two years as well, investing in these kids lives and sharing the love of God.  The orphanage is closing and their resources are becoming even more limited. The director asked us to do whatever we could for the kids for Easter and was very appreciative of Hope Overflowing.  They seemed to have a great time playing with our guys, eating lots of good food, and receiving gifts we had for them of shoes and toys. They said they wanted to come to New Life Home every weekend!  God is good. Our guys and our staff are doing a great job of hosting and welcoming all of these guests into their space and their home. Sharing their resources that God has given them.

The first couple of pictures are of our two wonderful cooks, Tigist and Yabsalom, who provided a huge meal for all of our friends and family!  Our staff member, Ebenezer, enjoying playing with the kids and handing out clothes to the moms living on the streets.  The 5 kids a the end holding shoes, are our friends from Beta Side orphanage.  What a blessing that they came and that we were able to bless them with love and gifts!  Praise God.

 

Our 13 boys are transformed, not only physically, with good food and new clothes, showers and haircuts, but on the inside, in their hearts and minds.  It shows up in how they relate to one another and how they love those outside of their home. When our boys see beggars and those less fortunate on the streets, they always want to give.  We want our boys to grow with this mind of sharing, as that is what Hope Overflowing stands for.  "Love God. Love People." That their hearts would overflow with Him and they would see their resources as gifts for all of His people.  Sharing with others what God has blessed us with. To be a blessing for others! Menge often explains this heart with our boys and our staff. The purpose we are all made for is much bigger than ourselves. Easter was an excellent example of this and some of our boys even said, “Oh, this is what we mean when we say Love People, right?”  Yes! Loving people is sharing, helping, giving. Our boys are realizing this truth as they live it.

May the Lord keep calling their hearts and minds to His will and to His kingdom!  Amen!

Guys, this is amazing!  That we would get to help create this celebration for these kids.  That we would get to bless them in this way.  Thank you for your generous donations that enable our staff in Ethiopia to not only care for our boys at Hope Overflowing, but to extend the blessing to 5 orphanages and our street moms with their children.  God is so good!

 

 

 

 

 

March News

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ACTIVITIES

Everything is going great with our boys!  They are starting to have big dreams for themselves.  To believe in a future.  In their relationships with one another, they are learning to love well.  When one of our guys insulted a friend, he immediately regretted it and apologized.  They were able to fix the issue by themselves.  The boys desire to be different.  Changed.  Getachew, one of our staff at the house, said he sees the changes in the boys and feels "it is the prayers backing us up from the U.S."  Keep praying!  God is doing amazing transforming work in these guys lives!  Menge says "miracle" is the only word to describe the amazing growth and changes in our boys.

Whenever Hope Overflowing staff run an errand or go out, they will try to take the boys with them.  Frequently, a visit is made to check on friends still living on the streets.  As our boys see other street boys living in their former environment, they compare themselves and see how much happier and filled with peace they are.  People who recognize our boys as the ones who used to be those dirty, drugged, beggars on the street, are shocked. They can't believe the change!  Those who watched in suspicion as our staff spent time and loved on our guys on the streets, are seeing them now and asking how?  What good thing happened?  We tell them this is all because of our God!

Last week, the guys had the opportunity to go to the movies and see Black Panther in 3D.  Menge and Getachew said it was so much fun to treat the boys to this, as they had never been to a nice movie theater before - and the 3D glasses! :) While this was great fun, it was also difficult for our boys to sit and eat popcorn and drink soda like "normal" kid, as they looked around and felt they did not belong.  Sitting next to those who they used to beg from and are now enjoying a "fancy" movie like everyone else, was internally hard for our guys.  Although they look like every other Ethiopian kid, inside they are struggling with their new identity and belonging.  Even though they are physically out of the street, some of them are still not out mentally.  

