Post-Trip Thoughts from a University of Kentucky Student Athlete

As I sit on the plane heading back to Lexington, it’s really hard to find the words to even begin to describe my week in Ethiopia. I’m so overwhelmed with emotions & thoughts. Ethiopia, as well as many countries in that part of the world, gets a very bad reputation and is portrayed pretty poorly through the media… however, after just one week I learned that Ethiopians, while they have more physical struggles than we do in America, have a much more loving culture. Every person greeted us with hugs and kisses and smiles that spread from ear to ear.

The amount of spirituality Ethiopians have is indescribable. It’s incredible to witness these people living in such poverty and devastation, but still praising God for what they do have. Just being around that environment truly strengthened my relationship with God. I can truly say I have never felt as much love and spirituality before Ethiopia.

I will physically be back in Lexington shortly, but my heart will remain in Ethiopia. I cannot express how blessed I feel to be able to experience such a trip. My life has been changed from just one week in such an amazing place. God is so good & so alive in the hearts of Ethiopians & I am forever touched by the people I met.

A big thank you goes out to UK Athletics… Without you all, this trip would not be possible. Also, Jason Schlafer, one of our leaders of the trip – this experience wouldn’t have been the same without you. Thank you for the opportunity. To the 7 other girls that joined me on the trip – I love you all and I wouldn’t want to experience this trip with anyone else. To Ethiopia, I know in my heart that I will travel back to you, so, it’s not a “goodbye” but a “see you later.”

 

The Power of One – Guest Blog By Mallory Scott

I’m 18 years old and I am finishing up my first year of college at Motlow State Community College. After next year I will transfer to MTSU where I will get my Masters in speech and language pathology and audiology. This past year and a half has been one of real confusion and uncertainty. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, which made me very anxious. It got to the point where my walk with the Lord got more and more distant. I was searching for my peace and security in knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I was trying to find attributes of Him apart from Him.

In the midst of this rut, I traveled with OH over to Ethiopia. I have traveled to Ethiopia 3 times total, my first trip being when we adopted my brother Henok, and the other two times with OH. The Lord has really used my time spent there to reveal Himself to me in multiple ways.

This past trip was really hard for me because when you go back, you see some of the same sweet faces in the same heartbreaking conditions. I realized quickly that I can not change the world. I can not even change the heartbreaking statistics that are prevalent in Ethiopia. But I can change the world for one person. And that is more than enough. After this last trip in December 2017 I was really at a loss on what I needed to do next… should I take time off of school and do an internship in Ethiopia? Am I meant to be there full-time? I knew I wanted to get more involved.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that now is not the time for me to be over there full-time but that it didn’t mean I had to stop making a difference. I have always had a heart for kids and I started thinking on how I could get younger kids involved. This is when I thought of the after school “change drive”. Through this, I wanted to empower children to make a difference they otherwise wouldn’t have. I wanted them to understand the world is much bigger than their everyday life and I wanted them to be able to see the vast differences between themselves and kids across the world… but how in the same respect they can relate to them. I wanted them to connect with kids in Ethiopia. I wanted to bridge the gap.

So over the span of 4 weeks I taught these children the heartbreaking statistics. They learned faces and stories. They learned that seemingly meaningless things here make all the difference there. They were stirred to make a difference because they finally understood their ability to. It was a privilege to see these kids give selflessly. Listen intently. Love deeply. And grow immensely.

I think that through this program the kids of Woodland Park Elementary not only changed lives for kids in Ethiopia with their change…. I think that the kids in Ethiopia changed the lives of the kids at Woodland Park Elementary.

The different activities included: 1. making cards using Amharic greetings (they got to learn Amharic words!) 2. Talking about the people of Korah who work at Lila Products and how they make beads and jewelry to provide for their families (the kids then made jewelry out of paper beads, realizing how hard it truly is!) 3. making a banner where the kids made their mark with their handprints. 4. reading a book about how they can continue to change the world!

See that’s the thing. We don’t have to do huge things or travel across the world to make a change. It starts here with the people God has put around you. We love one person at a time. Here. There. And everywhere. The kids at Woodland Park ended up raising $94.17! These kids gave it all they had and I would have been content if they raised $50 because that would have been a dollar per kid… but they went above and beyond, and learned while doing it. I couldn’t be prouder of them! I thank God for giving me the opportunities that he has. I love advocating for OH. I love being a voice to the voiceless. I think that is why I choose to be a speech and language pathologist…. in a sense, I get to be the voice for people who cannot verbally communicate for themselves… and then I get to help them find theirs. It is beautiful to witness and be apart of, and I am excited for many more change drives to come!

