Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Birth Place Visits

I am still in awe of what the next few weeks will hold for our family. Honestly, I am still in a bit of denial that we are getting ready to have some of the best and hardest weeks of our lives. Several months ago, David was awarded an amazing grant for renewal and refreshment from the Lilly Foundation. This grant is given to around 150 pastors a year and it is a tremendous blessing. For David's refreshment and renewal this grant is providing "birth place visits" for our family.

The first "birth place visit" will be just the two of us visiting where David was born. It just so happens that he was born in Hawaii! I still am amazed that God has provided this extended period of time for just the two of us. It is simply a gift that we really still can't believe is a reality. I am guessing in 12 days as we stand on the beach in Maui it will seem real to us. We have already had so much fun together planning each day and what we hope to do on each island. This time away is also such a great gift as it falls right before our next "birth place visit" that will be both wonderful and emotional for our entire family.

The week after we return from Hawaii all nine of us will be traveling to Ethiopia as the next part of this "birth place visit". Our adopted children have not visited their friends or family since becoming part of our family several years ago. We are thrilled to get to travel back with them but we also know how emotionally challenging this time will be for all nine of us. We covet your prayers as we try to prepare our family for this visit.  There will also be a short visit to South Africa and Spain (yes, for a soccer game) at the end of that trip to try and help the emotions as we leave from their families and return home.

The gift of these trips (plus a trip to visit Jesus birth place in the fall) are such a blessing. We could never have imagined being able to take such trips. If I were honest, I feel a little embarrassed at the luxury that we are about to embark on. Yesterday, as I was praying I felt God say, "Mendy, you are worth this. I am giving you a blessing beyond what you could have dreamed for your family." I wiped a tear and started to sing the words to "Good, Good Father." Guys, He is so good, so faithful and so loving. He has been here on our darkest days and He gives good gifts to His children. We are not worthy of what He has lavished on our family the next few weeks yet He has given us this great gift. He wants us to be refreshed, renewed and reconnected. He wants to remind us of how much He loves us. We will forever be thankful and in the rough spots ahead we will remember these trips and know that He loves us more than we could ever begin to imagine.

We are asking that you begin to pray for our family:
For safe travel May 11th-31st

For our adopted children to be ready to step back in to proverty that was once daily life for them.

For our kids to not be overwhelmed that they no longer speak the language of their birth families.

For me (Mendy) as I watch Tia, Garrett and Lemi interact the first few minutes with their birth moms. It will be so precious yet my heart aches for all involved. Pray that I have wisdom on how to be their adopted mom and let their mom be their birth mom for our visit. Not many have walked this path and I want to walk it well!

For our kids to share what they are feeling with us.

For David as he cares for our families emotional needs while in Ethiopia.

For all 7 kids to enjoy the time with our extended family.

For Megan as she stays a month beyond our visit.

For all 9 of us to stay healthy.

For both families there to know how much we love and care about them.

For our goodbyes to just what they need to be.

Thank you for journeying with our family. The ups, downs and everything in between. We will forever be thankful for the Lilly Foundation and how God has used them to bless our family! Off to pack, make frozen meals for several weeks (so our kids eat decently healthy while we are in Hawaii) and get ready to be away for what is ahead-


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Change and the Power of Light

It has been forever since I have had time to log in and share what God has been doing in our ever changing family. As a mom I have held my breath the past few months as we have experienced so much change in our family. At the end of last week, I finally felt that I could begin to breath regularly again. Over the past two months we have moved our oldest two out of our home, transitioned Jacob into high school and all four of our youngest started into middle school. That is A LOT of change! Praise the Lord they are all doing wonderfully well and I am the only one still trying to adjust to our new normal.

It has been a joy to watch my older girls thrive in their new environments and that has helped my mom heart cope with the fact that I am old enough to have two kids in college. After years of pouring into my girls God has been so faithful to encourage me as I watch them chase after Him. There really is no greater joy. It feels at times that they are outgrowing my wildest dreams for them and I absolutely love it!