RE-CONNECTING WITH FAMILY
Many of our boys come from broken families where extreme poverty and abusive stepfathers drove them to the streets.  A lot of our boys have moms who are trapped in the situation of loving and missing their sons, but are not able to care for them in the current environment and relationship they are in.  As you can imagine, these moms are worried for their boys and greatly saddened by this, as well as our boys at New Life Home.  They miss and worry for their moms, and sometimes younger siblings, who are stuck in troublesome conditions. These visits to the boy's family members is good for us as well, so we can confirm the truth as to why our boys were living on the streets.  Menge says he, "does not have words to express the impact and the happiness he has seen from the families."

Recently, Menge was able to reconnect 12 year old Fekadu with his mom and two younger siblings, who are as Menge says, "very, very poor." Fekadu's mom was very worried about him  and had searched for him, fearing he had died on the streets.  Fekadu had fled to the streets 2 years ago due to an abusive stepfather and the lack of food and money in their family.  His mother had tears of joy and many hugs for sweet Fekadu.  She is incredibly greatful for Hope Overflowing and how we are taking care of her son.  To know that he is safe and loved, fed and cared for.  Through us, Fekadu was able to give his family some money when he left to help care for his mom and siblings. As you can see from the beautiful smiles in the picture, this reunification brings great healing and peace to both our boys and their families.  

Twelve year old Ashenafi was also able to reunite with his mother and father.  His family lives outside of Addis, but his father works in the city so we were able to meet him there.  When Ashenafi's father saw him and the transformation in his son, he literally said with a full and greatful heart, "He is not my boy anymore, he is your boy."  We told him that he is still their son and our support does not change that, but we promise to take care of him and love him as our son as well. Ashenafi's mom recently had another baby and he was able to send gifts, to which his mom called and cried over the phone, so thankful. 

A while ago, 16 year old Nati was able to visit his mom as well. Again, our staff took Nati to visit as she called the house and was in great distress.  She is not in a healthy situation.  Nati was distraught with worry, so we went to her.  Nati was able to give her some money, through Hope Overflowing, to support her and his younger siblings as well.  She knows to call our staff if things continue to get worse and we will take care of her.  

EDUCATION
Ebenezer and Getachew have begun basic English and Math three days a week for two hours each day.  The boys have been divided into two groups by previous education and ability.  Many have asked about sending the boys to school, and at this time, tutoring at home is the best option.  With their survival lifestyle from years on the streets, emotional stability, and lack of formal education, it is best at this time to start this way.

MORE BOYS
While Peter and I were at the house, two boys from the streets visited to hang out and have lunch one afternoon.  First of all, the contrast between these boys and our boys was great!  A reminder of how far they have come.  Zerihun has had multiple opportunities at New Life Home, and Menge gave him his fourth and final chance. Sadly, he left again and went back again to the streets and drugs after two nights.  Saladin is a young man Peter and I have met several times on our trips to Ethiopia, and honestly I didn't have a lot of hope for him.  But God did. His eyes were so clouded with drugs and he seemed so distant.  I cried when I saw this picture of him!  The change.  Only God.  Please pray for him as he is from a muslim family and has been on the streets for 4 years.  Lots to overcome.  So, now there are 13. 

STREET MOMS
While we are looking for a "female Menge" to build relationship with the moms and eventually run a house for them as well, our staff continues to visit them, bring them diapers and help them medically when they or their children are sick.  The women keep telling us that they are praying for our plans for them and are especially eager for the new life for their children.  They do not want their children to face the same hardship and challenges that they have.  Witnessing first-hand what has happened with the boys, their friends, they believe God can do the same for them.  

Our last night in Ethiopia last month, Getachew looked at Peter and I after a full day of playing with our boys at the home, interviews, and lunch with the street moms, and said, "James 1:27.  This is it."  I had to think for a minute which verse that was, and then it hit me!
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
I have tears typing this, as I had tears then.  What a gift that WE - all of those praying and supporting Hope Overflowing would GET to be a part of this amazing work that God is doing!  Amen.  

 

Looking Ahead

As we look ahead at this coming year for Hope Overflowing, there are some potential needs and growth opportunities.