Meet the Team Monday – Adanu, Desta, and Zewedenesh

Below are three out of five OH Guest House staff that clean the Guest House each and every day. Our Guest House gets constant remarks about the cleanliness and comfort of their stay, and it’s largely due to the hard work of these women. They put their heart into the work, and we are so thankful for their commitment to our guests over the years. Read the interviews below to get to know them more.

ADANU

How did you get connected to OH?

I knew about OH when I used to work at a different guest house that OH stayed at. I use to be amazed at what they did and when the OH Guest House was opened me and my friends joined the team.

Why do you love helping people?

I love helping people because I want to make God happy with my deeds. I am happy with what I do and I want the same kind of happiness for other people as well.

Why do you love Ethiopia?

I love my country; I love how we celebrate Christmas, because Christmas is the day Christ was born. The other thing I love is our coffee.

 

DESTA

How did you get connected to Ordinary Hero?

I met them at a Guest House that I used to work at. I was very happy about what OH was doing for our community. It was a big blessing for me to be one of the very few that got the opportunity to join the OH Life Center when it was opened.

Why do you love helping others?

Helping the elderly and helping the sick makes me happy. I feel like I am obeying God.

What do you love about Ethiopia?

I love my country so much. I love how we celebrate holidays, and I love epiphany holiday.

ZEWEDENESH

How did you get connected to Ordinary Hero?

I met OH at a Guest House I used to work at. I was amazed at how many miles people and teams travel to come here and help us. I was even more amazed when I became part of the OH Life Center & Guest House I was able to clearly see what they do.

Why do you love helping people?

Helping someone in need gives a great spiritual satisfaction. God is happy when we help those that need our help, and I always want to make God happy.

What do you love about Ethiopia?

I love how we celebrate holidays, the way we respect each other, our social relationships …. There are so many things I love about Ethiopia.

A New Era for Orphan Care

In recent months, Ethiopia has banned international adoption. For those that would like to learn more about the recent ban, click here to learn more. Below is a blog written by Founder, Kelly Putty, in response to the needs she saw at orphanages during her most recent trip, as a result of the adoption ban:

Since returning from Ethiopia, I’ve felt an enormous burden to raise my voice about what I saw and experienced within orphanages effected by the recent ban. The orphanage social workers now carry the largest burden of all, as they continue to receive babies without the capacity to care for them. I witnessed nannies caring for a room full of babies to the best of their ability, but simply put, they need help. Not only are they caring for the physical needs of the children daily, they carry the emotional weight of not knowing what their future will hold. They are faithful, hardworking heroes.

For many orphanages, they received monetary support from adoption agencies as the children were being placed up for adoption. They made sure that the children were cared for properly. Now that the government has stopped adoptions, these agencies have stopped their support, even as the orphanages continue to fill up with children. With their main source of support diminished, these orphanages are in need of new avenues of support.

 

While visiting two orphanages, Talita Rise Up and Kidane Miheret, that we consistently visit each Ordinary Hero trip, I asked the directors about their greatest needs. They both shared that their greatest need at this time is diapers and formula. Both orphanages have rooms full of babies that require food and diapers throughout the day.

Sister Lutgarta and sister Camilla have both served the children at Kidane Miheret orphanage for over 40 years. They have given their lives to the welfare of these children. They want more than anything for the children to be placed in families. Watching the nannies feed and diaper the babies one after another, as if they were their own, was very humbling to experience.

 

 

Our dear friends Abenezer and Atkilt started the Talita Rise Up orphanage in the countryside of Ethiopia. The police bring babies that have been abandoned, usually left in a forest or at a hospital. With the help of the local church, they have successfully and repeatedly placed these children in a foster care program in their local village. This program allows children to grow up knowing the love of a family.

 

 

We are launching a campaign to help these friends of ours. Most of us cannot imagine running out of diapers or formula needed for our children. By sharing the resources we have available to us, we’re lightening their load while also providing these children with the care they need to grow.

Our goal is to give 100 baby bundles, which will provide formula, diapers, and wipes to the two orphanages we support. Would you join us?

Click here to purchase a baby bundle.