I am always amazed at God's timing on things and during this time of transition God granted our family a really neat gift. We found out a few days before Kaylee and Megan moved out that our family received a grant to travel back to Ethiopia this next year. It was such a great time of celebration for our family in the midst of sadness as we approached the older girls moving away from home. It gave us great joy to know that this year we would be traveling together as a family to a place we all love.

Enough about us..........I want to update you on some amazing things that God is doing in Ethiopia. Last year when David traveled to Ethiopia it was such a blessing to our family to hear of what God was doing there. Upon David's return we contacted a ministry that helped us partner with two Ethiopian believers to help share the love of Jesus with the Zay people. They are encouraging the few that have accepted Christ and continuing to reach those that have never heard. We love to hear updates from these men who are loving a people group that God has called our family to reach.

We also have received a few emails from Garrett and Tia's older brother, Welde. Welde accepted Christ and was baptized while David was in Ethiopia last year. It is encouraging to hear him share about growing in his faith. It will be a sweet reunion when we see him in a few months.

Several times when Garrett has shared stories of living on the island he has mentioned times when his mom would cry at night because they would not have water for the light (oil for the lamp).  He remembers the total darkness and how his mom was so poor that they couldn't afford oil in order to have light when it became dark. While David was in Ethiopia last year he purchased 3 solar panel lights to take with him to the island to resolve the issue of our extended family not having light.  These solar panels not only provide light but they also serve as an outlet to provide power as well. We heard last week that these solar lights are very popular with the Zay people. People are lining up and waiting to get to use the outlets.

Our family knows that God is calling us to make sure that every family on the island has a light and power source. What better way to teach them who Jesus is than to give them a physical light and use the light to tell them of the real source of light and power? Teaching them that Jesus is the Light of the World by physically providing light for them each evening. We are so excited that he has called us to this task. We know that the nine of us can't provide the resources alone needed for this to become a reality. We are asking you to prayerfully consider adopting a Zay family and help us purchase a light for that family. We can't wait to light up the island!

Our family can't wait to travel to Ethiopia this next year and visit our extended family. As a mom, I can't wait to show our kids the clean water (thanks to so many of you that gave) and for them to see that their island has light! When they lived there they did not have either. Can you imagine living life with no running water and no electricity? Can you imagine part of your family living that way? For our family this is a reality...........We can't provide running water and full electricity in each hut on the island but we have provided clean water and now we hope to give them light and a power source. Will you join us?


The solar power units cost $150.00 each. Our goal is one per family which means that we need to raise $15,000.00. They are purchased in Ethiopia (which we love) and David hopes to provide each family a light when he returns to the island in February. Maybe give one as a Christmas gift, ask for one to be given as a gift to you, or better yet sacrifice something that you really want for others to get the opportunity to hear about the Light of the World! (Our oldest son just decided to do just that this week.)

We can't wait to share a picture with you of the entire island shining at night!

If you want to give email me at mendyhenderson@yahoo.com or you can give by going to www.taketherisk.com next click the GIVE tab and there will be a drop down window where you can give to the Solar Light Project-Zay people Light project. We hope that you will join our family as we share His Love and Light half way around the world.





Thursday, September 18, 2014

Faithful........

It has been several months since I have had the time to sit down and write. Over the past few months God has really been reminding me of His faithfulness to me and my family. His love at times is overwhelming and I want to share with you a few special moments that have made me ponder His faithfulness in a new way:

A few weeks ago David and I found ourselves at home with only our three adopted children. During dinner we started to talk about Ethiopia and this led to a discussion about the years that they spent in the orphanage. We had a great time as they shared fun memories from life before they came home to us. Garrett was talking and he said, "There was this one lady at the orphanage, who did our laundry, and she was so nice. Every day she would pull me aside and tell me that I was very special and that God had His hand on me." He continued. "She only said this to me and not to the other kids." As Garrett finished these words tears poured from my eyes. As usual, Garrett rolled his eyes and smiled at my tears. I was overwhelmed to hear God's answer to a prayer I prayed daily while waiting for my children to come home. Every single morning I would cry driving home from dropping Lindsay and Jacob off at school and I would pray for God to have someone make them feel loved and special until they were able to be with us. I had no idea that every morning in Ethiopia this sweet lady was speaking words of love and truth to my Garrett. Years have gone by and I had no idea how God daily was answering my prayer. I then shared with Garrett how each day I had prayed that God would send someone to let him know that he was loved.
After dinner we got out some photos from those years in Addis and it was fun to watch the three of them remember their friends, the room they slept in, and workers that had cared for (or had been mean to) them. We got to one particular photo and Garrett got so excited. He said, "Hey, that is her! That is the lady that pulled me aside and talked to me each day."  (See below the lady in red) What an amazing gift to me to see the lady that God used to answer my daily prayer. A sweet reminder of how much He cares for me and the desires of my heart.