CAR

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It became evident as we lived at new Life Home, that they need a car.  Each time a child needs to go to the doctor, groceries need to be bought, or any outing needs to be made, it will take our staff several taxi rides to get where they need to be. This can take hours as they stand in line waiting for a taxi or bus to be available.  And then there is the cost.  This is adding up fast for our team and becoming a major expense, as well as a great inconvenience.

At first, we thought a van would be great to haul everyone, but the expense is outrageous, and the actual amount of times that everyone would be going somewhere at the same time didn’t make sense.  We went with Menge to the Toyota dealership to see about buying a smaller car, a Toyota Corolla.   The dealer quoted us a price of $1.9 million birr.  That’s $70,000 US dollars.  We walked out.  Cars are very expensive in Ethiopia. One of our volunteers, Jos, is helping Menge to find a used smaller car that is more affordable.   

EDUCATION

Now that the boys have had time to settle in, it is a good time to start school. Given their various backgrounds and lack of education (all but 2 of our boys have had some sort of school in their lives), we feel it is best to begin with private tutoring at the house.  There is a great room in the smaller house behind the main house, with glass windows reaching from floor to ceiling and opening up to the courtyard, that would make a perfect school room.  Menge is looking for desks and chairs as well as other school supplies for the room.

Getachew, one of the staff living at the home, will begin with some basic tutoring while another teacher is sought out.  A few of our boys are older and it may be best in the future to focus on skills training, learning a trade that they can take with them to eventually be independent and make a living for themselves. One of our boys has a technical mind and expressed an interest in being a mechanic.  Once we have a car, a mechanic could come to the house and train those who are interested in basic car maintenance.  A valuable skill.  

GIRLS HOME

Many have asked me, "What about the girls in Ethiopia?  Aren't there girls on the streets too?  How can we help them?"  I, too, have wondered the same thing.  Sadly, they are often tucked in the dark corners working hard behind the scenes or living as prostitutes.  

Some of you may remember in one of our first posts, we helped a mom living on the streets named Mulu.  Menge knew Mulu as a fellow church member in his hometown of Bahadar.  One day he ran into her living on the streets with her children, and we as Hope Overflowing, helped to get her started with a small business she could support herself with.   We have kept in touch with her, visiting often and enjoying tea together while sharing baby clothes, food, a little money to help not only Mulu but a small group of her friends, too, other young moms living on the streets.

Several of the boys living in our home are there because Mulu and the other street moms pleaded with Menge to help this young boy, and this one too.  The boys and young moms looked out for one another in their state of distress. While in Ethiopia, we invited 7 of these young moms to come for lunch at the house, 6 were able to come.  We sat and shared lunch with them discussing their needs and hopes for the future.  We expressed concern and a love for them and their children and wondered how we could help them.  This was a beautiful time - and I got to hold babies!  

Looking at these moms next to our now "cleaned up" boys reminded us of how far our boys have come in such a short period of time, and the great potential for these moms and their children to also have the chance to experience God's transforming love from the inside out.  This is Hope Overflowing.   

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

To do this, we would need a whole new house.  Another "female" Menge.  Another staff.  This is big, but our God has big plans!  Please pray with us as we move forward with loving on these women and seeking God's will for their lives as well.   Thank you for all of the love, prayers, and support!  We expressed to the boys that they have a team of people cheering them on and praying for them.  Wanting their best.  Thank you.

Interviews

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While in Ethiopia, we took the opportunity to fully know and hear each of our boy’s stories.  They were excited to share them and we made sure they knew we wanted to protect their privacy and story, and that most of these interviews would be solely for them to have someday. 

Each boy was eager to have their turn to tell their story.  Some wanted more time as they felt they had more to share. I’m sure they do.  We set up two chairs facing each other in a private room and smiled at them while they opened up.