 

Adopted Brothers Give Back To Children In Need

It is great when we see people giving back to children in need, but it is even better when we see those who were helped themselves, giving back to children in need.

Mother, Jacqueline Gustafson, met Founder, Kelly Putty, during her stay at the Ordinary Hero Guest House to adopt her son from Ethiopia. The Gustafson’s have two boys from Ethiopia, Marjock and Abraham. Abraham is 10 and joined their family at 6 months old and Marjok is 9 and joined their family at 7 years old (on Christmas Day!).

Jacqueline wanted to make sure her boys did not lose sight of where they came from, so she began starting conversations with them about how they could be a blessing to children in their home country of Ethiopia. They receive an allowance each week by doing yard work, cleaning, and projects around the house, and the two brothers agreed to save $2 every week from their allowance. After an entire year, they had raised over $200 together! Not bad for a 10 and 9 year old. The Gustafson family decided to utilize our Mission Market, where anyone can buy much needed items for the children and families we serve in Ethiopia, and purchased three pairs of shoes and a school bundle, which will provide a child with all the education materials needed for an entire year.

A little generosity can go a long way, and we are so thankful for the Gustafson family sharing their story with us. We believe these small seeds of generosity will grow into a lifetime of service to others. Thanks for being an inspiration!

Meet Our New Executive Director

We are thrilled to announce the newest addition to the Ordinary Hero team, Ellen Peterson, as our new Executive Director. In addition to a huge heart for global missions, Ellen brings with her a wide range of experience and expertise. She has been working in nonprofit for almost 20 years doing everything from fundraising and operations to communications and staff development. We did a short Q&A with Ellen so that you can get to know and love her like we do!

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: background, passions, hobbies, family.

I’m a proud Tennessean and was born and raised in Nashville, but after completing my degree at Auburn University, I moved to Houston, TX to work in ministry. What I thought would be a 1-2 year adventure, turned into almost 17 years in TX! Like they say, everything’s bigger in TX, including the hearts of the people. But once my husband, Grant, and I had children, we felt a tug toward a smaller, slower-paced place to raise our two kids, Megan and Brian. So, we packed up and moved back to Middle Tennessee in 2014. We love the two lane roads, driving past the horse farms, and watching our kids get dirty in the Little Harpeth River. I love a long hike with the dog, a good book, Auburn football, and live music. I also feel like I should sound way more interesting, but I’m really rather ordinary. Which is what drew me to Ordinary Hero in the first place!

  1. What’s your previous involvement with global missions?

 I became involved in Global Missions through the church where I worked in Houston. While I was working in Youth Ministry, the church created a new position to help support our global mission partners and I jumped at the chance to be involved. I became the Director of Global Missions and had the privilege of encouraging our mission partners around the globe, leading mission teams to serve in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Croatia, Budapest and Kenya. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life! Once you experience the vast creativity of God, seen in the diversity of his people and circumstances all over the world, you’re awakened to a new understanding of his love! As many of you involved with Ordinary Hero already know, you can’t encounter the people of Ethiopia and come home unchanged.

  1. What made you want to join the Ordinary Hero team?

As I mentioned, most days I feel pretty ordinary. We live in the ‘burbs’, and we’re raising two kids that do “burby” things like sports and scouts. It’s easy to forget that there’s a big, wide world out there that we’re called to serve and love. Ordinary Hero is about just that…ordinary people “changing the world for one.” I think that’s a message that applies to all of us; whether our heart is in Ethiopia or with our neighbors down the road.

  1. What are you most looking forward to in the future?

I’m most excited to meet all of you! Kelly and I are going to Ethiopia in November so I can meet the mission partners, see the children and families you are sponsoring, and get a feel for how all these pieces work. I can’t wait to see the faces of the people Ordinary Hero is impacting in Ethiopia, then come back to the US to keep encouraging you in our ministry together. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity; let’s go change the world for one!

 

So what does that mean for Founder, Kelly Putty? Though Kelly will no longer be leading as Executive Director, she will continue to lead from a Founder’s role, telling the Ordinary Hero story and advocating for children in need through speaking engagements and trips to Ethiopia.

Please join us in welcoming Ellen Peterson to the OH team!