We continued to look at the pictures and it was also amazing to hear the boys talk about one guy named Nebu. Nebu would come every evening and read the Bible with the boys. They had spoken about him before and they just light up when talking about the fun they would have with him each night learning from God's word. As they were turning through the photos they also found a picture of him. A guy that I hope to get to meet one day and thank for planting God's word in my son's hearts long before they became mine. As I sat and stared at that picture I was overwhelmed again by the blessing of His love and perfect plan for the lives of my boys. The fact that each night while we waited for them to become ours God had someone there to share His truth with them in a fun and relevant way made me stop again and give thanks for His faithfulness. (See Nebu below- notice Garrett on the far right)



A few days later I picked up these same photos again and started to flip through them alone. I stopped on one particular photo that I had seen a thousand times and noticed something that I had never noticed before. It is a photo of all three of our kids playing soccer together, long before they knew that they would one day be siblings. I have always loved this photo and it has always seemed special to me but today I noticed something new........Tia's pants. I noticed that Tia has on these cute, stylish pants in the photo. As I stared at them I started to cry. If you know our Tia you know just how stylish and fashionable she loves to be. You will rarely see her without a cute scarf, earrings and an outfit that is just perfect on her. In an Ethiopian orphanage there is very little style. You wear what you can find and usually it doesn't fit very well and it is far from fashionable. In this photo Tia has on these super cute pants that I am sure made her feel like a Princess. Again, God reminded me that He was there. Long before she knew what fashion was, He was there helping her to feel pretty. He provided a pair of pants in just her size with ruffles around the ankles just for my Tia. My God is an amazing God that goes above and beyond to love His children well. So may times I overlook or I am so unaware of the simple ways that He loves me and my family. He is so faithful and I am so thankful for these simple reminders the past few weeks of His goodness to me even when I had no idea what He was up to! Stop and think about His love for you- He cares more than you know and does so many things for you and your family that go unnoticed. Notice them today..........