Menge sat casually across from them and asked them about their lives.  How did you end up on the streets?  Where are you from?  How long did you live on the streets and what was it like?  At the end, he would ask the boys to compare their life on the street versus their life now with the care of Hope Overflowing.  Their responses were pretty much all the same as they couldn’t even compare the two.  Night and day.   They would laugh and say to Menge, “How can you even ask me that?!”

 All shared deep hurts. Rejection. Loss. All of our boys have spent time in prison, been beaten by police, and have overcome addictions.

The last question Menge asked brought us all to tears with the answers. 

“What would you like to be when you grow up?”

Along with a few dreams of being a star soccer player, doctor or mechanic, all of the boys said,

“I want to do for someone else what you guys are doing for me.” 

I want to be like you. Giving back. 

There is an understanding and gratitude these boys possess for their situation and newfound opportunity at life.  Reminds me of, “Those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) They hunger and thirst for Jesus and His goodness in their lives.  A few said, “I want to change.  I want to be different.  New.”  They don’t want to be who they once were.  The outside is clean, their stomachs are full and fed, and now their hearts and minds hunger for more.

This felt holy and sacred.  An honor to hear their lives and hearts poured out.  To share their pain and be trusted to hold it. 

Thank you, Temesgen, Nati, Naga, Yonas, Jirata, Mezemu, Naol, Ashanafi, Shumet, Dani, Fekadu, and Biruk.

Visit

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Peter and I just returned from a week spent in Ethiopia at New Life Home.  We took this trip with the intention of checking in on the boys and the new home, as well as encouraging Menge, the volunteers and staff, and loving on our 12 boys currently living in the home.  This was a powerful time as we realized the last time we had seen these boys, almost 7 months ago, they were living on the streets. We met them there and bought them food.  This time, we stayed in THEIR home as they hosted us.  Amazing God!

 

The house is settled in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, just outside the city of Addis Ababa.  Being a little more in the country, the air felt cleaner and the mountains surrounding the area were beautiful.  It is a bit quieter with more horses and buggies than bustling baja.  A large home with lots of rooms, I think we counted 4 upstairs and 2 downstairs, as well as a living room, dining room and kitchen, there is plenty of space for all of the boys – and maybe more.  Behind the main house, is a smaller home with 3 more potential bedrooms, a soon to be school room, and a kitchen.  Right now, Menge, our two cooks, the guard, the 12 boys, Getachew – a great guy helping with the boys, and Ebiyot, or Coach, as the boys call him since he is their official soccer coach, are all living at the home.  The courtyard has plenty of space for playing, a green space the boys started gardening in, and table tennis!  They love this!  Many competitions. I’m pretty sure I lost all of them. 

 

Since moving in to the home in October, there have been some difficult days of “parenting” for Menge.  It really is unique and beautiful as this home is built on relationship first and an invitation to come.  One of the boys said he feels like he has brothers for the first time. Watching the boys interact with one another, smiling, laughing, hugging, genuinely looking out for one another, was really great!  Without being burdened with the weight of day to day survival, our boys have the freedom to relax and be free to grow into the young men God has created them to be.  And they seem eager for this.

 

We saw love.  Transformation.  Healing and wholeness beginning for these guys.  Peter shared one night during our group time, “When I met some of you, it was like I could see straight through your eyes to the street behind you.  You were empty.  But now, I see life and light.”  All of our boys are free from drugs and addiction, that many used to curb gnawing hunger and escape the life they were living.  They are given 3 meals a day plus an afternoon snack by our two wonderful cooks, cousins, Tigist and Yabasalom.  We had the pleasure of sitting around the big table with the crew and sharing many meals with them.  The boys take turns praying and thanking God for their food.  

 

The days are loosely structured with breakfast eaten all together, beds are made, clothes are changed and washing done if they need to.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are soccer mornings.  The boys suit up in their practice kit, and then It’s a short walk over to the field where Coach leads them in drills and scrimmage.  After practice they circle up and pray before heading back for lunch.   Some days the boys are allowed to play a couple hours of Playstation in the afternoon together.  Games, cards, table tennis, for some reading, until dinner time.  When dinner is over the boys gather again in the family room to play various games.  If there is a soccer match on, they will all watch that together.  One night when we were there, Coach had a copy of Pilgrims Progress which we all watched together.  The boys are eager to watch Bible stories and movies.  They ASK Menge to read the Bible to them.  They are hungry for God’s word and truth in their lives. 