 

How $50 Per Month Changed Lives, Including Mine / Guest Blog

Guest Blog, written by Madison Novacek:

“Before I go into my lengthy caption for these very important photos, I just want to start off by saying that I am not asking for praise or wanting to make this seem like I’m bragging in any way. My hope is that even if you get that vibe right away, that you can let the judgement go and listen to the greater message behind this post:

It just took 1,800 dollars.
50 dollars a month.
3 years.

That’s all it took for me to receive this amazing email today:

“I wanted to let you know that your sponsor family, Lome, has officially graduated from sponsorship!!! This is incredible news as it means that they are completely self sufficient and actually have been for a few months now. The money that has been sent for the past few months was put into their savings account and they have done well making it on their own. The business is profitable and your family was truly happy to be graduating.
We celebrated with cake, coffee, and speeches from each family who graduated. I cannot even begin to express the gratefulness your family had for you when it was their turn to speak. LOVE…that is the best way to describe how they spoke about you and your support and encouragement.”

IM SHARING THIS SO WE CAN ALL CELEBRATE TOGETHER! And maybe by me sharing this today I can encourage you to let it be known that ANYONE is capable of making an impact. The best part is it doesn’t always require as much effort as you think.

Sometimes all it requires is a “Yes, I’ll help you because even with whatever excuses I can find, I recognize that I have privilege and resources to help.” I literally did nothing. This was not me. I just kept living my comfortable life while 50 dollars got automatically taken out of my account every month, and this was the result. Lives changed, mine included.

PRAISE JESUS!

Thank you for reading this and celebrating such an awesome moment.”

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An Excerpt From My Journal / Guest Blog

Its been some time since I returned back to the States. The thing is my feet are here, but my heart is there. I got to talk to Habtamu between classes at school today. I miss him so much that it hurts, but hearing his familiar giggle and broken english put a little joy in my heart.

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My mind often wanders to the sweet faces we met on this trip. My heart aches for these people, what did they do to deserve this? I am learning how to trust God with a deeper faith than I have in the past. I recognize there are things that I simply cannot control, but I rest knowing that Jesus is in control of all things. I rest knowing I can hand my every worry and my every doubt to Him because NO Earthly worry is too big for my God.

“Love like Jesus”.

I have repeatedly played this saying through my head since I have returned. Going back to school as soon as I got back to the States opened my eyes to so much. One being that I struggle loving His people here compared to how naturally I love those overseas. This has been a constant struggle for me and I’ve been working so hard at it. Surrounding myself in prayer from start to finish everyday has helped me to consciously love His people, no matter the color of their skin, the condition of their clothing, or the social status that they attain.”

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.”

God calls us to love His people just like He has loved us from the very beginning. He has protected us, guided us, and loved us since the very second we were brought onto this Earth and we owe it to Him to love His creations just as He would.

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5-Year-Olds Can Change the World Too

5-year-old Tucker is changing the world for lots of children on Entoto Mountain. For the second year in a row Tucker is making his birthday about more than himself. This year, in partnership with the Be One Rummage Sale, he was able to collect 60 jackets for children in need in a cold area of Ethiopia. Last year he and his brother, Ben, collected backpacks.

Tucker said, “I just want to help my friends in Africa”.

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Both of his parents have traveled to Ethiopia, and his mother has traveled twice. It’s pretty clear that even without having been, Tucker has caught his parents’ heart for the country! We are so thankful for all the little world changers that are making a difference in the lives of children in need at such a young age. There’s a lot to be learned from the heart of a child.

Thanks Tucker!

Photo Blog | Korah Landslide Donations

 Thanks to your generous support, we have been able to provide basic necessities to those who lost everything in the Korah Landslide a few weeks ago.

Below are some pictures of what your donations made possible…

Household Materials: broom, pots, cups, plates, buckets, storage, coffee set, laminate flooring, etc.

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Meals for hundreds living in tents

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Coffee and tea are part of every day life in Ethiopia –

200 coffee cups and 200 tea cups were bought for families

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Water, coffee beans, and snacks were distributed throughout the day

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14 mattresses were distributed to those living in tents as well as those receiving new housing.

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These two young girls were homeless after the Landslide.

Your donations gave them a place to call home, and fully furnished it.

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Your donations helped meet medical needs of families and children, like the ones below.

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And our staff continues to spend time with these families, loving on and encouraging them..

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Thank you for your continued support toward the Korah Community. These pictures represent a small fraction of all that you’ve made possible. Our ministry partner and their staff are working diligently every day to restore the lives of those affected by the Landslide.

If you would still like to give, click here.

 

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