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our Sweet Tia

Thank you to each of you who have been so caring towards our family over the past month during Tia's illness. Each meal, gift, card, visit and prayer has meant so much to us as a family. We are so thankful to live life with such a caring community.
I have hesitated sharing much about what is going on with Tia but so many of you have been in contact with me asking about her and I have not had a chance to respond to many of you so this is the best way I know how. Almost four weeks ago Tia had what I thought was a stomach virus. I was not very concerned because several kids in her class at school had been sick with what seemed to be a 24 hour virus. After a few days of vomiting (Yes, this will not be a pleasant post) anything that went into her body,  I knew that we were not dealing with just a 24 hour virus. She had no other symptoms other that throwing up anytime she ate or drank anything. Tia was given Zofran from the pediatrician to help keep her food down but it didn't help her at all.
A few days of the Zofan not working we returned to the doctor and we were referred to a pediatric GI specialist a few days later. The day after seeing the GI doctor Tia ended up in the hospital and was given fluids and they cleaned out her entire GI system by means of a tube in her nose dripping medicine directly into her stomach (which was so much fun for both of us) for the weekend . The doctors were hopeful that Tia had a virus that had shut down her GI system and once it was cleaned out she would be back to normal. This however wasn't the issue.
During the clean out process they were able to do some testing and found that Tia tested positive for H Pylori bacteria. Her GI doctor feels strongly that this was probably due to unclean water (or maybe food) from several years ago in Ethiopia. The doctors do feel that her brothers from Ethiopia should be tested as well. As soon as our girl is better Garrett and Lemi will be tested. (This breaks my heart and I will one day blog about this- Tia and Garrett lost their birth dad, prior to their birth, to a waterborne illness that very well could have been this type of bacteria)
Tia has had several tests over the past few weeks and has another scheduled for Monday morning to make sure that nothing more is going on in her body. The treatment for the H Pylori is several antibiotics given at the same time for about a month. This will be a long process because these medications can make her nauseous and cause vomiting as well.
We are hopeful that this is the root cause of her illness and can easily be taken care of. She is continuing to be sick many times a day but we are thankful that she can now tolerate fluids and some of her food stays down during the day. The past week and a half she started to become very weak and tired from lack of nutrition- this has been so hard for me to watch. I am thankful that the past few days I have seen her energy beginning to return and she still is no where near her normal energy level but she is on the upswing.
I would love to ask you to join me in praying some specific things for Tia. She currently takes 5 pills and some liquid medicines twice daily. It is hard for her to get just one pill down and so 10 a day is somewhat overwhelming. She is literally in tears when I say it is time to take her medicine- just silent tears pouring as her willing heart tries to get the medicine down. Pray for her to be able to swallow pills like a champ! Also pray with me that once she gets the medicines down they will stay down. Yesterday and today we have not been successful keeping all of the medicine down. It is a crazy cycle of the bacteria making her sick and the medicine not being able to work because she is not able to keep it down. It is a very frustrating process as a mom and I know it must be even more frustrating for my sweet girl. The last thing that I would love for you to pray for is that if this bacteria is not the main source of this  illness that the main source would soon be found during the upcoming tests.
 I want to say thank you again for your concern, care and love this past month. It has been a long few weeks for our family and we are so thankful for the outpouring of His love on our family using each of you. I am so thankful that our girl is here with us where she can get the healthcare she needs. I have been reminded the past few weeks to pray for kids all over the world that do not have the resources to get the medical care that they so desperately need. I will keep you posted as she continues to heal.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Days.....weeks.......months

So the days have turned into weeks and the weeks into months and it has been months since I have taken the time to sit down and blog. I guess that is what happens when you live in a house of ten! So much has happened since October............
Megan returned home after 3 months serving in Ethiopia just before Christmas. We were thrilled for her to be back home with us and we loved hearing story after story about her time serving in Ethiopia. As a mom it is still amazing to look at Megan and see a beautiful woman chasing after God instead of the little girl I use to be chasing.  This trip that took her away for three months really made me realize what a blessing she is to our family- from her constant singing, her help with the younger kids, her love for Jesus and all of the laughter she adds to our home was greatly missed. We are thankful that she was obedient when God called her to serve the least of these in Ethiopia. 
After she returned Megan started college this semester and was chosen to be a part of an exciting program called Heroine Fellowship. (www.heroine fellowship.org) For the next several months she and a few other young women will be studying many aspects of social justice around the world. This is a huge honor for her to be a part of this program and she is really enjoying having a mentor and studying issues such as HIV Aids, clean water, orphan care, sex trafficking, and several other global issues. She will be working with organizations around the world being educated on and learning to combat these issues. The team that she is studying with will be going to Haiti in July and she can't wait. Megan's heart is for the least of these and this opportunity is an amazing blessing.


In January we added to our family again but this time only for a few months. We decided to bring an International student into our home and it has been so much fun! Adriano will be with us until the end of May and I already know that is going to be a hard goodbye! He loves soccer (and is really good), beats David at FIFA on the x-box and enjoys some competitive ping-pong with our family. It has been a joy to watch all of our kids welcome him into our family and it has been especially neat to watch Lemi make sure that he feels at home. I am sure that it is still very fresh to Lemi what it feels like to be the "new" person and he has made sure that he feels cared for and at home. Our family has grown to ten and it is full of activity.

As for the rest of us it has been a very busy season. Jacob was on the school football team this fall and the basketball team this winter-  This was on top of all 4 younger kids playing basketball and soccer. There were weeks when I felt that we lived at the gym or on the soccer field- yet I was determined that as  family we would have dinner together each night. Some nights we were eating at 9:00pm but as a mom I know the importance of family time each day and that is one thing we will not give up no matter how busy we happen to be.