 

Frequently in the morning, Menge would play worship videos on the TV in the family room.  The boys gathered round to sing along.  Their favorite song right now is Hillsong – I Surrender:   

Here I am, Down on my knees again
Surrendering all

And find me here, Lord as You draw me near
Desperate for You

I surrender

Drench my soul, As mercy and grace unfold
I hunger and thirst

With arms stretched wide, I know You hear my cry
Speak to me now

I surrender
I wanna know You more

Like a rushing wind, Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me

 

God is faithfully drawing these boys near.  He who has began a good work is faithful to complete it. We've seen, and we believe, that God is doing this.

 

New Life Home

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"I feel new life in this home," one of our boys said as he walked into our house in Ethiopia for the first time after living on the streets.  And so the boys have named their house.  New Life Home.  At most recent count, 13 teenage boys are living in our home and learning to accept the love of others and Jesus.  This Christmas was a special time to celebrate all that God has done for us this year and look forward to what He has in 2018 (2010 - Ethiopia time).

The house was full of decorations made by the boys since before our western Christmas to their Ethiopian Christmas, just this past Sunday, January 6.  Along with our Hope Overflowing staff and caring volunteers, 6 more boys, still living on the streets, were invited to join us on Christmas Day.  Gifts were given to all and special focus was given to why, as the birth and gift of Jesus to all of us was explained.  His great love.  As a group, the Jesus movie was watched and Nati, one of the boys living in the house, read the Christmas story from the book of Luke.  Personal testimonies were shared of how God has saved and transformed lives.   

Traditionally, sheep are roasted over a fire for an Ethiopian Christmas, something these children have not experienced in quite some time, if ever.  A great campfire was built and 3 chickens and 2 sheep were cooked for the feast.  Christmas was full of laughter, joy and great happiness!  

This wasn't the only celebration!  Hope Overflowing was able to provide sheep for four AHOPE group homes!  And soccer jerseys for 37 kids!  (AHOPE is an orphanage for children living with HIV and has a home for younger children as well as several for older kids living in a group home setting.) Hope Overflowing continues to volunteer and build mentor relationships in these homes.

As we begin this year, our boys are coming to understand what unconditional love really looks like.  To experience it.  To know the love of Jesus and to experience joy and peace in Him.  In fact, the boys have shared with Menge that they want to do the same for others what has been done for them.  Beautiful.   Everyday more street boys ask to be a part of New Life Home.  Menge says there is plenty of room.  And we are just trying to keep up with where God is leading in this, His business of saving and transforming lives by His great love.  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas from Hope Overflowing!  This has been an amazing year!  We thank God for the incredible work that He has been doing to transform these young men's lives.  From a rescue of 8 of our boys from a detention camp, to the quick lease of a home for them, God has had His hand, His blessings, and His purposes on Hope Overflowing.  We marvel at His kindness and especially at the gift of His Son, Jesus during this Christmas season.  

After some incredibly fast paced months, life at the house has been shifting and settling in.  As the boys are adjusting to this dramatically new life, some have not been able to cope with this much change.  Difficult choices had to be made as a few of our boys in the home were unable to commit to staying in a safe and positive space.  Many chances were given and the decision was made to let a couple of our boys go.  This was not easy, but for the 9 committed boys it has had a very positive impact.  

Currently, we have 11 boys, as we let a few go, we added a few more.  Interestingly, the boys that were unable to stay, are on the streets talking up, and promoting in a way, Hope Overflowing.  Menge says there are boys who beg him everyday for the opportunity to come live at Hope Overflowing House.  The need is great.   

