8 Years in Ethiopia. Memories in Snapshots

Eight years ago, our family of four left everything we knew and moved to Ethiopia. We had originally planned to come for one year to see if God had more for us here. His plans were so much bigger than our own. To live and work in Africa was a dream I carried in my heart growing up. Never would I have thought we would be able to accomplish so much, be a part of impacting so many lives. I am still daily awed by how we are used here. By simple faith, open hearts and willingness to make a difference, we have been a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

Grace Centre for Children and Families. Orphan Prevention. Keeping Families Together.

I want to thank you my friends for being a part of this journey. Your support, encouragement, volunteering hands and financial support has enabled us to do what has been accomplished.

So today I wanted to share with you a few memories and special moments from the last 8 years here in Ethiopia…

Our fourth month in Addis, with Marcie and friends before Grace Centre began...

Our fourth month in Addis, with Marcie Erickson and friends, before Grace Centre began.

 ...but our hearts were being connected and big dreams were being planned.

…but our hearts were being connected and big dreams were being planned.

Grace Centre. Moving to Bahir Dar and starting Grace Centre

Grace Centre. Moving to Bahir Dar and starting Grace Centre.

The family vehicle, the bajaj. The front half is a motor cycle and the back half is a cart that can hold 8+ people. After much use we ended up selling it for two cows

The family vehicle, the bajaj. The front half is a motor cycle and the back half is a cart that can hold 8+ people. After much use we ended up selling it for two cows that would provide milk for the children.

Lydia feeding Marcie's boys James and Amanu

Lydia feeding Marcie’s boys James and Amanu.

Berhani and I around the time we moved to Bahir Dar.

Berhani and I around the time we moved to Bahir Dar.

Losing baby  Hope and opening our Hope Memorial Clinic

Losing baby Hope and opening our Hope Memorial Clinic.

Reunifications! One of the best parts of our job. Marcie and I saying good bye to Getch.

Reunifications! One of the best parts of our job. Saying goodbye to Getch.

Reunification! Visiting children after they have been placed back in their family is such an encouragement for us to keep doing what we are doing.

Visiting children after they have been reunified with their family is such an encouragement for us to keep doing what we are doing.

Leith Harding and I. Leith was instrumental in starting Grace Centre and has continued to be Grace Centre's biggest supporter, sitting on the board for Grace For Children Australia, organising a team to visit Grace Centre each year and sending much needed aid.

Leith Harding and I. Leith was instrumental in starting Grace Centre and has continued to be Grace Centre’s biggest supporter, sitting on the board for Grace For Children Australia, organising a team to visit Grace Centre each year and sending much needed aid.

Directors (Andrew, Marcie and I) with our families and long term volunteer Kate Irwin.

Directors (Andrew, Marcie and I) with our families and long term volunteer Kate Irwin.

The day the staff all volunteered their hard work to build Grace Centre

The day the staff all volunteered their hard work to build Grace Centre.

Our Social Services Coordinator, Worku, giving his time to build Grace Centre

Our Social Services Coordinator, Worku, giving his time to build Grace Centre.

Bereket, who has Cerebral Palsy, learning how to walk and talk.

Bereket, who has Cerebral Palsy, learning how to walk and talk.

Working with the children growing up in prison, providing clothes, soap, shoes, toys and the opportunity for the children to go to school.

Working with the children growing up in prison. Providing clothes, soap, shoes, toys and the opportunity for the children to go to school.

Providing a Playground for the children in prison.

Building a playground with IBC for the children in prison. To be able to provide this opportunity to these kids has been one of the most rewarding things we have been involved in.

Graduating grade 1 is such a big occasion here in Bahir Dar. Many of the parents we work with have never had the opportunity to go to school. Grace Centre is changing the next generation through education.

Graduating grade 1 is such a big occasion here in Bahir Dar. Many of the parents we work with have never had the opportunity to go to school. Grace Centre is changing the next generation through education.

Providing day care so that mothers can keep their children but have somewhere safe to stay while they work.

Providing day care so that mothers can keep their children but have somewhere safe for them to stay while they work.

The are just too many occasions and projects Grace Centre has been involved in that I would love to highlight, but here is just a few more (It is really difficult to pick a few photos out of thousands!)…

A family standing where their house once stood before the flood came.

A family standing where their house once stood before the flood came.

Handing out clothes to victims of flooding.

Handing out clothes to victims of flooding.

Andrew and I with most of our Grace leadership. These guys are amazing and have helped shape Grace Centre to what it is today.

Andrew and I with most of our Grace leadership. These guys are amazing and have helped shape Grace Centre to what it is today.

Marcie and I. I am so privileged to do life with this lady. We have shared many moments of tears and laughter together. Grace Centre would not be what it is today without her.

Marcie and I. I am so privileged to do life with this lady. We have shared many moments of tears and laughter together. Grace Centre would not be what it is today without her.

My family. Through the past 8 years God has grown our family and I am beyond blessed and my heart is full.

My family. Through the past 8 years God has grown our family and I am beyond blessed and my heart is full.

There has been so many people that have been a part of Grace Centre in making it what it is today. We want to thank all of you. I want to give special thanks to the Moore Park Baptist Church, Catalyst Church, Immanual Baptist Church and Pink Girls for continuing to come each year and give of your time to work, build, paint, sew, play, sing, cuddle kids, teach and do whatever needs to be done.

Whether big or small contributions we need and appreciate all those who have given financially. Faithful sponsors are what keeps Grace Centre going. More than that, it enables us to reach our goals. We couldn’t do it without you. Speaking of faithfulness, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ps Bojan at CityLight Church in New York who has continued to faithfully give every month for several years now towards Grace Children’s Home. Your giving has enabled many children to be reunified with families, other children to find new forever families, and has also provided a loving, caring and safe home for those children that do not have one. Thank you for loving ‘the least of these’.

Before I end this post, I would like to thank our home church Dream Centre Christian Church for the continual love and support you have shown our family over the last eight years.

The future looks exciting at Grace Centre here in Ethiopia! We look forward to continuing to do this journey with you. Andrew, Marcie and I are so very appreciative of all of you who support Grace Centre in some way- whether it is through giving finances, fundraising and awareness, aid, volunteering or prayer. Thank you.

Dee xxx‏