I am realizing more and more how quickly these seasons of life are changing and I am trying to enjoy every last second. I know that faster than I can imagine the days of having children at home will be a distant memory and so I pray that I am faithful today with where God has me.  Just the other day I reminded a younger mom to cherish this time with her preschool age children and she laughed just as I did a few years ago. I realize now that just as those older moms tried to warn me- the days turn into weeks and weeks into months and soon these precious years are gone!

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20:

 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.






Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stories......



I am so thankful that God has called Megan to serve in Ethiopia for this season of her life. I think back to one particular sleepless night where I was wrestling with God about her being half way around the world and think of the selfishness I was sitting in that night. The selfishness and fear on my part during those days of questioning seem so unreal to me today. Why would I want Megan to miss out on what God was calling her to? I am humbled daily as I hear stories from my daughter- Stories of kids who need families, widows who have nothing, children who are hungry, and the joy that Megan brings to their day as she helps provide for their needs.


The other day a story that she shared really made me stop, ponder and pray. She shared of a young girl our oldest sons age. She had been living in conditions that I can't begin to fathom. Megan (and the others working with her) was there when she came in off of the streets. She was there to love on her, care for her and provide basic needs for her. Here is Megan's account of that day:


Today, as I was hanging out at the foster home, Kelikas and Goldy, two people on the BCI staff, came in the gates with a 13 year old girl. They said hello and then quickly sat the girl down with us and went into the other room to talk with Sanite, the foster home mother. We didn't really know what was going on, but it didn't take long for us to figure out that the little girl, Enat, didn't have anywhere else to go. When we left the foster home, we asked Goldy about Enat. She was sent to BCI by MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) this morning... She lived on the streets with her grandfather who was completely blind and mute. When you're a young girl, living on the streets is probably one of the worst possible scenarios, so MOWA asked BCI if the foster home could take her in. Of course they said yes, but they are in desperate need of sponsors for her. Enat literally came to the BCI office with absolutely nothing but the clothes on her back, so while we are in the process of getting her sponsors, I am going to try to collect some money to get Enat some food and clothing. If you are interested in helping Enat, please let my mom or I know. Looking forward to spending some time at the foster home tomorrow and getting to know Enat. Megan


(Thanks to those of you who have given- Enat will now have clothes of her own!)



Oh God I pray that we do not get so busy and comfortable in our daily lives that we forget the Enat's of the world. Break our hearts for what breaks yours. Move us out of our comfortable, selfish lives to care for those who need us to be You to them. Thank you for using Megan and Enat to remind me daily of those in our world who are in such need- Find us faithful caring for the least of these.


Friday, October 18, 2013

A brick utility building..........

David and I try hard to have as much one on one time with our kids as we can. With seven kids we have to be pretty creative with how to make this happen and tonight was one of those nights for me. I had the great joy of having some one on one time with Garrett. Garrett needed a  jacket and so the two of us headed out to do a little shopping.

We had only been in the car a few minutes when we passed by a brick utility building not far from our house. It is somewhere I pass by daily and I had never even noticed this small building. As we passed by Garrett says to me, "Mom, It is kind of hard for me to understand somethings." I questioned what he meant. He said, "You know like when I see a brick building  like that one that really is used for nothing (as he pointed at this utility building) or when I see a dog house or barn it makes me kind of sad. There are people living in nothing and then I see this. It kind of makes my heart feel bad."

I was quiet for a few minutes as I tried once again to hold back my tears. I wasn't really sure what to say but I gently said, "Garrett, I am so sorry that this makes you heart hurt. It actually should make everyones heart hurt. I know that you remember living in a grass hut and I am sure when you see those kinds of buildings that are for wires or animals it makes you feel sad that people live in less. Does that remind of your family?" He answered, "Yes, it makes me sad to think about how much is wasted here and how people don't even think about others in need. People here just always want more and more."

I wish that everyone I knew could spend some one one one time with Garrett- If so our world would be a different place! God, Help me to have a heart of compassion like his-