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!

 


A Prayer for Hope Overflowing House

Following God and His heart for these kids is risky.  A friend reminded us of the story of Moses' call from God to go and serve Him. Moses went out with fear and much insecurity, but obeyed God.  It was not easy.  Things did not go so well right away in Moses' eyes.  It took years for the Israelites to finally have the freedom that God promised Moses He would bring through his obedience.  

Hope Overflowing House, we believe, is an act of obedience to God and motivated by love.  As some of you may know with adoption, there is what they call the "honeymoon phase" when a newly adopted child settles in for a short time with excitement and joy with their new family.  After a while home, the newness and excitement wear off and the wounds of the past are able to come out as they are in a safe, loving place.  With our boys now newly "home", there is much excitement and there will come a peace as they no longer have to struggle each day to find food, shelter, and safety.  Along with that newfound peace, comes a restlessness, as now the hard things of life are able to surface.  This is where we need your prayers.  

We would love to be able to do a prayer walk through this home, but we are offering this prayer here:  Lord, we believe you have great plans for these 12 boys you have gathered in this safe place.  This home.  We are humbled and honored to get to be a part of any work that you are doing and asking for your continued blessing and favor on Hope Overflowing.  This is Your home. These are Your boys.  We have seen you move in amazing ways to make this happen and are eager to see what You will do next!  You are in the business of transforming lives and are so faithful.  We are asking in Your name Jesus, that you would continue the good work you are doing.  That You would equip and enable all of our volunteers and staff to do this good work.  For the energy, strength, wisdom, compassion, love, filling of the Holy Spirit - to fully share the gospel with these boys.  We pray for your healing.  You say that you not only are close to the broken hearted, but that you bind up their wounds.  Praise You, that You are binding up these boys wounds already!  We ask for Your protection over all who enter.  For our boys, for our volunteers.  Let this home be a place full of Your presence and love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Thank you for praying this with us!

Home!

Twelve boys were super excited to finally have a home and a bed.  A safe place to eat, sleep, and play together.  As we received these pictures from Menge, my daughter said, "They aren't street boys anymore."  Thank you so much for all of your support in making this happen.  God has been leading and blessing this venture to take care of His children and we are greatly humbled to be able to be a part of it.  This is only the beginning!

Moving In!

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Menge went and picked our boys up today from the camp they were being held at.  Eleven boys were transported to the home our Hope Overflowing team have been eagerly setting up. God's favor has been evident in all that we have been able to accomplish in the past week!

Hope Overflowing House

In order to have our street boys released from the camp they are currently being detained at, Hope Overflowing needs to have a home prepared for them to meet government requirements.  We had hoped and talked about what this would look like at some point for these boys as we have been caring for them, but this week we had to move fast!  Our team was able to find an adequate home and now we are in process of getting it ready!  Praise God!  Your faithful giving we had saved up, for such a time as this, enabled us to move quickly in acquiring a home.  Thank you.  

Reading in Psalm 106, it's about the Israelites, but reminds us of our boys, "Yet he saved them for his name's sake, to make His mighty power known...He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them...Then they believed His promises and sang His praise." vs. 8, 10, 12.  Yes.  That these boys would know Him who is protecting and saving them, and one day praise Him.

As you can imagine, setting up a home for 15 boys and a few staff members will require a lot; furnishing bedrooms, living spaces, outfitting a kitchen, towels for the bathrooms, etc.  Personally, I would love to go to Target or Walmart and buy all kinds of cute stuff to get the house ready, but the best way to do this is to provide our team in Ethiopia with the finances and let them shop.  Our "new home shower" is listed below if you would like to be a part - and we promise we will post pictures of the home when it is ready!

  • Bedroom - 1 Bed $30,  1 set of Bedding $10 (x18 - including staff bedding)
  • Living Space - 2 Sofas $75 each, 2 Tables $10 each, 2 Lamps $10 each
  • Kitchen - 1 Large Table $100, 8 Chairs $100, Pots and Pans $50, Kitchen Utensils $30, Dishes $75
  • Bathroom - Lots of Washcloths and Towels $50, Soap $10
  • Cleaning Supplies - $40
  • Miscellaneous Fun - Soccer balls $5, TV $50, Anything else you can think of that we can tell our shoppers to look for there!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  God is truly moving and has great plans for these children.