Two of our new boys - Ashenafi on the left and Dani

Even knowing they are safe, in a good place, and loved, some of our boys miss family members. One of our boys was crying on his bed the other night with worry for his family.  He told Menge that he is eating 4 times a day and safe, but worries for his family that struggles to get one meal a day, so everytime he eats, he remembers them.  This boy had come to Addis 3 years ago with the hope of working and supporting his family who are 4 hours drive from Addis Ababa.  Sadly, this is the story for many of our boys.  

In the middle of this, our boys are writing journals and drawings - learning to express their emotions in new ways.  Many of them have posted their expressions of love and gratefulness to Hope Overflowing and God, in pictures and drawings next to their beds.  Beautiful.  

Please continue to pray for Hope Overflowing.  These are the names of our boys living at our house right now:

Naol, Muzemur, Yonas, Shumet, Temesgen, Fekadu, Jirata, Nati, Zerihum, Ahaenafi, and Dani

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Needs we foresee for the upcoming year are:

Transportation.  We need a van to shuttle all of these boys around!

School Fees.  Most of our boys will be attending school soon and will need school fees and uniforms.

Staff Needs.  We are looking for counselor to attend to the boys psychological care and Menge also needs more support so that he can take a break! :). 

Thank you, again, for investing with us in these boys lives and for supporting Hope Overflowing.  God bless you, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

New Life

It has been almost a month since this new life began for our 12 boys at the Hope Overflowing House in Addis Ababa.  Dramatic changes, fun, laughter, serious talks, tough times, games, counseling, prayer - all happening at the same time!  We are seeing so much good as well as many difficult challenges side by side.  God is faithfully at work in this home and in these boy's lives.

One of the huge changes we have seen has come with the boy's learning to love one another well.  On the streets there was a lot of fighting.  Fighting with each other.  Fighting with others. Fighting to survive.  We are now seeing our boys learn to care for one another.  Learn to love.  

Even with this love, a safe home, food to eat, we are still seeing some of the boys make bad decisions.  A few have chosen to return to the streets for a time, a night or two, and then come back to the Hope Overflowing House.  Usually, they are drawn back to the streets by friend groups and the lure of drugs.  This has happened a few times and has not been the best influence for the group of boys who are committed to positive change in their lives.  We are providing an amazing opportunity for them, but sometimes it is hard to accept such goodness. It is hard to understand why they would give up something so good and go back to their former lives, but there is a real struggle and battle for these boys lives!  The enemy does not want to see them living whole and fully for Him.  He does not want peace and healing.  Please pray for God's power to overcome.  For the victory in their lives!

Hope Overflowing has been actively discussing with the local police and the government agency, MOWA(Ministry of Women's and Children's Affairs), on how best to help the boys, and all children, living on the streets.  Recently, two local police officers who are familiar with our boys from the Stadium area where they lived, came to our home to visit them.  They were very impressed by the changes they saw in the boys and took the time to encourage and remind them to take this opportunity for good.   

All of our boys have a story, and as you can imagine, they are frequently filled with pain and heartache. Some have family that can be found and want to know their sons are safe. We were able to locate one of our boys, Nati's, mom.  She and Nati's younger siblings were living in a small, one room home with their stepfather.  Nati's mom was greatly reassured that her son is doing well and very thankful for the care he is getting.  These situations are complicated and sometimes hard to understand, but we are thankful that we are able to give Nati's family the peace to know that her son is being taken care of and that God has great plans for him. 

At Hope Overflowing House, our boys are given 3 meals a day plus a snack in the afternoon as well as ample activities are provided, such as playstation, table tennis, soccer, games, and movies (Menge says, "only the good ones.") :).  Almost every day there is time for group counseling, as well as  one on one counsel.  We are currently pursuing a professional counselor to come regularly to the home.  A couple of our volunteers are coming weekly to spend time with the boys and encourage and guide them. As time goes on, decisions will be made to help the boys pursue an education either through the local schools, or a skill-set they can build an independent future on. 

As always, thank you for your faithful prayers and support for Hope Overflowing!